We’re so excited for tour!!! #flightbuddies #CStour
The tour shenanigans will never end #CStour #pimpin
The Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University will present a symposium on the revolutionary El Sistema entitled, “Music Transforms,” on April 13. The symposium is open to the public and encourages the participation of educators, musicians, and community leaders. Registration is free and includes lunch.
“Music Transforms” will explore El Sistema’s innovative approaches to music education, community engagement, and social transformation. Focusing on the history, philosophy, and practice of the Venezuelan program; the symposium seeks to inspire musicians, educators, and community leaders to embrace music as a potent force for building a more prosperous future in the United States and beyond.
The featured speakers are Jamie Bernstein, internationally renowned narrator, writer, and broadcaster; Christine Witkowski, Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s YOLA at HOLA program (Gustavo Dudamel’s signature program); Stanford Thompson, CEO of Play on, Philly! and chair of the US National Alliance of El Sistema-inspired programs; and Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada, classical conductor, author, and Executive Director/Head of Learning of El Sistema Oklahoma.
The half-day symposium at OCU is co-sponsored by El Sistema Oklahoma, a program of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in partnership with OCU.
All lecture and keynote presentations to be made available worldwide via Itunes University.
To celebrate Boston’s favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, as well as our upcoming spring break (woohoo!), this issue is centered around all things green– not just the color, but everything it represents as well. We’ll cover everything from green efforts at NEC, to good luck charms, to ways to make a little extra “green” if your bank account is suffering. (Side note: We left out Urban Dictionary’s definition of “green,” but we feel confident that’s been covered well enough in Colorado.)
Due to an enthusiastic influx of submissions following the release of our Valentine’s issue, we have lots of great content to share with you this month. Please keep those submissions coming! The deadline for our April issue is March 28th, and you can email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a magical spring break– don’t practice too much, enjoy the sunshine, and read the Penguin!
Read it online here:
Rehearsing x a million
I am a freshman voice major, and this is my first year in Chamber Singers.
Naturally, at a conservatory, the first thing we think to talk about is the music itself: the sounds we make, the songs we sing, the basic structure of the pieces themselves, learning, training, practicing. But the one thing that sets my experience in the New England Conservatory Chamber Singers apart from that of all of the other choirs in which I have participated is not written into any score, nor is it something that can be fabricated, practiced, or reproduced. It is silence.
Chances are, you’re experiencing silence to some degree as you read this blog. But what’s so special about *our* silence, and why is Chamber Singers silence more meaningful than others?
In the moments before Ms. Washburn begins a piece, there is a perfect unity among the group, as each singer sheds themselves and gives their minds, bodies, and souls over to the rest of the choir. Like March’s snow in April, each singer melts into one another, soaking into the music, and contributes to the cadential crocuses and melodic marigolds that bud only when this harmony, so to speak, is reached.
It is in these little moments when the air itself seems to vibrate. Although you were simultaneously nervous, excited, and breathless twenty minutes earlier (or, if it is a rehearsal day, despite the fact that you just downed half your body weight in black coffee), there is a characteristic calm before the storm as each singer puts his or her ego and personal strife on a shelf and becomes one with the choir. You can almost see a fellow Chamber Singer’s heart rate slow as he or she realizes that they are in good hands and that the group will catch them if they falter. It is this supportive atmosphere and all-loving attitude that truly defines this particular group of individuals. You can’t find anything like it anywhere else in the world, and I consider myself blessed to count myself as one of their ranks.
Come and experience it first-hand. It is truly a sight to behold, and we are aching to share it with you.
Recently my wife and I found ourselves involved in multiple rehearsals and a performance of Façade, a musical extravaganza composed in 1923 by the English prodigy, William Walton on the hallucinogenic poetry of Edith Sitwell. It was a mesmerizing experience on many levels. As the speakers, our performance was prepared by the composer and conductor John Heiss, a long-time and much respected NEC faculty member. (Stravinsky called him “the Pitch Doctor” – because he could hear even more sonic details than the composer!) John, in his quiet, totally dedicated and committed way, was absolutely demanding of the very best we could all do. Given my schedule I was very much of a mind that well…if it’s good enough then it’s good enough. John’s approach was never to compromise. Good enough was merely a way station on the road to doing even better, and even better meant that there were at least 10 more levels to strive for.
It reminded me how we are all prone to plateau in our endeavors, because we don’t have such constant critical prodding and feedback. So our tennis, golf, snooker, running, weightlifting attain a certain level, but then get stuck.
Musicians—at least the best of them—aren’t and cannot be like that. (One of our young brilliant violinists recently complained of a “rave” review because there was nothing critical he could learn from it). They strive continuously, seek criticism, advice, new ideas, and then they work…with passion and for a definite goal. It is that sense of self-challenge, of self-criticism, of wanting to go further, deeper, into a work they are studying or writing themselves, that makes musicians such creative artists and such unique individuals.
If I were running a major corporation I would make a point to consider only musicians for all senior creative appointments. Just consider what they can bring to the table: A work ethic that knows no compromise. Problem solving from all those countless rehearsals. Analytical skills that can make sense of the most complex score.
Then, there is their memory. Can you imagine having prepared and memorized a complete opera lasting three hours, or a solo recital programme lasting an evening, or a concerto with full orchestra? And what about performing charisma, that wonderful Greek word meaning literally a gift from the gods, capturing an audience in thrall of their magic. Ears….. what about ears? Musicians’ ears—and I include jazz players and contemporary improvisers—are more finely tuned than a world class racing car.
Then, there’s the experience working in groups, be it trios, quartets, opera, jazz, chamber orchestra, or a full symphony. These ensembles are complicated structures, requiring team leadership, conflict management, give and take, blending of sound, AND a sense of humor.
To these qualities, we can add the dedication to achieving a goal, with clear objectives and a strategy through rehearsals that leads to the ultimate metric of the performance. And think of what goes into a performance: the energy, the experience of music and life, the soul-baring, and the courage to take risks even if the result is a failure. In fact, maybe failure is a blessing because there is more to learn from its resonance than the fait accompli of success.
In spite of all these “marketable” attributes, today’s musicians face greater demands than ever before. (And this is true for all creative artists.) It’s not enough simply to play well.
It’s no longer enough to win a major competition (as Van Cliburn so famously did in 1957)or a plum job in an orchestra. None of these guarantees that things will fall into place, that success is assured, without the necessity to build the foundation and structure of a self-made career. Indeed, I find much concern and often frustration from competition winners because their huge expectations and initial excitement are not being met. Artist managers toy with possibilities and dangle ideas that don’t come to fruition. Then there are those elusive orchestral or opera jobs, with literally hundreds of applicants eyeing every one slender opportunity that’s on offer. And even once attained, these positions are now no longer as secure as they once were.
But despite all this, I sense and I experience huge optimism in the music world. The old structures are being forced to change. The role of a musician is now being defined more broadly and probably more excitingly than ever. And there are new performance opportunities, and new ways to penetrate the community and attract diverse audiences. The sense of energy and excitement is palpable, as musicians define for themselves “portfolio careers,” which can embrace a myriad of skills from performance, to teaching, to composing, to arranging, and…yes… being an entrepreneur in the changing world of arts and entertainment.
In this next series of blogs I will be inviting some of my colleagues to tell of their own experiences or discoveries as musicians, teachers and entrepreneurs. I hope to map the new pathway that is emerging, a pathway that utilizes the very best of that astonishing skill set and talent that belongs to musicians.
Recent tour rehearsal…