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Moving to Copland's Appalachian Spring: Yong Su Clark, DMA flute

UMSO Appalachian Spring with movement
Thu, May 01, 2014

On Sunday, May 4 at 4:00pm, the UMD Symphony Orchestra (UMSO) abandons its chairs and music stands and performs Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" with choreography by Liz Lerman. DMA flute student Yong Su Clark shares how this interdisciplinary approach to performance strengthened his collaborative skills.   

In the past, whenever I was asked to perform by memory, my initial reaction was usually one of fear and heightened anxiety.  In the case of the Appalachian Spring project, it was no different. My feelings were justified. Appalachian Spring is a lengthy work,  with multiple meter and tempo alterations. To mix it up even more, the project would employ the original orchestration for thirteen instruments combined with the re-orchestrated version for large orchestra.  This mash-up would also be put to movement.  My trepidation reached an all time apex! 

Moving around the stage and working with the other orchestra members actually helped with memorization. At certain parts of the piece, I knew when to come in given my position on stage in relation to those around me. This abated many of the challenges that come with playing and moving simultaneously. The constant repetition and reassurance from Liz Lerman and Professor James Ross also helped immensely.

Typically in the traditional orchestra set up, I usually sit in the middle of the stage in the woodwind section facing the conductor and audience.  Because of this, my ears have become accustomed to hearing the instruments grouped accordingly to their family.  This project has made me a much better chamber and orchestral musician. The spatial differences due to the movements have forced me to listen more critically and to watch the physical cues from my colleagues. 

I cannot be grateful enough for this once in a lifetime opportunity.  The musical growth and forging of new and stronger friendships will forever be etched in my mind.  My thoughts of “Oh my God, will I remember my notes?” and “Will I remember my movements?”  have turned into “I really don’t want this to end!”

Click here to purchase tickets for the UMSO's performance of Appalachian Spring. All proceeds from the concert support undergraduate scholarships at the School of Music.