CSO-Connect and the Polar Vortex: Reflecting on January 16-29

Following a fantastic Civic Orchestra concert with Bramwell Tovey conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, the Civic Fellows went straight back to work with a 10 AM rehearsal the next day.   Why were we so eager to get back to it? Because the start to one of our largest projects of the season loomed large, CSO-Connect!

CSO-Connect is a project where we perform a memorized, interactive musical performance for 13 Chicago Public Schools across the city.  It takes a lot of work to put together, but we are off to a great start.  This year, our project reflects on the last 100 years of Chicago’s history – comparing and contrasting that which has changed since 1919. The reason for this retrospective is that it is the 100th seasons of the Civic Orchestra and the CSO’s children’s concerts.  Our program includes pieces performed on the first CSO children’s concert, as well as an arrangement of Chance the Rapper’s “All We Got.”

ABOVE: Fellows participate in a movement exercise, directed by Jacqui Russell.

To help us design our program, we have had great workshops with David Wallace, Scott Speck, and Jacqui Russell.  Each workshop has helped us with different aspects of the performance: designing interactive components, playing the custom music arrangements, and even some acting.  We are excited to perform the rough draft of our project at a workshop next week for the CPS teachers involved in the project, and to keep memorizing all of the music!

Unfortunately, Chicago’s notorious winter weather we all love so much has not agreed with us this past week, and we were hit with a Polar Vortex.  The Civic Orchestra lost so much rehearsal time that we had to cancel our upcoming February 5 concert, which was going to showcase nine world premieres by composers from the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition. Although the concert was cancelled, we are still planning to rehearse and record the pieces for the composers.

Meanwhile, I will sit at home avoiding the -40° wind chill and pretend that I am somewhere much warmer. Hawaii? ANTARCTICA?!

By Civic Fellow and horn Laura Pitkin

TOP: The opening choreography for the Civic Fellows’ CSO-Connect performance.