by Caitlin Shannon, Student Life & Arts Editor
Last Sunday, the Drew University Orchestra had the unique opportunity of learning from professional musicians. Drew Orchestra Day gave Drewids the chance to take masterclasses with musicians from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Jonathan Spitz, principal cellist of the NJSO, came in to work with the string section, and Andrew Lamy, second clarinet and E flat clarinetist, worked with the wind section. Drew musicians were joined by community members and local high school musicians for a day full of music.
The day started with a coffee hour that allowed everyone to get know each other while getting energized for the day ahead. After introductions, winds and strings split up to their respective masterclasses. Each masterclass worked on parts of Bizet’s L’Arelesienne Suite focusing specifically on the important elements of orchestral playing.
“Orchestra day emphasized the art of listening while you speak. In a group such as an orchestra, each person, or instrumentalist, must listen to one another before, during and after they speak (verbally and musically),” said Stephanie DeFronzo (’20), sharing what she learned during the masterclass.
Especially for those students who had never been to a masterclass before it was a unique opportunity to work and learn closely with professional musicians. “I have never been to a masterclass before and I found it incredibly helpful. It taught me how to effectively play so that my own instrument blends into the cohesive sound of the orchestra,” said Makayla Pardo (’20), commenting on her experience. Masterclasses are a special experience that allow musicians to learn specific skills that often are not addressed during normal orchestra rehearsal. In addition, it allows student musicians to learn closely from professionals that would otherwise be difficult to have access to. “My favorite part was the personal attention our section received from a professional clarinetist,” said Katie Revelas (’20), one of the clarinetists in Drew’s Orchestra.
After the masterclasses the group came together for a lunch at Commons. Lunch and the walk back from the Commons gave students a chance to interact more personally with the musicians. Once lunch was over the winds and strings came back together as a full orchestra to put into practice the skills that they had learned that morning. “The ensemble rehearsal allowed the group to put this thought into action, creating harmonies that rang throughout the Concert Hall,” said DeFronzo (’20) about the wide range of skills that were developed throughout the day. Pardo also shared what she learned from the day, saying, “Beautiful music cannot be created unless each player internalizes the essence of the ensemble.”