Sunday, August 7, 2016

ICO 2016 Interlochen Final Concert

Before I close the door on my 2016 Interlochen experience, I want to make sure that I say a few words about the repertoire that I selected for our final concert of the season. That concert actually took place several weeks ago.  I am sorry I didn't post about it prior to the performance. I do, however I encourage you to check out the audio recordings of the concert at the Interlochen Public Radio website. I will attach the link here as soon as it is available.

For this concert we did 5 selections.

We began the program with Mandolina by Gabrielle Faure, arranged by Tom Sharp. Those of you that know me, know that I frequently perform alt styles works arranged and composed by Tom Sharpe. This, however, is a wonderful piece by Faure, originally scored for piano and soprano solo. Tom Sharpe has brilliantly arranged it for string orchestra. Let me Begin by saying that this is a pretty difficult work. We actually had to modify some of the viola and cello parts to accommodate some of the less experienced players in the Intermediate Concert Orchestra. That said, it was quite easy to transcribe the bass line for these areas of the piece. This work includes beautiful melodies for each section of the string orchestra. It begins with a lovely soaring cello line and then hands the melody off to the violins. The B section is led by the violas. The melody then returns to the cellos  featured on the A' section to the end. I must say that this addition does require a good deal of editing. The bowings also must be modified for young orchestra in order to make the phrasing really speak. Also, it takes some time to really figure out who has the melody at any given moment and how the accompaniment parts fit in underneath the melody. That said, when all assembled, this is an absolutely beautiful work. I would rate this as about a grade 5 piece. It is absolutely stunning when performed.

For our second piece, I continued with the French theme. We performed the Minuet from Le Tombeau de Couperin, by Maurice Ravel, arranged by Carrie Lane Gruselle. I became aware of this work 2 years ago at a new music reading session that ASTA presented in North Carolina. It is a little outside the box of what I would normally Program for young orchestra. Each voice in the string orchestra is very independent and it requires attention to dynamic detail, as well as attention to details in phrasing, bow technique, hooked bowing, and other techniques associated with the impressionistic period. This piece features lovely melodies in each section and requires students to be very cognizant of conductors' nuances in the stick. The B section of this work features a muted string section performing a haunting minor melody.

Third, the orchestra presented the world premiere of Peter Terry's Blindsighted. You can see my notes on this piece in my previous post.

Following that, we performed the world premiere of another String orchestra work. This piece, the Colosseum, by Macenna Hanson held a place very near and dear to my heart. Miss Hanson, you see, was the concertmaster of this very ensemble during the summer of 2015. She approached me at the beginning of the summer of 2016 and informed me that she was now a composition major at the Interlochen Arts Camp. She told me that she had been working on a piece for string orchestra. I offered to read the piece in one of my rehearsals and she enthusiastically accepted the offer. After looking at the score and hearing a midi recording of the work, I offered to spend some time on the piece and see if it might be performable. It became clear very quickly that this piece would be a favorite of the students and myself and we could certainly perform it on the stage of Kresge Auditorium. Of course, Macenna was thrilled and we, in fact, performed the world premiere of that work on our concert. It was such a thrill and pleasure to perform a work by a young composer and see her hard work come to fruition in such a magnificent performance space.

Our fifth and final selection for this concert was Bert Ligon's Bossa Rojo for string orchestra. This is a wonderful, light bossa style piece for string orchestra that features opportunities for teaching articulation, improvisation, and pop style playing for young string orchestras. This piece is a grade 3.5 and is truly a pleasure to perform. The melodies have been stuck in my head for the past several weeks! We decided to feature Interlochen faculty piano instructor, Alejandro Bernard  Papachryssanthou on the electronic keyboard as part of this performance. He added a solo on keyboards that was a true face melter! What a blast! It was a wonderful way to end the 2016 concert season for the Intermediate Concert Orchestra.

Again, I encourage you to check out the recordings of these pieces. I could not have been any happier with our performances. I look forward to continuing to write about repertoire that I select for the various orchestras I am working with in coming weeks and months.

Until next time.



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