DSO Teen Council Blog Archive
Brian Le weighs in on "The Father of Music"
We’re rounding off the last B in the prolific 3 B’s with Johann Sebastian Bach, or J.S. Bach for short. Make sure to include the “J.S.” because there are 10 composers in the Bach Family and only one of them earned the title, “The Father of Music”. I won’t delve too deep into the history behind his genius — there’s a lot of theory, technicality, and historical context — so let’s just get started with some baroque music!
When I think J.S. Bach, I think Brandenburg Concertos. Bach wrote a total of six concertos as a body of work for Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg, with hopes that Ludwig would hire him as a musical director. Sadly, Bach received no response, but his pieces lived on to comprise one of the greatest orchestral sets from the Baroque era. They featured an unusually wide range of instrumentation for his time and raised the bar for the Concerto Grosso form. In the Brandenburg Concertos, the soloists and orchestra bounce off of each other masterfully with their own unique textures. Of particular note ate the 4th (which contains some of the most fun, virtuosic violin lines in the Baroque repertoire) and the 5th (which introduced the harpsichord as a solid soloistic instrument for concertos). The six concertos truly capture a wide variety of orchestral colors and feelings.
Bach didn’t really compose Chamber music, at least not in the way we generally think of it today. String quartets have been created by rescoring movements from his four Orchestral Suites, but other than a number of duets and one obscure trio sonata, he inked precious few small ensemble pieces. So I’ll focus on his solo works for violin, cello, and keyboard, and recommend my personal favorites: Violin Sonata No. 2, for its hauntingly beautiful Andante movement, Cello Suite No. 5, for its dance of hopelessness and inspiration, and the entirety of The Well-Tempered Clavier. What’s The Well-Tempered Clavier? Well, it's two series of preludes and fugues, one written in every key. The intention was to heighten a keyboard players’ skills, and popularize temperament tuning along the way. I view this as Bach at his purest. One can hear the foundation of music theory as we know it, and also discover many of Bach’s most important musical innovations.
Thank you for reading! Bach can’t be fully appreciated without understanding the context of his music so if you’d like to hear more about it, let us know!
For further listening, please consider the 4 Orchestral Suites, St. Matthew's Passion, and the Goldberg Variations. For more intimate music, I recommend the entirety of his Violin Partitas, Violin Sonatas, and Cello Suites.
Brian Le weighs in on Brahms
Welcome back everyone to the second installment of Listening to the Literature. As promised, we’ll be looking at Johannes Brahms’ music this week.
But first, some backstory!
For starters, Brahms was a bit of a controversial figure during the early Romantic era because his music relied heavily on the ideas and structures of the earlier, Classical era. Some thought of him as conformist, or even boring, while others praised his respect for, and continuation of, tradition. This reputation, along with his stubborn personality, an aversion to publicity, and deteriorating health towards the end of his life, led to his becoming something of a recluse; and many people, upon meeting him, felt he was unapproachable or cold.
His music, however, is by contrast very warm, and reflects his genuinely generous and kindhearted nature. With that said, let’s talk about some music!
I’m sure you’ve heard his Lullaby or Hungarian Dances, but I’m starting us off with his Symphony No. 1 in C minor. The piece took Brahms over 21 years to finish, but boy did it make an impression when it premiered. Some think of it as “Beethoven’s Tenth” because of how much the music recalls Beethoven’s grand and heroic sound. It reminded audiences that great symphonies – and symphonists - still existed, and it was clear that Brahms was a master of the form. The start of the piece practically shouts at the audience, demanding not be underestimated, with the timpani powerfully pounding away as solemn colors are painted by the strings. Keep an ear out for those hidden, yet stunning, oboe lines!
If there’s one piece I love to death but can’t elaborate too well on, it’s Brahms’s A German Requiem. It’s a grand, gorgeous, sultry choral piece with the power to move mountains and create lakes. All I can say is take my word for it.
For our chamber piece, which I think is where Brahms shines the brightest, look no further than his Clarinet Quintet in B minor, written for string quartet and clarinet. The piece was composed in 1891, a few years before his death, and heavily referenced Mozart’s clarinet quintet (from 1789) which had just reached its 100 year anniversary. Even though this was written well into the Late Romantic period, Brahms was still focusing on the form and structure of the Classical era, which the rest of Europe had moved on from long ago. It’s hauntingly beautiful and somber, particularly in the 1st and 4th movements, where you can almost hear Brahms himself weeping through the clarinet and cello voices.
Thank you for reading as always! Next week, we’ll be wrapping up the introduction of the series with the third B: Johann Sebastian Bach.
For further listening, please consider Brahms’ Symphonies No. 2, 3, and 4 and the Academic Festival Overture for your symphonic satisfaction. For your chamber music needs, I recommend his Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet, String Quartets No. 1, 2, and 3, and String Sextet no. 1.
Brian Le weighs in on Beethoven
Have you ever wondered how to approach classical music without being overwhelmed? Or perhaps you were lost during a conversation with your fellow musicians? Well, look no further because I, your classical classmate, am here to help you explore what you need to know.
Our first piece in the standard orchestral repertoire we’ll be looking at will be Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C minor. Ah, the infamous Da-Da-Da-DUMMM!
Many have heard the beginning of the piece throughout their lives as a sound effect, or perhaps a text tone, and some have listened to the entire first movement in animated movie, Fantasia. The piece was composed in a time of turmoil when Beethoven (in his mid-thirties) was slowly succumbing to deafness, and the world around him was in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. In response, Beethoven chose to compose a symphony in a key that held special importance for him: C minor. He often used this key to convey stormy, tumultuous, and even victorious moods. C minor was the key of Beethoven the hero. He used it as a conduit for his strongest personal expression, uncompromisingly and even selfishly leaving the precise aesthetics of the Classical era behind, and diving, head-first, into the emotion-rich, unpredictable world of Romanticism.
But say you’re a seasoned musician, and you’ve memorized the score to all four movements of Beethoven’s 5th. Not to worry, for I’ve got another masterpiece which may tickle your fancy. Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets, increasing in complexity and romantic sentiment from the first to the last. The Grosse Fugue (or Grand Fugue) was one of his last string quartets, and it successfully encapsulates the density of a multi-movement symphony within a 16 minute, single-movement chamber piece. I like to call the Grosse Fugue Beethoven’s “absolute worst best piece” because, when it was written, musicians and critics alike deemed it “inaccessible”, “a mistake”, and “his single most problematic composition.” But as time went on people began to realize its hidden beauty. The piece is ambitious and paradoxical, often leaving its listeners with more questions than answers. For me, this is the epitome of art being ahead of its time. Believe me, you’ll feel it when you hear it.
I sincerely hope you’ve added something to your Spotify playlist. Catch y’all next time where we’ll take a look at the second B of the 3 B’s, Johannes Brahms.
For further listening, please consider Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 3, 6, 7, and 9 as well as the Egmont Overture for your symphonic satisfaction, and any of his 16 String Quartets if you’re aching for some deep and beautiful chamber music.
Alexa Hassell explores where the idea of the symphony originated
To some people, attending the symphony seems like an old-fashioned notion, popular only in bygone days. However, the symphony as we now know it today is actually a relatively recent development. And it only becomes more modern with time, enabling it to continue to attract modern audiences.
The word symphony, as originally interpreted by Pythagoras of ancient Greece, referred to a unified sound that could be any kind of music, or even the grand harmony of the universe, rather than a specific group of musicians who played for a public audience. As time progressed to the medieval era, "symphony" became a term referring to any instrument that could produce more than one sound at a time. In the 17th century, it was often used to refer to early keyboard instruments, like the spinet or the virginal.
But the first time we see the term “symphony” used to describe an actual musical composition is in the sixteenth century. At first, they were sacred works that combined both voices and instruments. Eventually, the Italian word sinfonia referred to almost any instrumental piece, usually part of a larger work. The opera sinfonia, for example, was an instrumental piece that was used to introduce an opera, and was usually comprised of three contrasting movements (fast, slow, fast). Haydn (who wrote over 100 symphonies!) and Mozart both started out writing symphonies in three movements, but each preferred a four movement structure in the end. With the arrival of Beethoven, symphonies became an important vehicle for strong emotions. Beethoven’s Third Symphony, known as the Eroica (or “Heroic” in Italian), for example, maintains a formal structure through the second movement, but then becomes more melancholy with the third and fourth movements and never grows into a joyful tune.
A generation later, Franz Liszt invented the “symphonic poem,” which was meant to evoke and inspire imagery, and focus less on the technique of composition. Pressing onward to the late 19th and well into the 20th centuries, we see composers using their symphonies to express a spirit of nationalism or revolution. Shostakovich was one such composer who wrote his fifth symphony as a response to the atrocities of the Stalinist regime.
Some modern composers have taken to extreme individualism, writing symphonies with anywhere between one and twenty-four movements. A more idealistic approach to composing has recently begun to predominate, and composers now often write about a specific item, event, or idea in order to convey their feelings. While this is quite a contrast to its beginnings within the confines of the church, music, like people, has developed over time.
Today, one reason the symphony still attracts audiences is because the music satisfies people’s search for emotion and imagery. The development from a general harmonic concept to a genre of instruments to a form of composition that continues to evolve has been driven by both artists looking to push the envelope, and the changing needs and preferences of audiences. Who knows what audiences will gravitate towards next? Only time will tell. But luckily there is so much great symphonic music to enjoy today!
By Alexa Hassell
For the aspiring musician, summer does not mean a full break from practicing, performing, and learning. In fact, it's the perfect time to fill in some gaps you may have noticed during the school year. For the truly dedicated, this is not a big deal, because it just adds to the enjoyment of music, and is not seen as extra work over the summer.
Since the voice is my instrument, I'll speak specifically from that point of view. Here are three things singers can do over summer to “stay in shape”:
Sight-reading is a huge part of any musician’s practice year-round, because it is essential for learning pieces, auditioning, and composing. Sight-reading is the act of reading a piece of sheet music that you've never seen before. For advanced singers, this is not difficult, but it's a skill that does not come overnight. Practice is key to progress. Personally, I like to sight-read with a group so that my mistakes are more easily caught, but others prefer to sight-read alone, simply with a piano or pitch app. Good sight-reading pieces can be found online; or ask your teachers, who are always happy to hear that you are practicing outside of school! If you have never tried sight-reading, give it a shot. It's a great way to get into music!
2. GET THEORETICAL
To make progress a priority, it is important to advance your theory skills at every opportunity. Using books from music stores is the easiest way to keep practicing and learning, but having a summer voice teacher can help you advance as well. Music theory is basically anything there is to learn about music without actually making a sound. Everything from key signatures, to note names, to composing. Using theory, students can create college majors, earn scholarships, and even make top choirs. Without theory there is no music, so it is pretty important.
This may seem a bit obvious, but nonetheless it is true. If a singer stops singing, then they will most likely be worse when school begins again. We should strive to move forward and therefore, we should sing. Anything works, from UIL pieces to pop tunes on the radio. It's good to vary it between classical repertoire and the vast array of songs from other traditions. Just remember to have fun, and never overdo it.
Haeun Moon, winner of the 2017 Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition, answers questions from 2015 winner Jason Lin about the violin, Sibelius, and her future
Jason Lin: When did you start playing the violin and what was your inspiration in doing so?
Haeun Moon: I started playing the violin when I was 5. My entire family is quite devoted to the arts, both visual and musical, so it was obvious that I would learn an instrument. It was just a question of which one. I recall my mom asking me one day if I wanted to play the violin, and my twin brother, the cello. I said yes out of curiosity and without much thought, but quickly fell in love with the instrument.
JL: Why do you like the Sibelius Violin Concerto? What about the piece fascinates you?
HM: The Sibelius Violin Concerto has forever been one of my favorite works, and I learn new things about this piece daily. I love every aspect of the concerto, but what attracts me the most is the perpetual juxtaposition: the push and pull between structure and flow, despair and celebration, timidity and brazenness. I also find it fascinating that the simpler passages, such as the opening measures, are the most difficult to master. This is due, in part, to their vulnerability and openness, in comparison to the technically challenging and more bombastic passages.
JL: How much do you practice? How do you balance your academic life and violin?
HM: I try to practice three hours a day and a bit more on the weekend, but that gets really challenging. Balancing all aspects of my life from violin to school to extracurricular activities to general stability is very difficult, so prioritizing is crucial. I try to do much of my homework at school, and finish it as soon as I get home. Then, I usually take a nap, then practice.
JL: What do you plan on doing in the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
HM: I plan on pursuing music and psychology, hopefully getting accepted into a program that allows me to study both. My dream is the Columbia-Juilliard exchange program. In five years, I see myself in college, learning and experiencing everything that life has to offer me.
JL: What was it like preparing for the competition? How was this different than last year?
HM: Preparing for the competition this year kind of came naturally, as I had taken the Sibelius to multiple other competitions earlier in the season. I struggled with keeping the piece fresh in not only the technical aspects but also the musical; every time I played the piece, I strived to deepen my interpretation, to find a new element that I had previously overlooked. I feel like the main difference between this year and last was my confidence. Tchaikovsky last year was not a piece I had spent much time with; I was still experimenting, and had not settled with the message I wished to convey. With Sibelius, I feel like I have a more thorough comprehension of the music, which comes with more time and study.
JL: What do you do to relax? What do you like to do in your spare time?
HM: To relax, I either sleep or listen to a variety of music that I find calming, generally Joni Mitchell or Kamasi Washington. In my limited free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends, reading, and discovering new music and art. Also, I enjoy volunteering as a violin teacher at Mission Waco's after school music program, which I co-founded. With this program, I am able to teach children who come from impoverished families, and give them exposure to classical music.
JL: What has been your favorite performance/recital experience?
HM: I enjoy every time I get to perform my music, but my favorite experience is tied between my performance with the Waco Youth Symphony Orchestra and the performance at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. I performed Sarasate's Introduction and Tarantella with WSYO a couple years back, and that night, I had the most fun I have ever had on stage. A lot of my friends were in the orchestra, and it was just an amazing experience. It goes without saying, performing at Carnegie was a transformative experience. Not only the acoustics, but the general ambience of the hall and performance helped me realize that I could not live a life without music.
By Alexa Hassell
Waking up, you need some motivation to get out of bed, right? Well there are a couple options…
First: "Peripetie" from Five Pieces for Orchestra, by Arnold Schoenberg. This one is a sure kicker, with a strong punch that will launch you out of bed.
Or: The 4th movement of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5. This one will still get you moving without as much attack.
Finally: “Morning Mood” from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. This is for those lazy mornings where time doesn’t matter and we would all rather stay in bed anyway.
Classical music is proven to help the mind be productive, to put you in a good mood, and to help with social interactions. Who wouldn’t want to listen all the time?
First: Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, "Moonlight". One of the most well-known classical pieces which is sure to put you in a good mood before a hard day.
Or: Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker. This one is a little more light-hearted and breezy which is sure to put a spring in your step.
Finally: Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major. I think this piece is an optimistic one - perfect for a day with friends or shopping.
The dreaded word…work/school! Well it doesn’t have to be so bad if you listen to classical to improve focus and calm the mind.
First: "Venus" from The Planets, by Gustav Holst. This movement is called the “Bringer of Peace” - perfect title for a calm and organized worker.
Or: Mozart's Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter"). More lively, this longer piece provides entertainment for all jobs.
Finally: Philip Glass's Violin Concerto No.1. For a more upbeat atmosphere and lunch time!
For students, studying is a necessary habit for success. How can we be productive with so many distractions? Try turning the volume down in your life and up on the music. See if it helps.
First: Ludwig van Beethoven. A combination of Beethoven’s best pieces for studying plus some rain effects in the background provide an hour of non-stop focus.
Or: Gymnopédie No. 1, by Erik Satie. For a quick quiz round, this piece has a more modern feel to it and will keep you on your toes.
Finally: "Clair De Lune," by Claude Debussy. Quite slow, this piece will clear your head and help you prepare.
When the end of the day is near classical still plays on. If it’s for the dinner table or falling asleep, classical provides the perfect environment for whatever you need.
First: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart. A total classic, this piece is upbeat and fancy-free from beginning to end. It is perfect for lively conversation or even dancing.
Or: Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32 In C Minor. A much slower piece, this sonata can play you to sleep beautifully.
Finally: The Nocturne ("Notturno") from Edvard Grieg's Lyric Suite, Op. 54. As its waves of melody rise and fall, this piece sets the stage for the evening.
Between classical music and other modern approaches (like movie soundtracks and Lindsey Stirling), there is a piece out there for everyone’s day. Next time you need some peace or entertainment put on classical. You might be surprised by what you hear…
By Molly Martinez
Recently, as the ball was dropping in Times Square, I found myself reflecting on the past year and all the different growth associated with it. Most importantly, I looked back at my journey as an artist. I know it may feel funny being an instrumentalist to refer to yourself as an artist. Personally, I never thought of myself as one until I began to feel burned out on my instrument. I had lost a certain element of musicality. This is why I'm writing this post. I want to encourage all of you musicians out there to find the artist deep inside you. Don't be afraid to take risks and interpret the music yourself. As a classical musician, it can be easy to copy and just read. I dare you instead to start creating. Create your own interpretations of the music in front of you. Get involved and understand the context of the music. Push yourself to the next level. The world is in need of creative musicians.
By Alexa Hassell
Orchestra Hall (Chicago)
Originally built in 1904, the Orchestra Hall in Chicago is unique in its exterior design. The outer facade does not hint at the hall sitting within. The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, a CSO trustee and Chicago architect, who complete the project at a total cost of $750,000. The facade is symmetrically built with pink brick and white limestone, and follows a Georgian style. Above the second floor, inscribed into a limestone band, are the names of five famous composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner. The first floor entrance opens to the vestibule and main lobby. The main lobby leads to the main auditorium, which was designed in the Beaux Arts style. In 1950, Daniel Burnham, Jr. (son of the original architect) restored and redecorated the building, adding carpet to some floors, repainting spaces, and much more. Further renovations in 1966, brought modern technology and central air to the building. The pipe organ, which originally was created by Lyon & Healy (the largest instrument the Chicago-based company ever built), was installed early in 1905 and rebuilt by Frank J. Sauter and Sons in 1946. However, due to damage it had sustained during renovations the need to repair it was great. The organ was finally reinstalled during the summer of 1981 by M.P. Moeller, Inc. Final renovations to the building began in June of 1993 and were completed in 1997. These renovations resulted in a new music complex, a new restaurant, new offices, and new wall designs. In 1978, Orchestra Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places, making it a national landmark.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located in Los Angeles, California, and home to the LA Philharmonic. It was designed by Frank Gehry, and opened in October of 2003. Lillian Disney, Walt Disney’s wife, contributed $50 million dollars in 1987 so as to have a hall built honoring Walt’s love of the arts. The hall is considered to be one of the most acoustically advanced in the world. It is designed with a reflective stainless steel exterior, and an interior of mainly hardwood paneling. The walls and ceiling are finished with Douglas fir and the floor is finished with oak. Construction took over a decade due to the need to build of an underground parking garage first. The entire project cost $274 million dollars, with the parking garage alone accounting for $110 million of that. The concert organ on the inside was also designed by Frank Gehry with musical and acoustical insight from Manuel Rosales. After lots of back and forth, the final organ was made with curved wooden pipes by German organ builder, Caspar Glatter-Gotz. The concert hall also houses a famous restaurant owned by Joachim Splichal named Patina.
Morton H. Meyerson Concert Hall
The Meyerson, which is located in Dallas, Texas, is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It also houses two restaurants, multiple meeting rooms, and one of the most acoustically acclaimed halls in the world. It opened September 1989 after being designed by architect I.M. Pei. The name of the hall comes from the former president of Electronic Data Systems and former CEO of Perot Systems who was an avid supporter of creating a home specifically for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The exterior of the building is mainly glass, metal and stone to set a contrast to the inside of the hall which is very traditional and include the extraordinary Lay Family Concert Organ. The uniqueness of the hall lies in its construction, with 74 concrete doors located at the top most parts of the hall which can open and close to accommodate the exact amount of reverberation desired for each concert, 56 acoustical curtains to diminish vibrations, and a hanging acoustic canopy (which can be lowered, raised, or tilted to reflect sound out into the hall more precisely). The resulting sound is unrivaled in its elegance.
Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center)
Alice Tully Hall houses hundreds of performances each year, ranging from dance to film to music. Its location, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, provides a busy and stimulating experience when visiting. Tully Hall gets its name from Alice Tully, a New York performer and philanthropist whose donations helped build the hall. The building itself belongs to the Juilliard School and was designed by Pietro Belluschi. It was built in 1969 and underwent renovations in 2009 as part of the Lincoln Center 65th Street Development Project. Housing the newest technologies and a great view, it has a three-story glass lobby and a sunken plaza. The building contains 10 floors (some of which are underground), three Juilliard theaters, Alice Tully Hall, 15 dance, opera and drama studios, three organ studios, 84 practice rooms, 27 classrooms, 30 private instruction rooms, rehearsal rooms, costume and scenery workshops, a library, a lounge, a snack bar, and administrative offices. Tully Hall is designed with wood batten (with dampening behind), lavender carpet, and an expanding stage. After renovation, a cafe and mezzanine level were added, and muirapiranga wood and limestone were added to the materials. The hallways leading up to the hall and the performance hall itself are both very aesthetic and stimulating. There is also a Swiss-made pipe organ inside the Hall. Its closeness to the subway required the building of extra supports and walls to prevent sound transfer.
The outside of the Sosnoff Theater looks very similar to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is due to the same architect (Frank Gehry) working on the project. The entire center opened in 2003 after three years of construction and $62 million dollars, and is located on the campus of Bard College in upstate New York. The building’s exterior is constructed of curved stainless steel and concrete. The interior contains the Sosnoff Theater, the LUMA theater and multiple studios. The Sosnoff Theater itself is quite distinctive: it includes a proscenium stage with a concert stage insert (this way concerts of drama, dance, and music can all take place), a hexagonal shape with walls that curves slightly inward to diffuse sound, and a high ceiling. With balconies and a crescent seating style, the feel of the hall is very intimate. The building’s system of air and heat are powered by geothermal sources which means the building is powered without the use of fossil fuels. The building is used mainly for school purposes (such as performances and graduations), but the Bard Music Festival takes place here as well. Many people have raved that this hall is the best acoustical and performance hall found in any small college.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman center is home to the Kansas City Symphony. There are two theaters within the building: the Muriel Kauffman Theater and Helzberg Hall. The idea for such a building came from Muriel Kauffman, who first introduced the thought in 1994 with her family. Sadly, Muriel died in 1995, but nonetheless her daughter kept the project going as head of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. In 1999 the land for the center was purchased by the Foundation. The chosen architect was Moshe Safdie who designed the very first sketch in 2000 on a table napkin, and in October of 2006 ground was broken for the center. The building itself took nearly 5 years to complete and is made mostly of glass, concrete and steel cables. With two vertical and concentric arches and one shared backstage, the building’s structural complexity is its defining factor. The Kauffman Center also maintains educational programs that bring kids and community members into the halls to enjoy the arts. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a glorious building with something for everyone.
Bing Concert Hall
Bing Concert Hall is located on the campus of Stanford University in California and is home to the Stanford Live performance series. Construction started on this $111.9 million dollar building in 2010, and was finished in January of 2013. The hall holds 842 people all arranged in a "vineyard" format, meaning the seating is arranged in raked tiers, like sloping terraces in a vineyard. This way the farthest seat is only 75 feet from the stage! The architect was Richard Olcott, and the name Bing comes from Peter and Helen Bing, two notable donors, who gave $50 million dollars for the building's construction. Sharing the same acoustical engineer as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, both halls enjoy similar acoustic flexibility. Because of this, the sound bounces off the walls and ceiling to create a larger and more pure sound for all listening. The exterior is mainly glass with the concert hall’s dome stretching out from the top. Hailed as “the envy of any big city” by The New York Times, the Bing Concert Hall is not one to forget!
Orchestra Hall (Detroit)
Located in Midtown, Detroit, Orchestra Hall is the proud home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Part of what makes this building so remarkable is the fact that it took only four months, from start to finish, to build. In 1919 then Music Director Ossip Gabrilowitsch, agreed to stay in his position only on the condition that a hall would be constructed that was worthy of the orchestra he had built. So, in April of that year, the Detroit Symphony Society purchased the Westminster Presbyterian Church, razed it to the ground, and erected Orchestra Hall in its place. And what a hall it was! A short three years later the Detroit Symphony became the first orchestra ever to broadcast a performance on the radio. By 1934, they had started a tradition of live broadcasts as part of the nationally syndicated Ford Symphony Hour. Unfortunately, Gabrilowitsch died in 1936, and the orchestra was forced to vacate the hall due to the economic stress of the depression. They were on the move until 1956 when they settled in Ford Auditorium, where they stayed for 33 years. By 1970 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra had become one of the most recorded symphonies in America, but they once more needed a new home. The original Orchestra Hall had fallen into almost complete ruin and was headed for the chopping block when local citizens banded together to save the building. They were successful and millions of dollars poured into its restoration. Plaster, paint, and custom elegance was restored to the hall in the hopes of honoring its original design. In 1989 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra moved back into their first home. After additional renovations in 2003, the building became known as the Max M. Fisher Music Center with multiple add-ons to the hall. Today the building stands out with a modern look on the outside and a traditional look on the inside.
By Annabelle Kim
Say you are listening to Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess. The opening French horn line could remind you of the calmness of a rumbling subway, or induce a deep-seated sensation of relief from a warm wind. Perhaps it is reminiscent of time spent in profound contemplation while spontaneous interruptions tugged for your attention. Ravel may not have known the sound of an underground subway, nor how the sensation of complete tranquility translate into audible sound. But his artwork, while limited to mere black ink smudges on a sheet of bleak, white lined paper, has the power to evoke intense feelings of nostalgia, or remorse, or anguish.
To say that Maurice Ravel composed the piece while in a state of acute melancholy, however, is dubious. This presents another dimension to art, a characteristic particular to the arts that states that each aesthetic idea can be interpreted differently by each listener. Though Ravel never claimed to have written the piece for any certain person or event in history, a listener or performer can give meaning to the piece that Ravel never originally intended, through subtle differences of experience or expression. But performers are keen to provide the impact that the original composer intended as well, creating, once again, another layer to the element of transcendence of which art is capable. In this sense, performers act as a passageway for audiences to deeply appreciate the inner workings of a piece, regardless of its era.
By Annabelle Kim
1. Free tickets to Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts: This may be the best perk of being a member of the Teen Council. Certain concerts on Thursdays following our monthly meetings have open seats and as Teen Council members, we get first dibs on the best available seats.
2. Meeting new students in the Dallas area: The people in the Teen Council can be from high schools in the same All-Region band as you are, from orchestras with many accolades, or from a conducting background. There is such a variety of talent within this group. You will have no difficulty finding a friend or two and learning something new.
3. Having opportunities for leadership: The DSO Teen Council, to begin with, is a leadership group. We ask all of our members for ideas and suggestions. No one person dominates the brainstorming.
4. Music related volunteering opportunities: Want to take part in an instrument petting zoo? The volunteering opportunities allow our members to be integrated into the professional music world as well as speak with musicians and make special connections with them.
5. Having a voice in artistic decisions made by the DSO: Every year the Teen Council hosts a concert for which the Council helps to choose what pieces are played, collaborates on marketing strategies, writes the program notes, and decides what events will precede and follow the concert. What do you want to hear the DSO play? Tell them by joining the DSO Teen Council.
By Jose Estrada
Before I started performing with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings Program at the Meyerson, I just stayed in my room and practiced. When I went to my first professional concert, I realized that the Meyerson has some great opportunities for students, like Student Pricing and Musicians Mingles. Just going to the symphony is an experience in itself. The building is beautiful and the concert atmosphere is so fun for a musician like me!
While I love going to concerts at the Meyerson, there was always one problem – I didn’t know what to wear. Formal? Casual? Something comfortable? Hmmm...
So here are some tips. If you’ve been holding back from coming to the Meyerson because you don’t know what to wear, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
Some concert-goers dress very formally, especially for events like the DSO Gala in September. However, you don’t need to run out and buy a new dress for a concert at the Meyerson.
For the teen concert in June, you can recycle one of the dresses or suits that you wore to a high school dance this year. Homecoming and prom attire are definitely fancy enough for the symphony. A winter formal outfit would be perfect for the December or January concerts. Don’t be afraid to rock a bowtie or some heels!
Summer concerts are usually held at the park, so you don’t have to dress up the way you would for the concert hall.
You could pair a sundress, some nice fitting jeans, or pretty shorts with comfortable shoes and a nice shirt. Comfort is key and the concert is outside, so don’t forget a picnic blanket and some bug spray!