When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra was rehearsing Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in anticipation of our March mainstage concert. Of course, that performance never happened. Now, just over a year later, it seems a fitting place to pick up in our first issue of Take Note.
Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, as it is often referred to, is regarded as a piece that marks a turning point in musical history. Long, technical and uncompromising in its aesthetic stance, the piece forced Beethoven's contemporaries to rethink what a symphony should be and do.
How apt for 2021 when every aspect of daily life that we previously took for granted is being re-imagined in the face of a global pandemic. Unable to convene as a full orchestra on The Music Hall stage, the PSO has spent the last year reflecting on the essential questions Beethoven posed with his Eroica symphony 216 years ago: what should a symphony be and do, if we cannot perform together for an audience?
As you will see in the sections below, our answers to these questions are multifaceted. Our symphony should support the education and growth of young musicians. We should tell the stories of the talented musicians who, together, make up the Seacoast's only year round orchestra. We should share classical music resources and music from talented performers around the world. We should serve as a trusted source of noteworthy news from the classical music community.
And of course, when we are able, we shall play. Play with all the passion, pent up emotion and renewed appreciation for live classical music that we are all feeling.
We hope Take Note will be a welcome addition to your inbox each month and look forward to your feedback.
PSO Music Director
Meet Your Orchestra
Crystal Metric, tuba
Years playing with the PSO: 13
Age started playing tuba: 12
First instrument: Flute
Lives in: Newport, NH
What do you like about playing with a symphony orchestra?
The music selection can't be beat, and I love the timbres I get to hear. Even though I usually end up sitting and waiting for more than half of every piece I'm in, I spend that time thoroughly enjoying listening to the rest of the ensemble. I often brag I have the best seat in hall.
I love my part in the orchestra. I am almost always playing the very lowest notes, so I get to feel very powerful and essential, even if I'm just playing long tones.
What do you do outside of the PSO?
I'm a first-year middle school music teacher, so I spend a good amount of time grading, lesson planning, practicing singing, and brushing up on band instruments like clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and percussion.
I've been married for a year and we just had our first child four weeks ago. I love sci-fi and fantasy, organizing data in spreadsheets, playing board games (there are more options than Monopoly or Clue!), snuggling my son, leisurely walks with my two beautiful rescue mutts, and singing ABBA for my scarlet macaw's entertainment. I have also been a stage manager for a few theater productions and have found that to be immensely rewarding.
Part of the PSO's longstanding mission is to ignite the love of music in the next generation of youth. As part of our ongoing Explore & Learn partnership with the Portsmouth Elementary Schools, the PSO has created a series of "pandemic friendly" videos (in lieu of our traditional live school concerts) introducing students to the instruments of the orchestra.
In these 15 short videos created by the PSO's principal players, you'll meet one instrument from each “family of instruments” that make up a full orchestra, hear what the musicians love about their instruments, and hear them demonstrate the many cool sounds they can make.
Experience part of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony No. 3 played by the Berliner Philharmoniker on YouTube.
SAVE THE DATE
We are pleased to announce that a quartet of PSO musicians will be playing "Live Under the Arch" on Sunday, May 30th.
Tickets will be available on The Music Hall website soon!
LAETITIA VANCON/New York Times
During the pandemic, the live music industry, and orchestra's in particular, have been one of the hardest hit industries worldwide. Cancelled performances and shuttered venues have deprived musicians and audiences alike of the classical music they love. Budget crunches and out of work musicians are regular features in the news.
But as the Boston Globe highlights, there have been some silver linings that the music world would be wise to hold onto once we are able to return to "business as usual." Read the full article here.
Investing in Music
This year, it is more important than ever to show your support for live, local, high quality symphonic music on the Seacoast by making a tax-deductible contribution to the PSO. Thank you for investing in music!