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Exploring musical soundscapes

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Andrea Graves, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra

Andrea Graves, section flutist and piccoloist for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. Graves is leading the upcoming series, "Soundscapes," which will provide participants with a special behind-the-scenes experience that will take their appreciation for professional musicians to a whole new level.

Woodwinds. Brass. Strings. Percussion. The arrangements of sounds, of pitch, of tone, of cadence and rhythm within their melting of disciplines paints soundscapes of wonder for lovers of music.

The standard orchestra is divided into these four groups of musical instruments, and the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra is no different. Being an orchestral musician carries its own set of circumstances, joys and challenges in harmoniously joining these musical groups.

Join FSO’s musicians as they present an insider’s view of their process as part of Coconino Community College’s Community Education Fall 2021 series “Soundscapes.” The series will be held Tuesdays, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 9 and 16, from 6 to 7 p.m., in person and virtually from the Fourth Street Campus.

“I’m over the moon about this partnership,” said Meghan Remington, CCC’s Community Education Coordinator. “The musicians and leadership of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra have been nothing but open and enthusiastic about bringing a unique program to our community.”

Remington added that she’s confident participants can look forward to a very special experience.

“It’s about getting the community excited about live orchestral music,” said Andrea Graves, section flutist and piccoloist for FSO, who will be leading the series. “We will feature in each class elements of a concert in the future.”

Graves, who headed up the pilot “Soundscapes” series last spring, added that participants this year will receive two free tickets to the January 2022 FSO performance of “Musical Stories.” According to the FSO, the performance will showcase “some of the most beloved children’s stories depicted in the orchestral repertoire.” The show will also feature string students from throughout northern Arizona to perform alongside FSO musicians.

“Also, what’s awesome is every class features a special guest,” Graves said.

The first class will feature Maestro Charles Latshaw, the musical director and conductor for FSO, and FSO Board Member Dr. Stephanie Stallings, a musicologist. They will share the historical context of the music and the composers for the Jan 2022 Musical Stories program.

“It’s a chance to share my passion for orchestral music,” Graves said of her desire to continue leading the series. “Hearing it live is like no other experience. Orchestral music takes more concentration to listen to, and we live in an age when media consumption is training us all to keep shorter attentions.”

She added, “The more you know about what you’re going to listen to, the more you’ll enjoy it.”

Each class will be discussion based where class members get to share their own experiences with music and their own perspectives as audience members. The featured musicians will be introducing the pieces and showing the participants elements of “behind the scenes” preparation and the experience of rehearsal to concert stage. Guests will feature what to listen for like the quality of the sound they are hearing – the timber – in different instruments like cello, the flute, the trombone, or stylistic elements like "staccato” for playing a note short or “legato” for playing a note longer. 

Participants will walk away with more knowledge, terminology, and history of the composers and the period when the pieces were composed.

“You’ll also learn about what impacted and affected the composer in the world at the time,” Graves said.

They will also hear stories and live performances demonstrating how the guest musicians practice and prepare for each concert – how they might “woodshed” an upcoming solo in a piece.

“It’s truly rewarding to interact with the audience,” Graves said. “As musicians we love to be performing on stage for the audience, but to have a class setting where we can share both performer and audience perspectives is great fun.”

Learn more about the FSO season at www.flagstaffsymphony.org.

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