Tag Archive for 'Chicago Symphony Orchestra'

REVIEW: Chicago Symphony Orchestra

October has been a very exciting month for orchestra lovers; from the New York Philharmonic’s residency in Ann Arbor earlier this month to this performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, we have not been disappointed.

A bit of bragging moment: earlier that day, I had an opportunity to play for Dwight Parry, an oboist from Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra who has been touring with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the principal oboe. He was very inspirational — with much focus on technique as well as musicality, I learned a lot from him. Here’s a proof:

Oboist Dwight Parry (right) instructing me to play with more forward motion.

Oboist Dwight Parry (right) instructing me at the master class.

As a orchestral musician, Mr. Parry has a lot of experience in auditioning and judging auditions. Many of us classical musicians stress over the whole audition process all the time. Winning a position in an orchestra through auditions is extremely difficult — with hundreds of well-qualified applicants fighting over one seat, which is typically to be filled for decades once someone wins the spot. He mentioned that, when he is judging auditions, he is looking for a “colleague” — someone that can play in tune and in tempo, and that is overall pleasant to work with. These words stuck out to me as a lesson.

After that interaction with Mr. Parry, seeing him among many other superb musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra made me feel much closer to the orchestra. And I thought a lot about colleagues in an ensemble. What does it mean to play with the same people on your left and on your right for many, many years? Ideally, these players would develop the chemistry among them that make the “group” sound instead of “individual” sounds. However, this is not always the case, as conflicts and drama do happen. How do you act professional and deliver high-quality music to the audience with your colleagues?

To me, CSO seemed to do this very well. From the first “overture” — “The Victors” — to the last movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, the chemistry was there. (Has “The Victors” become a new tradition for all orchestras visiting Ann Arbor to play?) Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (with the iconic “duh-duh-duh-dummmmm” in the first movement) and Mahler’s First Symphony (with full of contrasts and shining moments for all instruments) are both classic favorites, and CSO gave no less than spectacular.

UMS has two more (international!) orchestras coming this season: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London in January, and Montreal Symphony Orchestra from Quebec in March. I am very much looking forward to exploring more orchestral artistry in the upcoming months.



Review:Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Ahh… where do I start to describe the magical evening with the CSO?

The program  started with scintillating Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin (“a piece written as a memorial”). As was his style, Ravel composed each movement in memory of  a friend.  Originally a piano piece, Ravel made into a orchestral suite and it was simply superb! Though it is a memorial, it is so delightful and delicate yet at the same time carries weight. The prelude was so graceful. The rest of the movements are all based on dances and the outcome is so pleasant. That was a treat! I luuuuuuuuv Ravel’s music!

The second piece of the evening was the Flute concerto by Dalbavie. This contemporary piece was so different. The flute concerto had so much going on (so many twists and surprises) that you had to pay attention to it throughout ( unlike Ravel’s  piece where you could close your eyes and be transported to your favorite ballroom and have a nice dance!). It had a mysterious feel to it and would have suited so well to a movie with a sober and dark theme. It is not my kind of music though!

Mathieu Dufour, Prinicpal Flute for CSO

Mathieu Dufour, Prinicpal Flute for CSO

As for the execution of the piece, Mathieu Dufour, the principal flute for CSO was absolutely mind-blowing.This piece is immensely complex with varying patterns that demand the best fom the flautist and my oh my, M. Dufour was just perfect. The high notes were so clear, his absolute control over the notes and his breath control- it was just a pleasure being there.  It is so amazing to see someone who is so good at what he does. To me, he was the highlight of the show!

And then came the dessert of the evening’s program- Bluebeard’s Castle!

The awesome imagination of the composer Bartok, the perfect background score where the music described the surrounding so well,the great lyrices , amazing vocals of the lead singers
(Michelle DeYoung and Herr Struckmann were really at their best), the nice balance of  tragedy and dark humor and of course the flawless execution under Mr.Boulez- it was just the best you could get from a symphony orchestra!

Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle was amazing in terms of musical as well as lyrical content. But would I listen it to it a 100 times?- No! It is just kind of creepy music that you associate with a horror movie. But it is so well-suited to the libretto it was written for!

Mr.Pierre Boulez, the emeritus conductor,led the orchestra so effortlessly through the complicated Bluebeard’s castle. It is so great to be in the presence of such greatness.

Summing up, it was an enchanting evening!


Krithika, for art[seen]

PREVIEW: Interview with Pierre Boulez (conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Wed Jan 27th!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010
12 pm
Rackham Building, Fourth Floor Amphitheatre

Interviews are fascinating. I also wonder how and why the interviewer chooses certain questions…and are there any taboo questions? Although, I can’t really think of a taboo question when it comes to orchestras and music.

According to the UMS website, “U-M School of Music Professor Emeritus of Musicology Glenn Watkins and Maestro Boulez will discuss the past, present, and future of orchestras, live performance, artistic choices, and contemporary composition.”

How do you feel about live performances? With advances in technology and sound recording, do you think orchestras and concerts will become a thing of the past? What about contemporary music? I’m particularly curious to hear what Boulez has to say regarding contemporary music (he’s a composer as well). Occasionally, contemporary music is too crazy for my baroque and classical music brain, but I’d like to hear his thoughts. Perhaps I’ll be able to “understand” the music better.

Preview: Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO)

Wednesday, Jan 27, 8 pm@ Hill Auditorium

If you are a symphony fan, then attending a performance of the “Big Five” (more on this later) must certainly be on your must-do list. And guess what, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the “Big Five” is in town today! Another great thing about this performance is that the CSO’s emeritus conductor, Pierre Boulez, returns to Ann Arbor for the first time since 1972 as part of the CSO’s month-long celebration of his 85th birthday. He is such a celebrated conductor with a long trail of achievements and is considered one of the most important musical and intellectual figures of our time. I am really excited about seeing him performing live.

Pierre Boulez, emeritus conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

And what a treat they have in store for us- the less-heard, obscure but absolutely fascinating works of Ravel and Bartok.

Remember the fairytale Bluebeard by Charles Perrault? There are many versions of it. But  when my mom told me the grim tale when I was about 7 years old, I had nightmares for days.   Bela Bartok, a Hungarian composer with a unique perspective, created an opera based on the story.  The story is about how Judith, Bluebeard’s wife uncovers Bluebeard’s grisly secret by opening the seven doors in her husband’s castle and her sad end as a result of her curiosity. The opera didn’t see much success and popularity in Bartok’s times. But it was revived later by young musicians.

The CSO will give us a very rare concert performance of the one-act opera. The pieces presented today are all relatively unknown and it will be great to see them being performed live.

A flute concerto, a relatively modern piece (it was released in 2006) by the avant-garde composer Marc-Andre Dalbavie, will also be played by the orchestra.

So this is a performance you will definitely not want to miss. Tickets  @ the Michigan League Office or in the Box Office before the show.

Yours truly,

Krithika for art[seen]

Krithika is excited to be back and wishes to write more on the arts.