One of the perks of being a CMPI fellow is access to complimentary tickets throughout the year to attend Chicago Sinfonietta and Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances. CMPI fellows are required to attend a minimum of six professional performances annually and we collect concert reports on two of these performances twice a year. The first round of reports was due on October 1. During their time in CMPI, our fellows develop into intelligent, thoughtful, and imaginative writers about music. This is just one of the many ways that CMPI fellows are exceptional and are set up to excel in college and beyond. Enjoy some of what they had to say about performances they heard so far this year.
Chicago Sinfonietta: Sounds of Dance
September 8, 2021 at Ravinia
Samuella-Divine Booker-Alley, 11th grade clarinetist
Overall the experience was magical, from the music to the stage presence of the conductor. I love how gentle all the players were with their instruments, allowing them to flow through the notes with ease. Their notes sounded mature like German chocolate flowing through the machine or fine wine. I also love the diversity of the pieces, it made me want to dance….
My favorite piece is The Moldau from My Fatherland by Dvořák. The complexities in this piece had my soul rising. The beginning are the flutes and clarinets bouncing off each and the strings coming, too. It’s like all the animals of the forest are going through a journey to rejoice. The melody is like all the elements of the forest harmonizing with one another.
Tayo Akinyemi, 9th grade cellist
One of the pieces played at the concert was Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt who was a Hungarian pianist, composer, and conductor. The piece was composed between 1846 and 1853 and was part of the 19 rhapsodies written by Franz Liszt. The piece begins with a dramatic opening, featuring strings and clarinets playing the melody. I liked this part especially because I instantly recognized the melody from a Bugs Bunny episode called “Rhapsody Rabbit” (1946). The piece later turns into a more vivid and more exciting melody featuring the brass and the entire orchestra in accompaniment to the march-like sounds of the trumpets and trombones. The piece concludes to a loud and sudden ending from the brass. I really enjoyed the piece and the nostalgia it brought with it.
Diego Carillo, 10th grade clarinetist
“Danse Negre” from Africa Suite
With an entrance that begins with high woodwind 16th note pickups to a strong, booming forte, the concert begins, valiantly, the forward motion picks up as the main melody kicks in. Suddenly, my brain switches between 3 different moods as each individual section of the orchestra plays its own melody. The bassoons carry the eerie main line for 2 measures, then the strings play similar low lines but in a less demanding, tense way. After that, everyone suddenly merges their musical lines, carrying the same melody but in variations. The piece itself presents a bright and fresh tonality, but considering the presented physical acoustics of the room, I was not expecting such a bold and vibrant sound from the orchestra.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Muti Conducts Saint-Georges, Price & Beethoven 3
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Aleo Esparza, 11th grade percussionist
The timpani is a center stone of a Beethoven symphony. Playing timpani on a Beethoven symphony is a percussionist’s dream, especially on his Third Symphony. David Herbert on timpani was awesome to see, especially after two years of missing these concerts. The rhythm, style, and melody of the timpani part almost completely mimicked the brass throughout the piece, with the doubling of certain parts in the piece such as the main melody in the first movement. The movement that was the most different from the other was the second movement. In this movement, I would say the timpani was mostly with the trumpets, but something interesting that I noticed was that the timpani would also finish the melody. For example, in this movement, the flutes play a descending line, and the timpani plays the last note of that line. That gives the movement a fascinating effect. Finally, I paid most attention to David Herbert’s technique in the Finale. The main thing I noted was how he starts a roll and the amount of lift he uses when playing loudly. On rolls, he breaks at the wrist, uses his forearm, and lifts the mallets up to his ears. For the amount of lift, his mallets lift very high; granted there was a little bit of showmanship in it as well, but overall, a very high lift and a lot of it with his wrist. Also, he uses the thumb up technique to execute this.
Heidi Murillo, 11th grade violinist
The Andante moderato was a very important piece because the composer, Florence Price, was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphony composer. To begin with, the violins had a great open sound. I loved how slow and expressive this piece was. I enjoyed hearing how the violins fit with the other instruments and how they balanced a beautiful sound. The movement started off with the strings playing arco and then it changed to the violins doing pizzicato. The second instrument that I paid close attention to were the violas. The violas in the middle section were mirroring the violins in just a lower tone. I also thought that the orchestra played very gracefully and sweetly. They used full bows and their style was warm and expressive with a clear tone.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Bullock Debuts with Mahler
Thursday, July 22, 2021 at Ravinia
Anika Veda, 12th grade flutist
The first piece on the program was Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major, or “Classical” Symphony. Prokofiev named the piece “Classical” Symphony because he wanted to write a symphony in a classical form but with 20th century harmonies, also known as neoclassicism. I enjoyed hearing the different stylistic influences within this piece, such as the daintiness of the first movement, much like what you would find in the eras of Mozart or Haydn. I noticed this quality with the note lengths, as all of the notes were short with a taper, yet not too clipped. I loved the beautiful melody of the second movement that slowly spread throughout the whole orchestra. My favorite moment out of the whole concert was when the high strings entered with the melody at the beginning, as the effect set the scene for the color palette of the movement. The flute solo sounded ethereal and dreamy, matching the effervescent tone quality of the rest of the orchestra. I was also in awe of the last movement, not only because of the fast tempo, but because of the coordination between the first and second flute when they had the alternating eighth notes. From my seat, I could not see the individual musicians, so it sounded as if one flute were playing it.
Top: CMPI Families at Ravinia
From Top: Samuella-Divine Booker-Alley, Tayo Akinyemi, Diego Carillo, Aleo Esparza, Heidi Murillo, Anika Veda