There’s something to be said for the classics. But there’s also something special about being able to see a composerand hear their work at the same time. Enter Contempo, a contemporary classical concert series featuring music only by living composers from University Chicago Presents. Contempo kicks off its 48th season Saturday night.
With works from University of Chicago faculty, Grammy-award winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird the Pacifica Quartet will be among several of the artists on hand to play during the performance. The concert will feature works composed by Pulitzer Prize winner and Contempo’s artistic director, Shulamit Ran, as well as Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Mead Composer in Residence Augusta Read Thomas, and Mara Ptaszynska and Anthony Cheung.
"Collaboration is the engine of change." - Philip Glass
Have you ever had one of those months where so many things were going on at once that you feel like you need a repeat button to go back and full appreciate / absorb everything that happened? For me, that kind of month was my time as a member of the Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra this summer in Charleston, SC. Not only did we maintain a full rehearsal schedule (up to 8.5 hours a day and almost 3 performances every week), but we had the opportunity to take advantage of all the other events of the festival such as dance, theater, jazz / bluegrass, chamber music and visual art. Some days I saw three different performances in addition to my own rehearsal schedule - arts mania! With so much going on, the time flew by and the entire experience feels a bit like a whirlwind. One week since the end of the festival, I sit here in peaceful Florida reflecting on all the wonderful performances and people I experienced.
Arrangers have the difficult task of interpreting music for different ensembles and music groups. Hearing things on such an individualized level, and then having the weight of someone’s else’s composition (and maybe even the fame and familiarity of the music) on your shoulders, makes it a real challenge, and also a thrill when an arrangement is completed successfully and creatively.
Later this week, Chicago Sinfonietta performs Passion. Tragedy. Love. Sure there is a bit of Mendelssohn and some newer pieces, but there is also a little Bernstein. I got the chance to talk to Randall Fleischer about his interpretation and arrangement of West Side Story for the Harlem Quartet. The concert will be the premiere of the West Side Story Concerto.
The time has come for my student life to end. This month, like many others (congratulations to all of you!), I graduated. Six years of music education and two degrees in cello performance are now complete. As I officially move from a student to a working professional, I have been doing some evaluating of my college years. Looking back, there are some things I did well and some things I wish I would have done a lot better throughout the course of my studies. I share these thoughts with the hope that perhaps they will be of some use to students in progress and to others just beginning their journey. If you could go back and give your student self advice, what would it be? Here is what I would say:
I've never planned a wedding, but if watching TLC has taught me anything it's that there is some serious work that goes into these things. With all the planning required to create one of the most special days in a couple's life, the last thing you should be worried about is the music. As wedding season approaches, I'd like to share a few things that I have learned from playing in weddings over the past years in hopes that these tips can help some of you planning your big day.