Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mid-Term in Pittsburgh

I really cannot believe is has been eight weeks since I began my assignment in Pittsburgh. From day one it has been a workaholics dream, with meetings and projects and people to occupy every 40 hour work week, and then some.

Since I have just completed my mid-term assessment, for the program, I wanted to pass along my thoughts to everyone. This whole year is focused around me developing the skills required to lead a symphony orchestra. After attending graduate school for arts management and working in the field for two years, the basic principles of the industry are innate. Now is the time for me to develop my own set of ideals and strategies when I am called upon to lead.

Here is just a few short things I have learned:

1.) I miss cooking. I miss the creativity it provided me.

2.) I enjoy face to face communication and seek to have a personal connection with everyone.

3.) I am working on balancing being an active and passive participant in meetings. Speaking up has always been difficult for me, so by confronting it I hope to conquer it.

4.) I am only leading one group project at Pittsburgh. While it mostly boils down to a coordination of efforts, I am making strides in developing my personal leadership style.

5.) Bob Moir, Vice President of Artistic Planning worked with me to create a huge list orchestral repertoire. I have already begun to work my way through it, familiarizing myself with these essential pieces of the genre. I am planning on posting what I have completed soon with my thoughts on the works.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 3

I have a confession to make. I am not a huge Sibelius fan.

Alright, let me quantify that statement. I am not a huge Sibelius violin fan.

I know that you are saying. Brandon, Sibelius wanted to play violin professionally. He suffered long and hard working towards being a great player, wrote one of the most popular violin concertos of all time and you are just blowing it off.

Yes. Every time I heard the violin concerto previously, it induced in me a serious case of yawns and made my eyes droopy and sleep filled. I believe it was the organicness of Sibelius's music. The growth of the theme and the washing of it from one tonal section to another seamlessly, whilst beautiful, was unable to keep my attention. Until this weekend. Nikolaj Znaider was amazing, drawing me into his warm tone and fresh bowing that kept any sign of slumber off my mind. I do not remember much else past the music, having suspended all disbelief that I was anywhere but wrapped up in the dulcet tones. An absolutely breathtaking performance of the concerto, which caused me to get home and listen to it again, along with more of Sibelius's compositions. He was such a stunning composer, lyrical and ethereal, with everything he wrote sounds so organic because it just moves without you having to do much other than enjoy it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 2

Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is an interesting piece of music. Totally ingrained in our culture, it is the theme all of Western civilization connects with the classical music genre. The first four notes, the infamous four notes, are worked and reworked throughout the first section of the piece, showing just how much something can be created out of so little. I have often pondered if Beethoven lost a bet while in the composition of this work, being the loser in a game of "Compose that Song" and he said he could create a work using just 4 notes.

Every time I listen to the piece, I get excited. Yes, it is on the all-time Top 5 pieces of the genre, but it does not meant the work is not exciting. The Pittsburgh Symphony was able to convey an energy to it that is often lacking. Every movement of the theme around the different sections of the orchestra had my eyes following in step right behind my ears. I know the work well, one of the few pieces I can make the claim, but this performance made me forget about the score and live in the moment.