After 99 Seasons, Erie Philharmonic Looks Forward to Year 100

April 30th, 2013

Not many orchestras can say they've been around for 99 seasons. It's not only a cultural milestone in Erie but on a national level too, as the Erie Philharmonic proves to be an important place to make music.

As the curtain rises and these talented musicians are ready to showcase their hard work to hundreds of people, a question we wanted to have answered was: What does it take to put on a flawless performance? The answer? Teamwork.

Ninety-nine seasons down, and now the talented group of people known as the Erie Philharmonic are working towards 100, all under the watchful and sharp eye of music director Daniel Meyer.

Daniel Meyer, Erie Philharmonic music director says: "These musicians have spent their lives honing their instrument. They're wonderful. Come to rehearsal ready to play. Have spirit about them and energy. And we know come Friday night there will be an audience that loves us."

Every musician is a fully trained professional musician. The expectation at the first rehearsal is that they're ready to play all the notes on the sheet music.

Meyer, "So essentially, I have to come with a firm conception. A very firm identification on how I think that music should go and then, once the musicians take the stage, my job is to shape that using my hands and eyes, but sometimes I'll take and give an image and idea on how I think the music should go."
Daniel Meyer and the philharmonic practice three to four times a week for a few hours before the big night.
And although the angelic sounds of a variety of different instruments always blend together in a perfectly simultaneous way come concert day, a few mistakes and suggestions are made along the way.
As skilled as these musicians are, there are points in the music that need some extra work.

Ken Johnson, lead violinist, says: "How important is that alone time practice? It's the be all and end all of what I do absolutely."

Lead violinist Ken Johnston has been with the philharmonic for 12 years. He knew he had a knack for music at a young age, when his babysitter told him he wouldn't fall asleep without a song playing.
But it wasn't love at first sight.

Johnston, "So my life is a little backwards. I used to do everything in the world to avoid practicing, and now I think I practice to avoid everything else."

Johnston practices alone up to six hours a day. There are a lot of basic warm up pieces he runs through first.
But once he gets going, it's music to anyone's ears.

Johnston, "A lot of basic rituals. Nuts and bolts. It's not all that charming to hear, slow scales and metronome."

And in the end, practice makes perfect.

Meyers tells us his dream is to expand what the orchestra does to reach and captivate several audiences a week.
And after a successful 99 seasons, Meyers is looking forward to the next 100.

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