During my two years here, many people have asked me, “What is the Civic Orchestra? Is it a professional group? Is it an internship? Is it an educational program?” The truth is, it contains a bit of all of these elements while also instilling our greater mission of fulfilling a civic duty to advocate for […]Read more "What’s a training orchestra? Defining the Civic Orchestra of Chicago"
As a Civic Orchestra of Chicago Fellow, I often am asked what the fellows do. In response, I answer that we participate in diverse projects that develop our musicianship and creativity with the aim of preparing us for careers as artists in a rapidly-changing field. As fellows, we perform in Symphony Center and in schools […]Read more "Fellowship of the Civic: Explaining the duties of a Civic Fellow"
On March 13th, some of the Civic Fellows participated in the Negaunee Music Institute’s residency at Illinois Youth Center – Chicago. This residency was led by Sara Lee and Rex Horan from the London-based Irene Taylor Trust: Music in Prisons. This was one of the most unique residencies we have experienced this season. Over the […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: March 13 – 26"
It was a great honor of my time as a fellow to work closely with my friend Kip Riecken to spearhead our CSO-Connect project. The task presented to us: create from scratch a 45-minute, interactive, memorized presentation to introduce children to the music and story of Richard Strauss’s epic tone poem, Don Quixote. Perform this […]Read more "Fellows Connect in the Classroom"
For me, the best part of being a fellow with the Civic Orchestra is that I’m always learning. Tonight I’m learning how to turn my experiences into a blog post (something I find very challenging). This afternoon I learned how to help an orchestra play with its soloist in moments when the soloist and much […]Read more "On Section Playing and Being In Charge"
On the evening of February 28th the Civic Orchestra gave the Chicago premiere of Glière’s full, unabridged Third Symphony. This symphony might be the epitome of the late, great romantic symphonies. The piece runs over eighty minutes long, calls for the largest orchestra we’ve used all season, and pushes the technical and musical boundaries of nearly […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: February 27 -March 12, 2017"
The month of February was perhaps one of the busiest periods of the 2016/17 season. The Chicago Youth in Music Festival was in full swing, Civic had a concert with Jay Friedman featuring the monumental third symphony by Rheingold Glière, and the Institute’s school and community partnership program sent numerous CSO and Civic ensembles into […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: February"
For the fourth day in a row you wake-up at 5:30 in the morning. You crawl out of bed after five hours of sleep and chug some coffee, all in the pursuit of finding the ever-elusive practice room. You practice for two hours – a solid two hours, every minute filled with intense, mentally draining […]Read more "Variations on the Auditioning Process"
The Chicago Youth in Music Festival has begun! In the past two weeks, the fellows have devoted most of our time to working with wonderful young musicians. We continued performing our arrangement of Don Quixote in Chicago schools and we attended the CSO School Concert of Don Quixote at Symphony Center. We also began our […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: January 30 – February 14"
Like so many others, I practiced my way through two music degrees with the hopes and expectations that if I tried hard enough, I would be rewarded with a job in an orchestra. Simple, right? By the end of my masters, tired of being in school and unwilling to accumulate any more debt, I suddenly […]Read more "A gig economy: Explaining the business of freelancing artistry"
Barely did we get back from winter break before Civic launched into its next concert cycle. The program consisted of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Debussy’s La Mer, and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Our conductor for this cycle was Rossen Milanov, who brought the music to life with his clear technique and beautiful musicianship. The […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: Jan. 16- Jan. 29"
Before most musicians begin with a full-time orchestra, they likely take part in “audition season.” Winter marks the start of this nerve-wracking period; auditions for schools, pre-professional programs, and summer festivals usually occur between January and March. In addition, professional orchestra auditions start to pick up during these months, as they begin to look toward […]Read more "A Fellow’s Reflection: Dec. 19 – Jan. 15"
It’s 30 minutes until showtime at the Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville. In the large gymnasium, draped with 30-foot burgundy curtains, four stuffed rubber chairs loom large on stage left and a sextet of musicians are tucked away on stage right. The audience consists of family members, theater supporters and incarcerated teens. The multi-level stage features a […]Read more "Letting their guard down: Incarcerated teens present musical ‘Dear Sky’"
The holiday season often brings busy and calm moments to our lives. Holiday gatherings and flurries of last minute gift shopping are accompanied by relaxed evenings at home with family and friends alike. The Civic Fellows experienced a similar ebb and flow this holiday season. Hot off the heels of the Civic Orchestra’s third annual […]Read more "A Fellows’ Reflection: December 4 – 20"
Connections are important. Who you know is usually one of the first things that comes up when meeting new people. I think this is especially true for musicians. It seems like every time I meet a musician there is a brief discussion revolving around where we went to school and if we happen to know […]Read more "Working with a CSO Principal Musician"
One place I didn’t expect to find myself on a Wednesday afternoon: a corner coffee shop in Pilsen (Café Jumping Bean), sitting on a lap, squeezed between patrons and grinning employees as cellist Yo-Yo Ma took requests from the solo suites of J.S. Bach from his seat near the front window. (For all the string […]Read more "A Fellows’ Reflection: November 15 – December 13"
As I pass Wrigley Field on my morning commute to Symphony Center, I cannot help but ruminate on the 7th largest gathering in human history that I witnessed the other day. The Chicago Cubs’ World Series Victory Parade drew upwards of five million spectators. This gathering resulted in images of crying fans and many renditions […]Read more "Bach Marathon: One Sound, One City"
It’s Halloween. I am sitting in an elementary school on the southwest side of Chicago, observing an interaction between a student and a violin teacher. Sebastian, a third grader, is dressed as a vampire. The teacher, Davis King, asks him if it would be easier to play without the plastic vampire teeth in his mouth. […]Read more "Don’t Touch the Horsehair: An afternoon observing Davis King"
As I am typing this post I am listening to the BBC World Service report of the battle at Mosul, where Iraqi and Kurdish troops advance toward a city full of innocent civilians and IS fighters. Here in Chicago the murder toll is 582 people and counting. My email inbox is full with requests from […]Read more "A blog to consider: Kicking off the 2016/17 season"
The Civic Orchestra of Chicago is proud to announce the 2016/17 class of Civic Fellows. Throughout the season, in addition to playing alongside their colleagues in the Civic Orchestra, the Fellows will perform chamber music in schools and communities across the city, design and implement their own community engagement projects, serve as leaders for creative […]Read more "Meet the 2016/17 Civic Fellows"
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 […]Read more "Q & A with Cliff Colnot"
FROM JESSICA WOLFE, bass and Civic Fellow, Civic Orchestra of Chicago: I consider myself a classical musician, and there’s nothing better to me than playing bass lines in Beethoven Symphonies and Strauss Tone Poems. I also consider myself greatly intimidated by new music simply because I don’t have much experience playing it. Fast forward to […]Read more "Reflections on the Civic Orchestra Composers Project"
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 […]Read more "Why Music Education Matters"
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. […]Read more "On Becoming a Teacher"
Most of my colleagues in the Civic Orchestra are hot on the orchestral audition circuit. Preparing effectively for the high-magnitude audition is something we discuss at great length. As I approach the end of my last year in this professional training orchestra, I find myself desiring to take advantage of every opportunity. Yet I continually […]Read more "How Community Engagement Aids Audition Preparation"
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 […]Read more "Choices and Consequences in Romeo and Juliet"
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 […]Read more "Learning How to Listen"
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 […]Read more "Let the 2015/16 Season Begin"
One of the most valuable aspects of being a musician in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago is the experience of working on and performing the great standards of orchestral repertoire. But we also have the opportunity to play chamber music – whether with groups formed on the initiative of Civic musicians, or, more often, through […]Read more "Making Chamber Music With Cliff Colnot"
Mocrep presents Diels, Lyle, & Younge At the Musical Offering in Evanston Saturday, May 23rd at 7:30PM Program: Bethany Younge: Her I Is She This (2015) for recorder, bass, and 2 percussionists Jenna Lyle: Stitch (2013, 2015) for flute and percussion with fabric installation Natacha Diels: Second Nightmare, for Kiku (2013) for violin and 2 […]Read more "Mocrep Presents Diels, Lyle, & Younge"
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, […]Read more "Time to Shine"
As I look forward to this evening’s concert led by Principal Conductor Cliff Colnot, I’m reflecting on the busy season we’ve had – in particular, a great pair of concerts last fall that, to me, illustrated the excitement of playing in and hearing the Civic Orchestra. Every concert that an orchestra plays is a unique experience, not only […]Read more "Old World Wisdom and Contagious Energy at Orchestra Hall"
Part of the mission of the Citizen Musician Fellowship (a part that got me hugely interested in the first place, actually) is to expand our career path horizons. Conservatory students generally assume that they’ll go from school to the audition circuit, win an orchestral job, and go from there. Maybe they’ll teach on the side, […]Read more "Sharing Notes with Allegra Montanari"
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 […]Read more "Classical Music: A World of Its Own"
On October 20th, after waiting patiently and excitedly for a month and a half, the musicians of the Civic Orchestra met Yo-Yo Ma – the man, and the brain behind the Citizen Musician Initiative – for the first time in the 2014-2015 season. Having been a Yo-Yo fan since six years old and knowing that […]Read more "Launching the Season with Yo-Yo Ma"
Never has there been a time in human history when music is so ubiquitous. Whether we are traveling, shopping, eating, or walking down State Street, music is inescapable. Unfortunately for the world of classical music, society at large hears so much sound at such a quick pace that the deep auditory experience of listening to […]Read more "Musical Connections with Avo Randruut"
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 […]Read more "Myron’s Story"
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 […]Read more "Announcing Zhou B Art Center and Civic Orchestra Partnership: A Chamber Music Series"
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 […]Read more "Boot Camp"
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 […]Read more "Why We Do What We Do"
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 […]Read more "Teaching Tuba with Scott Tegge"
Recently, I finished working at my first-ever Real Person Grown-Up Job™. I worked there for a year, almost to the day—from the end of July last year to the end of July this year. It was the job I had intended to get ever since my boyfriend and I decided to move to Chicago, a […]Read more "Learning to Love Audition Prep"
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 […]Read more "A New Appreciation"