DCWS offers innovative concert experiences

by Diana Wing, Around Town columnist  August 2, 2015

Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings announced its 34th annual season last week, featuring 14 concerts in venues across metro Detroit and with a focus on “deepening the concert-going experience” for audience members, said Maury Okun, executive director of the Southfield-based ensemble. If you enjoy unique concert settings, multi-disciplinary artistic experiences and an opportunity to become more actively involved with a performance, this season’s offerings won’t disappoint.

The season opens at 3 p.m. Oct. 4 at the newly restored Ford Highland Park Plant, one of two concerts in the Structurally Sound series that features performances in historically significant metro Detroit spaces. David Buck, the principal flutist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra ,will be joined by pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng in The Echo of Tin Lizzie, a musical journey through the Roaring ‘20s. DCWS member David Ammer, a trumpeter with Michigan Opera Theatre and a resident of Ann Arbor, said this series is an attempt to relate the space to the music being played.

“With each one, we try to cater our programming choices to reflect the historical significance of the building in which we’re playing the concerts,” he said. “In a sense, the architecture becomes part of the art form and it becomes a multimedia type of presentation … It’s also interesting to take into account the history of the building and relate it to the history of the music we’re playing. As musicians, we’re always very involved anyway in where the music came from, what’s the story behind it.”

The six-concert Spotlight Series begins with Hope Dies Last, a major project to commemorate the 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide. This multi-disciplinary event, Oct.18 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, combines photography by Detroit-based photographer Michelle Andonian, a multimedia presentation by area visual artists and spoken word poets, historical perspectives from scholars and a world premiere by composer Alexandra du Bois featuring celebrated Armenian violinist Ida Kavafian.

Audience involvement

DCWS audience members will be in the center of the artistic process at Set the Tempo, 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church. Musicians will engage in an open interactive rehearsal of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll.

“We talk with the audience about the piece and what the composer’s intentions were. We have some control as artists as to how the piece is going to come across and we show these things to the audience. We let them make suggestions and go back and forth so they can hear what happens in our rehearsal process,” Ammer explained. “It familiarizes the audience with the details of the piece and gets them thinking about the possibilities … and then we play the piece for them at the end.”

Also at Set the Tempo, audience members will be able to help select a winner in the Rapido! Composition Competition. For the first time, DCWS was chosen to represent the Midwest region for the competition that offers new, young composers an opportunity to win a cash prize and have a new work premiered by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

If you’re looking for an up-close and personal concert experience, the new season includes a return of the Nightnotes series with a stellar lineup of guest performances at Hagopian World of Rugs in Birmingham. The concerts take place at 8 p.m. on Fridays, with a pre-concert reception at 7:30 p.m. The series begins Dec. 4 with M GO Brahms!, a performance highlighting the music faculty of the University of Michigan. And don’t wait to get your tickets for the popular Holiday Brass concerts on Dec. 13 at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (3 p.m.) and First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak (7:30 p.m.)

“We definitely have a loyal cadre of subscribers who know what we do and appreciate what we do. Their curiosity is piqued by our programs,” Ammer said. “Our intent is to reach other people who are interested in these somewhat nontraditional approaches … When we plan our seasons, we talk a lot about ways we can make our concert-going experience a more unique event.”

The full schedule of DCWS concerts for the 2015-16 season can be found at www.detroitchamberwinds.org.

Send Around Town news to Diana Wing at rotown@ameritech.net.