We’re off and running on another BSO Academy. There are more than 100 musicians here this year to play side-by-side with members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and under the baton of Marin Alsop.
So far, the week is off to grand start. A big difference this year is a partnership between the BSO and the Baltimore School of the Arts. Our first sessions are taking place in rooms that were purpose-created for teaching music, meaning there are lots of music stands and pianos everywhere to support playing. There are dozens of rooms for practicing and private lessons in the middle of Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood.
There have been some lovely events to help us get acquainted with other musicians here. Among attendees I’ve met so far are a retired violinist from the Kansas City symphony who is now playing the harp and another violinist who works on environmental issues in Maryland but also plays the flute and saxophone. This year’s roster includes a significant number of teachers — finally able to attend because this year’s Academy is a little later — after school has let out for the year.
Today, we eased into playing with a fun session of string orchestra and a helpful master class — both led by BSO ConcertMaster Jonathan Carney. In the evening, chamber rehearsals began, and I worked on Mozart with the delightful Ivan Stefanovic of the BSO.
Sectionals take place tomorrow as we begin work in earnest on the Orchestra repertoire, with our first rehearsal in Meyerhoff Hall scheduled for Tuesday. We’re aiming for a great concert on Saturday evening, June 30th.
Another big summer event for string players in just around the corner. Interlochen in Northern Michigan hosts the annual Adult Chamber Music Camp next month, for a full week of playing in small groups. For those who can’t do the whole week, there’s also a String Chamber Orchestra Weekend. While I’m pining to go, my schedule this year – with Baltimore and all – just can’t spare the time.
Meanwhile, how does a professional violin player spend her summer? Rebecca Nichols, the coach of our chamber group at the BSO Academy and a first violin player with the Baltimore Symphony, is spending her summer on a sailboat with her husband, sailing up the East Coast to Maine. You can read about her experiences and see some great pictures on a blog she’s writing: Becky’s Sailing Adventure. And, just because she’s sailing (or battling seasickness) doesn’t mean that she stops practicing. She isn’t taking her best violin on the trip, but she is playing as they go!
Received word today that the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis has announced a fantasy camp this fall. They are looking for 50 amateur musicians – all parts – to take part in a two-day camp in mid-September. The repertoire is Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, which is scheduled to be performed with the symphony in the second half of their September 16th concert. You can get more information on the Minnesota Symphony site.
The information comes courtesy of Nan Washburn of the Michigan Philharmonic, who has just been named the new conductor of the Orchard Lake Philharmonic Society Symphony Orchestra. The appointment received some coverage in local papers this weekend. Speaking both as a new board member of OLPS and a member of the orchestra, I’m delighted that Nan is coming on board. The repertoire she has chosen for our fall concert is intriguing (Gluck, Ravel, Sibelius, Berlioz, and Mao Yuan).
The OLPS Symphony is looking for additional players, especially all strings. If you play and want to get involved with a group, now is your chance! Rehearsals begin Thursday, September 15th at West Bloomfield High School. Additional information and registration materials are available on www.OLPSMusic.org.
Sunday morning. Slept late. Groggily pulling myself out of bed, when Chuck sticks a newspaper under my nose.
His picture. Huge. In the Farmington Observer and Eccentric. Playing his saxophone with the New Horizons Band. Continue reading
The envelope was large, brown, and addressed by hand.
“Congratulations! After careful review of your application, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is pleased to offer you admission to the second annual BSO Academy …”
I’m in. Continue reading
Anne Midgette, who writes The Classical Beat blog at the Washington Post, has a posting today about the large number of orchestras in the Washington, D.C. area. In her post, she writes:
“I’d submit that orchestras also offer a more participatory experience than, at least, opera; more people have had enough music lessons to make their way through some symphonic repertory than are able to sing “Don Giovanni” on stage.”
Indeed. The full post is worth a read, and is inspiring to look at.
Australia will host the next edition of the YouTube orchestra, and musicians have until the end of November to submit their auditions. The Strad had an article announcing the competition. Selected musicians will play with Michael Tilson Thomas at the Sydney Opera House next spring (or is that fall down under?). Continue reading
This past week, 60 Minutes did a piece on the new artistic director of the Los Angeles Symphony and his drive to bring more music into urban schools. There were a lot of claims made about music providing discipline, hope, and a way out for children who live in seemingly hopeless situations.
A quick search on the web turns up a lot of studies about the effect of music on older adults. One, published a few years ago jointly by professors at the University of Miami and Michigan State University, found that participating in group keyboard lessons caused Human Growth Hormone levels to skyrocket in older adults. HGH is one of the new “wonder compounds”, given credit for making people feel better, have better muscle tone, and fighting the visible signs of aging. Check it out at http://www.amc-music.com/musicmaking/wellness/hormone.htm. Now that’s a cheap alternative to plastic surgery!
If you are looking for more incentive, check out www.WannaPlayMusic.com, a website that defines midlife musicians like me as “recreational music makers” or people who enjoy “playing musical instruments alone or in a group without the goals of mastery or performance.” They have links to teachers and other resources to get your juices running.
The site is affiliated with Making Music Magazine, which has a pretty nifty website of its own at www.MakingMusicMag.com. Southeast Michigan’s own Mitch Albom is featured on this month’s cover. Be sure to check out their interactive map of summer music camps. Also, check out the Hollywood stars who are also “recreational musicians.”
And keep playing. The weather is better — so take it outdoors!
Thanks to Raymond Murphy from Motor City Brass Band for providing these new additions to our *Places to Play* links: Continue reading