Chicago Symphony extends Citizen Musician ethic to Moscow

Posted on: April 18, 2012

In Wednesday’s (4/18) Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro reports from Moscow, “The windows were wide open in the standing-room-only Moscow Conservatory classroom as a student demonstrated his French horn technique for Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn player James Smelser amid the sympathetic backing of a young female pianist … Well, nobody said musical diplomacy would be quiet. Tuesday was technically a free day for orchestra members before they begin seven concerts over the 13 days of their six-city Russia-Italy tour, but CSO officials had a full schedule, and so did several musicians helping to make musical connections in a country that has had its fair share of tension with the U.S. To the CSO the community engagement efforts fall under the umbrella of its Citizen Musician initiative, and more such activities are on the horizon. … But to U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, the CSO is part of a ‘dual-track engagement’ as the embassy works with its host country on political and cultural matters. … Smelser and CSO principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson, who conducted his own master class in another room, needed translators to make specific points about playing, technique and feel that are tough enough to communicate in English. … But Jonathan Korach, the U.S. Embassy’s deputy press attaché, liked what he heard and saw in the master classes. ‘Honestly, the music transcends the language,’ he said.”

Posted April 18, 2012