#SOchats with Naomi (Summerville Orchestra chats!)
Hello and welcome to our February #SOchats. I’m Naomi Chaitkin Nimmo, the Executive Director. We started this monthly chat room so we can answer your questions and talk about the orchestra and the response has been great! Please keep the comments and questions coming. Thanks.
Let’s start off by oohing and aahing about last weekend’s concert. Wasn’t that beautiful? The orchestra played stunningly. Wojciech brought the music all together with his usual magic. And then there was Yuriy, the master of the violin. There’s your oohing and tear wiping.
Now for next week: Wednesday, Feb 21, Wojciech will be entertaining and educating us with his Eine Kleine Music Lounge talks at the Library on Trolley Road. If you haven’t been to one of these, you’re missing a fireside chat with a dear friend. Wojciech makes music fun. Seriously, he could talk for an hour about the garbage strike of 1912 and you’d be mesmerized.
The Encore Series continues on Feb. 23, the 4th Friday of the month
[changed from the 3 rd Friday]
at Coastal Coffee Roasters. This is a toe-tapping, free event not to be missed. This month’s theme is “Beatles & Bossa” featuring the #SO Jazz Septet. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy great music in a smaller venue.
Here are the topics for February
Q: How do you pick the music the orchestra plays?
A: This is a continuation from last month. If you missed Part 1 check it out here!
In considering dates for concerts, we also have to take into account how many concerts we want to include in the season. As you know, we went from four concerts in the 2016-2017 season to five concerts this season. After consideration of audience and musician response to this increase, we are favoring continuing with the five-concert subscription series for next year.
Here’s a general disclaimer: Everything’s subject to change, hopefully with notice. That’s why I said “favoring.”
So, right now we’re still waiting on confirmation of dates.
The music is now being considered. There are several ways we go about this. 1) Pick a major piece or composer for each concert, an anchor of sorts. That would determine the rest of the program and most likely the title of the concert; 2) Think of a catchy title for a concert. Since we were doing a concert in April, we thought of April in Paris and came up with French music and other music that is influenced by French composers; or 3) Choose a soloist and ask which piece he/she would like to perform. Of course, we have to like the piece and the instrumentation. That’s what happened with Here’s Yuriy. So, which process does our Music Committee use? All of them. We may start with one way, get excited about it but at our next meeting, can the whole thing and start over. Luckily, we all get along really well and never take offense if someone doesn’t want to choose a certain piece. Right now we’re listening to a bunch of suggested pieces. At our next meeting, we’ll discuss them (including the cost of rental or purchase). To be continued…
Q: Are you staying at Summerville Baptist Church or moving to the new Rollings Middle School of the Arts Performing Arts Center?
A: The truth is we don’t know yet.
Because we sold out both Friday and Saturday nights for the 5-concert subscription series in season tickets this year and we have a waiting list of people who want season or single tickets, we have to do something to accommodate everyone but also keep in mind those who love attending the concerts at Summerville Baptist. Yes, we’re thrilled with the success of the orchestra but it presents a problem and there are no easy answers. All I can tell you at this time is that we (the Music Committee, the Board of Directors, and the staff) are looking at all possible choices, taking into consideration the locations, costs, availability, and the responses to our survey a few months ago. As soon as we make a decision, we will let you know.
And now, a new series for #SOchats:
Interviews with the Musicians.
Every month, we will interview one of our musicians. The first interview is with Clara Johnson, First Violin in the SO.
Hi! I’m so excited to sit down with you and talk about one of my favorite things – music! To start off with, my name is Clara Johnson and I am a senior in high school. I am so thankful and blessed that my parents have homeschooled me all the way through, providing opportunities for me to cultivate strong family relationships, work alongside my family in business ventures, and devote a lot of time to music. I am one of seven siblings, who are some of the greatest joys of my life! We all love to sing together and have also really enjoyed performing for events as a string trio, piano duo, violin and harp duet, and pretty much every other combination of our instruments! My family is one of the greatest gifts that God has given me and I am incredibly blessed by my relationships with my parents and older and younger siblings. I can truly say that I am who I am because of my family and my faith in Jesus.
Why did you choose the violin and how long have you been playing it?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to play the violin! My three older siblings started on piano when they were four or five, but my parents encouraged my interests to try something new. I’ll always remember when I was four years old and Momma made the first phone call to my prospective violin teacher. I was hanging off of a tree limb listening to the conversation while she paced the driveway talking on the phone! And I have played violin ever since, though I have fallen out of the habit of climbing trees. There were definitely some times when I only practiced because my parents told me to, but of course now I am so thankful that they encouraged me to continue.
With whom do you study?
I study violin with Yuriy Bekker, an amazing violinist and teacher under whom I have grown so much as a musician. However, I would be remiss if I did not also mention Mrs. Alison Harvey. She was my teacher for nine years and remains one of my dearest friends and mentors. It is such a joy to play with her now in the Summerville Orchestra, in which she holds the position of assistant concertmaster!
Do you play other instruments?
Yes! I also play the piano and viola. Having picked up viola in the past couple of years, I think that it is an invaluable skill for every violinist to have. In small ensembles, I’m able to go back and forth between violin and viola depending on the needs and the size of the group! I also love the piano, playing mostly hymns, accompaniments, and the Piano Guys. J
Can you tell us your story with the Summerville Orchestra? What position do you play?
I have been with the SO for a little over a year and have really enjoyed the experience! Actually, my sister, Emilee, a harpist, joined the orchestra first and really encouraged me to join as well. On my very first rehearsal, I walked into the rehearsal room and met Wojciech, who handed me a folder of music and said “I hope you can sight read!” Thankfully, he didn’t kick me out after that first night and I continue to improve in my sight reading skills! I play in the first violin section and am also a part of the SO chamber group Quintessential Strings.
What do you like best about SO?
One of my favorite things about SO is the closeness between the musicians. We really are more than colleagues, we are friends and all share a common love for the gift of music! Other things I love about the SO: watching the percussionists run around; getting standing ovations from the audience; enjoying the concertmaster’s solos; watching the conductor’s facial expressions and above all, I love playing with this amazing group of musicians and bringing music to my community.
Besides music, what are your favorite things to do?
Though sometimes my family tells me that all I talk about is music, I do also love reading, photography, chocolate, ultimate Frisbee, and talking late into the night with my sister!
If you could play any other instrument, which one would it be?
Honestly, it’s hard to imagine loving any other instrument as much as I love violin, but if I were to learn another instrument, I think it would be the bagpipes. I only wish that I could play bagpipes and fiddle at the same time!
What are your plans and goals when you graduate from high school?
I am currently working towards a degree in music, while I plan to continue playing with the SO, taking violin lessons and jamming with my family. I also hope to grow my violin teaching studio and find more ways to invest in my community through this gift of music. I desire that my playing would reflect all glory to God!
Thank you, Clara, for your candor, your humor, and your brilliance!
So, now it’s up to you to write (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (843-873-5339) and let us know what questions and/or musical suggestions you have.
Until next month…Naomi