Let 'em dance!

Chilean conductor Felipe Hidalgo is coming to Rochester to bring the Gospel of Fun to our young classical musicians. 

You may not have heard of this conductor, but you'll have the chance to see him when he and David Harman lead a concert at the University of Rochester on Saturday with the University of Rochester Orchestra at 8 PM in Upper Strong.  Maestro Hidalgo will also take a turn with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in a rehearsal.  David Harman took his orchestra to Chile last year to meet Felipe Hidalgo and work with him and his orchestra. Like Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela, Felipe Hidalgo has made a career of putting together youth orchestras in Chile, then teaching them the joys and--this is key--the fun of creating music.  David Harman dropped off a DVD of the U of R tour, and it was extraordinary.  The kids watching the URCO were rapt--one was even playing air violin.  The Santiago Youth Orchestra was incredible as they ran through Ginastera's Malambo and Bernstein's Mambo.  There was jumping and bumping and swaying and dancing and, yes, there was even confetti.  And there were smiles.  Lots of them.  They were having fun. And did I fail to mention they were good, too?  All of that, and great musicianship.

You may have seen this before with Gustavo Dudamel and the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra.  Here's a reminder:

showed this clip to our 2 double reed daughters, and they were amazed.  Here were kids their age, dressed in traditional concert blacks, dancing on stage.  Laughing.  Flipping their instruments, and never missing a beat or a note.  And I thought, "Are we missing something in North America that they've clearly grasped south of the border?"  Methinks the answer is, "Yes."

As we so studiously train our children to be serious musicians, I think we've forgotten one key thing:  these are kids.  They have all the same passions and interests of other kids.  They play sports.  They tweet and blog and text.  They manage Farmville on Facebook. They indulge in highly caffeinated soft drinks.  They read manga, swoon over hunky vampires, wear hoodies.  And they play classical music.  And no, there will be no dancing while playing that Mahler symphony or Elgar suite.  But in that one moment, when the rhythm kicks in, and the beat is undeniable, is it really so awful just to let the kids cut loose and have some fun?  If every North American youth orchestra could do what Dudamel and Hidalgo's kids get to do, I suspect enrollment would go up, and audience attendance would follow suit.  What's more fun than having fun? I say, just let 'em dance!






I so wish I had known about Felipe Hidalgo being in Rochester on Saturday. I would've moved heaven and earth to see him. I have admired him for so long! I am so glad that the RPYO got the chance to watch him live. What a spectacular opportunity!