Teen Council Blog
September 27, 2022
Joyce DiDonato, Living the Classical Life
Written By Audrey Timoszyk
âThe fire you have to walk through will be one of the greatest strengths you have,â said Joyce DiDonato in an interview with Living the Classical Life (DiDonato). Joyce DiDonato is an accomplished mezzo-soprano who has won multiple Grammy Awards, the 2018 Olivier AwardÂ winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, was the 2019/20 Perspectives Artist for Carnegie Hall, and many more achievements. In her quote, DiDonato was talking about an experience she had with another opera singer who was judging a competition DiDonato was a part of. DiDonato said she âwas singing to express and connect and communicateâ during this competition. Like any artist, during the competition, she put herself out there. And when DiDonato finished her song, the judge told her an earth-shattering truth: âyou have nothing to offer as an artist.â
How do you recover from that? How do you recover when you put so much into your music, and someone who has your respect tells you that you have nothing to offer artistically? How do you recover when you offer up a piece of yourself and someone tells you that you are worthless? Joyce DiDonato was hurting from this comment in multiple ways. The Houston Grand Opera was taking her off of a lead role, and just when she felt like her career was coming together, this comment came and shook everything up. DiDonato said she had to realize that her judge âwasnât an evil personâ and wasnât âjust interested in torturing [her]â (DiDonato). DiDonato had to step back. She thought, âOkay, letâs be practical about this. Why would [the judge] say it? I was well prepared, I was singing well, IâveâŠâ(DiDonato). And it âstarted to dawn on [her]â (DiDonato). This âwas a song competition, so even more of a sort of sacred space about how youâre supposed to be as a singerâ (DiDonato). DiDonato realized something. She âwas perfectly coached, was perfectly prepared, [she] was perfectly trimmed and proper. And [her] hair was what an opera singer [was] supposed to look like, and [her] dress was just artsy enough but conservative enough.â DiDonato âarrived [at the competition] like a caricature of an opera singer, and [her] hand was on the piano and everything was correctâ(DiDonato). And then DiDonato saw what her judge had seen. She thought, âMy God, [the judge] was right. Iâm not saying anything as an artist. Iâm regurgitating what Iâm supposed to do according to the conservatory and according to the coachesâ (DiDonato). And DiDonato decided, âwell, thatâs the last time anybodyâs gonna be able to say that about me, and I had better go figure out what it is that I have to say [as an artist]â (DiDonato).
I think many of us, especially as young musicians, fall into the same trap Joyce DiDonato did. We worry so much about pleasing our teachers and judges by playing what is on the page perfectly. We spend hours and hours dissecting every run, and using a metronome to avoid compressing the notes or rushing, and analyzing every imperfection in our playing, that we forget why we fell in love with music in the first place. I remember preparing Chaminadeâs Concertino for a solo competition, and while I was practicing, I played a B natural instead of a B flat. And like any good student, I marked that B flat. But the whole time I was thinking, âOh my God. If I canât even remember the key signature, how in the world can I expect to play this piece well?!? Iâve been practicing this piece for months, and the competition is in just two weeks, and I canât even remember to play a B flat, and I am SO screwed, this is NOT going to go well, Iâm going to get up there and play fifteen B naturals instead of B flats, and itâs going to sound horrible, and Iâm going to get a terrible score in the competition, and Iâm going to disappoint everyone who worked so hard to help me prepare for this. How can I do this???â I was so concerned about making Chaminadeâs Concertino technically correct and playing all of the right notes that I forgot about the music. I forgot why Chaminade wrote it and why I was playing it: to express ourselves as artists. Beethoven said it best: âTo play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.âÂ
Joyce DiDonato had to walk through the âfireâ of someone telling her that what she stood for as an artist and opera singer was worthless. However, she ended up shaping her entire artistic career off of this comment, and even considered it a blessing. I think we can all learn something from her experiences: no matter what we do, whether itâs music or carpentry, we need to remember why we do it. Whenever we do something, we need to remember our purpose in doing it, and always stay true to that purpose. And if weâre able to do that, maybe we can win multiple Grammy Awards, the 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, and become the 2019/20 Perspectives Artist for Carnegie Hall.
Go check out the whole interview below.
âThe fire you have to walk through will be one of the greatest strengths you have.â – Joyce DiDonato
MAY 18, 2021
BTS, “Black Swan”
Written By Seo Young (Youngee) Ha
“A dancer dies twice â once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.”
Korean artist BTSâs 2020 single âBlack Swanâ opens their music video with this quote by TIMEâs greatest dancer of the 20th century, Martha Graham.
The track opens with a suspenseful orchestra and incorporates plucking sounds of the traditional Korean instrument, gayageum, and remains consistent throughout the entire song. The ambiance created by the deep tones of stringed instruments complements the message carried in the song.
Martha Grahamâs quote proposes that a dancer feels purposeless when they can no longer express themselves through dance. Similarly, in âBlack Swan,â BTS writes that the day music no longer resonates and fills them with passion, it will feel like death. Leader of BTS RM raps the lyrics, âIf this canât make me cry anymore, if this canât make my heart tremble anymore, maybe Iâll die like this. But what if that momentâs right now, right now.â BTS captures the ice-cold dread that many artists fear: when their passion feels like a job rather than a love. They write of the âblack swanâ that lives within them and every artist. This swan is the daily inner thoughts of a performer.
Along with these lyrics, different melodies and harmonies from strings are intermingled with one another to create a sense of melancholy. As the instruments build up to the chorus, there is a sudden explosion of powerful music. The listener can almost visualize the swan flying free from its fears. The instrumentals soon slowly die down as the swan is dragged from its freedom and back to doubt and guilt. This repeats a couple of times in the track, and I interpreted it as the constant struggle an artist experiences with losing their passion.
âBlack Swanâ is a song to be dissected, analyzed, and listened to over and over again. At times I feel nostalgic and at others, I feel fear. Every time I listen to it, I discover new wordplay or metaphors. BTS speaks of a very real and painful phenomenon that performers either learn to conquer or inevitably submit to. I am reminded of my own struggles with keeping my passion close to my heart and never submitting it in exchange for capital greed. Everyone can have a different interpretation of this piece, and it is a great example of pop music fusing with elements of classical to invoke emotion in listeners across the world.
MARCH 4, 2021
Muddle Instead of Music
Written By Ethan Hynes
Before you read, I encourage you to listen to Shostakovichâs 8th String Quartet. The less you know before you listen, the better.
On January 26th, 1936, Joseph Stalin saw Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, a well-received opera by up and incoming Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich. On January 28th, 1936, the official newspaper of the communist party, the Pravada, published a tirade of Dmitri Shostakovichâs opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. It was titled âMuddle Instead of Music.â Again on February 6th, the Pravada attacked Shostakovichâs ballet The Limpid Stream. This series of events is now known as Shostakovichâs first denunciation and the beginning of Shostakovichâs lifelong struggle with censorship under a repressive regime. Context is crucial with Shostakovich. Understanding what was happening in his life when he wrote a piece of music illuminates so much more meaning onto the piece itself. Of course, this is a general rule applied to almost every composer, but Shostakovichâs environment made understanding context even more significant. This is made clear by his numerous self-quotations and references to other composersâ music throughout many of his major and minor pieces. This has led to musicologists attempting to understand and interpret Shostakovich’s music, using his self-quotations as clues to what he was trying to communicate. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be his Eight String Quartet. Before I talk about the music itself, the context must be given.
In 1960, Shostakovich joined the Communist Party to take the role of General Secretary of the Composersâ Union. However, this was no easy task for Shostakovich. His son, Maxim, recalls this event bringing a usually stoic Shostakovich to tears. He even claims that Shostakovich told his wife that he had been blackmailed into joining the party. Russian musicologist and friend, Lev Lebedinsky, even claims that Shostakovich was suicidal. Once he joined the party, many articles and denunciations he had not written would be published under his name in the Pravada. In response to being forced to join the communist party, Shostakovich wrote his Eighth String Quartet.
The String Quartet:
The twenty-minute, five-movement quartet flies through a range of tempos, tones, and quotations until it slowly dies in its final movement. The first thing you hear is the cello play a four-note motif (D-Eâ-C-B) that the rest of the quartet is built on. Commonly called the DSCH motif, this is Shostakovichâs musical signature. Any piece that uses this motif is autobiographical in some way. The first movement opens in a painful largo that quotes his First and Fifth Symphony. The pieceâs tone quickly changes into a distressed allegro molto, sporadically echoing the DSCH motif and his own Piano Trio No. 2. The third movement maintains a higher tempo but regains composure leading the listener through quiet passages that build and suddenly fall off. In this movement, he quotes his Cello Concerto No. 1, another highly auto-biographical piece. Following this, his fourth movement opens with a slow, heavy three-note âbangingâ motif. It is theorized to be symbolic of the government knocking on his door. Also, in this movement is the most direct communication of the composerâs feelings. He quotes the aria from Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District and a revolutionary era song called âTormented by Grievous Bondage.â If it wasnât already clear, Shostakovich is writing about himself and is in extreme turmoil. In the final movement, Shostakovich maintains a slow, powerful tempo and builds on themes from Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, as he did in the previous movement. The DSCH motif is also extremely prevalent in this movement, similar to the first. The quartet quietly falls into silence.
Officially, this quartet is dedicated âto the victims of fascism and the warâ but it is clear that this piece is also heavily about Shostakovich. Lev Lebedinsky was Shostakovichâs friend, and his claim that Shostakovich was suicidal is not a stretch of the imagination. It is easy to see how Shostakovichâs Eighth String Quartet could have been his musical suicide note with this context. Itâs a grim thought but it makes sense. Many of the melodies are based on his auto-biographical DSCH motif. He quoted many of his most famous and influential pieces, including the work that began his fight with the Communist party. Listening to this piece as a suicide note brings it so much more power. You feel his despair and hysteria. Understanding this pieceâs context completely changes how itâs listened to and how the listener is affected by it. Context is crucial.
In April, 2020, I had to write a paper on a piece of my choosing for my Orchestra class, and I chose the Eighth String Quartet. I had listened to it quite a bit before then, but I had never really researched it deeply. After I studied it and listened through it again, Iâll be honest, I was in tears. I felt like I understood Shostakovich and the feelings he felt when he wrote the piece. It was so powerful, and sometimes I still get teary-eyed listening to it. Since then, I have begun researching every piece I listen to, and I have spent more time trying to understand the music I consume. With everything I have written here in mind, I implore you to listen to this string quartet again and look for every DSCH motif and quotation you can. I understand if Shostakovich or this quartet just isnât your thing. I wonât try to convince you to like it but please research the music you love. Try to understand your music. The more you put into listening, the more you will get out of it.
DECEMBER 8, 2020
Music and Stress
Written By Sophia K. Mohamed
We are living in a very stressful time and change can be overwhelming. People are trying to adjust to a new way of life during this pandemic. A way to win the battle with stress is music.
In a study by the U.S. National Institute of Health, listening to music affects the autonomic nervous system, which can lead to less stress. Some rhythmic patterns found in music can stimulate you both physically and psychologically, creating an essential harmony and improving your well-being. It enables the alpha waves in your brain, boosting endorphins and dopamine, which can lead to relaxation and confidence.
Different types of music can make you feel other emotions, and not all music can boost your persona. Scientists performed many studies and found that classical music has the most significant positive effect on your psychological basis. Classical music is proven to lead to improved sleep, reduced stress, better memory, lower blood pressure, and higher emotional intelligence. Have you heard of parents using classical music to help a baby sleep? This is due to the Mozart effect! Melodic harmonies are very soothing, mimicking a lullaby, often times putting you in a state similar to meditation. Your body and mind can become at peace.
Check out my recommendations of classical artists to get you started on your stress-free journey:
Beethoven- FĂŒr Elise
Delibes â ‘Flower Duet’ from LakmĂ©
J.S. Bach â Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Johann Strauss II â The Blue Danube
Misha Goldstein – Piano Sonata No.8 in C Minor, Op. 13, “Pathetique”
Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Puccini â ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Gianni Schicchi
Ravel â BolĂ©ro
Saint-Georges- Symphony Op. 11, No. 1 in D Major
 Thoma, Myriam V et al. âThe effect of music on the human stress response.â PloS one vol. 8,8 e70156. 5 Aug. 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156
DECEMBER 4, 2018
Classical Masterpieces and Artwork: From the stroke of a brush to the touch of a key
Written By Alexa Hassell
Looking for a new way to enjoy music or art? Try experiencing them together! Some of these pieces were inspired by paintings, some simply seem to emulate them; however, all four of these music and painting combos are best received together. Listening while looking (and vice versa) helps to inspire the senses in many ways, so try these suggested pairings, and then create a few of your own.
Katsushika Hokusaiâs The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Claude Debussyâs La Mer
This famous Japanese woodblock print adorned the wall of Debussyâs studio. It, along with childhood memories of visits to the seaside, are said to have inspired Debussy to compose La Mer. A rich depiction of ocean scenes full of impressionistic and daring harmonies, this composition would inspire many films scores to follow. Called âthree symphonic sketchesâ, La Mer starts with a depiction of the ocean as dawn becomes midday, moves to a play of the waves, and then finishes with a dialogue of the wind and sea. Two powerful movements, framing a lighter middle, eloquently complete the concept of a rushing wave that Hokusai portrays so beautifully in his painting.
Edouardo Cortesâ Rue de Rivoli and Eric Satieâs GymnopĂ©dies
Two creators with a focus on the same inspiring city makes for a perfect pairing. Satieâs piano composition seems a nostalgic nod to the trials of everyday life in the large and illustrious city of Paris, where motion is constant and sounds are widely varying, yet he also implies a contentment with this lifestyle. The ease and rhythmic tones match the warm colors and elegance of Cortesâ work. Whether it be walking, riding, or driving, the citizens of Paris are peacefully aware of their bright world, so inspiring to artists of all types.
Edgar Degasâ The Dance Class and Frederic Chopinâs Etude Op. 25, No. 11 (âWinter Windâ)
Upon hearing this Chopin composition, I immediately thought of a dance studio where ballerinas effortlessly perform, leap, and pirouette across the floor. Degas is arguably the most famous painter of dance scenes, and therefore, the pairing seemed obvious. The image Degas provides and the tone Chopin suggests are similarly – and confidently â portrayed. Listening to one while admiring the other makes for an enhanced artistic experience. If you are looking for a lighter, more fun partnership, then these two pieces are exactly what you are looking for.
Arnold BĂ¶cklinâs Die Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead) and Sergei Rachmaninoffâs Isle of the Dead
Sharing both a title and a sense of urgency, these works have left an enduring cultural legacy. Rachmaninoff composed his piece after viewing BĂ¶cklinâs painting in France in 1907. Though the artist created multiple versions of this same scene, all contain the same mourning white figure and coffin. The image is so compelling it found its way into several important films over the past century (the most recent being Alien: Covenant), and has inspired multiple compositions, from classical to heavy metal. The most famous of these is the ominous symphonic poem from Rachmaninoff, which illustrates the foreboding brilliantly, and serves as a warning to any listener who comes across this scene.
OCTOBER 27, 2017
Beethoven: The Somewhat Informed Guide
Written By Brian Le
Have you ever wondered how to approach classical music without being overwhelmed? Or perhaps you were lost during a conversation with your fellow musicians? Well, look no further because I, your classical classmate, am here to help you explore what you need to know.
Our first piece in the standard orchestral repertoire weâll be looking at will be Beethovenâs 5th Symphony in C minor. Ah, the infamous Da-Da-Da-DUMMM!
Many have heard the beginning of the piece throughout their lives as a sound effect, or perhaps a text tone, and some have listened to the entire first movement in animated movie, Fantasia. The piece was composed in a time of turmoil when Beethoven (in his mid-thirties) was slowly succumbing to deafness, and the world around him was in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. In response, Beethoven chose to compose a symphony in a key that held special importance for him: C minor. He often used this key to convey stormy, tumultuous, and even victorious moods. C minor was the key of Beethoven the hero. He used it as a conduit for his strongest personal expression, uncompromisingly and even selfishly leaving the precise aesthetics of the Classical era behind, and diving, head-first, into the emotion-rich, unpredictable world of Romanticism.
But say youâre a seasoned musician, and youâve memorized the score to all four movements of Beethovenâs 5th. Not to worry, for Iâve got another masterpiece which may tickle your fancy. Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets, increasing in complexity and romantic sentiment from the first to the last. The Grosse Fugue (or Grand Fugue) was one of his last string quartets, and it successfully encapsulates the density of a multi-movement symphony within a 16 minute, single-movement chamber piece. I like to call the Grosse Fugue Beethovenâs âabsolute worst best pieceâ because, when it was written, musicians and critics alike deemed it âinaccessibleâ, âa mistakeâ, and âhis single most problematic composition.â But as time went on people began to realize its hidden beauty. The piece is ambitious and paradoxical, often leaving its listeners with more questions than answers. For me, this is the epitome of art being ahead of its time. Believe me, youâll feel it when you hear it.
I sincerely hope youâve added something to your Spotify playlist. Catch yâall next time where weâll take a look at the second B of the 3 Bâs, Johannes Brahms.
For further listening, please consider Beethovenâs Symphonies No. 3, 6, 7, and 9 as well as the Egmont Overture for your symphonic satisfaction, and any of his 16 String Quartets if youâre aching for some deep and beautiful chamber music.
NOVEMBER 6, 2017
Brahms: The Somewhat Informed Guide
Written By Brian Le
Welcome back everyone to the second installment of Listening to the Literature. As promised, weâll be looking at Johannes Brahmsâ music this week.
But first, some backstory!
For starters, Brahms was a bit of a controversial figure during the early Romantic era because his music relied heavily on the ideas and structures of the earlier, Classical era. Some thought of him as conformist, or even boring, while others praised his respect for, and continuation of, tradition. This reputation, along with his stubborn personality, an aversion to publicity, and deteriorating health towards the end of his life, led to his becoming something of a recluse; and many people, upon meeting him, felt he was unapproachable or cold.
His music, however, is by contrast very warm, and reflects his genuinely generous and kindhearted nature. With that said, letâs talk about some music!
Iâm sure youâve heard his Lullaby or Hungarian Dances, but Iâm starting us off with his Symphony No. 1 in C minor. The piece took Brahms over 21 years to finish, but boy did it make an impression when it premiered. Some think of it as âBeethovenâs Tenthâ because of how much the music recalls Beethovenâs grand and heroic sound. It reminded audiences that great symphonies â and symphonists – still existed, and it was clear that Brahms was a master of the form. The start of the piece practically shouts at the audience, demanding not be underestimated, with the timpani powerfully pounding away as solemn colors are painted by the strings. Keep an ear out for those hidden, yet stunning, oboe lines!
If thereâs one piece I love to death but canât elaborate too well on, itâs Brahmsâs A German Requiem. Itâs a grand, gorgeous, sultry choral piece with the power to move mountains and create lakes. All I can say is take my word for it.
For our chamber piece, which I think is where Brahms shines the brightest, look no further than his Clarinet Quintet in B minor, written for string quartet and clarinet. The piece was composed in 1891, a few years before his death, and heavily referenced Mozartâs clarinet quintet (from 1789) which had just reached its 100 year anniversary. Even though this was written well into the Late Romantic period, Brahms was still focusing on the form and structure of the Classical era, which the rest of Europe had moved on from long ago. Itâs hauntingly beautiful and somber, particularly in the 1st and 4th movements, where you can almost hear Brahms himself weeping through the clarinet and cello voices.
Thank you for reading as always! Next week, weâll be wrapping up the introduction of the series with the third B: Johann Sebastian Bach.
For further listening, please consider Brahmsâ Symphonies No. 2, 3, and 4 and the Academic Festival Overture for your symphonic satisfaction. For your chamber music needs, I recommend his Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet, String Quartets No. 1, 2, and 3, and String Sextet no. 1.
DECEMBER 4, 2017
Bach: The Somewhat Informed Guide
Written By Brian Le
Weâre rounding off the last B in the prolific 3 Bâs with Johann Sebastian Bach, or J.S. Bach for short. Make sure to include the âJ.S.â because there are 10 composers in the Bach Family and only one of them earned the title, âThe Father of Musicâ. I wonât delve too deep into the history behind his genius â thereâs a lot of theory, technicality, and historical context â so letâs just get started with some baroque music!
When I think J.S. Bach, I think Brandenburg Concertos. Bach wrote a total of six concertos as a body of work for Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg, with hopes that Ludwig would hire him as a musical director. Sadly, Bach received no response, but his pieces lived on to comprise one of the greatest orchestral sets from the Baroque era. They featured an unusually wide range of instrumentation for his time and raised the bar for the Concerto Grosso form. In the Brandenburg Concertos, the soloists and orchestra bounce off of each other masterfully with their own unique textures. Of particular note ate the 4th (which contains some of the most fun, virtuosic violin lines in the Baroque repertoire) and the 5th (which introduced the harpsichord as a solid soloistic instrument for concertos). The six concertos truly capture a wide variety of orchestral colors and feelings.
Bach didnât really compose Chamber music, at least not in the way we generally think of it today. String quartets have been created by rescoring movements from his four Orchestral Suites, but other than a number of duets and one obscure trio sonata, he inked precious few small ensemble pieces. So Iâll focus on his solo works for violin, cello, and keyboard, and recommend my personal favorites: Violin Sonata No. 2, for its hauntingly beautiful Andante movement, Cello Suite No. 5, for its dance of hopelessness and inspiration, and the entirety of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Whatâs The Well-Tempered Clavier? Well, it’s two series of preludes and fugues, one written in every key. The intention was to heighten a keyboard playersâ skills, and popularize temperament tuning along the way. I view this as Bach at his purest. One can hear the foundation of music theory as we know it, and also discover many of Bachâs most important musical innovations.
Thank you for reading! Bach canât be fully appreciated without understanding the context of his music so if youâd like to hear more about it, let us know!
For further listening, please consider the 4 Orchestral Suites, St. Matthew’s Passion, and the Goldberg Variations. For more intimate music, I recommend the entirety of his Violin Partitas, Violin Sonatas, and Cello Suites.
DECEMBER 15, 2016
Eight Architecturally Beautiful Symphony Buildings
Written By Alexa Hassell
Orchestra Hall (Chicago)
Originally built in 1904, the Orchestra Hall in Chicago is unique in its exterior design. The outer facade does not hint at the hall sitting within. The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, a CSO trustee and Chicago architect, who complete the project at a total cost of $750,000. The facade is symmetrically built with pink brick and white limestone, and follows a Georgian style. Above the second floor, inscribed into a limestone band, are the names of five famous composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner. The first floor entrance opens to the vestibule and main lobby. The main lobby leads to the main auditorium, which was designed in the Beaux Arts style. In 1950, Daniel Burnham, Jr. (son of the original architect) restored and redecorated the building, adding carpet to some floors, repainting spaces, and much more. Further renovations in 1966, brought modern technology and central air to the building. The pipe organ, which originally was created by Lyon & Healy (the largest instrument the Chicago-based company ever built), was installed early in 1905 and rebuilt by Frank J. Sauter and Sons in 1946. However, due to damage it had sustained during renovations the need to repair it was great. The organ was finally reinstalled during the summer of 1981 by M.P. Moeller, Inc. Final renovations to the building began in June of 1993 and were completed in 1997. These renovations resulted in a new music complex, a new restaurant, new offices, and new wall designs. In 1978, Orchestra Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places, making it a national landmark.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located in Los Angeles, California, and home to the LA Philharmonic. It was designed by Frank Gehry, and opened in October of 2003. Lillian Disney, Walt Disneyâs wife, contributed $50 million dollars in 1987 so as to have a hall built honoring Waltâs love of the arts. The hall is considered to be one of the most acoustically advanced in the world. It is designed with a reflective stainless steel exterior, and an interior of mainly hardwood paneling. The walls and ceiling are finished with Douglas fir and the floor is finished with oak. Construction took over a decade due to the need to build of an underground parking garage first. The entire project cost $274 million dollars, with the parking garage alone accounting for $110 million of that. The concert organ on the inside was also designed by Frank Gehry with musical and acoustical insight from Manuel Rosales. After lots of back and forth, the final organ was made with curved wooden pipes by German organ builder, Caspar Glatter-Gotz. The concert hall also houses a famous restaurant owned by Joachim Splichal named Patina.
Morton H. Meyerson Concert Hall
The Meyerson, which is located in Dallas, Texas, is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It also houses two restaurants, multiple meeting rooms, and one of the most acoustically acclaimed halls in the world. It opened September 1989 after being designed by architect I.M. Pei. The name of the hall comes from the former president of Electronic Data Systems and former CEO of Perot Systems who was an avid supporter of creating a home specifically for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The exterior of the building is mainly glass, metal and stone to set a contrast to the inside of the hall which is very traditional and include the extraordinary Lay Family Concert Organ. The uniqueness of the hall lies in its construction, with 74 concrete doors located at the top most parts of the hall which can open and close to accommodate the exact amount of reverberation desired for each concert, 56 acoustical curtains to diminish vibrations, and a hanging acoustic canopy (which can be lowered, raised, or tilted to reflect sound out into the hall more precisely). The resulting sound is unrivaled in its elegance.
Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center)
Alice Tully Hall houses hundreds of performances each year, ranging from dance to film to music. Its location, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, provides a busy and stimulating experience when visiting. Tully Hall gets its name from Alice Tully, a New York performer and philanthropist whose donations helped build the hall. The building itself belongs to the Juilliard School and was designed by Pietro Belluschi. It was built in 1969 and underwent renovations in 2009 as part of the Lincoln Center 65th Street Development Project. Housing the newest technologies and a great view, it has a three-story glass lobby and a sunken plaza. The building contains 10 floors (some of which are underground), three Juilliard theaters, Alice Tully Hall, 15 dance, opera and drama studios, three organ studios, 84 practice rooms, 27 classrooms, 30 private instruction rooms, rehearsal rooms, costume and scenery workshops, a library, a lounge, a snack bar, and administrative offices. Tully Hall is designed with wood batten (with dampening behind), lavender carpet, and an expanding stage. After renovation, a cafe and mezzanine level were added, and muirapiranga wood and limestone were added to the materials. The hallways leading up to the hall and the performance hall itself are both very aesthetic and stimulating. There is also a Swiss-made pipe organ inside the Hall. Its closeness to the subway required the building of extra supports and walls to prevent sound transfer.
The outside of the Sosnoff Theater looks very similar to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is due to the same architect (Frank Gehry) working on the project. The entire center opened in 2003 after three years of construction and $62 million dollars, and is located on the campus of Bard College in upstate New York. The buildingâs exterior is constructed of curved stainless steel and concrete. The interior contains the Sosnoff Theater, the LUMA theater and multiple studios. The Sosnoff Theater itself is quite distinctive: it includes a proscenium stage with a concert stage insert (this way concerts of drama, dance, and music can all take place), a hexagonal shape with walls that curves slightly inward to diffuse sound, and a high ceiling. With balconies and a crescent seating style, the feel of the hall is very intimate. The buildingâs system of air and heat are powered by geothermal sources which means the building is powered without the use of fossil fuels. The building is used mainly for school purposes (such as performances and graduations), but the Bard Music Festival takes place here as well. Many people have raved that this hall is the best acoustical and performance hall found in any small college.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman center is home to the Kansas City Symphony. There are two theaters within the building: the Muriel Kauffman Theater and Helzberg Hall. The idea for such a building came from Muriel Kauffman, who first introduced the thought in 1994 with her family. Sadly, Muriel died in 1995, but nonetheless her daughter kept the project going as head of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. In 1999 the land for the center was purchased by the Foundation. The chosen architect was Moshe Safdie who designed the very first sketch in 2000 on a table napkin, and in October of 2006 ground was broken for the center. The building itself took nearly 5 years to complete and is made mostly of glass, concrete and steel cables. With two vertical and concentric arches and one shared backstage, the buildingâs structural complexity is its defining factor. The Kauffman Center also maintains educational programs that bring kids and community members into the halls to enjoy the arts. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a glorious building with something for everyone.
Bing Concert Hall
Bing Concert Hall is located on the campus of Stanford University in California and is home to the Stanford Live performance series. Construction started on this $111.9 million dollar building in 2010, and was finished in January of 2013. The hall holds 842 people all arranged in a “vineyard” format, meaning the seating is arranged in raked tiers, like sloping terraces in a vineyard. This way the farthest seat is only 75 feet from the stage! The architect was Richard Olcott, and the name Bing comes from Peter and Helen Bing, two notable donors, who gave $50 million dollars for the building’s construction. Sharing the same acoustical engineer as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, both halls enjoy similar acoustic flexibility. Because of this, the sound bounces off the walls and ceiling to create a larger and more pure sound for all listening. The exterior is mainly glass with the concert hallâs dome stretching out from the top. Hailed as âthe envy of any big cityâ by The New York Times, the Bing Concert Hall is not one to forget!
Orchestra Hall (Detroit)
Located in Midtown, Detroit, Orchestra Hall is the proud home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Part of what makes this building so remarkable is the fact that it took only four months, from start to finish, to build. In 1919 then Music Director Ossip Gabrilowitsch, agreed to stay in his position only on the condition that a hall would be constructed that was worthy of the orchestra he had built. So, in April of that year, the Detroit Symphony Society purchased the Westminster Presbyterian Church, razed it to the ground, and erected Orchestra Hall in its place. And what a hall it was! A short three years later the Detroit Symphony became the first orchestra ever to broadcast a performance on the radio. By 1934, they had started a tradition of live broadcasts as part of the nationally syndicated Ford Symphony Hour. Unfortunately, Gabrilowitsch died in 1936, and the orchestra was forced to vacate the hall due to the economic stress of the depression. They were on the move until 1956 when they settled in Ford Auditorium, where they stayed for 33 years. By 1970 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra had become one of the most recorded symphonies in America, but they once more needed a new home. The original Orchestra Hall had fallen into almost complete ruin and was headed for the chopping block when local citizens banded together to save the building. They were successful and millions of dollars poured into its restoration. Plaster, paint, and custom elegance was restored to the hall in the hopes of honoring its original design. In 1989 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra moved back into their first home. After additional renovations in 2003, the building became known as the Max M. Fisher Music Center with multiple add-ons to the hall. Today the building stands out with a modern look on the outside and a traditional look on the inside.