A Fellows’ Reflection: December 4 – 20

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 Bach Marathon, our schedules were greeted with a few days of respite before intense sectionals and full rehearsals for a concert with Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams. The repertoire: a contemporary piece by Samuel Carl Adams, Drift and Providence, and Copland’s Symphony No. 3.

The Copland is a beautiful yet challenging piece to take on as an ensemble, especially considering Civic’s shortened preparation time of just five rehearsals plus a sectional. Our sectionals are often led by Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal musicians like Robert Chen, Alex Hanna, and Jay Friedman. These are great opportunities to get direct feedback on our individual playing, sectional sound, and artistic approach.

The full ensemble rehearsals started five days before the performance and brought highly focused periods of musicianship. Our young and energetic conductor, Teddy Abrams, prepared quick shifts in pacing and unified the orchestra’s phrasing. He also provided insight as to what the music, itself, was about. We contemplated the use of water-like textures and machine-like sounds in Drift and Providence. We also ruminated on the moments of incredible despair in the Copland, a symphony originally written post-WWII during a time of national celebration. These meditations are an important  aspect of the creative process and, in many ways, reflect the ubiquitous role of music in society.

Following our concert, which was received with rapturous applause and critical acclaim, the Fellows met with CSO Principal Oboe Alex Klein to discuss the social impact and agency music education can have in disadvantaged communities. The Fellows finished up December judging the woodwind and brass auditions for the upcoming Chicago Youth in Music Festival. Stay tuned for more stories and updates after the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

By Evan Hillis

Cover photo by Todd Rosenberg