Miami Residency Begins

Saturday, January 23, 2010 ·

The Cleveland Orchestra's fourth Miami Residency began on Thursday, January 21, at the New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami and at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

At the New World School of the Arts, students are selected by audition to the school for professional programs in dance, music, theater, and visual arts. There are 480 high school students and a college program.

Assistant Conductor Tito Muñoz led a rehearsal of the high school Symphony Orchestra. Here's what Tito had to say:

"My first stop in Miami after I landed at the airport was the New World School of the Arts, where I worked with their symphony orchestra on Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. What a fantastic group of young musicians! They were well prepared, very attentive and incredibly eager to make great music.

We began the rehearsal playing through the entire piece. In this piece, Elgar presents us with a beautiful and introspective theme, and then 14 variations on that theme; each variation being an affectionate portrayal of people closest to him. As we worked on the different variations, I described each person to them, and what Elgar was hoping to portray about them with the music. It was so much fun helping the orchestra discover all the details in each section, and they responded beautifully, with eagerness and vitality in their playing.

It was also wonderful to learn that many of the players had already done their homework and knew a lot of the story behind the work, but when we finally arrived at the famous "Nimrod" variation, there was the inevitable chuckle in the orchestra when I kept referring to the movement as Nimrod. So with a grin I asked them if they knew why the movement had that name. I saw lots of heads shaking, but no nods. So I first braced them for a little bit of a let down; no numbskulls here. I explained that in this instance, Elgar is referring to the Biblical Mesopotamian monarch mentioned in the Book of Genesis, who is described as "a mighty hunter before the Lord." One of Elgar's very close friends is named Augustus Jaeger, and Jaeger is German for hunter. This movement is a very loving "thank you" to Jaeger for helping Elgar through an emotionally uneasy time in his life.

The reality, however, was that no matter what Elgar was trying to say in his music, having that extra knowledge about it always came through in the young musicians' playing. I had such a wonderful time collaborating with them, and I left the session with a sense of inspiration, and anticipation of what this generation of talented young musicians will soon offer all of us."

At the Frost School, violinist Leila Josefowicz gave a masterclass for students. She worked with them individually on technique and style prior to her performances with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23 in Thomas Adès's Concentric Paths. Read the review here. In Miami, Ms. Josefowicz also appeared on NBC TV's South Florida Today.


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