Cheyenne went to Moorhead Middle School Orchestra Camp last week. For those in the area I would recommend this week-long day camp as it is fairly inexpensive (under $100) and incorporates a number of non-music activities as well that break up the days and allow the kids to get to know each other better. The camp runs from 9-3 daily and the kids reap the benefit of getting to work with a rich collection of area teachers and professionals.
At the end of the week they had a short concert. Cheyenne is always buried in the middle in the back with her viola (which she tells me is how she likes it) and I can typically only see the top of her bow; so I watch the conductor as I listen. Each grade (6th, 7th, 8th) played two selections. The eighth graders had a guest conductor (a vibrant young music teacher from Minneapolis) who tasked them with two difficult pieces (for their age) – one of which was his own original composition. The kids did a fabulous job with those pieces – the compositions were amazing. The original composition they played – which was intended for a rock band -was so powerful as an orchestra piece. Hearing pieces played by an orchestra that were originally envisioned as rock or pop pieces is always a treat for me – the life that an orchestra can bring to any composition always moves me, but to be able to compare the orchestra version of a piece to the rock or pop version heightens my appreciation for the power an orchestra can deliver to any piece of music.
Cheyenne was in the seventh grade group – they played two beautiful compositions that I had not heard before. I was amazed at the complexities of the selections and thankful for Cheyenne’s exposure to them. Having never really played any meaningful music pieces in my short tenure as a violin player I have no foundation for understanding whether having the ability to participate in such a beautiful creation cements the joy of playing an instrument – I would imagine it would. But I realize that I am the happy listener, the recipient of the joy – not the student who has to practice over and over and over again. I do so hope that it infects Cheyenne though – to live my life hearing her participate in such performances seems like such a gift.
I enjoy the passion that goes into music. Rarely is that passion more evident than in a conductor. Through the conductor the composition’s story is told. The emphasis, the lingering, the crispness…it is all there in the conductor’s hands, arms, body and movements. I enjoy watching conductors.
Cheyenne’s group was conducted by Mr. Cole. Cheyenne tells me that Mr. Cole is a music teacher in Moorhead. Well folks, let me tell you, as a conductor – Mr. Cole’s got flair! He is not the run of the mill conductor who uses body positioning, arm movement and hand movement in a fluid – almost poetic way. Oh no…Mr. Cole’s got emphasis. He is excitable and 100% engaged and likely to injure himself at any given moment given the energy he puts into his conducting. You cannot miss the passion of the piece when you are watching Mr. Cole – it flows through him in a way that is organic and authentic. I am no expert on conductors, but as someone whose kid always sits in the back where I can’t see her, I can tell you that I really appreciate a conductor that is not only effective but also entertaining. Mr. Cole was both and thankfully he made it through the entire concert without apparent injury, but I do wonder if all that exertion necessitated a nap after the fact.
Bravo to the Moorhead Middle School Orchestra Camp for doing such a great job with our area 6th, 7th and 8th graders! The work you are doing is important and as a parent and a beneficiary of the byproduct I thank you. Music does indeed feed the soul – and orchestra music, well increasingly I believe that is one of the finest feasts the soul can receive…and when you add Mr. Cole to the mix, well then it is just divine.
Day seven hundred and seventy-six of the new forty – obla di obla da