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November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2008 13:04

It's an American holiday, but it's still a sentiment worth celebrating the world 'round: gratitude. Quite simply, to live in a state of gratitude is to live in a state of happiness, to see your cup as half full and not half-empty. To count your blessings is to feed your happiness. So I'll start my list of blessings, and you are welcome to continue it, right here or just for yourself!

I'm grateful for:

This community of supportive people at Violinist.com, who feed each other's love of music with their knowledge, their playing, their enthusiasm and their diverse perspectives.

My loving, supportive, and patient husband, Robert, who also makes my (and many of your!) ideas for Violinist.com become reality with his techno-wiz skills!

My noisy, creative, exuberant children, who surprise me at every turn.

My students, past and present, whose progress is a joy for me to witness; and their parents and all the support they lend to that effort.

My own teachers and mentors, whose artistry has inspired me and whose patient attention has helped me grow toward the light.

The great artists of our day, who give over so much of their lives to the perfection of this art, who take risks, who get past themselves to bring so much to us all.

The Orchestra, every orchestra: its supporters, its audience, the people who administer it, the music it upholds, the conductor who holds so much together, the family of musicians.

My friends and relatives, flung all over the world, yet so close in my heart.

Fall leaves, rain storms, first snow, Chestnut soup, vanilla lattes, long walks, long talks, and of course: music, music, music.

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Violinist.com interview with Mark O'Connor

November 23, 2008 23:07

Violinist, fiddler and composer Mark O'Connor isn't just a crossover artist – he's a bridge.

And I imagine him to be a bridge with a sign on it: "Jam session in five minutes, come on over!"

A violinist who studied with American fiddler Benny Thomasson as well as with French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, O'Connor appears to have played with nearly every major fiddler player on the planet, not to mention a good many classical stars like Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Add to this his collaborations with James Taylor, Renee Fleming, Wynton Marsalis... and we're easily ready to play a game of Six Degrees of Mark O'Connor.

Mark O'Connor
Photo by Jim McGuire

The man has an open mind, and also a full and creative one, which spins out new projects, compositions and collaborations at a pace I'd compare to the speed of his bariolage.

Take for example, his collaboration with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. He came backstage at intermission during her performance with the Chicago Symphony and asked her, on the spot, if she'd like to perform a double concerto with him. "I had the part within the month," Salerno-Sonnenberg writes in the cover notes for their 2003 recording of the work with the Colorado Symphony. "At this point I found myself extremely impressed with this man and his ability to turn an idea into reality."

It's hard to keep up with O'Connor: he's performing all over the country, giving lectures and masterclasses at colleges and conservatories, holding fiddle camps, releasing a new method book series for beginners, recording, composing...

Last month found him at UCLA, where he was performing a recital and giving lectures and masterclasses as part of a year-long residency there. He also arranged for the first Mark O'Connor String Institute at UCLA, to take place the first week of July, replacing the San Diego String Conference, which he has discontinued.

I had arranged to interview him, but first, I wanted to see him perform. O'Connor, 47, took the stage alone, a tall man wearing a simple black shirt and grey tie, with two fiddles waiting for him –  one tuned scordatura. I had never heard O'Connor play, and I took along my eight-year-old son, Brian, who wrote seven pages of notes, including the observation, "I like how he chooses how his notes fit together."

Indeed, O'Connor played all original compositions, all for solo violin, a program that he apparently also played last week at the Curtis Institute of Music. By the way, sheet music for some 60 of his compositions is available for download at his website, MarkOConnor.com.

Among the works he played were his six Caprices, inspired by the wickedly complex Caprices by Paganini, and also by the Sonatas and Partitas by Bach. The first Caprice was full of obscenely fast passagework and had a funny little ending that brought to mind Scherzo-Tarentelle (letter C, if you have your score). I found this to be the case in a lot of his music; I'd be settling into a fiddle vibe, when out of the organic soup came a little Bach, or a Middle Eastern-sounding slide.

The Caprices were sometimes so fast as to be static: there was so much happening, so fast, I found myself sitting back and waiting for what emerged, as in those optical illusions that require you to relax your focus until another image surfaces.

I noticed that O'Connor has mastered a certain economy of motion, that his lightning fast string-crossings were seemingly effortless, and he was able to punch out the fiddle accents from a blur of extremely fast notes. I later asked him if he had a secret recipe for a nimble bow hand.

"One of the characteristics of my music is that I really use the bow to create rhythmic phrasing," O'Connor said. "So the bow action has to be very crisp. If it's at all muddy, then the rhythmic syncopation does not speak, and you lose the momentum of your passagework. Years ago, I    strengthened my wrist muscles so I could rely more on the flexibility, and therefore strength, of the wrist, so I wouldn't have to move my forearm quite as much and I could limit excessive motion."

"I had an exercise I invented myself, where I would hold the wrist with my left hand and then practice toggling and string crossing," O'Connor said. "I would reduce the arm movement specifically. What happened was I was able to string-cross without losing any actual real time. "

Let's take an example: a passage with an accent on the first note. "That right there would pose a fit for a lot of players. To play the first note twice as loud as the second note would require a change of technique for them. I've reduced that equation by not having to change the physicality of my arm at all, just allowing the wrist to pick up the volume. So I can control the volume in my small muscles, rather than my big ones."

"I saw one violinist play one of my pieces in a program, and every time they did the accent, they'd literally have to set up for it," O'Connor said. "You could see their whole body, their whole physical nature changed. There was this huge space, the preparation, the accent – and by the time they did that,  the phrase was gone. So there's a real necessity to try and employ those small groups of muscles and put them in action, because those are the ones that can respond quickly. You can use them for at least some of your power and volume. "

During his recital, O'Connor also played a version of his seminal composition, Appalachia Waltz, first released by Sony in 1996 as a trio with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.

He explained that he had composed the piece in 1993, when "a window of optimism washed over me one day in my studio."

I asked him if that was always how his creative process worked, in unexpected bursts of inspiration. His answer: yes, and no.

"I say I wrote Appalachia Waltz in 20 minutes," O'Connor said, "but I also did play music for 35-40 years to get to the point to do that. So... it's a lot of preparation."

"I have a tremendous schedule, and I have writing schedules and I do plan. But I always do leave myself open for spontaneity and the moment," O'Connor said. "I think one of the most important things about being creative is to make sure that you are in a position to receive some new information, to notice it, and then act upon it."

"Appalachia Waltz" also is the focal point for O'Connor's first symphony, the Americana Symphony (you can download the score for free).  A recording by the Baltimore Symphony will be released in March.

"Bernstein said that many composers spend their lives trying to write the same piece," O'Connor said during one of his UCLA lectures. "I resonate with this."

Instead of having the standard movements in his symphony, O'Connor has structured it around the "American journey": the expansion of the country from east to west, and the journeys of those who settled here.

"We were settled by a lot of brave people that were willing to take chances. It's in our DNA: this country only attracted those people who were truly wild-spirited," O'Connor said. "Appalachia Waltz works for this because it has a little bit of a nostalgic feel to it. It's a melody that suggests a new place, but it still remembers home, which I think is a key component to Americana.  The country is so big that we have to remember home, because it's too far to visit often. That's part of our life, and we carry that in our music making."

The symphony starts with a brass fanfare, a burst of idealism, in a movement called "Wide Open Spaces," introducing the idea of the vastness of America, its prairies and mountains.

In America's promise, "there's always some kind of a glimmer of an ideal," O'Connor said. "That's part of the engine that makes American music so potent. It's a living, breathing thing. It's not necessarily something that always looks back, and it doesn't necessarily even exist to tell our story. It inspires us to do something new."

Next comes a mingling of cultures, a dance. He composed  this movement, "New World Fanciful Dance," with an image from childhood in mind, from a  fiddler's convention in the south: "It was one of those beautiful, picturesque 'hollers' – a valley. People were spread out all over the valley, and they were fiddling, and then dancing. People would buck-dance, and clog – right in the grass. The image was so strong, that I think about it today. Everybody dances slightly differently – they're all sort of dancing with their feet, but they've got a little different step. They're all part of it."

Next comes a fugue, "Different Paths Towards Home," to invoke a variety of paths along the American journey. "I use this centuries-old European writing technique (the fugue), but it sounds so American, with this theme and the way I approach it," O'Connor said. "I had this imagery of all the people standing at the edge of the Smokies – the Appalachian Mountains and the Alleghenies -- looking westward. Everybody's wanting to find a home, a new home, and they took different paths to find one: the southern route, across the plains, the upper Midwest -- they're all on this journey west."

An "Open Plains Hoedown" follows, "this really kicks up some dust," O'Connor said. "You can imagine those wagon trains just hauling across the prairie, and the whole orchestra's just driving it."

"And then we come to the Rockies, which is one of the most majestic parts of the symphony. This whole movement ('Soaring Eagle, Setting Sun') is a canon," O'Connor said. The movement builds a long crescendo, to invoke going up the slopes of the Rockies. "It ends with everybody playing   repeated notes --  which represent that you finally made it to the very top and you can actually see the setting sun."

The last movement, "Splendid Horizons," is the destination: the Pacific. "We're there. This is the introduction of the theme," O'Connor said. "The listener will hear the Appalachia Waltz played in its entirety for the first time."

I asked Mark if it was a challenge to get us square classical musicians to play in his fiddle style when recording pieces such as his new symphony. After all, he has written six full-length concertos for violin and orchestra, and he's been recording and performing these works with professional orchestras for some 20 years.

"The description of square is not appropriate, because it's just a matter of experience," O'Connor said. "If they had not played this phrase before, there is nothing like it in the violin literature that they have read, then what do you expect? It's just a matter of exposing people to this kind of music, and forcing people to think inwards again about what they could do to make this music really speak for them. "

"Orchestral music is something that's been passed down through pedagogy and conservatory training... years and years of learning how to play Beethoven's orchestral music," O'Connor said. "When 80 people get together, they can really, really refine their performance because they've got it 80 percent there before the rehearsal starts. With my music, and any new music, we aren't starting at 80 percent, we're starting way below that. A lot of the musicians don't even know what to expect, and a lot of them don't even practice it before the first rehearsal because they don't know how to practice it."

"When I first started playing my Fiddle Concerto, 18 years ago,  the first rehearsal was like cacophony, and I wondered, is this going to be possible? Because everybody was not together," O'Connor said. "The difference between then and now is like night and day. There's more knowledge of the style. They've heard me many times since then, and they know more what to expect – maybe they've even tried some of this stuff. We're already further down the road, we don't have to start from zero every time."

"When the Baltimore Symphony played (Americana Symphony), it sounded every bit as good as it was, dancing in my head.," O'Connor said.  "And that's hard to do with an orchestra,"

To that end, O'Connor is working on a project that would introduce violinists to his American style at a very young age; he is creating a set of method books, with the help of strings pedagogue Bob Phillips. The books, to be called "The O'Connor Violin Method ," include pieces composed and arranged by O'Connor, and the first two books be available in March by Alfred Publishing. Styles will include: American classical, American folk songs, Hymns, Mariachi, Latino, Canadian, Blues and Rock and Roll, to name a few.

"We're mirroring the Suzuki development, and we're taking some of what we feel are the best things from that method, which there are a lot, and we're (changing) things we feel were not as good," O'Connor said. "The whole idea of this method is to use the American music language. This prepares the violinist for all kinds of possible future music-making."

For example, to introduce a low second finger, O'Connor's method uses the tune Old Joe Clark.

"These are tunes that are  familiar and ingrained in American traditions," O'Connor said. "One of the characteristics of my method is that there are no throwaways. There's a lot of music in beginning manuals that these kids – or future adults – will never ever play. But people play 'Old Joe Clark' when they're 90. It's a great song. So I'm picking out repertoire like I play in my concerts. This is something you can play in the beginning, and it can live the rest of your life with you, if you choose. It's nice for people to be able to dip back into their childhood and go 'you know, I remember learning that when I was just a kid.' That's important to us. Our experiences as children are very important to us and they should be part of our lifelong music environment."

One piece, "Stepp Down Hoedown," is actually the hoedown found in Copland's Rodeo. "One of the greatest pieces in American classical literature was co-written by a fiddler in Kentucky," O'Connor said. "I want to make sure people know about William Stepp, because he wrote this hoedown."

He's included a simple version of "Appalachia Waltz," "Simple Gifts," a "Boogie-Woogie" etude, and songs he wrote like "Beautiful Skies," "Climbing the Mountain," and "Fiddle Boy," which is, he says, autobiographical – about the odd duckling who never quite fit in with the orchestra.

Let me guess how this one ends: Fiddle Boy finds his own style...and the orchestra changes to fit him!

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Know your strengths, then play to them

November 10, 2008 01:42

Why are the Orchestras of Pasadena in such a desperate situation? Last week I talked to Jean Horton, Interim Executive Director of the Orchestras, in search of an answer to that question, and he gave me a pretty thorough picture of the group's financial troubles, which are considerable. 

But there's a bigger picture. Board members, and Pops conductor Rachel Worby, have a false idea about the needs of the community, namely that its public schools have a dire lack of music education, which needs to be filled by the Orchestras. This simply is not so and it should not be the organization's primary mission.

As an education administrator who works closely with the district said to me: "If you have an excellent orchestra in town – that's what our kids need." 

Yet there is a perception that the group's artistic direction has been watered down; LA Times music critic Mark Swed this week called its shortcomings not just a failure of finances but a "failure of imagination." 

I can't completely agree; our first concert of the season was mighty innovative. But is Symphony Artistic Director Jorge Mester routinely given leeway to make bold artistic decisions? It's a fair question, and if the orchestra is to survive – and thrive – the answer better be "yes" for the future. Because if we aren't offering anything artistically special – in the city of Los Angeles – then who cares?

First, about financial condition of the Orchestras: For the last three years – even during the economic good-time bubble - the symphony was not meeting its fundraising goals. Horton described the convergence of insufficient development on the part of the Orchestras and the sharp downturn in the economy as "the perfect storm."

"We needed to get our development act and our contribution base improved in any case," Horton said, "but we wouldn't have had to cancel concerts and we wouldn't be in the straits that we are in today if we hadn't seen the financial fallout."

"The endowment [was at] $6 million, and we're required by law to maintain that," Horton said. "But we can't do anything about the market going down. So the market went down to the point where we only have about $5 million."

"The way that works with the restricted endowment is that we can spend the yield – either capital gains or dividends and interest that we got off of it – but we can't spend the principal. We have to get that back up to $6 million before we can ever take anything out of it," Horton said. The symphonies are getting a legal review of the situation, "but I don't believe we can even use that as collateral on a loan. We're exploring that right now." 

The institution has been depending in large degree on its board-designated funds. These were not endowment funds, but these were the funds that had been saved up over the years: from the yield on the endowment, or through contributions that were made. The board decided they wanted to put these into a restricted fund, to use only on a rainy-day basis. 

"We'd been permitting ourselves all along to take roughly $400,000 a year out. Most non-for-profit boards will take about 5 percent out of the average 3-year balances in the endowment for designated funds. That amount would have been about $400,000," Horton said. "But we overdrew that for two or three years to make up for losses that we had in ordinary operations. The primary reason for that wasn't so much on the cost overrun side as the fact that we just didn't have the contributions coming in that the board had hoped for. We didn't get the traction in the development area that we needed."

Generally, about 25 percent of a concert is funded by ticket sales, and the remaining 75 percent has to be made up from other funding. The problem came with that 75 percent the Orchestras needed to find. 

"We didn't find enough," Horton said. "So we starting eating into our board-designated funds."

The Orchestras haven't been straight with the community about its financial situation, either. At the end of last summer, the Pasadena Pops performed a benefit concert with conductor John Williams. Sold by Pops conductor Rachel Worby to donors as a concert to create an educational endowment to allow the group's educational concerts to continue in perpetuity, the actual aims of this concert, Horton said, were to retire a loan made by a board member to the Pasadena Pops organization before the merger of the Pops and Symphony, and to support educational activities. 

Unfortunately, the benefit accomplished neither. "We found ourselves sitting on a lot of bills around here, and we used that money to pay the bills. I'm not happy about that, to say the least, but that's sort of where we are," Horton said. 

The Orchestras' educational programs, which include some 63 concerts in the Pasadena Unified School District as well as other outreach programs, are in fairly good shape, and Educational Director Jerri Price will remain on staff, Horton said.

"We get a lot of grants that are earmarked for education," he said, though a component of these programs still relies on the symphony's general funds. The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra is a tuition-based program, and "tuitions and fees are quite close to breaking even," Horton said. 

"One of our problems, in my opinion, is that we haven't explained to this community how much we are part of the fabric of the community, by being in the public schools, by supporting a youth orchestra, and a lot of other programs we have in the schools. Right now we're at every level, we're in the grammar schools, in middle schools and high schools, and it's almost fair to say that we are the musical educational component of the public school system, there's not much else out there," Horton said. 

Horton is correct to see a problem in this area. But the problem is as much the board's perception of the community as it is the community's perception of the Orchestras. Certainly the Pasadena Symphony provides an important component for the public schools, training classroom teachers in early elementary music instruction and recorder in most elementary schools. 

It isn't, however, fair to say that it is the sole provider of musical education in PUSD, as Worby also suggested from the podium at several Pops concerts this summer. Independent of the Pasadena Symphony educational programs, all 20 Pasadena Unified School elementary schools have instrumental music programs, starting in the third and fourth grades, with five instrumental music teachers rotating through assigned school sites, according to Karen Klages, PUSD District Music Specialist. All PUSD secondary schools have orchestra, band, and jazz programs, and this year three districtwide festivals are planned for students participating at every level, in choral, band and orchestral music. Also the schools incorporate music programs from other organizations, including Southwest Chamber Music, Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

In other words, without the Orchestras of Pasadena, public school children will still have music in their schools. They just won't have the excellence of a symphony orchestra in their community, and that would be a considerable loss. 

On Wednesday, a group of staff, board members and musicians met with Paul Jan Zdunek, the executive director of the Modesto Symphony, who came to talk about crisis management and to help the organization map solutions to its problems. Orchestras of Pasadena Personnel Director Polly Sweeney emerged from the meeting with optimism, reporting to musicians that "this looks like a coordinated, well-thought-out attack on the problem, and we want to help in whatever way possible."

At this point, with half of the symphony's eight concerts canceled, Horton has re-deployed the remaining staff – now reduced to seven people -- to get out into the community and raise funds. Horton will meet with Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who attends symphony performances on a regular basis, to talk about ways to approach the community. 

"We're really outward focused now, and we need to be," Horton said. "The aim is to get back closer to normal operations, if we can, by about January. And it is our aim to keep the remainder of the classical season and the summer reason. I think we're going to get there. The board, the musicians, everybody wants this to happen."

Horton said he would like to avoid compromising its strengths for the sake of commercialization and/or the economy of using a smaller orchestra, though there will have to be a balance between all those needs.

"Jorge Mester's forte is to do the larger pieces," Horton said. "If you go hear him do a Mahler symphony (a work that involves a large orchestra), you're seeing something that's as good as it gets --- on any stage anywhere in the world on any night . And I know it sounds perhaps a little Chamber of Commerce-like, but this guy is an inspired conductor. We don't want to take that away."

"We could be in the position of having to do smaller programs as a way of getting through this period, but I would hope that period would be the remainder of this season, and that as soon as next season we could find enough traction to move back (to larger orchestras)," Horton said. "But to be honest about it, until we know how much traction we get, I can't answer that question. But that is our goal."

It is heartening to hear the orchestra's new administrative leadership talk about allowing its musical director to do what he does best, but there is a public perception that Mester's talents have been underutilized for some time.

LA Times music critic Swed, who has all but quit writing about the group, lamented this week in the LA Times that "Mester, who is an outstanding musician, seems to have lost his taste for advocacy. He focuses on standard repertory, and his orchestra performs in the dowdy, acoustically dry Civic Auditorium."

He goes on to say, "The Orchestras of Pasadena are passionately involved in music education. But the organization lacks charismatic leadership, and now the orchestras operate on the principle that they have no choice but to focus all their attention on their investment portfolios. That is a road to doom. Artists are our leaders. Organizations exist to serve them. The wisest public servants learn from them. If we hope to enter a new era of hope, we will need to keep these priorities in order."

Certainly a balance is needed, of financial custodianship and artistic vision. This orchestra has an affluent and educated community. It has a strong artistic director in Mester. It needs to know its community and play to its strengths; and to know where both are coming from.

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More information about the Violinist.com redesign

November 9, 2008 23:42

I'm sure that everyone has noticed by now that Violinist.com has been redesigned, with a new flag and changes in just about every section. I'd like to say a big “THANK YOU!” to my husband, Robert Niles, who lent his considerable talents to designing the flag and to custom-writing the software that renders this entire site. We had been talking about these changes for a long time, and so let me tell you about them.

First, our flag. We simply wanted to make it a little more colorful and appealing. For those of you who don't know, our little violin guy in the left corner is actually a Native American fertility god called a “kokopelli,” who normally plays a flute-like instrument and can be seen on every mug, rug and totebag in Arizona (I exaggerate only a little). Growing up in the American Southwest (Colorado) I've always liked the little guy, and so I put a violin in his hands with a little drawing I made some 12 years ago, and he's been dancing up there on Violinist.com ever since. Robert made him a little bigger and put him in the spotlight, at my suggestion.

Our blog section now will include featured blogs, and then all remaining blogs will go up on the right side of the page. As the editor of Violinist.com, I'll choose which blogs will be featured blogs, and here's an idea of what I'll be serving to readers of our blog page. The featured blogs are those that I feel are of general interest to our audience of violin performers, students, teachers and fans.

A lot of things could fall under this category, but here is just a little list of what kinds of topics might appeal: technique, performing, performances, how to practice, violin making, violins and their stories, various genres of violin music (classical, fiddle, celtic, pop, klezmer, Indian, mariachi, etc.), teaching, and of course, many other things. Various kinds of blogs are likely to be featured could include a personal discovery or story; technical advice; a description or review of a recital, concert or master class; an interview; obituary; book, record or DVD review. And then there are random things that I'd love to see: really good writing about just about anything, really good photographs of Alaska and Canada ;) lists of viola jokes; outrageously funny stories; one poignant moment, etc.

Many people use our blog feature for personal journaling, and that is a wonderful thing to do, especially if it helps you in your journey on the violin. So if you are blogging for personal enjoyment and motivation, without any journalistic aspirations, I encourage you to continue doing so. Sometimes those blogs are of general interest and will be featured, and sometimes not. But those blogs will still be available for people to read, for those who have been following your personal journey. Also, I'm not going to feature everything I just listed every time, and also sometimes a blog will be up for hours before I do the featuring.

Our discussion board now has links to all the topic categories on the right side, as well as the “create a discussion” buttons on the upper right site of every discussion page. The “News” section is now folded into the discussion board, so if you have a news item, please submit it to the discussion board under the topic category “News.” News topics will remain at the top of the discussion board for 48 hours after they have been approved, then after that they will go into regular rotation with the other topics.

For the Violin Shops page, we brought some of the content from “About the Violin” to help people who are looking for a violin and are new to it.

Also, interviews with noted violinists are now linked on the Violinists directory page. In the (hopefully near) future, we are planning to make the membership database searchable by name on the Directory page, so people can find each other more easily.

Audio and photo uploads will be re-enabled this week; needed to prevent files uploading to the server while we were changing things around, but now that we're finished, we'll restore that.

Again, a big thanks to Robert, and thanks to you for your patience during this process and for your openness to ...CHANGE!

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Executive Director of Pasadena Symphony resigns

November 4, 2008 13:43

More news from the Orchestras of Pasadena, fast becoming a poster child for arts organizations that have hit hard times, with hardships chronicled everywhere from the LA Times to the New York Times.

The group officially announced Monday in a press release the cancellation of four concerts this season: Nov. 15, Dec. 6, Feb. 14, 2009, and March 21, 2009.  That amounts to half the 2008-09 season, with remaining concerts scheduled for Jan. 10, March 14 and April 18. (The first concert was Oct. 18 – a great success if I do say so myself! Want tickets to the next one in January? ;).

The group also will reorganize its staff, and among the changes is the resignation of Executive Director Tom O’Connor. Board member Jean Horton will serve as interim director.

Let's take a moment to note the local coverage from the Pasadena Star-News, which today published the news under the headline,  "Director of Bands Resigns Post". Director of Bands?

To be clear, neither music director is resigning. The orchestra's press release implies that Jorge Mester, Music Director for the symphony, and Rachel Worby, Music Director for the pops, will remain with the organization. The orchestra is asking for donations and support.

I've put in a phone call to Interim Director Jean Horton, in hopes that we can talk about where the orchestras go from here. It's a question of wide relevance during hard economic times. Certainly, the Orchestras of Pasadena face some unique challenges, namely their consolidation of pops, symphony and youth orchestras into one organization, about a year ago. But arts organizations everywhere will likely face many of the same challenges they face: diminishing returns on endowments, an economy in deep recession, and a world of grants that supports educational programs far more generously than it supports the very concerts that are a symphony's primary reason for existence.

Where do we go from here? The answer lies in organizational savvy, combined with a passion to keep a high-quality, live orchestra as part of the community. We have to show the community why that's important. Put on your seat belts.

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More entries: October 2008


Galamian's Principles of the Violin

Galamian's Principles Long one of the standards for violin teachers and students, Ivan Galamian's Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching offers both principles and practice exercises to help develop violinists of all ages and abilities. This new edition includes a foreword by Sally Thomas.

Get it now! In Paperback | For Kindle

Aaron Rosand

Interview: Aaron Rosand

To speak to violinist Aaron Rosand is to gain a sense of what it was like to come of age as a violinist in the mid 20th century.
Part One | Part Two