Posts tagged #bkws

MMC Artist Series: Michael Cuadrado Sees Another World

We're wrapping up another incredible year with the Metropolitan Music CommunityBrooklyn Wind Symphony will be closing out the 2015-16 season Saturday, June 11 at 7 PM with their Spring Concert, a joint-program with the New York City All-City High School Concert Band. BKWS will be performing Aurora Awakes by John Mackey and Colonial Song by Percy Grainger, among other works.  

Our final Artist Series is Grand Street Community Band clarinetist Michael Cuadrado. Michael is a Drawing major at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and has been playing with the Grand Street Community Band for the last three seasons. Michael is an incredibly talented artist, and was given the artist's blessing/curse of having free-reign over the direction of the program art, after being told this concert had "no theme." Read about how Michael's piece took shape, and see the piece in progress along with much more of Michael's work in the slide show below! 

Finding a Feeling...

"When I was first approached to do a commission, I was told that this was the only cycle that didn't have a theme. That worried me a little, but I knew I could put something together. So this may have been just how I felt, but the pieces from this cycle posses a feeling of [being] otherworldly. They have these elements of being about about greater things, and that's what really drew me in. So I guess you could say I gave the cycle a theme [and] found it easier to make a piece that way."

Getting Started...

"The first thing I did was listen to all of the pieces but decided that it would be a little difficult for me to take something from all of them. I really had to listen to all the pieces over and over again, so I could get a sense of what the atmosphere was throughout every piece and try to make something cohesive. So I narrowed it down to specific ones--the ones that I instantly felt some kind of connection or reaction to. Aurora Awakes was the main one that has what I described earlier--that feeling of otherworldly. So I went with that because it felt right."

Letting Ideas Take Shape... 

"I didn't draw or sketch anything before hand, but I had a pretty good idea of what kind of color palette I wanted, and I knew I wanted it to be figural. So I just kind of made sketches in my head; it was all ideas at first. I also knew that it would take me some time to finish it and that things could change along the way, and if that was the case then I would just go with it. A lot of things went through my mind as well before I made the piece--what the color palate would be if I did decide to use color; if I was going to draw a person, what gender would they be; what material would be best for it, etc. Those aren't just the decisions I made for this poster--those are the decisions I have to make whenever I make an art piece." 

Revisit all of the Artist Series from this year right here. 

Posted on May 31, 2016 .

Jeffrey Hodes Takes the Stage—Preparing Maslanka’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble

By Alyssa Pry

Talking to Jeffrey Hodes, the principal clarinetist for the Brooklyn Wind Symphony, you’re immediately struck by his excitement and enthusiasm for just about, well, everything. Over the course of our interview, we discussed his job as a software engineer at Google: “I freaking love computer science”; discovering the Brooklyn Wind Symphony after a friend encouraged him to join: “That’s awesome, I found a good group!”; to his preparations for his performance of David Maslanka’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble:  “Playing a concerto is always super fun.” 

Hodes will be performing Maslanka’s concerto at the Brooklyn Wind Symphony’s “Postcards” concert on June 13th, before performing it with the group at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) in July. While most people may find the prospect of playing a twenty-minute clarinet concerto in front of hundreds of people daunting, for Hodes, it’s simply an opportunity to continue to follow his passion for music. 

“I’m super happy with how I’ve ended up being able to play a lot of clarinet non-professionally,” Hodes said. “Brooklyn Wind Symphony is one of those high-level groups for non-professionals and it’s super fun that I get to play with them.” 

Hodes may not be professional clarinetist, but he’s managed to create a life where it plays a major part. He attended Princeton University and played with the Princeton University Orchestra and other chamber groups, an experience he describes with trademark enthusiasm as “a blast.” After graduating, he was offered a position at Google Headquarters in California, but chose the tech company's New York office, in part for the city’s unbeatable music scene. 

“I decided I wanted to live in New York instead, in no small part because of the music community here,” he said. “Not only are the best orchestras here, but as a non-professional, you can take lessons and practice and play with other great people,” he said. 

Hodes also performs with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, as well as in various chamber groups. The opportunity to play with BKWS involved a bit of happenstance and good timing—both he and BKWS clarinetist Sarah Cohen were subbing for players with the New York Doctor’s Symphony, and Cohen asked if he would be interested in joining her group.  

“I was like sure, because I was new to New York and was like, ‘I want to play in everything,’” he said.  

But what stuck with Hodes initially was not his immediate success within the ensemble, but an early chastisement from conductor Jeff Ball. 

“I was playing and I got told off by Jeff Ball for playing too loud in the first rehearsal,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a really good sign when you get told off in a rehearsal; that means the group is playing at a high enough level that your mistakes are noticeable and worth mentioning.”

And now, Hodes has the opportunity to play with the enthusiasm he had in that first rehearsal as he tackles Maslanka’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble. Written in 2014, there have been no published recordings of the piece, which gives Hodes the opportunity to explore and interpret it in his own way. 

“This is the classic question—when you’re reading a poem, should you care what the author’s intent was or should you read it however you want? [Maslanka] wrote it, but we’re performing it,” Hodes said.  “And part of the fun of being a musician is interpreting the music and playing it in an interesting or compelling way.”

For Hodes, that’s meant looking at the piece as a whole, and how he fits into it within the context of the ensemble. 

“It’s an interesting piece. Unlike a lot of concertos, where it’s a solo line, and then goes back to the orchestra and they never really step over the soloist, [here] the instruments are playing with the soloist or playing in direct harmony,” he explained. “It’s really about the clarinet and one or two other sections at any given moment. It’s a very active collaboration with people in the band.” 

But working towards a high level of performance has meant daily practices for Hodes, often in some unexpected places. 

“I am definitely practicing this every day. [And] I’ll do weird stuff—because I don’t want to get noise complaints at my apartment, I’ll walk back to my office at midnight if I don’t have anything else to do and practice for 2-3 hours,” he said. 

Aside from working out the technical elements of the piece, Hodes’ goal is to feel confident in his playing.  

“With a concerto, you obviously have to practice a lot so you’re confident. From my experience, if I’m like, ‘I got this,’ then I won’t get too nervous,” he said.  

And if mistakes happen?  

 “You have to keep in mind—the audience isn’t waiting for you to mess up so they can go, ‘Oh! He messed up! What a loser!’” Hodes said. “They’re here to listen to it, but if you miss a note, everyone understands.” 

Hodes’ laid-back attitude towards playing has kept him grounded and calm during his practice and preparation, but if David Maslanka decides to make an appearance to hear his performance of the challenging concerto, Hodes may have to deal with those nerves after all.  

 “I think knowing that David Maslanka is in the audience might make me a little more nervous,” he said, laughing. “[But] I want him to think, ‘What a nice interpretation this group gave.’” 


Posted on June 19, 2015 .

The Ghosts of Carnegie Hall


by Dean Olsher

Here’s what it’s like to play Carnegie Hall. There are ghosts all around you. You look at the podium and think: Let’s see, on opening day in 1891, that’s where Tchaikovsky was standing when he conducted his Marche Solennelle. And in the years that followed, it’s where Dvořák stood, and Mahler, and a phenomenally long list of boldfaced names.

New York City is afraid of ghosts. We know this because the city has worked extra hard to chase them away. To live here is to sit atop layers of history that vanish daily. But everywhere you look, there are quiet allusions to that history and to the usually benevolent ghosts who made it. 

The name of the park where you stand in long lines for a burger is a reminder that the original Madison Square Garden—a monument to the Gilded Age—used to stand there. And for older New Yorkers, walking into Penn Station is the insult added to the mortal injury suffered by the glorious transportation palace it replaced. 

Carnegie Hall itself came within a hair’s breadth of being demolished. Its Stern Auditorium is named for the friendliest ghost of all. The legendary violinist Isaac Stern led the fight to protect this architectural gem from “urban renewal.” 

For the past 125 years, Carnegie Hall has been home to the top rung of musicians from around the world. But—and this is a remarkable thing—its green room is accessible to others as well. Musicians who work fiercely at their art, but who happen to not get paid for it, are given the chance to take the stage. 

And this year that opportunity is being given to both ensembles that make up the Metropolitan Music Community. The Brooklyn Wind Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut on April 13, and the Grand Street Community Band will do so on June 6.

It is near impossible to take an experience such as this for granted. For many of us, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be connected to the larger universe—of music, the city, and its history—and to step, for a brief moment, into a parade of legendary ghosts.

Posted on June 3, 2015 .

This Summer: BKWS at WASBE 2015 in San Jose, CA

Brooklyn Wind Symphony is packing its bags and flying cross-country to perform at the World Association for Symphonic Bands & Ensembles on Monday, July 13th at 8pm. We are honored to have been accepted into this international wind band gathering, and are proud to be featuring two BKWS member soloists, Jeffrey Hodes on clarinet, and Samantha K. Enriquez on flute. We will be performing works by Michael Markowski, Scott McAllister, David Maslanka and more! For a full performance schedule, please visit the WASBE 2015 Concert Schedule page.

Local San Jose friends and family of Brooklyn Wind Symphony and the Metropolitan Music Community, we hope to see you there! 

Posted on April 30, 2015 and filed under performances.

BKWS at the Midwest Clinic this Saturday, Dec. 21 @ 8:30A

Brooklyn WInd Symphony will perform in Chicago in just a few days! We are honored to perform at the Midwest Clinic this year and cannot wait to be on stage in front of fellow musicians and music educators alike. Stay tuned for updates from the clinic, or follow ourfacebook and twitter feeds for the most up-to-date information.   

Lastly, a special Thank You goes to our President, Jasmine Britt, our Director, Jeff Ball, and our entire Board and Staff for logistically making this performance possible. Chicago here we come!

Posted on December 17, 2013 and filed under performances.