Orchestral Excerpt Insights

Orchestral Excerpt Insights

In this educational video series, Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians perform and teach masterworks of the symphonic repertoire.

Orchestral Excerpt Insights
  • Batallán Plays Mahler

    For CSO Principal Trumpet Esteban Batallán, the instrument is an extension of his voice, and that serves as the foundation of his music-making. When performing Mahler's iconic Symphony No. 5, Batallán emphasized, “Don't forget to sing. That's the most important thing — singing, phrasing. Everythi...

  • Williamson Plays Kodály

    Zoltán Kodály’s Dances of Galánta is an interpretive and virtuosic giant in the orchestral clarinet repertoire. CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson demonstrates how crafting one’s own personal narrative can fuel expression. “It's important to have imagery in mind when you play a piece like ...

  • Chen Plays Strauss

    CSO Concertmaster Robert Chen performs and guides listeners through his interpretation of the famous violin solo from Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. “It's very important to be prepared technically to play this piece, but I think the technical and the expression, they go hand in hand,” Chen said. “What...

  • Hanna Plays Beethoven

    For CSO Principal Bass Alexander Hanna, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the most important pieces in the history of music, and the recitativo from the work’s fourth movement presents an opportunity to convey profound emotions on the bass. “There's a real feeling of optimism,” Hanna said. “Th...

  • Höskuldsson Plays Rossini

    CSO Principal Flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson guides listeners through his interpretation of the famous melodies from Rossini's William Tell Overture and shares his wisdom about how to prepare these multifaceted orchestral excerpts. “Auditions are difficult because of the context they're in," he...

  • Buncke Plays Shostakovich

    The process of preparing orchestral excerpts for an audition is both challenging and rewarding. For CSO Principal Bassoon Keith Buncke, an important part of the journey is giving himself the freedom to try new approaches to figure out what serves the player and the music. “The thing that's really...

  • Maner Plays Strauss

    “Richard Strauss' opera Salome is a twisted and terrifying tale," says CSO contrabassoon Miles Maner. "And I think of the story when I'm playing the excerpt.” Maner is a master at depicting the drama of an emotionally intense story through the sounds of his instrument. He does this by focusing on...

  • Hostetler Plays Dvořák

    Perhaps one of the most popular melodies in 19th-century music, the English horn solo from the second movement of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 is as challenging to master as it is beautiful. CSO English horn Scott Hostetler demonstrates how he interprets this iconic solo, from examining each m...

  • Herbert Plays Mozart

    For CSO Principal Timpani David Herbert, the opening passage of Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 gives a timpanist the opportunity to demonstrate an ability to play phrases that are simple yet expressive. “When musicians perform Mozart, it's important to focus on the beauty and the elegance of the sound....

  • Welter Plays Rimsky-Korsakov

    Rimsky-Korsakov’s ingenious and beloved depiction of One Thousand and One Nights has made his Sheherazade a staple on concert stages and audition lists alike. In this Orchestral Excerpt Insight, CSO Principal Oboe William Welter explains how imagery and context influence his interpretation of the...

  • Cooper Plays Strauss

    In this Orchestral Excerpt Insight, CSO Principal Horn David Cooper walks viewers through the techniques he uses to practice the opening solo from Strauss’ iconic tone poem Ein Heldenleben. And when it comes time to play this piece for an audition, what’s his advice? Trust that the committee is r...

  • Gunn Plays Shostakovich

    Audiences around the world have marveled at the beautiful and consistent playing of Jennifer Gunn, piccolo of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her instrument may be small, but her approach to making music with it is mighty. In this Orchestral Excerpt Insights video, she describes the importance of...