The Columbus Symphony conducted a little experiment recently by enlisting amateur musicians to join their orchestra’s ranks. The Symphony called it “Side by Side,” and invited 50 people to rehearse classical warhorses like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Sibelius’s Finlandia.
I remember the first time I sat down in the cello section of the Dubuque Symphony, my hometown orchestra of record. I’d seen so many of their shows over the years. They were Up There, performing for their fans, like musical celebrities.
When I was was in middle school the DSO let me play a July 4th pops show at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds. I was starstruck playing with my idols. “Holy hell, how do I hang in on the Firebird finale? How long will it take me to turn the corner on that beastly Star Wars cello part?” The stage was in front of a dirt stock car track. Best gig of my life up to that point.
Here’s a video of the Columbus Symphony’s experiment. Worth a shot in other places? I’d say so.
A commenter over at Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc (where I stole this news item from) points out many US orchestras are already doing this — Buffalo Phil, Minnesota Orchestra, a bunch more. Sweet.