Thursday, July 27, 2017

Intermediate Concert Orchestra Repertoire: 2017 Concert #3

Last night, the Intermediate Concert Orchestra performed its first program of the second session for the summer of 2017. They gave a wonderful performance and all three ensembles on the program were exceptional. As is usually the case, the program order began with Intermediate Concert Orchestra, followed by Intermediate Wind Symphony, directed by  Dr Mary Land, and finished up with the Intermediate Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Oriol Sans .

ICO's program was:

Symphony No 104 "London" First Movement, Haydn, Arr. McCashin
Impromptu for String Orchestra, Sibelius
Ancient Light, Peter Terry (World Premier)
Samba Me This! Thom Sharp

I have already written extensively about Ancient Light and Samba Me This. So, I will focus these brief remarks on the Haydn and Sibelius works that were performed.

Symphony No 104 "London" First Movement, Haydn, Arr. McCashin ss a challenging adaptation of Haydn's original symphony movement for full Orchestra. This piece, published by the FJH Music Company, is listed as a grade 4.5. I believe that grading is accurate. This piece provides numerous opportunities for teaching a variety of techniques. The opening is best done in a subdivided four and is a great way to introduce subdivision to students. It is all so wonderful for teaching accurate double dotted 8th notes/ 32nd notes. Moving into the Allegro, there are numerous techniques that must be covered. I worked with my ensemble a great deal on listening for the inner rhythm or the "engine" that drives the piece This engine is provided by 8th notes which move from section to section. This movement also requires broad dynamic swings and the students must be focused on dynamics throughout. This is also a wonderful opportunity to teach spiccato bowing and to encourage your students to play in the lower half of the bow. This is a wonderful teaching peace and when performed appropriately, comes off very well.

The Sibelius Impromptu No. 5 for String Orchestra is a beautiful work which begins with a lovely con sord Andantino in E minor. There is ample opportunity for lush string playing and technique in this work. Students must adapt to the push-pull of the tempo and follow each other and the conductor. I particularly worked with my students to breathe on beat 4 and to never rush to the downbeat. The middle section is a brisk Andantino in 6/4. It begins in E Major, eventually moving to E minor. This section features the Violin I and Viola sections with a beautiful melody supported by the the Violin II and celli providing the rhythmic and harmonic underpinning. The piece ends with a reprise to the A section that is absolutely beautiful. There are opportunities in this work for teaching phrasing, bow distribution, tone color, and as always, watching the conductor.

On to a new concert cycle! Rehearsal today at 2:00 will include lots of sight-reading.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Samba Me This! by Thom Sharp

One of the pieces that will be on our program Wednesday, July 24th at 6:30 p.m. is a wonderful Latin piece by Thom Sharp entitled Samba Me This! For this performance, we will be featuring Interlochen Faculty members, David Kay on soprano saxophone, Alejandro Bernard on keyboard,  and Aaron Tenney on bass, along with Intermediate camper, Daqi on drums.

Samba Me This! by Thom Sharp is a wonderful original tune for String Orchestra and Drum kit that features dancy Latin rhythms and a wonderful chord progression.  The piece is listed as a grade 3.5. It is definitely a hard 3.5.  Audiences will need to hold on to their hats for a fast ride on the samba machine! This piece is rhythmically challenging and chromatic but has a singable main theme. All sections are featured and everyone in the orchestra has shifting challenges in their part.  It is published by Latham Music.

Today was our first opportunity to put this piece together with our guests. It was a pleasure to welcome them to our Monday rehearsal and start really putting things together. The first concept that we really focused on was maintaining tempo throughout the piece. I had a wonderful opportunity to discuss the similarities between this piece and the Haydn Allegro that we are preparing. The concept of "inner rhythm" and keeping the subdivision going through audiation (inside your head) throughout the piece is a common theme with both works.

We also had a wonderful discussion about improvisation and how we go about adding the improvised saxophone and keyboard parts to the string orchestra framework. The students got a chance to hear both David Kay and Alejandro Bernard improvising over the fantastic string sounds that Tom Sharp has created. It is always a pleasure to do Thom's compositions as they have such a representative string/jazz orchestra sound.

The students also got to participate in and witness the kind of interaction that happens between music professionals within the context of rehearsal. We discussed the arrangement, the "roadmap," opportunities for improvisation, dynamic nuances, rhythmic nuances, and other musical factors in the piece. I find that it is a great learning opportunity for students to simply be part of those discussions along with the professionals that are in the room.

Finally, when there are guests in the room , there is always a sense of urgency and a need to be efficient with the time that we are given. The students of Intermediate Concert Orchestra certainly succeeded with that today. It was a wonderful, successful rehearsal. I am sure that the audience will love this piece when it is performed on Wednesday.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues David Kay, Alejandro Bernard, and Aaron Tenney for giving ICO this great opportunity!

That's it for now. It is a beautiful Monday afternoon at Interlochen. I am looking forward to welcoming some friends from North Carolina to the area today and giving them a grand tour of our campus.

We hope to see you on Wednesday through the live stream.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ancient Light

One of the great privileges of working in Interlochen in the summer is rubbing elbows with wonderful musicians from many different areas of the music world. One of those privileges is preparing and performing new music that our composition faculty has created for ensembles here at Interlochen. Over the last couple of years I've developed a deep friendship with Dr. Peter Terry, a wonderful composer and musician who teaches Electronic Music Composition here.  This summer, the Intermediate Concert Orchestra is privileged to perform the world premiere of his new work for string orchestra, Ancient Light. Dr. Terry came to our rehearsal yesterday to give us some insights into the work after we had spent a number of days framing the piece and getting ready for his input.

We began our time with Dr. Terry by asking him to respond to an incredibly light question that I had asked all the students earlier in the rehearsal. What exactly is your favorite dessert and why?  I have found over the years that simple conversations like this are often wonderful ice breakers and yesterday was no different. I think the question threw him for a little bit of a curve-ball and he took a moment to consider the answer. After a few moments of thought, he let us know that tiramisu is his favorite and that it was because his family had a number of traditions around this dessert. This provided a wonderful segue into our work for the day on his composition.  Immediately, he had a connection with kids and they were now ready to hear what he had to say about the new work.

I then asked him to tell us just a little bit about the title and the ideas behind the work. He explained that Ancient Light refers to the to a common interest that he and his father shared in astronomy and looking at the night sky. He was always aware when engaged in this activity that the lights that he was seeing in the stars were generated millions of years ago. The things that we see in the night sky may not even exist anymore. The magnitude of that idea is reflected in this piece. He also explained that the piece is inspired by thoughts and feelings related to family (especially his father)  and the depth of that relationship and related experiences like the time they spent studying the stars.

We continued by playing the piece for him and asking for his input. The composition features 4 sections and is in A-B-A-B form.  It floats between E minor and G Major and I would call it about a Grade IV.

The A section is a bold Allegro in 3 with a driving rhythmic underpinning. He explained that the rhythmic underpinning must have a heroic feel. It is actually a "bravura" section and he wanted the students to give it an almost march-like, military drive. This resonated with the kids and they immediately made the adjustment. Additionally, there is a rhythmic, syncopated , marked melodic figure in the other voices. He asked for very short releases at the end of these short phrases and it provided a greater sense of urgency in this rhythmic passage. I always find that having a new voice in a rehearsal yields great results and this was certainly the case. The way Dr. Terry made his points resonated with the kids and they seemed to internalize the idea behind these passages.

Next, we dug a little deeper into the primary melodies of the piece and the way they interact with each other. He noted that each time the primary motive enters in a new voice, it should be somewhat intrusive to the other voices. Again, that word intrusive really resonated with the kids. They were able to execute this almost immediately and it transformed the impact of the piece in those places .

Next we spent some time in the more lyrical B sections of the piece. Each of these sections is very chorale-like and requires a totally different approach. We looked at the greater dynamic scheme of each of these sections and noted that they grow continuously through two statements of the entire chorale. They reach an apex on the final stanza which is then followed by a hushed, brief reprise. As we looked closely at this dynamics scheme, the musical line of this section became so much more perceptible.

As we moved through the rehearsal, you could feel the energy grow and the excitement for the piece intensify. By the end of the rehearsal there was incredible life in the work and the students were quite engaged and committed. The rehearsal ended with Dr. Terry giving a wonderful charge to the students regarding the privilege of performing a world premiere. He sent them into our last few rehearsals with an inspired challenge to truly own the work and to realize that there is only ever one World Premiere of a work. Intermediate Concert Orchestra gets to experience that and no one else will ever have that experience. What a wonderful challenge! I have no doubt that this will be one of the most meaningful musical experiences of these young musicians' lives.

I want to extend my deepest thanks to Peter. I value our friendship so much and truly enjoy out all of our musical collaboration. This is the third world premiere that I have conducted for one of his compositions.  (Blindsighted and Beneath the Irish Sky, Carl Fischer Publications) I consider it one of the great honors of my musical life and my work at Interlochen.

This concert will take place on Wednesday, July 26th at 6:30 p.m. in Corson Auditorium on the Interlochen campus. It will be available via live stream as well.

Peace .


Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday in ICO

We had a super-productive rehearsal to in Intermediate Concert Orchestra.  The students had sectional rehearsals today after my rehearsal.  So, my goal was to cover as much of our repertoire as possible and challenge the kids to articulate which sections needed work in sectionals and why.  I had my ensemble manager take notes and when they left for sectionals, we gave the principal players the list to take to their faculty section leader.   We got though almost everything and had a very productive rehearsal today!

Cello Section

Viola Section

2nd Violin Section

First Violin Section

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday ICO Conversation

Today in Intermediate Concert Orchestra we welcomed our faculty section leaders for a second time. I decided that today would be a good day to have a group conversation about ensemble playing and the role of the individual within the ensemble. I asked my faculty colleagues to join in on the conversation. I have found over the years that sometimes faculty interaction with and in front of students is a wonderful learning vehicle. So, today, that was the beginning of our class conversation.

I started the class by asking the students to talk a little bit about what they love to see and hear when they go to a great orchestra performance. I received responses that included: bows moving in unison, physically invested performers, great repertoire, a look of purpose, and others.  I was quite impressed with the student responses right out of the gate.

Next, I asked my colleagues to talk a little bit about what they need to do to create the  performances that the students were discussing. What did they need to do to generate a performance that was exciting to watch and hear ? What is the role of the performer?

Size of Group
Equal Importance

One faculty member expanded on the importance of listening and watching from the first rehearsal to the last. Listening for the style and intonation of the other people in their section and the sections around them. Watching for technique consistency, bow placement, and other subtleties as the repertoire developed from sight-read to performance.  Another spoke of the importance of uniformity from throughout the rehearsal process until a performance. They mentioned the need for working for this uniformity from beginning to end.  Still another mentioned the equal importance of knowing the role of each voice in the ensemble. They mentioned that in rehearsals, they are always trying to figure out the role of their voice and how it fits in with the others. Finally, another mentioned the importance of a passionate pursuit of musical excellence from the first rehearsal to the end of any performance.

Self Challenge

We then discuss what they bring to the table musically in each of these goals. One mentioned that simply allowing his personality to be part of the rehearsal process enhanced the process a great deal for him. This could be as subtle as offering smiles or salutations to his colleagues as he arrived at rehearsal. Those friendly offerings lead to wonderful musical relationships. This is a great way to approach rehearsal and the rehearsal process. Another mentioned the concept of understanding their role in the orchestra at all times. Sometimes their voice is a melody. Sometimes their voice is harmony. Other times it is a rhythmic underpinning. Knowing the role is vital. Another mentioned that it is important to be prepared for active listening and reacting throughout a rehearsal process. One never really knows what is going to happen. The brain must be turned on and ready to act and react at a moment's notice.  Still another mentioned that subtleties in rehearsal can be quite extemporaneous. Things can be different every single time a piece is played. There can be subtle changes in tempo,  phrasing, dynamics , and musical interaction at any given moment. The performer must be in tune with them at all times.  Also, a section player must be willing to challenge themselves on many of these issues.  They are not always visible to the conductor, but are integral to the success of the ensemble. Finally, another colleague emphasized the importance of emulating those around them. Looking to the section leader or other sections for bow placement, style, articulation, and other technical aspects of her performance and emulating them in order to provide a uniform product.

This was a wonderful conversation and certainly timely today. As we are now three rehearsals into this concert cycle, I thought it was important that students had a good handle on their role in the orchestra. I wanted them to know that sometimes they had to be they have to be self-motivated in terms of what the next step is. There was mention of the fact that in any rehearsal process one must move from focusing on the technical -  to the artistic - to process and, finally - to perspective. If you are interested in knowing more about my thoughts on this, please refer to my recent article, "What and How?"

Tomorrow we have sectional rehearsals!  Onward.



Blue Collar Education

Those of you that see my Twitter or Facebook feed on a regular basis know that I've been posting quotes from a book I am reading this summer,  Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, by Frank Bruni. This book is required reading for all incoming and current students at the North Carolina School of Science and Math where I teach during the regular academic school year. I have truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for parents and students alike. This book is full of stories and data that suggest there are many public and small, lesser known institutions across the United States which provide deep, challenging, meaningful opportunities for undergraduate education.  I know from experience teaching at NCSSM, an academically elite high school, that many of our students aspire primarily to Ivy League and other elite schools. I also see the incredible hit to their ego and feeling of self-worth when some are rejected from these institutions. The book makes the point that application numbers are elevated and rejection rates are at an all-time high from schools like Ivies, MIT, Sanford, Duke and many others.

So, as I have been reading the book, it has been easy to reflect on my education and subsequent opportunities in the world of music and music education. I did not come from a conservatory background. My parents were not professional musicians or even significantly music educated. Nor, was I ever sent to private schools, arts magnet schools, or elite summer music opportunities.  In fact, some of this is quite ironic, because, as I write this, I am on the faculty at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, one of the nation's most highly regarded summer arts training facilities. I teach during the Academic Year at NCSSM, one of our nation's most elite STEM high schools. And, I frequently guest conduct elite high school honors orchestras throughout the United States. So, I thought that many of my readers would enjoy hearing about my educational background and musical experience, as well as my path to my current place in professional life.

I'm the son of educators. My father began his career as an elementary teacher and eventually worked his way to principal and, finally, superintendent of schools in my hometown of Indiana, PA. My mom was an English teacher for her entire career in a small rural community outside the college town I was raised in.  My parents had a HiFi stereo in the living room and I can remember listening to records that ranged from Tennessee Ernie Ford to Glen Miller to classical recordings. I can remember being particularly interested in a recording of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, primarily because of the picture on the cover of the record album. I remember that it was a pirate with a sword and it inspired my imagination. I actually remember pulling a stick from a tree outside the front of our home and pretending I was a conductor.  I have early memories of attending orchestra concerts at the local high school and university.   At the age of six I expressed interest in learning to play the violin . And after a great deal of pestering and prodding, my father reluctantly agreed to buy a small violin for me and find a private teacher. I was fortunate to have a neighbor who lived a short distance from our home who was a graduate violin student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Formerly Heidi Peterson, now Heidi Trevor Itashiki) and she was a fantastic violinist.

I began taking private violin lessons and excelled quickly. My sisters both followed suit and begin studying violin and cello within a short period of the time that I began. By the time I was eight years old I had begun taking piano lessons (in which I never invested too much thought or time) and music became a priority in our home.  Soon after, when my teacher finished her degree, I moved on to another teacher in my town, Gloria Johnson, who taught most of the top violin students. Her husband, Hugh Johnson, happened to be the conductor of the IUP Orchestra.  I studied with her throughout the rest of my junior high and high school years.  I played in school orchestra every year. I took private violin lessons. I played in numerous recitals in my town each year. I participated in performances for service organizations, church, and other community organizations throughout elementary middle and high school. I (with my parents support and guidance), invested in the music community of my hometown and they invested in me. Somewhere around age 12, I picked up the electric bass and started playing in rock bands in my community as well. Music was becoming a huge part of my life .

I attended summer music camp every year.  Interlochen was not within my family's budget, so I attended music camp at Edinboro State University.  I played under the baton of noted conductor, Walter Hendle and developed a lifelong friendship with Camp Director and Edinboro University Orchestra Conductor, Cliff Cox.  He became, in many ways, my model for what an orchestra conductor/pedagogue should look and act like on the podium.  I had experiences as concertmaster and as principal second violin in orchestra on various summers, played chamber music, played in pit orchestras for operas, had fun and learned so much while at camp.  I also attended Music Art and Drama Camp at Westminster Highlands each summer, a Presbyterian Church Camp in North Western PA, where we would create multi-art performances from scratch.  These camp experiences were incredibly formative in my music and leadership education.

I played in District, Regional, All-State, and even All Eastern Division Orchestras. When I was 16, I was invited to become a member of the IUP Orchestra and was thrilled to be part of a college performing ensemble at such a young age.  I also began taking music theory lessons with another local music student who was doing graduate studies at the University of Michigan. I remember learning about the circle of fifths and playing chords on the piano. This completely changed my life. I began writing music and found that I could move people with my art.  I was becoming a solid well-rounded functional musician.  I was also a top academic student. I was in all of the advanced classes in my high school, had a very high GPA, and graduated among the top students in my class. I was class president, had a wonderful social life, and enjoyed a fantastic high school education. I participated in clubs, music theater, weight-lifting, raquetball, and many other activities.  My senior year of high school was filled with music classes because I had finished most of the other academic offerings at my high school and I knew that I wanted to pursue music as a career.

When it came time for college, I had options. I was accepted to a private school in New York, a state university in Ohio, and my local state university, Indiana University of Pennsylvania . I initially made a decision to attend a school outside of my hometown. I was fortunate that the Music Department Chair from IUP knew me and my parents well and took some time to come to our home, sit in our kitchen, and explain to me that IUP had everything that the other schools could offer and more. I was convinced. Why drive 7 hours to college when I can simply go across town? I decided to attend IUP and would pursue a degree in music education even though at that time I really wanted to be a songwriter. (Actually I had no idea what I wanted to be! I just knew that I was good at music.)

IUP afforded me incredible opportunities. My violin instructor, Delight Malitsky, a former concertmaster of the Honolulu Symphony, was a world-class violinist and pianist. She nurtured me unconditionally through my four years of undergraduate education.  She truly provided me with conservatory-class private instruction.  I played in an orchestra that regularly prepared and performed the masterworks. I learned to love Beethoven Symphonies, Aaron Copland's orchestral works, Stravinsky, and many others. We performed classic repertoire as well as new music regularly. I had numerous solo opportunities in college and performed both a junior and senior solo violin recital.  My recitals included solo repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Kreisler, Bolling, Lalo, Sarsate and many others.  I played bass in the university big band, loved touring, and developed wonderful relationships with many of the jazz students. I excelled in music theory and the many other academic opportunities in the music department at IUP. I also loved my general education courses and I'm fairly certain that I had A's in all of my non-music courses.

One music education professor, Dr. John Kuehn, took a particular interest in my education and invited me to participate in the University Lab School music program even when I wasn't registered for his class. I jumped at the opportunity and quickly became interested in teaching and all that he could offer me in terms of training. By my junior year, he offered me an opportunity to teach the strings class (under his guidance) at the school. This was an unprecedented opportunity for an undergraduate at IUP and I jumped at the chance. By the time I student-taught a year later, I had already managed my own classroom for a full year in an elementary setting.  I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and that I could be good at it. I graduated Summa Cum Laude.

I student-taught at Williamsport Area School District in North Central Pennsylvania with well-known string educator and conductor, Walter Straiton. Walt was a wonderful mentor to me and continues to be to this day. I was given so many opportunities while at Williamsport. They seemed to sense that I had what it take took to be a master teacher down the road. I was green, but I was enthusiastic, and I had the training and tools to develop into a fine teacher.

I landed my first job at Palmyra School District near Hershey, Pennsylvania. I taught there for 6 years and had a wonderful experience learning to become a teacher in the elementary, middle and high schools. During my time at Palmyra, I pursued summer pedagogical workshops and was particularly enriched by a workshop at Central Connecticut State University which was taught by Dorothy Straub, Marvin Rabin, and Jim Kjelland. That workshop changed my life and gave me real tools to use in the classroom. I also knew that I wanted to continue to deepen my violin skills with Delight Malitsky, my collegiate violin instructor. So I went back to IUP and finished a master's degree in violin performance.  While at Palmyra, I played in the Lebanon Valley College Orchestra under the baton of Klement Hambourg, played numerous solo recitals, and took gigs at all of the local colleges and universities.

Soon, other teaching opportunities began to materialize. I moved to the Washington DC suburbs and began teaching at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, a Science and Technology Magnet School in Prince George's County and an MENC School of Distinction with a huge music program and lofty orchestral reputation. While there, I began to pursue post-masters studies at the University of Maryland. Most notably, I studied conducting with Professor William Hudson. I always took my conducting seriously and worked very hard to develop that art.  I never finished that degree, primarily because my first son was born and life simply took over. I also was beginning to receive numerous conducting opportunities outside of my school and began developing my reputation as a pedagogue, teacher trainer, and conductor of honors orchestras. The opportunities became plentiful very quickly.

Obviously, that's not the end of my education. Everyday is a learning experience. Other educational highlights include my National Board Certification and subsequent re-certification, numerous conferences and summer workshops, hundreds of books and articles, and probably most importantly, my broad experience.  But, that was the end of my formal education in a collegiate setting. None of it was at a conservatory. None of it was at a private school. None of the schools I attended were considered "elite." But all of them afforded me amazing opportunities, wonderful instruction, and met me where I was as a musician and a student.

So, how does someone experience such a blue collar music education and end up teaching at Interlochen and NCSSM? For me I think it comes down to a couple of factors. First, I believe in "active learning." I honestly believe that in every course I've ever taken, every lesson, every rehearsal, every gig, and every book I've read, I have been actively learning.  I try not to be passive about anything when it comes to learning. I try to engage my brain, think through process, and find connections in everything that I read, do, and experience.  I'm reminded of my experience while playing second violin Annapolis Symphony Orchestra back in the 1990's under the Baton of Gisele Ben-Dor , thinking that every rehearsal was a conducting lesson. She was a master. I learned so much playing second violin in that orchestra simply by watching her, taking mental notes, and incorporating many of her techniques into my own school orchestra conducting.  Another key, in my mind, is quite similar. It is to always "move with a purpose." My 3 sons get tired of hearing me say this on a regular basis. But, I believe it. In everything we do, it never hurts to hustle. The more we move with purpose, the more the people around us understand that we are serious about our tasks. I believe this has been an integral part of my development as a musician and as a professional. Opportunities don't just fall out of the sky. Someone has to think that you're worth the investment. Hustle and purpose is free and goes an awful long way!  Finally, I believe that my passionate pursuit of excellence has served me well. I have never been interested in being second-best. I have always been interested in being the best that I can possibly be. And, I believe that I have a palpable passion for the work that I do. Again, this can be a little bit abstract. But, when one is passionate about their goals and activities, combined with intellect and hard work, anything can be accomplished.

So, in wrapping up, I've been so fortunate. In attending public universities and schools, I have received some of the finest instruction that a music student could desire. I have never felt like my music education was lacking because I didn't attend an elite institution. I certainly received all of the necessary tools for musical and professional success as part of my education. I believe strongly that it is what you do with those tools that determine future success. I will continue to try to be a good steward of that education. I truly desire to pass all that I received through my education on to my students on a daily basis.

That is my goal today and every day.



(And, by the way, my oldest son is pursuing a degree in Music Education at UNC Greensboro, an absolutely amazing public institution.  He is getting a world-class music education!  Full circle.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Interlochen ICO, First Day of 2nd Session

Today, Tuesday, July 18th, 2017, marked the first day of the second session of Interlochen Intermediate Concert Orchestra.  I was pleased for have a few days off following our concert on Friday and was very ready to get back to work  today!  It was a great pleasure to meet all of my new students today and we had a wonderful rehearsal. We rehearse most days in Grunow Hall which is located along the shores of Green Lake at Interlochen Arts Camp. Today was a warm day. While there are fans in the room, they blow our music all over the place. So, most days we go without major ventilation in the room other than open windows.  So, it can get a bit steamy in there.  But, what is a day of camp without a little discomfort, right? (We did keep the windows open today.)

We started today's rehearsal by introducing ourselves to the people on both sides of us and then got right to work. The first hour of rehearsal included faculty section leaders sitting at the front of the section, while everyone sight-read the new repertoire. I will post extensively on the repertoire that we prepare over the next three weeks in coming days. Today, during the first hour, we actually got through just about all of the repertoire that I have planned for the first program. This includes a Robert McCashin arrangement of Haydn's Symphony 104, Movement 1, a Sibelius Impromptu, a brand new piece by Peter Terry, entitled Ancient Light, for which we will perform the world premiere next Wednesday, and a wonderful Latin tune called Samba Me This by Tom Sharpe, which will feature Interlochen faculty members David Kay on sax and Alejandro Bernard on piano.

To begin the second hour, I had students get to know their stand partner a little better. I had each member of the orchestra introduce their stand partner, tell us where they are from, and tell us something interesting about them other than the instrument that they play. This is a great way to break the ice with a group of young musicians and is always great fun. Today we learned that we have athletes, scholars, bakers, readers, and folks who love to sleep. We also learned that we have a large contingent from New York City, Chicago, Indiana, and numerous other places within and outside of the United States.

We then began our work on the Haydn Symphony and Ancient Light. I feel like we have a good start on both pieces and asked the kids to spend a bit of time in the practice room tomorrow on each of them. We will hit the ground running tomorrow and look forward to our first performance next Wednesday. It is a great group of new students. There were lots of smiles today. I know the next 3 weeks will be a blast - full of great music-making, learning, and fun!