Anusha Manglik’s perspective on Senior MYWE

Preparatory School - Wed, 2014-12-17 09:47

Last week NEC Prep spoke with Anusha Manglik, who gave us some of her thoughts on the upcoming Senior MYWE concert (last Sunday).

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I’ve been looking forward to this performance for a long time; the only bad thing about performing is the month’s break after. Your average person doesn’t understand ensemble music that well, the bigger part of the population. They think it’s just scratches on a page with the conductor just waving his arms around trying to put together this motley array of people moving their fingers and tapping their toes. But this performance, I think, is going to show people that there’s more to that in music. It may be only a wind ensemble concert for someone’s kids or someone’s friends when those people walk in, but when they walk out, they’ll feel completely different. They’ll be amazed by what a decent-sized ensemble of high school kids did in just a few months. I know this because that’s how I felt, the first time I came out of a MYWE rehearsal. I want to share that love of music, and the excitement of playing in what I think is the most beautiful hall to exist, with the crowd.

What have been the challenges of the program in rehearsal?

After being in MYWE for a few rehearsals and haphazardly trying to read the celebration on the page in front of me, I realized I had to practice my music with a metronome. My first thought was, a metronome? Do I even own one of those? I ended up practicing my music for longer and longer times, and sometimes playing with recordings, sometimes just hearing it out myself. I’ve seen more sixteenth notes in a row that I’ve seen in my life in MYWE, sextuplets, quarter notes tied to triplets tied to eighth notes. I had to work on focusing on blending myself with everyone else, and as a trombone player, that’s a little hard because there are so few of us compared to upper woodwinds and trumpets. I go into rehearsals feeling energetic and come out feeling exhausted, in a good way.

How have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

To play in MYWE, you really have to be cognizant of the small things that bring the music from average to above. That’s what makes us special. You can’t miss a marcato, a ritardando, or the smallest of dynamic changes, because even if you’re playing whole notes the entire time, you count. From rehearsal, I learned what to open your ears meant; it’s one of those things you only know how to do when it happens. I remember my first day in Jr. MYWE; I was in eighth grade, and was so excited, but when everyone started playing, I realized that I had to practice. I did not like practicing. After the first few minutes, I could barely hear myself: it was then I decided I needed change. The first day of Sr. MYWE was a lot different. When you play with such an ensemble, you realize that there’s more to music than just playing it. Now I can feel it, I can see it.

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

Honestly, I love all our pieces, but there was one at the beginning that stuck out to me, for some reason. It may be the least rhythmically technical piece we’re playing, but October is my favorite. There’s a certain beauty that comes from higher-level musicians playing a simpler piece. Everyone in our ensemble understands how the piece moves, and if I look around while we’re playing it, I can see everyone in sort of a trance, all swaying together a little. It’s playing these perfectly harmonized put-together chords that send shivers down my spine every time. What that means to me is not something I can put in words, it’s a feeling, almost like you’re full when you listen to it. You’re full, but you want it again, and again, and again. It relaxes every single muscle in your body, almost like you’re floating. October is the one piece that I enjoy every single note, measure, and phrase of, and it’s nothing but love.


Cultivating Cohesion

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:22
This process of developing and articulating a new practice, one well-founded in scientific research, was never a theoretical exercise for me, but part of my own desire to resolve for myself the paradox of the orchestra as agent of social change vs. orchestra as the most anti-social mode of cultural... Sistema Fellows Program

Maria D’Ambrosio’s Senior MYWE Highlights and Challenges

Preparatory School - Sat, 2014-12-13 14:41

NEC Prep had the opportunity to ask Maria D’Ambrosio about the upcoming Senior MYWE performance this Sunday.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

“What has set MYWE apart for me from the very beginning has been the intense dedication that every ensemble member brings to the rehearsal, and I feel that that passion is reflected and conveyed through our every performance. Every time we’re in Brown on Friday afternoons and Mr. Mucci calls out “Jordan Hall, guys,” it becomes increasingly clear that there’s a mindset that accompanies being in our grand, majestic concert space. Not only does this mindset encapsulate the feelings of raw emotion evoked through past performances that veteran members can draw on, but it also signifies that essentially every rehearsal is a performance, and thus every performance a rehearsal. I couldn’t be happier to share our final rehearsal with our family, friends, and community.”

What have been the challenges of the program in rehearsal?

“You probably wouldn’t think “You sound like a very good high school band” would be an insult. Sometimes we’ll find as individuals and as an ensemble that we struggle to meet the high standards set for us and that we essentially set for ourselves. Specifically, we often address intonation and rhythmic cohesion within sections as well as the greater picture, learning that what may seem like minute passage work can have large contributions to the piece as a whole. I feel, though, that our greatest challenge is not only transcending the image of your quintessential high school band, but endurance. “Chops,” as we brass players often call it. It can apply not only to MYWE, but to any young musician faced with an hour of heavy-hitting playing. It definitely applied to our Mahler 1 program in YPO last month. Healthcare may call us the “young invincibles” but learning to healthfully push our limits is an ongoing challenge.”

How have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

“Through associative learning, we learn to establish connections between two stimuli. Generic definition aside, math calculated, every week I spend about 225 minutes in Period A Band room at Plymouth North. MYWE rehearsals last, after Thanksgiving, 150 minutes. The learned association of performing at a high school band level is therefore naturally stronger than that of exceeding the standard every Friday in Brown Hall and the number one clinically-proven way to kick this in the shins? (This, folks, is where the answer to the question actually comes in!)

If we take that which we learn that helps us most to grow, the aforementioned “Jordan Hall mindset,” and take that with us when we commute back to our various high schools across the state, we won’t simply grow as musicians. We can not only use the particular way of thinking in our own practice, but use it to help others, our friends, fellow musicians, peers. We’ll grow as people.”

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

“Oh boy this is a tough one. Wow. Each piece has so many different redeeming qualities.

My favorite piece on the program is “October” by Eric Whitacre, and among the reasons for my choice I have an anecdote from a few weeks’ worth of rehearsal.

We started the 2014-2015 MYWE season on September 12th. As customary at our inaugural rehearsal, as well as first post-concert rehearsals with new repertoire, we run through the pieces in what will probably become concert order. After playing through Peter Menin’s “Canzona,” we found the Whitacre on our stands next. Well, as we soon discovered, there were no wind chimes to be found in Brown Hall. Come the week after, there were still no wind chimes, in a piece that opened with this often seemingly insignificant piece of percussion.

October has furthered my appreciation for each individual instrument as pieces comprising the larger MYWE puzzle, from the serene wind chimes and wistful oboe solo sitting upon rich low winds, to (shameless plug) the soaring horn lines nearing the piece’s glorious conclusion. Every instrument truly has their say in the conversation that this work creates as it unfolds before the audience.”


Youth Chorale Experience with Lucas Guzman

Preparatory School - Fri, 2014-12-12 11:01

NEC Prep had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Lucas Guzman about the upcoming Combined Chorus Concert on Saturday, December 13th at 1 pm in Jordan Hall:

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I would have to say any chance that I get to perform in Jordan Hall is a special one. Knowing the quality and the experience of performances given before me in that special place is really a motivator to continue the tradition of excellence. As my teacher tells me, there is a certain aura to the place which energizes you and simply makes you want to sing well.

Is there a particular section in one of the pieces that you’re excited to sing?

There are quite a few sections in the pieces which I am looking forward to (all of them!). But particularly, I enjoy the cadences because they can be so satisfying when you sing them just right and get the cut off right on time.

What have been the challenges of the program in rehearsal?

One challenge that immediately jumps out at me is the shear quantity of good music, which in my opinion, is a really good problem to have. But the problem with having so much good music is that one feels obliged to give every phase, every note its due attention. The challenge lies not in lack of beauty but finding the best way to sing every phase. This task is really fun, particularly with Handel, because it requires you to think about point and the purpose the music. For me, personally, this challenge of singing the music appealingly to the listener has caused me to start thinking of the Messiah not only as a piece of music but as a work of art in historical context. For example, while singing melismas I first recognized how beautiful they were in the context of the piece. However, over time, ideas about Handel’s intentions of writing them (or of writing the Messiah in general) started to occur to me. In short the musical challenges encountered in Youth Choral caused me to think of music in new and creative ways.

How have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

On a personal note, this piece, Handel’s Messiah has special meaning for me. It is an echo into my past as a full time choir boy at the St. Paul’s Choir of Men and Boys in Harvard Square, Cambridge. I remember when I sang this very piece 4 years ago in St. Paul’s Church in Harvard Square. Now I have the opportunity of singing in another thrilling venue, NEC’s Jordan Hall. Needless to say, I am excited for this concert! Moreover, Messiah is a gauge of how far I have come as a musician. And for this progress, I owe much to Youth Chorale and the direction of Jonathan Richter.

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

In particular, my favorite movement of Messiah would have to be “For Unto Us a Child is Born.” Certain phases that I had previously sung happily but without much consideration I now acknowledge. I notice how the violins reflect the voices of the singers. For me, Messiah both represents personal growth and also is an undeniably first rate piece of music to sing!


A word with Yooni Park, member of Young Women’s Chorale

Preparatory School - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:27

Please join us for the Combined Chorus Concert–this Saturday, December 13th  at 1 pm in Jordan Hall.

NEC Prep had a chance to speak with Yooni Park (Young Women’s Chorale) about this Saturday’s concert:

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

“I am most looking forward to being able to show all our families and friends how much work we’ve been able to do in such a short amount of time. So far, Young Women’s Chorale has been able to get through so much music and make it polished so quickly, which is a really cool experience. I really can’t wait to show them the finished product of how well we’ve been doing every week, and let everybody hear all of the pieces we’ve been singing with Mr. Richter. Of course, I’m also looking forward to hearing all of the other groups sing, because listening is just as exciting as performing.”

Is there a particular section in one of the pieces that you’re excited to sing?

“If I had to choose an important section of one of the pieces, I would have to say the part in Nuit d’Étoiles by Debussy where we all begin to sing in unison. It’s really interesting when we’ve all been harmonizing together and then all of a sudden we’re singing the same thing. It shows that we can be separate yet unified while singing a song, and that a piece doesn’t have to be filled with elaborate harmonies to be considered beautiful.”

What have been the challenges of the program in rehearsal?

“Some challenges have been when sections begin to sing louder than the others, causing an imbalance in the piece. We’re constantly improving our skills on how to let each section shine in its own unique way. Even though we struggle with this sometimes, overall I’d say we’re doing fairly well with it. Mr. Richter is really great at guiding us and challenging us to change our techniques in various ways. He is always so helpful as he points out things we could work on, and gives us advice on what to do to fix tricky spots.”

How have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

I have personally grown as a musician through these processes because I always learn something new throughout each rehearsal, and it’s eye-opening when I realize that we still have so much that we can improve on and develop. I realize that no matter how much experience anyone has in anything that they do, they still have room to improve and make changes in technique. I’ve learned that a lot of the time, my part isn’t the most important part but that’s okay, because it all works out gorgeously as we put the songs together. No matter what, the melody is important, but the harmonies should be prominent in their own way, too. That’s what makes choral singing so cool.

Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?

“My personal favorite would have to be Linden Lea by Ralph Vaughn Williams. When I was doing a choral audition one year, I had to audition with this song. It’s interesting singing it now because the arrangement is so different from the one I auditioned with, so I learned a completely new way of singing it. The lyrics are absolutely beautiful as they talk about living in nature and doing what you want to do, and the melody somehow seems to fit in with the words. So it’s my favorite not only because I have some previous experience with it, but also because of the unique style of word painting.”


MA Cultural Council funding

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-12-09 18:04
The Massachusetts Cultural has announced a new statewide iniative to support intensive, ensemble-based music education programs inspired by El Sistema. According to the MCC's website, "SerHacer (To be, To make) is focused on supporting the growing number of intensive, ensemble-based music programs that enable music as a vehicle for youth... Sistema Fellows Program

Profiles in Courage

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-12-09 17:50
Stanford Thompson '10 was named one of thirty Professionals of the Year by Musical America, honoring individuals in the performing arts who have “taken a risk, stepped up for the cause, spoken out where others were silent—all to the measurable benefit of their respective organizations and/or the field.” Read the... Sistema Fellows Program

The Ensemble, December edition

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-12-09 17:22
The December edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

2014 Top 20 Picks

Huffington College - Tue, 2014-12-09 15:20
Each year I survey what I have seen and experienced in the past 12 months and, after much soul searching and difficult internal debate, come up with my top 20 picks. (Plus two alternates!) Here is the list for 2014: Tony Woodcock http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-woodcock/

Recent Updates from Sistema Global Research

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2014-12-03 17:48
Sistema Global Research is excited to announce that Oxford University Press has given us permission to host the opening pages to the recently published book El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela's Youth by ethnomusicologist Geoffrey Baker. On our recent scholarship page, please also find an author statement to the Sistema Global community.... Sistema Fellows Program

Music in the Advent and Christmas Season

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2014-12-01 13:56



I am pleased to share two upcoming musical performances: 

The annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols will be held on Sunday, December 7th at 4 and 6 p.m.

This service is patterned after a similar one held at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. Scriptures will be shared by readers of all ages, and those readings will be interspersed with hymns and carols accompanied by a chamber orchestra. Singers and instrumentalists will be led by Dr. Joel Panciera and Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada. The rich acoustics produced by the long shape and marble surfaces of Great Hall create a sound much like that in the great cathedrals of England, where this service began. Those attending should arrive early as the hall fills quickly.

The Nineteenth Annual Natalie O. Warren Presentation of Handel’s Messiah will be held on Sunday, December 21st at 5 p.m.

Boston Avenue Church's Chancel Choir will join forces with members of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra to perform George F. Handel's timeless masterpiece, Messiah. This concert performance of Messiah will include movements from all three parts of the oratorio. Singers and instrumentalists will be led by Dr. Joel Panciera and Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada.

Both services and concert are free and open to the public.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
1301 S Boston Ave, Tulsa 74119 

Awaken the Dawn (Broadcast)

Jose-Luis Estrada - Tue, 2014-11-25 14:50

 Awaken the Dawn is the title of my latest piano solo composition. It was dedicated to the congregation of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa. This is the live broadcast that aired November 9th on KTUL-TV Channel 8.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Preparing for Geoff Baker's book

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:16
Jonathan Govias '10 has written a measured response to the recent anxiety in the El Sistema-inspired field caused by the upcoming release of Geoffrey Baker's research into El Sistema in Venezuela. Here is an excerpt: "Humans have a tendency to embrace information that reinforces previously determined viewpoints. This is called... Sistema Fellows Program

Atlanta Music Project annual report

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 16:02
AMP, founded by Dantes Rameau '10, had 30 students during its first year of programming. In 2014, there are 115 students, including 65 participants in AMPlify (co-founded by Aisha Bowden '12). Click here to read the Atlanta Music Project's 2014 annual report. Sistema Fellows Program

Shift:Englewood

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:55
Congratulations to Ayriole Frost '14 and Albert Oppenheimer '12 on the successfully launch of Shift:Englewood on Chicago's South Side! Check out Shift:Englewood's new website and Facebook page. Sistema Fellows Program

Thoughts from Scotland

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:37
The following are personal reflections from the recent international conference for teaching artists hosted by Big Noise, an El Sistema-inspired program in Raploch, Scotland. [I'm thinking about] starting community initiatives that involve the families directly, whether that be a Swedish Venstay (friend stay) where they serve cookies and sing and... Sistema Fellows Program

DCYOP update

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:17
An excerpt from the DC Youth Orchestra Program's new monthly newsletter: "Located at Garrison Elementary School, the Children’s Orchestra is an after school string program that aims to enhance DCPS elementary students’ interest in learning, strengthen their connection to school, and improve their academic and social skills. Thanks to the... Sistema Fellows Program

The Power of Music

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:01
The Annenberg Foundation has funded the creation of a publicly available online resource for music educators about El Sistema-inspired programming. The website features video commentary by Sistema Fellows and related colleagues, including Lorrie Heagy '10, Alvaro Rodas '10, Dan Berkowitz '10, Christine Witkowski '10, and Aisha Bowden '12. Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows in LA

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-11-24 14:44
Fellows and friends recently met for dinner in Los Angeles at the National Guild for Community Arts Education annual conference. Photos by Eriel Huang. Sistema Fellows Program

Professional updates 11/2014

Jose-Luis Estrada - Thu, 2014-11-20 15:55

Two exciting professional updates: 

I am delighted to share news of my recent appointment as program director of Sistema Tulsa, a forthcoming El Sistema-inspired program for the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sistema Tulsa is a visionary community-wide project of social change through music. Inspired by the educational philosophies of El Sistema in Venezuela, the program will grow and support children and youth musical ensembles that exemplify and nurture a culture of aspiration. In concert with Tulsa Public Schools and numerous community partners, the project will be hosted and led by the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church

have been accepted into the 2015 cohort of Leading Change in Education Systems, a professional program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The program examines the challenges of leading the development and implementation of effective policy and practice in order to provide quality education.

MUSIC IS THE SILENCE BETWEEN THE NOTES. CLAUDE DEBUSSY