Beethoven “Eroica”

            Last week, I was able to see two performances of this concert, one being the rehearsal the night before and the other being the concert on Friday night. Both were simply beautiful, however the official concert performance was exquisite. As I’ve said in the past, I love going to the rehearsals to get a taste of what the concerts would be like, but given the opportunity to go to the concert the next night, I couldn’t let this pass me by.

The musical ability of the performers never fails to shine through, even on a rehearsal night. The winds section, particularly the piccolo, really got to show their stuff, keeping a feather light and gossamer tone in the first piece of the night by Ravel. Then, the orchestra was joined by the incredibly talented, Kim Valerio on the flute. She performed as soloist for both Griffes’ Poem for Flute and Orchestra and Doppler’s Fastasie Pastorale Hongroise. Valerio and the orchestra brought the stories of these pieces to life. Griffes’ piece uses varying themes from Asian culture, but keeping the soloist in the spotlight and the orchestra light and delicate to not overpower the flute. Doppler’s piece held more of a gypsy like tone, filled with variations and embellishments, which Valerio played without flaw. The last piece performed was Beethoven’s Eroica, which was a revolutionary piece in the time of its composing and the orchestra played it spectacularly.

Now that I’ve seen the concert performances, I sincerely recommend going to see them. The rehearsals pale in comparison to the unity and continuity of the concert performances. Seeing the whole orchestra dress and move together as they play their music is awe-inspiring. There’s nothing like it. I would gladly see them perform every month, given the chance to do so.

-Samantha Balazs – ASO Tweet Seats Student

Opening Night at the ASO

What’s the first sound, image, or memory that you visualize when you hear the words “Symphony Orchestra?”

When I hear the words “Symphony Orchestra” I think of music from video games like the Legend of Zelda, Pikmin, Halo or classic sci-fi like Star Wars , Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Going to the rehearsal of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra was probably one of the best life investments so far. The music was very elegant and it sounded as if they had practiced together for years. I had no idea what to expect but whatever my expectation was prior to hearing the ASO perform was shot out of the window on the top floor of the Empire State building. This amazing group of people played a magnificent piece called Nights in the Gardens of Spain, currently a personal favorite of mine as is Brahms: Serenade No. 1. If you’re not a fan of classical music, Angela Cheng (pianist) and the ASO are sure to change your perspective with a piece by Carl Nielsen entitled Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable.” The music takes your mind to a different place when you hear this fine group play the music; it’s almost as if they’re playing soundtracks from the memories or dreams of a predecessor. Anyone who missed the Opening Night Fireworks on October 17th and 18th surely missed out on an awe inspiring performance but fret not because on November 14th and 15th the ASO and Kimberly Valerio (flute) will be performing at the Maryland Hall of Creative Arts, with more to come in the near future. If you want to send them positive feedback you can do so on twitter @AnnapSymphony.

Parris Groover –  ASO Tweet Seats Student

Opening Night Fireworks

As the program cover states, “ASO. Experience it like never before” the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra has revamped itself for this concert season. The moment you walk into the concert hall, you’re greeted with a brand new design to the stage, which completely changed the sound of the orchestra for the better. The moment the orchestra started on the first movement in Händel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, I was swept away by the music. The new stage shell combined with the skill of the members of the orchestra created such a captivating sound that I found it hard to leave later that night. It was absolutely astounding. The rich tones were only magnified from the experience I had last season.

After the Royal Fireworks, the orchestra, along with the piano soloist Angela Cheng, set off to play Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain. Once again astounding me and hopefully the other viewers that night. Starting with a soft introduction, then diving into a more intense sound, transitioning to and fro throughout the works. Angela Cheng leading the orchestra through with amazing grace and skill on the piano. It was such a joy to witness.

The next symphony, Symphony No. 4, op.29 “The Inextinguishable” by Carl Nielsen, was a rush from the start. However the orchestra was able to transition away from that intensity seamlessly within the first few minutes of the first movement. Then, returning to that dense sound once again without flaw. The next movement proved to be a stark contrast from the first, remaining on the softer side and included delicate pizzicato. This piece really showcased the skill of the people on that stage. It featured each part of the orchestra, enabling them to show their strength, especially during the finale.

It was an absolutely incredible performance to behold. I can’t wait for the rest of the season.

Samantha Balazs – ASO Tweet Seats Student

Nakamatsu Plays Rachmaninov

What an amazing display of skill by the orchestra and piano soloist Jon Nakamatsu for the Annapolis Symphony’s season finale. It included the most impressive performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 in D Minor, Op. 30 I have ever witnessed, a delightful execution of Jesús Guridi’s Diez Melodías Vascas and an exciting play of Maurice Ravel’s La Valse.

The orchestra’s and Nakamatsu’s performance of Rachmaninov was absolutely incredible. I have never seen the piano played so passionately and still retain its graceful nature. The piano cadenza was masterfully done. And the way the orchestra played off the piano’s notes was just as skillful.

The second piece, Jesús Guridi’s Diez Melodías Vascas, was much more simple then the last, but still just as beautiful. As the title says, the piece was composed of ten basque melodies that the Annapolis Symphony brought to life in abundant and rich sound

The last piece of the night, Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, was much more dramatic then the last. It was very exciting watching the orchestra come together in a loud and powerful finale. The Symphony was able to set the mood to a grand story ending in a terrific whirlwind of sound.

This season finale for the ASO was wonderful to witness, strong all around and showing an incredibly amount of skill from all the members of the orchestra. I was told this concert was going to be the best one yet, and what I saw and heard on Thursday proved that statement

Anne Arundel Community College’s Tweet Seats Student

Samantha Balazs

Regional Reflections

On Thursday, April 3rd, I once again visited Maryland Hall to sit in on the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s dress rehearsal. This time however, I got to experience Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with violin soloist Soovin Kim as well as Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Op. 60. And I certainly was not disappointed by the Symphony’s performance of both.

The first half of the performance was filled by the wonderfully expressive sounds of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. I was incredibly impressed by the talent and passion shown by Soovin Kim, their soloist for this performance. He was amazing to watch as well as listen to in his process of creating beautiful music. Kim brought the orchestra in for the rising points of the piece as well as the climax, but never did the orchestra overpower the soloist. The second movement of the concerto had a more haunting theme to it, but was performed phenomenally by the orchestra. The movement consisted of the soloist playing a few measures of music then allowing a group of instruments answer back. Throughout the piece different groups of instruments played along after the violin solos, resulting in a seamless tone change each time.

The rest of the concert involved Dvořák’s Symphony which was a much more jovial piece compared to the last. And the orchestra played it exquisitely. The lively music filled the hall with the sound of a gorgeous major key. The orchestra was able to create an incredible build up multiple times throughout the piece, but before the climax of each, the orchestra would decrescendo back down to continue through the performance. The finale was a great unity of sound, resulting in the end of an awe-inspiring performance.

This weekend’s concert was definitely one to witness and as always, I look forward to seeing the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra perform again in the future.

Anne Arundel Community College’s Tweet Seats Student

Samantha Balazs

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s April 4-5 Concert

ASO Guest Blogger, Pamela Stevens

I am always amazed with how the creative parts of our brains respond to music. Researchers say that the brain is a “pattern recognition machine.” My experience listening to last night’s ASO rehearsal is in complete support of this idea that our brains do create, respond to and recognize patterns. Music Director, Jose-Luis Novo, programed two works that come from like-region composers: Bartok Violin concerto No. 2, and Dvorak Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Op. 60. Both pieces spurred unique, creative and opposing images in my mind: one that was more free-form and continuously evolving; and one that was more pictorial, programmatic and realistic.

Let me share what I mean. From the start of the Bartok Violin Concerto I noticed a constant flowing and shifting of the music. Through all three movements I kept thinking: magical, mystical, ethereal, dreamy and dramatic. It wasn’t until the second movement that I termed this music as “kaleidoscope music.” Like the concerto, every turn of the “cylinder” created a new vision.

kaleidoscopeThe music that entered my ears created ongoing patterns of color much like the light reflecting off the mirrors of a kaleidoscope. In fact, the derivative parts of the word kaleidoscope mean “observation of beautiful forms.” Quite the appropriate term for this music. There is no doubt that audiences will be mystified and awed. The soloist, Soovin Kim, has an extraordinary technique that matches the grueling accuracy needed to play such a difficult piece. His interpretation bridged the concepts of music and creative brain patterns.soovin with aso

pink balloonAn event to note during the rehearsal of the Bartok: a pink balloon and was floating in and out of the stage lights right above the heads of the musicians. It seemed deliberately planned as a visual representation of the music: as magical and mysterious as the violin concerto was, so too was the appearance and movement of this pink balloon – until it popped!

The Dvorak created a related yet different mental image. I found the Symphony in D Major to be very image-inducing like the Bartok. The difference being that it is much more programmatic and pictorial, almost like it were telling a story of folk life. I found myself more able to create a story with the symphony than with the concerto. The melodies were more memorable and lighthearted, and it was a nice contrast to the Bartok.

I am grateful for this brief trip to the land of Bartok and Dvorak. The imagery that resulted from listening to these great works was truly brain-stimulating. I was able to create patterns, light, color, landscape and story all from the way my brain responded to this wonderful music. I look forward to my next “reflection” with the ASO.

ASO Guest Blogger, Pamela Stevenspam headshot (4)

View Pam’s Full Blog

My First Visit to the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra – by Samantha Balazs

On Thursday the 27th, I visited Maryland Hall in order to listen in on the ASO’s dress rehearsal for their concert coming up that weekend. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to be hearing, but I’m certainly glad I attended. It was a spectacular performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.

At first I was concerned, there was a pretty big turn out just for a dress rehearsal, made up of mostly young children. I had found out that the children were actually young musicians from the nearby schools, who I hope enjoyed the concert as much as I did.

The first symphony performed, the Bruckner, ran just over an hour long, and what an hour it was. Starting off with a very exquisite first movement, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra played the music as if was the telling of a story. Their sound encompassed the entire hall, silencing the listeners who seemed awe-struck by the beautiful music. The second movement, being a bit more solemn but still just as exciting as the first in its own way, was performed so flawlessly I could have been lolled to sleep by the gentle tones and soft bow strokes. The third and forth movements were much more grandiose compared to the ones before. The full orchestra did an amazing job of bringing the music to life and drawing in the listeners. I was amazed after the final chord, not simply because of the power of the last few notes, but because of the magnificent music I was able to experience first hand from this orchestra.

The second symphony, Mozart’s Symphony No. 36, was definitely much more light-hearted then Bruckner’s. Being such, I favored it out of the two. And it was performed magnificently. The way each section transitioned and played off one another was breathtaking. The Symphony’s performance of just the first movement brought a smile to my face. Sadly the end of this symphony came too soon. And although Music Director José-Luis Novo was quick to fix minor mistakes, it all seemed so flawlessly performed to me.

The Bruckner and Mozart concert was sure to be loved, I know I enjoyed it greatly. I left the concert hall that night will chills down my back and not just from the cold. I wish I could have heard it all again that weekend during their concerts. I greatly look forward to hearing the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra perform again in the upcoming months. I hope to be absolutely blown away once again.

-Samantha Balazs, ASO Tweet Seat Student

A NIGHT WITH THE ASO AND PETER SERKIN

My fascination with the upcoming Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s November 1 & 2 concerts began well before I attended the dress rehearsal.  Who can resist Peter Serkin?!  And, how clever, the “Three B’s”! Here is the spoiler alert: the Three B’s are not what you might have been expecting (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms); once again they take their own creative twist on the Three B’s: Brahms, Bridge and Britten.  I was hooked, that was for sure.  Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am an advocate of live music.  There is no technology out there, in my opinion, which can replace the true brilliance and experience of a live music performance.

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ASO Extends Music Director Contract

Jose-Luis Novo

José-Luis Novo, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is pleased to announce the extension of its contract with José-Luis Novo, engaging him for another five years as Music Director. Under the direction of Maestro Novo since 2005, the ASO has experienced unprecedented artistic growth and enthusiastic reviews from audiences, press and music critics.

“It is a tremendous coup for our organization and the community that Maestro Novo will continue his career here in Annapolis,” remarks Katharene Poston Snavely, ASO Executive Director. “He is a great asset to not only the orchestra but to the arts community at large.” Continue reading