Tour of Color
Montclair Orchestra Season finale concert
Includes Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin;” Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana’ Suite;” Mozart’s “Serenata Notturna;” Milhaud’s “Le bœuf sur le toit.”
Sunday, May 13, 7 p.m.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 73 South Fullerton Ave.
For tickets and information, visit montclairorchestra.org.
By GWEN OREL
Montclair Orchestra will end its first season on a high note.
The orchestra’s first season has been incredibly well-received, with attendance exceeding expectations as hundreds turned up at each event, said president and chairman Andre Weker.
The final concert takes place on Sunday, May 13. It is called “Tour of Color” because “orchestrationally speaking it’s such a colorful program,” said Music Director David Chan.
Maurice Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin” was originally written for piano and orchestrated later. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana” is based on Mozart pieces, also written for piano and orchestrated “with the full palette of the orchestra,” and the piece that is by Mozart is a string piece with kettle drums, “which makes for fantastic color,” Chan said.
The final piece, by Darius Milhaud (pronounced Mee-yode), “Le Boeuf sur le Troit,” or “The Ox on the Roof,” gave birth to a cafe in Paris of the same name, and was originally written to be the score of a never made Charlie Chaplin film. “With the weather coming around, a really brightly colored program would be what the doctor ordered. And when you hear ‘The Ox on the Roof,’ it’s like the Macy’s parade just rolled through your town. It’s really boisterous. So I think it’s the way to go cheering off into the summer,” Chan said.
The make-up for this concert will be about 48 players, a mix of professionals and students, Weker said. It is about 60 percent professional, and 40 percent students and avocational players. Some of the professionals come from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where Chan is concert master; some are from the New York Philharmonic; some are local freelancers, and then there are the students.
TOGETHER IN THE CANDY SHOP
“The thing that has been most remarkable, and stands out, is participation of the student fellows, and what they have brought, and what this has meant to them,” Weker said.
French Horn player Michelle Baker, a Woodland Park resident who teaches at Montclair State University, said she wishes she had that opportunity when she was a student. “Plus they get paid,” Baker said with a laugh. The students were chosen by audition, and fit in well, she said.
And the “students add the enthusiasm level. They’re so excited, and learning so much from David. And of course that is contagious,” she said.
For 26-year-old Aurora Mendez, who is studying violin at the Cali School, the chance to play with professionals is inspiring. It is her first time playing with a professional ensemble in the United States. She had previously played with an orchestra in Chile, where her father is from.
“This amazing and incomparable experience, playing with a strong cohort of some of New York’s finest players, members of the Met and members of the New York Phil, is unlike any other fellowship that exists,” Mendez said.
As a result, her own playing, confidence, and understanding of the music has jumped a level. “So I am just a kid in a candy shop.
“Being able to talk to the principal second of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, or talk to David Chan the conductor, is like going to the gym with some of the major Olympians, I don’t know, some of the gold medal winners,” she said with a laugh.
Mendez was a little intimidated in rehearsals for the first concert back in October. She thought, “oh my gosh, what am I doing here.” Then she realized that MO had created the
student fellows with the intention to bring the students together with the professionals and learn from them. “And really, the results after each concert just blows me away. The level is astounding and the people love it. I mean the first concert I remember we got a standing ovation and it’s because the level the preparation was so great.”
Playing in a practice room, or for her teacher, is completely different from rehearsing and performing with these musicians at the top of their game, she said. For example, she had a question about the Shostokovich pieces played in “Contrasts,” a concert in March. Chan, who, as concert master of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, is a virtuoso violinist, not only told her how to do it, he demonstrated.
It’s like the difference between learning Russian from a book or from a native speaker: “You want to ideally speak with a proper accent, or you know there are diphthongs that happen in that language or whatever.” she said. “He basically took something that was complex and he made it super simple for me.”