Director of Berkeley High School Band and Orchestra Karen Wells was able to take some time to share with us at Airfield Broadcasts as to how a recommendation from a student’s parent began their band and orchestra’s Crissy Broadcast journey!
Airfield Broadcasts: Why did your group decide to participate in Crissy Broadcast? What do you find interesting about it?
Karen Wells: One of our musician’s parents knew the composer [Lisa Bielawa] and recommended that we consider the project. We did, and thought it would be of interest to the musicians in our groups. I think it is important to find performing opportunities for high school musicians that go beyond the usual band/orchestra concerts. We want our students to stretch and explore their music making potential, and this project seemed to be right for our groups!
AB: How will you be preparing for the performances?
Well, we will be taking in as much of the Berlin project [Tempelhof Broadcast] video as we can, and also we will be working with Peter Josheff, who is just a fabulous clarinetist and composer. He will be our leader, so I look forward to the high school musicians getting to hang out with Peter and see his music making process. We will practice reading the scores and responding to the lead musician, which is a bit different than watching a conductor…but not so different that they will not be capable of playing their parts.
KW: What do you hope your group will get out of this experience?
A chance to be part of something bigger than Berkeley High Band & Orchestra, a chance to communicate musically with other like minded musicians. A chance to have some fun, and see how other groups are going about learning how to play this music.
AB: What do you hope the audience will get out of Crissy Broadcast?
KW: I hope that they have some musical fun and enjoy the music that is created around them.
AB: Have you or your group been a part of any other performances like this in public spaces? What was that experience like? Or, if not, have you seen any other art in public spaces that you have found particularly inspiring?
KW: Hmm, BHS Band & Orchestra did take part in a cool project a couple of years ago where we got to have a composer compose a piece for us, and Steve Horowitz created a wonderful, wild piece and invited Fred Frith to join us. He was game, so the kids got to accompany and play and improvise with this amazing musician and improviser. This was not a public space performance…we performed twice, once in Davis and once on the UC Berkeley campus at Hertz Hall. I relate this story, because the emphasis was on small modules of music that got repeated and improvisation happened within some interesting guidelines. I think Lisa’s piece will be different, yet I also think that there are some parameters that are open, in a similar manner to Steve Horowitz’s piece. I think this is a good thing for young musicians to experience!