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PERSPECTIVES FRESHMAN THE TOUR COMMITTEE:

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MAHLER 6 ISSUE CORNELL UNIVERSITY ORCHESTRA NEWSLETTER

FALL 2016


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Whole Note Executive Board 2016-2017 Jae Baek President

Emilie Camera Vice President

Mary Nattakom Treasurer

Meghan Powers Secretary

Grace Hwang Fundraising Chair

Eunu Song Alumni Relations

Sara Jenab Outreach Chair

Kristi Lin Publicity Chair

Zeyu Hu Newsletter

Andrea Jin Poster Design

Sarah McDonald Historian

Derek Masseloff Social Chair

Lauren Blacker, Mitch Dominguez and Paul Huang Tour Planning Committee Chairs

Cornell Orchestras 101 Lincoln Hall

About the Orchestras The Cornell Symphony Orchestra is one of the highest caliber musical groups on the Cornell campus. The group's members are drawn from all circles of Cornell life, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and members of the Ithaca community. Under the direction of Chris Younghoon Kim, the Cornell Symphony Orchestra continually strives to present the best works of contemporary composers as well as compositions by established musical figures. The Cornell Chamber Orchestra is a string orchestra of 30 musicians, comprising students from all colleges on campus. Acceptance into the orchestra is by audition only. The Chamber Orchestra performs a wide variety of works from the 18th century to present time, written expressly for the intimate setting of a smaller chamber orchestra. The Chamber Orchestra rehearses in Barnes Hall and performs many of their concerts in this venue.

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A Message from Our President The 2016-2017 school year is off to a great start and promises to be an eventful one. In addition to showcasing music by various women composers, the Cornell Orchestras will be performing Mahler 6 in the first two concerts of the year. Despite the challenge that this symphony presents we have been working hard for the concert and also for our tour to Argentina this spring, where we will be performing in collaboration with AndrĂŠs Tolcachir. We are very excited about this opportunity to gain different perspectives on music abroad and we hope you enjoy reading about some of the work that has been going in to organizing this tour in the newsletter. On behalf of all the members of the Cornell Orchestras, thank you for your continued interest and support! Sincerely, Jae Baek President

Cover Picture: Washington Post


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WHICH

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STRING SECTION IS THE “BEST”?

A Freshman’s Perspective

Throughout my nine years of playing in string orchestras I have observed the many orchestral stereotypes which have arisen. There seems to be this unofficial competition between sections to see which one performs the best, which one stands out the most. First violins tend to have an air of superiority, creating melodies out of harmonies, non-moving lines, rests, you name it; thereby drowning out the other sections. Second violins, in the words of my high school conductor, are like the “red-haired, middle child of the family.” Nestled in the orchestra behind the first violins, seconds comfortably remain hidden physically and musically. Violas, beside being the punchline of every joke, are like the seconds but with fewer numbers for support. They desperately try to play out when their melody arrives but always seem to be eaten up by the surrounding sections. Cellos are the sexier version of the firsts. Their lower range prevents them from shrieking or squeaking on sustained notes, but for their monotonous lines of eight notes– keeping the pulse for the group–they push and push until even the firsts admit defeat.

CHLOE AMSTERDAM

in CCO for a few weeks, my preconceived stereotypes have fallen apart. My appreciation of the importance of every section and every individual has heightened. Just like the ratio of salt to pepper, ketchup to mustard, and sweet to savory, balance is key. Every section of players has notes that should be emphasized; careful attention to detail is needed to create music. In terms of which section is the best there are pros to each one. Firsts get the melody, the phrases most people tend to remember. Seconds provide a depth to the melody, or even pose counter melodies that seem to question the melody, creating intrigue within the piece. Violas provide us with material for a multitude of jokes. Cellos often serve as the base of the chords created, setting up the key or mood of a piece. However the sections alone cannot really “win” as much as they may try. In the end no one section outweighs the others. The orchestra only functions when it has all of its sections unify to create a whole.

(Aforementioned string sections based on current This was my experience throughout high school. CCO makeup, unfortunately we are without Coming into Cornell, however, after only being basses this semester.)


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Above: Cornell Symphony Orchestra in action Left: Cornell Chamber Orchestra in rehearsal


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BY

CHANCE A Graduate Student’s Perspective ARIEL BUEHLER

Looking back at the last twenty years of playing, my musical background has a lot to do with chance. I started playing violin at age four by chance. I had really wanted to play piano, but my parents couldn’t find a teacher who would take a student so young. They found a violin teacher willing to teach me violin instead. I picked up the viola in sixth grade by chance. My teacher needed a violist for a wedding gig and thought I could learn it quickly. During undergrad, someone who would later be one of my greatest career mentors interviewed me and saw I played the viola on my resume. She did too. I got the internship and made a lasting friendship because of an initial musical connection. By chance, I interned at a company between undergrad and grad school and met a fellow intern who was a Cornell undergrad and in orchestra here. He talked about how great Cornell Orchestras were and how inspiring Professor Kim was. I knew I had to sign up for an audition once I got to Ithaca in the fall. Now I’m in my third year of my Ph.D. program and have played viola in the orchestra every semester. I look forward to Monday and Wednesday rehearsals each week. Lincoln Hall is my place of respite on Cornell campus. I am surrounded and supported by peers who share the same passion for music. When experiments fail and I’m tired from pipetting samples the entire day, I fall back on what has been a constant in my life—playing music in a supportive community. By chance, I found an amazing community to be a part of at Cornell, and I am so glad that I did.

Above: Cornell Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Kisun Sung Right:: Horn section in action


CORNELL UNIVERSITY ORCHESTRAS NEWSLETTER

A VIEW FROM THE

HORN SECTION A Senior’s Perspective DEREK MASELOFF

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As a senior I’ve been honored to perform with the Cornell Symphony for all five of my on-campus semesters. To my ear our orchestra has a distinct sound. It's an amateur sound. Not amateur in its colloquial meaning of sucky, but amateur as in the Latin root amare, to love. Beethoven said “To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable”. No one can accuse our orchestra of playing without passion. In fairness Beethoven was probably too deaf to tell which notes were which notes were wrong or atrociously out of tune. A man without a nose can’t smell your putrid farts! In a sense the Cornell Symphony Orchestra is quite a blue-collar orchestra. We’re generally overworked, sleep deprived, and constantly making the best of less than optimal resources (looking at you, B20 celeste). Yet despite the numerous obstacles between your average Cornell student and meaningful music making, our musicians constantly rise to the occasion and create memorable performances. As a horn player it is my undeniable duty to tell you that the horn book for Mahler’s 6th Symphony is as lengthy as it is complex. It requires both finesse and endurance. It requires a fluid threeoctave range. In his 6th symphony more so than his 5th, Mahler completely democratizes the horn section. Horns one through eight all have a crucial role to play- there’s simply nowhere to hide. Asking 8 non-major horn players to perform Mahler 6 is a bit like asking me (a humanities major) to perform a cardiac surgery or attempt any math problem- it's a dangerous proposition. Nonetheless I’m continually inspired at the success we’re able to achieve despite the fact that common sense suggests we stick to simpler pieces. Cornell students consistently rise to the challenges presented by the most difficult music in the symphonic repertoire. Our hard work is sure to pay off at both concerts this semester.


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TIME From the creators of the Mahler 6 Hammer

Any Mahler enthusiast will tell you that the most salient features of his massive Sixth Symphony are the famous Hammerschläge (hammer blows) in the finale. These hammer strikes punctuate the fourth movement of this Tragische (“Tragic”) symphony, symbolizing blows of fate to the hero of the dramatic epic Mahler tells through music. To this day, there is controversy over how many hammer blows Mahler intended. Although he had originally called for three, his last revision of the score lacks the final blow, perhaps due to Mahler’s superstition regarding the number three. Despite what the composer may have intended, orchestras over the years have

EMILIE CAMERA & BRIAN SCHAEFER

performed anywhere from one mighty hammer blow to the original three. Some argue that the piece feels unfinished or empty without the third blow, while others enjoy the suspense that this absence creates. In the score, Mahler asks for this unique percussion instrument to produce a sound “brief and mighty, but dull in resonance with a nonmetallic character (like the fall of an axe),” but does not provide any specific instructions for its design. Over the years, orchestras performing Mahler’s Sixth Symphony have found that a large wooden hammer struck against a large wooden box comes close to the intended sound, and

Left: Hammer up close Top Right: Professor Kim, Cornell Orchestra conductor tests out the hammer Bottom Right: Emilie (left) and Brian (right), creators of the hammer, poses with the hammer in hand


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hammer head that was square on top and circular on bottom, feed the handle through from the top, and wedge it into place. You can see the results of this design in the pictures. Built this way, it will be impossible for the head to come flying off in the middle of a performance. With a bit of wood filler, wood glue, wood stain, and polyurethane sealant, the hammer started looking really professional. We tied on a bit of decorative rope to finish it off, and called the hammer done! The hammer is the most visible component of the instrument, but the box is the primary source of the sound you’ll hear, and it’s still mainly a work in progress. As of this writing, it’s just a piece of plywood screwed down to four legs! Over the next month or so, we’ll work on reinforcing the structure of the box, padding the striking surface to achieve the dull sound Mahler intended, and create a resonant cavity so that the sound will ring true across Bailey Hall. Stay tuned for more updates, and come see it in person at our concert on November 19th! percussionists (or other members of the orchestra) have taken on the task of building the box and the hammer from scratch. The two of us aren’t percussionists, but we do have experience with metal- and woodworking in two of the machine shops on campus, so we decided to take on the task of building this special instrument. To begin, we needed materials for the head and handle of the hammer, and we needed to figure out a way of attaching the two (without the head flying off mid-performance!). Starting with the head, we found a tree stump in the backyard of a friendly Ithacan, cut off the rough ends with a band saw, and turned it down to a cylinder with a lathe. For the handle, we chose to use a wheelbarrow handle that was strong enough to support the weight of the head yet light enough to swing easily. The wheelbarrow handle originally had a mostly square cross-section, narrowing down to a circle at one end. We turned down most of the square cross-section to circular, leaving only a short square section at one end. This allowed us cut a hole in the


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On a dreary February morning during rush hour in midtown Manhattan, I climbed the stairs to the express 2 train with the rest of the commuters. This morning was different from most. As I ascended the stairs, dodging people rushing down, suddenly I heard a familiar tune. A single violin with the sweetest tone was playing Meditation from Thaïs and instantly soothed the harried mood on the platform. It was like a fresh blanket of snow making the world go quiet.

Music has both provided a sense of familiarity and challenged me to grow at points of transition in my life. From my undergraduate days in CCO making friends with students from all over the university, to the semester I spent in Paris, France, where I joined a community orchestra and followed along in another language, to my current life as a young professional dashing from one end of Manhattan to the other, making music has allowed me to nestle into new environments, interact with fascinating and convivial people, Never one to ignore beauty when I see or hear it, and has always brought me joy. I found the source of the playing and stood by to watch as I waited for my train to arrive. As the violinist, whom I later found out was Juilliardtrained, noticed me listening, we starting chatting. When I mentioned I play viola, he An Alumna’s Perspective excitedly gave me the information of the MALLORY STELLATO conductor for an orchestra that rehearses at the UN. I was dubious at first that a stranger on the subway platform would not be trying to get the better of me in some way, but quickly looked up the ensemble back in my office and decided to investigate for myself.

BEYOND BAILEY HALL

Now, just over six months later, I have been passing my viola through the security belt at UN headquarters every Wednesday evening to get to rehearsal. The ensemble, a multicultural mélange of UN staff and other professional and amateur musicians, delivered a Latin American concert sponsored by the Peruvian mission at Symphony Space in June. This September, we performed during a mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where the President of the 71st General Assembly gave remarks on the Sustainable Development Goals. Outside of the orchestra’s designated performance schedule, I have also had the good fortune as a violist to fill in for a quartet performance during a dedication ceremony where His Excellency Ban Ki-moon laid a wreath in honor of fallen UN Peacekeepers. Joining forces with individuals from all over the world and playing for such distinguished audiences amplifies the power of music as a great connector.

Above: The Cornell Symphony Orchestra in concert at the iconic Bailey Hall Right:: Alumni Harris (left) and Mallory (right)


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THE NEXT REHERSAL An Alumna’s Perspective HARRIS KARSCH

Music was such a large part of my life at Cornell, I had no doubts that it would continue to be after graduation. I made so many plans for myself. I was going to spend my signing bonus on a new cello, and maybe splurge for an electric one too. I was going spend the first few months learning all the Bach suites, then learn how to use a loop pedal and start recording whatever I could come up with. But hadn’t really thought about how it would cost money to move all the way across the country, and how in the real world you have to buy all your furniture and kitchen supplies. How suburban life meant I’d need to get a car, and how Silicon Valley comes with Silicon Valley rent prices. And taxes.

again. Fast forward a few months of realizing that just one rehearsal a week was not enough for me, and I’d joined not just that one but two community orchestras, as well as a piano trio I was set up with through a mutual friend. (Apparently, cellists are very heavily in demand all over the south bay.)

Unlike student life with endless problem sets and studying, each day work actually ends until the next. Every weeknight now I spend either practicing or in rehearsal, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time. And I’m not (too) unique. My fellow orchestra members are in all stages of life, in all parts of the community, and have made it clear to me that if you love I eventually got myself to practice, working a bit music, no matter what else is going on in your more on what my last lessons were. That lasted life, you will end up with the time for it. about a week. Two weeks later I tried again. And two more after that. By August, I had very little After my last concert with CCO, I posted to motivation left. Something was missing. Facebook about how for the first time in 13 or 14 years, I didn’t know when my next rehearsal Unrelated to my waning practice schedule, I one was. I look forward to never having to deal with day decided to look for classical concerts to go to that problem again. And plus, my social life has near me. Instead, I found a community orchestra just never felt right anyway without having to to join! Right away, my desire to practice went turn down half the things I’m invited to with “I back to Cornell levels. I finally had a purpose can’t, I have rehearsal.”


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Over the past several years the Cornell Orchestras have been fortunate to go on tour to a variety of locations, including Puerto Rico, Ireland, and Salt Lake City. This year the Orchestras are embarking on a tour in Argentina. This tour originated from a 2014 collaboration between our conductor Chris Kim and Andrés Tolcachir, conductor of the Orquestra Sinfónica del Neuquén. Fulfilling their invitation, we will be heading to the city of Neuquén in Patagonia, where we will work with members of their professional and youth orchestras throughout the course of five days culminating in a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 on April 7, 2016.

wants to go to Argentina had an available plane ticket. In late July we successfully booked plane tickets for 60 people.

Going into the semester we came up with a concrete plan to get our plans and ideas from the summer up and running. We have begun to expand the Tour Planning Committee by involving more of our orchestra members. The collective efforts of the entire orchestra have aided us tremendously by not only coming up with great ideas, but also with providing the publicity and support to make those ideas a reality. Among our developing projects is an official tour website, as well as fundraising campaigns through Cornell Crowdfunding and Last April we sat down to begin the planning GoFundMe. process for our tour to Argentina, which will include stops in Buenos Aires, Bariloche, and Touring has been an integral part of the Cornell Neuquén. We assembled a preliminary three- Orchestras experience. It provides a fantastic city itinerary and began outlining fundraising opportunity for Cornellians to make music ideas to help fund our massive tour. We also together in a setting outside of Ithaca and to reached out to Maestro Tolcachir to learn more participate in unique collaborations that will about our collaborating partners and ultimately form lasting bonds between us and our international partners. As alumni reading Argentina. this will surely recall, tour is a wonderful Once the summer hit we jumped into action to experience that will remain in our fondest find flights. Since we would have to take smaller memories. We are so excited to be working with local Argentinian flights for the domestic Maestro Tolcachir and all the musicians in portions of our tour we needed to book flights as Neuquén to continue our tradition of sharing early as possible to ensure that anybody who music across the world.

AN UPDATE FROM THE TOUR PLANNING COMMITTEE:

¡VAMONOS A ARGENTINA! LAUREN BLACKER, MITCH DOMINGUEZ & PAUL HUANG


CORNELL UNIVERSITY ORCHESTRAS NEWSLETTER

Cornell Orchestra Ireland Tour 2015

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INSTURMENT PETTING ZOO

IN CONCERT


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CONCERT SCHEDULE Fall 2016 Free and open to the public

Cornell Symphony Orchestra

Cornell Chamber Orchestra

YEAR OF THE WOMEN

Saturday, November 19, 2016 7pm @ Bailey Hall, Cornell University

Saturday, November 12, 2016 7pm @ Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Cornell University

Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor Jessica Rivera, soprano Nilo Cruz, poet

Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor Malcolm Bilson, fortepiano

GABRIELA LENA FRANK: La Centinela y La Paloma (The Keeper and the Dover) with Jessica Rivera and Nilo Cruz GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 movement 4

JEEYOUNG KIM: Lullaby of the wages EDVARD GRIEG: Two Nordic Melodies W. A. MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 14 in Eb Major, KV 449 with Malcolm Bilson

Websites:

Follow us on Social Media!

Cornell Symphony Orchestra: http://www.cuorchestra.org

facebook.com/cornellorchestras

Cornell Chamber Orchestra: http://cuchamberorchestra.strikingly.com

@cu_orchestras


Fall 2016 Wholenotes  

Fall 2016 issue of the Cornell Orchestra newsletter

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