Thursday, July 13, 2017

Intermediate Concert Orchestra Repertoire: 2017 Concert #1

Each year, while it Interlochen, I try to post some thoughts without the repertoire that we are preparing. I am a little late in posting notes about our repertoire from our first concert. But, I will make up for it in this post. Look for a second post about our upcoming concert within the next day or so. 

For first concert we did three pieces: 
  • Mendelssohn's Sinfonia Number 2 in D Major, Mvt. 1
  • Water Reflections by Yukiko Nishimura.
  • Heart of Fire by Lauren Bernofsky  

Felix Mendelssohn wrote his String Sinfonias between the years of 1821 through 1823. He was only in his early teens when he wrote these works for string orchestra as part of a music composition assignment. This year, I selected the first movement of Sinfonia number 2. It is an Allegro in D Major and features a wonderful rhythmic verve and strong independence in each of the voices. I have done a number of String Symfonias by Mendelssohn over the years, but this was the first time I have conducted this movement of this piece. It was perfect for the Intermediate Concert Orchestra.  The real challenge in this piece, after learning the notes and general style that is appropriate for the work, is to have the students find and sense the role of their voice within the context of the greater work. Sometimes the students are in the lead and are playing the primary motive. Other times they are providing background harmonic or rhythmic information. (Or both!) The other great challenge in this piece is to have the students demonstrate the more subtle musical lines within the overall dynamic scheme of the piece. Rise and fall of melodic line means everything to the overall impact that the piece can have. It all, I am very pleased with the way the students prepared and performed this lovely work.

Next, we did Water Reflections, by Yukiko Nishimura. This is listed as a grade 3.5 and is published by Carl Fischer. When I first heard this piece, I knew that I had to perform it at Interlochen Kresge Hall. One of the most amazing experiences I've ever had as a conductor is conducting at Kresge. As I am looking at the ensemble in every concert, I can look past them, through huge plate glass windows, to the beautiful Green Lake behind the hall with boats, water skiers, sails, birds , and a generally beautiful setting while conducting. So, this gorgeous piece with a title of Water Reflections was absolutely appropriate for this setting and ensemble. This piece begins with an Andante section that is lush and beautiful . It provides ample opportunity to teach expression, bow use, and advanced ensemble technique. It then moves to a happy-go-lucky Piu Mosso that includes interesting syncopated rhythmic drive and a light moving violin part. It then returns to Tempo 1 and finishes out after a very interesting transitional section. The work ends with some well-placed pizzicato notes that remind the listener of drops of water falling into a pond or puddle at the end of the day. This piece will become a staple of my repertoire. I absolutely love the sounds and opportunities for teaching that are found within this work.

We rounded out our first concert with Heart of Fire by Interlochen composition faculty member Lauren Bernofsky. I wrote about this work extensively in a previous post, Composer Visit . So, I won't repeat myself here. This is listed as a Grade 3 work and is published by FJH Publishing. The work features a Vivaldi like opening and closing with a more lyrical middle section with a wonderful cello solo feature. Please see my previous post for more on this wonderful work. It, too, will become a staple of my repertoire.

I will be writing about our current repertoire within the next day or so. Our second concert of the season is tomorrow, July 14, 6:30 p.m. Please refer to the Interlochen live stream link to see the program. 



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