A Fellow Reflection: October 23 – November 5, 2017

The end of October marked the end of one Civic Fellows’ project and the start of a few more.

After putting together two chamber concerts at the beginning of the month, it was time to rejoin the rest of the orchestra for our second concert of the season. Our supple-wristed leader for the week, CSO Principal Trombone and Civic Alumna Jay Friedman, conducted a program of two very different symphonies; Mozart 35 and Bruckner 7.

FB_Civic1_1920x1080The educational benefit of a concert cycle with Civic shone throughout the process, which began with sectionals on Tuesday, October 24, with our CSO coaches. Later that week, CSO musicians sat in with us, giving feedback and advice on playing as a section, as an orchestra, sharing thoughts on the music and composers. A lesson in orchestral playing is undoubtedly most effective while you’re actually playing in an orchestra, so these opportunities are invaluable, and really a highlight of our rehearsals this season.

Another great learning opportunity was given to us when a CSO rehearsal was opened for Civic members to attend (an opportunity afforded to Civic musicians eight times each season). We watched these great musicians of our city in an unusual setting; the time spent preparing the concert. Just a few days later we found ourselves on that same stage, the audience was full and we produced a sound bursting with excitement to complete our first main stage performance of the season.

After the concert, we young-hearted musicians, a stronger group than the week before, now loosened our bow ties and crossed the street to Exchequer Pub where free pizza and beer awaited, provided by the beautiful, the generous Laura Woll and David Valkema. Free pizza and beer, truly a pillar of any orchestra’s cohesion and, ultimately, its continued success.

After a much enjoyed day off, the fellows reconvened at Symphony Center before we embarked on our first of four visits to a retirement community, the Scottish Home. The purpose of our residency at Scottish Home is not just to play, but to meet and speak to its residents, to learn about their lives and who they are, and then present a musical collaboration where we tell their stories together, which we performed on November 16th.

A very different experience than our orchestra concerts, instead of an audience listening to our playing, we were listening to our audience, whom we most likely would never have interacted with otherwise. Learning about them and the storied lives they’ve lived, I’m reminded of what a wise man once said to a group of musicians, “How do you expect people to listen to you if you don’t have anything to say?” By letting us in on their wealth of experiences the residents of Scottish Home gave us more to share ourselves.

By Joe Bauer, Civic Fellow and Bass


TOP: CSO Principal Trombone Jay Friedman leads the Civic Orchestra during a 2016 rehearsal. © Todd Rosenberg Photography