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Whole Note A Freshman’s Perspective Family A New Take on

Jazz View From the Back Jazz:

Expectation vs. Reality Toronto Tour


Fall 2017 ISSUE 1



Whole Note Executive Board 2017-2018 Paul Huang President

Emma Billmyer Librarian

Felice Liang Treasurer

Austin Bates Vice President

Grace Hwang Fundraising Chair

Meghan Powers Secretary

Sara Jenab Outreach Chair

Emilie Camera Alumni Relations

Sarah Park Newsletter Editor

Zeyu Hu Social Chair

Eric Shen Historian/Photographer

Katie Stawiasz Publicity/Social Media

Tour Planning Committee Chairs: Eric Shen and Emma Billmyer

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 approximately 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 Dear Cornell Orchestras friends, family, and alumni, We are excited to present our 2017-2018 concert season, with a rich and varied program as well as many events in store. Our program will have a focus on jazz, including a concert with worldrenowned jazz musician and A.D. White House Professor Wynton Marsalis. In addition, the orchestras will be traveling to Toronto in January, where we will collaborate with the Royal Conservatory of Music on Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6. These collaborations give us the opportunity to experience a broad range of musical genres and perspectives while forming lasting partnerships. On behalf of the Orchestras, thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you soon at one of our concerts!

Sincerely, Paul Huang President



A Freshman’s Perspective The first time I entered B20, I walked in hesitantly and warily, unsure of how CSO would compare to my high school orchestra experience. Throughout my four years as a violinist in my high school orchestra, I grew tremendously as a musician and had an extraordinary experience. I played at various venues, bonded with my orchestra conductor, and created music with people I had known for many years. Being a freshman again meant that I would have to start over in a completely new orchestra with unfamiliar faces. During my first rehearsal, I was doubtful, almost scared, of joining a new orchestra, but as I sat down and skimmed through Tchaikovsky’s 6th, I felt a rush of excitement. I was eager for what was to come. Perhaps the first thing that struck me during our first rehearsals was that at exactly 4:40, everyone was in their seats with their instruments unpacked, ready for rehearsal to begin. The mere fact that rehearsal started on time here was a shocking novelty to me. In my middle and high school orchestras, we had spent the first 15 minutes during our 60 minute orchestra period


Ashrita Raman Violin ‘21

leisurely unpacking our instruments and chatting with our stand partners. Having close to two full hours to make music, rather than just 45 minutes, made such a huge difference in the amount of time we focused on each piece and how we played as an ensemble.

Another striking difference between my high school orchestra and CSO is that we are not only playing an entire 1 hour symphony, but also working with jazz music, a genre I had only idly heard on the radio before. Even though we have only been rehearsing for 6 weeks, I have already gained a new perspective on different forms of orchestral music and analyzed rhythms and patterns in methods I never would have dreamed of doing previously. When we first started playing Ellington, I immediately wanted to go back to playing Tchaikovsky again; the new swing rhythms and the various wind solos were completely unfamiliar to me. However, as the rehearsals passed by, Ellington started to grow on me. Switching between straight and swing rhythms and

Left: Kristy Liao and Sarah Edinburg in rehearsal



and playing the surprisingly melodic parts of jazz music was a gratifying and eye-opening experience; jazz was not just something I had heard on the radio before-it was an intricate form of music that I, a string player, was fortunate enough to play! Perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of being in CSO is that I am granted the opportunity to make music with such a diverse body. There are so many people pursuing completely different majors and career paths in one ensemble. Working on pieces with such differentminded individuals and making friends I never would have met otherwise has already been such an astounding experience. I am thrilled to be a part of CSO and am excited to see all the great things we are going to do together!

Above: Wind Section in rehearsal Left: Bass section in rehearsal

Right:: CSO violins during rehearsal



Family Chloe Amsterdam Violin ‘20

Orchestra is my family. As I came back from summer break and began my second year at Cornell, I realized that my friends were largely the people I had come to know through the Cornell Orchestra community. Orchestra is different from other classes. For one, although individuals may join or leave, the overall makeup of the group remains similar from semester to semester, making it something stable that I can reliably return to each semester. I think it is this stability that I appreciate the most with the rest of my hectic schedule. Beyond the stability, there are the individuals of the orchestra. Each person is an inspiring combination of dedicated musician, hard-working student, and caring personality, that I feel lucky to share at least four hours a week with. All of my friends amaze me

with what they have been able to do–win the concerto competition, ace difficult prelims, become leaders in clubs on campus, triple major, compose a piece of music–the list goes on. While these are all difficult, time consuming tasks, these highly accomplished individuals that make up the orchestra manage to be good friends as well. Somehow, over all of my other clubs, classes, and groups of friends, orchestra has managed to create an environment where students of completely different backgrounds and interests have connected over this one thing–music. Music has brought us together and sparked bonding events such as postrehearsal dinners, Friday night hangouts, friendly tennis matches, sung renditions of our orchestral pieces, late night study sessions, and more.

Left: Maya Zhou, Eric Shen, Taeho Kim, Andy Sheng, Chloe Amsterdam after a CCO concert



Although any other two-hour time spent in class would seem too long, rehearsals surrounded by the people I care about seem to fly by. There’s the excitement of learning a new piece, the challenge of interpreting the piece musically, and Chris’s food analogies. It’s also great to catch people’s eyes and grin to friends across the orchestra and I look forward to these moments every week.

where we are comfortable with our repertoire and are able to hold all of these thoughts at once, the reward is unbelievable. My dad, who watches our concerts streamed from home, always comments, “Wow, you guys look like professionals.” Whether this is fatherly love or truth, I’m not sure, but I think the fact that we all care and maintain a sense of dedication- a dedication to playing our instruments and a dedication for playing with one another. It is precisely this dediThere are so many aspects of the music to pay atten- cation that allows us to be immersed in the music tion to that rehearsal flies by. It is incredibly difficult and enjoy the experience of making music in an orto keep in mind all of the different sections, what chestra. they are playing, who has the melody, what style the piece should is, and how to phrase each measure. I am thankful that I am able to be a part of this amazHowever, when we reach the point ing community and thankful that I have found my orchestra family in the big world that is Cornell.

Above: CSO second violins after the concert



Tharun Sankar Trumpet ‘20

A New Take on Jazz

All throughout high school I considered myself a classical trumpet player. I did all the standard activities - all states, youth orchestras, and chamber groups. I got used to sitting in orchestra rehearsals, counting hundreds of measures of rests, and coming in for that one majestic, loud moment.

felt like more of a complete musician after having played classical music and jazz fusion in CSO as well as more modern jazz in jazz band. Within the past month, I’ve drastically improved as a trumpet player and as a musician. I’ve been learning new things every week - like how to properly swing eighth notes (I promise I’ll get it at some point, Paul).

I came to love playing that classic overdramatic brass quintet music. Every time someone asked me to play When our first concert came around, I went to sit in jazz outside the comfort of my high school jazz band, the audience and listen to CCO as I tried to calm my nerves for the solos to come. The Chamber Orchestra I countered with “No, I can’t improvise.” opened with Gunther Schuller’s “Journey into Jazz,” When I first came to Cornell last year, I was happy to a story of a boy named Eddie who slowly learned see that I could still play the amazing classical music how to play jazz trumpet after spending much of his that I loved. Mahler 6 was an experience that I’ll life playing classical music. never forget. However, after a semester of playing lots of loud Mahler brass parts, I started to feel something that I never had before - I wanted to play more jazz. While listening to our very own President Martha Pollack narrate the story, I began to reflect on my own journey into jazz. In a way, Eddie’s story is very Maybe it was the constant stress of Cornell, maybe it similar to mine - slowly immersing oneself into jazz was just that I wanted to play more trumpet, but by the and realizing in the end that it’s all about people. I end of last year I decided that I wanted to try don’t think my story is over yet. I still have much something new. I decided to audition for the jazz more learning to do and much more playing ahead of me. I look forward to the rest of this year playing band. amazing music with the amazing people of CSO. I When our orchestra repertoire for this year was can’t wait to see what else this year will bring. released, I was surprised to see Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige Suite” on the list. This is a piece I played five years ago, never expecting to see or hear again. My only memory of it is how terribly handwritten the parts were. The piece is an interesting fusion of jazz and classical music, featuring classic Duke Ellington writing paired with interesting influences like Debussy. With Wynton Marsalis coming later in the year, I realized that my year as a musician would be completely immersed in jazz world. At our first rehearsal this semester, I was pleasantly surprised by the typeset parts; I had played a different arrangement 5 years ago. I truly enjoyed playing jazz in an orchestral setting. I

Above: President Pollack narrating Journey into Jazz



Right: Matthew Haefner, Tharun Sankar, Kiersten Rhodes, Gregory Cristina, Yuhui Zhou

Left: Paul Merrill with CCO

Right: CSO during concert



View From the Back Susi Varvayanis, Staff

I've recently gained a new perspective on the orchestral experience which has given me a newfound respect for the back. I do not mean 'baby's got back' but ‘back’ as in the view from the back, or rather, the musician's experience from this physical position. Having played near the front of the first violin section throughout high school, college, and graduate school, I had always wondered why horns were chronically late and why trombonists had a hard time hearing which measure we were starting at in rehearsal.

correct bowings of the section leaders. I realized that sometimes it was hard to hear the woodwinds and difficult to see the conductor. There were far more challenges from sitting so far from the conductor than I had imagined. I had spent quite a long time coming from behind. When I first came to Cornell as a staff member in 1988, I planned to audition for the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. However, I got cold feet the day before and cancelled with no particular excuse to Ed Murray, the conductor at the time.

However, I realized that playing in the back of the orchestra was a new and different experience. I was The seasons came and went and I enjoyed many not used to being unable to see the downbeat or the inspiring CSO concerts. I worked full time, farmed

Above: CSO during rehearsal


full time, and volunteered in the community. I played sports, coached soccer. I had four boys who all started band instruments; they played trombone, saxophone, French horn, piano, and percussion. I enjoyed hearing their musical progression. I even had the pride of hearing my oldest son perform the piece “Teddy Trombone” with his trombone teacher. I also admired my children’s ability to lead their sections, play jazz and even improvise during jazz band concertssomething I had never even considered as a classically trained violin player.


As my confidence and fingering memory grew, I then joined the Cortland State Community Orchestra where Dvorak rejoined my musical repertoire over Sousa and Mancini. An encouraging conductor there, along with a patient summer teacher who squeezed me into his cancellation slots, helped me reach for my lifelong dream of playing with the CSO.

After almost 30 years, I finally had my audition. To my surprise and delight, I am now at the back of the second violin section, loving every rehearsal, concert and additional violin lesson. I feel like I have a new But with all this music, there always seemed to be family within the Cornell community. I even something missing. After 27 years, I decided to dust occasionally see my colleagues’ friendly faces on off my violin and join the all-inclusive Dryden Area other parts of campus. Intergenerational Band for three reasons. With this year's sensational theme of jazz I continue to First, I thought it would be fun for the five of us learn and grow. Most of us strings have been family members to play together in the ensemble. classically trained and have to learn how to 'swing'. Second, I wanted to set an example for my kids that But by now I'm getting used to coming from behind. music is a lifelong pursuit. Third, they didn't require If there's one piece of advice I'd like to share with auditions. fellow young musicians, it's to not let life get in the I played the flute part, the oboe part, and occasionally way of including music in your life. At least not for the English horn part. I was the only string instrument quite as long. Believe me, it will make your comeback and tuned on a B flat. I even had to overcome my a lot shorter. shyness and play a few bars of a Sinatra solo. I survived the embarrassment of my bow hair explosion at the first rehearsal and enjoyed sitting with the bass clarinet and bassoon.

Right: CCO violins during the concert



Jazz: Expectation vs. Reality Vineet Kamat Viola ’21

Jazz, especially for string players, can be seen as a synonym for hell. Large scales, insane time signatures, and complicated classical pieces hardly faze us, but the second we see “medium swing”, we begin to lose our confidence. So it came as a tremendous surprise to me that we would be playing a piece by Duke Ellington in the Cornell Symphony Orchestra.

While the brass section behind us coped beautifully with the syncopation, and the wind section swung their hearts out, we, string players, struggled to add a jazzy feel to every note. The smooth and flowy nature of “Work Song” took the entire string section by surprise. To our classically-trained minds, such a way of playing seemed utterly scandalous.

For me, and several others in the orchestra, practice The reason jazz is so difficult for string players is the enabled us to play correctly for some time, but in syncopation of the beat. Quite simple to understand rehearsal, the task of fitting our beats into the grand right? scheme proved to be another challenge. Every time a syncopated passage showed up, the entire orchestra Wrong. seemed to struggle to retain what had been rehearsed. For us classically trained musicians, jazz swing is like learning to speak a different dialect of the same By the day of the show, I had spent countless hours language. Jazz is similar yet so different from classi- practicing but I still felt like I did not understood a cal music. large portion of the Ellington. I anxiously sat in the audience as the crowd quieted down and the concert Anticipating the challenges that would come with began. learning jazz, almost every string player came into the room mentally prepared to swing. Left: Kirland Sugrim, Brett Sawka, Blake Himes



The Chamber Orchestra performed “Journey into Jazz” which was a narrated piece about a boy who learned how to play jazz trumpet. At the end, the trumpet player had a dialogue with the head saxophonist of a neighborhood band. The dialogue ended with the boy saying, “Jazz is supposed to be fun!” Then, the trumpet player from CU Jazz started improving with blinding speed and prowess. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any anxious concern or intense concentration on the man’s face. He seemed to just let his subconscious musicality take over. His work left me mesmerized and inspired to make the most of the performance. The intermission ended, and within a heartbeat we were ready to perform the Ellington. I decided to be like the trumpet player: worry less about what I was playing and enjoy it more. The Ellington began and I let my mind wander into the music. Suddenly, the restrictive shackles of music disappeared and all the notes began to make sense. I looked around and saw other members of the orchestra feeling the same way. Suddenly, we began to sound much more like an ensemble as we began to feel and relish the rhythm within us. The rigid and structured sounds of orchestral music were gone, leaving behind a raw and emotional melody. We were finally playing jazz.

Above: CCO violins during the concert

As students, many of us find it hard to stop overthinking. After playing this piece, however, I realized that it is important for all of us to step back, simply let go, and have fun!

Above: Sabrina Chen, Brian Schaefer, Gregory Cristina



Toronto tour 2017 While in Toronto, we will be partnering with local school programs for outreach. We will also connect with the orchestra at the University of Toronto, where one of our alumni is pursuing a PhD. Additionally, we will have group sightseeing activities around Toronto and will try to engage with the local culture.

Show your love for the Orchestras: Give to the 2018 Tour!

The Cornell Orchestras are on the road again, and this time we're headed to Toronto! Our tours in the past have been unforgettable and we expect this one to be the same. We anticipate 55 current members and 5 alumni of the Orchestras to participate.

Please help us raise money for the Cornell Orchestras' upcoming 2018 tour to Toronto! Our goal of $10,000 will significantly reduce the cost of the trip for our musicians and allow every student who wants to participate to be able. Visit our website at in November for more information on how to donate!

We appreciate any level of generosity towards our tour, and everybody who donates will be recognized on our website and in our concert programs! In our efforts to fundraise, we hope that alumni, family, friends, and supporters of the Cornell Orchestras will understand how much this We will be traveling to Toronto to collaborate means to each and every one of us musicians. We with Dennis Kim at the Toronto Royal Conserva- are so excited for this opportunity to unite the unitory of Music. Dennis Kim is a professor of violin versity community through a common love of muat the Conservatory and Concertmaster of the Buf- sic and cross-cultural understanding! falo Philharmonic. He is a long time friend of our conductor, Chris Kim. We will be partnering with the Royal Conservatory of Music to play Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony at Koerner Hall on January 21, 2018.

Koerner Hall at the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music



CONCERT SCHEDULE Fall 2017 Free and open to the public

Cornell Symphony Orchestra

Cornell Chamber Orchestra

7 pm, Saturday, November 11, 2017 @Bailey Hall, Cornell University Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor Miri Yampolsky, guest artist James Spinazzola, guest artist

3 pm, Sunday, November 19, 2017 @Barnes Hall , Cornell University Chris Younghoon Kim, conductor Joe Salzano, Saxophone Emily Diangelo, oboe Alex Shuhan, horn BARRY SHARP Farther from the Truth Ilze Brink-Button, horn Daniel Hane, bassoon for orchestra [world premiere] ROBERT SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor Jason Kim, soprano violin Vicki Miskolczy, viola Op. 54 with Miri Yampolsky P.I. TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 Mvt 2 and 3 JOSEF SUK Meditation on the Old Czech DUKE ELLINGTON/ Chorale "St. Wenceslas", op.35a LUTHER HENDERSON GEORG PHILLIPP TELEMANN Viola Concerto in Three Black Kings (Les trois rois noirs) G major, TWV 51:G9 with Victoria Miskolczy with Tenor Sax/Soprano Sax James Spinazzola CHARLIE PARKER Six Songs for Solo Saxophone, Jazz combo and C h a m b e r Orchestra J.S. BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major BWV 1046 Featuring Jason Kim, Alex Shuhan, Ilze Brink Button and Emily DiAngelo and Daniel Hanes


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