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 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.
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.
I 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.
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.”
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!”
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.”
My nuevo álbum de piano solista “Sounds Blooming” ya está disponible vía formato digital de iTunes. La grabación fue producida en los estudios de la WGBH en Boston y contiene una colección de obras modernistas e introspectivas de John Cage, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, entre otros.