Category Archives: Blog

The Best and Future Audience: 4th Graders Visit The Planets

Forget Peter and the Wolf. I can’t think of a better work for introducing young people to the symphony orchestra than Gustav Holst‘s The Planets, particularly when enhanced with a projection of NASA imagery. 4th graders from 33 Miami-Dade public schools were treated to a concert of most of that piece, performed by The Cleveland Orchestra Thursday at Knight Hall, under the baton of Giancarlo Guerrero. The conductor burst onto the stage in his usual energetic manner and led the orchestra on a brief passage, after which the auditorium full of young students applauded and cheered. He then began to … Continue reading

Posted in Bass Clarinet, Bass Trombone, Basses, Bassoons, Blog, Cellos, Clarinets, Contrabassoon, Cornets, E-flat Clarinet, English Horn, Euphonium and Bass Trumpet, First Violins, Flutes, Harp, Horns, Meet The Orchestra, Oboes, Percussion, Piccolo, Second Violins, Timpani, Trombones, Trumpets, Tuba, Uncategorized, Violas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Percussion Up Front

As a kid, I always got a big thrill from the percussion section of a symphony orchestra. Maybe it was the memory of the beating of my mother’s heart or simply a child’s love of hitting things and making a big noise. Perhaps it was having watched the second version of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much which leads up to that tense moment when the cymbals will mask the firing of an assassin’s gun. Or that I grew up in a culture of percussion: claves, maracas, cowbell, gourds, drums, drums, drums. It still thrills me. Those musicians up … Continue reading

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Music of the Spheres

A long, but not too long, time ago in our own solar system . . . a composer set out to capture that very solar system in music. Gustav Holst‘s The Planets — along with much of Wagner, quite a bit of Stravinsky and a good share of Schoenberg— is the fountainhead of sci-fi music. And Holst’s inspiration having been more astrological than astronomical is fitting for this birth; after all, what is astrology but the original science fiction? Holst first wrote most of it for two pianos, but it’s the full orchestral treatment that best projects the big cosmic … Continue reading

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Talking Toward Ensemble

Music performance is always a conversation. Between musician(s) and public, to be sure. But also among musicians. The conversation can be scripted, like a play, with room for interpretation, also like a play, and that is the case of classical music. It can be lightly scripted with lots of room for improvisation, and that’s jazz. It can be rowdy, and that’s rock’n’roll. It can be pious, in church, or profane, anywhere where liquor is served and sensuality is in the air. And it can also be just that, conversation, actual talk, which is what happens in a rehearsal. Frost School … Continue reading

Posted in Blog, First Violins, Uncategorized, Violas | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parade’s End; Young Composers Get Read

Does a reading of student compositions tell us anything about where classical music is or has been heading? As I listened to an octet of Cleveland Orchestra musicians perform the works of the very skilled composition students at the University of Miami Frost School of Music some thoughts came to mind. This exercise could not be more valuable, for the students not only heard their pieces played by professional musicians but by virtuosi of the highest order. And the students were becoming savvy to the specifics of writing for an orchestra — which the octet, conducted by Brett Mitchell, represented. … Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Applause versus Silence: A Very Public Dilemma

To clap or not to clap, that is the question:/Whether ‘tis Nobler in Knight Hall to suffer/The itch and restlessness of a frozen audience,/Or beat your arms in applause at the end/Of every godforsaken movement. A thoughtful post (in Spanish) by Sebastian Spreng posed the question of applause protocol. Instead of the traditional silence, there is now some clapping between movements, a noisy behavior adopted and sanctioned by some in the classical music community. Spreng recalls a marvelous concert from his Buenos Aires youth. A nadie se le ocurría romper el hechizo, he writes. No one could imagine breaking the … Continue reading

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Singular Miami Concert

Audiences at this weekend’s Cleveland Orchestra concerts may want to know that hearing British baritone Simon Keenlyside sing with the orchestra is a singular experience (and not because the “barihunk” sang with an open collar). “His schedule would only allow these concerts in Miami”, said the orchestra’s Executive Director Gary Hanson during intermission. “He has not sung with the orchestra in Cleveland since 2011.” Regardless of one thinks of the performance, a question we will leave to the reviewers, the second concert of the season is singular in another way. One of the veteran concertgoers expressed his disappointment with the first … Continue reading

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angst and Flow at the Rehearsal

“It make you think of what it takes to put it together, what went into it,” said Betsy Foote, who with her husband Tad was attending a Cleveland Orchestra open rehearsal for donors and students at the Knight Hall. She confessed that she had “to move with the music” and couldn’t keep still in her seat, a normal response to the fact that The Rite of Spring is basically a dance. And she said watching the rehearsal, as Franz Welser-Möst fine-tuned the performance, would enhance her experience at the concert. Interestingly, neither of the Footes is a classical musician nor … Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Angst and Flow at the Rehearsal

Master Classes by Cleveland Virtuosi for Very Young Students

At Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, Isabel Trautwein was leading three violin students, two of them sisters, in what looked for all the world like a physical education class with a violin in tow. Leg lifts, leg bends, body twists, body bends, arm swings, and, in the end, making like a bubble head. It was all part of the Cleveland Orchestra violinist’s coaching students in Miami Music Project —  modeled after and connected to Venezuela’s famous El Sistema. While the students lifted legs, bent their bodies and bubbled their heads, they played scales on their violins, and, yes, they … Continue reading

Posted in Basses, Blog, Cellos, First Violins | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stravinsky’s Savage Birth of the Modern

A couple of years ago, when I greeted Giancarlo Guerrero at a Cleveland Orchestra event at the beginning of the Miami season, he looked flushed with excitement and said to me in Spanish, the language we were using, that he had just done la consagración. I was puzzled. The consecration? Had the conductor joined a monastic order and taken religious vows? It took me a moment to remember that what I knew as The Rite of Spring or Le sacre du printemps is called in Spanish, La consagración de la primavera, which Giancarlo had just conducted. A sacred work in … Continue reading

Posted in Blog, Directors, Meet The Orchestra | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment