Saturday, November 20, 2010

Celebrating a founding member - Dr. Leonard Zon

Watch Len Zon on NOVA!

Dr. Leonard Zon has played first trumpet with the Longwood Symphony since 1984. Len is Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Director of the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston.

His research focuses on two major developing areas: modeling human diseases in zebrafish, and stem cell biology. Dr. Zon is a member of the Institute of Medicine and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2008, Dr. Zon traveled to London with the Longwood Symphony. After giving the keynote lecture about his stem cell research and zebrafish model at a symposium on Innovations in Cancer Care in the Great Hall at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, he performed a Telemann trumpet concerto under the watchful eye of King Henry VIII.

We've recently learned that besides playing the trumpet, the multitalented Len Zon is also the shofar player for his synagogue.

This week, Len was featured on PBS's NOVA. Click here to learn many more interesting tidbits about his cancer research, love of music, and very special zebrafish!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Discovery and Creativity at Hotel Marlowe

What is creativity? Are there different kinds of creativity for science and for music? do they overlap? What is the link between artistic and scientific discovery?

n Wednesday evening November 17, Longwood Symphony Orchestra and Hotel Marlowe held the first of a three-part series on Discovery and Creativity in the hotel's cozy library.

A string quartet of musician scientists from Longwood Symphony Orchestra were joined by Nobel laureate and MIT professor Dr. Richard Schrock for a thought-provoking fireside chat on creativity. They were:

Psyche Loui, Ph.D. Music and Neuroimaging Lab, BIDMC (violin)
Christopher Richards, Ph.D. Propulsion Physiology Lab, Rowland Institute (violin)
Michael Cho, M.D., MPH, Brigham and Womens Hospital (viola)
Heidi Greulich, Ph.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Broad Institute (cello)

The evening opened with a movement of Mozart's Quartet in G major. Then each musician spoke about his/her scientific work, from cancer biology to clinical research on chronic obstructive lung disease to animal movemnt to the neuroscience of music.

Dr. Richard Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 " for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." A professor at MIT, Dr. Schrock recalled his experience as a young scientist at the age of 8, when he received his very first chemistry set. "Even then," he said, "I remember enjoying seeing how I could combine chemicals to create new reactions...and I liked to blow things up!" While Schrock had little memory of his two years playing trumpet and tuba, he later developed a great love of music and a fascination of its structure, complexity and beauty.

A conversation ensued among the scientists comparing the study of music to the study of science, and comparing the composition of music to the development of a hypothesis based scientific experiment. They observed that both science and music require a high degree of discipline, attention to detail and a basic skill level as a baseline--but that creativity comes when one takes a risk and challenges expectations.

The evening concluded with a more Mozart by the quartet and wine and hors d'oeuvres, provided by Hotel Marlowe, but many felt the conversation on creativity had just begun.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Joanna Porackova: Reflections on healing from the stage and at the bedside

On December 4, 2010, Longwood Symphony Orchestra will be joined again by internationally acclaimed soprano Joanna Porackova. Read her moving account of a life in healing - onstage and off.

After working for about 15 years as an intensive care nurse at Riley Hospital for Children, Childrens Hospital in Washington, DC. and the Boston Childrens Hospital, my goal was to complete my Master of Science degree in Parent Child Health Nursing so that I could teach nursing. Before pursuing my MS degree, while working in an adult Intensive Care and teaching nursing, I was accepted as a double major in Vocal performance at the Indiana University School of Music. I would teach nursing part time and then attend music classes.

What an adventure! I was also singing in the elite chorus at Indiana University, traveling to NY to perform. I then decided I would really concentrate on pursuing my Masters degree and moved to Boston. I received a federal traineeship grant to work in Parent Child Health. After receiving my MS degree I taught at BU, Mass College of Pharmacy and was Education Director at the Greenery Rehab Center (62 beds traumatic injury).

It was there that I formally combined my music and nursing by developing vocal programs for the brain injured. I have always sung to my patients and had a strong belief in the healing powers of the human voice. I started a research project observing the effects of the singing voice with brain injured clients.

It was during this time that my fellow nursing colleagues recommended that I study with a teacher at Boston Conservatory. I slowly got back into formal vocal study, and within four years or so of studying in NY with another teacher, Michael Trimble, I won a number of prestigious competitions... at the same time I was still teaching nursing! I would teach in the morning, and then drive to New York in the afternoon to attend Jerome Hines' Fellowship program Opera Music Theater International in the evening! I even sang Lady Macbeth in Verdi's MACBETH in NY after a week of teaching Nursing!

My voice career was launched and I sang all over the world: Paris Opera, Berlin Philharmonic, Salzburg Festival, Washington National Opera, and Hong Kong Opera, to name a few. When I returned home after a number of years singing in Europe, I wanted to get back into Nursing but without the stress. My daughter helped me find a job as a caregiver for the elderly with the Lexington Agency Homeinstead. I feel so grateful for my part-time work as a caregiver for elderly in the home. I have sung several programs at assisted living centers, but feel blessed to work on an individual basis-- not only giving home care, but using my voice in special ways to sing to and with my clients.

I continue my professional vocal life as well--I am returning to sing with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle in 2012 and look forward to singing with the Longwood Symphony in Dec. 2010 (both Wagner Programs). I feel so grateful that I have been able to combine my two careers of vocal performance and nursing. My intention in both careers is to offer healing. Each career has helped the other. When I sing a dramatic role, I use my experience as a nurse from all the wonderful clients who have helped me understand their lives--their courage, their heart, their love-- to find the depth in an opera role that I am singing. The music itself has also helped me understand the importance of vibration, color, dynamics, that can be used to heal. I have been called the singing nurse and I am proud of it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Arts of Compassion

Boston Arts Consortium for Health
The Arts of Compassion
: Perspectives on Arts and Health

On October 2, 2010, the 141st birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, experts will gather at Berklee College of Music to consider the role of compassion and the integration of the arts in healthcare. This symposium, which is open to the public, will stimulate conversation and celebrate the depth and diversity in Boston of those who teach and practice compassion through their art forms.

The Arts of Compassion will be held at the David Friend Hall of in the Berklee College of Music from 9:00am-5:00 pm.

Following the symposium, participants are invited to attend Longwood Symphony Orchestra's season-opening concert on October 2 .

A year ago, a remarkable group began meeting together at the Berklee College of Music. This group of engaged, curious and committed individuals all share an interest in the role of the arts in health care. Each month, the group gathers to hear a presentation about the remarkable work being done by one of its member organizations. BACH: Boston Arts Consortium for Health would now like to share its wealth of knowledge in the field of arts and health care with the greater Boston community.

Conference topics will include expressive arts therapy for children in Roxbury, the role of the arts in the care of people living with Alzheimer's, Longwood Symphony's LSO on Call program, and the vision of an artist/architect, The Healing Empowerment Center.

During the midday break, participants will be invited to meet practitioners from The Integrative Medicine Alliance (IMA)'s Mobile Clinic.

The IMA is committed to deepening the quality of the human experience of health care. As part of that mission, the IMA promotes the integrated practice of complementary and conventional medical practices as a means to support patients in their total healing. The Mobile Clinic was created to enable people to learn about and experience some complementary health practices. Mobile Clinic attendees can interact with complementary medical practitioners in an informal and informational setting while having a brief experience (10-15 minutes) of a variety of practices. The IMA has put on Mobile Clinics in a number of settings including medical schools and national and local health conferences.

Registration for the conference will be through Berklee College of Music. For more information and to register for the program, click here

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts and LSO celebrate 15 year collaboration

Over the past three weeks, thirty-three young musicians from Taiwan, China, and conservatories across the U.S. were gathered for private lessons, master classes, chamber music and orchestra at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. This remarkable summer Music Festival, directed by Dr. Cathy Chan and sponsored by her Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts, has introduced scores of talented young people to the United States over nineteen years. For many, the Festival is a life-changer - some return every summer, others enroll at Walnut Hill or go on to conservatory studies in the U.S.

On Wednesday evening, August 18, 2010, 13 young orchestra musicians from the Summer Music Festival joined the musicians of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for its annual summer performance.

Pianist Rui Zhang, winner of the 2010 Concerto Competition, made her American debut at an American landmark, the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade on the banks of the Charles River.

The concert drew a crowd of 9000, who cheered to Boston and Gershwin, loved the Beethoven and danced to Duke Ellington's "In the Mood."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twenty year-old Chinese pianist makes her U.S. debut at Hatch Shell on the Esplanade

For twenty year old pianist Rui Zhang, coming to Boston for the first time is special for two reasons. It is here, 7000 miles from Shanghai, that she has reconnected with her beloved piano teacher, Hung-Kuan Chen, and here that she will make her U.S. debut as piano soloist with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

Born in 1989 in Lanzhou, a city in Northwest China, Ms. Zhang began the piano at the young age of 3 1/2. When she was nine, she left her family to become a student at the prestigious Affiliated School of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. By the time she was fifteen, she was giving concert tours throughout China.

Three years ago, Ms. Zhang was accepted into the college level of the Conservatory, and began her undergraduate studies with Hung-Kuan Chen, a pianist well known to Boston audiences, then Chair of the Piano Department of the Shanghai Conservatory. When Mr. Chen was appointed to the piano faculty at New England Conservatory in 2009, he left Shanghai to return to Boston. Ms. Zhang now studies with Professor Xiang-yu Mao.

This summer Rui Zhang has come to Boston to participate in the Annual Summer Festival at Walnut Hill sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. Each year, 30-40 young outstanding young musicians from Taiwan, China, and the United States come together to participate in an intensive three-week musical training program that includes private study with master faculty, chamber music and orchestral training. The program was an opportunity for Rui Zhang to reunite with her teacher.

As the winner of the Foundation's annual Concerto Competition, Ms. Zhang will perform with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on Wednesday August 18.

This year, LSO Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee chose George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue as the featured work. This distinctively American work made a big impression on Rui Zhang.

"I have never been to the United States, and really love it. I had never played an American concerto before and it is so special to me that I will make my American debut here in Boston, playing this very special piece. And I am so grateful that my teacher Mr. Hung-Kuan Chen is here to teach me about its American nature. I have learned so much."

Ms. Rui Zhang makes her American debut on Wednesday August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Free annual concert on the Esplanade as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LSO's 25th Annual Summer Concert on the Esplanade

One hundred years ago, the Charles River Dam was completed at the mouth of the Charles River. The land that was recovered became Boston's beloved Esplanade. Eighteen years later in 1929, a conductor named Arthur Fiedler conducted the first free open air concert on the Esplanade, a tradition of classical music for the community that has continued to this day.

Every summer, thousands of families pack their picnics, spread their blankets, and head to the Hatch Shell on the banks of the Charles River to hear these free concerts. The season begins with the now legendary and widely broadcast Fourth of July performance by the Boston Pops.

For twenty-five years, Longwood Symphony Orchestra has also been a part of this musical tradition, performing its annual free classical concert on the Esplanade at the end of every summer .

In 1995, as part of its mission of community engagement, Longwood Symphony Orchestra began a remarkably successful collaboration with the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Summer Music Festival. This Festival offers a unique educational experience for talented young people from Taiwan, China and the United States. The program is the brainchild and passion of Dr. Catherine Chan, whose dedication and vision has brought hundreds of talented Chinese musicians to study in Boston for over twenty years.

For most of these students, the Summer Music Festival at Walnut Hill is their first American experience. They spend three weeks at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick with master artist faculty, honing their individual instrumental skills, learning chamber music, and sitting side-by-side in orchestra with the seasoned musicians of the LSO. But they do have a chance to put their instruments down to get to know Boston - from shopping, to Duck Boat Tours to a trip to Tanglewood.

The final highlight of this three-week camp is the chance to perform with the LSO on the Esplanade.

And for the lucky winner of the annual Concerto Competition, it is a the chance to make his/her Boston and often American debut, performing for 9000 people.

The winner of the first such Concerto Competition was a young 12-year old pianist named Lang Lang, who has gone on to a wildly successful international career. This performance was Lang Lang's American debut. Although at that time his feet could barely reach the pedals, even at that tender age, his performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was riveting and memorable.

On Wednesday August 18, Longwood Symphony will perform its 25th concert at the Hatch Shell, joined by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts students : 6 young violinists, 2 violists, 3 cellists, a bassoonist and clarinetist.

The winner of the 2010 annual Summer Concerto Competition is Rui Zhang, a 21 year old student from Shanghai Conservatory. Ms. Zhang will make her American debut, performing Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. The concert, led by Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Artistic Director and Conductor Jonathan McPhee, will also include On Eagle's Wings by the aptly-named composer Bill Boston, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, opus 60.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday evening August 18 at 7:00 p.m.
"In the Mood" conducted by Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series. 617-667-1527