Lab Orchestra: A Lesson in Spontaneity and Responsiveness

Friday, Oct 27, 2017
Max Tan
Juilliard Journal
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Alan Gilbert and Benjamin Hochman
Faculty member Alan Gilbert works with student conductor Benjamin Hochman

In Juilliard’s Lab Orchestra, a subsidiary of the Juilliard Orchestra, orchestral instrumental students can volunteer to participate in weekly sessions to collaborate with student conductors at the school in reading and rehearsing orchestral repertoire. Violin Artist Diploma candidate Max Tan wrote about the experience and the process in advance of the Lab Orchestra’s November 29 concert in the Wednesday at One series.

Elinor Rufeizen
Student conductor Elinor Rufeizen

The Juilliard Lab Orchestra lets conducting students practice their craft with a live orchestra and instrumentalists see the conducting process in a new light and hone orchestral skills in a different way than they would in regular orchestra rehearsals. All benefit from the close observations and feedback from Juilliard’s orchestral conducting staff and guest conductors.

Jane Kim
Student conductor Jane Kim

Each weekly Lab Orchestra rehearsal is a lesson in spontaneity and responsiveness. In the practice room, instrumentalists and conductors study the score and parts, engage in repetitive reinforcement, and evaluate the clarity and efficiency of physical motions in the mirror before getting together on Friday mornings to put into play the results of their practicing.

Jesse Brault
Student conductor Jesse Brault

There’s an art to cuing, bow distribution, breathing, and other forms of subtle bodily movement that help coordinate the entire orchestra.

Matthew Chen
Cellist Matthew Chen

This is instrumental technique—and it is better learned with others rather than individually in the practice room.

Benjamin Hochman
Student conductor Benjamin Hochman rehearses with the orchestra as faculty member Jeffrey Milarsky looks on

Artist Diploma candidate Max Tan (MM ’17, violin) holds a Celia Ascher Fellowship