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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Common Chords: Grand Rapids

Sitting Side by Side

Members of the 35-member Itasca Symphony Orchestra welcomed Minnesota Orchestra guests to their regular Monday night session, where conductor Sarah Hicks led a two-hour rehearsal focusing on Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture.

Fourteen-year-old cellist Maggie Anderson, who travels 45 minutes from Bigfork to attend rehearsal, shared her thoughts with us on the side-by-side experience:

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect going into the Itasca Symphony rehearsal last night with the Minnesota Orchestra. The experience was electrifying!

Almost every section of the orchestra had a musician from the Minnesota Orchestra helping us out and giving guidance as we tackled the Academic Festival Overture by Johannes Brahms. Conductor Sarah Hicks helped us to envision how certain parts of the piece should be expressed and told us what the composer was trying to convey in these different sections. Whenever there was a “lull in the action” or when Sarah would work with one or two of the sections, the other professional musicians would “huddle” with their sections and give great tips.  Our Itasca Symphony first violinist, Mary LaPlant, came up to me later and said that she looked over at the cellos and thought, “their bows are moving together!”  She’s really into bowing.  After an amazing practice and a short break, we performed the Overture together. It was awesome to hear how much the piece had progressed in such a short time.

Afterwards, the Minnesota Orchestra musicians took time to answer some of our questions. The responses really made me realize the huge amount time and effort it takes to become a professional musician and how much they love what they do. One person asked a question regarding hearing loss in a professional orchestra to which one of the Minnesota Orchestra violinists answered, “What was that?” We all had a laugh. The last question was about the Orchestra’s recent New York concert in Carnegie Hall. We were told the performance made the critics rave and the audience go absolutely nuts. “It was just the right repertoire in the right place at the right time,” said one of the orchestra members. They said that they had completely nailed it and it seemed that everyone in the place knew it. I could tell that the experience had meant a lot to them.

I was left with this really cool energy. My brain was filled with the music, the tips I had gotten, and about my own future in cello. I was also left thinking about the story of one musician who said that his mom made him stop practicing at 9 hours one day. Cool.

-Maggie Anderson

View more photos from our residency in Grand Rapids on our Facebook page.