Tuesday, June 21, 2005

National Orchestral Institute -- David Robertson Concert and Free Open Rehearsal

David Robertson will be leading the National
Orchestral Institute, at the University of
Maryland, in both a free open rehearsal this
Friday, June 24, from 9:30 AM to noon; as well
as a ticketed concert this Saturday, at 8 PM.
Both the free open rehearsal and the ticketed event
are in the fairly new Dekelboum Concert Hall.
For the concert, adult tickets are $20, student
tickets $7.

The upcoming David Robertson program features:

Sibelius — En saga, op.9
Boulez — Notations
Stravinsky — Petrouchka (1911)

Last week, Roberto Minczuk led a concert, and
free open rehearsal, of a program consisting of:

Strauss — Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, op.28
Copland — Appalachian Spring
Brahms — Symphony no.2, op.73, D major

Two weeks ago, Gerard Schwarz led an especially
ambitious program, for young professionals, of:

Mozart — Symphony no.35, K.385, D major, "Haffner"
Mahler — Symphony no.7, E minor

I do question whether these programs are preparing
young musicians to be responsible musicians in
American orchestras of the twenty-first century.
I question why the National Orchestral Institute --
like the National Conducting Institute, under Leonard
Slatkin, and the American Academy of Conducting at
Aspen, under David Zinman -- can't make a greater
commitment to the American orchestral music created
over the past 200 years. The inclusion of the Copland
Appalachian Spring suite, to me, smacks of tokenism.

And why the Sibelius — En saga, op.9, and the R. Strauss
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, op.28? Are the
administrators of this promising program for young
professionals trying to turn our young musicians into anti-
American musical reactionaries? Where is the MacDowell,
the Ives, the Ruggles, the Crawford-Seeger, the Sessions,
the Harris, the Hovhaness, the Diamond, the Gloria Coates --
among countless others? And yes, I'd also certainly be
willing to substitute a fine American concerto for the Boulez

While I can't now speak to David Zinman's activities in Aspen,
I do know that National Conducting Institute activities,
at the Kennedy Center under Leonard Slatkin, have in the
past consisted of public concerts devoid of any American
symphonic music whatsoever. Way to go, American
cultural center!!


Link to my submission to Drew McManus's Take a Friend to
Orchestra initiative, last month, at ArtsJournal.com:


Blogger Sarah said...

I disagree with your position. As students facing a future of orchestral auditions, our audition repertoire consists of - face it - pieces like the Brahms, Mozart, and Strauss. It was nice having the experience to play a Mahler symphony that is rarely programmed (besides that, it's nearly impossible to work up a Mahler symphony in a college orchestra to this level during the school year). Appalachian Spring is an important, difficult piece of standard rep we will all probably need to play at some point. If the programmers had wanted a "token piece" they would have chosen something less difficult. Many of these pieces, not new American works, show up in the final audition rounds of orchestra auditions as sight-reading. We need the exposure to these works, performed under the best conductors. Since we only have three weeks, only a limited amount of repertoire could actually be learned. The point of NOI is to prepare us for careers in music, not to make a political music statement.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Garth Trinkl said...

Thank you for your comment, Sarah.
You state your position very well.
However, I will stand by my professional -- and not political -- position that young professional American musicians should be exposed to a wider variety of American orchestral music. I disagree with you that Mahler symphonies are rarely programmed by school orchestras during the academic year, and that it is impossible adequately to prepare such works under academic conditions. I have heard Mahler symphonies performed by the university-level orchestras of the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard-Radcliff Colleges. Also, two of the high-school youth orchestras that I was associated with performed Mahler symphonies -- symphonies #1 and 4.
I will agree with you as to the importance and difficulty of Copland's Appalachian Spring. I performed it with my college orchestra during my freshman year.
Comparable works, in my opinion, should have been on the other NOI programs.

I am also aware of the extract books that aspiring professional musicians use to prepare for orchestral auditions. I know that these references currently feature extraits -- including solo passages -- from composers such as Mozart,Brahms, Mahler, Strauss, and
Copland. (I do not believe such texts include extracts from works such as Boulez's Notations, which was programmed by Mr Robertson.)

I believe that prestigious, high visibility, publically-funded programs such as the NOI should strive the reflect the best that the American orchestral tradition can offer its various current and potential audiences -- and that includes some outstanding music from the 19th and 20th century American symphonic tradition, as well as newer works -- such as the work by Gabriela Lena Frank, Three Latin American Dances, that I mentioned in my ArtsJournal.com orchestral post -- which reflect the best of 21st century America.

I wish you well in securing a post in the high-paying, but certainly economically-troubled, American orchestral industry. (I hope that you read, on a daily basis, Drew McManus's excellent blog posts, at ArtsJournal.com -- I will assume you do.) Alternatively, I wish you well in a career in chamber music, music teaching, or anything else you choose to pursue.

Thank you again for your strong comment. By the way, later this morning I plan to post a comment concerning lack of American symphonic music on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's special summer season at its new Strathmore Hall home outside of Washington, D.C.


Here is a link to American composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Perhaps you, or other young orchestral professionals, may be interested in her thoughts and feelings as reflected in her American works:


6:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home