Monday, June 19, 2006

Community Orchestras in New York City (or: "my ACTUAL participation in the Arts")

According to the American Art establishment, "Participation in the Arts" refers to the audience. I am not exactly sure why do they call it participation. I am not sure either what are the people playing in the many community orchestras in New York City doing. It seems like they are participating, but they are certainly not the audience...

Since I restarted playing in New York, I have participated in 5 orchestras, from filling in for one rehearsal to a whole season. This are "my" orchestras in New York City:

The 92nd Street Y Workshop Orchestra (John Yaffe', Artistic Director): At their 89th year, this orchestra is dedicated to read repertoire each Sunday morning (new repertoire every week). I've played so many things, from Respighi's the Pines of Rome, to Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and from Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra to Holst "the Planets". Only two public concerts per year, but exciting stuff every Sunday!

At the 92nd Y Orchestra, I met Alan Bergman, a copyright lawyer, jazz drummer and timpanist/President of the board of the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble Orchestra, (Sybille Werner, Music Director). I have played two concerts and covered Alan in a couple of rehearsals. There I have played music from Sibelius, Frede Grofe (Grand Canyon), among others.

Also through Alan I was introduced to David Leibowitz, Music director of the New York Repertory Orchestra. With them I only played one Timpani gig, and my debut at the Radio City Muysic Hall! There we played at the 2006 Chinese New Year Global Gala. Not my dream debut at that venue, but was a fun experience.

Through my collegue James Eng at the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra office, I was invited to play at the Musica Bella Orchestra of New York (Philip Gaskill, Music Director). Unfortunately, Two orchestras had their concerts on the same day, so I couldn't continue with Musica Bella...

Lastly, last week, James invited me to perform at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Community Orchestra, this past weekend. I played only in "The Swan Lake", but the orchestra also played Mozart's Don Giovanni Overture and the Brahms Violin Concerto.

And it seems like there are a lot more of orchestras like this all over the United States. High-brow arts people look down at this arts community, stupidly, I have to say, since this are really valuable potential audience and should be the real connection between the large professional arts organizations and their communities.

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