Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great shows and performers come to the Lied Center

Ann Chang is by now well known to Lincoln Examiner readers after her engaging and informative interviews on Entrepreneurship and her job as Lied Center Artistic Director. Now, Lincoln readers can enjoy a personal look at what Chang has enjoyed at the Lied Center in the past and what she is looking forward to in the coming season.
What are some of your favorite musicians or groups that have come to the Lied Center?
Obviously, I am biased towards my field, Classical music. My first impulse is to rattle off those names like: Yo-Yo Ma, Vladimir Feltsman, Wynton Marsalis, and this years’, Itzhak Perlman.
Reflecting on last season, I thought the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre was amazing, and I was encouraged by a similar reaction by the audience who recognized supreme quality of this dance troupe. I felt that the saying “you don’t have to describe great art work, you just know it when you see it” was clearly represented by this dance troupe last year.

What show or piece are you most excited about this coming season?
Hard question, I’m excited about everything. We have many coming this season in all those genres I spoke about.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is coming to present “Moulin Rouge.” Also, Itzhak Perlman’s performance will be a great opportunity to hear this legend if you haven’t already.

San Francisco Jazz Collective brings to Lincoln the names of great performers who are becoming or soon–to-be legendary names in the world of Jazz.

“This is Tango Now: Identidad” is a very new organization gathering attention nationally. It is wonderful that we are able to partner with the Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and Interdisciplinary Art Symposium to bring them here. This is an exciting partnership with great results.

The Munich Symphony is coming to perform Mozart’s Requiem, and our closing will be another requiem as the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra—partnering with everyone in the community—will present Britten’s War Requiem.
Want to enjoy some of these great performances? Call the Lied Center box office, 402-472-4747, or visit the Lied Center website today!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lied Center and scheduling: The work of Artistic Director

When asked what her job as Artistic Director entails, she answered that she is “primarily responsible for programming the season and making sure that it represents all the genres, Classical, family, dance, Jazz, Broadway, theater, and popular, as well as making sure that they are all programmed well with quality and class.”

In deciding whom to book for a season, Chang looks for someone who is already known to her, someone that she “wants to put on the stage.” Of course, important factors become “availability of the artist, their financial requirements, and whether they fit within the scope of what we present and the schedule for the season.” On average, 80% of the season will be well known shows, groups, or musicians; however, some of the season will feature lesser known artists that are new to Chang and to the community. In this way, the Lied Center promotes up-and-coming acts, groups, and musicians and is also able to bring in the already big names and shows.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Entrepreneurship and music according to Ann Chang

Ann Chang has a successful career as a piano performer and instructor and resides in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has performed recitals in locations around the world as a soloist and with chamber ensembles like the Rastrelli Cello Quartet. With her special interests in forte-piano and chamber ensembles, she is often to be found coaching small ensembles of students at the School of Music where she is Artist in Residence.

But, Ann Chang is an entrepreneur and always thinking of creative ways to bring music to new people. Her first entrepreneurial venture was the founding of Meadowlark Music Festival in 2001. “I was the founder and director of Lincoln's own Meadowlark Music Festival for seven years,” Chang said, “and it still continues as a festival in the summer.” In 2008, she added to her list of jobs that of Artistic Director at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Entrepreneurship paid off because, “a major reason I was given the position at the Lied Center was because of the success they saw in the Meadowlark Music Festival.”

Chang says that she successfully tries to “divide my time between the Lied Center and School of Music.” Going a step further, she developed the Arts Entrepreneurship Program at the School of Music and has been instructor in that program since last year. The Arts Entrepreneurship Program provides students exposure to and knowledge of “a variety of opportunities in this new millennium, through internet, for example, and encourages them to think of non-traditional roles to sustain themselves while staying in the music field.”

This program has been really well received so far, Chang said. Because of the “dissemination of music and work available,” music students need to look beyond their traditional ideas of music jobs. For example, “a string player does not just have the potential to join an orchestra, but should be creative and consider how to make money in music without touching those traditional roles.”
“Music schools are for training musicians,” Chang said, “and forward thinking schools, I’m proud to say that we are one, provide tools for students who graduate to be well equipped musicians, but understanding the vast world of employment, entrepreneurship, and how to look for what they will find to most fulfilling. To create a job for themselves in music.”

Students have also already expressed their gratitude that their teacher, Chang, is someone with varied entrepreneurial experience and that she can introduce them to her many colleagues and acquaintances in order to facilitate networking for them. In the short time of this program, it has encouraged students to keep “the mindset of thinking outside the box. Knowing they have more options motivates them.”

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lora Black: A voice of Classical music in Lincoln

A picture of Lora Black in the studio.
In Lincoln, Lora Black is a familiar voice on Classical NET Radio, 91.1FM. Her warm and friendly voice is heard on the airwaves for “Afternoon Concert” each weekday and during “Classics by Request” on Friday afternoons. Black loves Classical music, and believes that it has something for everyone—so read on and then tune in this Friday for “Classics by Request” from 1:00-4:00pm when Black will be playing one of her favorite pieces, a Brandenburg Concerto, as well as many pieces that are requests from around the state.
If you have a request, call it in: 402-472-7722

When did you first discover Classical music?
When I was in High School. I bought 2 LP records, The 50 best classical music selections albums. This will date me, but I played them over and over again on my record player! And, of course, hearing all the music of Bach and Handel in church made me a big fan.

What is your background in Classical music? Did you plan on this career as announcer for Classical music radio?
I did have one class in T.V. and Radio, and did a DJ stint on the campus radio station. I'd always wanted a career using my voice, and all the stars aligned 20 years ago, when a weekend morning job opened up at NETRadio. I worked weekends for 7 years, and had my own one-hour classical music show on early Sunday morning. When several of our senior staff left the station, I was offered the afternoon concert slot. I have a request show on Friday afternoons, and I also am the local host for NPR'S All Things Considered. I have a passion for classical music, and I'd like to think that I project that to my audience.

What is your favorite part of working for NET Radio?
I think the best part of my job, is getting to meet all the people I do. Listeners always introduce themselves to me, and it is like meeting long lost friends. People from all walks of life make up our Classical music audience, and it is an honor to 'talk' with them daily.

Do you have a favorite piece, composer, and/or time period of Classical music?
I love Baroque music. Of course, you know, these questions are like asking which is my favorite child! I have had several contests over the years, asking listeners for their top 10 and their top 5 lists. How many folks wrote in, saying the same was agonizing for them to narrow it down! Getting back to your question, Vivaldi is a favorite, and I love the Bach Brandenburg Concertos. But, I love Mozart, Beethoven, Phillip Glass, Alan Hovhaness and Joseph Curiale, and so many more!
If I was limited to only one recording to have on a deserted island, it would have to be Beethoven's 9th Symphony...actually, the top recording world-wide! Ode to Joy is a universal theme...understood in any language.

What would you tell people who aren’t sure if they want to start listening to Classical music?
I would have to say tune in some Friday afternoon, and hear the requests made from all over the state. I bet you will hear something familiar. Just give it a listen, and then note how you feel after a Chopin nocturne, or hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's rendition of Amazing Grace, with bagpipes. I bet that they might just feel a little bit better, maybe their job got a little easier, or maybe even brought a memory or tear to their eye. We don't play the top 40, but we play music that has lasted hundreds of years and passed down to us today. Classical music is all around us...whether it is a selection performed at a wedding, or movies or even television commercials. Classical music has something for everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Studying and socializing in the UNL Music Library

Many music majors at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln are required to take “Library 101” during their freshman year. This course is partially completed by taking online quizzes about the location of the UNL libraries, looking certain resources up online and finding their call numbers, and actually having a tour of the library with a librarian. The goal of the course? Hopefully, students will be prepared to utilize the resources available from the more than three-million books and countless online resources provided by the University library system. The library is well-located in Lincoln in the basement of the Westbrook Music Building at 10th and Q Sts.
Music students are given a tour of the Music Library and learn about catalog system and call numbers for music scores, recordings, and books. They are shown how to access JStor, Naxos Music Library, Grove Music Dictionary Online, and many more great resources. These will come in handy for research, finding scores to perform, and presentations in the years to come.

But that is not all. Jessica Dussault, a 2011 graduate from the School of Music, remembers that “when I had downtime between classes, I would head straight to the library to see who else had some time on their hands. A lot of students used the couches and tables to socialize and study. Even if I didn’t have official business in the library, it was still fun to hang out.”

Another recent graduate, Katie Litzenberger, says that she loved that it was in a basement, and “I studied there before tests because it was quiet. I loved the fact that you felt like you could hide and listen to music and enjoy it.” Litzenberger also made use of the copy machine and computers in the library as well as recordings. “I remember the wealth of information it had. I honestly didn't spend very much time there until my last two years. Then, I really got to know it. I remember the computers; it was the place I went to print off all my stuff for presentations....timing it right before class started. I remember checking out music recordings to study for my classes too!”

Dussault also made use of Interlibrary loan available through the University libraries. One time, she was looking for a book that was out of print. It took weeks, but “at the end of the semester, the librarians contact me and said, ‘we tracked down the author and got him to donate a copy since it is no longer published, and now it’s in the music library!’ Now we have a History of the Cornhusker Marching Band book in the library.”

The library wants to be and is the place to go for information, recordings, and scores of Classical music. It is a great resource for students and residents of Lincoln as well. Everyone can find something useful, a place to study, a long-sought book, or a beloved recording.

Monday, July 18, 2011

'Librarians aren't scary!' The UNL Music Library experience

Books on every instrument, on kinds of music, history, theory, etc.
If you go to the city campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, enter Westbrook Music Building, just south of the Husker Stadium, and find your way downstairs, in the basement southwest corner of the building, you’ll find the Music Library and Raymond H. Haggh Reading Room. Sitting quietly in the office, or smilingly and quietly offering assistance to patrons looking for resources, you can find Anita Breckbill.
Breckbill has worked at the Music Library since 1994, and besides answering reference questions, Breckbill gives bibliographic instruction, that is, she teaches people how to use the catalog and the library. She also does the purchasing of books, scores, CDs, and DVDs for the Music Library’s collection, and she does “lots of other stuff, including doing my own research, participating in committee work in the general library, participating in the work of national associations like the Music Library Association, etc.”

Her favorite aspect of working in the Music Library is the special collections. “The Ruth Etting Collection has amazing pictures and a complete sound collection of her recordings,” Breckbill said. “The Rokahr Family Archive is a rich, fascinating source for opera scores, books, and posters. You can read about our special collections on our web page. Follow the links to find online sound files, pictures, a display, and more.
But who can use the Music Library? Well, it’s open to the public, not just students. Breckbill says that the Music Library offers to students and the public a great “aesthetic experience! We’re the biggest (and best) music library in Nebraska, and Nebraska residents can check out books, scores, CDs, and DVDs.”

If you are ready to give the Music Library a try, Breckbill has this advice: “Librarians aren't scary. Really! Come and talk. Also, check out the University Libraries' website. You can find out specific things about music holdings by clicking on Subject and Course Guides on the left side of the page and choosing Music, or by clicking on E-Resources, and scrolling down to click on Music under the subject Arts and Humanities.”

Whenever you are wondering about a certain score, or you’d like to study a topic about music, read a recent journal or periodical, or listen to a certain recording, just head over to the UNL Libraries website and follow up with a stop at the Music Library.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trumpet student to Truman Scholarship recipient

The second in a series of summer Classical music interviews, today, the spotlight is turned on Lincoln native, Matthew Boring. A graduate of Lincoln High School and of the UNL School of Music, Boring is used to being in the spotlight since being awarded the Truman Scholarship while a junior in college. A trumpet player, Boring majored in music with a minor in business while at UNL and was an important member of the Cornhusker Marching Band, University of Nebraska Wind Ensemble, UN Jazz Ensemble I, Red Express Pep Band, and Scarlet Brass Quintet.
He has agreed to share a little of his experiences in college and offers an update on his career since graduation.

How did you first get interested in music and trumpet?I don’t know if I have ever admitted this one before, but I actually wanted to play tenor saxophone when I was going into 5th grade. At the time, they needed trumpet players, so I agreed to switch over. I had a fantastic director my first year at Holmes Elementary, Nate Auman, and was also supported by my family to pursue music.
Can you tell us a little about how you came to play at the Kennedy Center in 2006?The Kennedy Center and National Symphony Orchestra have an annual Summer Music Institute that brings young musicians from around the world to the Kennedy Center for a four-week orchestral training institute. One of my theatre directors at Lincoln High School, John Heineman, heard about the program and forwarded a recorded audition on to the state selection committee. Playing at the Kennedy Center is an almost indescribable feeling when you consider the musicians who have performed on that stage and the Presidents that have watched performances there since 1971.
What was your favorite experience from UNL?Running out of the northwest tunnel in Memorial Stadium with the Cornhusker Marching Band for the first game my freshman year is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget, and definitely my favorite experience. Just the experience of having 90,000 of the best fans cheering for you and going crazy on game day is about as good as it gets in my book. A lot of veterans at the time told me that it wasn’t as big of a deal to them as they played more games, but I never lost the energy it gave me in my four years at UNL.

What kind of process and persistence did it take from you to apply for and be awarded a Truman Scholarship?Applying for a nationally competitive scholarship is definitely a process that involves a lot of people. From the start, I think you need to develop a clear purpose for your application and frame out the story you want to illustrate to the review boards.
After a long month of waiting, I received notice to come to Denver for an in person interview with other finalists from the Midwest. The Truman Foundation has panels of past, distinguished Truman Scholars conduct the interviews, which lasted a full day at the District Court of Appeals in Denver. A few more weeks passed, and then in the middle of a wind ensemble rehearsal, a procession of Deans, Directors, Vice-Chancellors, and other staff came in to announce I had been selected as a Truman Scholar.

How important was UNL in helping you achieve and win this award?
Institutional support is critical in completing an application process like this, and Nebraska really dedicates a lot of resources to help their students compete nationally. Dr. Laura Damuth, UNL’s Fellowships Advisor, helped me to continually revise and improve my application before I submitted it to the Truman Foundation.

You had an illustrious undergraduate career, what have you been doing since to pursue your goals?Following graduation, I accepted an internship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in their Office of Development. I work closely with the development staff to identify, solicit, and steward our major corporate and foundation donors. It’s very fulfilling work to do when you see how the financial gifts to the institution lead to many programs and performances.

What is your dream job? And how will music be apart of it?I definitely want to pursue a career in Arts Administration at a major non-profit Performing Arts Center. I was asked the same question in my Truman interview and I responded by saying I’d like to someday be the President of the Kennedy Center. Music and the performing arts as a whole have made a very significant impact on my life and my way of thinking, so I can’t really imagine a career where they’re not involved in someway.

What advice would you give someone interested in studying music at the college level?Find a practice room you like and visit it often.
In all seriousness though, the time that you put in equals the benefits you receive, and there is no substitute for quality time “on the horn.” Looking at different schools and finding the right fit is also extremely important. I considered many institutions for my undergraduate degree and ultimately settled on Nebraska due to their quality of ensemble directors, academic commitment to students, and the community atmosphere I felt on campus and at the School of Music.

What advice would you give someone who is new to Classical music?Listen without preconceived ideas to the music. Symphonies by Tchaikovsky can transport a listener through stories of struggle, fate, deception, and love. Chamber pieces by Ewald and Stravinsky can demonstrate soloists’ virtuosity in the context of a unified ensemble. Modern compositions can reflect current issues in society and create a place for discussion. While keeping an open mind is important, I think it’s good to know what it is that you like. I try to branch out musically, but always keep a few playlists of my favorite composers and orchestras on my iPod. It’s always amazing to me the differences you hear in a piece depending on who is playing it. Two world-class orchestras like the Chicago Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic could make recordings of the same piece, but provide the listener with two very different aural experiences.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer: A link between Lincoln and Vivaldi

While Lincoln and the surrounding areas experience days of sweltering heat alternating with furious thunderstorms, many people are trying to stay put in their air conditioned homes and offices. Long before air conditioning, a man known as the Red Priest experienced just such summers in Venice and was inspired to write "Summer."
The Red Priest was nicknamed such because of his red hair, although he was a Roman Catholic priest, his main job was that of music instructor and master of violin at a girls' orphanage. Born in Venice in 1678, Vivaldi became music instructor at the girls' school in 1703 and worked there for roughly 15 years. Although a celebrated violinist, Vivaldi composed for many instruments in order to feature different students in concerts at the school. Perhaps one of his most famous and well-loved pieces, and especially appropriate as Lincoln experiences extreme summer weather conditions is the second in a series of violin concertos of entitled "The Four Seasons."

"Summer" starts out calm, serene. In Lincoln, this may be compared to early on a summer morning, but it becomes agitated and excited briefly, perhaps to indicate the rising temperature. The second movement sounds like one might imagine the stillness of a hot afternoon. This movement reminds us that it is cool and calm if one stays in the shade or indoors, but intermittently, there is a threat of a coming storm which then breaks upon us in the third movement.

The third movement of "Summer" may arguably be the most famous movement from all the concertos of "The Four Seasons." A search for "Summer by Vivaldi" on iTunes yields hundreds of albums featuring this concerto. The albums may feature all Vivaldi pieces, or may be collections of summer music, Baroque music, or even rock and techno as this famous piece has been adapted by some artists in those modern genres.

The third movement is exciting, thrilling, and grips you like the thunder and lightning storm that it is meant to represent--and just like the grandiose, powerful storms that Nebraskans are used to seeing this time of year. One of these hot, summer afternoons, or maybe during the next thunderstorm, take a listen and feel how well the music matches the season!

Although summer weather may have subsided by the time October rolls around, Lincoln can also look forward to hearing Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" on the opening concert of the LSO 2011-2012 season. This performance will feature the Chiara String Quartet and Rachel Barton Pine, violin. The performance will be at the LSO's new home, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts, and is on Friday, October 14 at 7:30pm.