We have something for every musical taste in our 2014/2015 Season – including classical concerts, such as our performance on October 3 and 4 with Calgary’s own Jan Lisiecki!

Sometimes, classical music can seem intimidating – from words like “Shostakovich” to knowing when to clap during a performance, it can be hard to know where to start.

If you haven’t experienced classical music before, we’re here to help. We asked our Principal Trumpet Adam Zinatelli for tips on how to delve into classical music. He also debunks some common myths about classical music and musicians. If you have any questions for Adam, feel free to comment below! Can’t wait to see everyone…the new Season is just a few weeks away!

Q: For someone who hasn’t experienced classical music before, what concert(s) would you recommend they attend in our 2014/2015 season, and why?

A: This season starts off with a couple of concerts that I think would be perfect for first-time symphony listeners. October 3rd and 4th’s concerts of Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World” and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with world-class soloist Jan Lisiecki is a well-balanced, traditional orchestral programme, a real meat-and-potatoes orchestra concert. Well-known repertoire and the excitement of a season just getting underway should make for a rewarding event. The next week, on October 10th and 11th, we’re playing Disney’s Fantasia: Live in Concert, with highlights from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 playing on a screen above the stage and the orchestra providing the music live. It’s a less “traditional” orchestra concert, but in this day and age the format should be friendly and accessible for all listeners!

Q: What other recommendations would you give to help ease people into classical music?

A: Labels can be misleading. People often speak of genres – rock, pop, classical – which can group very different things under a single umbrella. The variety under the label of “classical music” is as wide as can be, variety more akin to that of “music involving a guitar” than a more specific label like “folk rock.” If Chopin doesn’t do it for you Bach might, or Shostakovich, or Mozart. It’s okay not to really love every single piece you hear.

Q: What is the best way for someone to “take in” or “experience” classical music?

A. Making the decision to listen to the music is the most important step. Be it a recording or a live CPO performance, mindfully choosing to give it a bit of your time and attention will be rewarding. I’d suggest choosing a concert to come to, and listening to recordings of the pieces you’ll be hearing live in preparation for the big night.

Q: Are there “myths” about classical music? If so, can you provide a few examples?

There are lots of myths about classical music and musicians, and most of them can be debunked by simply saying that we’re regular people just like you. Here are a few in particular, but if there are any more you’d like me to address, comment on this blog post and I’ll do my best to follow up!

Concert dressWhen we’re wearing tails and white bow ties, it’s out of a tradition and respect for the audience, not because we’re aloof. And for the audience, there’s nothing wrong with wearing casual clothes to a concert. Getting dressed up is fun too, but nothing wrong with showing up in jeans and a t-shirt. That’s probably what I’d wear to a concert unless I was trying to impress.

Concert etiquetteWhen to clap or not to clap is often a source of stress for audience members, and it shouldn’t be. What is considered “proper” has varied greatly over the years, but in my view it doesn’t really matter. Personally, I find in a multi-movement piece that silence between sections helps preserve the emotional continuity of the work, but if the audience applauds, that’s just fine too. If you’re worried about clapping when you shouldn’t, just wait for other people to start first and you’ll be fine.

Contemporary musicNew music can be intimidating for audiences and performers alike, but it’s important to remember that there is a huge range of music being written these days. An unknown piece is as likely to be lush and tonal as it is to be abstract and dissonant. If a new piece ends up standing the test of time, it’d be great to be able to say you were at the premiere!

Q: What concert(s) are you most looking forward to in our 2014/2015 Season, and why?

A. Personally, I’m looking forward to many of this year’s concerts. To name a few, I’m really excited for Messaien’s Turangalila Symphony on November 29th, as it’s a piece that a performer is lucky to play once in a career. I’m looking forward to playing the solo trumpet part in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on April 10th and 11th, which is a lot of fun. And last but not least, I’m excited about the last classics concert of the year, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on June 5th and 6th. It’s a very famous piece for the trumpet, and it’ll be my first time actually performing it!