Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all of you safe travels, wonderful meals, a win by your favorite team and most important, warmth and welcome with your friends and family this long holiday weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 - Heather

Break Glass With Your Voice?

Ever wonder what it takes to break a glass with just your voice? Well for me, it’s pretty easy. I attempt to sing and people throw glasses…and rotten vegetables and you name it…to get me to stop.  Inevitably, some glass will break. See? Simple!

In real life, for actual singers (i.e. singers who can actually sing) it takes a bit of talent – and a legitimately good voice with the ability to really belt out some volume. Who can do that? Opera singers. Kristen Chenoweth. Julie Andrews. Me. (Just kidding.)

Karen Shrock wrote an article for Scientific American called Fact or Fiction?: An Opera Singer’s Piercing Voice Can Shatter Glass that basically said, “Yes. It can be done!”

Mythbusters got a real example on film, though not with an opera singer!  Take a look! Start with the preliminary tests and then watch this!

 

And here we are with a few fun examples of vocal talent’s being responsible for breaking glass – supposedly, anyway! (Breaking – Bad – Glass? Ahem.  Anyway…) They’re at least fun if not entirely real! HA!

** Don’t try this at home. **

Kristen Chenoweth and Josh Groban on Jay Leno

Julie Andrews in the movie Victor Victoria (If you haven’t yet seen this movie, watch it! It’s really very funny and you can’t go wrong with these actors!)

And then there’s the Fat Lady of Gryffindor House. (But I can’t embed it here, so you have to watch it on youtube.) Come on! Admit it. It’s cute! :-)

Boston Symphony Orchestra: November 22, 1963

We all love or respect or admire President John F. Kennedy for different reasons.  As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I am grateful to President Kennedy because he started an organization that is now – and forever will be – near and dear to my heart, the United States Peace Corps.  It let me give something of myself in the service of others yet it wasn’t until my return that, like all returned volunteers, I realized I gained far more than I ever thought I could give.

President Kennedy was shot and killed on this day 50 years ago.  It was before my time, but I know I’ve talked about this with my parents who were both attending Hanover College at the time.  Mom told me how she was in a freshman year biology class when she heard the news.

With my generation, we know where we were for the Challenger disaster: in band class. And sadly, where we were when for the Columbia disaster: halfway home after serving in the Peace Corps.

I saw this today on Upworthy.com

Taken from there:

In a powerful — and stunningly level-headed — decision, the orchestra’s music director, Erich Leinsdorf, sent librarian William Shisler to get the music for the funeral march from Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony. Shisler quickly distributed the music onstage, letting the musicians know what had happened.

This recording, from WGBH in Boston, begins when Leinsdorf takes the stage to announce the terrible news to the audience and captures the BSO’s heart-rending performance of the Beethoven symphony — a work they found out they were playing only minutes before.

This isn’t a video, just a recording.  It’s beautifully played, so listen to it all.  Don’t listen to it all, but you’ll only need to hear the first 30 seconds to hear everyone’s reaction to the news of the assassination of our president. How the musicians – especially the winds – were able to play at all is well beyond me.

May we never again have to share in such an experience.

Beethoven, Elgar and Montague

Last weekend I had the pleasure of hearing yet another fabulous performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, only this time – I had five other people with me! So instead of just writing about the performance, I thought I’d ask my friends and family to share their thoughts on the concert.

On last weekend’s program were:

Invictus – by OSU alumnus, Stephen Montague.

Violin Concerto by Edward Elgar with Ilya Gringolts on Violin (OMG he was so good!)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

Maestro Thomas Wilkins was on the podium.

Meet my friends and family: Sarah and Bernadette are coworkers of mine. Mom and Dad are…well…Mom and Dad. And Ben, is my 11-year old nephew. Sarah has season tickets with me. This was Bernadette’s first-ever CSO concert. Mom and Dad go at least once or twice per year and Ben went with Sarah and me to his first concert last year for Beethoven’s 6th.

The concert was really great. It truly was. It started out a bit weird, got better with an amazing violinist then ended with the piece we all loved, but hey – don’t take my word for it. Take theirs!

MONTAGUE – INVICTUS

Sarah: “I really liked it”

Bernadette: I’m impressed with the composer…..but I am not too keen with present day composers, you know? I mean…..the piece itself sounded like JAWA and Star Wars or Galactica or something. it was interesting though.

Mom: I liked the idea that it was composed by a “hometown” guy, but I cannot say that I enjoyed it.  Very discordant, which was his point, I guess.  I prefer ‘musical’ music – with a melody.  This, to me, was more like 8 minutes of musicians’ warm-up.

Dad: Interesting, reminded me of Stravinsky.  Not my favorite style of music.  Could not find theme.  However, as a former percussionist, I thought the use of E-drums was kind of exciting touch.    Would not attend just for this style.  Prefer classical.

Ben: Meh. I didn’t like it.

Heather: Funky. Not something I could listen to a lot, but nice to try something new! I especially liked the percussion.

Sarah and Bernie

Sarah and Bernie

ELGAR – VIOLIN CONCERTO / ILYA GRINGOLTS – VIOLIN

Sarah:  I thought he was amazing. It was a little on the longer side but still very good.

Bernadette: OMG!  I never heard this violin concerto before by Elgar…..but my gosh!!!! The violinist was fantastic!!!!!!!  I didn’t hear ANY, ANY slip or slide – no mistake!!!!  And his notes were in tune and of perfect pitch – to the highest note!!!! I love him!

Mom: Loved the first movement. The second and third dragged and seemed unnecessary. The violinist was spectacular. Every note was clear and lovely. Amazing talent. Would love to hear him again.

Dad: He was fantastic. Made Elgar acceptable. Elgar seems to draw themes out too much for my taste.

Ben: It was ok. I got bored.

Heather:  Beautiful! (Bit long in the middle) but man oh man – Ilya Gringolts was absolutely fantastic!  He played exceptionally well and had the most beautiful tone! First and third movements were the best (especially the first).

Mom-Dad-Ben

Mom, Dad and Ben

BEETHOVEN’S 5TH SYMPHONY

Sarah:  I think they did a really good job with the Beethoven too - and that is one of my favs.

Bernadette: Always loved Beethoven….and his story (as well as Chopin’s and Mozart’s) – I’m sure all of them had a colorful life…..but you can hear the passion in his music! That 1st movement (the popular one) was also a piece of mine when I was a teenager – playing the organ!  =)

Mom: Beethoven’s 5th is one of my favorites anyway and the orchestra performed it so very well.  Loved it.

Dad: One of my favorites. Symphony did a superb job. Had me on edge of my seat watching sections play and enjoying.

Ben: I really liked watching the conductor!

Heather: LOVED IT!  Beethoven is awesome to begin with, but the CSO did a great job – especially in the last movement. The first few movements seemed like warm ups to the last one when there was just an explosion of beautiful sound. It sounded like they were really getting into it. I loved it. Love – love – LOVED IT!  I swear I’m not just saying this because I met them – the French horns were awesome!! WOW!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Sarah: Overall I enjoyed it

Bernadette: I like the conductor…he was very ummm, what’s that word??? Not comedic, but “showy?” He was great! I enjoyed him as well as the orchestra  BRAVO to the whole concert! =)

Mom: So fun to watch the conductor. I do not normally pay so much attention to the conductor as I would not want him/her to be a distraction; but in this case, I made an exception. His entire body language enhanced the music. Some parts of the symphony just called for a nuance of movement, while others brought in all parts of his body.

Dad: (Maestro Wilkins) was really into all three selections. He seemed to immerse himself into Beethoven’s 5th. He added history and relevance in his pre-remarks. Would like to see more of him. Hire him when current one leaves. Overall-concert was great. I don’t have to listen only to favorites.  Kudos to symphony for another great performance.

Ben: (about Maestro Wilkins) He was cool!  Sometimes you didn’t see his arms; then they appeared, seemingly out of nowhere!

Heather: Great concert! I especially loved how Maestro Wilkins put everything in historical context prior to playing Beethoven’s 5th.

Oh – and for the record, on the way up to Mom and Dad’s – Dad (completely unsolicited) complimented the horn section, too! “The French horns sounded excellent.  They really did a good job tonight,” is what he told me in the car.

So, about that Schumann Concert Piece for Four Horns for next year…

 

Jean-Sébastien Roy: Concertmaster (Part II)

Welcome to the second half of my interview with CSO Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy. Today I thought we’d start with a bit of Symphony 101: what’s a concertmaster?

According to Merriam-Webster,

con·cert·mas·ter    noun \ˈkän(t)-sərt-ˌmas-tər\

: a musician who is the leading violin player and the assistant conductor of an orchestra

To gain a better appreciation of this position, know this: If you’re good enough to be in a Symphony orchestra – any instrument, any position – then you’re really good.

Growing up, one of my band directors told us this:

It’s really hard to get into a Symphony. You have to be incredibly talented but once you’re in, you’re in for life. So if you’re not already in an orchestra, someone has to either resign or die for there to be an opening.

Competition is fierce and raw talent alone won’t be enough when you’re auditioning with the other musicians at that level who want it just as badly as you do

WQXR radio out of New York posted an article about auditions which taught me this:

In the past several decades, orchestral auditions have only gotten more competitive. A section position for a major orchestra might have 200-300 applicants, and then 100 will be invited to actually audition,

said Jonathan Mednick, CEO of MyAuditions.com, an orchestra job posting website. Available jobs have decreased as well, he said.

“Three years ago, we were averaging 300 plus jobs per month, and recently we averaged about 120.”

So with that in mind, imagine how a musician feels when making it into a top-notch, professional orchestra. Now imagine being that top-notch professional orchestra’s 1st chair violin.

That’s your Concertmaster.

JSR Close up

Jean-Sébastien Roy
(Courtesy http://www.jeansebastienroy.ca)

What additional responsibilities do you have with the CSO as our Concertmaster?  The bowings for the music, though most music already have them marked, so I just make sure it all makes sense.

Simply put, a Concertmaster is the 2nd highest ranking member of the orchestra behind the conductor. The conductor always shakes the hand of the concertmaster. The soloist always shakes the hand of the conductor – and the concertmaster.

The concertmaster is the last one on stage before a performance and is responsible for making sure the musicians on stage are all in tune. Once the orchestra has a chance to tune to the concertmaster, he (or she!) then takes the first seat to the left of the conductor, who then joins the musicians on stage and begins the concert.

To give you an idea of how busy he is, last month Jean-Sébastien met with me for this interview on a Tuesday, worked as a coach to the youth orchestra during a rehearsal (Dvorak’s New World and Saint-Saëns) on Wednesday and then on Thursday attended a fundraising dinner. Jean-Sébastien has also played for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra women’s organization lunches and occasionally meets with various people (donors) after concerts.

Smiling, he told me that,

They want me to do some of everything!

He went on to say, that he’s “…here with a one-year contract, so it’s a bit different than a full-time concertmaster, but with a Music Director leaving, they don’t want to name a permanent concertmaster until the new guy is here.”

The CSO is currently conducting its search for a new music director to succeed our current Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

How soon before a performance do you get your music? 2-3 weeks in advance, but if you have another performance, you might not have a chance to look at it. It’s difficulty vs. how well I already know it. Rite of Spring (with the Montreal Symphony) – it was so well-written, so smart, that I sight read it and performed on only a couple rehearsals.

It’s so hard to find well-written music. Music can be complicated, but it’s so hard to perform.  Stravinsky was complicated, but easier to perform.

What are your thoughts on leadership within an orchestra: (Leadership is) important, but (sometimes) extremely tricky. It’s a group of very talented and highly trained musicians. You must lead them in a very respectful way. It’s tough from the music director’s point of view. You need someone to make a decision (we’ll do it “this way” or “that way”) but you have to do it in a way to respect the quality of playing, backgrounds, etc.

Where do you see the CSO in 3-5 years? I see a lot of motivation in both the administration and the musicians. It’s had a rough patch – they’ve been recovering for 3-4 years. They’re back in good shape, so they can grow again and make it better than what it was before. A lot of it hinges on who is chosen as the music director – with good chemistry with the musicians, the administration and the community, you can just make miracles. I hope we’ll get lucky and get a great person and a great musician. I hope it will get attention again in the community.

For what do you think the CSO will be known? Any particular specialty? Hard to say. With Maestro Zeitouni, it would be vocals since he is amazing with singers. It all depends on the next Music Director.

Why aren’t more soloists pulled from the orchestra itself?

What sells is a soloist.

Jean-Sébastien explained to me how typically speaking, a concertmaster will play one solo per year but, in his case, with an already planned out schedule and a one-year contract put together only a couple months prior to the start of the season, it wasn’t possible to add a solo for him this year.

Speaking of solos, what happens if you break a string?

If something breaks, it’s usually the E-string. If the soloist breaks a string, he can take the Concertmaster’s violin who takes the associate concertmaster’s violin who, then doesn’t play. If I change a string, I need to play about 4-5 hours before it settles in tune. (Will keep going flat) The E-string takes far less time. For that reason, I usually keep an extra string in my pocket when I go on stage.

JSR Sitting Violin

Jean-Sébastien Roy
(Courtesy http://www.jeansebastienroy.ca)

With what other ensembles have you played? Edmonton Symphony, Boston Symphony – they have an incredible hall – very old – no technology, they just made it right. It’s amazing. (There are) amazing acoustics in a new symphony hall in Montreal – they have to rely on the technology.

McGill Chamber Orchestra – as Concertmaster – Nov 26, Bach music festival with six piano concerti – Nice festival, nice hall in an old church.

What do you say to people who don’t think they like classical music? What experience do they have that would make them think they don’t like it? Classical music has so much variety. You are bound to like at least something. I’m sure you can find something you like. There are a lot of preconceived notions. It’s challenging – depends on the community.

We come across as very serious so sometimes that doesn’t help.

It’s not easy, but classical music DOES sell.

Other than Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, what violin music should I have in my music library? Bach sonatas and partitas; Paganini Caprice; Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms violin concerti.

Here’s Jascha Heifetz playing Paganini Caprice

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Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know our new concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy. If you’d like to learn more about Jean-Sébastien and his music, visit his website and his bio on the CSO website. If you’d really like to get to know him, I recommend doing so through music.  Holiday pops concert is the first weekend in December and the next classical music concert is the 2nd weekend in January.  If you are new to the symphony, try it out. It’s really good and well – you may just discover you like it!

Thanks very much to Jean-Sébastien for granting me permission to use some of the photos off his own website.

Jean-Sébastien Roy: Concertmaster

Not long after he was named our new concertmaster, I reached out to Canadian violinist, Jean-Sébastien Roy, to see if he’d be interested in letting me interview him for my blog. Giocosity was barely two months old and I hadn’t even met with the French horn section yet, so I was coming to him out of nowhere with absolutely no interviews under my belt. Within a day he responded back with a yes and even offered to do it over the phone if I weren’t able to wait until October when he was planning to move to Columbus.

Wow. Talk about above and beyond!

Jean-Sébastien Roy

Jean-Sébastien Roy after my interview – probably happy for a break!

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting him downtown where he was kind enough to meet with me for a couple of hours while I asked him a myriad questions – about him, his music and his time so far here in Columbus.

If you’re just getting to know him, Jean-Sébastien Roy played as guest concertmaster with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on two different occasions last year: the waltzes concert at the new year and the Mahler concert in February. He has played as guest concertmaster with orchestras all over the world – including with the Strasbourg Philharmonic in Strasbourg, France, where I spent my senior year in college, so I definitely wanted to ask him about that.

Here’s my interview.  Enjoy!

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Originally from outside Montreal (Joliette), Quebec, Canada, Jean-Sébastien joins the Columbus Symphony Orchestra as our acting concertmaster for the 2013-2014 season. In talking with him, I learned that he already had connections to Ohio.

Here are some of the basics: 

Education: Le Conservatoire de Montréal, Cleveland Institute of Music

Home Life:  I have a younger sister (5 years) who is a pianist.  Mom and Dad are musicians, too (Piano and guitar), but make their living at other jobs.   I also have a dog back home in Canada.

Any fun hobbies?  I’ve become a wine enthusiast.  (And yes, I like the Alsatian Rieslings!)

Why the violin?  It’s always been the violin – since I was two.  I started lessons at age four.

How often do you practice? Every day, but I sometimes have to take a day off from time to time.  It (orchestra playing) can get very tiring.

Do you ever practice as a section? Not usually. (Sectionals are) used more with youth orchestras. If you have time, it’s great, but it’s usually only used if there’s an occasional very difficult piece.

Instrument: 1745 Carlo Antonio Testore, Jacob Eury bow made in 1830  (From 2006-2009, Roy played a 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius on loan to him after winning the 2006 Canada Council for the Arts Music Bank Competition)

1745 Carlo Antonio Testore Violin

1745 Carlo Antonio Testore Violin

What do you gain from performing? I gain a thrill of playing – you go for it.  The public wants to hear this piece, they’re here for a good time. You get on stage, you play your piece, people clap for you. When you rehearse, you start and stop. The energy isn’t the same.  If you screw up, nobody’s there to hear.  At concert time, you have adrenaline in you – you just go for it.  Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not as perfect as in a rehearsal because you’re nervous, but it’s a better experience.

COLUMBUS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

What do you think of the CSO so far? I love it – it’s a great orchestra.  They respond very well to the conductor.  They really care and wish to make the concert very good.  I’m still new, but I’m very happy with it.

Is it nice to be able to work with fellow Canadians Jean-Marie Zeitouni and librarian, Jean-Etienne Lederer?  Yes, but also Alicia Hui (Principal 2nd Violin) is from Canada – from Edmonton.

What should people here know about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra?  We’re just a bunch of people getting together and playing music.  It’s all very interesting with fun people, passionate people.  It’s very demanding to perform, so we might look a little still and focused on stage, but there’s a lot of passion with every performer.

Which concerts are you most looking forward to playing this year? Carmen in Concert, the Bruckner, Guy Braunstein (Former Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic – will be playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto)

Are you looking forward to any particular, upcoming guest conductors? Michael Stern – and Jacques Lacombe (French-Canadian).  Jacques Lacombe – he conducted when I was 10 at a festival put on by my teacher and I’ve seen him from time to time since then.

Ohio Theatre or Southern Theatre?  Southern has better acoustics, but with a smaller place, it’s easier to fill.  The Ohio – the most beautiful I’ve seen in my life.

JEAN-SÉBASTIEN’S FAVORITES

Place to perform outside of Columbus:  Europe in general – anywhere in Europe.  This music was born there, there’s so much history.  America has the incredible halls.  When you set foot in Europe, there are great halls where great performers have been for centuries, it’s very special.  You feel like you’re a part of its history.

Composers: Schubert, Richard Strauss, J.S. Bach, W. A. Mozart

Musical Era: End of the classical / beginning of romantic Mozart and Schubert were writing incredible music.  Beethoven just opened the door to everything.

Show off pieces for the violin: Brahms Hungarian dances

Take a moment to listen to this video of Jean-Sébastien Roy’s playing Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 20.

Pieces for the Violin: Mendelssohn violin concerto is a beautiful piece.  Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major Op us 77, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9 Opus 47 “Kreutzer Sonata.”

Violinists:  Itzhak Perlman, Jascha Haifetz, Nathan Milstein, I love the old guys!

Conductors: Wilhelm Furtwängler (Berlin Phil 40’s), Sergiu Celibidache, Leonard Bernstein

Performances:  Hard to tell – very different playing in a symphony, playing solo, or in a chamber setting – most are special for different reasons.  The Mahler #2 was nice – especially being the concertmaster.

JSR Standing violin

Jean-Sébastien Roy
(Courtesy http://www.jeansebastienroy.ca)

GOTTA ASK!

You just arrived last month, so what parts of the city have you explored? German Village, Short North, Campus Area (I think!)

Can you sing the OSU Fight Song or Alma Mater? Not yet, but I just arrived. (OK – I’ll grant him that, but I came prepared and brought the music for the fight song with me just in case. Unfortunately, we met in a fairly noisy place, so Jean-Sébastien wasn’t really able to pull out his violin to play it for me. Next time.)

Any plans to see the Blue Jackets? Not sure yet – I don’t go that often.  Tickets in Montreal are really expensive. (For you hockey fans out there, Montreal took on Columbus this past Friday and unfortunately, the Habs beat our Blue Jackets by a score of 3-2. Sigh.)

Igor Stravinsky – Rite of spring: Genius?  Or just plain weird?  Genius – the rhythm was incredible.

Finally – and most important – what’s your favorite Jeni’s Ice Cream flavor? There was an almond one that was amazing.  I also like the Poached Pear Riesling.

Again with the Riesling.  I think he might just need to check out some of our local wineries!

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Come back on Wednesday when we talk about Jean-Sébastien’s role as concertmaster, his thoughts on leadership within the orchestra as well as what violin music we should all have in our music libraries!  In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Jean-Sébastien and his music, visit his website and his bio on the CSO website.

Thanks very much to Jean-Sébastien for granting me permission to use some of the photos off his own website. 

 

The Show Must Go On

Last weekend for the first time since moving to Ohio, I had the pleasure of seeing a performance  by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Originally on the program were a handful of pieces ranging from Mozart to Mendelssohn: Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183; Klein’s Partita for Strings; Mysliveček’s Octet (parthia) for Winds No. 3 in B-flat Major and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor featuring ProMusica’s Creative Guest Partner and Principal Artist, Vadim Gluzman.

I heard Mr. Gluzman perform a violin concerto by Alban Berg last May with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  He’s incredibly good and has an album of Partitas out that I especially enjoy.  You should check it out!

Unfortunately, because of a sudden family emergency, Mr. Gluzman had to fly back home to Israel at the last minute. That was announced last Tuesday.  The concerts were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday!  Fortunately, Mr. Gluzman’s good friend and amazing violinist, Mr. Philippe Quint (American violinist, Russian by birth) was able to stand in.  Plus, Maestro Danzmayr was able to change his schedule around to conduct the ensemble as Mr. Gluzman was  originally going to be on the podium as well.

The show must go on, right?

Finally!

Mr. Quint arrived in Columbus on Friday and performed on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, Mendelssohn’s violin is standard repertoire for him and he already had it memorized because he only had about one rehearsal with the orchestra prior to performing it for us.

IMG_1471

Violinist Philippe Quint

Wow.  He was so good and while I only have my CD recording for comparison, he definitely topped that!  The recording I have is of the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Leonard Bernstein with Pinchas Zuckerman on the violin.  I couldn’t help but grin during the cadenza in the middle of the first movement.  I didn’t know fingers could move that fast.  He really did an excellent job playing that for us.

After listening to Mendelssohn’s violin concerto a million times in my car or on headphones, I finally got to hear it live!  Oh wow – it was so beautiful and apparently the rest of the sizable audience agreed with me because we all gave him a standing ovation with a couple extra curtain calls!

We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it. Check out Jennifer Hambrick’s concert review!

Philippe Quint seems to be quite prolific in terms of recorded music.  He’s been nominated for several Grammy awards and has even recorded the Mendelssohn concerto we heard at this concert.  Visit  his website so you can learn more about him. Be sure to check out his recordings, while you’re there.

On a side note, Philippe Quint was also in a movie last year about a Russian violinist working in New York.  Take a look at this trailer. At least here we certainly don’t have to worry about the lead actor’s merely playing the “air violin!”

Chamber music

The beauty of ProMusica Chamber orchestra is that it allows for chamber music to be played. It’s smaller than a full-fledged symphony orchestra and can still play symphonies that call for a full orchestra, (though you probably won’t see something like Mahler or Stravinsky in this setting) but it also has the ability to just send out a handful of musicians as it did with its opening piece: Mysliveček’s Octet (Parthia) for Winds in B-flat Major. The concert started with eight musicians: two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons and two french horns – played by CSO hornists Principal Gene Standley and Adam Koch.

What they played was a beautiful piece by someone I’d never even heard of before: Czech composer, Josef Mysliveček, a contemporary and friend of Wolfgang A. Mozart. (though I saw somewhere they eventually had a falling out over an opera commission or something. I’ll have to look into that!).  The clarinet parts were especially good and it was all extremely well-played.

IMG_1498

Our revised program!

Speaking of Mozart

The second half of the program was devoted to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Maestro David Danzmayr commented on how they just exchanged one G-minor symphony for another.  (The program was originally going to perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G-minor, K. 183. If you’ve seen the movie Amadeus, you’ll recognize it as the opening music being played after Maestro Salieri makes his entrance.)

I’ve been hearing so much Romantic and 20th Century era music lately that hearing this symphony was like I had a chance to go home and spend time relaxing in a familiar and comfortable setting.  It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Of course – I like Mozart so much that I’m already planning a road trip down to Chattanooga, TN to hear this very piece performed again by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra as part of its chamber series. I’m really looking forward to hearing them play in February!

Coda

KUDOS to ProMusica Chamber Orchestra for an added piece of entertainment: Coda. After their concerts, they allow the audience to meet and ask questions of some of the musicians from that evening’s concert. In this case, we had the opportunity to hear Maestro Danzmayr and soloist Philippe Quint afterwards. And while sure, that was cool and all, I also got to finally meet Classical 101′s own morning host, Boyce Lancaster! Yea!

IMG_1469

Maestro David Danzmayr – Philippe Quint – Boyce Lancaster

Mr. Lancaster started things off (once someone found batteries for the microphones! D’oh!) asking them about the changes and such for this concert. From there they went all over the place and seemed to really enjoy answering questions from the audience. I loved having the opportunity to get to know the musicians a little bit in a more informal – and approachable – setting.

Upon meeting Mr. Lancaster, he asked me, “Isn’t this a wonderful way to spend an evening?”

Absolutely! Well done, ProMusica!

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Want more violins? Come back on Monday for part I of an exclusive interview with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy.  OK – I still don’t know how exclusive it really is, but it’s pretty cool all the same!  He’s very talented – you’ll want to meet him! 

 

Coming Soon!

Watch next week for my interview with Jean-Sébastien Roy, our new concertmaster with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Jean-Sébastien-Roy-448x260

Super nice guy – you’ll want to meet him!

In the meantime, check out that violin.  My six-greats grandfather, Capt. Nathaniel Scribner, was only two years old when it was made in 1745.  Yes – it’s older than either of our respective countries! Learn more about it next week!

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Picture borrowed from The Violin Channel.

Science and Music Geeks Unite!

Thought I’d share something fun today!  A little Edvard Grieg.

In the hall of the mountain king performed at the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci by the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg under the direction of Scott Lawton.

Not impressed?  Then try this because this – is – way – cool!

Edvard Grieg – on Tesla coils!

Uh-huh! Sweet!

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Stay tuned next week for an exclusive interview with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy.  OK – I don’t know how exclusive it really is, but it’s pretty cool all the same!  Super nice guy – you’ll want to meet him!

KISS Principle

To quote Lisa Hirsch, author of the Iron Tongue of Midnight,

Make it as easy as possibly for people to give you their money.

She’s right.

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Number of steps required to make an online donation to local arts organizations here in Columbus:

  • Opera Columbus: 5
  • ProMusica Chamber Orchestra: 5
  • Columbus Symphony Orchestra: 20 (More if you have to set up an account and more if you change your mind about the amount halfway through the process.)

5 steps vs. 20-plus steps.  Which seems simple to you?

Persistence, I hope, pays off

Every month I give $5 per month to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Is it a lot? Heck no. It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they need in order to keep up their operating budget – 70% of which relies on donations.

Yeah.  70% of their entire budget.

I did research for this blog and after half a dozen attempts, I LEARNED how to make an online donation to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. It is unnecessarily cumbersome. Their online donation portal, simply put, is not efficient.  It’s not user-friendly and puts an undo burden on the donor, who will most likely give up prior to completing the intended donation.

I’d love to see the conversion rates.

And to be quite honest – had it not been for this blog and a desire to have actually tried something I say I don’t like, I probably would not have donated. Like some CSO musicians, I gave up, too, the first few times, then the next couple of times as well because I just couldn’t figure it out. Sad thing is? I’m computer savvy – I’ve created blogs, websites, I work on computers all day long – PC at work, Mac at home…this should not be a challenge.

Why so many hoops?

Having a computer and knowing how to turn it on should be the only prerequisite to being able to make an online donation. I shouldn’t have to LEARN how to make a donation. I should only have to go to your website, click a button, fill in a few blanks and be done with it. Casual donors are going to send their money elsewhere once they discover how much is required of them up front.

As for my $5? I wish I did, but I just don’t have more to give, so I give that much. I give it because I love the music and for a non-profit organization constantly having to raise money, every little bit helps.

Imagine if the CSO/CAPA team would consider making a change from this cumbersome process to a legitimately good process?

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My research on this comes from open source material. You can check it out yourself and see if you agree or disagree. Here – www.columbussymphony.com. Try to make a donation and let me know how far you get.

And how many tries it takes you to get there.

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