That old familiar fall buzz is back at CU Boulder. Students are starting new classes, meeting new roommates, finding new routes through the ever-improving campus grounds.
At the College of Music, the excitement of a new year means more than just fresh repertoire and seating auditions. This year, for the third time since 2013, members of the Cleveland Orchestra are planning a visit to the college from Sept. 11-13. The principal and associate principal players from each section of the renowned orchestra will work side by side with CU students and faculty during what has become one of the most anticipated biennial events on the college’s calendar.
“The opportunity to be coached by members of one of the greatest orchestras in the world and to sit with them, playing repertoire we’re preparing to perform, is invaluable,” says Gary Lewis, director of orchestras and Bob and Judy Charles endowed chair in music. He will lead the CU Symphony Orchestra in a side-by-side rehearsal with the musicians from Cleveland.
“It’s one thing to attend a master class or play excerpts, but to have input based on your performance in an orchestra is really second to none.”
The rehearsal is the culmination of three days of sectional and small-group work. It’s a unique experience that both the students and the professional performers relish.
“The side-by-side rehearsal is the best part,” says clarinet DMA student Jacob Eichhorn, who was here for both of the previous residencies. “Last time they were here, I was playing principal on Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. To my right was [now-retired principal clarinet] Frank Cohen, in front of me was [flutist] Marisela Sager and to my left was [principal bassoonist] Barrick Stees. They taught us so much about how the woodwind section could coalesce and become one unit.”
Cleveland Orchestra Principal Trumpet Michael Sachs, who makes his third trip to the college next month, says the students’ enthusiasm is contagious. “I do a lot of master classes throughout the year, and I love going back to places where the students are charged up and willing to try new things and evolve what they’re doing.
“That curiosity is really strong at CU.”
New on this year’s full slate of events is a special Faculty Tuesday recital featuring members of the College of Music faculty and the visiting musicians. Associate Professor of Clarinet Daniel Silver is one of the performers. A Cleveland native himself, even this seasoned performer says he’s a bit starstruck at the thought of working with clarinetist Dan McKelway.
“By any standard, the Cleveland Orchestra has for decades been considered one of the greatest in the world. It happens to be my hometown orchestra, so I grew up in the town with one of the greatest orchestras of all time,” Silver says.
“Faculty Tuesday will be a treat because when you combine these internationally known performers with our fine faculty, there will be a friendly rising to the occasion.”
Faculty performers aren’t the only members of the college community rising to the occasion. Senior violist Allyson Stibbards distinctly remembers the extra preparation she did for 2015’s residency. “I was definitely a little bit nervous. I got to play in the master class for strings, and I wanted to be really ready for that. But situations like that make you a better player.”
And teaching situations make you a better orchestral performer, says Marisela Sager, assistant principal flute for the Cleveland Orchestra. “Education is definitely a priority for us. Performing shouldn’t exist in a bubble of its own.
“It’s also a two-way street,” she adds. “When we teach young musicians, we’re there to share our knowledge, but we also get to soak up all of the energy from the students and professors. The energy exchange is really great.”
For Sachs, the atmosphere at the College of Music adds to the learning experience for the members of the orchestra. “I’m always inspired when I go to Boulder, and I’m always learning. The fact that we were invited in the first place, under these unique circumstances, sets a welcoming tone that you want to come back to.”
“It’s a terrific joy to be a part of this partnership,” Silver says. “It creates a ripple effect throughout the college and in the broader community. I think most of the faculty feel a real sense of gratitude to be in a place that can pull something like this together.”
The residency was made possible by a $150,000 pledge from The Clinton Family Fund. Bruce Clinton is a longtime philanthropist and supporter of orchestras nationwide. The Clinton Family Fund’s commitment supports this year’s residency and two more in the future at a higher level as part of the Daniel P. Sher Master Class Program.
Faculty Tuesday with guests from the Cleveland Orchestra is Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall. The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, visit cupresents.org.