Monday, December 10, 2007

White House reception

POA's No-Borders Concert Tour ended in grand style, with a post-concert reception at the White House, graciously hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, Barbara Bush and President George Bush.

The Kennedy Center concert was flawless and the orchestra was very tight. Unfortunately we were unable to play our encores due to overtime concerns. In any case, the last sounding notes of POA's tour were the powerful bars of Revuelta's Sensemaya, which got enthusiastic "Bravos" frm the Washington D.C. audience.

The White House reception lasted just under 2 hours, with our hosts patiently posing for pictures and taking the time to talk to each and every musician, calling them by their first names, joking. President Bush came across as super charismatic, funny and warm-hearted to all musicians. Later in the evening, Ana Karina Alamo played a couple of pieces in the piano, followed by a duet with her and Alondra. Enjoy the pictures!
Kliment Krylovsky, clarinet and Joshua Feltman, viola

Graciela Borja (Alondra's mother), Josh Koppeis and Alondra
Fred, Ana Karina

Alondra and Kenneth Kiesler
Gabriela, Alondra and Ana Karina

Friday, December 7, 2007

Children's Orchestra of Mexico

Friday, November 25 was one of the most unforgettable days of the NO-BORDERS Concert Tour. POA headed early to Mexico City's National Arts Center (CNA), a beautiful college campus where the Children's Orchestra of Mexico meets twice a year for rehearsals, workshops, concerts and a tour. Upon arriving, POA musicians greeted the children, whose enthusiasm and anticipation could be felt a mile away. For three hours in the morning, the orchestras broke into instrument sectionals and worked on the repertoire which included Sibelius' Finlandia, Marquez' Danzon No. 2, Ginastera's Estancia Suite, Leonard Bernstein's Mambo from A West Side Story , among others. There was a two-hour lunch break, in which both orchestras ate together, took pictures, exchanged ideas, shared hobbies and interests and even played soccer! From observing this gathering and walking around, it seemed that the cultural and language barriers simply did not exist. The beautifully green CNA campus was an inspiring backdrop for this bonding.

In the afternoon, the stage crew pulled an almost miraculous feat as it successfully accommodated all 200+ musicians with their instruments on stage for a 3-hour rehearsal, conducted by Alondra. The atmosphere was indescribable. Wherever one looked, musicians were smiling or reaching for their stand partner's music to point something out, or demonstrating a passage. Alondra concluded the afternoon by saying how important this project was for Mexico and imbued a sense of responsibility on the children musicians, whose role as future ambassadors of music education in Mexico would become ever more as time went by. Enjoy the pictures of this day, which according to most POA musicians, was their favorite day of the NO-BORDERS Concert Tour!

CNA Auditorium with 200+ musicians on stage!
Alondra and Children's Orchestra conductor Sergio Ramirez-Cardenas

Great shot!

Sectional workshops lasted all morning
Cello principal Ben Capps leads the sectional. Oboist Tessa Gross and clarinetist Kliment Krylovsky conduct the woodwind sectional, running through Sibelius' Finlandia

Side-by-side playing
Percussionist and POA's Arts and Education Coordinator Justin Hines demonstrates a passage
Bassist Robert Bellamy took his section outdoors, under the trees for a workshop

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bellas Artes and Sala Neza

Photo shoot outside historic Bellas Artes
Sala Nezahualcoyotl. Impressive acoustics!

POA debuted in Mexico City's two most important concert halls back to back. The performances were vibrant and in both venues, audiences gave standing ovations, asking for more. Pianist Ana Karina Alamo graced the stage and filled the halls with her moving rendition of MacDowell's 2nd Piano Concerto, brilliantly executed. She was greeted with multiple curtain calls, wrapping up the concert's first half with two encores, a Venezuelan joropo and a famous piece by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.
Concluding the evening, the Bellas Artes public asked and received 3 encores! By the time POA played the third encore piece, Eduardo Gamboa's Mercado Garmendia, the audiences got off their seats and began dancing in the aisles, clapping, whistling and cheering! What a sight to behold!
Trumpet player Marc Osterer and trombonist Alex Regazzi delivered awesome improvised solos, wowing the rest of the public to its feet. The Bellas Artes' performance was, by many accounts, POA's most shining evening, while Sala Neza's performance was the best from acoustics and recording standpoint.

Mexico City

Bienvenidos a MEXICO!
The team arrives in Mexico City! Lobby of Hotel Camino Real
Alondra on her way to Bosque de Chapultepec with musiciansOutdoor sound-check at Bosques
POA Backstage Crew

Tour manager Alessandra keeping a close eye on the stage
Samuel Marchan checking if all the music made it to Bosques


After checking in at our gigantic hotel right in the middle of Downtown Dallas, musicians went out to explore the nearby restaurants while others went up to their huge rooms to get some sleep. The flight cases all arrived in one piece (thank God) and the good-old Texan hospitality made us all feel welcome. Later that day, POA staff met with the Dallas Symphony's staff at the equally gigantic and beautiful Meyerson Symphony Center, conveniently located two blocks aways from our hotel. After touching up on all details for next day's concert, we went back to the hotel for some down time, dinner and sleep. Next morning Alondra gathered the whole orchestra for an informal meet-and-greet with musicians. We then headed to the Hall in the afternoon for sound-check and the concert, which was amazing (the hall is incredible). After we got back, the hotel lobby bar turned into a POA party, complete with solos by our musicians and rounds of drinks, many drinks!

Our film crew: Santiago & Oscar
Alondra with a distant relative from Dallas. Notice a resemblance? :-)

The first violins rocking away

Post-concert party at Hotel Lobby. From left: Brooke Quiggins (violin), Anna Harris (cello), Vanessa Mollard (concertmaster), Kliment Krylovsky (clarinet)

Gabriela and Justin Hines applauding one of our musicians

Boarding to Dallas

After rehearsing for most of the weekend, POA musicians got an early start on Monday, heading to La Guardia Airport. One of the flights were cancelled, so it was quite an experience to try and find room for 30 musicians on the next flight to Dallas. We finally all made it!

During one of the flight's layover in St. Louis. The whole plane was emptied out and only POA musicians remained. We had a little party while waiting for the other passengers.

Maestro Abreu's Visit

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the day after the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra performed to a sold-out Carnegie Hall, its founder Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu accepted Alondra's invitation and spent part of his afternoon watching POA's rehearsal at Carroll's studios.

Maestro Abreu's sheer presence was enough to move musicians. After the orchestra played through Marquez' Danzon No. 2 in his honor, Mr. Abreu walked up to the podium and as he hugged Alondra, delivered a beautiful, eloquent and powerful speech about the importance of POA's mission in unifying the Americas through music. He also complemented Alondra's initiative to start POA and extended an earnest invitation for the orchestra to go to Caracas and perform alongside Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in small as well as large formations. He even remarked that we should not delay in going! That was a day to remember!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Week of NY Concert - Reception

After an awesome kickoff concert at NY's Skirball Center, we went to Serafina Restaurant for a niice reception. We left around 1:30 am after meeting audience members, patrons and enjoying the food and wine (I myself enjoyed the wine was an open bar reception).

Alondra, Gaby and Damian Fowler

Ana Karina, Gabe, Bethany and Gaby

Ana Karina and her sister

"Brazil Guitar Duo" Douglas and Joao with Fred and composer Raimundo Penaforte

One of POA's first interns, Ryan, with Gaby and her husband Aaron

On the week of the concert, our office was packed and we ordered food from Carmine's one day...

"There's enough food for you Fred, relax" - in the back, Alvaro Rodas examining the MacDowell concerto

"Hmm... I wonder what's in the bag Gaby..."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rehearsals for the NO-BORDERS Concert Tour begin!

Above: Alondra conducting Chapela's Inguesu!
Left: Alessandra, tour manager, Enrique, viola principal
Gaby, executive director, Robert, bass player

Strings action shot!

To all musicians, visitors, onlookers and random folks:

This is POA's blog about its first NO-BORDERS Concert Tour! Musicians and staff who are taking part in this project, this is your place to contribute: share your comments, post your photos and videos, enlighten us with your random or constructive thoughts, humor us with your jokes and insights!

Send this blog to all your friends, relatives, spouses, fellow musicians and company! Let the NO-BORDERS Concert Tour begin!!!!