Ask Aaron

ASK AARON
you ask, he answers…

Submit your question to Ask Aaron, the new online column featured in our monthly newsletter. This interactive column is no holds barred! Simply email your question(s) with your name and town by using the form included on this page.

Please note: All questions will be answered within one week. If you wish your message to stay private, please note.

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Take a look at some of the past questions (and answers!)

From: Cindi M., Viera

What is a double bass?

Aaron writes: The double bass mystery? I actually get this question a lot. The double bass goes by many names such as the string bass, upright bass, bass violin, doghouse bass, bull fiddle, contrabass, bass viol, stand-up bass, or Hank. It is the largest (about the size of Hulk Hogan) of the stringed instruments (violin, viola, and cello being the others) in the symphony orchestra. It is also the lowest pitched of the instruments. It has the great fortune to be a key instrument in jazz, rock & roll, country, bluegrass, and many other genres. Between the double bass and the tuba, they really give the orchestra that deep rich center and pretty much serve as an anchor. Next concert, look to your far right (just behind the curtains, two poles, and oversized cello section) and you’ll get a glimpse of our outstanding bass section lazily sitting on their stools.

From: Roberta B., Parts Unkown

Can you provide a little information on the Symphony for Everyone program? What it is and how it works?

Aaron writes: Sure! When I started the SCSO, one of the main motivations was to make symphonic concerts more accessible to all, especially during this period of economic funk. Typically, you have to spend an arm, a leg, and your first born to attend a symphony performance and we wanted to put a stop to that. In many people’s eyes, the symphony comes off as elitist or high society. Now, I don’t mean to discredit other orchestras as we all have bills to pay, and running an orchestra is an expensive endeavor!

Our mission is to provide low cost tickets to all of our concerts. In addition, we are unique in that all students aged 18 & under are able to attend any concert for free! But, I wanted to take it one step further. There are some of us, including myself that can’t afford the price of a ticket, even at a lower price. So, ipso facto, we have the Symphony for Everyone program. It’s a very simple and anonymous process. Go to our website and find Symphony for Everyone under the Education & Community tab and fill out the form. Here, you have the opportunity to choose a discounted price for a ticket ($5, $10, and etc.), or if your wallet is completely empty, you can get a ticket on us. It’s that easy.

It is exciting to share with you that several organizations around the U.S are beginning to adopt the Symphony for Everyone program. My hope is that one day, all orchestras work hard in sharing our love of music and allowing anyone to attend no matter what their current financial situation!

From: Jacque H., Palm Bay

Did you really put mayonnaise and honey in your hair?

Aaron writes: Ummm… yes. Now, let me put this in context, so that a casual reader doesn’t think I am a freak. We filmed a video for our Call of the Champions concert (view the video here) and throughout the video I poked fun at myself, which is quite easy to do. A lot of things that take place in the video are based on things I casually say to the audience at various concerts, one of them being pasting mayonnaise in my mane. A year ago, my hair was rocking. There was something about it that night that was just right. It was luxurious, flowing, and in fact, people couldn’t keep their hands off it. It was like petting a baby lamb. After intermission, I joked on stage that I use mayonnaise and honey for my hair products. Hence, the myth was born. Do I regularly use mayo and honey in my hair? No. Did I for this video? Yes. I smelt like a burger all day long during the shoot.

From: Paul R., Sebastian

Do you know if a recording exists of the Neil Sedaka piano concerto you all played last year?

Aaron writes: Unfortunately, there isn’t. We were one of the first orchestras to perform that work. I think as time goes on and more people are introduced to it, the likeliness of a recording will get much higher. It is a fantastic and accessible piece of music. I thank Jeffrey Biegel for bringing it to my attention and introducing it to Florida audiences. Come by our office sometime and I will be happy to give you a demo/reference recording of our performance.

From: R & F W., Vero Beach

We have a lot of records/LP’s which require cleaning and were wondering if you could provide any tips on the best way to clean them?

Aaron writes: What’s an LP? I am only familiar with cassette tapes! Just last year, I was going through an old box of records and many of them were in rough shape. I was curious to listen to these, as some of them have never been transferred to CD format. After a little investigating and sleuth work (aka Google), I found a cheap and somewhat efficient way to clean them using products from within your household.

If your records just require a little light cleaning, use Isopropyl alcohol (90% or higher). They advised NOT to use rubbing alcohol, as they contain additives that can harm your records. I also have used Dawn (dishwashing liquid). It worked, but it was a pain in the rear to rinse it off. The key in all of this is to ensure you don’t get the label wet! To dry most effectively, use a microfiber type of cloth on the record. Don’t wax on and wax off. Just do a little blotting, splotching, and voila, your record is more clean than it was.

Now, if you have hundreds of records and a wallet/purse with money in it, my friend at the music store suggested getting a record cleaning machine. According to sources (aka Google), “a record cleaning machine is a self contained unit with a motor that turns a platter with a vacuum suction tube that has an applicator pad or soft brush. One simply places the record on the platter, primes the pump to apply the record cleaning solution and let the record spin a few revolutions to work loose any dirt and oils that are in the grooves of the record. You then flip the switch and the vacuum sucks up any crud and fluid as well as drying the record.” Sounds like a good time to me. If you are into restoring vinyl records, a record cleaning machine seems to be the cat’s meow.

From: Harry

Harry writes at 9:08pm: Aaron, is your refrigerator running?
Aaron writes at 10:35am: I think so, yes. Who is this?
Harry writes at 8:35pm: Then you better go catch it.

From: Veronica G., Suntree

I really enjoyed your production of Tosca and was disappointed when I found out The Gondoliers was postponed and the Opera Series was taken off this Season’s lineup. Can we expect opera back anytime soon?

Aaron writes: Hey Veronica! Hope you are well. I enjoyed putting together Tosca with the SCSO musicians and singers. To be brutally honest… yes. My mentality is to jump in all projects head first. That being said, opera is a much different animal than symphonic music. This was a very challenging program to put on and furthermore, an expensive one. We handled the casting, the chorus, supertitles, and all other aspects of the production. In retrospect, it was a good learning experience, but one I don’t want to revisit. Our best bet is to partner with an opera company and let them handle the cast and chorus rehearsals, which in turn, would make the rehearsals leading into the performance with the full ensemble much more efficient. Opera is an expensive venture, but in my eyes, worth exploring. For the 2012/13 Season, we wanted to continue our success with the Jazz, A Night at the Movies, Pops, Holiday, and Masterworks Series. Putting opera on the backburner also gave us the opportunity to launch our Concerts for Kids Series and expand our very important Youth Education Program. Opera will return in the near future!

From: Betty V., Cape Canaveral

Can you please explain the flex-ticket to me? It has never been clear to me how it works. You are a blessing to us.

Aaron writes: Hi Betty. The fabled Flex ticket? I will certainly do my best. Here is the lowdown. A Flex ticket can be purchased in a five or ten pack. Flex tickets are good for any 2012/13 Season Subscription concert. They are not valid for special events, chamber concerts, or the Summer Series. There is no need to call us and reserve a seat at a specific concert. Just show up with your flex ticket and admittance you shall receive.

Here are three scenarios for you:
To protect the privacy of others, names have been changed and characters conflated.

  • Molly buys a ten pack and attends ten separate concerts.
  • Bernie buys a five pack and uses two tickets at Concert #1, two tickets at Concert #3, and one ticket at Concert #4.
  • Rashida buys a ten pack and brings nine other friends with her to the concert.

As you can see, the Flex ticket gives you the ultimate in flexibility. Plus, it is a great way to save money and secure your seat at the symphony. Speaking of flexibility, I need to get back to yoga.

From: Darlene, Melbourne

Aaron, I have attended most of the Space Coast Symphony’s concerts this season. I really appreciate all that you and your musicians do for the community. I have been very impressed with the variety of programming your orchestra performed. How do you put all the elements in place for each of these concerts? It’s amazing that the group can go from performing Shostakovich, to The Music Man, to the incredible jazz, to Out of this World, and all the Holiday concerts. How much time goes into putting it all together?

Aaron writes: Hi Darlene. Thanks for attending all of our concerts. Programming the Season is a lot of fun. You get to let your imagination run wild and throw some crazy concepts out there. Then we have some wiser heads give me a reality check and we go from there. Each program presents a challenge. From a logistical standpoint, the “heavier” (Opening Night Gala, A London Symphony) programs are a bit easier to put together. However, from an artistic standpoint, they present many challenges, as the music tends to be more intricate and layered. Concerts such as The Music Man, Out of this World, and The Nutcracker require a lot of planning and last minute madness. I generally handle all of the logistical planning, from concept to staging. For example, in addition to the enlarged pit orchestra, the Music Man required a cast of forty. We held auditions, a month and a half in advance of the program. We decided on presenting the Musical in a live radio-show format with sound effects and all. The other challenge was making the radio-show format work in the concert hall, still giving it a bit of theatrics. Depending on the concert, it typically takes a month or two of planning and a few days for execution. Thanks and looking forward to seeing you soon.

From: Nancy & Bob S., Titusville

Hello, I wanted to tell you how much my husband and I enjoyed the London Symphony concert. I never had heard Vaughn Williams’ Symphony No. 2 and was left breathless throughout. My husband, who is a veteran found the film to be both powerful and emotional. We had tears in our eyes throughout. Why did you decide to do a film with that piece of music and will that film be available to purchase?

Aaron writes: Hi Nancy. I really enjoyed doing this concert. I have always loved the music of Vaughan Williams and his Second Symphony is everything you want in a piece of music. Crying is definitely permitted. In fact, we embrace it. I will be the first one to swim up your jaunty river of emotionality with a box of kleenex in hand. This past year, I have seen a few orchestra’s pair film with music in a concert setting. I thought this particular symphony would be a perfect fit, even though it is not a programatic work. It is not an attempt to decorate or distract from the music. Rather, we wanted to show the audience the London of the time that inspired Vaughan Williams to write this impressive symphony. This experience includes the excitement of a live musical performance coupled with emotional imagery from an era that has passed. The energy of the audience itself was the third component that made this a truly remarkable event. Multimedia is a way to engage new concertgoers and give already established music fans a new perspective on these classic works. My friend, Jeff Thompson crafted an absolutely stunning film from archived footage, photographs, and original shots. I was floored and overwhelmed by the incredible amount of work he has put into this project. It’s haunting and tells a powerful story. It is an emotional experience on its own. We plan on making the film paired with our performance available this Summer.

From: Charlie, Vero Beach High School

My friends and I went to the Science Fiction concert in Vero Beach. Being a Trekkie, I REALLY LOVED HEARING STAR TREK LIVE! By the way, the brass was insane. How did you match the music with the films. I noticed there were no head phones or ways to time it. Will you be doing more of these concerts?

Aaron writes: As I answer this, I have busted out my Klingon apparel. So from one trekkie to another, qaStaH nuq? (break out your Klingon dictionary) We didn’t have the fortune to perform with click tracks. Essentially, I memorized the films and the timing with the cues. The next part was sheer luck. The most challenging film from the concert was 2001: A Space Odyssey. The music we presented was from Alex North’s rejected score. Since the film was cut to other music Kubrick selected, North’s score didn’t always fit. I had to make some changes and alterations to the music to get it as close as possible. In regards to future film music concerts, the answer is a definitive yes. We have a Rodgers & Hammerstein concert planned in April. I already am working on preparing next season’s film music concerts and I am anxious to share those with you very soon. tIhIngan maH!

From: Lorna H., Micco

Dear Maestro. I don’t know if you remember, but we spoke prior to a concert where I addressed you as “Maestro.” You kindly responded, “Please call me Aaron.” What is your thoughts on being called Maestro?

Aaron writes: Hey Lorna, I remember speaking with you at our ‘Music Man’ presentation. First, I certainly don’t mind being called Maestro. I won’t get all Pulp Fiction on someone if they call me maestro. That being said, Aaron is good enough for me. I know quite a few conductors, actually many who fancy being called maestro or maestra (female conductors). Almost to a Seinfeldian extent (for those who are familiar with the classic Seinfeld episode). It’s a bit silly, but hey, they’ve earned it. I try to create an environment where our concertgoers can feel comfortable enough to call me Aaron and that is my overall preference. I get called Maestro a lot, so I live with it. Thanks and looking forward to seeing you soon. – From your dearest Maestro.

From: Bill, Melbourne

Hi Aaron, my wife and I attended a concert a year ago when you performed the Rodgers and Hamerstein program with soloists, orchestra, and chorus. It was our first of many concerts that we have attended of yours. At the opening of the concert, you did a song and dance number very similar to an Awards show opening and I have a few questions regarding that. 1.) Who wrote the song and lyrics for that number? It was very funny. 2.) Are you planning something like that again? 3.) Being an avid ballroom dancer, I have to say you had some good moves. Do you dance? Appreciate what you do for the community.

Aaron writes: Bill, thanks for the nice comments. As I write this, I am busting a move on Dance, Dance, Revolution. To answer your questions: I thought it would be a nice way to begin a concert full of musicals with a song and dance number. When I originally planned it, I wanted to incorporate hundreds of dancers, elephants, and pyrotechnics, but alas, it didn’t work out. Who knew the union was so strict about elephant usage? I sketched the melodies, structure, and lyrics and turned it over to Ferne Franz, a terrific composer and friend. She filled the rest in and orchestrated it. I am glad you enjoyed it. I am not a dancer, but am known to get on a dance floor. I used to be pretty good! We are doing another R & H concert in April and who knows, maybe this time there will be elephants! Take care Bill!

From: Charlene, Palm Bay

I recently saw you at a Central Florida Winds concert as an attendee and wanted to know if you go to a lot of community concerts? We have a friend who performs in a couple community ensembles and she told us she doesn’t really care to go to other concerts by other groups. I was wondering if that is common in the music world?

Aaron writes: Yes, I was the one hiding behind the program booklet. I am blessed to be involved with so many groups. So, my rehearsal and concert schedule is very tight. However, if I have a weekend free and there is a concert of interest, I do my best to go. I believe it is true for many musicians that they are satisfied with just performing and don’t seek out other programming if they are not involved. For me, I really enjoy seeing my friends and musicians I get to work with perform in other settings, especially chamber concerts and recitals. I want to support my friends and be there to cheer them on. There are many great groups in Brevard doing a lot for the community. I suggest checking out some of these groups: Community Band of Brevard, Central Florida Winds, Melbourne Municipal Band, Melbourne Community Orchestra, Space Coast Pops, Indialantic Chamber Singers, Brevard Chorale, Galmont Ballet, and the Space Coast Flute Orchestra. These groups deserve attention!

From: Steve, Indialantic

I saw four concerts over the last two weeks and you just happened to conduct them all. I read somewhere that you conduct over 150 concerts a year. Do you sleep?

Aaron writes: Steve, the secret is too sleep during rehearsal. If you can train your muscles to keep a beat and get some shut-eye at the same time, then you are in good shape and rested. Kidding aside, I am quite busy. This December, I had 24 concerts throughout Central Florida and it was pretty demanding. Over a typical Season, I have about one hundred and fifty concerts with various ensembles. In addition, there are many rehearsals involved. Normally 2 – 3 for professional groups and 5 – 6 for community groups, so in total I conduct about 340 days a year. On top of it, you have score study, partying, traveling, partying, meetings, partying, and etc. I love it though!

From: Maggie G., Viera

We had the opportunity of watching an open rehearsal you held at Heritage Isles. We enjoyed the experience immensely and watching the young violin soloist was inspiring. What was really fascinating, was the interaction between you and the musicians throughout. When you began, you immediately addressed us and apologized for any vulgar words which came out of your mouth. Of course there weren’t any, but the way you addressed problems, was something I didn’t expect. Your analogies and comments were so witty and didn’t really make much sense to me, but the musicians responded in their playing. Also, my husband was so impressed with the way you didn’t use a score throughout the rehearsal. There was an instance when a musician in the back asked to check a note and before they finished telling you where it was, you immediately told them what the note was. My husband, a retired piano teacher, still talks about that. You and your musicians are a blessing to our area.

Aaron writes: Hey Maggie! We’ll be back at Heritage Isles in the tail end of September with another open rehearsal. First, thanks for the nice and flattering comments. You caught me on a good day! Conveying my thoughts and ideas during a rehearsal is a constant work in progress. There are several languages that can be used as a conductor rehearses:

  • The technical language uses musical terminology like marcato, tenuto, louder, softer, staccato, long, short, and etc. This is the most common.
  • The emotional and associative languages are the two I tend to use more. Technical terminology is great, but it really doesn’t get to the soul or heart of the music. I can say things like yearn more, angrier, and etc. It takes emotional and associative language to communicate the true character of the music.

Now, I tend to say a lot of crazy things that doesn’t make much sense. Any musician in any group I conduct can attest to that! Somehow, it just works. One of our musicians keeps a little notebook of all the stupid things I say throughout rehearsal. Perhaps one day, we’ll share it.

Thanks again for your kind comments and I’ll see you soon!

From: Jason, Vero Beach

I was always interested in how much liberty musicians have when they play solos during a performance. Do you tell them the way you want it to sound or do they full reign? Do you get inspiration from them?

Aaron writes: With any orchestra, the musicians and the conductor have one goal. That goal, is to bring their personality and vision to a composition. In any symphonic piece, you have solo moments for certain instruments, for the oboe, or the horn, or the trombone, or the first violin. Prior to the first orchestra rehearsal, the musicians have spent time rehearsing and considering how they would like to perform these solos. Their ideas and personality come through their music and I really enjoy that interaction and spontaneity. I am not a dictator or a conductor who says, “you must perform it this way.” We can bounce ideas and thoughts off each other. You don’t want to suppress your musician’s personality! The musicians have to be happy.

I definitely get inspiration from the musicians I work with. The more you work with your musicians, the connection grows more strong. You feel as if you are on the same wavelength and great things happen without anything being said. I am always super stoked to work with my wonderful orchestra.

From: Samuel R., Ft. Pierce

Do you have any advice for aspiring young conductors? thanks

Aaron writes: Hey Samuel! I am still an aspiring young conductor! However, I will share some observations and thoughts with you. Be in love with the music, and be in love with sharing music and working with musicians. Do not expect anyone to offer opportunities, go get them yourself! Find local orchestras or bands and ask if you can get some time in front of the group. Take every chance you have to go and listen to rehearsals of the great orchestras and conductors. Listen to a lot of music! Spend all of your time with your scores and not chasing girls. Be inquisitive about everything and definitely, be self critical. Always strive to be yourself. Any ensemble can tell if you are not. Having the experience of playing in ensembles is great too. It gives you an opportunity to see what it’s like on the other side. Lastly, remember that the only geniuses are the composers!

From: Norma, Baltimore, MD

We are looking forward to coming back to sunny Florida and seeing the Space Coast Orchestra! Are you ever considering to do a pre-concert lecture? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does it prior to many of their concerts and we enjoy them quite a bit. Thanks and see you in October.

Aaron writes: Hey Norma. What’s happening?! Yes, we are planning to start a “lecture” series. They are currently in development, but will take place on the Tuesday prior to each of our Masterworks concerts. In addition to me talking, dancing the macarena, and performing high stepping broadway dance tunes with hand puppets, we will be serving wine and cheese. I am very excited about putting together these presentations and hope you will be able to make them. Our first will be on October 18, 2011. Information should be out soon. Thanks and see you soon.

From: Laurie S., Merritt Island

Dear Aaron, Congratulations to you and the musicians for completing another awe-inspiring season. My boyfriend and I were wondering how you select music for each Season? What’s the process?

Aaron writes: Great question. Well, there are many different aspects to programming. First, I always evaluate the previous Season to identify what works and what doesn’t. Now, a concert’s popularity doesn’t necessarily correlate with the program selections, as other factors also play a part in the attendance of each concert. For 2011/12, we are moving closer to what I envision as the future of the SCSO. Each Season, we push the envelope and experiment to see what is doable in this County. I wanted to form a nice balance of programming ranging from heavier works, like Franck’s Symphony in D minor and Vaughan William’s London Symphony to lighter line-ups like The Music Man and The Three Tenors. In addition, we are developing new Series’, including our Opera, Jazz, Film Music, and Coffee Concerts. The SCSO is unusual in that the musicians have a say in the music we perform. Before we had any programs selected, I asked many of the musicians what would they wanted to perform. After I collected their answers, I went on to program the season. If you look at our season’s programming, every concert is jam-packed with works you rarely hear in Central Florida. Not only is it because of the difficulty of the works, but also the forces (size of the orchestra) it takes to perform them. Lastly, it is important that the audience has an active role in both programming and listening. I enjoy conversing with audience members and finding ways to incorporate the audience into the musical process. There are few communal experiences left in our world and I love being able to create those exciting moments for both the orchestra and the audience. Most importantly, you have to program music that is playable in the amount of time you have. With two 3-hour rehearsals, you do not have too much time to rehearse. We have a lot of great ideas in the chute and I am anxious to get those moving as well. It truly is a learning process, but one that I really love.

From: Abby N., Titusville

Hi Mr. Collins, I am a local high school student who plays clarinet. I saw the Space Coast Symphony a week ago and saw that you will be performing film soundtracks, which are my absolute favorite!!!! what is it about movie scores do you like? who are your favorites? what soundtracks are your favorite?

Aaron writes: Hi Abby. When I was a kid, I first fell in love with movie scores. The first soundtracks I owned were Jurassic Park, Total Recall, Independence Day, Twister, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I put these soundtracks on cassette tapes and wore them out listening to them on my bright banging yellow boom box. The music was exciting, the themes memorable, and the mood was always changing. When I was a teenager, I got the opportunity to meet many of my idols in the film music world and my passion for film scores has never changed since. I created our Film Music Series, because I genuinely believe that film music should be performed and presented to a wider audience.

Tough questions here… I have so many favorites. Here’s some that come immediately to mind.

Composers: John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, John Debney, Elliot Goldenthal, Jerry Goldsmith, Miklos Rosza, David Arnold, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, and Howard Shore.

Film Scores: Hook, Star Wars, To Kill a Mockingbird, Vertigo, Out of Africa, Ben-Hur, The Wind and the Lion, Batman, Beetlejuice, Star Trek, Road to Perdition, Waterworld, Alien 3, Lord of the Rings, Cutthroat Island, Independence Day, and Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

From: Ron P., Indialantic

Hi, does it bother you when people clap between movements?

Aaron writes: Nah, not at all. We’ve become accustomed and trained to believe clapping between movements is rude. I was watching Armageddon (I know, I am a loser) years ago and in the middle of the movie, the entire audience just broke out in cheers and applause, including myself (I know, we are all losers). It was exciting and spontaneous! There have been times when I wanted to cheer and throw up some fist pumps after a perfectly executed and moving movement during a concert. The other side of the argument, is that the intensity that has been generated is suddenly lost. Whilst that may be true, the audience is an integral part of the music making. You can’t stick 1,500 people in a performance hall and expect extreme silence throughout. I don’t really believe in training audiences about it either. It is often that there is a sense of superiority radiating from the stage on to the listeners, and the audience can sometimes feel like they have to bind themselves in a straight-jacket in order to receive the full sense of enlightenment brought on by the music. Part of the success of the SCSO is that there is not an air of snobbery and the interaction between the musicians and audience is genuine and spontaneous. There is a story about the conductor, Zubin Mehta. While Mehta was conducting an international youth orchestra during a performance of Mahler’s 1st in Israel, half of the audience burst into applause following the first movement. The other half, adhering to the “no applause” policy, stayed silent. Mehta turned to the audience and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very happy evening and I am glad to be here with you, so if you want to clap, go on!”

Alex Ross (Critic and Writer) wrote a great article called “Why So Serious?” addressing how the classical concert took shape.

From: Jackie C., Vero Beach

Maestro! I wanted to thank you and all the amazing musicians for bringing such a powerful program here last week. I have lived in Vero for the last 24 years and attend as many concerts as I can. Over the last year with this damn economy, I have not been able to attend many of the concerts provided by IRSA and the Classical Orchestra. When I heard about your group from a friend, I was excited to read about your mission and intentions for Vero. All I have to say is oh my God, what a blessing you are!!! I have never heard such an entertaining and moving performance here in Vero Beach. In little time, the Space Coast Orchestra will change and turn the Vero arts scene upside down. I got my Summer pass and I can’t wait to see you all again!

Aaron writes: Hello Jackie! Thanks for the kind words about the orchestra. I know the musicians had a great time performing in Vero Beach and the Community Church was a great venue to perform in. I am ready to shake up the scene down there and become a part of the Vero Beach community. Please say hello at the next program. Thanks again!

From: Travis Q., Orlando

Dear Sir, I was interested in how you choose the soloists who perform with the orchestra? I came to the Latin Fiesta in Melbourne to see Mr. Tekalli play. His performance was jaw dropping and I felt the both of you had a real strong connection.

Aaron writes: Hey Travis. It was a great honor to work with Suliman again and yes, we do have a strong connection. This connection could stem from holding hands on occasion and/or sharing a hoagie from time to time. In all seriousness, he is a great musician and friend. There is something about Suliman that really gives him that star quality. You can hear the energy and enthusiasm in every note he plays. That rare passion is very easy for me to connect with and really makes for great collaborations and performances. I cannot wait to do Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto with him in January and many more collaborative efforts in the future. In regards to how soloists are selected… At this point with the SCSO, our budget limits us on the amount of guest artists we can bring in each Season. Being a new orchestrta, this is always an issue. That being said, I firmly believe it is important to showcase the talent that surrounds you everyday. There are so many fine players in the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, all of them deserving to perform concerti. I am very grateful to have featured our very own violinists, Igor Markstein & Carey Moorman and pianist, Jamila Tekalli who has done three incredible performances. This Summer, we are fortunate to have one of the world’s greatest pianists and ambassadors of music join us, Jeffrey Biegel. Next Season, we will continue on this path featuring Frank Tuckwiller on saxophone, Michael Wiseman on cello, Carey Moorman on viola, Jennifer Royals on clarinet, and Suliman Tekalli on violin.

From: Sandra M., Canaveral Groves

Dear Aaron, I wanted to know when and how much you sleep? Several weeks ago, my friends and I saw you conduct at four different concerts with three different groups. Come to find out, I read in the paper you had another one the next day. We can’t believe how much you do for this area.

Aaron writes: Hi Sandra! You go girl… four concerts in one week is quite impressive for a concertgoer. I, in fact have several clones, a la ‘Multiplicity’ (great Michael Keaton movie) that do the work for me as I sit at home reaping all the benefits! Honestly, I love music, I love being around musicians and friends, and I love giving concerts. I sleep when I can. Usually, five hours a night, plus or minus. Thanks again!

From: Ted R., Vero Beach

My wife and I had the pleasure of attending your production of a Stan Kenton Brass Christmas in Sebastian. The show was top notch and the brass players who performed were some of the best I’ve heard. This is by far one of the most thrilling concerts we’ve attended and the best Christmas concert we’ve experienced. Will the Stan Kenton Brass Christmas be an annual event? Also, are the mellophones you mentioned typically used? We have never seen them.

Aaron writes: Hi Ted! Thank you very much for the kind words regarding the Stan Kenton Christmas. We had a great time putting that concert together and yes, we plan to make it an annual concert. Currently, we are working with some of the best jazz arrangers and commissioning three to four new charts for this unique ensemble to pair with Kenton’s iconic charts. Mellophones are typically used in marching bands to replace the french horn. Essentially, to project the sound forward. Kenton, being an experimenter, had a two year phase of writing for this type of brass ensemble (with mellophones replacing the french horn). Technically, some of the jazz lines are easier to play on a mellophone, but it was a challenge for our musicians to get used to playing on these instruments.

From: Betty S., Melbourne

Why is the National Anthem not performed on every concert?

Aaron writes: No reason in particular. I understand the importance of the Star Spangled Banner and do try to program it as often as I can. We have been fortunate enough to premiere five different settings of this work over the last two Seasons. It is something we will work on to make happen.

From: Regina L., Hartford, CT

We have been attending concerts in Central Florida for many years now. My husband and myself are both classical enthusiasts. We were lucky to catch the all Dvorak concert and the Russian Festival several weeks later. Unfortunately, we missed the two that followed, but are waiting eagerly for your next five concerts. We are impressed with the sound you get from the musicians in the Space Coast Symphony, particularly the low brass. The sound is incredible. We have seen many great orchestras in our lifetime and the SCS ranks among the best. Kudos to you and your great musicians!

Aaron writes: Thank you and yes, our musicians are something else! One thing I try to convey to any musician I work with is to really go for it. I am not a ‘safe’ conductor. What I mean by that is, I really encourage musicians to push their instruments and sound to the very edge. Mistakes are alright in my book (ideally, the less mistakes, the better). When you have your musicians put everything on the line and unafraid, this is what makes a performance of a lifetime. The low brass in our orchestra put it on the line at every concert and their performance is always memorable. Thanks again and looking forward to seeing you on the 29th.

From: Laura S., Cocoa Beach

Several of my friends and I have noticed you don’t use scores when you conduct. You must have quite a memory. It is unbelievable that a person can memorize 100+ minutes of music. What is your secret?

Aaron writes: Haha, unfortunately I have no secret like eating 3 bananas a day or reading Dr. Phil’s ‘Keys to Success.’ It just happens. Conducting a score should represent not a feat of memory, but knowledge of the score. Several weeks of study and analysis are the only means of arriving at the ability to conduct without the score. If a conductor knows their score, they do not need it. As the conductor, I have to know the music better than all of the musicians in the orchestra. Plus, page turning is a real hassle! This way, your sole focus can be on the musicians and the performance. A young musician approached the legendary conductor, Toscanini with the same question and he replied “I shall tell you my secret; all my life I have been studying scores.”

From: Lyle B., Rockledge

Hi Aaron! Do your arms get tired when you conduct?

Aaron writes: Lyle! They do at times, especially after a long 8 hour day of conducting. But conducting is more of a mental release than one of physical nature. Conducting requires extreme focus and concentration more than physical strength. I suppose my brain hurts a bit more than my arms. I do tend to get a little too boisterous on the podium and that is an area which I am trying to improve. I am sure my energy at the end of a concert would be much higher if I was a little more restrained and not so banshee-like. However, it’s hard not to get carried away by the music.

From: Diana W., Mims

Why do waiters and musicians both wear tuxedos at work? Aside from award shows, you don’t often see men in a tuxedo. Is it necessary

Aaron writes: Hi Diana. What’s wrong with our digs? Of course it would be nice to perform in a t-shirt, shorts, and a pair of flip flops. Back in the day, musicians were essentially servants. A friend told me a story that Joseph Haydn (house composer for the rich & powerful Esterhazy family in Hungary) made a remark in a letter that musicians “were of a social status slightly above the cooks but below the valets”. Apparently, the servants, staff, and musicians all ate in the “Servants” kitchen. Fast forward to today, where orchestras around the world are still holding on to this tradition. I love the tux (sometimes I sleep in it) and it really makes a man look sharp. During our Summer Series, we lose the jackets!

From: Pippin R., Boston, MA

I noticed that at some concerts, the musicians playing in the woodwind & brass sections change seats after playing a work or after intermission. How do you decide who will sit in which chair for each work? Is this normal?

Aaron writes: Hey Pippin… Love the name. The Space Coast Symphony employs a rotation system in our winds & brass. We don’t have Principal players in the winds. All of the musicians in our wind section are extraordinary players and do a bang up job, no matter what part they play. Some musicians have specialties that we do take advantage of (For example: all flute players don’t play piccolo). It makes the orchestra a little more democratic and it dramatically lessens the in-orchestra murder rate.

From: Howard P., Satellite Beach

How do you get “in the zone” before a concert? We notice you don’t use music.

Aaron writes: Hello Howard. I eat half of a blueberry muffin, slam a Mountain Dew, and stare at my wallet photo of Celine Dion. Kidding aside, I am generally out in the audience prior to the concert, but try to save 10 minutes to just focus. If you ask any of our volunteers/ushers, they will tell you that I pace around the building maybe 10 to 15 times. I usually get a good 1/2 mile in prior to each concert.