Musical Musings

The Sarasota Orchestra Blog

Charles Wetherbee

Upon entering room 204 in the Sarasota Orchestra building, this year's Festival students can be seen tuning their instruments, practicing their piece of choice, and organizing sheet music. Once faculty artist Charles Wetherbee enters the practice room the sound of violins and rustling paper peters out. Everyone takes a seat and is ready to begin.

Charles Wetherbee is a highly esteemed violinist whose playing has taken him around the world. Wetherbee has performed in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. He has taken part in a multitude of music festivals, including the Aspen Music festival, the Garth Newell Center, the Hidden Valley Festival, the Roycroft Chamber Festival, and the Sarasota Music Festival, to name a few.

Wetherbee brings with him a thoughtful and observant eye when it comes to teaching at the festival.

“Start with more color... expand on the context for a specific phrase.”

After a student performs their piece in class he deconstructs their playing, and points out places that worked, as well as moments for improvement. “We're not changing articulation, just dynamic and energy.”  In addition to verbal advice, Wetherbee takes his own violin and produces examples for the student to go by, giving them both auditory and visual feedback.

Diligently, the students absorb his critiques and try to translate his words into their playing. Keeping in mind his advice,

“there is room to find much more contrast and color”.

Timothy Eddy Coaching

Cellist Timothy Eddy is a highly acclaimed soloist and recoding artist who has won multiple awards, one being the Cassado International Cello Competition. In addition to pursuing a soloist career, Eddy is also part of three different group ensembles: the Orion String Quartet, Eddy-Kalish Duo, and Bach Aria Group.

Timothy Eddy, faculty celloEddy is also involved in the world of teaching. He is a Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and formerly was a faculty member at Mannes College of Music in New York, Julliard, the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop at Carnegie Hall, New England Conservatory of Music and SUNY Stony Brook. Not to mention his role as a faculty artist at the Sarasota Music Festival, which he has been teaching at since 1980, and attended as a student in 1970.

When teaching music students at the festival, Eddy tries to push the students further, challenging them to find the emotions in a piece.

"We must find the door... to hear the pieces spilling out of us." 

It is important for the musician to evoke a deep emotional response from not just the audience, but from themselves as well. "Music must convey an emotional image" and by doing that, a fully immersive experience is achieved. The cello is one of two components in the process of creating music. The second component is the musician. However, the key is to achieve an emotional response by combining the two, merely making the cello an extension of the player. When they are one, the emotions of the musician may channel through the bow and out the cello.

"To discover and rediscover... To be in the state as the piece we are playing. Playing must be as natural as speaking or being." After all, "concerts are an opportunity to celebrate the living."

Festival Coaching

The sound of violins, cello, and viola intertwine and waft through the air. The conversation between these instruments can be heard during one of the Sarasota Music Festival’s coaching sessions. Instructed by faculty artist, David Coucheron, four students practice Brahms- String Quartet No.1 in C Minor. The session is designed to give students an opportunity to practice and receive constructive criticism on how they can improve their playing techniques.

As students practiced sections of the piece, Coucheron would often stop them, provide insight on how they could improve, and then ask them to try the same section again, but with his pointers in mind. Each instrument has its own voice, and when played together, a harmonious conversation is created.

As the class continued, the conversation between the instruments developed a flow, and one enchanting voice was heard. When approaching a new section of the piece, a stop and go routine developed. Students would practice and then stop when Coucheron waved his arms. They listened to him play his violin, posing as an example of how they could improve.

The coaching was well received and understood by the attentive students who were eager to translate Coucheron’s critiques into their own playing. It was a learning experience not just for the students, but for the audience as well.

Vocalist Maria Wirries gives us the inside scoop on this week's Outdoor Pops at Ed Smith Stadium! Follow her journey this week on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and by checking the #SarasotaOrchestra hashtag. Don't forget: there's still a chance to win a VIP Experience at the concert just by posting using our hashtag, too!

Outdoor Pops: Triple Play

The Sarasota Orchestra's third annual Outdoor Pops concert is coming to Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 7:30pm. But, it's sold out!

Do you still want the chance to see this exciting live music event? We've got the bases covered. From Thursday, May 5, 2016 to Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12pm EST, you can enter for a chance to win a VIP Experience which includes two VIP seats ($100 value), free VIP parking at Ed Smith Stadium, and a $50 gift card to the stadium for food and beverages.


Use the #SarasotaOrchestra hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and you'll be entered to win. Increase your chances by posting on all three social platforms! For full contest rules, see below.


The Sarasota Orchestra brings exciting live music to the Orioles' Ed Smith Stadium for our third-annual outdoor Pops. This year's concert, called Triple Play, covers the bases in three genres—jazz, rock 'n' roll and Broadway. A tribute to American Divas, the vocalists performing with the Sarasota Orchestra include Carol McCartney, Amy Whitcomb and Maria Wirries.

Get yourself a hot dog, some popcorn and sit back in the comfort of Ed Smith Stadium for a wonderful outdoor musical experience. The evening promises to be full of hits, concluding with a spectacular fireworks display.


WHO MAY ENTER: Open to all individuals who legally reside in Florida age 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  Employees of Sarasota Orchestra, its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, and the trustees, officers, directors, interns, advertising and promotion agencies of each, are not eligible to win. Any person in the immediate family of an employee (including the spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters of any employee) living in the same household of any such employee is not eligible to win.

HOW TO ENTER: Entrants must enter by posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram a photo, video or text entry which includes the hashtag “#SarasotaOrchestra.” By entering the Sweepstakes, contestants grant Sarasota Orchestra the right to use entrant’s name and entry content in any future promotion without further compensation.

ENTRY DEADLINE: All entries must be submitted via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram publically-accessible post no later than noon on May 12, 2016. Private, protected, or friends-only posts are not eligible.

WINNER SELECTION: Winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries. Winners will be selected and notified on or about the evening of May 12, 2016. If the winner does not acknowledge the notification within 24 hours, Sarasota Orchestra may select an alternate winner.

PRIZES: The grand prize winner will receive two seats to the Outdoor Pops Concert on May 14, 2016 ($100 value for 2), plus a $50 gift card to the stadium for concessions and free VIP parking. Should any winner be physically unable to redeem their prize, Sarasota Orchestra may choose another winner from eligible entries remaining. Notifications and redemption deadlines may be extended at Sarasota Orchestra’s discretion should a winner’s ineligibility to redeem the prize be determined at a later date than the notification date.

MISCELLANEOUS: Each participant agrees that any and all disputes and causes of action arising out of this Sweepstakes shall be resolved individually and any judicial proceeding shall take place in a federal or state court within the State of Florida. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of participants and Sarasota Orchestra in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions (whether of the State of Florida or any other jurisdiction) that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Florida .

All federal, state and local taxes, fees and other expenses are winner’s responsibility. Each winner shall grant permission to Sarasota Orchestra, its subsidiary and affiliated businesses to use his or her name, age, city, state, or likeness for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation, except where otherwise provided by law. By entering this Sweepstakes each participant agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sarasota Orchestra and its agents, whose decisions regarding all aspects of the Sweepstakes shall be final.


This Sweepstakes is sponsored by Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota, Florida

Frédéric François Chopin

Just how well do you know Chopin? A pianist of legendary skill, Chopin wrote pyrotechnic piano pieces that still astound music lovers today (and give budding pianists ongoing consternation!).

Born in Poland, he later settled in France. He had oodles of messy affairs. Here are a few, hopefully surprising, facts about Chopin.

  1. His father was a Frenchmen who married a Polish woman made a living by teaching French and French culture first to the children of rich Polish aristocrats and later at the Warsaw Lyceum. Nevertheless, Chopin's dad loved all things Polish and insisted that they speak Polish at home.
  2. Chopin was a child prodigy. You probably know this. But did you know he was performing publicly and composing by the age of 7?
  3. He had a Parisian posse. Members included. Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Ferdinand Hiller, Heinrich Heine, Eugène Delacroix, Alfred de Vigny, Julian Fontana, and of course, his on-again, off-again lover George Sand. #SquadGoals
  4. Chopin rarely played publicly: The musicologist Arthur Hedley wrote: "As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances - few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime."
  5. Chopin and Liszt were close pals, but at times, professional jealousy stood in the way. Chopin wrote to a friend, "I should like to rob him of the way he plays my studies."
  6. Chopin didn't only write for piano. In addition to his many piano pieces and two piano concerti, he also wrote several song sets and chamber music pieces. His most famous non-piano work is his G Minor Cello Sonata, which was also his last composition before his death in 1849.
  7. Over 230 works of Chopin survive; some compositions from early childhood have been lost. All his known works involve the piano, and only a few range beyond solo piano music, as either piano concertos, songs or chamber music.

We've all heard of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but have you heard of the Kalevala? In the tradition of rip-roaring national epics, the Kalevala is a collection of Finnish tales that are filled with drama, lust, romance, kidnappings, adventure, and more.

Jean Sibelius, a Finnish composer, fell deeply in love with the Kalevala. Indeed, we could say he was obsessed. He even spent his honeymoon in Karelia, which is considered the birthplace of the Kalevala. Further, he wrote not one but MANY pieces inspired by the epic tale.

In fact, the Kalevala and the Finnish countryside would become Sibelius's two greatest muses. A love of all things Finnish wasn't innately taught to Sibelius by his parents. He discovered it. Sibelius was born to Swedish-speaking parents, and it wasn't until his later school years that he was sent to a Finnish language school where he first read the Kalevala. And thus, the obsession began.

Sibelius' masterpiece, Legends, began as an opera based on the Kalevala but he changed his mind and turned it into a four-movement orchestral work instead. Like its inspiration, the piece is majestic. The plot of this epic tone poem centers around the hero Lemminkäinen, whose exploits come across as a sort of mash-up of Don Juan, Achilles, Siegfried, and Osiris.

Watch out for the übermensch, Finnish style!

Johannes Brahms

Wouldn't it be nice to have a composer for a friend?

It's wildly common for composers to write music for friends and loved ones. Mozart, for example, wrote many of his concertos for people he knew. Johannes Brahms likewise wrote his Violin Concerto in D Major for his friend Joseph Joachim (1831-1907).

The year after the premiere of the Violin Concerto in 1880, their friendship was on the fritz. Joachim tried to divorce his wife of almost twenty years, mezzo-soprano Amalie Weiss, on the grounds that he was not the father of the youngest of their six children. Brahms ultimately made a testimony in Amalie's favor, severing their friendship.

Brahms's Violin Concerto illustrates the mutual respect and collaborative spirit that existed between these two musicians. Brahms started work on the piece in the summer of 1878 while vacationing at Pörtschach, an Austrian summer resort on Lake Wörth. He sent the manuscript of the concerto to Joachim on August 22, writing, "Naturally I wish to ask you to correct it. I thought you ought to have no excuse - neither respect for the music being too good nor the pretext that orchestrating it would not merit the effort. Now I shall be satisfied if you say a word and perhaps write in several: difficult, awkward, impossible, etc."

By the time of the concerto's premiere in Leipzig on January 1, 1879, it had been considerably altered. The correspondence between Brahms and Joachim shows an interesting paradox: while Brahms incorporated many of Joachim's proposed orchestral changes, he didn't adopt many of Joachim's alterations to the solo part. Brahms's resistance to Joachim's interventions sets his concerto apart from other Romantic examples of the genre. Instead of casting the violin in the starring role and leaving the orchestra to the wings, Brahms integrates soloist and orchestra much more than other virtuosic concertos.

Aaron Copland

It's always fascinating when art imitates life. That is definitely the case in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938. Our Town follows the fictional American small town of Grover's Corners through the everyday lives of its citizens.

The play's wild success and great acclaim on Broadway took Wilder to Hollywood to write a screen adaptation. Aaron Copland (1900-1990) had recently written music for the film version of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men -- and seemed to be the perfect fit to compose a score to Wilder's Our Town.

It's even more fitting that Copland is often called the "Dean of American Composers," and was instrumental in forging an American style of composition. His music is truly American, while Wilder's Our Town is a small town story that is also distinctly American.

After the premiere in 1940, Copland quickly arranged a ten-minute concert suite that was aired on the radio. A few years later, he created the definitive version, which he dedicated to Leonard Bernstein. The suite premiered in 1944 in Boston, Bernstein conducting.

Daniel SoloweyDaniel Solowey is 15 years old and a freshman at Pine View School. He has been playing the clarinet for four and a half years. Daniel’s private teachers are Bharat Chandra, principal clarinet in the Sarasota Orchestra and Laura Stephenson, second clarinet in the Sarasota Orchestra. Daniel attended the Sarasota Orchestra Summer Music Camp for three years and also attended the Luzerne Music Center in up-state New York last summer. Daniel has been an All-State musician for three years and was first chair clarinet in All-State band and orchestra, respectively, for the last two years. He is also an ambassador for PeaceJam, an organization devoted to inspiring young people to become involved in world peace through meeting with Nobel Peace Laureates. Daniel would love to study music performance at a school like the Curtis Institute or Juilliard.

When did you first start playing an instrument? What drew you to music/your instrument?

I first started playing the piano around age five, but wanted to try something new. Both my parents play in the Sarasota Orchestra, and that is what first involved me in music. After the piano, I began to grow interested in the saxophone, but the music store clerk advised me to start on the clarinet.

What was it like when you learned you were going to be a soloist with "Thrill of a Lifetime"?

On stage that afternoon, I just felt like I needed to thank everyone who listened to me play, even though it was only the judges who had any say in the competition.

What's your favorite part about being a musician? How has music enhanced or impacted your life?

I like being able to play the music itself, and that I can express exactly what I'm feeling with absolutely no words at all, just through music.

Thrill of a Lifetime will take place Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 7:30pm in Neel PAC. For tickets and more information about this special concert, click here!

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 There's no doubt, audiences are thrilled by the Sarasota Orchestra's new music director, Anu Tali. She's brought an intense energy from the orchestra in previous performances and we found this yet again in a downright thrill ride of an encounter...  

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 Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.  

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 Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.  

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 The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...  

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 A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.  

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 It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.  

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 Tali conveyed a clear vision for the dramatic outline of this symphony, carefully pacing the darker, searching character of the music with pastoral conversations among voices in the orchestra.  

Written byThe Observer

 If you haven’t seen Tali yet, this will be a great introduction to the skyrocketing conductor who’s quickly becoming a household name around the world. You’ll see why we feel we’re lucky to have her here.  

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