Orchestral students and faculty at the College of Music are winding down a busy and exciting week. For three days—September 14-16—15 members of the renowned Cleveland Orchestra were in residence here; the halls of Imig Music were filled with new voices, new perspectives and new ideas to help students on their road to the professional music world.
“It brings a different energy to school,” says sophomore bassoon performance major John Kempsell. “To play for someone who isn’t your teacher, who hasn’t heard you play every day for the last couple of years, has been a great learning experience.”
For the second time since 2013, principal players of the Cleveland Orchestra came to Boulder for three days of master classes, panel discussions and side-by-side rehearsals, working with large ensembles and individual sections alike.
Principal Second Violin Stephen Rose says this week has been a way to supplement the world-class education students receive here. “The students receive wonderful instruction throughout the year. We really enjoy adding to that by imparting the experience we’ve had as orchestral musicians, and everything that goes along with it.
In several cases, master classes encompassed multiple sections. Principal Timpani Paul Yancich and Principal Trumpet Michael Sachs taught percussion and trumpet students together. “That gives students an idea of not only what it takes to become a member of the orchestra, but maybe more importantly what the job is like and how we work together,” says Rose.
For students, it’s been a transformative experience. “They’ve been really hands-on,” says senior tuba performance major Brian Kemble. “I think the biggest lesson I learned was when one of the musicians leaned in close, while I was playing, and reminded me to really experience the music. That was really powerful.”
The string sectional work with Rose and First Associate Concertmaster Peter Otto made a lasting impression on sophomore violinists Danielle Valdez and Allison Charles. “We think of these professional musicians as if they’re on a pedestal,” says Charles. “But getting to work with them that closely we learned that they’re just regular people who happen to be really, really good musicians. The experience made me more excited to maybe be in that same position some day.”
“I learned the importance of communication,” adds Valdez. “It can make all the difference during rehearsal and performance.”
For College of Music faculty, the week has been a chance to reconnect with colleagues in a new setting. Assistant Professor of Violin Harumi Rhodes knows Principal Cello Mark Kosower from college. “We played in a student string quartet together and were reunited this summer when we both served as faculty mentors at the Toronto Summer Music Academy,” says Rhodes.
“Being able to work together again through our mutual students at CU is the kind of connection that makes the music world so vast and so intimate at the same time!”
In addition to providing tips on technique and performance, visiting orchestra members led a discussion on audition strategies during a Career Launchpad event, held weekly by the Entrepreneurship Center for Music. Finally, members of the local community got a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of these professional musicians during a public panel discussion.
“This week's visit from members of the Cleveland Orchestra has fully met and exceeded our expectations,” says Dean Robert Shay. “They have energized our students' experiences and given them a lot to think about for the future.
“It's a great example of the College of Music advantage—how we are able to augment our excellent core training with really meaningful exposure to the professional world.”
The residency was made possible by several donations, chief among them from The Clinton Family Fund. Bruce Clinton is a longtime philanthropist and supporter of orchestras nationwide.