Last week, we teamed up with the folks at NPR Classical to give a good look at the wide world of music for students and their families through their blog Deceptive Cadence. From practice tips to audition tips, we’ve had a lot of fun hearing from alumni and parents. We even had a couple of videos that we didn’t have room for! So, click below to hear more from our alumni about the joy of learning music!
Click above to hear how Sydney and Noah Lee came to love cello!
Click above to hear about building a practice schedule from sisters Serena and Alison Chang.
Click above to hear from Dan Peltier, father of From the Top Alum Colton Peltier, on music and baseball.
Click here to read Deceptive Cadence!
“It’s important for me, as well as others, to see and give back to those who are not as fortunate as we are. I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are. My motto is to keep things in perspective, because there are people out there who don’t have as much as you.”
When flutist Rachel Rodgers became a girl scout, she set a course for giving back to others in the world. Her music inspired most of her community service, and she wanted it be a central part of her project for the Gold Award: the highest achievement a Girl Scout can receive. With that goal in mind, Rachel founded Visiting Young Musicians (VYM): a program run by local student musicians to provide music and joy to patients in local long-term hospitals and senior citizen facilities.
As of now, VYM visits two centers on a monthly basis: the Blythedale Children’s Hospital and the Waterview Nursing Facility in North Salem. Rachel encourages a variety of instruments, mixing up the musical friends who join her for each visit. The programs also provide a mix of genres, from classical works to jazz (Rachel being a jazz flutist herself) and even Disney songs! She shares her goals for VYM below:
I hope to achieve developing a successful program that will go on for a long time after I complete my gold award. I also hope that the musicians will realize the value of using their passion as a way to help heal others that are less fortunate than them. And, most of all, I hope to lift the spirits of the patients and make their stay better.
We asked Rachel to share more about VYM and her experiences with these concerts…
FTT: What inspired you to create VYM?
Rachel: There are two reasons why I created VYM: first, I have a strong passion for music, and I truly believe that music is a universal language that is common to all. Second, I feel empathy for the people that are very sick and lonely, and I want to help them with my (and the other musicians’) music. Being in long-term care can be very stressful, lonely, and isolating – music can be very therapeutic during recovery.
FTT: What was it like when you first started visiting these two facilities?
Rachel: I remember going to my first concert (at the children’s hospital) and when I got there, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I didn’t know how to treat the kids, or understand what it was they were going through. After a few visits (to both places) I started learning how to go about presenting and interacting with these groups: you greet them and ask them how their week was, introduce yourself to new patients or residents, and talk to them about anything they want to talk about.
FTT: What is something you’ve learned from these experiences?
Rachel: I learned that I really like to work with children, and that it may be something I want to do when I grow up, whether it be something like this program or working more closely with kids who have disabilities. But I think what I learned overall is that I really like to work with people who are less fortunate. It reminds me…how it’s SO important to reach out to others through music. It’s really great to see how our visits can help these patients feel better and more relaxed.
I also really learned patience through this project, and the need to speak gently and just sit down with others. You have to have a lot of patience for those trying to communicate with you who might have difficulty speaking, and be sure to really listen and clarify things. Patience is important in general to connect with people and kids – you have to understand what they are going through, which was a whole different level than what most of us have ever known.
FTT: What’s one piece of advice you would give to other young musicians interested in this type of work?
Rachel: You have to evaluate the circumstances before communicating with these audiences, and especially playing – I choose my songs based on what I think they’ll like. For example, I don’t want to play too much classical at the children’s hospital. I’ve learned they get a kick out of Disney music, actually! It’s not like they are completely different than we are – they are just suffering more, and you have to adjust how you play and how you talk to them.
FTT: What do you think it means to be an arts leader?
Rachel: Being an arts leader is about taking your art to a whole other level by giving back, whether it’s playing free concerts or even showing someone how your instrument works. It’s about using your art to help others recover or feel better, and this doesn’t have to just be people in hospitals – it can be anywhere there is need! Sharing your music in this way takes people to this whole other world, and inspires them to experience music in a different way.
We had an action-packed visit to Chattanooga this past April (Show 252) where we were able to connect with a wide range of audiences from across the community!
The day before the show, we traveled with the Camerton String Quartet to visit patients and staff at the Memorial Hospital. The group played in two of the hospital’s central lobbies, sharing a mix of chamber and solo works ranging from Bach to Ravel. They even had the chance to speak with a few of the patients in between pieces. On the day of the show, a small group of residents from the Mary Walker Towers and Boynton Terrace retirement facilities came to observe the dress rehearsal, getting a “behind-the-scenes” look at how a From the Top show is made.
The day after the show, performers John Burton (trumpet) and Thomas West (bass-baritone) visited with 40 music students at the Dalewood Middle School. Thomas opened the program by teaching everyone a series of vocal warm-ups, then performed two of his favorite songs: “Whither Must I Wander” by Vaughn-Williams, and a selection from Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Misérables. He also talked about his own struggles in dealing with peer pressure, and how music has helped him in staying true to who he is and what he loves most. John was next, performing Grand Russian Fantasia by Jules Levy, followed by a fun jazz standard. He spoke about the importance of breathing exercises and demonstrated how variations on a theme work. He also shared one of his hidden talents: juggling! You can watch some of the highlights from their visit in the video below:
“The experience of performing in the senior centers makes my heart feel warm. I am so thankful that they enjoy and share my love of classical music. Every smile shows me that I have brightened someone’s life that day with my performance.” – Victoria Young
12-year-old pianist Victoria Young (Show 235) believes sharing her love of music is an important part of being a musician. Over the past year, she has been visiting two elderly care facilities in Las Vegas: Heritage Springs Assisted Living Community and Torrey Pines Care Center. She visits the two facilities on the second Sunday of every month for about an hour and a half, sharing music and talking with the residents. These visits have allowed Victoria to bring music to those without access to outside opportunities and resulted in many new friendships.
We spoke with Victoria to learn more about her experiences at these two centers…
FTT: What inspired you to connect with elderly residents from your community?
Victoria: My goal is to share my passion of classical music with the audience. I hope that my playing can bring them into the world that I am in. With every note I play, I want them to see every “beat” of beauty in the music. I think they can feel my sincerity, and I hope to bring warmth and sweet memories to every heart. For some residents, I surely hope my music can ease their pain and loneliness.
FTT: What are some memorable moments?
Victoria: My favorite moments are when I’m playing and when I stand up to take a bow in the applause. It’s during these moments that I truly see the appreciation on the faces in the audiences. The biggest challenge in performing at these two centers is that I have to perform my music on electronic pianos. The touch of the keys and the color of the sound are so different from the acoustic piano. Nevertheless, I learn that when I play with sincerity, they will feel it and love it, and the flaws will go unnoticed.
FTT: What do you feel the residents have taken away from your visits?
Victoria: For many elderly attendants, my music triggered their memory and they remembered sweet times when they had often played or listened to the music that I played. Many of them gave me hugs after the performance and told me how much they look forward to see me every month. I always feel like I get more than I give after every performance.
FTT: What have you learned from these experiences?
Victoria: I learned that by sharing my music, which is what I love, I could bring happiness to others and to myself. Sharing my passion of music to the world is my goal, and every month, when I volunteer at these senior homes, I am spreading my enthusiasm of music to a small corner of the world and making people happier every moment I do it.
FTT: Do you think this type of experience can help with your development as a musician?
Victoria: This type of experience can very much help my development as a musician. Every performance is a good experience for me to play my repertoire in front of an audience.
FTT: What advice would you give other musicians interested in doing similar work?
Victoria: The advice I would give to other musicians interested in doing a similar project would be simply to remember to have fun in this opportunity to perform. Practice hard, understand the pieces, play with sincerity, and be appreciative. It truly is an experience that is enjoyable, and it gives you such a warm feeling afterwards.
From the Top’s broadcast for Show 252 was taped at the Tivoli Theatre in Chattanooga, TN on Thursday, April 26, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:
Jerry Feng, piano, 17
Etude Op.10, No.12 in C minor, “Revolutionary”
By: Frederic Chopin
I just really think this is a great piece. I first began learning it four years ago and I seem to always bring it back from the dead for various performances. Personally, playing the etude evokes memories of my own “hardships.” I know my “problems” are not nearly as serious as the Russian occupation of Poland, but I think it was Chopin’s goal to elicit this kind of bitter and desperate feeling.
I feel like the most unique aspect about this piece is the incredible amount of raw emotion placed into the short 2 1/2 minutes. That being said, I believe the most inspirational (and hardest) part to accomplish is really making the audience feel and understand Chopin’s outrage and sadness.
Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was hanging in the dressing room before the performance. Performing on that stage was absolutely breathtaking, fantastically amazing, and unforgettable. But I really wish I got to spend more time with the other incredibly talented musicians there.
Music will bring people together.
John Burton, trumpet, 17
Fantasie in E-flat
By: Joseph Edouard Barat
This is such an interesting piece. It has an ominous fanfare that kicks off the piece and recurs throughout. Then it goes into a very lyrical melody that is voiced in different styles. For me, I don’t have a particular story in mind when I play this piece, but I do have certain moods I try to recreate as themes to come and go. It has dramatic, fluid, playful, and even jazz-influenced sections. The whole piece is very French. Overall, it is really neat to listen to!
This piece has a lot of character and it is really important to portray that. I am not worried about any technical sections, but being a brass player can easily prove otherwise! You never know how your chops will feel on a certain day! You could feel great one day and terrible the next. That is also another motivation to practice – nothing is ever perfect.
Post Show Reflection: It was fun hanging out with everyone in one of the dressing rooms before and during the show, and to play on the stage and see how “From the Top” does everything.
Music can bring happiness.
The Camerton String Quartet
II. Allegro furioso from the String Quartet No. 10, Op.118
By: Dmitri Shostakovich
Rebekah Heckler, violin, 16
This piece is incredibly exciting. Every time we play it, I get a huge adrenaline rush. The piece is very powerful and builds suspense with reoccurring patterns. While a longer melody is being played, there are eight notes and sixteenth notes being played by other members of the quartet. It keeps things very suspenseful and on-edge throughout the piece. It’s a very dark piece, which sounds a lot like war.
With every new piece comes a new challenge. The most exciting aspect of the Shostakovich is the character we try to convey. There are many little details ranging from how we play an accent to the overall balance. With the Shostakovich, it is very hard to not to let my adrenaline get going too much to where I rush fast passages. There are some very difficult octaves toward the end of the piece – it’s an incredibly fun challenge.
Post Show Reflection: There are so many fantastic memories. I loved hanging out with the other performers backstage, getting interviewed on a radio show for the first time, and the rush of performing with my quartet onstage for such an awesome live audience. It was so exciting to perform onstage! The audience was so energetic. I felt that my performance was hugely inspired by all the energy in the hall.
Music changes lives. It gives people an outlet to explore and convey their emotions. Music has the power to inspire, connect, and transform lives.
Julia (Geeo) Son, violin, 15
This music is a very energetic, hard piece to play. When I start this piece, I put myself to be more energetic and powerful. My favorite part is when we play the 10 to 20 measures of the ending. The ending builds an immense power and takes a lot of energy to express the sound to the audiences. My least favorite part is of course the high notes that are very hard to play (shifting to high position). When I play this piece. I think about anger; a climax of a story. Before we played this piece at MYA, I got so nervous and was trembling the whole time!
This piece is special for me because I have never played a chamber music piece by Shostakovich. I love the music’s energy and expression compared to other pieces. I think the most important thing is matching our sounds with each other instead of playing the piece as loud as we can. It is really hard to maintain the energy playing loud and listen to each other all at the same time. This piece is one of my favorites because I personally love music with a lot of energy and anger (expression).
Post Show Reflection: My favorite memories were performing on a stage for hundreds, meeting new people that share the same passion towards music, and meeting the staff and recording our performances. I was nervous but very excited on that stage. It was a great experience to perform in such a beautiful hall and share our music with the audience. It is a memory I will never forget.
Music has the power to do anything. It makes you a better person, and allows you to be yourself. It also helps people to gain leadership qualities like encouraging others and persevering on your goals towards things that don’t have to involve music.
Sean Byrne, viola, 17
This piece has a violent energy through and through. It’s easy enough to get that concept, but how can this be conveyed? Our task as an ensemble has been to experiment with how we can convey these ideas in our heads through the instruments in our hands.
Energy must be continually spent to perform this piece. It’s hard to keep pushing forward sometimes, but to drag or hold back in excess would ruin the continuity of the piece. Also important to the energy is our volume, which we must balance with tone quality (another issue which has required experimentation).
Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was being in the dressing room before the performance. The energy and anxiety of waiting was all fun! After months of work went into preparation for this performance, watching it come to fruition was so fulfilling.
Music can express, influence, entertain, and inspire.
Nomin Zolzaya, cello, 18
The piece itself is very powerful, heavy, and pressured. Sometimes it’s very hard to focus on and be in the right character because usually we laugh a lot when we start this piece. One of the hardest things is that keeping the tempo steady and holding the energy in a bubble.
Post Show Reflection: I had a lot of fun during the three days, because everybody was so funny, and charming (especially the pizza party!) That was one of the best performances we’ve ever played. We felt the most warmth and a really powerful energy from the audience.
Music is the only language that doesn’t need to be translated to others in the world.
Thomas West, bass-baritone, 16
“Grosser Herr” from Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
By: J.S. Bach
I love this aria by Bach because of its message. I feel that as a musician, it is my job to translate the text for my audience in the style that the composer would have wanted. It was extremely important for me to do it for this particular piece of music because of it being in German. However, the style of Bach has no language boundaries and one really hears that in this piece. It begins with words that translate as: “Great Lord, O Mighty King, Dearest Savior, O how little you regard earthly splendor.” Right off the bat, Bach translates this text for his audience through the opening accompaniment. The piano sounds like a multitude of trumpets coming together to recognize the awesomeness of God. Then, the Bass solo enters and once again, Bach paints a picture of God’s power through song.
The B section of the piece is entirely different. In English the text reads: “He who maintains the whole world and created its glory and adornment must sleep in a hard crib.” Bach translates this by creating a mysterious kind of feel in the melodic line. It is softer and gentler, but also has a sense of question about it. I believe Bach wanted his audience to ponder why the God of all creation would humble himself to such a lowly position on earth.
Bach then finishes the piece by repeating the A section, reminding the audience once again of the majesty of God. My job then becomes to show both that power and mystery to my audience. When I sing this piece, I’m thinking about the awesomeness and might of God and what a blessing God has been in my life.
Post Show Reflection: I loved being able to perform in front of my friends and family, and seeing all of them afterwards. Taking the final bow with all of the performers in my hometown was special. At first, stepping on stage was a bit nerve-wracking, but after I started singing everything changed. My thoughts became focused on presenting my piece for the glory of God and giving it the energy and excellence it deserved. All of those countless hours of practice culminated in one very special moment. After I finished, getting such a warm reception was truly appreciated.
Music can change lives. It is an art form that teaches the importance of beauty. Every piece of music has a message to give, and I think presenting that message through music is the best way to teach another person about something that you as a musician hold dear.
Alina Kobialka, violin, 15
By: Franz Waxman
I think about the tragic tale between Carmen and Don Jose (I really recommend the opera Carmen if you haven’t seen it!), and how much sadness and anguish there is. My favorite part would have to be the last few sections, where the excitement and momentum build up until the last two bars and it finally finishes. The piece always reminds me of a flaming red (or a flame), because I find the piece to be extremely fiery and emotional.
This piece probably has the most variations on a theme out of everything I have played. Waxman makes so many variations out of one of two themes (it’s pretty awesome!). This piece is technically challenging but not impossible, and it is so fun to play!
Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was backstage with all the performers – we were all joking around and getting to know each other. By the end, it was like we had known each other for a long time, not just for two days. The performance was so exciting! I have never done anything like that before, and it was so different from a live performance. It was so much fun and if I get a chance to do it again I totally would!
Music has the power to touch people’s hearts, and allows a person express oneself. It can bring people together, and can be a language all by itself.
Calling all Illinois fans! Violist Stephanie Block (Show #238) will be hosting a benefit concert next Wednesday in support of the Histiocytosis Association of America: a non-profit organization dedicated to research, providing support, and raising awareness on histiocytic disorders. Having been diagnosed with the disease as a child, Stephanie is extremely passionate about the cause – she shares more below:
“After performing on FTT in Chicago last July, I was inspired to do something that mattered to me and was personal to me. On the show, I talked about being a survivor of Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis, a cancer-like disease I had when I was very little. The fact that I am lucky enough to be here today and do what I love is something I will never take for granted. Through my music, I wanted to give back and show appreciation by raising money for the Histiocytosis Association of America.”
Stephanie will be joined by friends from the Music Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Youth Symphony on the program, with two From the Top alumni! Cellists Ben Manis (Show #247) and Johannes Gray (Show #244) will be performing with their respective string quartets. The concert will be at 7pm on June 13th at the Lutheran Church of Atonement in Barrington, IL.
Visit their website to learn more about the ways you can help support the cause!
…if we don’t give back and get active in our community, then classical music is not going to survive. We have to support our craft and our generation. -Evan Ritter
What do you get when two close friends join forces to make a difference through music? A talented duo dedicated to sharing their passion throughout the community! Over the past year, pianist Evan Ritter (Show #227) and violist Isabella Markham (Show #206) have been inspiring hundreds across Dallas with their shared love for music. Visiting everywhere from retirement homes to charity events, these two have no plan to stop!
We spoke with Evan, and he shared the following about his own experiences with these events…
FTT: How did you and Bella become so involved in the Dallas community?
Evan: We had been performing at a number of places, and just started to get all of these other opportunities. Forexample, we were asked to perform at Edgemere, then a friend of my mom’s was like, “Oh, you should come play for this fundraiser…”It didn’t really start as us trying to do something huge – the core idea was to play for people who don’t have the opportunity to go out and see a concert. For the retirement homes specifically, it’s a really easy thing to do – these are people who love kids, and they love music, so it’s just a win-win for everybody.
FTT: What is it like performing for these events with one of your best friends?
Evan: The thing with Bella and me is that we’ve been playing together for so long, it’s really a different gravity. I don’t really get nervous when I play with her, and I don’t think she does – it’s a different kind of performance.
FTT: What were some memorable moments for you?
Evan: There were quite a few, but most memorable were the people in the retirement homes – they are so free and open with their emotions, that they don’t hold anything back. The elderly people would come up and sit right next to us – just stand up enjoying and connecting with the music…Some people would just put their hand on my shoulder, while I was playing; others would just start singing along. We gave them something they don’t get very often, we gave them music – we were just playing for them, and we were enjoying it and they were enjoying it.
FTT: As a musician, what did you take away from these experiences?
Evan: As a musician you are constantly learning and growing. What I learned is that it’s never about the venue, or where you play or for whom you are playing. The only important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing and share it with other people. Most musicians feel they have to play these high-end recitals, and get their name out there. At the end of the day, you should just be sharing what it is you like to do. It helped me put things into perspective.
FTT: What advice would you give to other young musicians wanting to reach out in their communities?
Evan: When I started this process, and heard about all these other kids doing things to make a difference, it’s really easy to be like, “I want to do something REALLY big and unusual that impacts a large amount of people.” But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t do it for yourself – you do it because it’s what you enjoy doing, and to connect with others.
FTT: What impact, in general, do you believe these concerts have had on the community?
Evan: Each individual concert had an impact on different levels – there is the primary level, connecting with music. But then there are levels on top of that, like connecting with people as individuals, or connecting with what we were doing. Classical music affects people’s lives in a positive way; it is relaxing and enjoyable. We just wanted to make people happy – you shouldn’t be in classical music if you don’t want this. In this rising generation of classical musicians, if we don’t give back and get active in our community, then classical music is not going to survive. We have to support our craft and our generation.
Matthew Hazelwood conducts the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia in a rehearsal. From the Top’s Colombian broadcast is dedicated to Maestro Hazelwood.
At From the Top, we say that “Music is Powerful Stuff.” In some ways, our experience in Colombia last week was powerful in ways we could never have expected. Our first international show, From the Top Colombia, a collaboration between From the Top, Batuta (Colombia’s national youth music program) and the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia (Colombia’s national youth orchestra), was one of the most inspiring and rewarding shows on which we’ve ever had the pleasure of working. Our trip lasted from Sunday, May 27 through Thursday, May 31st. Please click below to read more about our amazing experience.
For many years From the Top has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with conductor Matthew Hazelwood. We first featured Matthew leading his excellent Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra in a performance from Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” on a taping in January 2007. Matthew then led them in a performance on our PBS television series, From the Top at Carnegie Hall. Shortly thereafter Matthew was hired as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia (FJC), the national youth orchestra of Colombia, and he and Music Producer Tom Vignieri began discussing the possibility of taping a show there. We kept hearing from Matthew, or “Mateo” as he was called in Colombia, about the amazing progress this young ensemble was making. It soon became apparent that From the Top would be the ideal showcase for the young musicians of Colombia participating in Batuta, the national youth music program.
To do something special, like taping your first show outside the United States, requires a lot of work, and to make From the Top Colombia happen meant extensive planning sessions with our production team and the team in Colombia, including: From the Top‘s Executive Producers Jerry Slavet and Jennifer Hurley-Wales, Tour Producer David Balsom, Radio Producers Tom Voegeli and Tim Banker, Music Producer Tom Vignieri, Mateo Hazelwood, President of Batuta Juan Antonio Cuellar, Executive Director of FJC Helena Barreto, the Colombian Consulate in Boston, and the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC, just to name a few.
Many months of planning went into making our trip an action-packed week that we will never forget.
Meeting the Orchestra
We arrived in Bogota late Sunday night after almost 12-hours of traveling that began
with a flight out of Boston at noon and ended with checking in to the hotel at 11:00pm.
FJC rehearses “in the round”
On Monday we sat in on a rehearsal where Mateo had the orchestra playing in the round; something he liked to do so they could all see and hear each other. The music making by these young musicians was nothing less than astonishing.Later that day, producers Tom Voegeli and Tim Banker spent time with several orchestra members who would be interviewed during the show. Dinner followed, and everything was humming along as planned.
Challenges in Our Path
We woke up on Tuesday morning to the very distressing news that Mateo had suffered a heart attack overnight. However, we were encouraged to hear that he was resting comfortably at a nearby hospital and they were making plans to move him to Bogota.
Helena and Juan Antonio gathered the orchestra for rehearsal and to break the news about the beloved Maestro. Helena said that this was a teaching moment about how life is unpredictable and that it often throws challenges in our paths. FJC assistant conductor Luis Guillermo Vicaria would take over conducting duties, and as the saying goes, “the show would go on.” Juan Antonio then said that the collaboration with From the Top was Mateo’s inspiration to share “with his countrymen the achievements of you, the future of Colombia. It is your responsibility to fulfill his dreams.” The silence in the room was profound.
Luis Guillermo then took to the conductor’s podium and led the FJC through a reading of Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration” that was to be part of the show. It was as powerful and moving a musical experience as one could imagine as the kids played beautifully in tribute to Mateo. Rehearsals that day finished with a vigorous reading of Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini with host Christopher O’Riley at the piano.
The members of Ensamble Allegro in rehearsal.
Meanwhile, we were receiving periodic reports of Mateo’s condition; he was stable enough to be moved to Bogota, and his ambulance passed the From the Top team on our way back to Bogota to meet Allegro, Batuta’s premier Orff ensemble (a youth choir with small mallet instruments) that also would be featured on the program.
From the Top taping days are always long ones, but Wednesday was particularly challenging. In addition to the language barrier, we had a full orchestra on the show, AND an additional 40 member ensemble with Allegro. But as always, our production team led by Elizabeth DeVore with Technical Director Berred Ouelette and sound engineers John Servies and David Forbes worked seamlessly with the local crew and load-in went on without a hitch.
Just before dress rehearsal, Juan Antonio reported that Mateo was coming out of intensive care soon. Things were looking very positive.
The performance itself was one of the most compelling we’ve ever experienced. Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo was filled to capacity, with many in the Spanish-speaking audience following the spoken sections of the show via translation on assisted listening devices.
FJC and Christopher O’Riley at the performance
For the young musicians we showcased on the broadcast, this was an event of immense importance. This was Colombia’s opportunity to shine on an international stage and to be part of the most influential national radio program in the US presenting young musicians. And these kids made the most of it.
Christopher O’Riley, who gave an outstanding performance of the final variations of the Rachmaninoff with FJC told the orchestra that their performance of the final moments of Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration” had moved him to tears. They replied, “We were all thinking of Mateo.”
Bittersweet Homecoming: A Friend Lost & Remembered
We all headed to the airport very early the next morning knowing that we had been part of something very special, and yes, powerful. We were part of a culture-changing event for music in Colombia. Audiences across the US and beyond will hear the amazing the energy, discipline, and passion of the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia as well as the impact music is having on young people in Colombia through Batuta’s neighborhood-based, national music project.
But, the long travel day on Thursday gave way to shocking developments on Friday. Helena had written an email around midnight to say that Mateo passed away less than 24 hours after our concert in Bogota. On Thursday, he had been surrounded by his friends and family when he was presented with the From the Top medal given to all performers on the show.
Mateo Hazelwood wearing the From the Top Medal
Jerry Slavet summed up our feelings when he wrote to our colleagues in Bogota that “All of us at From the Top are forever grateful for Mateo’s introduction to Batuta and FJC, and even more importantly for his help in making sure that the concert/recording was filled with exquisite music. We will miss our dear friend but our sadness is lessened by the extraordinary accomplishments that he has left behind, making this world a better place through music.”
The From the Top episode recorded in Bogota is dedicated to the memory of Maestro Matthew Hazelwood, and will premiere the week of September 24, 2012.
At Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan, arts leader Anna Deloi, along with her team partner Nash Ryder, shadowed the Boston Public Quartet and aided in their after-school chamber music program called musiConnects, whose mission is to create social change through chamber music. Anna stayed on after their project was finished and continued to work with a kindergarten class, bringing in guests musicians to share different genres of music with the students. As school is winding down, Anna shared her experience on the Boston Public Quartet’s blog:
“Music, for as long as I can remember, has been the way I’ve been able to say the things that are most important to me. But, in a way, I’d been stuck in a one-sided dialogue. As the performer, I did all the talking; I was only hoping my audience could understand me. At musiConnects, on the other hand, we were having a conversation through music; we were teaching the language to a whole group of students, who could use it to share with us as much as we could share with them.”
Click here to read more about Anna’s year-long experience at Chittick Elementary School.
We love having the chance to meet with other young musicians whenever we’re on tour for a show. This past April brought us to Potsdam, NY, where we were able to meet with two groups of high school music students. Performers John Lee (cello) and Margaux Filet (flute) joined us for these events. We first visited a class of orchestra and choir students at Canton High School, then traveled to Potsdam High School to meet with a group of students in band and choir. Both groups had really wonderful questions to ask after each program, from “what keeps you motivated to practice?” to “how do you spend your downtime?”
Our performers’ music and stories made great connections with these two audiences. Margaux opened the program with the wonderful Fantaisie by Georges Hue, then gave them a “sneak peek” of the piece she would be playing on From the Top the next evening: George Enescu’s Cantabile. She spoke about her appearance on From the Top as being a “dream come true” for her musical aspirations, and how hobbies like exercise and spending quality time with her family helps her to keep balance. Next was John, who performed Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 and ended the program with a dazzling “Sacher Variation” by Witold Lutoslawski. John shared that, when not performing or practicing, he loves to play frisbee and hang out with friends.
We asked our performers to share their thoughts on the experience, which you can check out in the video below:
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