Editor’s note: The Discovery Orchestra specializes in demystifying classical music. How good a job does the orchestra do? We asked a 9-year-old violinist for her critique.
By Laurily Merzatta
The Discovery Orchestra performed The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky at the Fine Arts Center at the Delbarton School in Morris Township last month. It was filmed for a PBS special to be aired next Spring! How exciting! It’s not that often that you get to attend an event being filmed live for a television broadcast!
I attended with Margaret Roberts, my violin teacher, her dad, and my friend Diya, who is also a violin student of Mrs. Roberts.
Once we found our seats in the balcony, Diya and I took photos of the orchestra warming up and the catwalk above, and even a rubber chicken that was tied to one of the TV cameras. Apparently in theater it’s good luck to bring a rubber chicken backstage on opening night. I read that in a book series called The Ellie Mcdoodle Diaries.
The conductor, George Marriner Maull came out right before the performance started and scanned the audience. He announced that he needed some people to fill up the seats below.
Diya and I thought our pictures might come out better from below, so we were excited when the conductor picked us as some of the audience to come down to the third row.
We opened our program and we could tell this was going to be different than a regular concert. There was a listening guide inside with pictures to help us understand what we were about to hear. There was a glossary of lots of musical terms! There were 88 musicians on the stage and we couldn’t wait for them to start.
Many times throughout the performance the conductor interrupted the music! At one point conductor George Marriner Maull asked the audience to raise our hands every time the trombones, clarinets, and strings played a loud chord. He had the percussion section play a phrase of music showing the difference with accompaniment versus how it sounds alone.
Another time, Mr. Maull said that they were going to repeat the music again. He said, “This time especially pay attention to the glissando that the trombones are about to play again.”
He proceeded to explain that a glissando is like a musical slide, going either up, down, or both. A glissando is more common for piano and harp, but more unusual for the trombone. Luckily, we could refer to the musical glossary in our program to remember all the new vocabulary we learned.
The Discovery Orchestra was founded in 1987 as the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey. The first Discovery Concert was in 1996 and the group’s name changed 10 years later.
Now, all programs feature interactive instruction and Artistic Director George Marriner Maull has been running Discovery Orchestra for 23 years.
Discovery Orchestra’s mission seems to be to get people interested in classical music and they sure do a great job of it. The conductor said, “The more you know about something, the more interesting it gets.’’ And wow is that ever true!
I cannot wait to see the The Firebird by Igor Sravinsky performed by The Discovery Orchestra as a PBS special on television next Spring!
Laurily Merzatta, 9, is a 4th-grader who plays violin, and sings in the choir at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown.