On a recent Tuesday earlier in March, Uihlein Hall was deafening with the conversation of nearly 2,000 excited elementary school students waiting for the concert to begin. But for this concert, music teachers had prepared students to play with the orchestra. “It’s so different than just going and sitting,” said Peggy Paar, a music teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School. In past weeks, she said, her students have been singing Beethoven and Dvorak in the hallway, as they learned the tunes for the concert. “And it all blended into the orchestra. They’ll keep those songs with them for the rest of their lives.”
Normally, principal Megumi Kanda plays a tenor trombone, or sometimes an alto for high repertoire. Second trombone Kirk Ferguson almost always plays a tenor. Third trombonist John Thevenet almost always plays a bass trombone. But the exceptions make for good conversation.
Putting together a show means going through the whole catalog of the band or singer, representing all stages of their career and including both greatest hits and more obscure numbers.
Masur isn’t interested in merely sprinkling a bit of contemporary work among the standard repertoire. He has strong feelings about these composers, some of which he knows personally, and he wants us to see the connections between the past and “the now. It’s become clear to me that contextualizing so-called contemporary music with the old masters is so very important,” Masur says
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