AMN mentors Orchestra and Symphonic Music Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Conductor Edwin Outwater

Catching up with Edwin Outwater can be a schedule buster! He has so many assignments and projects in the works that he rarely stops for long in one place. I recently sat down over Zoom with this peripatetic musician to preview his upcoming online conversation with AMN Curator David Landis (October 23 at 2 p.m.). Edwin made time for me while in Miami to conduct a “Welcome Back” concert with the New World Symphony Fellows. He had just completed producing the Kennedy Center 50th Anniversary Celebration, where he was responsible for wrangling more than 70 artists from all genres and styles into “one concert with a coherent narrative and message of what the performing arts are in America in 2021.” If you’ve seen the PBS broadcast, you know it was a great success.

We talked about what he hopes to focus on during our upcoming online conversation, and what makes him inspired about the future.

EO: I’m now beginning my second year as music director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the first year was COVID year, and we did all sorts of interesting projects, so maybe talking about what we did during COVID, and also where the institution is headed, which I think is a super exciting thing for people here in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And I think that’s kind of where a lot of my attention is at the moment. And also, what is the direction of the arts in San Francisco, there’s a lot of change right now, a lot of new conductors, I am almost the elder statesman now, and what is my take as someone who’s been around a while in the arts scene. And what I see happening in the near future, and maybe not so near future with the arts in general in the city.

AMN: I just love all the different facets of what you’re doing musically, Edwin, and for me, building community and bringing people together to enjoy music and and promote our music community is really important, so I think that all the things that you’re doing are actually kind of tying into that. Not that you’re specifically working on community advocacy, but it’s a natural conduit to connect people.

EO: Yeah, I really appreciate your saying that, because in the background I am thinking about that – but it’s also just me having fun, and getting to do what I love to do and not being afraid or worried about how I’m perceived, or you know, resisting whatever label people try to put on the position, which is something I’ve managed to pull off for most of my career so far. And now, to go from drag to heavy metal to Schubert V this week is something I’m very lucky to be able to do.

AMN: Yes, and we are all lucky to be along for the ride!

Get a preview of our workshop as Edwin talks with AMN Founder Lolly Lewis about some recent projects and what’s on his schedule for the future.

AMN mentors Orchestra and Symphonic Music Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Mentor Scott Foglesong

Blog post by Scott Foglesong.

Imagine … where does music live if not in our imagination? No static thing, unchanging and immutable, music has to be played, and heard. The music is the sounds, not the marks on the paper, not the grooves on the record, not the zeros and ones in the digital media. It only makes sense as something we hear — and it makes its own separate sense to each of us in its own separate way.

That’s where we’re going with our six-week workshop Imagine. We’re exploring the heard experience of music, not what it should be or what’s correct. Sure, along the way we’re going to explore some of the nuts & bolts of symphonies, concertos, and symphonic poems — but always as experiences in our own minds, triggers that elicit reactions, emotions, feelings, physical sensations, memories. For Proust it was a madeleine; for us it can be a moment in a work by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, or maybe the song of a skylark in the evening sky. 

Imagine! with Scott Foglesong

Get a preview of our workshop as Scott talks with AMN Founder Lolly Lewis about the surprising joys of listening and what he hopes people will take away from the experience.

Enjoy Scott’s humor and musical insight in this recording of his presentation Unravelling Boléro 

AMN mentors Orchestra and Symphonic Music

Meet horn mentor Jonathan Ring

Why do contemporary horns look and sound the way they do, and when did they start looking and sounding that way? On Saturday, January 23, San Francisco Symphony hornist Jonathan Ring will answer those questions during what’s sure to be a lively and informative online workshop on the history of horns from hunting fields to concert hall. We caught up with Jonathan at his home in Piedmont to learn more about the twisty saga of the modern horn—and about how he became an accidental horn historian.

Read More…"Meet horn mentor Jonathan Ring"
Orchestra and Symphonic Music Talking about Music

Lonely for music

I miss music.

I miss going to the concert hall. I miss the anticipation, seeing the artists come onstage and get ready to play. I miss the upbeat, the intake of breath, the communal exhalation as the concert begins. I miss immersing into the sound, feeling all the molecules in the air and in my body vibrating together, resonant in rhythm and harmony and in tune with the musical mind of the players and the composer.

I miss the musical journeys, the stories, the surprises and eloquent joys of discovery that unfold along the paths of sound. I miss the humor and passion and anger and longing and love that music can express in such a vivid and physical way.

I am grateful for all the ways that musicians are reaching out to us, playing solos on youtube or facebook, even creating online choruses. We need that in this time of scary isolation.

But live music is different. Musicians respond to the sounds they hear, and react to where the sound is going, not to what they’ve already heard. They are playing the note that’s coming into being, and that sound, as it emerges, blooms into the next sound and the next. They constantly adjust to one another, staying resonant and in tune, sharing creativity at the deepest level. They’re playing the future into being in a constant forward flow. And we lucky listeners are along for the ride.

So, thank you to every musician who’s reaching out through your phone or computer screen to communicate with us. To every presenter and music school who’s finding ways to keep musicians and music students engaged. And until we can all be together again, everyone please stay happy and sane. Someday we’ll be back in the concert hall – maybe not sitting quite so close together, but still – I can’t wait to be in the room where that happens, with you, resonating in that musical air.

Lolly Lewis is a recording producer, amateur singer, and the founder of Amateur Music Network.

AMN mentors Orchestra and Symphonic Music Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass Workshops

Side By Side

Amateur Music Network’s Lolly Lewis spoke with SF Chamber Orchestra Music Director Benjamin Simon about AMN’S Third Annual Side by Side partnership with the SFCO: what drew him to this music and why he keeps coming back to working with amateurs.

Ben Simon has successfully made the transition to conductor following twenty-five years as a violist performing in several of the United States’ most elite ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Naumburg award-winning New World String Quartet, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In 2002 he was appointed Music Director of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and has transformed that organization into one of the premiere professional ensembles in northern California.

Mentor Benjamin Simon, Music Director of the SF Chamber Orchestra, leads a Side By Side workshop in 2017.
Ben leads the Side By Side in 2017

Lewis says, “Ben was one of the first people I thought of when I started Amateur Music Network. We had worked together many times over the years, and I loved how the SF Chamber Orchestra, with its free concerts, was all about making the highest-quality music and giving back to the community. I knew he would really understand what AMN was trying to do. And right away he suggested the Side by Side – bringing audience member string players right onto the stage after a concert for a reading with professional musicians as stand partners. We’re in our third year of the partnership now and each one is better. I’m really grateful for his visionary leadership. Plus, we always have such a great time!”

Amateur Music Network: Elgar’s music really seems like it comes from another world, and so does Piazzolla’s. What do you hear in these pieces?
Ben Simon: I agree, Elgar comes from a gentler time. There’s so much emotion and deep feeling, but there’s a civility and ease about the music that just warms my heart. And I think Piazzolla is the greatest South American composer of the 20th century. His music captures the spirit of time and place in the way all great music does. This just happens to be the bordellos and brothels of some dark waterfront street in Argentina. The danger, excitement, and sensuality of the Tango infuses his music with a life we can hear and experience today.
AMN: What do you hope people will experience playing in the Side By Side?
Simon: It’s so much fun for our professional musicians to relax a bit with a new friend and stand-partner. We hope that fun communicates throughout the group and that we all have a great time. Making music with other people is what it’s all about!

Learn more at our workshop!

Join Maestro Ben Simon and the SF Chamber Orchestra in a reading of Elgar’s Serenade and Piazzolla’s Libertango on Sunday, April 28, at 5pm at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley.
The Side By Side takes place right after the SFCO’s FREE Main Stage Concert: come listen to some splendid music and then come make music together!