Music instructor takes advantage of local resources

Since he started teaching at MATC four years ago, World Music and Music Appreciation instructor Harold Kacanek has been taking his classes to Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) rehearsal sessions.  When he started teaching, he noticed that a lot of courses required students to independently see a concert and submit a review of it.  He liked the idea but also saw room for improvement.  “I thought it would be better for the students if they all had a common, shared experience,” said Kacanek.

The logistics proved difficult; corralling students back to campus outside of class hours was not working.  Then he realized that “we have these world-class musicians who work four blocks from campus. I reached out to Karli Larsen, educational director at MSO, and she said we could come and watch rehearsals for free,” he said.

“There are very few places where you can actually see examples of devoted excellence in a public forum and the MSO is one of them,” Kacanek added. The learning experience goes beyond the music.  Students can see firsthand what it takes to develop their skills to a professional level and the amount of passion that goes into the craft, he explained.

This semester Kacanek and his class were treated to the rehearsal of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on A Theme of Paganini,”  and saw world-renowned guest conductor Anu Tali from Estonia and 25-year-old piano phenom Behzod Abduraimov from Uzbekistan.

Kelsie Wolfgram, one of Kacanek’s students, attended the rehearsal. “It was incredible to see the orchestra work and the dedication that is needed to obtain such a perfect sound,” she said.  She was especially impressed with Abduraimov. “His incomparable skill and technique were fluid yet solidified. He was outstanding,” she said.

Wolfgram played in a community orchestra in Milwaukee and picked up on something that might go unnoticed to most people: the respect for the conductor.  “Even in the heat of playing the piece, all she had to do was raise her finger and everyone was silent, waiting for her instruction,” Wolfgram noted. “There was a genuine respect in the room, which was very refreshing to see.”