By: Wendy Meir, CSO Violinist since 2003
The CSO has won multiple Grammy Awards and performed successful international tours to sold-out audiences, but those things are only a part of what makes the CSO one of the top orchestras in the world. A really great orchestra plays like a chamber music ensemble, even though there are 100+ musicians in the orchestra. The CSO musicians play like a fine string quartet and react appropriately and instantaneously to each other. We know who to listen to and who to follow in each piece. Every section of the orchestra can play the melody or the accompaniment with equal ability. In football, this is similar to being the quarterback and a defensive end on the same team.
You need to have superb technique to play in the CSO, but this is not enough. You must be able to listen to and blend with your colleagues. The extraordinary ensemble playing of the CSO is a long-standing tradition, nurtured by legendary conductors from Frederick Stock through Riccardo Muti. Older musicians pass down these traditions to new members and the tradition is carried forward. It is imperative that all members, even the principal players, fit in with the flow of the ensemble. The CSO is filled with amazing musicians, and they all know how to play with and enhance the playing of their colleagues. That is why the CSO is so special.
For a guest conductor, his or her first rehearsal with the CSO can be quite intimidating. The problems of rehearsing with an average orchestra simply aren’t there. Normally, a conductor has to spend most of his or her rehearsal time just getting the musicians to play together, as a cohesive ensemble. But, because of the efficiency and preparedness of the CSO, conductors have the opportunity to make music immediately. The notes on the page have no meaning until they are played by the musicians. They are just dots and lines. Conductors are able to take their interpretations of the music, and together with the musicians, create something unique and memorable. That’s when the magic happens. With our Music Director, Maestro Muti, CSO concerts are magical.