High School Residency Chamber Music Project

High School Residency Chamber Music Project

Community-Embedded Musician, David Connor, double bass, recently completed a virtual chamber music project with Houston-area students as part of the Symphony’s High School Residency program, presented by Occidental. Here, Dave reflects on the experience and shares some highlights from performances with students.

Over the last two years, I’ve had the great opportunity to make monthly visits to Dobie High School and work with their orchestra students through our High School Residency program. As our lives were all changing in mid-March, I started to reflect on what made these visits so special and challenged myself to consider whether it was possible to create the same connection without the two things I value most: live performance and personal interaction. As musicians, teachers, and students, we are still trying to answer this question as we go into the summer. Amazingly, we’ve seen so many musicians using the technology that’s available to them to stay connected to one another in ways that are safe and keep us engaged with the art form that we love so much. As soon as we realized we were going to be in this situation for a while, my education and community engagement colleagues and I got to work to find a way to bring this creative process to our partners.

The students at Dobie High School, and their directors Angela Badon, Stephen Payne, and Tam Duong, were missing performing music as much as we were. Although it’s different from live music, recording is an important skill for musicians and something we need to practice as well. Rainel and I recorded our parts first and the students recorded theirs while playing along with our recording. The resulting video is the best we can do to perform together right now. The experience was fulfilling for me in its own right and it also serves as an important reminder of why we love playing music together. I can’t wait to play music with these students in person as soon as it is safe for all of us to get together.

I’m really proud of all 18 students who participated in this project, including 17 from Dobie High School and one from Beverley Hills Intermediate School. I had so much fun listening to their videos and editing them together with ours. Please enjoy six of these videos featuring their performances of music by Antonín Dvořák and Reinhold Glière.

“Goin’ Home” theme from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), movement 2

This melody comes from the slow movement in Dvořák’s New World Symphony. This piece is rich with emotions, nostalgia, and longing and has influences from American and Czech folk music. It was later re-written as the song “Goin’ Home” and made famous by the great American singer Paul Robeson. Each of the three student musicians here perform this work with a slightly different character.

Dobie High School’s Tony Bui and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, David Connor

Beverly Hills Intermediate School’s Ava Cosse and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, David Connor

Dobie High School’s Danae Kostikoglou and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, David Connor

Glière’s Eight Pieces, movement II: Gavotte

This Gavotte by Reinhold Glière is a piece that works on a variety of instruments and I chose it for that reason. As it turned out, the courageous violists of Dobie High School were the most interested in tackling this challenging piece! This piece features a middle section that always comes as a bit of a surprise for me. I hope you enjoy!

Dobie High School’s Abel Limachi and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, Rainel Joubert

Dobie High School’s Corey Britton and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, Rainel Joubert

Dobie High School’s Sophia Colmenares and Houston Symphony Community-Embedded Musician, Rainel Joubert

Learn more about the students’ process to put these videos together.

Thanks to our High School Residency presenting partner, Occidental, for making this work possible.

—David Connor, Community-Embedded Musician, double bass

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