Baltimore’s Adult Camp

NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon had an interesting piece this past weekend about the Baltimore Symphony’s Academy Week, which was held June 21 to 27th. Amateur musicians spend a week rehearsing with BSO players, and attending sectionals and private lessons. The week culminates in a public performance of the participants and BSO musicians at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The repertoire is significant:

Group One
Wagner: Overture to Rienzi
Mahler: Third Movement from Symphony No. 1, “Titan”
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1919)

Group Two
Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture
Mahler: First Movement from Symphony No. 5
Tchaikovsky: Fourth Movement from Symphony No. 2

The NPR piece was particularly interesting because it focused on one violinist, Tanesha Mitchell, who had studied as a child only because her teacher lent her a violin.

Mitchell sat next to Principal Second Violin Qing Li during a rehearsal with the full orchestra. Alsop gave a bowing direction that was different than the one she’d practiced, and took her by surprise.

“Whoa, my goodness, my brain went crazy,” Mitchell remembers. “I’m like, OK — I can’t get that really well. Qing just whispered to me, ‘Just get to your frog,’ the very, very bottom part of your bow. You get more bite down there. I did it at my frog, and boom, boom, boom, I did it. It was fine.'”

Mitchell gives music lessons in her home in West Baltimore. She speaks of the BSO’s Academy as a “life-changing” experience; she keeps in touch with friends she’s made at the Academy, and is now taking private lessons from a BSO violinist.

The piece is well worth a listen

Baltimore Symphony musicians, and amateur musicians, perform at Meyerhoff Hall.

Baltimore Symphony musicians, and amateur musicians, perform at Meyerhoff Hall.


About the author

Ann Drinan
Ann Drinan

Ann Drinan, Senior Editor, has been a member of the Hartford Symphony viola section for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of the Orchestra Committee, former member of the HSO Board, and has served on many HSO committees. She is also the Executive Director of CONCORA (CT Choral Artists), a professional chorus based in Hartford and New Britain, founded by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Ann was a member of the Advisory Board of the Symphony Orchestra Institute (SOI), and was the HSO ROPA delegate for 14 years, serving as both Vice President and President of ROPA. In addition to playing the viola and running CONCORA, Ann is a professional writer and editor, and has worked as a consultant and technical writer for software companies in a wide variety of industries for over 3 decades. (She worked for the Yale Computer Science Department in the late 70s, and thus has been on the Internet, then called the DARPAnet, since 1977!) She is married to Algis Kaupas, a sound recordist, and lives a block from Long Island Sound in Branford CT. Together they create websites for musicians:

Ann holds a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA in International Relations from Yale University.

Read Ann Drinan's blog here.

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