To the Parents, Musicians and Friends of the OPYO,
There’s a certain thrill I feel while writing this letter to you. In many ways, it’s no different than the mixture of excitement, anxiety and curiosity I felt when I first began playing in orchestra at the age of 8. I think I speak for most of the musicians out there reading this when I say that a very tangible rush travels through our mind and body we feel when we sit amongst fellow musicians and began to explore some of the world’s music greatest music.
However, this passion is not solely derived from the notes on the page, no matter how transcendent they may be. The allure of music is directly linked to the magic of collaboration. Music does not exist without the human touch. Each of you contribute to this partnership, no matter if you’re sitting in the orchestra or the audience. To be truthful,
without this connection, art cannot thrive.
For the vast majority of you, I am a ‘new face’ amongst an organization whose legacy extends back to my own time as a young musician living in Fayetteville. As I step into the role of Music Director of the Ozark Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, I do so with full knowledge that I am continuing a tradition that has been upheld by the esteemed artistic leadership that has come before me. With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to tell you more about myself, and what I believe I can contribute to OPYO.
My journey through music begin with the violin. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ‘grow up’ in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, a network of five performing ensembles which provided unforgettable opportunities to all musicians involved. By the time I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to participate in two orchestral tours of Europe. Playing the music of Dvorak in the hall where many of his premieres occurred - creating a sacred moment of solemnity and beauty with Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings in the oldest church in Leipzig, Germany - these experiences helped cement my love for music and my determination to pursue it as a career path.
I soon realized that my love of music, while grounded in violin performance,
extended beyond this instrument. After completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Arkansas in Violin Performance, I continued my conducting and composition studies in New York and London, culminating in a Master of Music in Composition degree from the Royal College of Music. I am infinitely grateful for the life changing
artistic experiences I have had. I would not be the musician I am today without them.
I mention my personal history as an artist in order to underscore what is, perhaps, my primary motivation for assuming this position. To create unforgettable music with each of you. Experience is meant to be shared, and all musical experience I have gained throughout the decades of my music career is a commodity that I intend to give back to each and everyone involved in the OPYO as much as I am able. I am also quite aware that I will be learning an equal amount from all of you. This is collaboration at its finest.
We are poised to embark on a journey which I am absolutely confident will be life changing for each us, including myself. Alongside our new Orchestra Manager, Sandy Nieves, our newly appointed Presto Orchestra conductor Dan Mays, as well as the ever inspiring Jenny Castillo, I am planning a year of performances and experiences that will allow the OPYO to chart a bold direction forward. I look forward to meeting each of you, and could not be more honored to take the podium amongst such a magnificent group of
individuals. Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Dear OPYO friends and families,
It is my absolute pleasure to be appointed as the new music director of OPYO and conductor of our Youth Symphony Orchestra! OPYO is a culmination of our community’s most talented young musicians and with the help of conductors Jenny Castillo and our new PRESTO conductor Joshua Bland, we will create a wonderful and musically fulfilling experience for your children.
As the conductor of YSO, it is my mission to offer the most comprehensive musical experience through some of the greatest symphonic repertoire. My goal is to enable young musicians to find their “voice” through the discipline of professional rehearsal techniques and thoughtful practice. Then, encourage them to share that voice in collaboration with their peers to create a product that they can be proud of.
As we move in a new direction, I look forward to getting to know all of our young musicians, creating wonderful music, and most importantly, creating lifelong memories. See you on Monday!
The OPYO family lost a beloved member on Sunday when alumna, Rebekah Warren, officially found her angel wings - although she had been using them for 19 years to bring her glowing spirit and infectious enthusiasm for all things good to to all those whom she graced with her presence.
While we're all poorer for her loss, let's be wiser, too...by opening up to the right people about the hurts we're hiding, so we may be healed and made whole again...so we may see that what seemed impossibly large is little more than a misconception...and that we may lead full-term lives of love, happiness, and contribution. Just image what Rebekah could have done with 70 more years...for herself, for us...for everyone.
The NY Philharmonic's Education Department has asked me to come back to the Apple to lead some workshops in their El Sistema Program.
Preparing for the workshops, I learned about the wonderful Venezuelan program - El Sistema - that is inspiring young people, most without resources, through music lessons and ensemble participation.
El S's most famous graduate is Gustavo Dudamel, now conductor of the LA Philharmonic. I watched a bunch of his videos on You Tube and found one that's perfect to close OPYO's progam on May 1.
Here it is: Vasquez' Conga del Fuego Nuevo: Come to the May 1 Concert to hear your OPYO play it! Dancing in the aisles encouraged!
Thank you so much for sharing your children to us as we make beautiful music together so that, in the process, we all grow both musically and personally.
Over the holidays, I've been reading about El Sistema, the Venezuelan music education miracle that is taking hold throughout the US. I started learning about El Sistema because I got a call from the NY Philharmonic Education Department asking me to lead a workshop for that orchestra's El Sistema inspired program, "Harmony." As I read about the core values of El Sistema, beautifully-articulated by conductor, Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada, I realized he could have been speaking about OPYO when he said:
"Through orchestral practice, many young musicians come to envision their music-making as an opportunity to ascertain the value of their own voices well beyond the threads of musical interaction."
Ascertaining "the value of their own voices" is something we all know about - that confidence is key to learning and to a successful life. As Henry Ford put it, "If you think you can, or think you can't...you're right." And at OPYO, building your young musicians' confidence and self-image is equal in importance to playing the right notes. The smiles you saw on their faces after our Holiday concert was clear proof.
Jenny, Chari, Jesse, and I look forward to making music again with you at our first rehearsal on January 11. In the meantime, do re-visit the wonderful Holiday Concert you performed by enjoying Chair's wonderful photos on our website, and be sure to click on the Rehearsal & Concert tab so you can put our Spring dates into your calendar.
As we move into the new year, OPYO sends best wishes and heart-felt hopes that 2016 will be the Best Year Ever for you and for yours. See you soon!
Warmest Regards -David A. Barg
The sounds of OPYO's orchestras are warming up these chilly evenings, and your children, who are playing at higher and higher levels, inspire all three OPYO conductors. Please come early to pick them up, go into the rehearsal, and hear the beautiful results your children are creating. And thank you so much for bringing them to us.
Listening to the rehearsals and watching and working with your young musicians reminds me constantly that ensemble participation challenges and enriches the lives of young people beyond measure. Becoming proficient on a musical instrument and learning to play in an orchestra equips them with skills they'll use throughout their lives, especially: listening to others and being responsible both individually and as team players. OPYO brings students together from a wide variety of backgrounds, schools, ages, and skills to learn, play, and grow together. At rehearsals, your children make new friends, develop their musicianship, play and grow together, and have lots of fun while doing it. The conductors, too!
We all know that today's young people have so many important activities and time choices to make, and I congratulate you on choosing OPYO as a priority! As life's tempo picks up approaching the Holidays (and OPYO's December 14 Holiday Concert is barely a month away) I want to share some ideas about getting more done in less practice time. If they follow my suggestions, they'll have more time to study, pick up their rooms, and ask how they can help around the house! All this can be done in 10-15 minutes a day - tops! And once those tough spots have become easy, it'll take even less.
As much as possible:
Following these suggestions will help your young musicians get lots done in ever shorter time...and feel really good about their OPYO participation.
Thank you again for sharing your family with ours. I look forward to being in touch in the weeks ahead leading up to the December Concert, In the meantime, be well, and if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please don't hesitate to being in touch.
Warmly - David
My dream is for us to create an unforgettable musical and personal experiences here at OPYO!
Here are some basics of orchestral practice that will help us make the very best music we can.
Before We Rehearse:
While We Rehearse:
Let's make the very best music we've ever made ... right here and right now!
Then, we'll take our musical and personal growth back home and out into the world to inspire others with our joy in music and learning!