A concert at Chamber Music Northwest, with flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, harpist Nancy Allen, and violist Paul Neubauer.
CMNW. Gabriella and I worked together often during our undergrad at the Curtis Institute of Music, and I’m so happy to have a chance to collaborate with her again and hear how her music has grown over the past few years.
Concerts in the Garden Fort Worth, Texas June 2–July 8 MICHAEL SHIH, concertmaster, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
of the musicians made something that reflected where we are from (or our cultural roots). Clarinetist David Shifrin decided to bring a gigantic, whole salmon to bake, as a nod to the Pacific Northwest, and it was absolutely delicious! What’s the “best” moment you’ve experienced performing at this music festival? What’s the “craziest” or most unusual moment? One of the most meaningful aspects of being a part of the classical music community is being able to perform with your teachers. My first summer as a Protégé Project artist back in 2010 included a concert with Ani and Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom, and Peter Wiley, all of whom I had worked with as a college student. It was such a thrill to be able perform alongside them at CMNW. Do you have a ritual before or after a festival performance? Is that ritual different from what you might do for a regular-season concert? I don’t have a strict ritual before or after performances. When I’m in Portland, having a craft beer and winding down over charcuterie or a burger at the Higgins Bar is often a go-to, post-concert routine for CMNW artists. Any feedback on living composers whose works are being performed at the festival? Do you have opportunities to work directly with those composers? I’m very excited to be working again with Gabriella Smith this summer at
What scores work best in the great outdoors? Were you ever surprised that a score that might seem too quiet or challenging for the outdoors works surprisingly well? John Williams comes to mind: Star Wars, E.T., Superman. The music of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Sousa—these composers all work really well outdoors. It’s the way they’re orchestrated, the melodies carry very well and they sound majestic and heroic. With amplification by our great engi-
neers and their sound system, these pieces really come to life at the Garden. Princess Leia’s theme from Star Wars is mostly on the softer side, but it works really well. “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan is both solemn and quiet, but people pay attention to it because of the beautiful music and the meaning behind it. There is a personal connection between the music and the audience. These are familiar pieces that people know and love. How have the Concerts in the Garden changed and developed over the years? How have audiences? I can only speak for the years that I have been here, since 2001. I think that we have seen an expansion of more types of concerts being offered at the Concerts in the Garden. There are more guest artists, like the all-time favorite Classical Mystery Tour, or the different Windborne tribute shows to Pink Floyd and Journey and David Bowie. And of course, we are grateful that the size of the audience has grown tremendously over the years. We’ve had record numbers of attendance these past few years. People are enthusiastic about this festival. Of course, having fireworks every night brings enthusiasm to an even higher level! Can you describe the experience of performing under a night sky, or in an amphitheater in a woodland? This has its challenges. I enjoy the opportunity to embrace nature in concerts, but on the other hand there are always insects that land on you or get on the music or crawl around onstage. Especially as it gets darker, the stage lights attract all sorts of… let’s call them little audience members. And of course it gets hot—this is Texas! No getting around it. It’s a different experience entirely compared to performing in a hall, but wonderful and enjoyable nonetheless. What’s the “best” moment you’ve experienced performing at this music festival. What’s the “craziest” moment? I remember a few years ago we were playing in the Garden, and there was this grand pause in the middle of one of our pieces, and the crickets were so loud, it was perfect. It was funny! People loved it. I love each and every performance and seeing the reactions from the audience and the camaraderie we have with them. If it’s rainy out, we get a bit wet and so do they. If it’s muddy we’re all muddy. We’re