Togetherness

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In March St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra cellist Julie Holzen wrote a Playbill article about her experience as a musical mentor to Tieryn Minor, a freshman at Lutheran North High School and a member of an IN UNISON Church.¬† Holzen and Minor practiced together. Holzen shared her knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. Minor took the stage with the YO in rehearsals and performed on the February On Stage at Powell Concert. You can read Julie’s article here, which gives her insights into the first year pilot of the YO’s Mentoring the Music: Peer-to-Peer program.

Left to right: Tieryn Minor, Melissa Brooks and Julie Holzen
Left to right: Tieryn Minor, Melissa Brooks and Julie Holzen

Julie is going on to her first semester at Oberlin this fall. She, Tieryn, and STL Symphony Associate Principal Cello Melissa Brooks got together for some work in the Powell Hall Green Room the other day. Afterward, Melissa was effusive about the program and about Tieryn’s music-making. Tieryn’s eager for her next YO Peer-to-Peer Mentor in the coming season.

You get people who care about people and who care about music, put them together, you find stories to live on.

Hot Picks: No. 3

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A program deep in the American grain: John Adams’ The Chairman Dances, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, and Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony. It’s a program the Symphony musicians love from top to bottom.I love Adams’ Chairman Dances,” says first violinist Dana Edson Myers, “and really enjoy David Robertson’s electric interpretations.”

Gil Shaham. Photo by Luke Ratray.
Gil Shaham. Photo by Luke Ratray.

“I am really looking forward to having Gil Shaham play the Korngold Concerto with us,” says Associate Principal Cello Melissa Brooks. “He plays it better than anyone.” Double bassist Sarah Hogan Kaiser is also looking forward to playing with Shaham, “To me, [the Korngold] sounds like sweeping movie music. Gil is one of my favorite soloists that comes to town because I just love his playing, but he also seems like such a down-to-earth person and we have a great time making music with him.” The St. Louis Symphony has quite a history with Korngold’s Violin Concerto. The orchestra played the world premiere of the work with Jascha Heifetz at Kiel Opera House in 1947, the eminent Vladimir Golschmann conducting.

David Robertson conducts this New World Symphony weekend, January 13-15, 2017, which concludes with Dvorak’s musical response to his late 19th-century American sojourn, which included time the Bohemian composer spent in a Czech community in Iowa. Many American audiences hear the voices of their nation interpreted through a foreigner’s sensibility. Others may hear a foreigner’s longing for his homeland. Leonard Bernstein went so far as to describe the symphony’s famous “Goin’ Home” theme, often referred to as a “Negro spiritual,” as “a nice Czech melody by Dvorak.”

However you hear Dvorak’s Ninth, it is an evocative sonic message written from our soil and from our air. Cally Banham plays the enigmatc theme, and calls the “New World” Symphony “a piece¬† I hold closely to my heart, as it contains the most iconic solo written for my instrument, the English horn. Finding the right nuances in the solo is a challenge that lasts a whole career, and each performance is fulfilling in a different way.”

Flutist Jennifer Nitchman adds that it “has lots of second flute solos” too.

Thursday: A break from the Hot Pick Top 5 countdown because it’s Postcard Thursday with Celeste Golden Boyer.

Otra Vez

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Last week I posted photos of the activities going on outside of the concert hall for the On Stage at Powell tango night, featuring Cortango Orquesta. This week, thanks to photographer Joe Schmidt, here are pictures of the show.

Claudia Cortes and Mauro Peralta
Claudia Cortes and Mauro Peralta
Cortes and Peralta with the full Cortango Orquesta ensemble
Cortes and Peralta with the full Cortango Orquesta ensemble
Left to right: STL Symphony musicians (aka Cortango Orquesta) Melissa Brooks, David DeRiso, Chris Tantillo, Asako Kuboki, Cally Banham
Left to right: STL Symphony musicians (aka Cortango Orquesta) Melissa Brooks, David DeRiso, Chris Tantillo, Asako Kuboki, Cally Banham
Cally Banham and Adam Maness
Cally Banham and Adam Maness
Cortes and Peralta
Cortes and Peralta

Musicians from that evening who are not pictured: Symphony flutist Andrea Kaplan and Cortango pianist Adam De Sorgo.

To the Core

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Melissa Brooks, associate principal cello: “Fight it as I might, in certain moments there is absolutely nothing, outside of the people in my life, that effects me the way classical music does. It makes me smile one second, and breaks my heart the next. I might cry and want to throw it all away and then be so moved that I cannot imagine a life without such incredible beauty. Nothing cuts to the core so quickly and permanently.”

Melissa Brooks Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim
Melissa Brooks
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim