Check out this great feature about our upcoming show where we'll be performing the score to the Netflix Original "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday" LIVE! Composed by Ohio native Mark Mothersbaugh, the score (and the movie) are fantastic, and we can't wait to bring these to live for the first ever live scoring of the film.
Click below for the full article.
"You can't assume anything," Liza said to begin the final rehearsal at Cleveland State University preceding this year's Alternative Press Music Awards. "This is D-day and I'm going to call you out." The orchestra has been able to put in more time preparing for this year's performance as they unveiled APeak, an eight day immersion comprising sectionals, rehearsals, yoga and theatre classes, as well as guest speakers from different sides of the music industry.
The camp has pushed its students to think differently about the way they approach their instruments. Cellist Ami Scherson said, “Both classes built upon the idea that your body is an instrument that you have to take care of as well. I’ve never thought of my body like that before. My cello and I are almost the same size, but it’s this idea that you have to take care of it—you have to rosin your bow, you have to eat healthy, you have to work out your mind and your body. I think about the movement involved in the way that I play now and ask myself, am I doing this right? Does this sound good?”
Bassist Jack McGuire added, “I had a lot of tension problems. I practice yoga outside of this to help with my playing, but it was good to learn from someone who tailored it for musicians. The theatre class made it easier to have a conversation with somebody without using words and just trusting the other people, using a lot of eye contact and just being free with your body.”
At Monday’s rehearsal, the orchestra hit the music hard, spending three hours nitpicking the tiny details of each score before taking a break for lunch and yoga class and then returning for two and a half more hours "10,000 of your peers are going to be singing this back to you," Liza reminded her violins as they sang and clapped a part. The strings finalized bow patterns, practicing coordination for camera work. The trumpets called down the line to one another, claiming the difficult parts as their own.
"Let that thing rip like you're mad at your bank statement," Liza called back to her horns. "It should hurt when you're done playing. You should wanna call somebody."
“People are going to think it’s so odd, but it just works,” says former CYO violist Nikki Greene, who performed at last year’s inaugural show. “Orchestral music gives such an interesting, mature texture to everything. It just adds a little bit something extra that music always seems to need. Adding that to something as grand as a music award show just completes the experience.”
“People here want to take things a little bit farther, said violinist Conrad Paganini. “There’s always motivation to do something more because everyone is always open to doing something another way. Nothing is finite; you don’t have to do it one way. There’s always something different. Liza is always up to something awesome.”
“This music isn’t necessarily what I’d listen to personally, but hearing it orchestrated has made me love it so much more. This experience is really introducing me to new kinds of music,” chimed in clarinetist Kate Serbinowski. “Being a part of CYO is the best choice I’ve ever made. I wish I could stay in it forever. I wish I would have heard of it sooner because I would have done it my entire high school career.”
“A CYO member said to me, hey, come to a rehearsal and see what you think,” said percussionist Aidan Kranz. “I was in COYO and CYO needed an extra percussionist. So, I came and I thought it was awesome, so I stayed for the entire year. It’s indescribable, the feeling you get, but it leaves you wanting more.”
That feeling—of wanting more—is exactly what you’ll be left with after experiencing the tag-team performances between the orchestra and the bands selected by Alternative Press. We can’t give away any details about specific performances, but know this: you won’t believe your ears. Tonight is going to blow you away.
SATURDAY'S REHEARSAL WAS ONE OF INTENSE CONCENTRATION AS THE ORCHESTRA TOOK TIME TO CLEAN UP THE TINIEST DETAILS OF EACH SONG, PERFECTING THE MUSICAL INTEGRITY OF GRAHAM NASH'S WORKS. THE CONCERT WILL INCLUDE A CROSS-SECTION OF NASH'S MUSIC--FROM HIS DAYS IN CROSBY, STILLS & NASH, THE HOLLIES AND SOLO. THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME HE'S PERFORMED HIS MUSIC WITH AN ORCHESTRA.
"Marrakesh Express" features a driving beat and soaring lines from the cello section. "Just a Song Before I Go" found the trumpets finalizing their mute selection, their lines laid back and chill. Beautiful legato flute lines sang throughout. Liza stopped the orchestra, recalling the FOX8 performance of earlier in the week and reminding the strings to place their lines carefully. The bass clarinetist paused the orchestra to ask a stylistic question, playing the excerpt through multiple times to help solidify the articulation Liza was after. Even while cracking a note, he apologized and continued forward without disturbing his rhythmical accuracy. These kids are no joke!
As an added treat, a chorus will join us for this a large portion of Friday night's performance. In Saturday's rehearsal, they joined us to work on a few tunes--"Our House," "Critical Mass" and "Simple Man," which add a beautiful dynamic to the orchestra's playing. The chorus features a wide age range--from elementary school children to CYO alums. "I wanted to capture that innocence," says Liza of the decision to include very young children. But do not think that these young children will not perform with the same musical integrity as is expected of the orchestra.
"This piece is all acoustic. That's what you are doing. This opens up the show," Liza reminded the ensemble as they perfected "Critical Mass." The chorus experimented with different diction to achieve the proper aesthetic. "Orchestra, if you can sing and play, I think it should be a community event," Liza encouraged as they rehearsed "Our House."
As rehearsal drew to a close, a smile grew across Liza's lips as she exclaimed, "We are ready for Graham."
WITH A FLICKER OF THE LIGHTS, A TUNING NOTE RINGS FORTH AND THE ORCHESTRA IS ENGAGED, HONING A SOUND CREATED BY MUSICIANS WHO HAVE BARELY EARNED THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSES. BUT DO NOT LET THEIR AGES FOOL YOU. THE CONTEMPORARY YOUTH ORCHESTRA CONTAINS SOME OF THE FINEST MUSICIANS CLEVELAND HAS TO OFFER AND WHAT'S MORE, THEY'RE CATALYSTS FOR A CHANGE THAT IS BEGINNING TO CHANGE THE PERIMETERS OF WHAT AN ORCHESTRA IS.
Last year, the group was the official orchestra for the inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards, performing alongside Brendon Urie, twenty one pilots, and Fall Out Boy. This year they'll return to the APMAs, but before doing so they'll be presenting a spring concert with legendary musician Graham Nash.
"You save your glory for June 5th," director Liza Grossman advises her horns, "but just know this is one of those moments that will make your cheeks red."
Lead by Grossman, the orchestra gives up their Saturdays to fill the Cleveland State University's band room and make music. Even their sight-reading is musical; it's more than splattering notes against each other. They are confident in their lines.
Grossman paints the atmosphere by prepping her students with a story woven therein. "It's 1969 and we're in a lounge, very laid back...an older man with long hair and a beard sits at an Hammond organ and" her voice decrescendos, "we begin." Gently, they begin "A Song Before I Go."
We invite you to join us on thisadventure, from preparation to the downbeat, by following along with our blog. Catch all the behind the scenes access before you join us on June 5th at Severance Hall. Tickets are available here.