Page 1

Keeping Tempo Volume 5, Number 3, February 2014

Inside this issue: Student Spotlight: Thomas O’Keeffe


Who Was P.D.Q. Bach?


Conductor’s Guide to the Band


YOBC Awarded Grant to Support SIC Music


A Young Person’s Guide to


YOBC Concerto Competition’s 20th Anniversary:


New Placement Procedures for Returning YOBC Students


Important Dates: 

March 1: Auction & Live Show Benefit


March 7: Italy Tour Soiree


March 8: YOBC Chamber Recital


March 29: YOBC Symphony Side-by-Side with Philadelphia Orchestra


March 30: David Kim Master Class


April 5–6: YOBC Spring Concerts

YOBC Symphony Invited to Side-By-Side Rehearsal with The Philadelphia Orchestra At the end of YOBC’s fall semester, our Symphony Orchestra received a prodigious invitation—to join the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra in a side-by-side rehearsal in March. On Saturday morning, March 29, YOBC Symphony members will meet at the Kimmel Center to join their professional counterparts on stage. Each year The Philadelphia Orchestra selects a youth orchestra to sit side-by-side with its world-class musicians. The musicians play “quality orchestral literature led by a skilled conductor.” By offering this opportunity, the orchestra aims to “connect developing musicians with their professional counterparts for one-on-one coaching in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” To date, a number of youth orchestras have taken part in the side-byside program, including Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Sinfonia, the AllCity (Philadelphia) Or-

chestra, and Region IV orchestras — all located within the city limits. This year, for the first time, the Philadelphia Orchestra decided to extend their outreach to the suburbs, and YOBC will be the first non-Philadelphia–based group to be invited to take part in the program. The conductor of the side-by-side rehearsal with YOBC is expected to be Donald Runnicles, “a frequent and valued partner of The Philadelphia Orchestra.” Mr. Runnicles is concurrently the General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Chief Conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jack-

son, Wyoming. Mr. Runnicles is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and last summer he led the Philadelphia Orchestra in its summer 2013 residency and tour in China. Families will be able to attend the open rehearsal, so keep an eye on the YOBC website for details.

Donald Runnicles


potlight: Thomas O’Keeffe

Thomas O’Keeffe plays string bass in YOBC’s Prima Strings ensemble. A home-schooled 6th grader, Thomas began playing in 3rd grade and plays in the school orchestra and band at Richboro Elementary and the Council Rock District orchestra and band. Does Tom play bass in the band?

No...he also plays the tuba (among other instruments). He started playing music a few years ago because, “I wanted to try something new. I chose the bass because it was the biggest instrument around—same for the tuba.” Some family friends were already members of YOBC, and after hearing them talk about it, Tom decided to give it a try. He was interested in joining new orchestras to enhance his bassplaying experience. Tom says he loves playing in Prima Strings.

“All the kids are so friendly, and it is really fun. For instance, I enjoy making funny analogies about how each piece of music sounds.” When he is not playing music, Tom has a variety of other interests. He likes archery, football, baseball, and learning computer coding. But he always has time for music. His dream for the future involves playing in the Philadelphia Orchestra, but no matter what, he says, “I will always play music!”

Conductor’s Notes: Who Was P.D.Q. Bach? Have you ever heard the Mr. Schickele in a perform“Concerto for Horn and ance in Hutchinson, KS. He Hardart”? What about “Echo “arrived late” and accidenSonata for Two Unfriendly tally came into the auditoGroups of Instruments”? Or rium from the balcony. But perhaps you’re a fan of not wasting any more time, “Grand Serenade for an Awhe found a rope and rapelled ful Lot of Winds and Percusdown to the main floor. We sion.” knew we were in for a speThese are just some of cial concert! the compositions by P.D.Q. Of course, it’s because PePeter Schickele, Bach, the “only forgotten ter Schickele is such a gifted son” of J.S. Bach. Or so Peter a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach composer himself that he Schickele would like us to can write comedic pieces for believe! The fictional composer P.D.Q. Bach, while also taking on the P.D.Q. Bach originated as a perarduous role of P.D.Q’s “official biogformance gag when Mr. Schickele rapher.” Referred to as Professor was a student in 1959 at The JulliSchickele, his “tenured” position at ard School. A composer, performer, “The University of Southern North and musicologist, Mr. Schickele is Dakota at Hoople” has earned him best known for his comedic inventhe title, “Very Full Professor of Musition of P.D.Q. Bach, winning four colology and Musical Pathology.” Grammies for Best Comedy PerAmong P.D.Q Bach’s “forgotten” formance Album. works that were “discovered” by ProMy husband and I once saw fessor Schickele are such forgettable compositons as The Abduction of Figaro, Canine Cantata: “Wachet Arf!” (S. K9), O Little Town of Hackensack, A Little Nightmare Music, Concerto for Horn and Hardart (performed with tone-generating devices inside a coin-operated food dispenser from the days of the Horn and Hardart restaurants in Philadelphia and New York), and Oedipus Tex, feaPage 2

turing the “O.K.” Chorale. To demonstrate P.D.Q’s work, Schickele has conceived an array of peculiar instruments. In addition to the hardart, Schickele invented the “dill piccolo” so one can play sour notes; the “tromboon” (a hybrid trombone and bassoon, possessing the limitations of each); the doublereed slide music stand, which he explained as producing “a range of major third and even less expressiveness”; the “tuba mirum” (a flexible wine-filled tube); the “pastaphone” (an uncooked tube of manicotti impersonating a horn); and the “left-handed sewer flute.” There was also the never-demonstrated über klavier or super piano, with a keyboard attaining high notes that only dogs can hear to low notes that only whales can create. Beyond being a brilliant comedian, Schickele has written numerous original works for symphony orchestras, choral groups, chamber ensembles, voice, film, and TV. He has also authored music for school bands and musicals, and has prepared many concert performances as performer and musical director. For the full story about Peter Schickele, go to —Margaret Claudin YOBC Flute Director Keeping Tempo

Executive Director’s Corner: Conductor’s Guide to the Band The political and social drama that underlies the interactions within a music ensemble has long been the subject of serious research and discussion. Recent findings have been well documented and give keen insight into the roles of musicians and the challenges a conductor faces in marshalling the artistic forces under his/her baton. Careful review of the information below regarding the special abilities and skills required for each instrument should help parents, students, and conductors alike better understand the art form we call music education. Clarinet players are usually double agents. At times they appear to be on the conductor’s side. They sit right next to the podium and pretend to watch the conductor’s every move. Don’t let that fool you! They are actually watching the clock and plotting their next move. Even an experienced conductor can easily find himself emoting to the beauty of their sound as they weave their tangled webs of musical phraseology! One must always be on guard for a sudden, sneak attack of tortured squeaks and squawks from the clarinet section as the players bite down on their reeds making life painful for their instruments and everyone within earshot. Oboes and bassoons are the musical version of elite “Special Forces.” They receive extra training and equipment to accomplish their subversive missions. They use a double reed which gives them the ability to emit a double shot of squeak called “crowing.” It is scientifically designed to be twice as annoying as the squeak of a single reed. Since bassoons and oboes are usually ignored by the conductor, they resort to “crowing” to get the attention they deserve. If the conductor becomes agitated, they fall back on their training to stare innocent and wide-eyed, as if in complete ignorance as to where the sound came from. Since double reed players always know their parts, the conductor is often fooled. Volume 5, Number 3, February 2014

Percussionists are always conspiring in the back of the room. Because of their tendency to beat on things, they are almost always considered suspect by the authorities whenever a stray sound is heard. They have an arsenal of musical instruments at their disposal, each one capable of overpowering the entire ensemble with little effort! Unlike the other members of the band, percussionists perform standing. This is to assist them in executing a speedy getaway should the need arise. French horn players think that they are clever by using their bells for a variety of nefarious purposes. They claim that they place their right hand into their bells to adjust pitch and tone. We know better! There is a secret compartment in their bells that is very handy for hiding cell phones. French hornists can also be seen stuffing their right hand

into the bell to silence their everpresent mistakes. Be careful! If they feel threatened they will lift their bell high in the air and blast you with a really nasty sound. The technical term for this is “bells up.” Flutes are the second smallest instrument in the band, so they travel in flocks for safety. Although they usually play their parts well, they have found other ways to plot against the conductor. Most flute players are involved in “postural rebellion.” This is usually accomplished by discreetly crossing their feet at the ankles. At times, they will challenge the conductor more directly by lifting one foot entirely off the floor and executing a full leg cross. They will then try to maintain a look of nonchalance by striking a reclining posture and draping their right arm over the back of their chairs. A good conductor must respond quickly and firmly to such a challenge or it will lead to insurrection in the band!

Trumpet players are experts at confusing the conductor. When confronted after wrong entrances or mistaken rhythms, they will frequently try to feign innocence by pointing to other colleagues. The code name for this technique is “throwing him/her under the bus.” If this does not work, trumpet players will just talk incessantly to one another, ignoring the conductor altogether, as if engaged in some other pressing business. As a last resort, they will leave the rehearsal and return after the incident has blown over. Trombonists are the secret agents of the band and are almost always involved in undercover work. They have mastered the technique of playing so softly that no one can hear them. If their cover is blown, they will use their slide to move around stealthily, searching for a note to hide behind. Even though there may be many of them in an ensemble, trombonists are so adept in evasive maneuvers that they are rarely caught in a mistake! Saxophonists seem like friendly enough musicians, but their instrument is the most fearsome force known to conductors. With their powerful sound and uncanny ability to ignore conductors under any circumstance, they can affect a musical coup by commandeering the tempo at will! There are very few effective countermeasures that a conductor can take when this happens. Many famous conductors have taken lessons with saxophone players to learn this skill. If you have found this article useful or informative in any way, there may be serious questions regarding your sense of judgment. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Executive Director, YOBC conductors, students, parents or in fact, anyone else we are aware of. —Colleen Sweetsir YOBC Executive Director Page 3

YOBC Awarded Grant to Support SIC Music Festival In January YOBC administrators Colleen Sweetsir and Diana Nolan attended an event in Philadelphia hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance at the PECO Philadelphia headquarters. The event was an award ceremony where YOBC was one of a number of area arts organization to receive a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA). The grants are provided by the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, a regionalized funding program of the PCA, with additional support from PECO. Funds for the grants are authorized by the Pennsylvania state legislature, so be sure to thank your representatives for supWilliam Owens

porting the arts. The mission of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is to foster the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the arts in Pennsylvania and to broaden the availability and appreciation of those arts throughout the state. Additional support comes from PECO as part of their larger commitment to the vitality of the region, directing funding to organizations working to improve our schools, our environment, and our cultural institutions. YOBC’s grant of just over $2,000 was one of six awarded to Bucks County organizations and 68 in the five-county region as a whole. Our grant will support Students in Concert, the outreach program in the Bristol Township School District. These funds will help YOBC and SIC staff organize a music festival as a culminating activity for students from an underserved community to foster the development of music, cognitive, and

life skills. This year’s music festival will feature guest clinician and conductor William Owens. William Owens is a seasoned music educator who is active as a composer, clinician, and conductor throughout the United States and Canada. His compositional style for young ensembles displays a practical, erudite approach which has firmly established him as a leader in the field. In January 2014, he retired from duty as a band director in Texas after 29 years of service. Mr. Owens currently serves as the Instrumental Editorial Assistant for the FJH Music Company and is the Conductor/Music Director of the Mansfield (TX) Wind Symphony.

A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra On Saturday, February 1, 2014, through a Students in Concert program, I attended the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. This was a concert program for young listeners from the Philadelphia Orchestra. This program lets elementary, middle, and some high students experience the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was held at the Kimmel Center in Center City Philadelphia. The trip was great. We were seated near the back of the concert hall, but the sound was excellent. The orchestra played four selections, and the concert lasted about 45 minutes. The narrators were Sara Valentine and Michael Boudewyns. They explained each section of the orchestra. They also broke down each section into its individual components. For example, after the woodwinds section was introduced, they explained that Page 4

section further by talking about the instruments in the section… clarinet, oboe, flute, piccolo, and bassoon. The narrators also talked about each piece of music before it was played, including the background for each selection. The conductor, Cristian Măcelaru, introduced the soloist, whose name was Audrey Emata. She is a 12-year-old flute player who won the 2013 Greenfield Student Competition. Audrey was amazing and showed what hard work and dedication can do. I really enjoy being a member of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County. I started playing the B-flat clarinet in fifth grade. At Franklin Delano Roosevelt Middle School, I was fortunate enough to take part in the initial Students in Concert program as well as being selected for District Band and wind ensemble. I am currently a freshman at Harry S. Truman High School, where I am a

member of the wind ensemble, and marching and concert bands. It was the Students in Concert program that influenced me to Theodore Dalfonso broaden my music career. I love playing the clarinet. Being a member of YOBC is hard work. It takes dedication and commitment. You have to be willing to practice every day, which is why I practice at least an hour every day. I would eventually like to play the saxophone and other types of clarinets, such as the E-flat. —Theodore W. Dalfonso Clarinet, YOBC Wind Symphony and Clarinet Ensemble Keeping Tempo

YOBC Concerto Competition’s 20th Anniversary: Andrew Chung Andrew Chung was one of the four original winners of the YOBC Concerto Competition twenty years ago and a member of the inaugural YOBC orchestra. He performed the Bach Double Violin Concerto in D minor with Jill Fleming, his stand partner and a dear friend who he still fondly calls “sis.” At the centerpiece of Andrew’s YOBC experience was Mr. Loughran, who brought his love for musicmaking to a higher level and inspired in him a passion for conducting. Andrew realized early on that the young Mr. Loughran was no run-of-the-mill conductor the first time he asked the musicians to “audiate” their parts. As Mr. Loughran passionately moved his baton in front of a silent orchestra with no one playing, Andrew remembers exchanging a bewildered glance and a few chuckles with Jill. Over time, the pattern of “audiate, vocalize, play” became not only a Mr. Loughran signature method but also a powerful teaching tool that helped the musicians understand the music much more deeply. As a result, Andrew still has vivid

Volume 5, Number 3, February 2014

memories of the way Mr. Loughran interpreted and conducted pieces like Faure’s Pavane, Mendelssohn’s Märchen von der schönen Melusine, Dvorak’s Czech Suite, and Schubert’s Ninth Symphony. During Andrew’s last year with YOBC, he was chosen by Mr. Loughran to serve as the assistant conductor of the new junior division. That fulfilled a dream of leading an orchestra and allowed Andrew to harness all he had learned under Mr. Loughran’s tutelage to connect with a group of young musicians. Andrew still recognizes the wide set of skills he developed through YOBC and the confidence it brought to his other endeavors. Today Andrew is a partner at Khosla Ventures, a well-known venture capital firm that invests in startup companies that have the potential to change the world — across clean energy, health, education, and information technology. As someone who works day in and day out with startups, Andrew admires the courage that folks like Mr. Gimbel, Mr. Loughran, and young Carol Gimbel showed in fostering a musical startup. Beyond the challenges of finding music, mastering repertoire, and delivering concerts, these “startup founders” faced several questions: Where to rehearse? How to recruit musicians? How to structure and fund YOBC? In retrospect, Andrew appreciates the founders’ drive to create an institution that has now lasted for 20+ years and impacted many lives. But what happened to Andrew’s music? After YOBC, Andrew experimented with vocal performance for several years. (That audiation and vocalization really helped!) He was the winner of a national Chinese singing contest in the United States and a finalist in Hong Kong’s version of American Idol. This tempted him to pursue a career in singing, but his interest in the transformative power of business won in the end. However, with the birth of his daughter, Aria,

just over a year ago, Andrew has returned to his first instrument, the piano. He now plays the 18th Variation of the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini for her every day — occasionally matching solfege to the notes as an homage to Mr. Loughran and YOBC.


2014 Benefit Auction & Show presents…


Gourmet hors d’oeuvres Saturday March 1, 6:30 – 10pm

New Hope Winery Cabaret Seating: $75 Gen, $85 VIP TICKETS: or Rehearsal Lobby

Page 5

252 Hollow Branch Lane Yardley, PA 19067 Email:

The YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF BUCKS COUNTY, Pennsyl vania (YOBC) was founded in 1991 with the sponsorship and support of Bucks County Community College . Its mission is to create opportunitie s for young musicians to achieve artistic excellence through enriching classical musical experiences. In 23 seasons the organization has grown fro m a single, 60-member ensemble to 14 ensembles with over 250 young musician s.

New Placement Procedures for Returning YOBC Students Assigning students to the proper ensemble is an important part of what we do at YOBC. Students are evaluated and assigned to the ensemble that best matches their technical, musical, and ensemble skill set. This year, we are making some changes to improve our evaluation process. As part of a more comprehensive method of placement evaluation, YOBC will be moving away from using a single, isolated audition to assess our current musicians’ abilities. Instead, conductors will engage in ongoing evaluation during the rehearsal process of each spring semester. Students will be evaluated on their technical and interpretive level of performance of current YOBC repertoire and on their contribution to the musical ideals of their ensemble. Each student’s individual preparation of concert music will be critical to determining his/her ensemble assignment and advancement. For some instrument groups, this new ongoing evaluation process will replace auditions entirely. Please refer to the Members area of the YOBC website for complete details.

Page 6

Are YOBC ensembles based on age or ability? YOBC ensembles are ability-based. Students are assigned to the ensemble that best matches their technical, musical, and ensemble skill set. Students in each ensemble may vary in age by as much as 4–5 years. Assignment to Advanced Division ensembles is made with additional consideration for ensemble balance and instrumentation. How long will a student stay in each ensemble? Since students’ placement is based on their demonstrated skills, there is no a specific length of time that they will be assigned to spend in each ensemble. As a general rule, students should expect to spend more than one year in each ensemble. When will ensemble assignments be made? Students will be notified of their ensemble placement for the next year after the spring concert. Can students be promoted during the year if they improve? YOBC’s focus is on building the concept of ensemble playing. Therefore, changes to ensemble assignments will

not be made during the school year. It is our expectation that each and every student will be improving throughout the season, and that the ensemble itself will improve and grow musically. What is the right level of challenge for students? The ideal learning environment should offer students a level of challenge that fosters learning. The technical challenges of music represent only a small portion of the musical skills students need to master. Repertoire with limited technical challenge will allow the conductor to focus on the important challenges of playing in tune with themselves and other students; playing a phrase musically; playing with a good, clear sound and correct articulation; and building other ensemble skills. See the Members area of our website for a complete outline of our process and for specific placement procedures.

Keeping Tempo

Keeping Tempo February 2014  

YOBC's quarterly newsletter