TŌN Alumnus Update: Andrew Borkowski

Over the summer we caught up with one of The Orchestra Now’s first musicians, Andrew Borkowski TŌN ’18, who returned to perform in the 2019 Bard Music Festival (BMF).

Are you excited to be playing in the Bard Music Festival again? How does it compare to playing in other concerts?
I’m excited because the energy surrounding the concerts is always electric. The concerts are very well attended and the anticipation surrounding each one of the programs is palpable. Playing in the Fisher Center is always a joy, and this year’s Korngold program is particularly fun to play and not too challenging!

How did TŌN help prepare you for life as a working musician?
By teaching me that in order to be successful one must hone many skills in addition to playing well, including good communication skills and effective time management. The program schedule, in addition to audition preparation, requires you to plan your practice time as efficiently as possible, as well as planning for much needed rest and time away from the instrument. TŌN requires all musicians to speak publicly before many concerts, and this is a skill that is extremely important to a musician’s ability to connect with an audience. Effective programming is derived from context, and being able to clearly communicate context and meaning to an audience will significantly improve a musician’s ability to build trust in an audience.

Tell us about how your time playing with TŌN and in the Bard Music Festival gave you added experience that you couldn’t get through conservatory training.
Playing in TŌN and BMF builds on conventional conservatory training in a number of ways. First, the experience of playing in a section with largely the same players over the course of 2–3 years is indispensable, and is even more so given the consistent rotation of section/principal playing. The myriad guest conductors is a very valuable learning experience, and along with that comes an expectation of high-level playing at all times. The unorthodox repertoire provides for a diverse learning experience and challenges the musicians in unforeseen ways.

What does it mean to be a classical musician in the 21st century?
Classical musicians today need to be unbelievably well-rounded. Conservatories aren’t doing a good enough job of training musicians to perform well in every context, from orchestra playing to improvisation to recording session work, and its up to the musician to remain open to being flexible, versatile, and unwavering in their commitment to playing at a high level. Building a vast network of musicians for one to rely on for work is equally important, and this comes from taking all work seriously and with a commitment to quality.

Photo by David DeNee

TŌN’s Musicians Preview Upcoming Performances

Find out what the musicians of The Orchestra Now think about their upcoming performances in our video series This Season With TŌN.

Watch for these enlightening videos before each of our concerts at Bard’s Fisher Center, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater.

Hear TŌN on “Performance Today”

The Orchestra Now will once again be featured on America’s most popular classical music radio program, Performance Today, this Wednesday, November 14, with our performance of Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral . Listen online starting at 9 AM Wednesday. Hudson Valley residents can also tune in to WMHT-FM 89.1 or WRHV-FM 88.7 at 8 PM Wednesday evening.

To keep up on all of TŌN’s radio appearances, visit the Watch & Listen page on this website and click on “Radio Schedule.”

>MORE INFO ON PERFORMANCE TODAY

TŌN Begins a New Season on WMHT Live!

The Orchestra Now is thrilled to once again have our concerts broadcast on WMHT Live! Tune in to WMHT-FM 89.1/88.7, serving Eastern New York and Western New England, to hear our concerts recorded live at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.

For a full schedule of upcoming broadcasts, visit the Watch & Listen page on this website and click on “Radio Schedule.”

>MORE INFO ON WMHT LIVE

Meet the Musicians of TŌN

All season long we’ll be introducing you to our fabulous musicians in the video series Meet the Musicians of TŌN.

Get to know a little more about their journeys and what it’s like to pursue music as a career.

TŌN Debuts on WWFM

Starting September 28, 2018, TŌN debuts on WWFM – The Classical Network. Live stream online or listen in NJ and eastern PA on 89.1 FM or 91.1 FM.

To see the schedule of future TŌN appearances on WWFM, visit the Watch & Listen page on this website and click on “Radio Schedule.”

>MORE INFO ON WWFM

New Video Series: 60-Second Thumbnails

We are proud to debut our newest video series, 60-Second Thumbnails.

In each video, TŌN oboist Kelly Mozeik gives you a quick rundown of all the essential information you might want to know before hearing a piece performed in concert. Watch for new videos in this series before each TŌN concert at Bard’s Fisher Center, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater.

TŌN’s Elias Rodriguez on Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1

Elias Rodriguez, winner of The Orchestra Now’s 2017 Concerto Competition, performed Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra on February 17 and 18, 2018. Below are his thoughts on this piece. 

There is no doubt that the clarinet was Carl Maria von Weber’s favorite wind instrument. Weber’s contributions to clarinet literature are significant and of comparable importance to that of Mozart and Brahms. It was only during the second half of the 18th century that the clarinet was sufficiently developed to become generally accepted as an orchestral and solo instrument. And between the years 1811 and 1816, Weber wrote no fewer than seven compositions featuring the clarinet. These include the Quintet Op. 34, a concertino, two concerti, and the Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48, all of which (except the Duo) were written for the renowned clarinetist of the period, Heinrich Baermann (1784–1847). The First Concerto, composed in 1811, came about from a commission by Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria, after the success that the composer had with his Concertino Op. 26, written just before. The musicians of the orchestra begged Weber to write a concerto for their respective instrument, but to their dismay, he responded by writing a trio of pieces for solo clarinet.

I initially chose this concerto for the first movement theme introduced by the orchestra. From the onset, the music is full of drama. I fell in love with the decorative melodies contrasted by dramatic statements from the orchestra, and there is something captivating to me about the key of F minor, which though somber in sound, allows for a lot of expression—and it is no wonder. Non-clarinetists know Weber prominently for his opera overtures, most notably Der Freischütz, Oberon, and Euryanthe. And this concerto is essentially an opera in one act without words.

In my lessons of this piece, my teacher emphasized the importance of singing through my instrument, and I was encouraged to attend or listen to more opera, in order to better emulate the early German romantic style.

The second movement Adagio resembles largely and demonstrates the influence of the second movement Adagio from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, written just 20 years before. The melody is melancholic, and the long phrases test the soloist’s air control.

Characteristic of ending most concerti from the Classical and early Romantic period, the third and finale movement is a rondo. In a rondo, a principal theme (typically jovial and light in character) alternates with one or more contrasting themes.

Weber writes a number of expressive markings throughout the concerto, among them con duolo (with pain), morendo (dying), con anima (with soul), lusingando (flattering), scherzando (joking), con fuoco (with fire).

I try to live my life as peaceful as possible, but when it comes to music, bring all of the drama! I’ve known since I was a very young clarinetist that if I ever had the honor to stand in front of an orchestra, I would play Weber, without a second thought.

Photo by Jake Luttinger

Watch the Sight & Sound livestream

Curious about our series Sight & Sound at The Metropolitan Museum of Art? Now you can watch a full concert online!

At Shostakovich, Michelangelo & The Artistic Conscience, conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explored the parallels between Shostakovich’s Suite on Verses of Michelangelo and the artwork of Michelangelo. On-screen artworks were discussed alongside musical excerpts, followed by a full performance with baritone Tyler Duncan, and an audience Q&A.

Check out the event in the video below, as it was streamed live on Facebook.

Get to know the TŌN musicians!

Get to know the outstanding musicians of TŌN on our YouTube channel!

Some of our finest oboe, viola, bassoon, and violin players share their personal stories to give audiences some insight into the musicians’ experience.