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"What You Can Only Get From an Orchestra!"
Adult Music Enrichment Classes
Beginning Monday night, March 18, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra is offering weekly music appreciation classes that are meant to help listeners understand and therefore further enjoy JSO concerts. The five-week sequence of classes titled “What You Can Only Get From an Orchestra!” takes a look at "Why all those musicians?;" "All those people and only two playing!;" "Let's add a soloist!;" "Let's add a chorus!;" "Guided tours."
The classes will be held on Wednesday evenings, March 18, 25, April 8, 15, 22, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the JSO’s Performing Arts Center, 215 W. Michigan Ave., downtown Jackson. Anyone who loves music and wants to enjoy concerts even more should attend these classes. The instructor is Dr. Andrew Mead, professor of Music Theory, University of Michigan. He is also a composer, church organist, member of the JSO Board of Directors and resident of Brooklyn.
Mead describes “What You Can Only Get From an Orchestra” this way:
An orchestra is a large, complex organization of specialized players, each extensively trained, who come together to make music. Putting such an ensemble together takes a lot of effort, time and money. These five lectures explore why we persist in taking the trouble to form orchestras, by looking at what they contribute to our pleasure in music.
1: Do you really need all those people?
Complaints of inefficiency have sometimes been leveled against the orchestra; after all, it takes the same number of musicians now to perform a Beethoven symphony as it did two hundred years ago. And given that even a piece as large as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring can be successfully presented by two pianists, it would seem foolish to continue to hire over one hundred players to perform it. The lecture, the first of two on this subject, begins to explore the qualities of sound that emerge from a large ensemble.
2: If there are one hundred people on stage, why are only two people playing?
Continuing the discussion from the first lecture, we examine the consequences and opportunities for sound color and quality provided by the orchestra.
3: Let’s add a soloist!
By featuring a particular player, either as a guest, or as an emphasized member of the orchestra, we can further explore the social and musical dynamics of the large ensemble. A quick tour of the history of the concerto will illustrate the wide variety of ways a solo presence and emerge from and enhance our experience of the orchestra.
4: Let’s add a chorus!
If much of the impact of an orchestra comes from the sound of many people playing together, then it is possible to enhance that impression by adding a mass of people singing with the orchestra. The effects can be overwhelming – it would be difficult to recreate our experience of the finale of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with four singers and a synthesizer, even though we could easily produce all the notes that way. Nor is volume enough: nowadays with amplifiers that go up to eleven, a single musician can drown out a full orchestra. The lecture explores some of the reasons we persist in our desire to hear live performances of the orchestral and choral repertoire.
5: Guided tours.
The last lecture pulls together a number of the features of the first four classes to offer a set of guided tours through some favorites of the orchestral repertoire.
There is a fee of $50 per person, including materials, for all five classes.
Space is limited.
To register, call the JSO office at 517-782-3221, ext. 118
or sign up online at firstname.lastname@example.org.