The Staten Island Philharmonic

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Staten Island Arts

Recently, I went to the Staten Island Philharmonic to see our friend, Howie Fox, a composer whose piece was being played. A professional orchestra played it. We got second row seats and the sound was beautiful.

Howie was always interested in music. He plays piano and in junior high he played oboe, but it was not his favorite. In high school he played bassoon. He was a music major at Syracuse University and studied Earl George. Howie writes for all instruments, but it took years of studying scores. Scores are something that composers use to learn how the instruments harmonize. Howie is a classical composer, which means he composes for classical music.

I also got to meet other members of the Philharmonic.

Dorothy Darlington is a French horn player. She has been playing for 52 years. Darlington was in the Marine Marching Band and also had White House duties, and when she went to the White House she got to meet President Ronald Reagan!

Sanchie Bobrow is a composer. She says she listened to a lot of folk music and that is one of the reasons that she was inspired to become a composer. Her first piece was for the flute only. Sanchie Bobrow has written a lot of other pieces and really loves writing music.

The next person I interviewed was Eugenia Dandurouva, a violinist. Her favorite types of music are classical and modern.

Pam Taylor is a flute and piccolo player with multiple sclerosis. She says that though sometimes multiple sclerosis can make things difficult, playing her flute and piccolo help her deal with it.

The last person I interviewed was Maestro Alex Guzman, the conductor. He conducts other orchestras (sometimes as a guest conductor), but does not play in orchestras any more. Maestro Alex Guzman says that his secret passion is Big Band music.

I asked them each a question: What is classical music?

Each person defines it a little bit differently.

Howie Fox says that classical music is written by a classical composer and is not Broadway or popular music. There are different periods of music such as Baroque (Handel), classical (Beethoven), romantic (Debussy) and modern (Fox!).

Sanchie Bobrow says that classical music uses all the instruments of the orchestra, while Eugenia Dandurova says that it is music from the classical era (like Mozart, Haydn or Beethoven).

Pam Taylor tells us that it’s hard to define but could be from the 18th century or contemporary, and has so many new eras and is post modern Western.

The last person we asked was Maestro Alex Guzman, the conductor, who said, “It is challenging to define classical music, but, you’ll know it when you hear it!!!”