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Happy Birthday Polyphonic!

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Polyphonic.org was founded in April of 2006, making this month our 7th birthday!  We thought that a fun way to celebrate would be to interview our editors and give you a peek into the lives of the folks that curate the content here at Polyphonic.org.  Enjoy!

Ray & daughter Leah

7 years ago - Ray and his daughter Leah in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY

Dr. Ramon Ricker - Editor-in-Chief

How long have you been a member of the Polyphonic team?

Since day one. In my position as a senior administrator at the Eastman School of Music it was my responsibility along with the Dean of the School at that time, James Undercofler to work with Paul Judy in the conveyance of the intellectual and financial capital of the Symphony Orchestra Institute to Eastman and create the Orchestra Musician Forum (OMF) and its website Polyphonic.org.

As a performer, what are your seven favorite works to play?

I played for 38 years as a contracted member of the clarinet section of the Rochester Philharmonic. Four years ago I decided that it was time to take weekends off and I gave up my contract. I still continue to play in that orchestra but mainly on saxophone.  In the RPO I primarily played bass clarinet and occasionally saxophone. So—it isn’t surprising that I like to play the bigger works. Here are my top seven:

  • Miraculous Mandarin  - Bartok
  • The Rite of Spring  - Stravinsky
  • Daphis and Chloe  - Ravel
  • Symphonic Dances  - Rachmanioff
  • Violin Concerto  - Shostakovich
  • Don Quixote - Strauss
  • Symphony no. 10  - Shostakovich

If you could give aspiring musicians one piece of advice, what would it be?

Actually I’ll give two pieces of advice. 1. For very, very young kids, ask for a ukulele as a birthday present and learn to play by ear.  If you are an older student who is already playing an instrument—work on your ears. If you aren’t hearing it you are just pushing buttons, and 2. Get an after school job. There you will learn the value of a dollar and appreciate how many hours you must work just to purchase basic items.

Robert Levine - Senior Editor

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7 years ago - Robert at the Sacramento Rivercats

What is your “guilty pleasure” music that you enjoy but that no one would guess?

Scottish folk music. Less guilty but equally unguessable: English renaissance choral music.

As a performer, what are your seven favorite works to play?

  • Schubert 8
  • Dvorak 8
  • Stravinsky Sacre du Printemps
  • Mozart Symphony #38 “Prague”
  • Brahms Serenade #2
  • Copland Appalachian Spring (chamber version)
  • Any late Beethoven quartet

If you could give aspiring musicians one piece of advice, what would it be?

Practice slowly with a metronome. Also, sing in a choir - this is the best way to learn sight-singing, which is a surprisingly helpful skill for an orchestra musician, especially one who plays mostly inner parts.

Ann Drinan - Senior Editor

Ann-200x150

7 years ago - Ann at a winery in Oregon

How long have you been a member of the Polyphonic team?

I’ve been with the Polyphonic team since the beginning. Ray and I and a website design company spent a lot of time putting together the initial plans for the site. Paul Judy, who I met me at a ROPA conference and with whom I’d had a long relationship, suggested to Ray that he contact me about being involved in the project that became Polyphonic.org.

What is your “guilty pleasure” music that you enjoy but that no one would guess?

I guess you could say “Jesus Christ Superstar” as I spent 6 months on the road with the national touring company back in 1973, and I sometimes crank up the LP when I’m cleaning the house. And I listen to 60s music in a similar context, but I can’t say that’s a guilty pleasure — it’s the music of my youth.

As a performer, what are your seven favorite works to play?

  • The Bach Cello Suites
  • Prokofiev — most anything (Romeo and Juliet, Symphony #5, Cinderella, but particularly R&J)
  • Beethoven 7
  • Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
  • Brahms Symphonies & Requiem
  • Mahler 1 & 2
  • Shostakovich 5 & 1
  • (Bonus! Bruckner 8)
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7 years ago - Steve at his senior composition recital at the University of Miami

Steve Danyew - Managing Editor

How long have you been a member of the Polyphonic team?

When I was a graduate assistant at the Eastman School’s Institute for Music Leadership (2008-2010) I think I helped on a few Polyphonic-related tasks.  Then when I graduated from Eastman with my M.M. in Composition in 2010, I started as Editor of the OnCampus section, helping to build the area of the site that would focus on content for young musicians. In 2012, I began serving as Managing Editor - helping to coordinate content for all areas of the site.

What is your “guilty pleasure” music that you enjoy but that no one would guess?

I love Christmas music.  I don’t listen to it year round or anything, but come November, I am ready to listen to it non-stop until Christmas.  I like Christmas hymns, standard Christmas songs, jazz Christmas albums, classical Christmas albums, everything in between, and I have a special fondness for Sarah McLachlan’s album “Wintersong.”

If you could give aspiring musicians one piece of advice, what would it be?

Treat every musical opportunity like a learning experience - all your experiences will help you become a better, more informed, well-rounded musician. Also, be cordial, flexible, and reliable - these are some of the qualities that will allow you to build long lasting professional relationships.

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