Dan Jordan has been the concertmaster for the Sarasota Orchestra for 23 years while Rachel Halvorson has been the principal violist for only two years, one and a half of which was through the pandemic!
But together, along with their colleagues violinist Christopher Takeda and cellist Natalie Helm, they share the amazing experience of performing in the Sarasota Orchestra’s String Quartet.
Hear Dan and Rachel talk about their very different life paths to the Sarasota Orchestra, the unique experiences of rehearsing and performing with the string quartet, the program selections for their upcoming concert on Sunday, December 19 at 4:00 p.m. at Holley Hall, and the importance of the Sarasota Orchestra to find a permanent home that serves everyone in our community.
You can get tickets to the December 19 performance by the Sarasota Orchestra’s String Quartet through the Sarasota Orchestra’s website or the Suncoast Culture Club’s website Calendar of Events page.
Come along and join the club!
• Rachel Halvorson Website
Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)
Robyn Bell: It is always a thrill to be on location when talking with our cultural arts people and organizations. And today I have the privilege of being in the Sarasota orchestras, Beatrice Friedman symphony center to have a chat with the orchestras principal violist, Rachel Halvorson and concert master Dan Jordan. They are joining me today to tell us all about themselves in the orchestras upcoming chamber music concert by the Sarasota string quartet on Sunday, December 19th at 4:00 PM. So Dan and Rachel, welcome to the.
Rachel Halvorson: Thanks so much for having
Robyn Bell: now, Dan, you've been with the orchestra for many years, but Rachel, you, you, yes, you're, you're a tenured member. But Rachel, you are relatively new to the group and most of your tenure has been through the pandemic. So, tell us about your journey to principal Viola in the Sarasota orchestra. Understand it all started with Harry Potter.
Rachel Halvorson: Oh, well, my journey to picking the Viola did absolutely. I started out taking piano lessons when I was young and, my parents wanted me and my siblings all to play an instrument until we were 18
Robyn Bell: smart parents.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah, absolutely. And. Tana. Wasn't so social. So I didn't love it.
Robyn Bell: Isn't that amazing? How piano is just such an individualized thing? Yeah.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah. Well, especially when you're younger, you're not into chamber music or anything yet, so it's a lot of time just plunking it out by yourself. So I saw Harry Potter movie and went home and said, I want to play in an orchestra and. My good friends play Viola and cello, but my mom had a convertible and we not knowing much didn't know if the cello would fly out on the highway. So we wanted something that seemed like it would stay put. And so I went with the Viola
Robyn Bell: that's thing. You know what that is the Testament to the power of a film score?
Rachel Halvorson: absolutely. John Williams and you've
Dan Jordan: already learned something new.
Rachel Halvorson: Yes. MI convertibles now.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, the cello does not fly out of a convertible. We should say that.
Rachel Halvorson: Yes. I think it's probably safe.
Robyn Bell: We can ask Natalie and you and I talked before the podcast, both fellow Texans, I grew up in Amarillo, Texas. You from the San Antonio area. Is that right?
Rachel Halvorson: Antonio? Absolutely
Robyn Bell: and product of the public schools and the Texas music programs.
Rachel Halvorson: They're huge and fantastic.
Robyn Bell: You were even in the marching band.
Rachel Halvorson: I was, I played percussion in marching band in high school because it was such a strong program.
Robyn Bell: See, Rachel, your stock already went up in my world.
Rachel Halvorson: racial, diverse
Dan Jordan: interests. Yeah. Five minutes of this. It's already riveted.
Robyn Bell: It's going to last three hours. So you can imagine that all what we're going to learn. Okay. So you graduate from high school. You're going to go to college.
Rachel Halvorson: I went to the Overland conservatory. The moment I met my teacher there, Peter, like I knew I had to study with him and we made it happen. And then he, helped me meet my grad school teacher. Who, again, the moment I met him, I knew I had to study with him and. Two days before graduating from my master's program, I was lucky enough to have success in my audition in Sarasota. So I barely got to say I graduated with the job.
Robyn Bell: No, we should say that a go your master's degree took you back to Texas, right?
Rachel Halvorson: At rice university in Houston. That's right.
Robyn Bell: You just started auditioning. How many, how many orchestras did you audition for before you landed? The one in Sarasota?
Rachel Halvorson: This was my ninth, I believe so. I barely didn't hit double digits yet.
Robyn Bell: All principal Viola audition. So were you doing section auditions as well?
Rachel Halvorson: I actually think this was my first principal audition. Or assistant principal or section. But this came up and it looked really interesting. I loved the diverse programming and the chamber music aspects of Sarasota orchestra. Yeah. It, you know, I just, I saw it. Really great place to learn and grow in leadership.
Robyn Bell: And would you say, you know, all those auditions you had beforehand, would you say the one for the Sarasota orchestra? Like when you look back on it, you were like, well, I really played well for that audition or was it you just happened to be the best fit?
Rachel Halvorson: I mean, I hope it was a good fit, but I really, it was the
Robyn Bell: first one I played.
Well, yeah. Dan, you were in on that audition.
Rachel Halvorson: It was the first one. I had a lot of fun and just decided I was going to be myself on stage instead of really stressing about perfection. And I think that that was a positive. Principal player audition as well.
Robyn Bell: Just a good mindset. Absolutely. And so you moved to Sarasota, the pandemic. How many concerts did you play? Maybe one and a half in the concert that were shut down or how did that work?
Rachel Halvorson: Well, I think we played four months maybe, cause we started in September, some chamber music and then went into. March 13th was our shutdown. I remember it was Friday, Friday
Robyn Bell: the 13th. Yes. Well, because the concert on the 12th was at the state college of Florida. It Neel, which normally 830 seats would have been full. I think there were 110 people out there or something,
Rachel Halvorson: maybe as many on stages in the audience.
Robyn Bell: I always try to sneak in for the rehearsals because that's, to me for what I did. The best part of when you guys play it, Neel is I can just sort of watch the magic happen, you know, from the rehearsal aspect and not, knowing then that night, what that was going to out like, but you know, I think the orchestra did a good job through the pandemic of keeping you guys and pullied, and. Working the best you could with what all they did and you love living here on the Suncoast. I hope,
Rachel Halvorson: oh my gosh. So much so beautiful. And it's such a wonderful community to be a part of. And it was so lucky that even through the pandemic, this is an orchestra that did stay connected to the community.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Because. Yeah, you are so correct. Now, Dan, you have about 20 years on Rachel being at the Sarasota orchestra and you have seen a lot of things change in that time, including the name of the orchestra. I know you're originally from Athens, Georgia.
Dan Jordan: Very good.
Robyn Bell: I did well because I taught in Georgia before I moved here to Florida up in Ringgold, Georgia. And, and we'd take students every year to the university of Georgia for their big. Jan Fest thing, like 5,000 kids on campus playing instruments. And so I kind of like Athens, like I went there a lot and know all the cool mellow mushrooms and polices like that. So when I read that year from, it happens, I had the, kind of this connection to you that you didn't know.
Dan Jordan: It's a great music town. Yeah. I mean
Robyn Bell: the B 50 twos,
Dan Jordan: the REM, yeah, there was a whole sort of underground music scene that when I was growing up was, was very cool. I mean, I was a little too young to really understand what that was about, but I knew it was a really exciting community for music and the university had a, a really good music program too. So that was how I got my start. Neither of my parents were musicians. My mom was a lawyer and my dad was an economist. And they were looking for, activities for their. Five-year-old son to do. And as parents sometimes do you put them in a Suzuki music class. And so I started on a, on a cardboard cereal box with a ruler tape to the top of it. And that was my first violin. And then my, father found me a real violin at a yard sale. Um, Good. Yeah. And. I took to it and then it was kinda like, well, now what do we do? And so I did a lot of my early schooling at the university of Georgia and then sort of moved It was an hour and a half away, and it was a dry for my parents, but they started taking me to Atlanta. I participated in the Atlanta youth orchestra. I took my violin lessons. I studied with three years with Martin Shalla for who was the associate concert master of the Atlanta symphony at the time, he's now the longtime concert masters, the LA Philharmonic. I think my, parents got tired of driving me to Atlanta and I went to the Interlochen arts academy for high school. So I spent four years in Georgia. That's why I don't have an accent. I had. And there's an old video of me talking when I was, young and I had quite the draw. So I I've managed to escape that when I moved to Michigan, I spent actually eight years in the Midwest in Michigan, four years at Michigan, and then four years in Ohio at the Cleveland Institute of music.
Robyn Bell: And that's where you went for your undergrad at Cleveland?
Dan Jordan: I actually started believe it or not. In Florida in college, I was. An inaugural member of the Herod conservatory in Boca, Raton, Florida, which is now part of Lynn university. So after, after inner lock-in, you know, I went from snow six months of the year and I moved to Boca Raton. Florida and have my first two years of college there. And it was a very interesting experience, you know, to live in Florida. I never thought I would be back spending, 25 more years of my life and in Florida. But it was a very small school and I realized. Being there that what I really wanted to devote my life to was playing orchestral music. And there was a great orchestral school, the Cleveland Institute of music hadn't the affiliation with the Cleveland orchestra. And there was a teacher I really wanted to study with there. And so after two years, I transferred to the Cleveland Institute of music and then won a job with the new world symphony in Miami and returned to Florida. And I was there for one season before I went. Position as concert master of the then Florida west coast symphony. Yeah. And you've
Robyn Bell: you found your home here and you and your family have made a great home for yourself here. You're in really ensconced in our community. And in addition to being the concert master for the orchestra and playing with the Santa Fe opera in the summers, you have a little side hustle here in town with the artist series concert that just came about, tell us about your new role with.
Dan Jordan: Well, the first thing I always say is nothing has changed with my role with the Sarasota orchestra. And it's still the, concert master of the orchestra here and very excited about the future here and all that will bring. But I also am very privileged to now be what I like to say is on the other side of things, Getting to participate in programming decisions. One of the things we do, Rachel knows this is we play what is assigned to us when the concerts are scheduled and
Robyn Bell: here at the orchestra.
Dan Jordan: Right. And when the rehearsal, so, our role is more to be performers of music. We get a little more autonomy with the, with the string quartet. We get to pick,
Robyn Bell: pick the, the literature
Dan Jordan: for you in the hole.
Yes, exactly. So it's very exciting to me to get, to be a part of the real inside of an organization, deciding on performers and repertoire. And it's a really, it's, it's very different from what I I do with Sarasota orchestra. I'm, I'm learning on the fly. There's a lot of administrative parts of the job. I hadn't done before, but it's a fantastic team there, and I've, I've really enjoyed it. So, and
Robyn Bell: I have to say, I can see where it actually would bring a positive to the Sarasota orchestra. You having those experiences, you know, I can't do anything, but lift you up as a musician, as an administrator, as a leader. So I it's a real symbiotic relationship. I'm sure the Sarasota orchestra is proud of you for that.
Dan Jordan: I, I like to think that too. I wouldn't have, none of this was done in a vacuum. It was done. In a very open way and I would not have wanted to do anything that would have pitted, one organization over the other. So it's been a really fun experience so far for me. And I think it's actually. As you say, a good thing for our community that I'm sort of out there doing. And
Robyn Bell: selfishly, we have worked with, with Joe Holt at the state college of Florida, that when the calendar aligns and you have a guest artist that's coming in for the artist series concerts, and it can work out where they can come in and speak to our music major class, or do a masterclass. So I'm excited to work with you to continue those opportunities for our students at se.
Dan Jordan: Absolutely. And I think, this is what I love. One of the things I love about this community is that it's, got big city sensibilities, but it's a small town. And so there's a feeling of like, we're all. The musicians in the orchestra here anyway, all feel this, that, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to really be a part of the fabric of this community It's not like a, a big city where you have hundreds of different, people in pockets here and pockets there. It's like really a tight knit. The arts community in this, town is really I think quite special and we all have an obligation to. Support each other,
Robyn Bell: you know, I just moderated this classical conversation with Teddy Abrams, about an hour before we're meeting here for this interview. And one of the things that we talked about with him, with his connection to Louisville and how he's just taken that town has made it his own. And you know, it was the same for me when I moved to the Bradenton Sarasota area. Uh, I'm going to give myself five years and I'm going to find another job, whatever, and very similar to you. And hopefully do you, Rachel, I just fell in love with the people and the climate and the town and the cultural arts, activities. So it's just, it's a very special place we have here.
Dan Jordan: It's amazing. You say that. Number. I said the same thing to myself when I moved here. And it's, so cool because you know, you think of the trajectory of a career and how you want it to sort of grow and develop and. I've been able to have all that here in one place. I haven't had to look for other jobs or look for that next opportunity somewhere else, because of the way this town and this community and the artistic scene has thrived.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, we're so fortunate. Well, let's talk about the upcoming string quartet concert. You all are doing on December 19th at 4:00 PM here at Holly hall. It's First, tell us about the other two members of the quartet. Cause there's this two of you here. Who else make up the core?
Dan Jordan: Well Natalie home is our principal cellist and she's been here for, I believe this is her sixth season with the orchestra.
Robyn Bell: It actually has her own Suncoast culture club, podcast episode.
We can listen to
Dan Jordan: go back and consult, but she's a relative newcomer, at least compared to, to me. With the orchestra, fabulous musician really made herself a wonderful part of this community as well. And our associate concert master is the other violinist in the quartet, Christopher Takeda. He and I were actually friends back when we were in college, we met at the Aspen music festival in 1993. He's been with the orchestra since 2000.
Robyn Bell: Okay. So it's a real nice mix between the two violinists that the seasoned members of the orchestra and the cellist and the violas that are relatively new to the orchestra. Does it make rehearsing any different to have sort of this mix of what we've been here a while and you guys are new or we were new. We have some different ideas. And how does that work?
Dan Jordan: I actually love the balance of that because we'll play pieces that are. Done several times before. And it's great to get those fresh new ideas. It's great to get a different perspective. And I would think that for the newer members, I mean, Rachel can speak to this. It's nice to get a sense of the history of the group and how these pieces have evolved and how the group has evolved. I mean, I, when I first started with the quartet Paul Wolf, who was the former artistic director of the Florida west coast symphony and a founding member of the Florida string quartet. He and I played chamber music together for three seasons. So, through me the, legacy sort of connects all the way back to the very earliest days of the organization. So. there's that history, there's that connection. And then there's now a freshness of new ideas that I think is really exciting for the music making.
Rachel Halvorson: Oh yeah. And it's made it a lot easier. I think joining the group, having. Dan and Chris have this long history together. And so there's a lot of stability and already unity, I think, and then being able to slot yourself into that.
Robyn Bell: And we all know that professional music making and music, making an academia can feel a little different to the academics. We, they can take. I say we, because I'm an academics, but we can take a bit more leeway a bit more chance on music, new music, because we're not really worried about. Ticket sales. You know what I mean? We can do that. So coming from rice and Natalie, I think she was a Curtis. You guys probably maybe have a different pallet of chamber music as opposed to those that have been, you know, you're selecting music. People want to come to it. Do you find that you use, like, do you know this brand new piece, you know, this composer.
Rachel Halvorson: Maybe a little bit, especially having gone to Oberlin conservatory for my undergrad, they have a really strong relationship with new music, I think. And the student composers, you know, their music is played by the performance students all the time. So there is a lot of thought or experience with music that's currently being written and with composers who are alive and excited to tell us, what they were thinking about and why they wrote something
Robyn Bell: in the train, maybe even because the new contemporary composers, right. For new techniques, new ways to use your instrument. And you know, it kind of takes a little extra practice. I've never played it that way before. Have you?
Rachel Halvorson: Oh yeah. I played one piece a few summers ago at a festival that I had to sing scat on pitch while I was playing, which was a whole thing to learn a big coordination feat. I was really glad for some of my classes in my undergrad. Where they have you singing oral skills? Yes. God
Robyn Bell: site screaming in here. Straining classes. Yes. So before we talk about the three pieces on this upcoming program, I think listeners would be very interested to know. We briefly touched on this, but do the members of the string quartet pick the music you're going to perform or is it selected by sort of an artistic team here at the orchestra?
Dan Jordan: It's a pretty collaborative process. Okay. We do submit suggestions of things we'd like to do. In particular, when it's something for just the established resident ensembles of which Sarasota string quartet is one of our four there's a lot more autonomy given to the groups. You know, say we'd like to do this piece and that piece. We do have a sort of overseeing team that makes sure there's not, you know, repeats and we're have enough balance of composers. Right. And, and you don't want to have each group playing, similar stuff. You want to have enough variety in the season. But it's a very um, open process that I think has made. What I think might be our most interesting series of sort of eclectic stuff. New music doesn't have to be a scary thing anymore. When I, when I was kind of growing up going through school, it was like, Ooh, new music was something that you have to really you know, you could be fearful of. And I think composers now are really looking for ways. I mean, we'll talk about it with the Caroline shoppies are really looking for ways to actually. Connect better with audiences. And so it's a really exciting time, I think, to hear new compositions because they've become More accessible and possibly more in tuned to what's happening in the world today.
Robyn Bell: And ultimately a composer wants their music performed. And I think they have figured this out along the way. I mean, Artistically, they want their music before they also want to make money off their music. So you need to write something that's enjoyable to play, enjoyed bold to listen to. And I think we've seen the new music circle come back to that. Is that sort of what you're alluding to?
Dan Jordan: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it used to be. Mozart and these people were writing. It was all music for Kings and courts,
Robyn Bell: but it wasn't also new music at the time,
Dan Jordan: but it was new music. Exactly. But they didn't have the same sort of, as you were describing that, you know, it needs to be music for the masses. It was music for specific. People often events and specific events. So I think this idea of like, how are we going to connect to the larger world, not even the larger musical world, how are we going to get people that may be hearing a concert for the first time? How are we going to get them excited about what we do as classical musicians? I think composers are really thinking about that and looking for ways to,
Robyn Bell: I totally agree. And I've been very grateful, especially kind of I'm in the band world. A lot in a lot of new music is written for bands because the composers know at the university level, they get a lot of rehearsals. They get a lot of performances and uh, when playing. The, the demands on the wind players and these new band compositions is just amazing. So I've just seen when then they go and get jobs and professional orchestras that the new music has really given rise to the technical abilities of the orchestra. It's been fascinating to watch.
Rachel Halvorson: Absolutely.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Now once the pieces are chosen and you know what you're going to perform, how many rehearsals. Does the group generally have before a performance?
Dan Jordan: I think we have 12 scheduled for this concert and we started, and to me, we
Robyn Bell: started that day, like 15 minute rehearsals or
Dan Jordan: it's a long, well, I mean, it's a longer process than orchestra of course, because you have a conductor sort of, I mean, a keeping time showing your entrances. But also. You have one person making a lot of the musical decisions in a quartet. It's a much more of a democracy where we have to kind of fight it out sometimes. And and there's. A lot of technical demands and making sure things are in tuned.
Robyn Bell: And just the four of you in the rehearsal. Do you ever bring in a coach or someone to listen or give you any kind of feedback?
Rachel Halvorson: Oh, well, mostly like to put my phone out in the audience and record snippets and then we can listen back and kind of use that to guide us.
Robyn Bell: So it's a collaborative effort. Rachel, Dan, isn't sort of this tyrant concert master.
Rachel Halvorson: Absolutely not. No, we all, we all speak up a good bit, I think in rehearsal.
Robyn Bell: Good. And isn't it nice when it all comes together? That one moment when you're working on a passage and we're trying it this way this way, and then you'll go, oh, that's it.
Dan Jordan: That is usually what happens. It's very rare that we have to take a vote. Boeing or something, we'll take a vote, but
Rachel Halvorson: remember too, in my three years, it usually
Dan Jordan: is that we'll try and play something in a variety of ways. And then usually it just kind of clicks that we have. Oh, well, that's what we want to do.
Robyn Bell: Very nice. Now, the other thing that I really appreciate about the string quartet with Sarasota orchestra is you get to do some run-out concerts. I mean, this is a real educational organization as well. Your quartet, you go to schools and perform and do masterclasses and stuff. Is that part of what the uh, the quartet does for the Sarasota orchestra?
Dan Jordan: It's a bit, a little more challenging during COVID, but we've already picked. Snippets of this program at some venues around town for us it's nice because we get sort of a dress rehearsal. But I think it's also great to be able to. Music into communities that either retirement communities where it's harder for, the residents to make it to concerts, or of course the schools where you're trying to reach young people in the next generation of concert goers.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. And you both are avid teachers. You have a lot of Viola teaching. Dan, you teach violin lessons
Dan Jordan: and teaching. It's ever since I arrived here 25 years,
Robyn Bell: that's a lot of students under your belt. Yeah. Rachel, I noticed on your website, very passionate about teaching and you've kind of turned during the pandemic to a lot of virtual and online teaching.
Rachel Halvorson: I have. Yeah. And I love it. I mean, Obviously it's easier when you can go over and help raise someone's elbow or whatnot, but it's still, it's really nice to be able to still teach. I always think my playing is better when I'm teaching, because it just kind of turns on all the different sides of your brain with problem solving and looking for sound. So I've been really grateful for zoom. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: And do the two of you both work still with the youth orchestra running sectionals and do ballpark things like.
Dan Jordan: At that again has been a little bit put on hold with COVID, but it was a big part of what I did here. Years and years, and, still there's that commitment to the collaboration between the professional orchestra and the youth orchestra program here.
Rachel Halvorson: And I think this summer, there were some opportunities by making videos and there was an audition workshop, Natalie and I participated in. Nice. So yeah, there's still a little bit,
Robyn Bell: it is all about passing. Torch, you know, we do this and how do you do that? , And there's the whole teaching aspect. That's very important. So the first work on this program is Mozart string quartet, number 14, one in which maybe all four of you have played before, or at least familiar with.
Dan Jordan: It's one of those pieces that, everybody's at least played for something, whether or not they performed it or not. It's one of those, kinds of iconic pieces that we all become familiar with through some, some way. And it's it's a wonderful piece of music. the story is that, Mozart, when he moved to Vienna, he, got to know Franz Josef Haydn, and. He was so enamored with Haydn's music and particularly Haydn's kind of new invention of the string quartet. And the way that Haydn used all four members in equal ways, it used to be, it was like the first violinist and then everybody else was kind of the supporting cast and
Robyn Bell: Rachel laughs ha
Dan Jordan: and Haydn changed all that. And Mozart wrote a set of six quartets to pay homage to Haydn. And this was one of those. And it's just such a a beautiful piece. It has some sort of tricks that Mozart thought Haydn would find clever. One of which is that the second moment he writes these hiccups into the movement. Minuets typically are in three, right? A three meter. Mozart changes all of that. He puts these accents in weird places and , instead of the accompaniment happening on the first beat. And the accompaniment happens on the third beat.
Robyn Bell: And the notion that composers had that you could change meter within a movement, right. They didn't really do that back then. And so
Dan Jordan: it was very innovative for the time and that that came from Haydn. Mozart deciding they were going to not have to follow all the rules. And so it's, sort of a precursor to what Beethoven did and Schubert did. And, and these composers that's completely changed the way we. Understood music and the parameters of it and the rules of it. But there was a lot of that kind of stuff happening with, Mozart and heightened in very clever ways. And this piece is no exception. There's a, It ends with the last movement. Is this phew. That's very similar to the last movement of the Jupiter symphony and he layers all of these different fields. On top of one another it ends in a very clever, quiet funny way. I'm expecting the audience to chuckle a little at the end. So there's, all of these things. He's right. Too gorgeous slow movement. And some of, I think Mozart's most profound writing for strings in, the third movement. So. And there's a little quote that Caroline Shaw uses in Hertz.
Robyn Bell: Well, yeah, because it kind of takes us to the second piece on the program. I was so excited to see a woman, composer on the program and a Pulitzer prize winning woman. No doubt. So tell us Rachel about this cool Caroline Shaw piece that you guys are doing.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah, well, and for me it's fun because she's also at rice graduate.
Robyn Bell: There you go. But the connections never stopped.
Rachel Halvorson: I know it's so fun. This piece is really interesting. Plan and elevation and her idea with it was so plan and elevation referred to two schools of architecture. And so plan is kind of the bird's eye view, big picture and elevation refers to more detail view of. The sketch of a building. And um, she wrote it while she was at a music festival called Dumbarton Oaks so it's. About walking or ground the grounds. There, there are five movements of it that talk about different aspects or areas. And I think she uses these different techniques to build a big picture and a small picture, you know, focusing on a sound or a technique, and then blending it out across the five movements. It's really, really interesting writing and I think very accessible and beautiful. as we. See a new music piece on a program. You know, I think this is one anyone can enjoy.
Robyn Bell: Is it standard playing? Are there any kind of extended techniques where the strings in this?
Rachel Halvorson: I think there's nothing too out there. There's a little bit of some scratchy sounds in one of the movements in I think the third movement and some harmonics that are very bright, brilliant, like bell, like sounds and. There's even some extra, extra, not new music things. As we have the quotes to Mozart and rebel string quartets she takes little snippets and lays them in there. So those are, you know, extra comforting sounds now
Robyn Bell: because it does kind of bring us back to home base. Yeah.
Rachel Halvorson: It's very full circle. I think maybe. I saw that in wonder if that's part of the big picture view, you know, classical music in the quartet really zooming out so far.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. I can see that. Cause elevation, like you said, the bird's eye view where the plan is more, the I'm on the ground in this grounding idea of putting these quotes.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah, it's really, it's a cool concept to write a string quartet about.
Robyn Bell: And is this one, the string quartet members discovered, or was this something that someone brought to the group and said, how about this piece?
Rachel Halvorson: This was actually one I suggested. Could
Robyn Bell: you have played it before?
Rachel Halvorson: No, but it came out on an album a few years ago and just this whole album is so beautiful. It's full of music. She wrote for string quartets. And I believe it is the atopic quartet playing or the Dover really, really just so. Beautiful and interesting pieces on it.
Robyn Bell: Nice. Well, and then the concert will conclude with the only chamber music piece that was published during Fran Schubert's lifetime, his string quartet, number 13, and a minor. My favorite key, by the way, so what about this quartet? Is the audience gonna enjoy
Dan Jordan: This is one of the. Great pieces and the string quartet, repertoire. And it was only written about 40 years after Mozart's G major quartet that we're playing, but it's very, very different both in terms of the scope of it and also the emotions. Impact, but a Mozart, you know, as is the case with much of his music is, very pleasant to listen to beautiful lines. And Schubert's known for this, to these, soaring melodies, but there's always a tinge of. to Schubert's music. You think about the death and the maiden quartet, which was written right around the same time as the Rosa moon. You're you're right. That this was the only quartet that was published. And it was the, actually the only one that he heard played in a concert setting. All of his other works were, kind of written for friends and colleagues And he died sort of this, this age, 31, only a few years after this. And it was, sort of a sad ending for him and he was already sort of grappling with his upcoming demise, even though he was only in his mid twenties. So you feel some of that in, this music and the subtitle comes from. It was music that he had written earlier for a play. He had written the incidental music, incidental music for this play. And so he took quotes from that music. Nobody knows where that music is. Although somebody sort of reconstructed it a century later. But the theme of that sort of survived and made it into the second movement of, this piece. So when you listen to it and when we play it it's got these incredible moments of, happiness, joy, sadness dance elements. The last moment is, is kind of this folk dance. That's really fun. And you know, it's got these. Outbursts of things that are very typical of Schubert's music. I mean, he's of course known for his, beautiful melodies and that it has that in spades, but I think there's also a lot of interesting things underneath the surface where it has this ostinato line in the, beginning that the second violin and then the Viola play underneath the melody. That's very Ominous and dark and brooding and, you can imagine the things are not all right in his world. And it, it makes for, I think, incredibly compelling listening because there's so much interesting stuff to hear.
Robyn Bell: Well, I'm going to tell you what I like most about this program. Just looking at on paper is that as an audience member, I'm going to experience a classical piece. I'm going to experience the romantic piece of Schubert, and I'm going to experience a modern piece in the. And, and for you guys as musicians, to be able to make that transfer and present an entire concert in these different styles and different time periods, it's not easy to do. It keeps for the listener, a real variety. And I think that's one of the best things. When I saw this program on paper, it was the first thing that jumped out to me. Oh, good. For them.
Rachel Halvorson: You get so many different sounds and characters.
Robyn Bell: Totally. Yeah. Do you find in rehearsing, you have to make that transition from piece to piece, a change, maybe a little bit of style, or even your emotional connection to a piece, because like you said, Mozart, it's not really emotional music. We hadn't reached that point yet. Beethoven gets us there. Schubert, totally emotional. And then the Caroline. I've never heard this piece before, but I can imagine it's a more modern sounding style piece of music.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah. Very spacious sound
Robyn Bell: spacious. Oh, I love that term.
Dan Jordan: And descriptive, I would say about the shot too. It's. You know, it's about five specific spots in this Dunbarton Oaks grounds.
Rachel Halvorson: The first movement is about a stone path, you know, and one's about a beach tree, an old beach tree. I don't know. It's very interesting
Robyn Bell: specific of those things. Yeah. And I think composers, like having sort of image and how do I make this visual. Into sound really, really neat. And then to, I don't want to say limit, but just with four string instruments, because you don't have the color palettes of the brass and the percussion and the woodwinds kind of thing. So , I'm excited to hear this.
Rachel Halvorson: We're excited to play it for you.
Robyn Bell: I'm sure you are. So, Dan, what will people be saying about this concert when leaving the hall? What's going to be their big ticket.
Dan Jordan: Well, I think they'll have the melodies in their head because there's so many of those, I think, as you put so perfectly there's a lot of variety. So I think they will leave feeling like they've heard a real. Kaleidoscope of color and emotion and techniques that you know, in, in an hour and change concert I think they'll really be excited that they've gotten their money's worth.
Robyn Bell: Very cool. Very cool. Okay. Here's some just sort of my own personal curiosity, rapid fire questions. All right. Full orchestra or chamber music,
Rachel Halvorson: full orchestra.
Robyn Bell: You like that? Just the big sound of the massive force.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah. And I like just this great collaborative effort of so many people trying to present one idea together. I think it's really exhilarating,
Robyn Bell: Dan. Yeah. There you go. I got to get again, another thing for that one. Okay. And that is what's really for Rachel too, as the Viola player, the. Or the accompaniment part,
Rachel Halvorson: actually the accompaniment, I'm a team player.
Robyn Bell: I don't play, I'm a trumpet player. So I usually have the melody, but I sing Alto and I love singing Alto for that same reason. Dan, I'm not going to ask you that question. That's a silly question of a concert master,
Dan Jordan: both, but I got to say it's fun to be the star.
Robyn Bell: Okay. No, there, there could be two answers to this, depending on if you're thinking about listening to or playing. So I'm going to ask you this from the player's perspective, playing classical music, romantic music or modern music.
Dan Jordan: I love the romantic music.
Robyn Bell: You and me were momentous. Same, same, Rachel.
Rachel Halvorson: Actually same. Yeah. Well, those romantic accompaniments, my guy,
Robyn Bell: I love the way you tied that together. You get a, you get a double ding. Okay. If you had to start all over and could not choose a string instrument to play, which instrument would you choose for? Your music makes. Dan?.
Dan Jordan: Oh, I'd go piano. I've always been disappointed that I'd never learned to do it. It's a special instrument, how my son's doing it and he loves it. And I love listening to him play. But as I think Rachel said, it's a more solitary instrument. You don't get the, you don't get to do it as much in orchestra and. With others. So
Robyn Bell: you know, it's interesting though, and you pointed this out, starting out. It's very solitary, but as you go further and you can collaborate, you know, piano, trios, even accompanying there's, more opportunity, but starting out, it's just so silent. It's tough.
Dan Jordan: I think the youth orchestra experience was a very formative one for most people that end up in the orchestral world. And that's the one place where the piano gets left out a little bit.
Robyn Bell: Completely. Yeah. How about you, Rachel? What instrument would you choose? A kiss?
Rachel Halvorson: I know, I almost want to say, well, it would be a real pain to move around. As I know from my friends, but probably the harp would have been really fun.
Robyn Bell: You would have been an excellent, it'd be making a lot of money playing hard,
Rachel Halvorson: especially in Christmas season.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, I was, I was surprised you didn't say French horn because to me, people in French horn are kind of.
Rachel Halvorson: They have a similar job. Absolutely.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. That's that's awesome. Okay. Least favorite piece program for orchestras. Like the one you see it on a program list for the season you go, oh no, not this one.
Rachel Halvorson: Dare I say Bolero.
Robyn Bell: Yes. We're a conductor to
Dan Jordan: it's so interesting. Cause I, there's nothing that I really dislike. What I guess what I dislike is when I played some. A million times before. And I feel like there's opportunities to bring something new and different to people. So I would say the over-programmed stuff except there's then there's stuff that I love. Like I could play Nutcracker over and over. So I love the Nutcracker.
Robyn Bell: David. I love that about you, Dan. Yeah, that's a good answer. Sometimes for me, it's some of the concertos like, ah, this one again, you know, As an audience member,
Dan Jordan: there's so much great stuff out there. And I think we miss an opportunity to share that with the world when we stick to a very narrow repertoire. So that's why I get excited about quartet programs. Like, yeah.
Robyn Bell: Now, as, as a conductor here, who's always trying to make myself a little bit better. I'd appreciate some honest feedback on this question. What do you both look for in the qualities of a conduct?
Dan Jordan: The tricky. Rachel got
Robyn Bell: short blonde hair,
Rachel Halvorson: I think when you find a conductor that you just get so much information from how they're moving their hands, these tiny little nuances of how they're moving your hands and you know, just what they want you to sound like. And you say, I know. Just what articulation to do from something about it. I think it brings me such peace as a leader, knowing, you know, just how to contribute to the whole
Robyn Bell: without verbally having to tell you, just show me visually.
Rachel Halvorson: Yeah, absolutely.
Robyn Bell: That's good to know.
Dan Jordan: I love the ears I love when it can affect your. Everything.
Rachel Halvorson: You're not talking about how their ears look so
Dan Jordan: well, maybe that too, but
Robyn Bell: I love when they trombone your a quarter step.
Dan Jordan: I always, I have such faith in them when they can really hear and dissect the problems and. Along with that when they know how to make it better. But I think that's a really exciting part of working with a conductor when they can really get in there. And
Robyn Bell: yeah, those are both great answers. I take a lot away from that. So thank you. Okay. To play at van Wezel, the opera house or the Neel performing arts.
Dan Jordan: Oh, you're setting us up here.
Robyn Bell: No, I'm just interested.
Rachel Halvorson: I like the opera house. I feel closest to the audience there.
Robyn Bell: Okay.
Rachel Halvorson: Let's removed. What do you think?
Dan Jordan: I would actually agree and no offense to need a lot of tourism where I know, which I know is. Because Neil has a beautiful acoustic, but what I will say about playing at the opera house is there's a visual element to it that I think if Van Wezel could incorporate the view outside, they would have it too. But I think the, experience of being in this kind of. Theater style thing, make
Robyn Bell: character and charm that maybe makes you play a little better,
Dan Jordan: even just, you know when I go to attend to something there just, the, kind of the, the chandelier's and the, old school. Theater kind of feel to it, I think makes for a really exciting experience
Robyn Bell: opera house.
Rachel Halvorson: We love it.
Robyn Bell: Got it. Got it. Okay. This is the last question. I'm going to ask it differently. I've asked this question a thousand times, but I'm going to ask you guys the same question a little differently. Do you have any opinions on where the new symphony center might best fit in our.
Rachel Halvorson: Hmm.
Dan Jordan: Is this a rapid fire? That's a tough answer.
Robyn Bell: I know, I know I'm just interested because normally I would say, where should the Sarasota orchestra next call home, but I'm really, at this point, more interested in, you know, we're in our community. It might be the best fit. Not that it's going to happen because there's so many, things at play there, but do either of you have a vision. Well, this building could have be erected.
Dan Jordan: I've been on a part of this conversation ever since I arrived here. And I think the, the biggest thing right now is just we need a home. I mean, I think there's no question. There's this need And pretty much, even, even the people that, you know, don't want to do this for the orchestra, don't want to do that. I think everybody agrees, well, the orchestra needs to go somewhere. We need to have a space to, call our own where we can program the things that we want to do. And, I would say the answer, my answer to your question is going to be a little esoteric because I've always dreamed that we've. Be in a place that could connect with our community. And that was not going to feel isolated to anyone that sort of centralized hub of activity where. Kids would come and families would come and maybe there was an opportunity to sit on the lawn and enjoy outdoor concerts enjoy. And so this, this idea of connecting to Sarasota I think has always been my dream for the orchestra. And I don't know where that perfect place is or where we'll end up. But to me, it's finding that space that will resonate sort of centrally within the community.
Robyn Bell: That's a great esoteric answer. You're right.
Rachel Halvorson: My answer is very similar actually in, you know, envisioning how. our audience and how our youth orchestra kids, and everyone get to spend their time and build it into their experience so that it is, you know, very unified. Maybe it's about, some of the patrons wanting to be able to get a nice dinner and then come see the show. Maybe it's about going for a nice walk after and talking about it. You know, the lawn is great kids being able to have a little space to not sit so still. But yeah, just picturing how the people will be able to use this space and how we'll be able to connect with our audience best through it.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. As day passes, I think they're going to get closer and closer. You know, I expect soon, I hope some sort of announcement we've been working with these folks and this is going to happen, thanks to these people in patrons. So anyway, we're all very anxious and excited for when that big reveal is going to happen.
Dan Jordan: It's an incredibly supportive community. Totally. There's just such a groundswell of people that want to help us and what an amazing thing to have for an organization. So I think because there's so many good minds and good hearts working on this. I, have confidence that it will maybe
Robyn Bell: maybe a big old barge. We just put you on the bay. I'll just get on this barge and go watch the counselor. I know, right. We could put that together. Well, listen, congratulations, Dan and Rachel. You are now both officially part of the club. Now, if people want to follow you in your careers, do you have websites, social media that we can point people to?
Dan Jordan: I don't, but you can find email@example.com. We're all over that website. Multiple times a week and thrilled to just be making music in this community.
Robyn Bell: Absolutely. And Rachel, you do have a website.
Rachel Halvorson: I do have a website. I believe it's Rachel Halverson, viola.com. But my social media is pretty dedicated to my puppy right now. So it's not going to be a lot of Viola content,
Robyn Bell: but look at my cute puppy. Yeah. Well, I love chamber music and I am very sad that I will be returning from a trip on that afternoon of your concert. I don't think my plane lands in Sarasota till 4 35. But what I'm hoping is afterwards, you guys can just come to my house and play the concert for me, cause that would that work out. Okay. I'll bring a couple of friends and we'll have some cocktails and chamber music. How much would that cost me?
Dan Jordan: That's the best way to present.
Robyn Bell: That's what it's about. Come to my chamber. Well, everybody else in town needs to get their tickets to this fabulous chamber music concert performed by the Sarasota orchestra string quartet on Sunday, December 19th at 4:00 PM. And Holly hall tickets can be purchased from the Sarasota orchestra's firstname.lastname@example.org. Or by going to the Suncoast culture club website, calendar of email@example.com, Dan Jordan and Rachel Halvorson. Thank you for taking time out of your busy rehearsal and performance schedule to speak to me about this concert. And I wish the entire string quartet all the best for a wonderful holiday season of music making.
Dan Jordan: Thank you so much.
Rachel Halvorson: Thank you so much
Dan Jordan: to be part of the club.