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Monthly Archives: January 2011
Houston Symphony Magazine spoke with Stephen and Mariglyn Glenn, musician sponsors, in December 2010. This conversation is reprinted from the January 2011 issue.
Birthplace: Stephen – Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Mariglyn – Coleman, Texas
Education: Stephen–Texas Tech, BS, engineering physics; Rice University, MS, space physics. Mariglyn – Texas Tech, BS, education (we met in chemistry lab)
Joined the Houston Symphony: We began attending in 1966, but took time out to raise kids. We returned in 1995.
Earliest musical memory: Stephen – Denver Symphony on a fifth-grade field trip; Mariglyn – Roy Orbison singing at a Wink, Texas, school assembly
All in the family: Our sons were pretty good high school musicians. One was an all-state French hornist for two years, and another studied percussion at the University of Michigan.
Current listening: the Houston Symphony’s Christmas CD
Looking forward to in the 2010-2011 Season: Classical, Pops, specials – we love them all! We are especially looking forward to Aralee Dorough playing a Mozart Flute Concerto in April.
Favorite part of the Symphony experience: We love the great Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and Mahler symphonies.
Pastime and good company: We both enjoy attending high school football games. Stephen enjoys running and computers. Mariglyn enjoys cooking, spending time with grandkids, aerobics and yoga.
Meeting your musician: We met our musician through a Symphony staff member during the intermission of a Very Merry Pops performance. It has been great getting to know Christian and we have found that we have many things in common. It turns out that Christian was good friends with the musician we previously sponsored who left the symphony a few years ago. All the musicians are very special people, and we have special memories of them.
All for a reason: The Houston Symphony enriches our lives and broadens our horizons. We wanted to become more involved with the Symphony, but we had no idea it would be so rewarding when we became patrons!
Pass it on: We would definitely encourage others to become musician sponsors! Meeting the musicians and attending special events is priceless. It’s the best investment we’ve ever made. Also, it gives us a person to “root” for when the Symphony performs.
I literally grew up with the Houston Symphony. My father, Irving Wadler, was a first violinist with the orchestra, and he played continually from 1933 until his retirement in 1980. So a large and wonderful part of my childhood and adolescence was spent going to all sorts of concerts, meeting great artists, and getting a terrific musical education.
I have so many memories that I could fill book writing about my many experiences. It was a special joy to meet some of the past conductors – Leopold Stokowsi was fascinated by the “poodle skirt” I wore to a party for the children of symphony musicians in the 1950’s. I remember how exciting it was to visit Sir John Barbarolli in his dressing room after a concert in London. I had been studying there during college, and when I went to the stage door and told them my dad played in the Houston Symphony, he ushered me right in and was so happy to talk about the Houston Symphony and what a good orchestra it was. I also was privileged to join my parents at a White House reception given by Lady Bird Johnson to honor the symphony during their concert tour to Washington, D.C.
The most fun experience happened when I was about 8 years old and was invited to actually conduct the orchestra at an outdoor summer concert at Miller Theatre. That venue was nothing more than a simple band shell in those days and the audience sat on the lawn very close to the stage. Our good friend, Andor Toth who was the associate concertmaster and conductor during the summer, thought it would be a cute idea to talk to the children and explain to them that conducting was not really all that hard once you learned to keep the beat. He then said he would call up a child from the audience to prove that almost anyone could learn to conduct in waltz time. He picked me, and of course, it looked like he just chose me at random. But we had arranged this all ahead of time, and I even came to rehearsal that morning to practice. It was pretty exciting for me to be standing on the podium in front of the musicians, but when I looked directly to my left, there was longtime friend, concertmaster Ray Fliegel, and my father, and that made everything more relaxed.
It is a wonderful thing to be a part of the Houston Symphony in my adult years, and to be able to give back to the organization that played such a pivotal role in my life.
-Bobbie Newman, donor and subscriber
On behalf of my colleagues in the Houston Symphony, we would like to welcome you to Jones Hall and wish you a happy, healthy and successful new year. In taking time to join the Symphony to listen to great music, I think you have set your year off to a great start!
As a string player, one of the questions we are frequently asked concerns our instruments. Many have heard of Stradivarius violins fetching prices in the millions, but for most people it’s hard to conceive that an old wooden box—no matter how well made—could ever be worth that much! In fact, it was not just Stradivarius, but also several other great Italian violin-making families that, for several generations, made the greatest instruments the world has ever known. Numerous attempts using the best of modern technology have tried to unlock the mysteries of the old Italian masters, and all have failed. How rare to find an area where the heights attained 300 years ago cannot be regained!
Of course, sound is ultimately created by the player, and a great musician will still sound quite good playing on lesser instruments, while a novice wouldn’t sound much better playing on a Stradivarius. But to reach the heights of great string playing, you need a great player paired with a great instrument and bow — and even the bows can now cost in the six-figure range! With a great instrument, a whole world of new possibilities opens up for a player, and since the time of Stradivari, string players have been seeking their perfect instruments. In recent times, however, the demand from investors has taken top instrument prices far out of the range of most musicians, and those who play on the very greatest instruments today usually borrow them from a foundation or collector. Our Houston Symphony string players face the challenge of finding the best possible sound they can within a budget, and many have taken loans larger than most mortgages in order to purchase the best instruments they can afford!
While our new concertmaster, Frank Huang, is just beginning his search for an instrument (Anyone with a spare Stradivarius who would like to lend it to Frank, please contact the front office!), I recently concluded my search for a cello. The search consumed a year and a half of my life and more than 200,000 frequent flier miles – if you want to bring a cello home for trial, it needs its own airline seat! Ultimately, I found an Italian cello made around 1700 AD to which joins a large collection of great old instruments played in the string sections of the Houston Symphony. As you listen to the string sounds washing over you, know that you are listening not just to the end result of decades of dedication and practice, but also to the work of some of the greatest craftsman the world has ever known.
Houston Symphony Principal Cello Brinton Smith is a monthly contributor to Houston Symphony Magazine. This letter is reprinted from the January 2011 issue.
To read about Brinton’s search for his cello’s maker, look back to his posts on the 2010 Houston Symphony UK Tour Blog!
My first pure musical experience was listening to Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. But I did not hear it in a concert hall, or even performed by a local ensemble. No, my true introduction to classical music came to me in my bed. I was about 9 years old and every night I buried myself under my covers with small radio. I grew up in a small farm town in Northern Indiana – two stop lights, too many cows and not much else. This radio was my only window to the outside world and I use to work the dial very hard to find a clear channel.
One spring night was particularly clear, and the antenna must have been in a proper position against the window, but as I rotated the dial into the lower frequencies, I stumbled upon the first bars of Brahms’ genius. The signals contained a slight buzz, but it was there, broadcasting classical music on 90.7 from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
I remember letting the music wash through me as I curled up in the blankets, hugging the radio against my chest and hoping it was quiet enough to not cause my mother to stir. I went to slept that night, with my ear full of music up to that point I had never experienced. I was not born to an artistic family, so my family was shocked at my desire to pursue a career in music, let alone with orchestras. Also, I never learned how to play an instrument, but that is a story for another time.
Growing up in a small farming community, it would have been easy for me to stay there, find a job and settle down. Instead, that single experience inspired me to look for opportunities beyond my town and follow the music. A few twists and turns (and 21 years later) and I have been blessed to be working for the Houston Symphony.
The other night I could not sleep, so I sat in the living room and listened to the end Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 on my surround sound system in the dark. Every day my life is full of music, and it all started from one static-filled broadcast from a local Midwestern radio station.
-Brandon VanWaeyenberghe, director, corporate relations
I have lived in Houston for over 25 years and my favorite part about this city, outside the skyline on a clear evening, is the eclectic and talent this city has in the arts. I have been in love with classical music for as long as I can remember and I have my mother and my grandmother to thank for that. I was raised on beautiful music. Being a ballet dancer you are trained to listen to music and then interpret how that piece makes you feel through movement. That is what the Houston Symphony is for me; music that brings me to a place that dancing is something that happens subconsciously. It is also a reason I keep coming back (the other would be the fact that I love to get dressed up and go out for a fun date night at the Symphony).
To hear the works of Mendelssohn, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and of course Beethoven and Mozart bring me to a place where the outside world no longer exists and I am wrapped up in a feeling of pure bliss and relaxation. I know it sounds corny and cheesy, but trust me, that feeling is indescribable. The music inspires me to dance. If they would allow dancing in the aisles during the performance you would almost be guaranteed to see me doing a grand jeté or a pirouette piquée across the floor.
Music moves something in your heart. It creates an energy. In me, it creates dreams in my head where I am dancing no matter who is watching. My first visit dates back many years, so I have been enjoying the Houston Symphony for quite some time, but don’t have the best recollection of it.
My favorite memory is very recent (and cheesy) so it is quite easy to remember. It was back on October 1st, 2010, the concert that evening was Joshua Bell’s Mendelssohn and that man can play the violin! I was blown away by the passion that exudes from him and from his instrument. The reason why this memory is my favorite is because it was also the sweetest first date I could have imagined (as I said… cheesy). I was surprised to find out that Joshua Bell was just the first night of a pair of season tickets for the rest of the season. No man had ever listened to my interests that intently and had actually planned something around a passion that I had shared. And being that my date is a classically-trained pianist, it made the night’s conversation all the easier and very memorable as we discussed Joshua Bell’s performance that evening and why we love the Houston Symphony.
The night stands out so much in my memory because that was the night I knew something special was beginning and I have the Houston Symphony to thank for that. I will continue to return to the Houston Symphony and bring anyone and everyone I know, so they can experience, for themselves, what I feel walking into the hall every time, a pure and subconscious movement of the heart.
-Cassandra Malork, subscriber