Common Chords: Grand Rapids

It’s Official

Conductor Sarah Hicks and musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra were on hand at the Grand Rapids City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon to witness the proclamation by Mayor Dale Adams, officially declaring October 10th through October 16th, 2011 Minnesota Orchestra Common Chords Week.

Hicks spoke briefly in response to the Mayor’s proclamation, stressing the project’s goal of “enriching communities through cultural exchange.”

Her remarks were followed with a performance of Mouret’s Rondeau by the Orchestra’s brass quintet. Upon its completion, hornist Herb Winslow posed the question, “Do you want an encore?” Adams quickly responded with a resounding, “Yes!”

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

Soup, Sandwich and a Song

The employees of Grand Rapids’ Minnesota Diversified Industries were treated to a performance by Minnesota Orchestra musicians over their lunch hour Tuesday. A brass quintet served up light musical fare to accompany the scenic views from the break room, as staff enjoyed a bite to eat on a picture-perfect day.

Musicians took a break of their own during the performance to answer questions from curious listeners: “Who can play the lowest note, and who can play the highest note?”

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

A Little Brass Music

The 258 sixth graders from Elkington Middle School sampled some mid-morning brass music with Minnesota Orchestra musicians on Tuesday – and were eager to ask questions of the players:  “Have you had anything stuck in your horn?” “Is there such a thing as a piccolo trombone?”

“It’s one thing to hear classical music on the radio but to hear it live is an entirely different experience,” said teacher Anissa Grotjohn, who runs the thriving band program at Elkington. “I went to hear the Minnesota Orchestra perform live when I was in sixth grade and it was so cool.”

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

Art inspired by Music

The eighth grade art students of teacher Sherry El-nashaar learned first-hand about the connections between art and music at Elkington Middle School Tuesday. Students focused intently on creating pastel and charcoal drawings while the Orchestra’s String Quartet played music of different moods and styles. “We’ve never done anything like this in class before,” said El-nashaar. The art and music theme continues this week with the Brass Quartet performing at Grand Rapids’ MacRostie Art Center on Wednesday afternoon, along with a special presentation by Ashley Kolka. The event is open to the public and begins at 5pm.

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

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.

Page 3 of 4