Community in Music

Recently the Daily Orchestra Program traveled to Boston for our final performance of the year! Along with twelve other young orchestras, we arrived early in the morning at Roxbury Community College to participate in the Third Annual El Sistema Showcase (featuring programs from the greater Boston area). Our students had been eagerly anticipating this event for months. We had spent many hours not only learning a new version of Ode To Joy and a newly composed piece “What We Will Be,” but also learning how to follow a conductor, learning how to count rests, and preparing to share the stage with fellow string players and winds, brass, and percussion.

Showcase James&Marcya

Much like the kids I was excited, but I was also nervous about whether we had adequately prepared them to step into a situation in which even adults might sometimes struggle. A short one hour rehearsal followed by a performance with hundreds of other students under the baton of an unfamiliar conductor was an unprecedented experience for all of us! I’m happy to report that my worries were needless. The Daily Orchestra students embraced the entire experience whole-heartedly. They sang loudly when asked, played boldly (with the larger group and in their own performance), and gave their full attention to the task at hand. They even made some new friends and cheered pretty raucously during a cello/violin feud started by the MC.

Showcase Marcya&Felipe

After the event a beaming grandmother of one of our violinists expressed to me her amazement – “These children have never met before, and yet they can come together and in just a few hours be making beautiful music together!” I share her sentiment. It is amazing and wonderful how music can unify us not only with our own community but also with a much wider community, perhaps wider than we might even be aware until we come together in an orchestra.

–Lisa Barksdale

Effective Mentorship: Alum Josh Rodriguez at DOP

My name is Joshua Rodriguez, a Community MusicWorks alum and practice mentor at the Daily Orchestra Program. I remember my first day as a mentor at DOP. I was advised that I would be meeting with two violists and a violinist. Lisa and Adrienne did a great job preparing me  and the other mentors for what to expect and how to work with the students. It wasn’t my first time working with some of these students, but I still had feelings of nervousness and anxiety. All I could think of was, “Will these students take a liking to me being around and practicing?”

Those feelings of nervousness and anxiety were put to rest quickly. The students at DOP really are what made the experience so special. I really enjoyed practicing with them. Repeating a measure over for intonation, then maybe dynamics, and then for both was not only helpful but fun. I constantly thought of ways to make the practice fun, whether through games or structured break time. In many practice sessions I would also talk to students about what it means to play an instrument and how through practice we can better our talent. I’ve learned so much about what effective mentorship is like, the importance of relationships, and the bond music helps us create with others.

My experience at Daily Orchestra Program is one that I will never forget. I will recall the spirited energy which Lisa and Adrienne used to guide students through orchestra and their private lessons. I hope to have the same spirit in the future when teaching students how to play a musical instrument. So, did the students take a liking to me? I think the answer to that question is yes, and I certainly hope so. I know that I gained a liking towards them and the love they have for their instruments, music, and improv day. Yes, something I definitely learned is that you can’t forget improv day if you’re talking about DOP. It is their favorite day.

Ars Subtilior: Don Your Scrubs

On June 13 at 6pm at All Saints Church on Westminster, CMW will present the fourth installment of Ars Subtilior, a concert series I curate that focuses on subtlety in experimental music.

In the most recent Ars Subtilior concerts, we have presented works by known experimental music favorites such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Alvin Lucier.
This Saturday, we return to the unique work of my good friend André Cormier, whose music gets programmed by a handful of followers around the world. CMW staff, members of Phase II, and participants in the Institute for Musicianship and Public Service will be performing his Libelulles (Dragonflies) and Scrubbing.

How many substantial musical works can be learned, understood, and performed perfectly by mostly strangers with just one rehearsal? If we were going to try and play a Mozart symphony, for instance, it would require hours of preparation and all participating musicians would be expected to have a certain amount of training and understanding of a very particular music making practice. The audience would also be expected to have some knowledge of what a symphony is, recognize consonance and dissonance, and know when to clap.

Scrubbing throws this all out the window. It’s a score that really anyone could read and perform. All it requires are objects that can be scrubbed and a time keeping device. The score tells you when, how loud, and how fast or slow to scrub. It’s just a simple set of instructions but the result can be be quite stunning, with audience members being surrounded by delicate layers of brushing sounds, quietly undulating around them.

Libelulles (Dragonflies) is a little more involved, as it requires actual musical instruments and musicians that can make trilling sounds on those instruments.
But, that’s it. That’s all the audience will hear – little trills varying in timbre, dynamic, and range. The interior of the church will be transformed into a field rich with the sound of fluttering insects -but no bites or sun burn.

I admire the simplicity and unpretentiousness of Andre’s music. It allows everyone to enter the concert hall at the same level. Performers and audience members from all walks of life are allowed to have a meaningful and shared experience together.
There are no expectations, just (hopefully) pleasant surprises for all.

–Laura Cetilia