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Victoria Hain and YPO’s February 19th Concert

Thu, 2015-02-12 16:21

We had a chance to speak with Victoria Hain, percussionist for YPO.  Be sure to check out YPO on February 19th in Jordan Hall! Here’s what she had to say:

What have been the challenges of this program and how have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

I think a unique challenge I’ve had to face as a percussionist is playing a range of dynamics on an instrument like crash cymbals. Soft crashes are always a struggle as a result of the weight and size of the crash cymbals.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I am most looking forward to the Sibelius Violin Concerto because, out of the parts I have this cycle, I play the most in the Sibelius.

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

My favorite piece is John Harbison’s Remembering Gatsby. It is a different kind of music than our orchestra nominally plays which is exciting. It reminds me of the 1920s and the music from Toy Story, making the listening experience almost nostalgic.

Is there an experience with music that inspired you to be a musician?

When I was in fourth grade the high school band toured all the elementary schools and showed off all the instruments in an attempt get younger kids interested in music lessons. I was fascinated by the kid who was playing drum set and I really wanted to become a rock n’ roll drummer. Ironically enough, throughout my 9 years as a percussionist I’ve studied almost exclusively classical, seldom touching the drum set.

What is your favorite piece of music?

My favorite piece of music is Hoagy Carmichael’s Heart and Soul because pretty much everyone knows how to play it, so it’s always fun to goof around on various instruments and make music with friends.

Looking forward this Sunday’s Youth Symphony concert with Edward Yeo

Thu, 2015-01-22 09:40

Edward Yeo shares his excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming YS performance on January 25th!

What have been the challenges of this program and how have you grown as a musician from these challenges?

YS has helped me by being able to play as principal, giving me solos to help
me get used to be playing alone to the public. It has also helped me by getting to know more standard repertoire and pushing my technical and musical boundaries like Firebird.

What are you most looking forward to about this performance?

I’m looking forward to playing the Rhapsody in Blue and Nabucco, because I love jazz and opera!

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

My favorite piece has to be Nabucco because of the chorus part. Nothing sounds better than an orchestra and choir singing together, because it adds a depth of color and meaning to the music.

Is there an experience with music that inspired you to be a musician?

There are many things and people that have inspired me to be a musician and to stick with it, there is no one experience or person. Those who inspired me are Kinhaven, Stokes Forest Music Camp, Martin Fröst, Herbert von Karajan, Charles Yassky, David Herndon, Dave Sapadin and Richard Shaughnessy.

What is your favorite piece of music?

My absolute favorite piece without a doubt is Death and Transfiguration by Strauss. I played principal for that piece and said, “I could play this piece for 10 lifetimes and still not get sick of it.” I do want to try bass clarinet on that piece also.

Anusha Manglik’s perspective on Senior MYWE

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.

Maria D’Ambrosio’s Senior MYWE Highlights and Challenges

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

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

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.”

Mahler 1 with YPO is just two days away!

Tue, 2014-11-18 09:37

Over the weekend, we spoke with Clara Wang, who gave us some of her thoughts on Mahler 1 with YPO. Clara is from Cambridge, MA and joins YPO as harpist for a third year.

What is your favorite aspect of playing Mahler 1?

“I really enjoy the how music has the ability to invoke emotions and paint such clear pictures in your head. I especially like the klezmer music in the third movement and the entire second movement, since they both make you want to sway with the music.”

How has Maestro Loebel guided the orchestra through the process of learning the symphony?

“Whenever Maestro Loebel wants us to phrase in a certain manner, he has a way of describing the music that makes phrasing easy. Also, he’s always excited for rehearsals and is such a nice and supportive person. Over the past few years that I’ve been in YPO, I think he’s really been able to connect with both the orchestra and its members.”

What is the biggest challenge that you face as a performer of this piece?

“I actually think that the physical location of the harps is the biggest challenge. Since there are so many loud sections, being sandwiched in between the horns and the percussion can be quite the auditory experience. All that aside, though, I think playing together with other the other musicians and creating a cohesive sound and story is always a challenge to be tackled.”

Mahler 1 with YPO: A Violinist’s Perspective

Sat, 2014-11-15 11:55

We had a chance to speak with YPO Violinist, Elizabeth Davidson-Blythe, on the topic of next week’s YPO concert. Elizabeth is from Beverly, MA and has been playing violin for nine years.  Here’s what she had to say:

“I love the level of detail that Mahler puts into his work. I suppose that this isn’t specific to Mahler 1, but it’s certainly been my favorite part of the learning process so far this semester. Mahler was what Mr. Loebel calls a “control freak.” He wrote down everything that he wanted to be in the piece. There is a different dynamic marking for almost every bar of music, and he never fails to put in markings for expression as well. This level of precision and detail is rarely seen in orchestral music and has been a joy to explore.

Mr. Loebel has done a fabulous job conducting YPO through Mahler 1 this semester (although I don’t think there’s ever been a time when he hasn’t been fantastic). He takes every one of Mahler’s markings very seriously and conducts us through the piece with meticulous care. On the first rehearsal he handed out packets with the translations of all of Mahler’s markings (which are in German), so that we could understand what we were being asked to play.

For me, the biggest challenge has certainly been the stamina factor. It’s a massive piece both in the time it takes to play and the level of energy that is required to play it. We had our first run through last week, where we all found out just how tiring playing this piece is. It isn’t common that you have to be thinking about conserving energy in the first or second movements of a piece. However, the last movement is the longest and requires the most energy, so you have to make sure you can get there without wearing yourself out.

Overall, this has probably been my favorite semester of YPO, and I am very much looking forward to sharing everything we’ve learned and worked on with an audience on the 20th!”

Catching up with Maestro Loebel – YPO’s Mahler 1 Concert

Fri, 2014-11-14 16:53

In anticipation of next week’s YPO concert, NEC Prep had a chance to speak with Maestro Loebel on the topic of Mahler Symphony no. 1:

How is Mahler’s Symphony no. 1 (1889) different from other works of that time?

“It’s interesting to contrast Mahler’s First Symphony with Brahms’ Fourth which YPO performed this past June. The symphonies were written only a few years apart, but they’re so different from each other. Brahms’ austere orchestration and tight construction make his music sound disciplined and self-contained; Mahler’s music, with its huge orchestration and over-the-top emotion, is anything but.”

How has the treatment of Mahler’s music evolved throughout your lifetime?

“When I was the age of YPO’s musicians, any performance of a Mahler symphony was a special occasion and even fine professional orchestras found some of his music tough going. Nowadays, Mahler is one of our most frequently performed composers; here in Boston, hardly a month goes by without a performance somewhere of a Mahler symphony. It’s especially wonderful to see how the skills of our young musicians have advanced so far that college and high school orchestras (like YPO) can play Mahler with the technical assurance his music requires.”

What difficulties does an orchestra face when they perform something like Mahler 1?

“The biggest challenge for any orchestra that plays Mahler is physical endurance. I’ve always thought that teenagers had unlimited energy but, in fact, the members of YPO have had to learn during our rehearsals how to pace themselves over the course of a demanding 50 minute symphony. As always, their youthful enthusiasm is an inspiration and it’s a real privilege for me to help them discover such great music from the inside out.”