Round Mountain has a unique take on folk music that’s both foreign and familiar, blending dusty American grit with a worldly amalgam of global influences. Between them, Robby and Char play a dozen instruments during their concerts, leading them to be called “the two-man singing folk orchestra.”
The Rothschilds have strong personal connections with all three of the groups that will appear with them on the Lensic stage. The Santa Fe Youth Philharmonia, part of the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association, is conducted by Richard Snider, who was Robby and Char’s band teacher at Alameda Junior High School and Capital High School. The brothers studied music at the College of Santa Fe, which is now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD). And both brothers teach music in Santa Fe: Char at the Turquoise Trail Charter School, Robby at SFUAD.
Round Mountain’s March 13 concert presents them with the opportunity to share their own musical heritage with a hometown audience.
"As Santa Fe kids, we were lucky to grow up in this unique confluence of musical cultures,” says Char. “Some of the biggest influences on our journey happened in our school years—Richard Snider, who'll be conducting the Youth Symphony as they perform with us, was a formative influence throughout junior high and high school.”
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By Mari Angulo, Executive Director
Students and parents recently had a chance to meet him at the YSO parent meeting as well as at auditions held throughout the month of August. William brings great enthusiasm for music-making as well as a plethora of youth orchestra and teaching experience to SFYSA.
His teaching experience ranges from elementary and secondary schools, to colleges, in both public and private sectors. He’s held teaching and conducting positions in four states throughout the western United States, and led bands, orchestras, and various college music classes and ensembles.
Prior to his arrival in Santa Fe, William was the music director of the Anchorage Youth Philharmonic and Director of Bands, Percussion, Music Theory and Special Education Music at Robert Service High School in Anchorage, Alaska. Raised primarily in Boise, Idaho, he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Boise State University. During that time he had a chance to teach in the Boise public schools system and was Assistant Conductor of the Boise State All-Campus Band. He then received a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Central Washington University, where he served as the Graduate Assistant Conductor of the Symphony, Chamber, and Opera Orchestras.
William’s love for working with youth orchestras was born in Washington when he took over the music directorship of the Kittitas Valley Youth Orchestra. Since then, his passion for leading full high school orchestras has grown exponentially.
Soon after he arrived in our offices, I sat down with William to ask him some questions to learn more than what his curriculum could tell us...
When did you decide to be a conductor?
(Smiles) “When I was a kid, there were five things I thought I could be: a musician, a teacher, a baseball player, a pilot and a truck driver. Well, I discovered my eyes were bad as a kid, so ‘pilot’ didn’t work out. I struck out on the Tee-ball team all the time, so I found out I wasn’t good for baseball either. And finally, I was probably overly romanticizing being a truck driver. So that left me with musician and teacher, and when you combine those you get conductor.”
What drew you to the position at SFYSA?
“I wanted a chance to become wholly invested in a flagship ensemble. In May, when I auditioned for the job, I was very impressed working with the orchestra. They made great eye-contact—even better than any ensemble I had worked with in the past… and I just felt that they had a great attitude….and even though this may seem like a small thing, it’s a huge factor for me when working with a group. I felt a strong chemistry with the students and the chemistry with the staff was also exceptional. ”
What is the hardest thing about being a conductor?
“The hardest thing is also the most exciting thing… that is balancing and engaging musicians of various levels and interests and drawing them together for one common purpose.”
How do you achieve that balance and engaging experience?
“I try to make my rehearsals a collaborative experience with all musicians. For example, by engaging a brass player to help him detect what could be better in the violin section. Music making is a full mind and body experience; I try to engage the groups physically and mentally. Sometimes we do different stretches before we do anything else. I believe playing music should also be a physical experience, not just aural. The result of that is that the group becomes more engaged.”
What is your vision for the Youth Symphony Orchestra?
“I look forward to building and developing an orchestra that engages the community in creative ways. I want to build an orchestra from the vision I’ve developed after working at other organizations for years. An orchestra that is active in the community, that collaborates with other organizations. I want it to be a household name in the city. It’s important that it is high caliber artistically, as I would more importantly want it to be something that impacts the musician and helps them develop a life-long relationship with music regardless of their life aspirations.”
How do you feel about Santa Fe?
“I’ve always loved Santa Fe for its art, music and outdoor recreational opportunities. I’ve never known a town with such vivid character. It’s unique—like no other place I’ve been. And there is so much going on musically for a town this size.”
Any last words?
“I want this to be a very active ensemble in the community. I’m excited to have this opportunity and I want to push the students to do as much as possible. I have a vision for the group and the program and I feel there is room to fulfill the potential. I feel like the right person for the group.”
William will officially begin working with the group on Sunday, September 7th, when weekly YSO rehearsals start for the year.
A LITTLE MORE...
By: Mari Angulo, Executive Director
The 2014 Summer Studio was a fantastic success with an 80% total enrollment increase compared to the previous year. Forty-four students received six weeks of private lessons and group classes. Group classes were based on age and playing ability. Younger students participated in a rhythm and ensemble class, whereas older students were assigned to a composition class.
Rhythm and Ensemble Class
Younger students focused on things like ensemble techniques: how to play together in a big group, and how to echo rhythmically to ensure correct timing. Students even sang rounds together like “Frère Jacques”, a difficult task as students had to learn to sing their own part while listening to other parts without losing focus. They also worked on fun group coordination exercises.
The composition class covered several topics: cellular composition, which focused on writing music using small rhythmic ideas and repetition; form and structure in music, emphasizing how pieces are written to work together; writing for instruments that aren’t your own; as well as learning about ‘extended techniques’ where students were introduced to unusual but effective playing methods, i.e. playing with wood, playing behind the bridge, ‘bone-snapping’ sounds on the violin. Students also learned recording techniques and as a final assignments were to compose a piece using everything they learned: the structure and cellular building blocks, including extended techniques, and finally, they needed to write and record the piece.
Private Classes and Parents
Parental participation was very high this year, with parents joining their children during private lessons to provide learning support. Instructors take a hands-on approach with parents and teach them how to support their child during at-home practice. Parents not only learn techniques, they also help by taking notes for improvement during the lesson as well as by aiding the student with their take-home assignments.
This Sunday, August 10, thirty-six students from the Summer Studio program performed at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Performers included students of all levels ranging from ages 6 to 15. The afternoon featured everything from first-time solo performers to seasoned SFYSA students who have been involved with the program for over five years. Some students were completely new and performed on their own after only six weeks of work! Also during the concert, a recording was played of the works completed by the composition class. The group of thirteen composed a piece called “Nightmare”. The event was well attended with over 125 friends and family members.
We would like to thank Anton Brkic for these wonderful photos!
*Click through for larger view and captions*
By Mari Angulo, Executive Director
The Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association, celebrated Mother's Day with an all orchestra ensemble concert. Students from Intermezzo String Orchestra, Youth Philharmonia, and the Youth Symphony Orchestra all performed for an audience of over 400 at the St. Francis Auditorium.
The Youth Philharmonia and Symphony Orchestra perform Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2).
The YSO Brass Ensemble echoing throughout St. Francis Auditorium as they played Gabrieli’s Canzona per Sonare No. 2.
Flute player Marlene Krapfl shining as she performed Mozart’s Flute Concerto in D Major.
2014 PLAY-A-THON ON THE PLAZA
By: Mari Angulo, Executive Director
On Saturday, April 26, the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association held it's third annual Play-A-Thon on the Plaza.
All SFYSA ensembles, orchestras, elementary strings, mariachi, and jazz were invited to perform for a free outdoor concert at the Santa Fe Plaza.
Rain or shine! SFYSA's remarkable players were able to perform even with the capricious weather. The event was well attended with many parents, friends and even passers-by stopping by for a listen.
The Play-A-Thon was conceived as an outreach and community event that also helps raise funds for all SFYSA programs.
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Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.