Headed to Chicago’s Orchestra Hall

April 11, 2008

In a few short weeks, 26 of our students will be traveling to Chicago to perform as guests in the 33rd annual spring concert of the Betty Haag Academy at Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony.

The concert is at 1:00pm on Sunday, April 27, 2008. In a remarkable performance that is a violin tour de force and represents the lifelong legacy of Mrs. Betty Haag-Kuhnke, the concert features two hours of violin repertoire, ranging from “See Saw”, the first piece each child learns as a toddler, to Paganini’s “Perpetual Motion” and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, performed by the high school seniors graduating from the program. All of the music is performed by an ensemble of violins, with all age groups performing together. Their teamwork and dedication are showcased in the precision and artistry of their playing. The final piece on the program features approximately 300 violinists, ranging in age from 3 through 17, playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Dr. Chu has performed in thirteen Orchestra Hall concerts while she was a student, and this will be the fourth time her own students will perform as guests of Mrs. Betty Haag-Kuhnke. It is an honor and privilege for all of us to witness and to be a part of this truly amazing legacy.

Here is our group photo from last year:

And a photo of all three hundred violinists on the concert stage:

We are all hoping that American Airlines’ round of inspections has quieted down by then…wish us luck!


Anne-Sophie Mutter in recital

April 8, 2008

I went to the all-Brahms recital by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis at Davies Symphony Hall last night.

First of all, yes, she was wearing her “mermaid” dress. This is the dress in which she was photographed for her recent Mozart Concertos DVD. She is known for her signature strapless gowns, purportedly because she feels that her violin resonates best when played against her bare skin (she does not use a shoulder bar). She did not , however, wear the large aquamarine ring on her bow hand that was featured prominently in the DVD. Read the rest of this entry »


Tocar Y Luchar

April 8, 2008

Once again, I have been deeply moved and inspired by the work of Jose Antonio Abreu and the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Last night, after the Anne-Sophie Mutter all-Brahms recital at Davies Symphony Hall (more on that in a separate post), I purchased the documentary film DVD entitled, Tocar Y Luchar” (To Play and To Fight). This is the motto of the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela – that to play music, or to create anything of meaning to the soul, you must also be prepared to fight for it. The tagline on the DVD reads, “…only those who dream achieve the impossible.”

I just finished watching the 70-minute film, and plan to transcribe some of Abreu’s words for you here later. He believes deeply in the power of music to transform individuals from the inside, and, through the group experience of this in orchestras, to transform the listeners as well. He envisions a Venezuela in which every town, no matter how small, has a choir and an orchestra. “This is not the 22nd or the 23rd century,” he said. “This is eternity.”

Several things were made apparent to me about Venezuela from this film: Read the rest of this entry »