February 12, 2008 at 5:05 PM
I recently spent 10 days in San Diego performing with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Jung-Ho Pak. This experience was one of the most exhilarating times that I’ve had in quite awhile. Because of Maestro Pak’s commitment to audience development, the SDCO offers each of their programs three times, at three different locations to packed houses. The community knows what a treat they’re in for, so, they make sure to clear their calendars for these special events.
What is so special about the SDCO concerts? First, and foremost, I think it is the mind-set of Maestro Pak with regard to programming. He talks quite a lot about the importance of his audiences “experiencing the extraordinary.” According to Jung-Ho, “many people think they know what to expect from an orchestra or classical music experience and, with that preconception, it never occurs to them that going to a concert can be any different, maybe even better. So, I’ve been on a mission to go beyond their expectations. I try to program concerts that I think the average person would want to hear. As time goes by, I find myself wanting to listen to music that touches my heart more than my head….Like everyone else, I like to forget the stress of the day and feel inspired when I come to a concert. I also like to surprise our audiences, presenting a piece or two that makes them smile or ponder.”
The concert which I was guest artist for was called “Music for the Seasons”. It was incredibly interesting, the orchestra taking each season and several composers' realizations of that season. For example, Winter was represented with Tchakovsky’s “February” and Piazzolla’s “Winter in Buenos Aires". Spring was represented with “Air” from “The Four Seasons” by Bodin Boismortier, a cantata for soprano and instruments, John Cage’s “Spring”, and “Spring” from the “American Seasons” by Mark O’Connor for violin and orchestra. What a fresh approach to this musical adventure through nature. From fiddling, to a French setting, to the 20th century, to a Latin American tango, and the romanticism of Tchakovsky, all in the first half of the concert.
The San Diego Chamber Orchestra also has several groundbreaking programs that evolve from their "Every Child, Every Life" philosophy. These programs include a nationally recognized program called "Music Memoery" which gives children in grades 3-6 the opportunity to learn 16 pieces of classical music each year.
In addition to "Music Memory", Maestro Pak has developed a radio program designed for children. This radio show, co-hosted by radio personality Sue Harland, offers a fun and entertaining introduction to classical music to tens of thousands of children.
You can visit the San Diego Chamber Orchestra on line at www.sdco.org.
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