Midwest Young Artists: Why Participate in the Walgreens Concerto Competition?

Dr. D has spent two days listening to 65 students from MYA's Orchestra Program compete in the 16th. Annual Walgreens National Concerto Competition at Bennett Gordon Hall at Ravinia.  We asked him to share his thoughts about competition.

Why should students participate in the Walgreens Concerto Competition?  Let me count the ways!

"Winning a competition" is not necessarily being selected as first place. If you are selected to play with one of the orchestras but really didn't learn anything in the process, I would not consider you a winner but if you weren't selected for ant prize but learned a whole bunch, you came out ahead and are a winner.  So winning means different things for different people.

It is important to learn that setting a goal and following through is the most basic step in "winning". Those students who use the WCC to prepare their work to the highest level are learning life lessons that they can use in any work situation.  It is in setting high goals for ourselves that we learn who we really are. Those who are afraid should realize that, at MYA, we all want the best for you, even your colleagues who are competing with you. I see it by their attendance, applause, encouraging words and smiles, as well as their friendship. So, if there ever were a place to try to stretch yourselves, WCC is it!!!

 Do your best to prepare for the competition. I try not to pray to "win" but to do my best, to achieve my potential for myself, my family, my teacher, my friends.  Learning a work completely is really a great thing. Heck, when first try out a new bass, I always play Eccles ( Kevin!!!) because I learned it for competitions a VERY LONG time ago - some might comment "before paper was invented"!  A piece learned well can and will always be returned to but the better you learn it, the more it "sticks to your ribs.

If you were selected to perform with the orchestras don't get too big a "bump" on yourselves!   Sure, be proud and happy but realize that this is your opportunity and do your best to learn something in the process. When someone complements you, use the opportunity to tell them something positive about themselves so they know you appreciate them as well. Prepare your heart out for the opportunity and let the orchestra know you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. A sincere " thank you" at rehearsals to them is greatly appreciated.

 So participating gives everyone a chance to learn about music, ourselves and others!  I only hope that the WCC helps create the atmosphere for all to feel challenged, nurtured, and supported.  Dr. D

Happy Holidays from MYA!

As our young staff gets us into foursquare, Google+ and Twitter, I loved the You Tube video my best friend from college sent yesterday.  If you haven't seen it already, check out Digital Christmas Story. If you're in the midst of celebrating Hanukkah, maybe there are some good You Tube link, too?

With all the options for getting information about MYA now, I'd love to hear where everyone gets their information.  I listened to part of an interesting interview with Tom Brokaw yesterday on NPR.  Think he was talking about his new book, The Time of Our Lives, but the part I heard was his thoughts on the huge changes in journalism over the course of his career, from CBS and NBC having a monopoly on the news, to information from every part of the world, and every spectrum of opinion available at the click of a mouse.  Asked what he thought of the changes, he said it might surprise everyone, but he thought it was great.  However, the challenge today is filtering everything to determine what is real and what will last.  

Between running another errand, I heard him give another example that illustrates a huge change.  Didn't catch where the school was, but before President Obama could go in and speak to the students, there was a big discussion of what he was he planned to say and what he should say to the students.  Brokaw said, could you imagine this scenario if either Kennedy or Reagen were going to speak in a school? He said the irony is that students could go to the internet today and read and hear anything.  So, it seems that the important job of parents and teachers today is to teach children how to question and analyze everything they read and see. 

With all the changes in technology, I'm struck by the fact that music is still literally black and white notes on a page, and sounds as it is written, with only variations in interpretation.  Your thoughts?
 Photos today are from our recent mall concerts. 

Midwest Young Artists: Expanding Our Students' Horizons

One of our board members sent me a link to this You Tube Holiday Video.  It is a video from the small Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska.  It was a school computer project intended for other Yupiq villages in the area.  Much to the villagers' shock, over a half million people have viewed it. 

I am passing it on because it features Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, but also because as I watched it, I felt that it gave me a good idea of idea of life in this village.  One of the things MYA has always felt strongly about is connecting our students with students from as many different cultures and places as possible, using the only universal language:  MUSIC!  Therefore, we have done lots of concert tours with our students, and when we have been asked to host visiting musicians, we always go out of our way to do this.

Last spring, we were asked by the Director of the Versailles Youth Orchestra from France if we could help them arrange concerts in the Chicago area.  Knowing that one of our interns was fluent in French and hoping to teach English in France this year, we said YES.  Luckily, James made most of the arrangements before he did leave in September to teach in Lyon.  Over one of his breaks, he visited the orchestra's director, Christophe, and his family. Pictured above in the center of the back row are James Rein and Rebecca Watts (also an MYA intern for two years who is also teaching in this same program).  It is a small world!

We will be looking for 33 MYA families to host French students from April 19-22, 2012, and know they will pull through because it is such a great opportunity to make the world a little smaller.  If you read this and want to sign up right up, let us know, and you'll be first on the list.

Midwest Young Artists Goes to the Malls!

For many years, MYA programmed holiday concerts at the 1525 seat Harris Theater of Music and Dance in Millenium Park.  Some of my most memorable concert programs included these December concerts including Night at the Opera with guest singers Lauren McNeese and Lauren Curnow (2005),  Holiday Music from the Silk Road (2006), Nutcracker Suite, both  Tchaikovsky and Ellington versions (2007), Selections from Fantasia (2008), and The Snowman (2009).  The goal of these concerts was to offer an affordable concert  for families to experience the joy of music during the holidays. 

Concert hall rental, the costs to market this concert, other competing downtown holiday concerts including the CSO's Welcome Yule concerts  with our own Voices Rising Childrens' Choir, and the Big Band performance at Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference this week, made us rethink our holiday concert plan for this year.  Credit goes to Dr. D, MYA's Maestro, for suggesting we take our music to the malls.  It was a great idea, well carried out by our staff, and tremendously popular with our parents, students and hundreds of mall shoppers yesterday at Northbrook Court and Hawthorn Westfield Mall.  Let us know what you think!

Midwest Young Artists: More Christmas Spirit

Symphony Orchestra is performing Mall concerts next Saturday and holiday music is filling the hallways today as they rehearse.  We will be at Hawthorn (Westfield) Mall at 12:30 p.m. and Northbrook Court at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. 

In the meantime, you might appreciate two YouTube video links that were in my Inbox today.  Ember Peterson, MYA's  Chamber Music Coordinating Intern, sent me this one:  Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky - Glass Harp Version.

My best friend from college sent me this one:  All I Want for Christmas - HMS Ocean.


Midwest Young Artists: Welcomes Chelsa Peterson

I have been a part of MYA for a little over a month and let me tell you it has been a whirlwind! I came here after working several years at both Lyric Opera of Chicago and Ravinia Festival, Steans Music Institute and I had no idea what to expect. I did not grow up in the area so I did not have the opportunity to be a part of this delightful music community or anything like it. I have met so many wonderful people who are dedicated to MYA and its beliefs, I have learned so many different things that I never thought I would have the opportunity to learn, and most importantly I have heard glorious music in the hallways at the MYA center. This past Saturday was my first Saturday and it was an experience. When the seasoned staff told me that you will print out so much music, or you will get nothing done, they were not kidding! It was one of my favorite days so far, I met some wonderful musicians as well as their parents, I heard more music, and it made the MYA Center really feel like a home.  I look forward to learning more about this great organization, learning more faces and names, and hearing much more music!

Chelsa Peterson, Programs Cooordinator, Strategy and Communications 

You will hear more from Chelsa as she coordinates MYA Summer Programs and Auditions this year!

Midwest Young Artists: Getting in the Holiday Spirit

Holiday songs were ringing through the hall this morning as bass performance class sight read Christmas carols, bringing a big smile to everyone who heard them practice.  After they rehearsed, they moved to a receptive audience in the lobby to share their music! Here's our first blog video so you can catch the spirit!

Tomorrow we are not able to use the Harza Building at Ravinia, so we are doing two chamber music recitals at ManorCare in Highland Park. These outside concerts always feel good as students share their music.  Residents will be able to relax and enjoy a rare live music performance!