BSO Musician Newsletter

Welcome to the Baltimore Symphony Musicians’ newsletter. You are receiving this newsletter because you are a friend of the musicians that comprise the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. We are your neighbors, your friends, your children’s music teachers and an integral part of the Maryland community. With this newsletter, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and, we hope to connect more personally with you.

Moonlighting by Candlelight 

Twenty Years of Chamber Music at Second Presbyterian

Ivan Stefanović, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director, Chamber Music by Candlelight

Many of you know that most BSO musicians, in addition to teaching at various fine institutions in and around Baltimore, also play in a number of concert series and ensembles. One such series is Chamber Music by Candlelight, which features exclusively BSO members, regular substitutes, as well as a few guest musicians. Here is an insider’s look at how a season of this series gets created. Chamber music is often cited as a favorite outlet for musicians. In a beautiful way, it combines our love of collective music making with an opportunity to show our musical individuality, an opportunity which is stronger than the one offered to us in a symphonic setting. One often doesn’t realize that playing in an orchestra is really playing chamber music on a larger scale. Therefore, playing in these smaller ensembles lets us get to know each other as individuals, both personally and musically, at a level which will then allow us to make the minute and numerous adjustments required for the high level of music making present at the BSO. In this way chamber music simply makes us much better symphonic musicians. In addition, the repertoire is as vast as it is beautiful and varied, and audiences are presented with a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the wonders of live music making. They can observe every gesture, body movement and facial expression that are used to create a moving and entertaining performance. 

Chamber Music by Candlelight (CMC) is a branch of Community Concerts at Second (CCS), a series of concerts that takes place in the visually and acoustically beautiful Second Presbyterian Church, just north of the Johns Hopkins’ Homewoood Campus. It was started over twenty years ago, when the church’s then-organist and music director, Margaret Budd, wisely and generously suggested to BSO violinist Ellen Pendleton Troyer that BSO members might like to have a place to play chamber music in town. BSO violist and fellow Co-Founder Peter Minkler and I started the wheels moving soon thereafter, and the series quickly established itself as a premier chamber music venue in the Baltimore and Washington region, lauded for the high quality of playing and diverse programming. Clarinetist Eddie Palanker took over for Peter after a while, and since his retirement I have been joined by BSO flutist Marcia Kämper in my duties as Co-Artistic Director of the series. 

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Two Stalemates and One Unsatisfying Resolution

By Brian Prechtl

For those who love the incredible gems that are our major American symphony orchestras it’s valuable to observe the struggles we see in other communities across the country.  We have witnessed three work actions in several International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) orchestras this fall.  Take a few minutes to learn about the situations in the ongoing strikes at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as well as the brief strike and subsequent settlement at the Philadelphia Orchestra.It is only through the dedicated work of standing up for the hard fought gains of the past 100 plus years that these cultural icons can be maintained at a standard equal to the artistic brilliance of the works of art that they bring to life nightly on the stages of our great American cities.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
The following quotes come from the :

“The Fort Worth strike has taken 15 months to reach the current dead end situation. In 2010 the musicians accepted a 13.5% cut to help face recessionary economic conditions. But today, Fort Worth is one of the most thriving and growing cities in the nation, ticket sales are on the rise and the orchestra is consistently garnering positive reviews. Reducing the budget has already caused musicians to leave the orchestra at twice the rate of the previous decade, and musicians refuse to agree to more damaging cuts. There must be a plan for growth, and the FWSO does not currently have a strategic plan beyond 2017.

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Invitation to the Dance

Thirty Years of Playing For English Country Dancing, From Church Basements To Ballrooms

By Jonathan Jensen

Even if you’ve never heard of English country dancing, you’ve probably seen it – that is, if you’ve watched a ballroom scene from one of those Jane Austen movies. This form of communal dance in which sets of couples move to the prompting of a caller had its genesis in the late Elizabethan era, and eventually led to such American offshoots as square dancing and New England contradance. Revived in the U.K. in the early 20th century, English country dance has been growing in popularity on this continent over the last few decades. Baltimore is only one of dozens of American and Canadian cities where one can participate in regular ECD sessions with live musicians. I arrived at the Baltimore Symphony just as the local dance group was getting established, and for the last 30+ years playing for dances has become practically my second career, as well as providing me with an international circle of friends and introducing me to my wife.

Soon after I joined the BSO as a bassist in 1983 I was approached by violinist Wayne Taylor who had been playing folk music with his wife Marty, a music teacher who played flute and concertina. Wayne enjoyed playing fiddle tunes on mandolin and banjo as well as violin, and when he discovered I played piano by ear he suggested I join the Taylors to form a trio. After a few practice sessions we played for our first English country dance in January of 1984. We billed ourselves as “Devil Among the Taylors” after the title of a well-known fiddle tune. I was taken with the beautiful, centuries-old melodies that accompanied the dances (some composed by Henry Purcell), and enjoyed applying my knowledge of classical music to dress them up with appropriate harmonies and melodic variations.

The Baltimore ECD community at that time was small but enthusiastic. Other such dance groups had formed elsewhere, and before long our trio was called on to play for dances, workshops and balls in such places as Williamsburg, VA, Washington D.C. and New York City. I also began writing tunes in the style of the traditional tunes we played, and dance instructors began devising dance steps to go with them.

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