Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Art Lives Here," Take Two

"Art lives here." This is Interlochen's motto, and for good reason. There are literally hundreds of performances that take place during the camp season. No matter your interests, there's something for you at Interlochen. Below is a list of what I was able to experience this summer :)

6/15: Advanced Oboe Institute faculty recital
6/19: PRISM Quartet
6/23: A First Gathering
6/29: World Youth Wind Symphony
6/30: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
7/3: Intermediate Wind Symphony
7/5: Junior Band
7/7: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
7/8: Collage
7/9: Collage
7/11: Intermediate Jazz
7/12: Intermediate Wind Symphony and Intermediate Symphony Orchestra
7/12: High School Jazz
7/14: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
7/16: Harry Connick, Jr.
7/17: Steve Miller Band
7/19: Junior Band
7/21: Interlochen Philharmonic with Festival Choir
7/21: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
7/28: World Youth Symphony Orchestra
8/1: High School Honors Chamber Recital
8/2: Junior Choir & Junior Band
8/3: Intermediate Wind Symphony and Intermediate Symphony Orchestra
8/4: Interlochen Singers and World Youth Honors Choir
8/4: Interlochen Philharmonic
8/4: World Youth Symphony Orchestra and Les Preludes
8/7: Adult Band Camp Faculty Recital
8/8: ZZ Top
8/10: Adult Band Camp Chamber Music Recital
8/11: Adult Band Camp
8/12: Josh Groban
8/13: Mauchley Duo
8/14: Enso Quartet

I didn't get to attend as many performances as I did last year because I was in a new position that demanded more of my time. Nevertheless, I think I did pretty well :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adult Band Camp

This was my second year working post-camp. For library staff, post-camp entails one week of Adult Band Camp followed by one week of the Adult Chamber Music program.

During Adult Band Camp (ABC), the musicians have band rehearsal in the morning, sectionals and chamber music in the afternoon, and various performances in the evening. At the end of the week, participants have a chamber music recital.
ABC Brass Choir

The band performed:

The Star-Spangled Banner - Jack Stamp (arr.)
National Emblem - E E Bagley
Festive Overture - Dimitri Shostakovich
"Gandalf" from The Lord of the Rings - Johann de Meij
Lux Aurumque - Eric Whitacre
Garden of the Gods (World Premiere) - Robert Burns
Eternal Father Strong to Save - Claude T. Smith
Kaddish - Francis McBeth
Gibraltar March - Richard Waterer
Them Basses - G H Huffine
Adult Band Camp
Adult Band Camp

The band sight-read:

Pathfinder of Panama - John Philip Sousa
La Fiesta Mexicana - H. Owen Reed
Lincoln Portrait - Aaron Copland
Cityscape I - David Holsinger
Colonial Song - Percy Grainger
Elegy for a Young American - Ronald Lo Presti
The Magnificent Seven - Elmer Bernstein/arr. Phillippe
Finnish Folk Song Suite - Jan Van der Roost

I really enjoy working with ABC because all of the musicians are so incredibly nice. The majority of them return every year, so they're very friendly with one another and have a lot of fun. I enjoyed last year, but the second was even better. Many of the participants remembered me, and they really made me feel welcome. I even got an official ABC shirt :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Les Preludes

Les Preludes is the final, and most important, performance of the summer. All of the students in the high school ensembles (World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Interlochen Philharmonic, and World Youth Wind Symphony) come together after the final WYSO concert of the summer to play Liszt's tone poem Les Preludes.
Tuesday night Les Preludes rehearsal

As I mentioned in my last post, Les Preludes requires two extra rehearsals. The first is on Tuesday evening, and the second is on Saturday morning at 7am.
Saturday morning Les Preludes rehearsal
Although this is the last time that the musicians play together, this performance also represents new beginnings. It's an extremely emotional event, and afterwards it's incredibly common to see students crying and hugging one another, all while trying to take some last minute photos before leaving camp in the morning.

Reserved seating
For ensemble librarians, it's one of our biggest challenges of the summer. Getting music back from students is difficult enough, but getting it back from 350 students in the midst of the chaos following the performance adds a whole new level of difficulty!

Reserved seating
However, we do get the perk of reserved seating! Immediately following the performance, every librarian (including reference interns) springs into action. As WYSO librarian and a two-time Les Preludes veteran, it was my job to plan our strategy. Every librarian was assigned an exit to The Bowl, and we went to our assigned exits and collected music from every student as they left the venue.

It was another smooth year, and I'm so grateful for my co-workers and all of their wonderful work in making it such a success!
As always, the performance was fantastic and its symbolism was powerful.

To the end of one chapter, and the beginning of the next.
Les Preludes

Thursday, August 8, 2013

WYSO, Week 6

A rainy rehearsal in The Bowl
Each year that I've worked at Interlochen, Week 6 has been the busiest. The high school ensembles have two extra rehearsals for Les Preludes, the final performance of the season, and the high school orchestras have an extra rehearsal on Monday, which is traditionally their day off. It's a busy time for everyone on campus, and this year was no different!

For the final WYSO performance of the summer, Jung-Ho Pak returned to the podium. He led the orchestra in a performance of Stella Sung's Loco-Motion and the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

Although Loco-Motion had been written two years earlier, we still had a few changes to the music, including a new ending to the piece that had been written for us by the composer. The new ending was written after the music had been distributed, so I had to coordinate changing the last page of every musician's part. It was great to communicate with the conductor, and the collaboration between the composer, conductor, and librarian was a great learning experience. The piece came together quite nicely, and you can listen to the recording at the composer's website.

Jung-Ho Pak conducting the World Youth Symphony Orchestra
Joined by soprano soloist Molly Fillmore, the Wagner was the final piece that WYSO 2013 would play together. Although technically it was among the easiest pieces of the summer, it was one of the most challenging musically. It was a great test of concentration and musical maturity, and the musicians delivered.
The World Youth Symphony Orchestra with soprano soloist Molly Fillmore
As is tradition, WYSO's final concert was followed by Les Preludes. I'll discuss that in more detail in my next post!
Jung-Ho Pak conducting the World Youth Symphony Orchestra

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WYSO, Week 5

In the high school division, students audition every two weeks for the chance to change orchestras and/or chair placements. Week 5 began the final rotation, which meant that the last set of music went out!

WYSO folders for the final rotation, Weeks 5 and 6

Week 5 also brought a new guest conductor to the podium. Andreas Delfs, conductor laureate of the Milwaukee Symphony, led the orchestra in a performance of Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture and Brahms's Second Symphony.

The biggest surprise came before the concert. Traditionally, it is the orchestra librarian's job to collect the conductor's scores and place them on the podium. When I found Maestro Delfs before the concert, he told me that he was not going to use scores for the performance. A member of the stage crew removed the conductor's stand from the stage, and many of the musicians' eyes widened. It was the first time that many people, myself included, had seen a conductor perform an entire concert without his scores! (For more about conducting from memory, I recommend reading Paul Hostetter's blog post on the topic.)

By this point of the summer, things had settled in to a routine. The final auditions were complete, and we still had a week until Les Preludes. Campus was pretty relaxed, and we even had the chance to celebrate Christmas in July! Stage Services had a Christmas tree, and its decorations evolved throughout the day. Week 5 was the calm before the storm :)

Stage Services's Christmas tree at 8am
Stage Services's Christmas tree at 11am

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WYSO, Week 4

Week 4 was another fantastic week. Jung-Ho Pak was once again at the podium, this time leading the orchestra through a performance of an NPR Medley and Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony.

The NPR Medley was a fun piece because we had the composer, B.J. Liederman, with us. He attended rehearsals, provided his expertise, and played piano with the orchestra.

Composer B.J. Liederman with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra

There was a major logistical issue with this concert, as the piano had to move from the front of the stage for the NPR Medley to the back of the stage for the Shostakovich. A stage change like this is always challenging, but this case was extreme because there was no intermission!

The process required violinists to leave their seats very quickly at the conclusion of the NPR Medley so that the stage crew could move all of their chairs and stands out of the way (there were 32 chairs and 16 stands!) and move the piano to the back of the stage. The stage crew then had to reset the violin section and the violinists had to retake their seats and get re-situated very quickly to begin the Shostakovich.

It was a complicated process that was originally estimated to require twenty minutes. However, the stage crew is absolutely fantastic and, after a few test runs, more than halved that estimate.

Mid-stage change
Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was the piece that most excited the musicians. From the very first day of camp, they were practicing those excerpts in hopes of claiming a seat in WYSO for the performance. During the first few weeks of camp, students would come to the library and study Shostakovich, rather than the pieces that they were supposed to be preparing to perform that week. When the first rehearsal finally arrived, energy levels were very, very high. The musicians had been looking forward to this for weeks, and that enthusiasm was obvious.

As always, Maestro Pak did a fantastic job of teaching the students about the piece and its background. The Fifth Symphony is subtitled, "A Soviet Artist's Response to Just Criticism." Following the premiere of the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Shostakovich's work had been denounced by Stalin and the Communist Party. Fearing for his life, he wrote his Fifth Symphony to appease them. While the symphony was successful in pleasing both the Communist Party and the Soviet public, there is irony hidden throughout.

It was a great learning opportunity for the kids, and they put together a great concert. I was really proud to be a part of it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

WYSO, Week 3

The third week, WYSO was supposed to be led by Andrew Grams. However, he had a family emergency that forced him to cancel. The orchestra was once again led by Jung-Ho Pak, who graciously agreed to conduct.

Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2
The only piece on the program for the week was Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.

It was a rather hefty piece... the string parts were about thirty pages each, and the full stack of orchestral parts measured just under a foot tall. Additionally, there were close to one hundred pages of errata for me to complete (errata sheets list errors in the parts/score and how to correct them). Preparing the piece was a huge undertaking, but it was so incredibly worth it.

It was a great fit for the musicians and they did a wonderful job with it. As Maestro Pak said to the orchestra, "Rachmaninoff was an innocent. He was a romantic and naive and you guys are totally buying into it because you're innocent and there's not a jaded bone in your body."

It was a great learning experience for the orchestra as well. Maestro Pak encouraged imagination and daring in their playing, and reminded the orchestra to have all of the pieces in place -- "just plain beautiful is not enough."

I learned a lot just from observing rehearsals that week. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful conductors and young musicians here, as I'm learning so much from all of them.

All of their hard work paid off, as the performance was amazing and actually brought tears to many eyes.

Now, it's on to the much-anticipated performance of Shostakovich 5!
Jung-Ho Pak leading the World Youth Symphony Orchestra