Bernstein's Philharmonic is an example of the larger symphony
orchestra, in contrast with a chamber orchestra. Both have four
sections--strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.
For Christmas this year, weâ€™re giving Katyana a set
of 25 of Leonard Bernsteinâ€™s Young Peopleâ€™s
Concerts with the New York Philharmonic, the program
that introduced me and many more children of my
generation to classical music and the orchestra.
I remember watching the programs, which aired between
the time Bernstein became Music Director of the
orchestra in 1958, until he stepped down in 1969.
It may seem like a strange present for a four-year-old.
The programs are black-and-white, and Bernstein
introduces music theory and modern masters and
conducts the orchestra in a piece that illustrates the topic.
Bernstein considered the shows â€œamong my favorite,
most highly prized activities of my life.â€�
Beginning with the first, on â€œWhat Does Music Mean?â
€� they cover a broad range of topics and are based on
the repertory of that year's concert season. Bernstein
drafted the scripts himself, then they were edited and
simplified by the production staff.
The concert day began at 6 a.m. with technical rehearsals
followed by rehearsal with the orchestra at 10 a.m. The
concert was at noon. The programs were broadcast live
before an audience including many childen.
When the orchestra performs together, each section occupies a
particular area relative to the conductor, with violins and violas to the
right and directly ahead and cellos and bass to the right. Behind the
violas are the woodwinds, with brass behind them and percussion in
the rear, as indicated in this diagram. This balances the sound and
gives the distinctive full, rich sound of the orchestra.
If Katyana stays with the violin and someday plays with an
orchestra, I'll know just where to look for her.