On Wednesday, students from Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade enjoyed a special Morning Ex from Music of the Baroque, a resident ensemble at the Harris Theater that has provided Chicago with top-notch performances of the 17th and 18th centuries for nearly 50 years. Conductor Stephen Alltop led these musicians in an enriching MX that highlighted the art of conducting.
Alltop began by leading his musicians through Water Music composed by George Frideric Handel and directed the audience’s attention to certain actions he performed and what they meant. From there, Alltop provided the audience with some general historical information on conductors, including anecdotes about Jean-Baptiste Lully’s use of a staff to keep time and order. Next, Alltop turned the audience into amateur conductors as he had them walk through some simple exercises. He selected two student volunteers to put these new skills into action by leading the musicians. Alltop wrapped up this special learning session by providing the students with helpful tips and tricks. For example, he used his former student and current Parker Music Department Chair Kingsley Tang to help display the proper way a conductor signals to a specific musician, and with the help of a vocal accompanist, Alltop explained how a conductor incorporates them into the performance. Finally, Music of the Baroque musicians answered questions from the audience, including, “How old were you when you got into conducting?” and “Is it hard to keep track of yourself when playing in a large group?”
Parker is thankful that Music of the Baroque spent time with our students and for the Harris family’s generosity in creating the Joan W. Harris Visiting Music Scholar in Residence program. This program aims to “provide experiences for students to find inspiration, learn, appreciate and understand the transformative power of classical music,” and Music of the Baroque perfectly matched this model. We are very excited to welcome them back to Parker for “The Conductor and Leadership” on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m.
Click here for more photos from this fantastic Morning Ex.