This spring the Young Artists will be playing a piece by a living composer—not just any living composer, Montgomery County’s own Joseph Jay MacIntyre. In fact, the YA had the opportunity to rehearse “The Firth of Forth” under his baton earlier this month.
MacIntyre’s piece is inspired by the estuary (“Firth”) formed where the Forth River empties into the North Sea in southeastern Scotland. The city of Edinburgh sits on the Firth of Forth much like Annapolis sits on the Chesapeake Bay (another estuary). Much like the Bay Bridge crosses the Chesapeake just up from Annapolis, the Forth Bridge crosses the Firth of Forth just up from (west of) Edinburgh.
This railway bridge, constructed in 1890, boasted the longest cantilevered span for over 25 years and is still regarded as a marvel of engineering. In light of an earlier bridge’s collapse the designers of the Forth Bridge produced a structure that was over-engineered both in appearance and in fact, thus providing assurance that the bridge would endure the harsh storms common to the area.
Thus the piece begins with a bombastic introduction in which the full orchestra trades sets of four eighth notes with the timpani, establishing firmly the basis of what develops as the dominant theme. A lyrical middle section evokes a moonlit encounter between horns and solo trumpet, serenaded by the strings and woodwinds while a giant (the low brass) snores fitfully nearby. In the final section the piece returns to the bridge, its footings firmly fixed and its superstructure enduring as a testament to man’s ability to dominate the natural order.
It has been a privilege for me to work with the Young Artists over the year, and to see how they have developed both as individual musicians and as an ensemble. I look forward to the fall, when I will hear the results of a summer’s worth of diligent practice.
Symphony – Kristofer Sanz
What a wonderful experience and opportunity it has been to be able to share my Wednesday evenings with Symphony. I have been very excited all year to get a chance to work with these young musicians and I can honestly say that there has
not been one rehearsal where they do not cease to amaze! We have been working very diligently these past weeks working on some really amazing and highly musical repertoire. From the ominous and emotive brass opening of Sibelius’s “Finlandia” to the lush and sweeping violin melodies in Strauss’ “Roses from the South”, the Symphony has been preparing a very exciting program. One constant that we have been driving home during each and every rehearsal with is that no musician should play any note or any phrase without some kind of musical intention or direction. In order for the music to truly come alive for both the performers and the audience, we as musicians need to take that extra step to truly allow our soul and humanity to flow from our fingertips. Each and every musician in Symphony has been blessed with the amazing gift of music and it has truly been an honor guiding these young musicians through the process of tapping into their most inner self, while perfecting the technical aspects of their music. Each and every player has truly risen to the occasion and I am extremely excited to be able to soon share this special moment with them on stage as we bring to life some of the most passionate, intimate, and bombastic works written for the symphonic orchestra. Thank you to all the musicians, parents, and staff of MCYO for allowing me this extremely special opportunity to make music with some of the most talented young musicians in this area!
Chamber Orchestra – Julie Savignon
I’m thrilled to be writing my last “musing” of the 2012-2013 season with bright sunshine filling the sky! The wintry weather played some tricks on us in the past month or so, even causing us to reschedule our second concert! Although Mother Nature threw us for a loop, the concert could not have been a better example of all the talent and hard work that leads up to a great performance. And that brings me to the topic I wish to explore with you: rehearsal. When the audience comes to hear a concert they witness the result of many hours of personal practice by the students combined with the many hours of rehearsing we do as a group. Add to that preparation a beautiful hall and a great stage like Strathmore, as well as the prospect of communicating some exciting music to an engaged audience and Voila! you have an electrifying performance! But the recipe sounds a little too easy, and of course over simplifies the process.
How we spend our rehearsal time is an important part of the process. We have the practical task of learning the music: the notes, the rhythm, the dynamics. Then we have the responsibility of interpreting these elements to bring them alive off the page. We’ve all been to those incredible performances where the performer made everything look and sound so beautiful, so easy. They literally had transcended the notes on the page and took us to another place, mentally and emotionally. Great music combined with great performances have this magical power. As I rehearse the music with CHA, we work out the notes, the rhythm, the intonation together as a means to a more meaningful performance. Even the technical challenges of our individual instruments can be better mastered when we give them musical significance.
So with those aspects in mind we are preparing two great works for string orchestra: Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings: Finale” and Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings”. They are works of great beauty and we hope you will join us in what will be an exciting program for us to share with you!
See you at the concert!
As the final concert of the season quickly approaches, I wanted to share some thoughts with you regarding the selections the Philharmonic is preparing. I have selected works that vary stylistically in many ways but are all written by French composers. Emmanuel Chabrier penned his “Espana Rhapsody” after having spent some time in Spain and was thoroughly captivated by the energy of Iberian music.
Ravel agreed to orchestrate his “Waltzes Nobles et Sentimentales” as a ballet score for which he supplied the title—Adelaide— and the scenario—a series of fleeting romantic encounters during a party in Adelaide’s Paris salon. Ravel’s music, originating from the French impressionistic period, quickly found a home in concert halls.
Finally, we will conclude our presentation of French composers works with Debussy’s “Clair De Lune”, a standard in the piano and orchestral repertoire but also widely recognized from the soundtracks of several major motion pictures.
As this is indeed the final concert of the year, please be sure to look through the concert program for the page that displays our graduating seniors’ collegiate intentions for next year. We see them mostly as musicians each Wednesday night, but as you will quickly see these students are among the best and brightest in the entire metropolitan area. Also, at the concert MCYO will be presenting its collection of annual awards that go to our most talented and dedicated musicians.
As this will be my final concert with MCYO, and to give our seniors, as well as our undergraduates, a proper send-off, the concert will conclude with one of Tchaikovsky’s most stirring of compositions: “Slavonic March”. In his concert tours in both Europe and America, it was the Slavonic March that Tchaikovsky favored most frequently to bring a single event or a series of concerts to a rousing conclusion. I couldn’t agree more.
It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to work with MCYO’s many gifted musicians for the past 21 years. They have played an integral role in making MCYO an organization of stellar youth orchestras for so many years. I most of all love the connections I have made with the students and feel proud of the small but important ways I have played a role in their musical lives.