Since about 1800, the social institution that we call the orchestra has been a remarkably stable and durable feature of Western art music. Orchestras function within a myriad of conventions governing everything from the balance of players in each section to how they arrange themselves on stage, to concert etiquette. Some of these conventions have begun to seem peculiar or archaic in our day and age. Travel back in this course to a time when the orchestra was an astonishing novelty, difficult to describe, coming in diverse shapes and sizes, following local customs, employing advanced technology and finest hand-craftsmanship. Meet orchestral musicians of the past and the present as they share the many facets of their work both on and off-stage.
Classes are approximately 1.5 hours which include lecture and group discussion. Classes are offered on Wednesdays at 3:30PM or 7:00PM.
Live lectures are now full. If you would like to receive the recorded lectures, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What is an orchestra?
Wednesday, April 21 2021
“The music in this region is made by, how should I say it, an assembly of players on violins, violas, and basses, as many as 40 or 50 at a time. They play in a full chorus; they all bow together with great bow strokes, as though they were marching into battle,” according to a traveler in Lyon in 1664. This class will explore the origins of the orchestra in the late seventeenth century and the aesthetic goals of Baroque music that shaped its development, then consider the Baroque orchestra’s revival in the twentieth century and what it might have to offer to audiences today.
2. Meet the strings
Wednesday, April 28 2021
“The violins all began together. The force of these instruments, which twenty-four men made to sound with all their strength and with great intensity, surprised the lady utterly, for it was the last thing she expected. This harmony made such an impact that it instantly banished her baleful melancholy.” – Jean Denis
3. Winds and Brass
Wednesday, May 5 2021
“[Lully’s] rise to power cause the utter downfall of all the old wind instruments except for the oboe- thanks to the labors of the Philidors and the Hotteterres, who whittled away at their wood and practiced their instruments until they had succeeded in rendering them suitable for use in ensembles.” – Michel de la Barre (c. 1702)
In classes 2 and 3, members of Pacific Baroque Orchestra introduce you to their instruments, their abilities and quirks, and the craftsmanship involved in creating and maintaining them with musical examples and workshop tours prepared for the course.
4. Spaces, Acoustics, Environments, and Resources
Wednesday, May 12 2021
“In the great courtyard of the palace… were constructed two spacious grandstands capable of holding up to 3.000 persons. In between them a magnificent gateway was erected… On top of this gate was a loft for the musicians, who played behind screens at four large windows.” This was the spectacle that welcomed Christina of Sweden to Rome in 1656 after she abdicated her throne. Today we are used to orchestral performances from concert hall stages and theatre pits. This class explores the spaces that orchestral music filled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, acoustically and functionally, and the acoustical challenges that face orchestras today both in live music-making and recording
5. Making Music Together
Wednesday, May 19 2021
“The concert, or orchestra player… becomes no more than a part of a part; therefore his performance, with that of those who play the same part, must, like the unisons of an organ or harpsichord, coincide so as to pass for one entire sound, whether loud or soft.” – Robert Bremner (1756)
What is an orchestra like? An army? A mechanical clock? The harmonious relationship of the heavenly spheres? Many have looked to metaphor to explain the complex cooperation that happens between members of an orchestra. This class explores the psychology of collaborative music-making and the advice and strategies of musicians past and present, and what they might teach us about social relationships more broadly.
6. Preparing and Leading an Orchestral Program
Wednesday, May 26 2021
“All the trees are ringing,
All the nests are singing.
Who is the Kapellmeister
In this green forest-orchestra?”
-Heinrich Heine (1844)
Alex Weimann and colleagues discuss the many facets of orchestral leadership past and present, from program planning and music sourcing and preparation, to giving guidance in rehearsal and performance.
Host & Course Designer: Christina Hutten
Suzie LeBlanc – Artistic & Executive Director of EMV, soprano
Alexander Weimann – Music Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, keyboard
Chloe Meyers – Concertmaster of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, violin
Christi Meyers – violin
Paul Luchkow – violin
Mieka Michaux – viola
Joanna Hood – viola
Soile Stratkauskas – flute
Curtis Foster – oboe
Nate Helgeson – bassoon
Katrina Russell – bassoon
Andrew Clark – natural horn
Craig Tomlinson – historical keyboard builder