Mahler 1 with YPO is just two days away!

Preparatory School - 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

Preparatory School - 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

Preparatory School - 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.”

Album Release - Sounds Blooming

Jose-Luis Estrada - Tue, 2014-11-11 15:39
My new piano solo album “Sounds Blooming” is now available via iTunes digital release. The recording was made in Boston’s WGBH studios and features an array of introspective and modernist works by John Cage, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, and others.

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.

The Struggle of Harmony and Invention

Huffington College - Thu, 2014-11-06 17:36
The concert was a joy from start to finish. Aisslinn is not just a gifted Baroque violinist playing with true style and power, but a great performer and communicator whose energy and passion for the music set the audience alight Tony Woodcock

The Ensemble, November edition

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-11-04 09:16
The November edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond, and featuring an essay by Graciela Briceno, Sistema Fellow '11, is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellows Program Final Report

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2014-11-04 09:13
Download the Sistema Fellows Program Final Report here (PDF) Sistema Fellows Program

What It Means to be an Artist

Huffington College - Tue, 2014-10-28 12:46
Being an artist in all its multiplicities of characteristics and talents, is among the most demanding of all demands that we can make of ourselves. We have entered a universe of complexity and simplicity, discovery and delusion. It will never finish. It will never be entirely revealed. Tony Woodcock

Realizing Visions

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:38
The following reflection by Eric Booth, Senior Advisor to the Sistema Fellows Program, appears in the Program's final report, to be published in November 2014. Vision is both literal and metaphoric—both the capacity to perceive what is present and to see what is invisible or ready to appear. José Antonio... Sistema Fellows Program

Impact of the Sistema Fellows

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 12:39
Based on research conducted this past summer by Elaine Sandoval (Sistema Fellow '13), here is a snapshot of the activity and impact of the Sistema Fellows in the United States: -Fellows are transforming the lives of vulnerable children in 37 communities in 17 states, from Juneau, Alaska to Austin, Texas.... Sistema Fellows Program

Sistema Fellowship Resource Center

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 11:53
Through the Sistema Fellows Program, NEC has made a very significant contribution towards creating the next generation of arts leadership. Between October 2009 and May 2014, five classes of Fellows were challenged to re-imagine the potential of music education to transform the lives of children, especially at-risk children in this... Sistema Fellows Program

Marching off the map

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 10:23
In the West, we have an obsession with specialization, becoming an expert in one skill or field. This has resulted in the delineation of a myriad of genres and styles of art, and an ensuing hierarchy, so that ‘crossover’ between different genres of music is generally not encouraged. In the... Sistema Fellows Program

Orchestra can be anything

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 10:16
On Thursday, Harmony Project students walked into orchestra rehearsal with the chairs completely rearranged – instead of designated sections with rows and the usual seating assignments, they were in two giant semi circles, where everyone was playing side by side. This was inspired by: -An experience I had a couple... Sistema Fellows Program

MUS 1600

Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 10:09
This semester, I have the privilege to teach a course on El Sistema at North Park University in Chicago as part of this exciting new Certificate Program. Our diverse class includes students from El Sistema programs in Brazil, Ecuador and Costa Rica. In this introductory class, we are examining El... Sistema Fellows Program


Exploring El Sistema - Mon, 2014-10-27 10:02
Steven Liu, Adrienne Taylor, Andrea Profili (2011 Sistema Fellows) For young musicians to have storytelling as part of their portfolio of skills will give them an edge in our incredibly competitive world. I suppose you could call it "presentation skills," or "good communication," but I like to stay with "storytelling"... Sistema Fellows Program


Penguin - Mon, 2014-10-20 18:36
by SOPHIA ADICKES Third-year BM Voice     At this point, you’ve hopefully made it through the endless week of testing, placement auditions, and non-stop introductions. In addition to forgetting names, you’re probably a little nervous about adjusting to a conservatory environment, a new city, and dorm life. The good news is: you’re not alone! […]

How to Be Successful Using Great Communication Skills

Huffington College - Fri, 2014-10-17 09:44
Storytelling is an essential part of every culture. People are always eager to hear or relate a story whether from a book, a film, a play, a remembrance from childhood or a recent vacation. Tony Woodcock

The Ensemble, October edition

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-10-09 22:34
The October edition of Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth's publication chronicling the emerging field of El Sistema-inspired activity in the US and beyond, and featuring an essay by Julie Davis, Sistema Fellow '12, is found here. Sistema Fellows Program

Where are they now?

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-10-09 22:23
An interactive map showing the current locations of the 50 Sistema Fellows, as of October 2014. Sistema Fellows Program

Teaching social change through song

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2014-10-09 14:42
While growing up in Baltimore, current Fishtown resident Alysia Lee was a bit of a problem child with a lot of attitude. "As a kid, I was really smart mouthed and prone to violence. I’d throw desks and chairs in school," Lee said. "I just had a lot of issues... Sistema Fellows Program