Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Nova Experience continues in November

We want to give you an inside look into the fun we have in store for Bach, Baroque, Beatles and All That Jazz.

The Nova Experience will begin the minute you enter the lobby, and here are just some examples of what you’ll find when the doors open at 6:00 p.m.:

  •         Dave Scott from KUSI performing with his jazz combo in our “speak-easy”
  •         Beatles display
  •         Leave the food and drinks to us!  German sauerbraten and New Orleans style jambalaya are on the evening’s menu, with bread pudding for dessert.
  •         Get jazzed up with the life-sized faux Jung-Ho and have your photo taken (available online for printing later)

…and many more surprises in store!

Food and drink tickets will be available for sale at 6:00 p.m. – so join us for a light supper (kids are welcome, of course!) before the performance.  Prices are $10 for a small plate of food, $3 for coffee, water and/or dessert. Wine is available at Qualcomm Hall and Sherwood Auditorium for $5.

***The Nova Experience begins at 6:00.  The Orchestra Nova performance begins at 7:30.

Friday, November 18: Coronado Performing Arts Center - 650 D Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118
Saturday, October 22: Qualcomm Hall, 5775 Morehouse Dr., San Diego, CA 92121

Monday, October 24: Sherwood Auditorium, 700 Prospect St., San Diego, CA 92037

***The entrance to Sherwood Hall will be different this year – enter through Axline Court (main lobby of the Contemporary Museum of Art San Diego in La Jolla.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Join us at 6:00 p.m. during our Nova Classics series for the new and expanded Nova Experience

We want to give you an inside look at  what Nova 2.0 will mean for you at our season opening performances on October 22nd and October 24th.

First of all, leave the food and drinks to us! Lobby doors will open at 6:00 p.m. and we will have plenty of delicious fare available for purchase. The theme of the evening is, of course, Mozart Loves Prague – and the Nova Experience will begin the minute you enter the lobby.

Some examples of what you’ll find:
  • Minuet dance lessons
  • Exhibit of Czech glass and beads
  • A chance to pick up a musical instrument and get photos taken standing next to a life-sized faux Jung-Ho (available online for printing)
  • Plates of beer-braised short ribs with caramelized mashed potatoes, wild mushroom strudel with German potato salad, apple strudel, Viennese desserts – even sausages in a blanket for the young or young-at-heart
  • Viennese coffees and teas, wine and German beer
  • Opportunities to use your SmartPhones to tweet responses to our Nova “Twivia” questions, shown on monitors inside and outside the hall
Food and drink tickets will be available for sale at 6:00 p.m. – so join us for a light supper and fun lobby activities before the performance.

***The Nova Experience begins at 6:00. The performance begins at 7:30.

Saturday, October 22: Qualcomm Hall, 5775 Morehouse Dr., San Diego, CA 92121

Monday, October 24: Sherwood Auditorium, 700 Prospect St., San Diego, CA 92037

***The entrance to Sherwood Hall will be different this year –enter through Axline Court (main lobby of the Contemporary Museum of Art San Diego in La Jolla.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting around Nova 2.0

Wondering about Nova 2.0? This should help illustrate what you can expect.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lunch with Mr. Almanza (our Mr. Holland)

Most people assume only a large team could pull off everything that we do, but in reality Orchestra Nova has a small administrative staff; just a handful us are in the office full time. We come from a variety of different backgrounds, career paths and generations, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered the musical connection with my colleague Erin Oleno.

Earlier this year I was on the phone speaking with my former high school band director, Richard Almanza, regarding some music that I was lending to his school orchestra. After I hung up the phone I heard “were you just talking with Mr. A-l-m-a-n-z-a?” Soon Erin and I realized that we had the same music teacher, nearly a decade apart and at different high schools in San Diego County. I was a band student at Helix High School in La Mesa in the mid-1980s and Erin was a choir student in the early-90s in Escondido.

After realizing this connection, we started reminiscing about musical days gone by and talking about the powerful impact a dedicated music teacher could have. I attribute my 20-plus years in the performing arts to not only my years as an energetic, young tuba player, but also to the positive guidance and confidence I received from my band director. Like in many good movies, it’s the football coach or school counselor or English teacher that shapes a student’s experience in high school and who has a life-changing and lasting impact on them. Erin has said that knowing she was selected to sing the National Anthem at graduation kept her spirits (and attendance) up during her final year of high school.

Both Erin and I always knew we were destined to work in the arts, but we never would have guessed that we also share the teacher who nurtured our passion.

After coordinating schedules, the three of us finally found time to meet over lunch. Sitting across the table, Erin and I both felt that his calm demeanor and bright smile was still there after so many years – refreshingly unchanged. Even though he has inspired thousands of young music students over his more than twenty years as a teacher, we still felt like we were the most important people he was talking with that day. As we parted, he reminded us that it was okay to call him “Richard” instead of “Mr. Almanza.” We’re not sure about that…

By Paige Satter, Concerts and Education Manager

Richard Almanza is currently Instrumental Music Director for Valhalla High School

Friday, March 25, 2011

Aural Tradition - BJ Leiderman's Unique Way of Composing and a Glimpse at the Man Behind All Those NPR Tunes

BJ Leiderman, Public Radio Theme Composer and

Guest Artist at Orchestra Nova's Celebrating San Diego's KPBS

Concerts: April 1 - 4, 2011

Erica Malouf of Orchestra Nova: What are your top two favorite theme music scores from television or radio (you can’t choose your own)? BJ: My TV theme heroes are Mike Post (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue) and W. G. Snuffy Walden (Thirtysomething, The West Wing). These themes set the emotional stage for what was to be on that screen for the next 30-60 minutes. Producers, on the whole, don't take enough time these days to let the music do it's magic.

EM: Your composer credits include the theme music for some of the most recognizable tunes in America, such as for “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” “Car Talk,” “Marketplace,” “Morning Edition,” and “Weekend Edition.” But you’ve never written music in your life! How is that possible? BJ Leiderman: I took piano lessons for a while as a kid. But I also used to memorize and play Beatle songs. That taught me a lot of the chords, melody, harmony and song structure. Then I just started banging out simple tunes on the piano, using the chords that the Fab Four had "turned me on to." Since I was used to playing by ear, I never got around to putting notes on paper.

So, when I began to produce scores for NPR, I would first record multi-track demos on my computer workstation and my learned friends would transcribe these demos into scores. For the second arrangement of Morning Edition, NPR introduced me to A-List NYC Session trombonist and arranger Jim Pugh. My music, and my life, have never been the same. Jim's arrangements are an extremely important part of my writing. He takes my simple tunes, fleshes them out, and breathes life into them. He takes my charcoal caterpillar sketches and turns them into gorgeous, colorful butterflies.

EM: What do you admire about the Beatles? BJ: The Beatles are the first band to succeed in constantly evolving their music while taking their audience with them. And in such a short period of time! From I Want To Hold Your Hand to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was only THREE YEARS!

EM: You call yourself an entertainer, so what is your favorite joke to tell? BJ: Three mothers bragging to each other about their sons. The first one boasts of how much money her son the doctor makes. The second mother, not to be outdone, says that her bubbie the lawyer makes even more than that. "That's nothing," responds the third mother. "My son pays $300 every week just to talk to somebody about ME!"

EM: In elementary school, you were in a band called Lively Sound Dimension, otherwise known as LSD (which you mentioned was painted in psychedelic colors on the bass drum head). How did that go over with the ladies on the playground? BJ: Band leader David Lively, my longtime friend and Chicago stage actor, was the pretty boy in the band. I had to run around in the light just to be seen. Much later in life, however, the LSD came in quite handy. This, from stories I have heard, mind you.

EM: If we play your melodies backward will we hear a trippy message? BJ: Morning Edition played backwards yields "Turn Me Over, Dead Man." (he's joking)

EM: You spent some time as an ad man in New York. Is it as glamorous as AMC’s “Mad Men” would have us believe? BJ: Hardly. There is so much talent and money wasted in that industry. Instead of brainwashing us, they should be informing and educating us about the product or service, so we can make up our own minds. Instead, they create a "need" that does not exist in the natural world, and in the process turn our young people into robots who blindly buy these things in order to be accepted or to be cool.

EM: What is the best advice that you got from any of the “theater gods” at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) music theater workshops you were invited to attend in New York? BJ: Stephen Sondheim reminded me to make sure the lyrics kept the storyline moving during the songs. Paul Simon also harps on keeping the music in your songwriting interesting...not too repetitive or predictable.

EM: Do you have any advice for aspiring composers? BJ: Become the best you can be on your instrument. You will have to actually go out and play your stuff one day. Everyone mimics their heroes when first learning how to write songs. But eventually, force yourself into uncomfortable territory. Don't be afraid to change lanes and BE DIFFERENT. And by all means, don't let anyone tell you "you can't do this" or "this won't sell." As my good friend and monster songwriter Robbin Thompson is fond of saying, "Nobody knows what a song will do until you Put It Out There." So, GETITOUTTHERE!

EM: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play you? BJ: I would, of course. (I need the money).

EM: For all the foodies out there, if Jung-Ho were to come to your home town, where would you take him to eat and what is your favorite home-town dish? BJ: No-brainer (I cannot BELIEVE I just used that most lame catch phrase)... I would take him to Steinhilber's Thalia Acres Inn. My parents took me there starting when I was just old enough to throw my food into the adjacent booth. There, he would lose his mind over their specialty, and still my favorite dish...Fantail Fried Shrimp dipped in their Special Sauce. Apologies to Owsly (may he rest in peace), but he will see colors.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soprano Maria Lozano on Singing, San Diego and Her Favorite Mexican Dish

Q&A with Maria Lozano,
featured soloist in the February 2011
concert series: Nova Intimately

Erica Malouf of Orchestra Nova: Maria, you have a beautiful voice. When did you discover you could sing?
Maria Lozano: I wanted to be a singer since I can remember. When I watched opera on T.V. with my father as a little child I always thought they were living in a fairytale. A world of magic surrounded me when I heard those voices and I wanted to be a part of it.
I knew I wanted to sing but didn't know how until I got to high school. The music teacher, Jose Veliz, had a choir of young girls and a little orchestra and when I heard the girls I got so excited that I wanted to be a part of it. That magic that I heard when I was a five-year-old was coming back to me and I decided to try out for the choir.
I felt that I belonged there and that is how I discovered I wanted to be a singer.

EM: It’s interesting that you initially studied computer engineering at Baja California University and then went back to pursuing singing. I think many people can relate to your story; the struggle to balance the wishes of ones parents with that of one’s own career goals. It takes a lot of courage to follow your dreams. What advice do you have for young artists?
ML: My advice for anyone is that you can't stop believing. It is so easy to be discouraged but life has a lot of tests. When you follow what you believe because you really are a 100% sure that it is your calling, life will get you where you have to be. There will be bad times, of course, but when you start seeing results you will feel like a million bucks!!!

EM: You took a five-hour trip from Mexico to San Diego State University to study music, twice a day for a year and a half. That’s dedication. Who or what has inspired you to keep going when it’s tough?
ML: Well. I have to thank Mary MacKenzie, the best teacher in the world!!!! There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel but she always talked to me in a way that made me realize that I had to be thankful of having a dream. I am very lucky to have her in my life. I can say that if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be a singer.

EM: Why didn’t you move to San Diego on a student visa? Did you face any obstacles to studying in California?
ML: I didn't move to SD because it was very expensive to live here on a Mexican budget. Our economies are very different and I couldn't work in the U.S. and to be honest I am very respectful of the laws and didn't want to work illegally. When my budget allowed, I moved to SD.

EM: San Diego is lucky to have you! How did you find out about the program at San Diego State University and what made you choose to go there?
ML: I have been working with Metropolitan opera singer, Mary MacKenzie, for over 8 years and she told me about SDSU program. She is a teacher in the SDSU School of Music. I have been in New York and Europe with other teachers, but she has been the best teacher that I have ever had, so the possibility of continuing to benefit from her knowledge made me realize that trying to audition at SDSU was the best choice for me.

EM: Of all the venues you’ve performed in, which is your favorite? Where would be your ultimate dream venue or event to perform?
ML: I have performed in many wonderful venues but performing in Qualcomm Hall [at the 2010 Next Star competition] was an exciting experience with Orchestra Nova.

EM: How long does it take you to prepare for a performance and what do you do to prepare?
ML: First of all, I read the music without hearing any recording of the piece, then I sing it to my teacher and coach and finally I check other interpretations but I still try to give my one performance. I just hear the recording to have a background. It takes around 3 months of study.

EM: Which is your favorite piece to sing and why?
ML: My favorite Opera is La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini and every time I sing it makes me feel I am alive. It totally transforms me to another world. La Boheme is such a down-to-earth opera because it talks about love and problems in real life. It simply makes you feel human.

EM: Do you want to be a full-time opera singer? What does this entail?
ML: Yes, I would love to be a full-time opera singer. It entails learning and practicing many things – languages, harmony, technique, theatre – and much discipline is required.

EM: What is your favorite thing about San Diego?
ML: I love SD – I don't know where to start. I love the richness of ethnicity and culture. I love the weather and the possibilities of growing as an artist. There is so much that you can do here. People have been so warm and kind and it makes me feel like a part of a family here in San Diego.

EM: Orchestra Nova’s Maestro Pak is something of a foodie. What is your favorite Mexican dish and what would you tell Jung-Ho to try if he was visiting Mexico City or your home town?
Mexico is a very rich country with very different kinds of food. Everybody thinks Mexican food is only tacos but we have one of the largest varieties of dishes. I can say that if he went to Ensenada, I would take him to El Cid, a very wonderful restaurant that serves "Chiles en Nogada" and a "Nopal Cream Soup" – simply heaven.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Music should never be boring.

Have you ever been bored at a classical music concert? Have you ever wondered why? Perhaps you thought the problem was yourself. Maybe you thought it was because you didn't understand classical music well enough. Or that it just isn’t for you. Or even that you aren't smart enough.

Let me tell you that it's definitely not you. Like that hit book on dating, He's Just Not That Into You, you need to realize that the problem is not Mozart nor your lack of understanding of his music, but rather the delivery – or in other words, the soloist. Too often, performers are absorbed in their own world of playing a difficult instrument or their own pleasure of music-making and rarely do they realize that the ONLY reason they perform is to move another human being; they are there to entertain an audience. An audience that has plunked down hard-earned money and left the comfort of their home to experience everything a live concert can give: joy, beauty, escape, enlightenment and the bond that comes from sharing the experience with others.

This is why we work so hard on stage at Orchestra Nova, and this is why we seek out artists like Lindsay Deutsch. We're trying to reverse the damaging stereotypes and stigma inflicted on classical music, often the result of those who do not know how to have fun. Lindsay is my kind of musician. She rips it up on stage and can make a recital seem like a sporting event. If you haven't seen Lindsay yet, click on this link.
Lindsay's playing a solo recital in San Diego on January 22nd at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall, the best acoustic venue in San Diego County.

If you’ve never heard her live or if you've only heard her soloing with Orchestra Nova, you’ll want to be at this unique performance. She'll play several showpieces, including a special version for violin and piano of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. I promise it will be worth it, especially if you’ve been hungering for a classical music experience that doesn't leave you bored or regretful that you wasted your evening – Lindsay couldn’t bore you if she tried.

Jung-Ho Pak
Artistic Director and Conductor

Check out Lindsay's upcoming concert to benefit Orchestra Nova!