The Symphony in Your School program took up residency at University City High, as represented by violinist Shawn Weil and cellist Bjorn Ranheim, who spent a few mornings with Lucy Mosier’s string class. STL Symphony video intern Nicola Muscroft put this mini-documentary together about the experience.
Lucy Mosier’s University City High School string musicians can say that they’ve played with members of the St. Louis Symphony. Violinist Shawn Weil and cellist Bjorn Ranheim have been sitting in with and coaching and giving tips to the high school string players since early March. Symphony video intern Nicola Muscroft and I had the privilege of joining the morning string class. It was raining outside but inside the music was bright. Photos by Jessica Ingraham.
On Thursday afternoon the 442s were in the Green Room preparing for upcoming recording sessions. The band is made up of Adam Maness and Syd Rodway of the Erin Bode Band, and Bjorn Ranheim and Shawn Weil of the St. Louis Symphony. They fuse many styles to create one that is their own. I stepped in when Adam was clapping out a beat, Shawn took up a repeated phrase and then Syd and Bjorn dug into the low notes.
The first graders at Hodgen Elementary School had a better Monday than most of us. St. Louis Symphony musicians Shawn Weil, Tina Ward and Tod Bowermaster paid a visit to Hodgen and taught the schoolchildren about how musical instruments make sounds, and then gave them the violin, clarinet and horn version of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
Maybe Symphony musicians could come to various workplaces and make grownups’ Mondays better too.
A visit to the dress rehearsal of Barber of Seville got me to thinking about perspective. Rossini’s entertaining romp is the season opener for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. The folks making the music from the pit are members of the St. Louis Symphony. (The Symphony is roughly divided in half through opera season, the Red and the Green, and the two groups rotate between operas and Live at Powell Hall concerts–see previous “Red and Green” blog posts over the last ten years or so for more in-depth explanations.)
This Barber is delightfully colorful with touches of absurdist comedy akin to the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, and the camp classics of Pedro Almodovar–the opera does take place in Seville, after all.
But as to perspective, all the stage bits, Figaro’s deep blue long-coat, the row of cocks at the base of a curtain, a swaying rump–the musicians see none of it. So, since no one I talked with sounded in the mood for a photo during rehearsal break, I thought, how about the backs of heads as metaphor for the musician’s experience in the opera pit? The audience sees the show; the musicians see their music and the conductor’s baton. The face; the faceless.
And let’s make a game of it. Let’s see how well you know your Symphony musicians. I provide the list of five. You match with photos.
1) Helen Kim 2) Xiaoxiao Qiang 3) Eva Kozma 4) Born Ranheim 5) Shawn Weil