Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hektor, Jane, and the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

"My father was the first inspiration. He was a pro trumpet player” says Hektor Qyteti, our Principal second violin. He started in a musical family that inspired him to continue the music world footsteps. For Hektor, music has been part of his life since he can remember. At a very young age, Hektor wanted to play the trumpet as his father did, but at such young age, 6 ½ years old, it’s practically impossible, so he took the violin. For Hektor playing violin has been fun and he enjoys playing any note, any music and at any concert. Music is his world.

Hektor is native from Albania where he was the Concertmaster of Korce Philharmonia Orchestra, during which time he performed as soloist in the Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and other major concertos. For 10 years in Albania, he was the Music Director of the Board of Education at the prestigious Korce Tefta Tashko K-12 and High School.

Hektor also conducts the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, “Its fun to direct the Youth Orchestra and teaching them (the children) privately". Hektor is a busy musician; he also plays the Assistant Concertmaster of the Grosse Pointe Symphony as well as other orchestras in the region such as Dearborn Symphony, Warren, Rochester and Pontiac.

It is exciting to witness how much a young person can achieve in a short period of training. “It thrills me to hear how much they accomplish in such a short period and Hektor is a great musician, who engages with the youth with so much care that the kids like to work with him”, affirms Jane Libbing, Manager of the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Education Coordinator. It is important for an orchestra organization to be able to channel the need of the community. The youth orchestra was created to satisfy the demand of our Plymouth Canton community. According to Libbing, “the schools were not providing enough opportunities for children to experience and make music. The demand was big”.

The League of American Orchestras and the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) have provided many researches on the topic of how music education is beneficial for children. Certainly, music is a catalyst for imaginative expression and prepares students to learn, facilitating concentration practices. According to the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) study, “music education enhances fine motor skills, improves recall and retention of verbal information, advances math achievement, improves average SAT scores, and strengthens perseverance”. For the Michigan Philharmonic organization, it is very important the realization of young children as musicians, not just as a part of another check list item, but truly the satisfaction of success that benefits our community in the long run.

The Michigan Philharmonic started its Youth Orchestra many years ago with a handful of children. Today the Orchestra hosts more than 100 children. “The need is big in our community for Youth Orchestras and ours provides the space, the energy and the quality to our youth” says Libbing. Jane has been a long time resident of Plymouth and has been very active with the Youth Orchestra since its beginning. In 2004, the Michigan Philharmonic hired her as the Education Coordinator to administer the CLASSical Music Outreach program in the schools and to manage the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

As Hektor experienced as a child, music can be the world.

The Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Winter Concert will be on December 8 at 7 pm at Canton’s Village Theater. For tickets call 734.451.2112 or visit www.michiganphil.org.


Up Next:
Holiday Pops with the Phil, December 10, 6 and 8 pm at Penn Theater in Plymouth.

You can find more on Music Education at www.americanorchestras.org and www.aep-arts.org

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Michigan Philharmonic – Behind the Scenes

In this series we will be portraying our musicians who are the core foundation of our organization. Our orchestra has been able to retain some of the most qualified musicians in our region. We believe that excellence in programming and great professional relationship helps to grow a more dynamic organization.  

Playing music together has been a mankind needs for thousands of years. During the renaissance groups of friends gathered to play together, which whatever instrument, they had in hand. There were no “composed” parts for determined instruments, more like a free for all type of music. The orchestra in the modern sense came to life in the 17th century when Monteverdi composed one of the first opera’s Orfeo (1607). He composed the music for determined groups of instruments and demanded a lot of instruments. But, why a musician wants to become one? What drives a person to follow a passion and convert it into a lifestyle? Why playing together?

Joseph Deller, Concertmaster

“I saw a violinist play on TV when I was five years old and I said: ‘I want to do that.’“ says concertmaster, Joseph Deller about what encouraged him to take music. Joe is a native from Dearborn, MI. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Violin Performance from Hope College in 2003. Joe has been playing with the Orchestra for many years. As many musicians parents, Joe’s parents encouraged him to take music when he was a child; his parents gave him a piano “to see if he would stick with something”.

It is definitely very important to develop a musical ability. Music enables the creative process of an artist and of any person; music reaches within someone’s soul and reflects the inward world of people. Joe affirms, “Music is a comfort, an escape, a challenge and above all an expression of emotion.” Playing with the Michigan Philharmonic has had some challenges; Joe says that “the most enjoyable performances are the ones that are the most challenging. Some pieces that stick out in my mind are Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 and Saint-Saëns’ organ Symphony.”

Playing together enables a sense of companionship beyond judgment and an opportunity to learn from others. Joe enjoys running and reading literature, but furthermost he enjoys hanging out with his newborn baby girl.

Lisa Raschiatore, Principal Clarinet

For Lisa Raschiatore, Pricnipal Clarinet, music started in her 4th grade band class. According to Lisa,  “Mr. Ferris demonstrated all the band instruments for us, and I really liked the clarinet because it had the most shiny buttons!  Seriously...I was ten, so what did I know?!” Even a simple impression such as the shiny buttons or the many strings an instrument has, can make a difference in one’s life. When the Michigan Philharmonic musicians go to workshops with the 3rd. graders at different schools in our region, the children engage in so many ways with the musicians and their instruments. It is a reminder that simplicity captivates children’s mind and help build interest in music. Lisa is one of the musicians who visit children and show them the “shiny buttons” of her clarinet in hope of one day, a kid like her, will take on music as a profession.

For Lisa her band teachers played a very important role: “I particularly remember my high school band director, Mr. McQuilkin, as someone who really pushed me musically in my youth, so make sure you support your band directors.  They make a BIG difference in the lives of countless children.  I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without mine.” Music is powerful; it moves people from different cultures and enables them to cross bridges triggering a profound rewarding experience. There are scientific proofs of how music benefits children and adults alike.

Lisa continues: “What does music mean to me?  The world.  I'd be a very different person today if I hadn't started playing the clarinet when I was ten!  I do remember a fun story about how I started:  after our first band class, I was SO excited to learn that I could make a honking duck noise on my clarinet mouthpiece that I showed my mom the ENTIRE way home in the car. It drove her nuts!  She's been such a great supporter of all that I do, as have the rest of my family and my partner Scott. I'm a very lucky girl.” 

Music also has challenges and for Lisa the most difficult and enjoyable performance with Michigan Philharmonic has been playing the Clarinet Concerto by Aaron Copland.  In Lisa’s words: “It was exhilarating to perform such a virtuosic work, but it kicked my butt too! It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by such great musicians playing the Copland. I won't forget it.” Playing music together has been an experience where musicians can learn from each other, as Lisa has experienced. 

Lisa enjoys music as a fundamental part of her life, but she also likes to walk in nature, especially in our Great Lakes region. She loves to recharge her batteries along a nice campfire, but ultimately, she gardens: “I feel passionately about fresh, homegrown vegetables...and I love to cook and eat them too!  I also have a big crush on beautiful flowers, specifically dahlias, and spending the afternoon in a botanical garden sounds perfect to me.” 

Music is “The world”, a universal language.


Up Next:

This Saturday October 24 at 7:30 pm, Steppingstone School in Farmington Hills
"PHRIGHT NIGHT", #Halloween Spooktacular Concert. For tickets, www.michiganphil.org or call 734.451.2112.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Michigan Philharmonic – 70th Anniversary

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the orchestra. It is certainly a milestone. It takes a lot of work, initiative, excitement and most of all, passion to continue growing an organization with a progressive vision. The Michigan Philharmonic has grown from a small ensemble, to a community orchestra to a regional musical powerhouse, always innovating and creating classical music experience in our community.


The orchestra started in 1945 when local residents of Plymouth, Evelyn and Carl Groschke gathered a group of friends in their house to play and enjoy instrumental music. At the same time, the director of the Plymouth High School music program, Paul Wagner wanted to organize an orchestra. They joined forces and the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra was born, giving its first public performance on April 20, 1947. Thanks to the Groschke’s vision, the orchestra started to take shape and by the 1950’s it was already established and performing at Plymouth High School (where Central Middle School used to be and where the Orchestra recently moved back to!) and on the school lawn. The Plymouth Symphony Orchestra performed at Plymouth-Salem High School Auditorium for many years.


The orchestra has grown from a dedicated nucleus of a dozen volunteer community players to over 60 professional musicians and performs a wide range of chamber, jazz, popular, and standard symphonic repertoire, ranging from the 16th century to the present. A review of past programs shows that the orchestra has performed approximately 1,500 symphonic works. Hundreds of guest artists and several thousand singers have performed with the orchestra.  In all, there have been seven conductors:

Paul Wagner (1945-1950),
Wayne Dunlap (1951-1979),
Johan van der Merwe (1980-1985),
Charles Greenwell (1985-1986),
Leon Gregorian (1986-1987),
Russell Reed (1987-1999)
and Nan Washburn (1999-present). 

With the vision of our present Music Director and Conductor, Nan Washburn in 2003 the PSO established a youth orchestra program, the Celebration Youth Orchestras. It now boasts three tiers, 65 students, a flute choir, and an annual Vivaldi Concerto competition. In 2004, PSO expanded further by creating a second, highly acclaimed professional performing ensemble, Orchestra Canton (OC).

As an organic organization that reflects the wants and needs of the audience and reflecting on the growth and expansion into more regional communities, the name of the Plymouth Canton Symphony Orchestras (PCSO) was adopted as the "umbrella" for all our ensembles and activities. In 2008, PCSO produced its first commercial CD, "Magical Tunes & Marvelous Tales".

The Orchestra Today

Following a 5-year strategic plan and to truly reflect the tremendous growth in scope and stature, in 2011, the organization adopted the new names of the Michigan Philharmonic and the Michigan Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

The orchestra has become in one of the most innovative and dynamic orchestras in the region. With many awards, Nan Washburn, Music Director & Conductor, has won 19 ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music from the League of American Orchestras and was awarded First Place in The American Prize for Conducting with the Michigan Philharmonic receiving 2nd place for Professional Orchestras last year.

The Michigan Philharmonic is reaching out and expanding throughout our communities including Plymouth, Canton, Northville, Livonia, Farmington, Brighton, Downtown Detroit, and the downriver areas. The orchestra is committed to enrich our audience with a diverse programming, enjoyable cultural and social experiences. Music Education is a very important component of the Michigan Philharmonic organization and through varies collaborations with composers, musicians and community schools it has taken music to many children in our area. Music is fundamental for the integral development of any person. “Children are very excited when they see the instruments and our musicians visiting the schools” says Jane Libbing, our manager for the Youth Orchestra. It is an invaluable experience and indeed makes a difference in anyone’s life. Music is a universal language that knows no frontiers.

For this 70th Anniversary, the mission is to celebrate our traditions, embrace our diversity and enrich our experience. The scope is to broaden our own frontiers and reach to a more varied audience. The Michigan Philharmonic will expands its programming and will feature more innovative work this year by featuring works by new composers such as Kharim Roustom, Clarice Assad, Christopher Cerrone, Max Simoncic, and Laura Karpman.

Michigan Philharmonic: Orchestrating the Extraordinary!
For tickets and more information, please visit www.michiganphil.org or call (734) 451-2112. 

Up Next: Philharmonic Phright Night

Come and join us for a Spooktacular Concert this Saturday October 24, 7:30 pm at Steppingstone School in Farmington Hills. Gues how Nan Washburn will enter the stage!