Greetings from beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico!

The music world has a way of swallowing you up for a few months and then spitting you out to look at your surroundings every so often. The end of my first season with the Milwaukee Symphony colliding with the beginning of my first summer at the Santa Fe Opera was such a time for me. This weekend feels like the first time I have had a chance to look around since my last post in March! I have been assisting a terrific production of Szymanovski’s rarely-performed King Roger here in Santa Fe – and with opening night next weekend, I can finally step back to enjoy my surroundings.

Surprisingly, I still feel very connected to Milwaukee while here. Just to show you how small the music world can be – MSO music director Edo de Waart spent 11 summers conducting here and I’m constantly being asked to relay greetings to him; I’m currently assisting Maestro Evan Rogister and some of you will remember him from his guest conducting appearance with the MSO back in January; and best of all, the orchestra here includes several familiar faces from the MSO: former principal cellist Joe Johnson, harpist Danis Kelly, principal clarinet Todd Levy and clarinet Steve Ahearn, principal bassoon Ted Soluri, and percussionist Rob Klieger. It’s quite remarkable how well-represented the MSO is at one of the premiere opera companies in the U.S.

This week, I finally got reconnected with the MSO and put the final touches on some educational and community concerts for next season. So I thought it would be fun to think of some ways you can stay connected with the MSO over the summer as well.

1. America’s Lost Treasures – Milwaukee on the National Geographic Channel

The Milwaukee episode featuring concertmaster Frank Almond, myself, and the MSO premiered this week, but if you check the schedule, it will be showing a couple more times over the next week:

I have no access to the channel so I can’t vouch for our portion, but the orchestra and I had a great time during the 15 minutes of filming at one of our rehearsals. Does someone want to record it for me?

2. Broadcast of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

Did you miss our Spring for Music program at Carnegie Hall on May 11? Want to relive some of the excitement? The WQXR broadcast is online for you to enjoy:!/programs/live-broadcasts/2012/may/11/

3. Check out the MSO’s Concerts for Schools

This is bit self-centered on my part. I’m assuming that you’ve seen the 2012-13 season brochures for our Classics Series and Pops Series. But have you seen our education concert series? The MSO has one of the most extensive orchestra-run education programs and I was excited to have the opportunity to work with education director, Karli Larsen, to produce next season’s programs. Along with introducing kids to the great masterworks as we learn about “landscapes in music”, I’ve thrown in a smattering of new works by living composers including a commissioned work! So check out our concerts and be jealous of the thousands of students who will join the MSO in Uihlein Hall next season for listening, singing, and even dancing!

4. Putting what we stand for into words…

In January 2013, I will be conducting a subscription week that includes a commissioned work by Jeffrey Mumford, winner of a competition held by the Sphinx Organization that supports diversity in the arts. Recently, the founder of Sphinx, Aaron Dworkin, wrote a very public letter not only defending the arts, but lifting them up as vital to our identity. You can read it here:

5. Get ready for opening week!

Are you ready for our all-Mendelssohn opening week? Three years ago was Mendelssohn’s bicentenary and there were many articles written to commemorate the event. One of my favorite music writers is Alex Ross and you can read his enlightening New Yorker article in full here:

Bonus: Want to be a trombonist? Watch this first.

Think you know Rachmaninoff’s famous Second Piano Concerto? This video is a fresh perspective that had the entire music staff at The Santa Fe Opera wiping tears of laughter from our eyes… If you don’t find it funny, don’t worry: we’re the crazy ones. Joyce Yang returns next season with Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto – I wonder if I can convince our own Megumi Kanda to make a sequel…

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer and I look forward to seeing you again in September!


About Francesco Lecce-Chong

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