Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today's Debate: Are The Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestras Capable Of Delivering Highly Polished Interpretations Of Early Mendelssohn Works?

First, some announcements and then the debate:

NSO Classical Sponsored By General Dynamics

National Symphony Orchestra: Iván Fischer, conductor, with an all-Mendelssohn program

Feb 8 - 10, 2007
Concert Hall, Kennedy Center
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Iván Fischer, conductor
Carolyn Betty, soprano
Kelly O'Connor, mezzo-soprano
Women of the University of Maryland Concert Choir
Edward Maclary, director

The NSO's New Principal Guest Conductor Iván Fischer leads Mendelssohn's Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of Shakespeare in Washington Festival, as well as the composer's First Symphony.


MENDELSSOHN - Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11
MENDELSSOHN - Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61

Remember, students can often attend the NSO at the Kennedy Center for $10 a ticket! Non-students are invited to subscribe to a three-concert mini-subscription of rear orchestral level seats for $99 [see bottom of linked page]!


Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras at the Music Center at Strathmore

Founded in 1946, serving Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia

SUNDAY, MARCH 11, 2006, 3:00 P.M. and 7:00 PM

Music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Elgar.

These concerts sponsored by Friends of Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras

MCYO needs your financial support. Consider becoming a friend of MCYO or placing a concert ad in one of our upcoming performances and help keep fine music alive! Your contribution or your ad ensures that our young musicians, regardless of financial circumstances, have access to a full orchestra experience. Participation stimulates their musical growth and provides them with unique performance opportunities.


And now for the debate which began on the pages of last October 18-23, 2006. The initial debaters were Jens Laurson, music critic, and Garth Trinkl, sometime artist and idealist. They were joined on January 25, 2007 by Christine Cox, Assistant Operations Manager, Maryland Classical Youth Orchestras, Strathmore Music Center, North Bethesday, Maryland:

Congratulations, Jens, on this important interview of an increasingly important presence on the Nation's Capital's musical scene. And good luck on all your future musical and educational work with WGMS and its web-affiliate.

However, I believe that the following sentence in your review above requires clarification:

"His opening concert, meanwhile, opens with a tribute to the NSO and Maestro Slatkin in the form of the new American work [sic], Robert Henderson’s “Einstein’s Violin”."

How is this ten year old work by, I believe, a still London-based American music critic and composer, a tribute to the NSO and Maestro Slatkin? Did Mr Slatkin commission the work for one of his British affiliate orchestras a decade or so ago?

And frankly, while I welcome Ivan Fischer's more formalized return to the Nation's Capital, and the NSO, as NSO principal guest conductor, his programming for the next season strikes me as uninspired, except perhaps for the program matching shorter works by Sibelius, Kodaly, and Richard Strauss. Don't you think that perhaps the American Youth Orchestra or the Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestra could have been retained by Michael Kaiser and the Kennedy Center for the not that difficult to perform all-Mendelssohn and Shakespeare tribute, freeing the NSO for more challenging European, American, and Asian classical repertoire, including important repetoire from the 20th century?

Unless he quickly shows greater independence and programming strength, I personally will not look forward to the possibility, mentioned by some, of Mr Fisher replacing Mr Slatkin as the NSO new chief music director. (The importance of this position going to a world-renowned American conductor, such as Kent Nagano, versus a European, Asian, or Latin American conductor is another subject...)

Lastly, I compliment the Kennedy Center and the NSO on finally facing reality and lowering in price by 10 per cent the rear orchestra seats (20% of the floor?),which are hardly ever filled thus costing the Kennedy Center precious box office revenues, citizen good-will, and classical music education and outreach.

By Garth Trinkl, at October 18, 2006 9:55 AM


Next time I talk to Fischer, I'll suggest that his program choices are uninspired. :) If it takes Fischer to make the NSO play Mendelssohn well, I'll take it. Call me a snob, but I don't want to hear the American Youth Orchestra or the Montgomery County Classic Youth Orchestra do Mendelssohn.

I would not worry about him replacing Slatkin, at any rate. I think the rumor (is there a substantial one) is not going to materialize at all.



By jfl, at October 18, 2006 5:57 PM


Well, Jens, then there will remain a HUGE amount of Shakespeare-themed humanist, Western classical music that Washington regional audiences will probably never hear in their lifetimes because of the NSO's largely unimaginative programming and your insistence that you only want to hear the musicians of the NSO perform Mendelssohn, rather than comparably fine younger semi-professional musical talent. I also hope you will quickly let Mr Fischer and the NSO know that you disapprove of the NSO uniting with the Women of the University of Maryland Concert Choir for these February concerts, when there are 'much finer' and more professional choristers available in the Washington region.


(I apologize for misspelling Fischer one time above.)




By Garth Trinkl, at October 19, 2006 12:37 PM

I am not saying they should not play it... just that I would not likely be there to hear it. Aside: What is the problem with Mendelssohn played well by the NSO? It's not precluding other bands to play whatever music they should like to play. Shakespeare-related or not.

By jfl, at October 19, 2006 11:10 PM

"What is the problem with Mendelssohn played well by the NSO?"

No problem, Jens. The NSO has performed well, and recently, many of the symphonies, overtures, the violin concerto, and some of the Mendelssohn oratorios. In my view, the NSO's very expensive professional services are not required for the 'incidental' music to Midsummer Nights Dream -- given the other highly skilled talent in the region (if not a world-class music conservatory). Up to a half dozen, lesser explored, world emerging classical music masterpieces -- from Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Asia -- could be explored in the 50 or 55 minutes it takes to perform the complete incidental music to MsND.

In my view, it is yours and Charles job, as new national intellectual and musical leaders, to think about and propose the best use of the NSO's resources.

Would you have been happy (had you been here) with Washington's musical, intellectual, and spiritual life before Robert Aubry Davis launched, on WETA public radio, 'Millennium of Music' over a generation ago, and introduced dozens of pre-Bach masterpieces to national listeners -- works now in the musical consciousnesses of many in the Washington regional audience members?

I personally look forward to the time that the Kennedy Center's and the NSO's classical programming is as well curated as the programs of the National Gallery of Art or the Freer-Sackler Galleries -- or even the Library of Congress.


By Garth Trinkl, at October 23, 2006 9:47 AM


From: Christine Cox []
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 12:33 PM
Subject: Correction

Just saw your post from October in which you refer to our orchestras incorrectly. We are The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras. I’m sorry that you feel the way you do about hearing youth orchestras perform classical music. Perhaps it’s feelings like yours that contribute to the overall decline of musical culture among today’s young people.

Our kids are amazing, talented musicians, many of whom go on to become the snob-worthy musicians of tomorrow.

Christine Cox
Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras
Assistant Operations Manager
The Music Center At Strathmore
North Bethesda, Maryland
(301) 581-5209

The Lviv, Ukraine Conservatory of Music.

Unlike Washington, D.C., Lviv, Ukraine has an excellent and well-funded Conservatory of Music. The current 'experts' at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts -- to date -- are hesitant to support the concept of Washington, D.C. having a world-class music and performing arts conservatory.

Photo credit: With thanks!


Others are encouraged to join the debate and also to support classical music radio, classical music education, and youth classical orchestra experiences here in the United States and elsewhere in the 'developed' and 'developing' world.

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