Documentary on RI Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School starts airing on RI PBS

Music for Everyone

Every week thousands of people descend on the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Music School in East Providence, where nearly a third of the nonprofit’s students receive financial aid. But the organization’s reach goes far beyond its own walls, through a variety of partnerships. This month, Jim Hummel of Rhode Island PBS sits down with students, teachers and the school’s top administrator to talk about the effect the organization has had on the community.

Catch it on television starting May 11. Rhode Island Spotlight videos are aired on Rhode Island PBS. This show can be seen at the following dates and times on WSBE HD:

  • Sat 05/11/2019 at 7:48 PM
  • Mon 05/13/2019 at 02:21 AM
  • Tue 05/14/2019 at 1:5 PM
  • Tue 05/14/2019 at 10:48 PM
  • Fri 05/17/2019 at 01:51 AM
  • Fri 05/17/2019 at 1:49 PM
  • Sat 05/18/2019 at 10:51 PM

And on these stations:

RIPBS – RI cable 8 (9 on Block Island), DirecTV36, Dish 7776
HD — digital 36.1 (with HD tuner), Cox 1008, Verizon Fios 508, Comcast 819
LEARN – digital 36.2, Cox 808, Verizon Fios (RI only) 478, Full Channel 109, Comcast 294 & 312



Students from 102 area schools perform  with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra, May 23 & 24  

In partnership with Carnegie Hall, Trinity Rep’s Joe Wilson, Jr.
hosts RI Philharmonic Link Up concerts

Performance celebrates year of music education
to students and support to music teachers

Some 12,000 third, fourth and fifth graders representing 102 schools perform with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra at The VETS on Thursday (May 23) and Friday (May 24) between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

Click here for a listing of participating schools

The Link Up concerts mark the culmination of a school-year-long music education program throughout Southern New England. Joe Wilson, Jr. of Trinity Rep is the celebrity host. Each participating student received a quality soprano recorder and workbook as part of a 12-unit curriculum on basic music literacy through performance. In addition, the program provides professional development for all participating teachers.

****At a Glance****

2019 Link Up Education Concerts
9:30 a.m.-noon, May 23 & 24
RI Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Francisco Noya
Hosted by Trinity Rep’s Joe Wilson, Jr.

“Link Up is one of our most important programs! It is a key strategy toward achieving our goal of music literacy for every child in our state, regardless of the zip code they grow up in. We partner with mayors, superintendents, principals and teachers, as well as our wonderful funders, which include Taco and Hasbro, to reach more than 20,000 school children annually with critical music education.”

–David Beauchesne
Executive Director
Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School

Thank you!

The Link Up concerts are made possible by our generous sponsors. They are:

  • Bristol County Savings Bank
  • Hasbro Children’s Fund
  • TACO/The White Family Foundation
  • Victoria Alviti Music Foundation
  • Deborah and Charles Royce
  • Knickerbocker Music Center
  • June Rockwell Levy Foundation
  • Jeffrey Osborne Foundation
  • NewportFed Charitable Foundation
  • BankNewport
  • Bank RI
  • Mary Dexter Chafee Fund
  • Collette Foundation
  • Frederick C. Tanner Memorial Fund Inc.
  • Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • O’Hanian-Szostak Family Foundation
  • The Rhode Island Foundation
  • The Pacifica Foundation
  • Rockland Trust
  • The John Clarke Trust
  • Navigant Credit Union
  • The United Theater

The 2019 program, called The Orchestra Moves, explores how composers create musical movement through changes in melody and shifts if rhythm and harmony. Students join the Orchestra for selections from the following: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Strauss’ The Blue Danube, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bizet’s Carmen. 

Concluding its eighth season, Link Up, a music education curriculum developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, is one of several programs included in Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School’s education programs.

RI Philharmonic Music School Announces Youth Ensembles Auditions in May and June

RIPYWE STAGE SHOT 4Youth wind, orchestras, chamber and jazz ensembles have spots available

Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School ensembles will hold auditions starting in May. All auditions are held at the RI Philharmonic’s Carter Center for Music Education & Performance, 667 Waterman Ave., East Providence. Students interested in auditioning but unavailable on any of the dates listed below, can submit an audition application and make an appointment at your earliest convenience.

Applications can be found at For more information, contact Youth Ensembles Manager Chelsea Anderson at 401-248-7038 or

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensembles (RIPYWE) will hold auditions for the Symphonic Winds and the Wind Ensemble on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, May 29, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 30, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

Founded in 2002, RIPYWE offers advanced woodwind, brass and percussion students from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut an outstanding opportunity to rehearse and perform high quality wind ensemble repertoire. RIPYWE offers these students a challenging and rewarding musical experience. RIPYWE Symphonic Winds is conducted by Music Director Dr. David Neves, and RIPYWE Wind Ensemble is conducted by John Knasas.

Both RIPYWE ensembles rehearse once per week on Wednesday evenings from September through May. They participate in two major performances per year.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO) will hold auditions for the Symphony, Repertory and String orchestras, and Intermediate String and String ensembles on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, May 29, 4 p.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Friday, May 31, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 1, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 12, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 13, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

 RIPYO provides quality orchestral rehearsal and performance experiences for talented young musicians from Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts. The professional conducting staff, led by music director, symphony conductor and RI Philharmonic Orchestra member, Alexey Shabalin, is committed to providing the best educational experience for each student.

All RIPYO ensembles rehearse once per week in East Providence from September through May and present three performances. RIPYO Symphony members also perform side-by-side with RI Philharmonic musicians at a Friday night Amica Rush Hour concert at The VETS once during the season.

 RIPY Chamber Ensembles

By appointment only: Contact Youth Ensembles Manager Chelsea Anderson at 401-248-7038 or

Chamber Music classes provide a format for intensive study and performance of standard chamber music repertoire for string quartets, woodwind and brass quintets, piano trios and quartets and mixed ensembles. Students should have a minimum of three years playing experience. Ensembles receive weekly one-hour coaching sessions, perform in recitals and participate in masterclasses. Rehearsals begin in October and run through May. Acceptance and placement is by audition with Chamber Department Chair Lois Finkel. Students are placed in groups of two, three or more, based on skill level, age and needed instrumentation.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Jazz Ensembles (RIPYJazz) will hold auditions for the RIPYJazz and Rock Combos on the following dates:

  • Thursday, May 30, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Saturday June 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

 The Jazz and Rock Department is for students inter­ested in jazz or rock study and performance. Courses are organized so that each student is placed according to his or her interests and skills, and can progress accordingly. The RIPYJazz Big Band, under the direction of Wendy Klein, performs at numerous community events including Monday Night Jazz at Bovi’s, Vernal Arts and Music Festival and the Blackstone Boulevard Summer Concert Series.

All RIPYJazz and Rock ensembles rehearse once per week from September through May and perform throughout the season.

Audition Recap

All auditions occur at the Carter Center for Music Education, 667 Waterman Ave., East Providence. Auditions are available by appointment if you are unavailable for the dates below.

  • Youth Wind Ensembles
    • Wednesday, May 29, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
    • Thursday, May 30, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
  •  Youth Orchestras
    • Wednesday, May 29, 4 p.m.- 8 p.m.
    • Friday, May 31, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
    • Saturday, June 1, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Saturday, June 8, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Wednesday, June 12, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
    • Thursday, June 13, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • RIPY Chamber Ensembles: By appointment only
  • Youth Jazz Ensembles
    • Thursday, May 30, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
    • Saturday June 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

 Have questions? For audition details, visit, contact or call (401) 248-7038. Audition applications can be found at

About the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School: The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School encourages lifelong engagement with music through comprehensive music education and community partnership programs taught by Orchestra members and outstanding faculty. We prioritize artistry and education equally. Quality, access, diversity and collaboration are core values. The Philharmonic Music School serves students of all ages and ability levels, and provides instruction in all kinds of music, from jazz and rock to classical and folk, through private lessons, chamber music classes and large and small ensembles. More than 70 dedicated teachers comprise the faculty, many with degrees from some of the finest music schools in the world. The majority of Philharmonic Music School programs take place at the state-of-the-art Carter Center in East Providence. Completed in 2008, the Carter Center is the largest dedicated community music school facility in New England. We also offer lessons in a welcoming, well-equipped environment at our East Greenwich branch.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School  Announces Youth Chamber, Rock and Jazz Ensembles Spring Recitals

Hannah Wed 1

Youth Chamber Ensembles Perform, May 11, 9:30 a.m.
Youth Jazz and Rock Ensembles Perform, May 19, 9:30 a.m.
Youth Jazz and Rock Ensembles Perform, June 2, 10:30 a.m.

The RI Philharmonic Music School announced the spring recital dates for the youth Chamber (May 11 at 9:30 a.m.), Jazz and Rock (May 19 at 9:30 a.m.) and Jazz and Rock (June 2 at 10:30 a.m.) ensembles. All performances will be at the RI Philharmonic’s Carter Center for Music Education & Performance, 667 Waterman Ave., in East Providence. They are free and open to the public. 

At a Glance

Saturday, May 11, 9:30 a.m.
Youth Chamber Music

Sunday, May 19, 9:30 a.m.
Youth Jazz and Rock

Sunday, June 2, 10:30 a.m.
Youth Jazz and Rock

All concerts are free and open to the public. They are at the RI Philharmonic’s Carter Center for Music Education and Performance, 667 Waterman Ave., East Providence. For more information on the Music School’s youth ensembles and groups, call 401.248.7038 or email Chelsea Anderson, youth ensembles manager, Visit for information on more Philharmonic Music School activities and performances.

About The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles: The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Ensembles (RIPYO, RIPYWE, RIPYJazz, & Chamber) provide quality rehearsal and performance experience for talented young musicians from Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts. Students range in grade from elementary school through high school.



SEASON FINALE: Learn the story behind the final concert of the 2018-19 season, May 3-4

Alexander Mickelthwate conducting

Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor

The RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert includes Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, May 3-4

The TACO Classical Series concert is on Saturday, May 4, at 8 p.m.
The Open Rehearsal is on Friday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m.

For the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s season finale, the Orchestra welcomes conductor Alexander Mickelthwate to The VETS for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony with Benjamin Beilman performing Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto.

1812: Festive Overture

When the czar rejected the Continental System, which was ruinous to Russia’s economy, Napoleon gathered the largest army Europe had ever seen. The Grande Armée, some 500,000 strong, . . . entered Russia in June 1812. The Russian troops . . . fell back, systematically devastating the land. After the indecisive battle of Borodino (Sept. 7), in which both sides suffered terrible losses, Napoleon entered Moscow (Sept. 14), where only a few thousand civilians had stayed behind. On Sept. 15, fires broke out all over Moscow; they ceased only on Sept. 19, leaving the city virtually destroyed. With his troop decimated, his prospective winter quarters burned down, his supply line overextended, and the Russian countryside and grain stores empty, Napoleon . . . began his fateful retreat on Oct. 19.

The New Columbia Encyclopedia

The events of 1812 were to be celebrated in 1881 with the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow (demolished by Stalin in 1931), and the authorities were looking for suitable music. About the same time, there was to be a grand Exhibition of Industry and the Arts, which also needed appropriately festive opening music. Through Nicolai Rubinstein, commissions were offered to Peter I. Tchaikovsky for an orchestral work. He chose the exhibition as his patron but referred indirectly to the cathedral through the music’s program and the inclusion of a sacred hymn at the beginning.

The Russian Orthodox chant, Save Us, O Lord, forms a solemn introduction to the overture. Chief among the main themes is the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, but Tchaikovsky also uses phrases from the chant, an operatic aria of his own composition, and a Russian folk song, U vorot. The development section brings the themes effectively into conflict, making their perfunctory recapitulation sound somewhat un-programmatic.

However, bombast in the coda is 1812 Overture’s real glory. The last gasp of La Marseillaise to the accompaniment of rushing scales, percussion and cannon fire prepares the way for the Russian national anthem (at that time), God Save the Czar, which peals from the woodwinds, brass, and a separate brass band. Strings, woodwinds, and bells punctuate the phrases, and the forte fortissimo aggregation is soon joined again by the cannon to spur the music on to its final glorious moments.

Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major, Op.19

The musical style of Sergei Prokofiev ran to extremes—often within the same composition. In his late autobiography, he identified no fewer than four major trends in his music: (1) lyrical and melodic; (2) innovative and emotional; (3) toccata elements, chiefly driving, motoristic rhythms; and (4) classical elements.

Prokofiev’s intent in the first movement of this work incorporates the first and second trends. Marked Andantino, the music focuses on a dreamy principal theme, the mood of which dominates everything. Prokofiev warned, however, that the tempo “must not be dragged; it must, by all means, be Andantino and not Andante.” We can hear the second trend (innovation) here and elsewhere in the concerto, chiefly in the fresh treatment and special effects in the solo violin part.

In contrast with the first movement, the Scherzo finale exemplifies the third element (toccata). Pitting vigorous rhythms against the glitter of a solo part that leaps and dances, the composer’s wry sense of humor here flashes with its usual sardonic brilliance.

In the First Violin Concerto, the fourth trend (classicism) is not the least bit concealed, since he composed this while working on his First Symphony, the Classical Symphony. Although the concerto was not premiered until 1923, it was finished in 1917 (the year of the Bolshevik Revolution). We most easily hear classic grace in the themes of the final movement. The opening melody for bassoon, answered by the violin, especially conveys a balanced repose. The concerto ends with a combination of this theme and the opening theme of the work, now embellished with delicate, classic trills.

The “philosophy” of the First Violin Concerto is also that of classicism, with its characteristics of restraint and balance. As David Ewen has written:

The virtuoso character of the solo instrument is never exploited (there are no cadenzas or passages of bravura writing), just as the orchestra is never allowed to assume the subsidiary role of an accompanying body. Solo instrument and orchestra are treated as a symphonic unit, both used inextricably in the development and embellishment of the musical ideas.

Symphony No.9, Op.70

             “Musicians will love to play it and critics will delight in blasting it.”

Dmitri Shostakovich

“Shostakovich, the profound thinker-humanist, has not yet mastered within himself the ironic skeptic and stylist. . . . A tragic satirical pamphlet aimed against the benign complacency and rosy illusions that supposedly spread after the war. . . . The carefree joy of the Ninth Symphony is not burdened with deep thoughts.”

Soviet Critics

The symphony was written in 1945, during the first months following the end of WWII, and everyone was expecting something quite different from what they got. The critics and the government felt that the symphony should have been nothing short of monumental, a “National Ninth” celebrating “the heroic victory of the Soviet people” with choruses praising the glorious leader, Joseph Stalin — in short, a triumphal apotheosis. Instead, as analyst Roy Blokker has written,

Shostakovich turned his orchestra into a troupe of clowns, as had many an eighteenth-century composer whose scale and forms he borrowed. It is easy to understand why the Soviet political machine, anxious to launch into a program of rebuilding the state for the future, found little time to laugh. . . .

In his memoirs, Dmitri Shostakovich reflected on the effect the work exerted on his later official censure: “It was very unfortunate, the business with the Ninth. I mean, I know that the blow was inevitable, but perhaps it would have landed later, or less harshly, if not for the Ninth.”

The Ninth Symphony was Shostakovich’s personal celebration of the war’s ending. It is his own frothy “Classical” symphony, complete with 18th-century forms, a mischievous Prokofiev-like scherzo, and a brooding slow movement reminiscent of Mahler’s meditations. It holds a vast range of emotion and philosophy from the dance of life to the grief of death. The work is a complete humanistic portrait.

As we began this note with comments from Soviet critics, let us end with some descriptive comments on the symphony by Grigori Schneerson, a prominent, very objective Soviet musicologist of the time:

The opening bars of the first movement transport us at once to a bright and pleasant world. There is joyous abandon, the warm pulsation of life, and the exuberance of youth in those whimsical dance themes and rhythms. There is something about the classical purity of form, the dynamic development of the themes, and the rich expressiveness emanating from a sheer pleasure in the interplay of sound images that reminds us of Haydn. . . .
The second movement introduces a new mood, one of warm and gentle lyricism faintly touched by wistful meditation. The Scherzo, built on the variational development of several dance melodies, is perhaps the culmination of the emotional content of the entire symphony. It is music of radiant joy, an almost childlike abandon to happiness. . . .
The finale scintillates with humor and inventiveness. Radiant in mood and simple in design, the theme passes through masterful elaboration until it reaches the whirlwind coda that completes the symphony. A brief upward scale — and the symphony is ended.

Program Notes by Dr. Michael Fink © 2018. All rights reserved

***At a Glance***

TACO Classical Series Concert
Saturday, May 4, 8 p.m.

Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
Benjamin Beilman, violin

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No.1

Amica Rush Hour Series
Friday, May 3, 6:30 p.m.

Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
Benjamin Beilman, violin

TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture


Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to

Music Education on the Road: Conductor Bramwell Tovey visits 2 Pawtucket elementary school

Bramwell Tovey, RI Philharmonic’s newly named artistic advisor and conductor, brought music education to two Pawtucket elementary schools, Varieur and Agnes Little, where the RI Philharmonic Music School oversees the Victoria’s Dream Project.

Varieur participates in RI Philharmonic’s annual Link Up program. Concluding its eighth season, Link Up, a music education curriculum developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, ends in May with a performance featuring the area students and the Orchestra at The VETS. This year’s Link-Up will start on Monday, May 20. Funding for Link Up comes primarily from businesses, foundations and individuals.

The  music education program at Agnes Little Elementary School is called Victoria’s Dream Project, and it is a joint venture between the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School and the Agnes Little Elementary School. In its third year of providing intensive after-school strings instruction for children in grades 3–5, the program is part of a larger ongoing effort by the RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School and the Victoria Alviti Music Foundation to combine music education and after-school care for Southern New England students, as well as provide a pathway to create an even more diverse RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.