Tchaik 5, van Zweden, Field Museum: Reflecting on December 18, 2017 – January 15, 2018

The Civic Orchestra ended 2017 with a reading of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony with Jaap van Zweden.  Throughout this reading, van Zweden coached us through the difficult piece, bringing the orchestra to a new level of musicianship.  Van Zweden also spoke candidly with the orchestra about performance anxiety. The biggest takeaway from this discussion was that we should always think of the music first while performing, instead of the technical aspects of playing our instruments.

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Maestro Jaap van Zweden leads the Civic Orchestra in a reading session of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. | December 18, 2017, Orchestra Hall

Following a much needed winter break, the Civic Fellows reconvened after the new year and dove into one of our biggest projects of the season: the CSO-Connect project.  This project brings together CPS teachers from arts and non-arts classrooms to develop lessons tied to a yearly theme, which this year is In Harmony- Curiosity leads to EmpathyThe schools involved in this project will have many activities linking to this theme, including school visit by the fellows and trip to a CSO concert later this season.

The fellows began rehearsals for our part of the CSO-Connect project in early January.  Rehearsals for this project include designing a 45 minute memorized musical presentation to give at each participating school to help teach how curiosity leads to empathy, and prepare students for their trip to the CSO.  We will be presenting some of the music that they will hear at the concert as well as some different music for the kids to explore.  We split our rehearsal time between planning how we will present In Harmony theme, and memorizing the music we will be performing.  (Thanks for the memorization advice, Denielle!)

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The Civic Fellows workshop their CSO-Connect presentation, which will be performed in classrooms across Chicago over the coming months. | January 12, 2018, Buntrock Hall

While it’s a super busy time for us, we took time off from rehearsing to meet kids from all of the participating schools.  What better way to begin a project about curiosity than a trip to the Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History? Civic Fellows got to know the students as they explored the exhibits, and of course had a chance to meet SUE the T. rex. In fact, one of the CSO school concerts this season is presented in collaboration with the Field Museum.

This time of year is absolutely crazy, but I am so excited to finally start preparing for the CSO-Connect project and teach kids about this amazing music!

By Civic Fellow and horn Laura Pitkin


TOP | The Civic Fellows take a moment to pose with SUE the T. rex at the Field Museum.