For a long time now, classical music organizations and ensembles have been searching for ways to break down barriers between the stage and the audience.
Orchestras and chamber groups have been experimenting with concert formats, opting for informality, spoken introductions from the stage, visual aids and video and lecture-demonstration models. A lot of attention is focused on inside-the-score programs designed to deepen listeners’ understanding of the music. But there haven’t been many stabs at exploring the artistic process and decision making from a performer’s point of view: How do they develop their interpretations?
That’s the niche that the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings promises to fill with a program Sunday titled “Deconstructing Strauss.” Here’s the premise: The organization’s artistic adviser and conductor H. Robert Reynolds will spend a big chunk of the first half of the program taking the audience through a rehearsal of Richard Strauss’ “Suite for Winds, Op. 4,” a lyrical beauty for 13 winds. There will be projections of the score behind the stage, and Reynolds will dive deep into matters of tempo, phrasing, dynamics, balance articulation and more — all the decisions that musicians make when performing a work.
The big twist: Through interactions with the audience, listeners will have a chance to shape the choices. What happens if a certain passage goes slower? Faster? How does the emotional impact of the music change with different dynamics or rebalancing the ensemble with more second clarinet, or flute or bassoon? After intermission, Reynolds will lead the group through a performance using audience preferences.
“The idea was to find ways to get people more involved in the creation of art,” said Maury Okun, executive director of Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. “How do you deepen that relationship? We want to involve audiences in the artistic decision making.”
Beyond the Strauss, the concert will include the world premiere of “Devil Winds” for oboe, clarinet and bassoon by composer-in-residence Greg Simon, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan. The performance will be by Third Rail, the chamber group’s ensemble-in-residence from the Oberlin Conservatory.
February 19, 2014
By Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press Music Critic