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Tuesday, August 3, 2010
VISIT FROM THE MAESTRO 13 DEC 1964
Do you remember getting all dressed up and getting out of school in GRADE SCHOOL to ride a yellow school bus, or was it a regular St. Louis bus?, to Kiel Opera House to hear the SLSO play? I do...it was quite an event. I think I originally delighted in going at my mother's insistence because I got out of school, but miraculously I came to love the music! I also remember attending their concerts at KHS in the old auditorium. I have to admit I have more than once been in a situation amidst Symphony Volunteer Association members at various functions when someone was crowing about his or her Symphony experiences and I've thrown out the fact that I began attending SLSO concerts in 4th grade...it's a great conversation-changer, if a bit devious.
Visit from the Maestro - De Carvalho conducts practice session of Kirkwood Senior High School orchestra
The 60 students of the KSRHS orchestra practice the "Oberon" overture under the hands of Eleazar de Carvalho, conductor of the St. Louis Symphony. The setting is the stage in the school auditorium on a weekday morning. De Carvalho delayed a vacation trip to Brazil in order to visit the orchestra. [KHS was making orchestral history way back then too!! Those kids playing at Carnegie Hall have nothing on OUR era musicians!]
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra had just concluded a concert at Kirkwood Sr. H S, and its conductor, Eleazar de Carvalho, was walking toward a door with Burton Isaac, music director of the Kirkwood public schools. As they parted, Isaac jokingly suggested that DeCarvalho return to direct the high school orchestra. The response was "Why not?" A few days later a date was arranged.
The maestro made his appearance at a morning practice session that was attended by every boy and girl in the orchestra and several members of the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators' Association. De Carvalho did not lecture sternly, exclaim loudly or rap his baton sharply. Discipline with humor and a streak of easy, Latin exuberance was the mood for the hour, which was all the time that the school could allow for de Carvalho's tutelage. In careful English overlaid with a thick, Brazilian Portuguese accent, he began by explaining basic positions of the baton. Aiming the shaft at the orchestra is a signal to play, he said. Pointing it at the ceiling tells you to stop. "When I point the baton halfway between the orchestra and the ceiling, that is the time for a little conversation" he jested. "The only problem is that I never point it that way."
Moving up and down on his toes, de Carvalho guided the young musicians through the overture to the opera "Oberon" by Carl Maria von Weber. At measured pauses he would mumble syllables that marked time to the rhythms of the composition. This was his stratagem for emphasizing the overture's rhythmic undercurrents. He reminded the awed instrumentalists that failure to follow the rhythms leads to chaos, with players arriving at the same oint in the score at different moments. Another warning was not to neglect even the shortest, faintest note in a score, for each was written with a purpose.
Bells sounding the end of the practice session came as a shock both to students, who had played as never before, and to de Carvalho, who departed reluctantly."
Photos by Arthur Witman of the PICTURES staff
Text by Richard M. Jones of the PICTURES Staff
Please click these links to see the photos from the article that actually have faces you will recognize. A couple photos show the classroom & students, but not enough faces to make the pix worth the bits & bytes. Click here, here & here.