Churchill Fellows Association of SA May 2014 Newsletter

Download the May 2014 Churchill Chatter to read an article written for the Churchill Fellows Association of SA about my Fellowship.

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Churchill Fellowship Report

Download as a PDF, The 2013 Mr & Mrs Gerald Frank New Churchill Fellowship Report {1mb file}

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Dallas

My visit to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra fortuitously coincided with one of their seven annual schools open rehearsals for approximately 300 middle school and high school students. The open rehearsal commenced with a brief talk given by the Orchestra’s Director of Education, Jamie Allen and then the students sit in on the orchestra’s dress rehearsal, which was a program of Faure, Ravel and Mozart, featuring different instrumentation and musical styles.

Following attending the rehearsal, Jamie Allen took me out to experience a Texan delicacy, barbecue. During lunch we had a broad ranging discussion about Dallas Symphony’s education programs which include schools concerts, musicians visiting schools, strings programs for Afro-American and Hispanic students and side-by-side projects. Due to significant corporate and philanthropic support, the orchestra is able to deliver a very diverse and innovative program.

Another part of the orchestra’s education program is to provide teaching and support to the comprehensive performing arts high school, a stone throws from where the orchestra and opera are based. One aspect I observed of this program involved Jamie coaching a talented young conductor in musical analysis, analysing the Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th Symphony.

To finish this brief visit with the Dallas Symphony, we attended the concert in the evening where I witnessed the benefits and outcomes of Maestro van Zweden’s very focused and detailed conducting approach. There were many things to delight in this concert, including the precise, energetic playing in Ravel’s 2nd Suite from Daphnis and Chloe and the refined softness and lyricism in the second movement of Mozart’s “Elvira Madigan” piano concerto with Louis Lortie as soloist.

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Dallas Photos

Dallas Symphony Orchestra

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San Francisco Photos

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San Francisco

Saturday 22 February

I attended San Francisco Symphony concert with a program of Haydn and Rimsky Korsakov, conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck du Burgos with Alisa Weilerstein as soloist in Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 1. Following the interval SF Symphony performed Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Sunday 23 February
Double Bass Bash
Over 100 double bass middle school and high school aged, who are part of SF Symphony’s Instrumental Learning Program participated in a day featuring double bass ensembles, masterclass with a SF Symphony double bass and a recital. I attended the early part of the day’s proceedings where the middle school double bass ensembles performed classical, jazz and world music repertoire for ensembles ranging from two to ten. While some had been learning for a relatively short period of time, what one observed amongst all of them was solid intonation, good ensemble and rhythmical skills.

Monday 24 February
9:30am visited Chinese-English bi-lingual elementary school to observe a San Francisco Symphony “Adventures in Music” 30-minute presentation featuring a Latino percussion and ukulele ensemble performing Mexican and Argentinean music which included students moving to “La Bomba”, learning new Spanish words whilst singing songs and discovering new percussive instruments. Throughout the performance students were continuously participating and learning language, history and culture through this well developed program, which included pre-workshop professional development for the teacher and pre-performance classroom activities.

San Francisco Opera
A meeting occurred with Ruth Nott, Education Director where I learnt about their six-year old program “Opera ARIA”. ARIA means Arts Resources in Action. The four strands of their program are:

  1. Opera ARIA Network (K-8) – semester or year long with customised curricular with a teaching artist working closely with the classroom teacher
  2. Opera ARIA Residency (K-8) – concentrated on one element of opera e.g: theatre, music, visual arts
  3. PEAK (Grades 9-12) PEAK stands for Practicing Everyday Arts Knowledge – matching multi-disciplinary character of opera with multi-subject nature of high school
  4. Opera ARIA PD for Educators and Dress Rehearsals (K-16) PD that focuses on a current production (movie or dress rehearsal)

Other educative work which SF Opera undertakes includes is for adults with

  • Pre-Opera Talks
  • Insight Panels
  • Opera Previews
  • Opera Appreciation Courses

San Francisco Youth Orchestra
Donato Cabrera, San Francisco Youth Orchestra’s conductor and Jason Pyzkowski, Manager of SFYO took me to lunch at one of San Francisco’s finest grills, Hayes Street Grill. During the lunch I learnt a lot about the orchestra’s touring, repertoire, students and teaching approach. Like the Adelaide Youth Orchestras they rehearse every Saturday for three hours, but prior to every rehearsal for an hour, strings in sectionals and woodwind and brass by individual instrument receive coaching from the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony.

Tuesday 25 February 2014
San Francisco Opera School Visit

Yick Wo Elementary
940 Filbert Street, San Francisco

During the nigh on one-hour workshop with approximately 20 kindergarten students (aged between 5 and 6) I observed a class led by the San Francisco Opera’s teaching artist which included singing, movement, tableau and learning about basic concepts of drama and staging. What one observed was a very engaged and participatory bunch of students who obviously were enjoying themselves, with an equally enthusiastic teacher. It was apparent that the intensive teacher training the teacher had undertaken with San Francisco Opera made it possible for her to provide excellent support and reinforcement of what the teaching artist was demonstrating. The commitment demonstrated by the teacher and students augurs well for their forthcoming opera production.

SF Jazz
SF Jazz has a High Schools All Stars band of about 20 high school aged students aged circa 16 to 18. During a one hour rehearsal I observed them rehearse two complex charts, what I witnessed was a very talented group of musicians with solid rhythmic, musical and interpretative skills. What some of them achieved whilst improvising was mind blowing.

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Los Angeles

My visit to Los Angeles coincided with a three day national convention of the US El Sistema movement, entitled “Take a Stand” hosted by the LA Phil as part of their Tchaikovsky Festival with visiting orchestra, Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela.

During the one and a half days of the conference I heard presentations about the role El Sistema has played in reinvigorating US professional orchestras’ education programs, the importance of ensuring we create daily opportunities for students to experience the joy / beauty of music making, personal stories about US racial and social divide and learnt about evaluation methodologies. Throughout the conference there were sessions where we as leaders had to question and challenge our own beliefs and to consider how we can become better advocates for music education.

A highlight of the brief time in LA was to hear the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela perform in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. They performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Symphony No 2 “Little Russian”. They performed with such energy, precision and with a huge dynamic and tonal palette.

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