ASO lecture series adds to music, its fans say

May 24, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Now that the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's 40th-anni- versary season has ended, a postscript on a little-publicized contributor to the orchestra's continuing success is appropriate - the pre-concert lectures.

The talks have been offered at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts for at least five seasons. As composer Hector Berlioz once said: "It is not enough that the artist should be well prepared for the public. The public must be well prepared for what it is going to hear."

"Being prepared makes all the difference," says the ASO's education director, Pamela Chaconas.

"We are attempting to give audiences a deeper understanding of the orchestral experience," she said. "It is important that pre-concert lectures be free, open to the public and held at the concert location.

"The fact that people are hungry to learn more about the music they are about to hear is reflected in how lecture attendance has grown over the years to over 100 people filling the largest room at Maryland Hall on Friday evenings. About three years ago, pre-concert lectures were also added on Saturday evenings, where attendance is growing. This is a real tribute to Dr. Rachel Franklin."

Franklin is a concert pianist who has performed at the world's major concert halls and garnered rave reviews.

Having established an international concert career, Franklin decided to expand her intellectual horizons by studying at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

In 1994, during the completion of a doctoral degree in musical arts, she first became involved in lecturing at Peabody's Elderhostel program and crafting spoken features about music for National Public Radio's "Performance Today."

About a year later, she was invited by the Annapolis Symphony to begin its pre-concert lecture program.

A faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Peabody, Franklin lectures for the Baltimore Symphony, too.

Eager to share her knowledge, Franklin said: "Each piece has such a fascinating history and content. Why shouldn't the listener know why I enjoy it, what the composer was doing and feeling at the time of writing, the special moments that make the piece remarkable? All this helps an audience to build a personal response and relationship to the music, which is, of course, exactly what the composer wanted. I truly feel it's my strongest responsibility to facilitate the link between composer and listener."

Much hard work goes into each lecture, researching what Franklin considers "describing the nuts and bolts of a work in a user-friendly way," and at the end she finds she has "discovered amazing musical secrets, social history, cultural events, gossip, intellectual revelations - a universe of information about just what makes a piece of music tick, why it sounds the way it does, why people want to hear it."

"Above all, I've come a little closer to understanding that greatest of musical mysteries: Why does it touch our emotions?"

This musical sleuth imparts her secrets, expanding concert-goers' knowledge and enjoyment. At a lecture April 27, composers Stephen Paulus and Sheila Silver discussed their works that were to be performed later that evening at Maryland Hall.

Longtime ASO subscribers Edythe Greengold and Sara Ostrusky said they learned about and began attending the lectures only this year.

"We enjoy them and find them informative, so we know what to listen for," Greengold said. "Hearing Sheila Silver's music, I thought, `Oh, yes - that's right - she told us to listen for that water sound.'"

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.