Review: The music takes on a new urgency as locked-out ASO musicians perform at KSU | September 29, 2014
By Mark Gresham
Locked-out musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the moniker “ATL Symphony Musicians,” performed a pair of back-to-back free concerts of music by Beethoven and Dvořák in the Bailey Performance Center’s 620-seat Morgan Hall at Kennesaw State University Friday night.
The musicians engaged Michael Palmer to conduct, just as they had for two performances during the relatively brief lockout of 2012. Palmer was selected by Robert Shaw to be assistant, then associate, conductor of the ASO in 1967, as the orchestra was first working toward becoming a full-time professional orchestra. Palmer was with the ASO for 10 years, then became music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Palmer returned to Atlanta in 2004 to teach at Georgia State University, where he is the Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies. More prominently, for over 20 years Palmer has been the artistic director of the Bellingham Festival of Music.
ArtsATL attended the first performance at 7 p.m. The capacity audience stood and rendered thunderous applause for the musicians as they came onstage. The concert opened with Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture. The symbolism was hardly lost on those who know Goethe’s play of the same name, for which Beethoven wrote the music.
The total energy in the performance is hard to describe. Morgan Hall itself contributed to the brightness and sheer volume of sound. It was the kind of force that hits you in the solar plexus rather than washing over the audience. The orchestra delivered a sharply stenciled performance that left no room for superfluous sentiment.
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 represents the composer at his best. The 9th may be more popular, but No. 7 is more musically ambitious, arguably his greatest, and more deliberately cosmopolitan in style than his previous symphonies. Like Beethoven’s “Egmont,” Dvořák’s 7th nevertheless has within it a message of tenacious resistance to political oppression, according to the composer himself.
Palmer and the orchestra switched gears to a more rounded, embracing rendering appropriate to the work’s late romantic style. Though not everything about the performance was razor-sharp, the heart of the music overwhelmingly carried the day. Special kudos belong to principal horn Brice Andrus and the entire horn section in both works.
The second performance at 9 p.m. drew a capacity-plus crowd; extra chairs for overflow audience were placed behind the orchestra, and yet some late arriving fans had to be turned away, as there was no more room. The musicians clearly have a tribe of loyal fans.
Arts Education and Creative Careers in USA TODAY: Robert Lynch & Jane Chu
Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Jane Chu, Chairman of the NEA, write to USA Today on Creative Careers
Friday, September 19, 2014
Robert Lynch, CEO and President of Americans for the Arts, and Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, wrote for a special insert on arts education and creative careers in today's edition of USA TODAY. By no coincidence is National Arts in Education week, Americans for the Arts is currently hosting an ARTSBlog salon on creative youth development, and hosting our 8th annual National Arts Policy Roundtable focusing on arts and technology this week in Sundance, Utah.
Countless studies have demonstrated the immeasurable benefits of art education. Academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity - all things we want for our children - have been linked to a well rounded education that includes the arts. However, many schools across the country have made difficult decisions to eliminate or reduce their arts education programs due to budget constraints. Both Lynch and Chu use the numbers to link arts education to more innovative, creative, and successful adult professionals and citizens later in life.
Robert Lynch: "Not every young person will go on to be an artist. But they will all be better students, employees, and citizens if they indeed have opportunities to embrace their creativity." Read Lynch's full article, Make Art, Transform Lives: The Imprtance of Arts Education.
Jane Chu: "By increasing access to art education, we are not only equipping our children with creative reasoning, but we are helping to cultivate arts appreciation within a new generation." Read Chu's full article, Fostering Creative Career Exploration.
Check out the digital platform created to accompany the insert in USA Today at the link below.
Creative Career Exploration, USA Today Sep 19, 2014