This update covers the Columbus Symphony events of the past few weeks, along with a preview of an exciting upcoming concert with conductor George Manahan.
Over the past few weeks we played several short educational concerts in various Columbus elementary schools.
Yesterday we played at West Broad Elementary. At each concert Peter Stafford Wilson, who conducts all these concerts, asks the children to name the "families" of instruments after pieces featuring them. In most schools, the kids had trouble answering correctly, but at West Broad, they nailed all the answers. Kudos to the teachers at W Broad Elementary!
This week we play another set of educational concerts in the Ohio Theater for Columbus children. The kids always seem to love coming to the ultra-fancy Ohio Theater to see the Symphony.
I remember going to see the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center while in Middle School. It was one of my first introductions to the symphony. I remember learning about the radical style of Berlioz through hearing parts of his Symphonie Fantastique. Did that experience help prompt my decision to become a musician? Yes.
Last week we played Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin along with his G Major Piano Concerto and Brahms 1st Symphony, in the Palace Theater. Guest artist Christopher O'Riley served double duty as soloist and conductor.
I liked O'Riley's idea of having members of the orchestra make a few comments about the piece we were about to play. It helped the audience connect a face and a personality to the music they were about to hear. I hope we do more of that.
By his own admission he had never conducted an orchestra. Not only did that take guts to admit, it took even more guts to do! He fared well in general, with some help from us. But that's what it's about, isn't it? I think we play better as an orchestra when we have to rely on our best musical instincts, our internal rhythm, and our (remarkably vast) combined experience. Together we pulled it off. O'Riley is certainly an amiable guy, an earnest musician and accomplished pianist.
On May 29 and 30 we perform an all Beethoven concert with conductor George Manahan. I remember his stellar performance of Stravinsky's Petrouchka here several years ago. Not only did he piece together the notoriously fragmented score into a cohesive whole in the performance, but he conducted in both a three and four pattern beat simultaneously in one spot!
Manahan is primarily known for his successful and seasoned leadership at the New York City Opera. In my opinion, that's a terrific foundation for dramatic and vivid interpretations of symphonic music.
I look forward to playing the mind-blowing music of Beethoven (including his 5th symphony) with such a seasoned artist.
In his eleventh season as Music Director of New York City Opera, the wide-ranging and versatile George Manahan has had an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. He has been hailed for his leadership at City Opera, where he "gets from his players the kind of heartfelt involvement unthinkable in the City Opera orchestra pit 20 years ago...these musicians operate with such consistent energy and involvement." (New York Times)
George Manahan has distinguished himself throughout the world as one of... more the foremost conductors of our time, and is especially known in the opera world for his musical guidance of diverse productions including productions of 'La faniculla del West', 'Daphne', 'Ermione', 'Dialogues of the Carmelites', 'Cendrillon', 'Die tote Stadt'. He has also toured Japan with NYCO's production of 'Little Women'.
Mr. Manahan’s guest appearances include the symphonies of Atlanta, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Charlotte, and New Jersey, where he served as acting Music Director for four seasons.