Q & A with Cliff Colnot

On February 29th, Cliff Colnot led his final concert as Principal Conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. The program included Shostakovich’s 9th Symphony and Augusta Read Thomas’s EOS. At the end of the concert, nineteen string players honored Dr. Colnot with a conductorless performance of Stravinsky’s Concerto in D.  Read the Chicago Tribune review […]

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Why Music Education Matters

The arts education situation in America is less than ideal. In Chicago, it is downright abysmal. According to data collected in a recent survey representing one-third of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), just one in four are providing the two hours per week of arts instruction as charged by the Arts Education Plan set forth in […]

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On Becoming a Teacher

I am not a teacher. There are people you meet and think, That person is a teacher. They have a certain openness about them, a nurturing warmth that invites you to hear what they have to say. They have patience, knowledge to share, passion for sharing it. Their carriage inspires respect—you want to please them. […]

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Choices and Consequences in Romeo and Juliet

In October, the Fellows received an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suites by Civic Orchestra Principal Conductor Cliff Colnot. In addition to tackling two challenging orchestral scores that had been condensed down to eleven instruments, we were tasked with creating an educational program exploring Tchaikovsky’s and Prokofiev’s musical […]

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Learning How to Listen

Earlier this fall, while I was immersed in an intense rehearsal with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Maestro Semyon Bychkov said something that really struck a chord with me.  As we were playing through Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3, he stopped the rehearsal to address the strings that were playing a lyrical passage. The violins had […]

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Let the 2015/16 Season Begin

The beginning of the 2015/2016 season has already been busy for the Fellows—we’ve performed new music at the Ravenswood Art Walk, played for a VIP reception (including Mayor Rahm Emanuel!) at the Zhou B Art Center, and, of course, with the full orchestra, had our first open rehearsal with Maestro Muti and our concert with […]

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Time to Shine

On a Sunday afternoon in mid-September 2014, four Citizen Musician Fellows visited the Illinois Youth Center Warrenville (IYCW). The fellows were there with Storycatchers Theatre to meet the young women in residence at the facility, and to discuss the upcoming performances of this year’s musical, Teenage Tears — a story inspired by the girls’ life experiences, […]

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Classical Music: A World of Its Own

The experience of a live classical music concert is unlike any other. There is little visual stimulation, interaction with others during the performance is discouraged, and a laundry list of concert hall traditions oversees the entire event. To some, the conventional classical concert is heaven — to most others, however, a change in how we […]

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Myron’s Story

Several weeks ago, the fellows met a local musician with a diverse background and career. He is a concert pianist, recording artist, accompanist, music director, educator, musicologist, and music critic. His name is Myron Silberstein and he is currently a composer and keyboardist for Storycatchers Theatre, an organization that the Citizen Musician Fellows are working […]

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Announcing Zhou B Art Center and Civic Orchestra Partnership: A Chamber Music Series

Beginning on November 21st at 7:30PM, musicians of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago will present a concert of chamber music at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport. It will be the first performance in a series of four concerts presented at the Zhou B Art Center as part of their “3rd Friday’s” – an exhibition […]

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Boot Camp

Before the aptly titled “boot camp” workshop, I only knew Fifth House Ensemble by name. I was aware that they are a unique collective of musicians (the group consists of eleven musicians: ten instrumentalists and a composer who each have an impressive performance record and distinct skills) with a stellar reputation. However, after spending five hours […]

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Why We Do What We Do

In early September, the 2014-15 Citizen Musician Fellows met for the first time. We had all been waiting for the beginning of the season and were eager to get started. It was clear to me that we were very excited to be there, and this led me to revisit a few questions I had been […]

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Teaching Tuba with Scott Tegge

Seventy. Seventy students. The number rang through my head as I made the hour-long journey to Symphony Center a few weeks ago. Riding along the lakefront bike trail, I fantasized about having so many students. Early mornings and late nights; quick bites of sporadic meals between lessons, all in pursuit of guiding young people toward their […]

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A New Appreciation

Last month, I attended an exclusive recital in Chicago. If you knew about this event, you would have gone to great lengths to be there. But no matter how hard you tried, you would have been denied access. The performers included a star-studded cast: legendary conductor Riccardo Muti, bass-baritone Eric Owens, tenor Antonio Poli, two […]

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