Class #2: Introduction – What Makes A Great Orchestra?

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: What makes a great orchestra, yes. But also what defines a great orchestra. Let's talk about the orchestral landscape in America. The first orchestra concert was in 1800, but the first orchestra seasons didn't start till 1842. There are now about 1,800 orchestras in America. In … [Read more...]

Tom Morris: What Defines An Orchestral Point Of View

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: A great orchestra has a point of view. It's not interchangeable with other orchestras. You need a collection of musicians who don't just play notes well, but who each add something distinctive. You need cohesiveness. Orchestras have been gradually losing personal style. Jet … [Read more...]

Listen and Do: Six (Really Short) Versions of Brahms

The best way to compare performances (or orchestras) is to listen to them side-by-side. Side-by-side can be playing entire performances to compare the interpretations, the ideas, the sound. But the exercise here is more specific. Below are six excerpts from six different performances of Brahms' … [Read more...]

Anne Midgette: Qualities To Look For in A Great Orchestra

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: There are the technical things - the tuning, the richness of sound, the ability to play together. Does something sound thin versus sounding rich? But there's something even more important - how does an orchestra engage with its audience. Even those who haven't heard many … [Read more...]

David Alan Miller: Define the Personalities of Great Orchestras

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: The personalities of the great old orchestras had personality - players and conductors. Gigantic personalities gave orchestras their own personal stamp. Each orchestra has distinct personality. Here's what the great orchestras were known for. Chicago, New York, Philadelphia... … [Read more...]

Anne Midgette: Ranking Great Orchestras

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Ranking orchestras is difficult because of geographic distance. There has been homogeneity with mixing of players internationally over the past several decades. But it is amazing how orchestras maintain their traditional quality of personality over decades even long after the … [Read more...]

Listen and Do: Four Great Orchestras

The great orchestras of yesterday were each known for their defining characteristics. Their sound, their musicality, their personalities were usually defined by great conductors, who spent much time with their orchestras developing them. Here are four of the greats: Known for its opulent string … [Read more...]

One Magazine’s Top 20 Orchestras List

In 2008 Gramophone Magazine took a poll of prominent critics and declared the top 20 orchestras in the world. They were: 1 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 2 Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 3 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra 4 London Symphony Orchestra 5 Chicago Symphony Orchestra 6 Bavarian Radio … [Read more...]

Start a New Topic

This is an open thread. Start a conversation below … [Read more...]

Ask a Question, Make a Suggestion

Ask it or suggest it here and we'll respond. … [Read more...]

Douglas McLennan – Introduction to this Class

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Welcome to Spring For Music's online course. You can watch these videos and listen to the program excerpts in the order below or watch them out of sequence. The art of programming is about creating an experience; a program takes you someplace. It's not just a collection of … [Read more...]

2. Tom Morris: Programming – A Primer

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: To start - a basic structure of a program. Historically, the big symphony was in first half. Now flipped. Programs fail if you build program just around a big piece. There have to be unexpected things - keep audience on its toes. How you construct a progression for a program. … [Read more...]

3. Anne Midgette: Great programming makes connections

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Great programs make connection that show pieces in new light. Like a meal - there has to be balance between pieces. We seem to have more ernest programs these days - have we lost fun to pops concerts? The lighter side of music is important. Why music needs a "twinkle." Do … [Read more...]

4. Anne Midgette: Concert Programs versus Recordings

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Classical music concerts suffer from competition with every recording in history. Audiences for recordings and for concerts are often different. In the hall, it's about the moment - a meal where the courses fit one another. Recordings can make you a lazy listener - you can … [Read more...]

Listen & Do #1: Theme Programs

This Oregon Symphony program is an example of a “theme” program which is constructed with intelligence and meaning, and contains consistently great music, sequenced in a way that is startling and tells a story. While the overbearing theme is about “War”, by placing the three pieces in the first half … [Read more...]

5. David Alan Miller: Orchestra Programming is an Argument for Ideas

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Programs are a collection of ideas. You can argue something tightly, one idea building on another, or it can be more abstract, a group of pieces that connect around some central idea. Difficult to juggle all the variables.  The practicalities also dictate how programs are made. … [Read more...]

Listen & Do #2: Program-As-Personality

This is an example of a program that perfectly expresses the personality of the orchestra playing it - the Edmonton Symphony. It was one of the most popular (and most fun) programs of the 2012 Spring For Music festival. And it was built around new music - in this case a first half of commissions by … [Read more...]

6. Marin Alsop: How I Program

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: For me a great program has a thread or message, a story, something you take away. I try to create programs that have great variety but still have connections. Those connections might not at first be obvious. We have to balance what sells with what the idea is. One doesn't want … [Read more...]

Leonard Slatkin: A History of Music In An Ives Concert

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Charles Ives' harmonic language evolves over his four symphonies. His dense layering of tunes and harmonies wasn't really accepted. The four were composed over the span of 15 years. But he got so far ahead of the public that he wasn't accepted. It wasn't until the 1920s and 30s … [Read more...]

Listen & Do #3: Historical Program

This is a lot Ives - four symphonies one after another. But performing them in chronological order in one program (something that has never been done) becomes in many ways a short history of American music as seen through Ives’ unique perspective - from the first symphony so clearly dominated by … [Read more...]