NEC Prep had the opportunity to ask Maria D’Ambrosio about the upcoming Senior MYWE performance this Sunday.
What are you most looking forward to about this performance?
“What has set MYWE apart for me from the very beginning has been the intense dedication that every ensemble member brings to the rehearsal, and I feel that that passion is reflected and conveyed through our every performance. Every time we’re in Brown on Friday afternoons and Mr. Mucci calls out “Jordan Hall, guys,” it becomes increasingly clear that there’s a mindset that accompanies being in our grand, majestic concert space. Not only does this mindset encapsulate the feelings of raw emotion evoked through past performances that veteran members can draw on, but it also signifies that essentially every rehearsal is a performance, and thus every performance a rehearsal. I couldn’t be happier to share our final rehearsal with our family, friends, and community.”
What have been the challenges of the program in rehearsal?
“You probably wouldn’t think “You sound like a very good high school band” would be an insult. Sometimes we’ll find as individuals and as an ensemble that we struggle to meet the high standards set for us and that we essentially set for ourselves. Specifically, we often address intonation and rhythmic cohesion within sections as well as the greater picture, learning that what may seem like minute passage work can have large contributions to the piece as a whole. I feel, though, that our greatest challenge is not only transcending the image of your quintessential high school band, but endurance. “Chops,” as we brass players often call it. It can apply not only to MYWE, but to any young musician faced with an hour of heavy-hitting playing. It definitely applied to our Mahler 1 program in YPO last month. Healthcare may call us the “young invincibles” but learning to healthfully push our limits is an ongoing challenge.”
How have you grown as a musician from these challenges?
“Through associative learning, we learn to establish connections between two stimuli. Generic definition aside, math calculated, every week I spend about 225 minutes in Period A Band room at Plymouth North. MYWE rehearsals last, after Thanksgiving, 150 minutes. The learned association of performing at a high school band level is therefore naturally stronger than that of exceeding the standard every Friday in Brown Hall and the number one clinically-proven way to kick this in the shins? (This, folks, is where the answer to the question actually comes in!)
If we take that which we learn that helps us most to grow, the aforementioned “Jordan Hall mindset,” and take that with us when we commute back to our various high schools across the state, we won’t simply grow as musicians. We can not only use the particular way of thinking in our own practice, but use it to help others, our friends, fellow musicians, peers. We’ll grow as people.”
Pick your favorite piece on the program. What does that piece mean to you?
“Oh boy this is a tough one. Wow. Each piece has so many different redeeming qualities.
My favorite piece on the program is “October” by Eric Whitacre, and among the reasons for my choice I have an anecdote from a few weeks’ worth of rehearsal.
We started the 2014-2015 MYWE season on September 12th. As customary at our inaugural rehearsal, as well as first post-concert rehearsals with new repertoire, we run through the pieces in what will probably become concert order. After playing through Peter Menin’s “Canzona,” we found the Whitacre on our stands next. Well, as we soon discovered, there were no wind chimes to be found in Brown Hall. Come the week after, there were still no wind chimes, in a piece that opened with this often seemingly insignificant piece of percussion.
October has furthered my appreciation for each individual instrument as pieces comprising the larger MYWE puzzle, from the serene wind chimes and wistful oboe solo sitting upon rich low winds, to (shameless plug) the soaring horn lines nearing the piece’s glorious conclusion. Every instrument truly has their say in the conversation that this work creates as it unfolds before the audience.”