Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meet the ASO - an interview with Joan Singer

From time to time we hope to bring you interviews from across the ASO - volunteers, musicians, board members, and staff. Here is our first one - a conversation with Joan Singer, longtime violinist with the ASO.

At a glance:
Performs regularly with the Baltimore Opera and Fairfax Symphony
Founder and Director of QuinTango – – a quintet dedicated to musical performances of the tango
She has been playing with the ASO on and off since moving to Alexandria 30 years ago

What was your most memorable performance with the ASO?
"One of the concerts I remember vividly was a performance of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. All of us were so nervous before the concert and warming up on stage. It certainly turned out to be a great concert, but I’ve hardly ever been that nervous before playing such a difficult a work."

What would you say defines the ASO and separates from our colleagues?
“One of the great things about the ASO has been to see the way it’s brought the arts community together in Alexandria. It’s a very supportive, caring community. The original concerts at TC Williams really were a catalyst for that. So many people I know in the area are so proud of the ASO.”

You also direct another performing arts groups in the area – QuinTango. You must share Kim’s passion for exploring new repertoire and presenting classical music in different ways, no?
“Absolutely. The programming Kim brings to each season is always interesting. I actually helped him find the bandoneĆ³n player the other season since I’ve been so involved in tango performances lately and knew about the instrument. The ASO is all about accessibility but expanding the repertoire too – similar to QuinTango branching out and bringing our concerts into classrooms in addition to appearances with orchestras.”

Friday, January 26, 2007

Maestro Musings - for Feb. 3, 2007 - Triple Treat!

Before each concert our Music Director Kim Allen Kluge shares his thoughts with readers. Here is his first Musing for 2007, detailing just how unique our next concert is:

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra & The Shakespeare in Washington Festival present “Where Dreams Dwell”

What do a Classical Master, Hollywood Composer, and Rock Music Icon have in common? Their musical interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will appear together on the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s February 3rd Shakespeare in Washington concert. The international list of participants for the festival includes The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Kirov Opera, American Ballet Theatre and…The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra.

Elvis Costello and The Shakespeare in Washington Festival? Yes, rock icon Elvis Costello has composed a classical rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And guess what, it’s an astonishingly good symphonic score. It’s fresh, imaginative, and really makes the orchestra sing. I was so amazed when I received the conductor’s score that I contacted the publisher and learned that Mr. Costello had written over two hundred compositions for classical music ensembles. It really shows! Costello fan, or not, one can’t help but be beguiled by this music that is jazzy in feel and full of romantic lyricism and color.

I will give a short “tutorial” immediately preceding the performance. In the great Wagnerian tradition, Costello uses leitmotifs, or specific musical themes, to represent the “Dream”, or the magical realm of the forest, or Puck’s mischievousness, etc. Each musical theme is easily recognizable and will produce the “Ah Ha!” effect on the listener when they least expect it.

Two other musical portrayals of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will round out the program. Benjamin Britten’s widely acclaimed masterpiece will be excerpted. We will also include music from Erich Korngold’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1935 film score. (Yes, he is the composer for the Robin Hood movie starring Errol Flynn).

It is eye-opening to compare different composer’s interpretations to the same inspiration. On this program we have a Classical Master, a Hollywood Composer and a Rock Music Icon. And the results? Some startling similarities and some equally fresh and delightful differences.

Join the Alexandria Symphony’s Shakespeare in Washington concert on February 3rd for a triple treat.


Welcome to the newly created Alexandria Symphony Orchestra blog!

We hope to take a few steps in the upcoming months to re-position the ASO and use some recent technology to increase our visibility in the greater Washington, DC area. While we are indeed starting with a blog, podcasts and e-newsletters are hopefully right around the corner.

The goal of this blog is to bring the views and opinions of the ASO community to the public. In order to reach that goal, postings from our staff and Music Director will appear alongside thoughts from our volunteers, musicians, Board members, and audience members.

Do not hesitate to write or comment on other ways the ASO might better engage loyal supporters and potential attendees. We exist to serve the greater Alexandria community and hope you will find this blog informative, inspiring, and above all, entertaining!