I am very much looking forward to Christina Jennings’ performance this week with the Fairfax Symphony. I have heard her perform many times and she is always exciting to hear. She has a scintillating tone and is very expressive.

I’m hoping a lot of Washington area flutists come to the concert on Saturday because it will be a great opportunity to hear a terrific flutist play a concerto most flutists have not yet heard. Jonathan Leshnoff wrote this concerto for Jeffrey Khaner who premiered it with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Christina Jennings will give the Washington area premiere.

Be sure to come.

Lawrence Ink


Last night’s wind and percussion sectional went very well.  We worked quite a bit on the first movement of the symphony at first, focussing on some balance and intonation issues.  The “gammy-legged” waltz (2nd movement in 5/4) was a bit tricky for ensemble without the strings present to play off and listen to.  The 3rd movement sounded fantastic–it really cooked.

The antiphonal snare drummers, Joe and Mike, were first rate (as usual) in the Rossini–if we can hold the tempo, this overture is going to be really fun.

Tonight we meet our concerto soloist for the first time–James Dick, Founder and Artistic Director of the acclaimed Round Top Festival in Texas–for the mighty and hugely popular B flat Piano Concerto of Tchaikovsky;  this is a piece which has been in his blood over most of his long and distinguished career.  Looking forward to it!

Chris Z

Tchaik Concert–rehearsal 1

Last night we had our first rehearsal for the upcoming concert this weekend–Tchaikovsky and Rossini.  Given that we are preparing this program on only 3 full rehearsals, I thought it critical that we incorporate some sectional work and yesterday the strings and I worked together (tonight will be winds and percussion).   That all the pieces in this concert are undoubtedly very familiar to almost every FSO musician (and most players will have played them many times) doesn’t alter the fact that this program is a real technical and emotional–even physical–challenge;  particularly Tchaikovsky’s mighty symphony no.6, the “Pathetique”.  I spent a lot of time encouraging the orchestra “not to slow down!”, particularly in the symphony’s 3rd movement–a frenzied march, which needs to have a somewhat grotesque relentless sense to it, bordering on the hysterical, but hopefully not crossing over into chaos.  I am convinced that this piece is the precursor to the dangerously dark and morbid sensibilities of Mahler and Shostakovich.  Anyway, there were certainly some difficulties in maintaining this momentum, which  was certainly not lost on the orchestra;  one player came to me afterwards expressing her concerns, politely suggesting that we would have a better chance of good ensemble if I insisted people play “right on the beat” rather than allowing for a delay.  Ah, the delay…..this is always much food for thought for conductors.  The “delay” phenomenon is often the result of a complicated mix of elements to do with sound, expression of the music, the relationship with the orchestra and even the relation between the players in the orchestra.  Don’t get me started!  However, the point is well taken, especially for fast and incisively rhythmic music and I appreciated her remarks.

More tonight– this time with the other half of the FSO

Chris Z


As predicted

It was a fantastic concert. The orchestra really put it all together! My sister, Karen, and her husband, David came. Karen said the strings sparkled. She is a musician herself, and has high standards. She and David were very impressed! 🙂 Soloist Ben Beilman really sang on the violin. He is such a talent. I know we will be hearing more about him in the future! Karen & David joined me at the Green Room Reception following the concert. We shut the place down — last to leave at 11:15. What a wonderful evening for audience and musicians! Thanks to everyone at FSO who make it all happen. We are so lucky to have such a great organization!

Dress Rehearsal

The dress rehearsal this evening went well. We are ready! This will be a fantastic concert, and I know the audience will agree. Bring your friends!

It’s been a treat to work with guest conductor, Ken Woods. He is so easy to follow, has a real vision for what he wants to bring out in the music, and his intentions come out in his hands (through his conducting, that is). Benjamin Beilman is a true virtuoso. His Beethoven Concerto is thoughtful and mature. He has a sweet, lyrical sound. It has been a real pleasure to work with him. I am sure he will soon be a well-known soloist.

Benjamin Beilman @ Frost MS

Today, the FSO violin soloist for this concert, Benjamin Beilman, paid a visit to the Frost MS Advanced Strings Class. Frost Strings teacher, Kathy Thompson, secured the Lecture Hall at Frost for this event, which was the perfect venue. This event was sponsored jointly by the Fairfax Symphony, the Virginia String Teachers Association (VASTA) and The Potter Violin Co. I was one of a handful of area private teachers who attended, along with some parents and siblings of students from the class.

The session started with 3 separate soloists, all violinists from this class at Frost. Each played for Mr. Beilman and the audience. Afterwards, Mr. Beilman gave some helpful hints on how to improve their performance. My student, Daniel, was one of the soloists, playing the 1st movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G. I was very proud of Daniel. He played well, and responded well to the coaching Mr. Beilman gave. I was also very happy to hear Mr. Beilman give similar advice to what I had been saying. It’s always good to have positive reinforcement! I tried to video record Daniel’s playing and coaching, but my device crashed and I only got 12 seconds! I guess I’ll just have to rely on my memory!

After the mini-masterclass, Mr. Beilman took questions from the audience. Questions included:
“How much should I practice a day?” [enough to make a difference in your playing, and be consistent – daily practice for a short time is better than 4 hours one day and nothing for the next month]
“How much do you practice a day?” [4-6 hours/day]
“What kind of violin do you play?” [200-year-old Gagliano]

After the Q&A session, Mr. Beilman treated everyone to a performance of all 3 movements of the Prokofiev Solo Violin Sonata. He played beautifully. The students were clearly inspired!

When the event was over, students crowded around Mr. Beilman to talk to him and get his autograph. I stayed to thank him for coming. Then I asked him about the Beethoven cadenzas he is playing on the FSO concert. He said they were Beethoven’s own cadenzas for the re-scored piano version of the Violin Concerto. It is not well known that Beethoven rewrote this concerto for piano. I have heard it on the radio before, and it always makes me pause, and say…”that’s just not right!” Ha! Anyway, Mr. Beilman re-scored the piano cadenzas for violin! Back at ya, Ludwig! 😉

After that, I went home to have lunch and practice, then teach, before tonight’s dress rehearsal.