Kordzaia Interview

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00:00:00 - Symphony Orchestra Beginnings

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Partial Transcript: Victoria: Record there... Um so my first question is, how did you end up becoming the conductor of Richmond Symphony Orchestra?

Kordzaia: Um

V: And how long ago?

K: I was a conductor at um North Carolina (mhmm) Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra there, and Dr. Kong (mhmm); I knew her from when I was conductor, music director, of Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Kong was soloist two times, and she approached me and she said ten years ago, next year’s gonna be ten years anniversary (wow). She said we have only strings, would you consider to become conductor? And I said only if I can have full symphony orchestra (mhmm). And I came, and I auditioned, and I got a job. Uh and um that’s when we started working to create full symphony orchestra (mhmm). When I got here, it was only nine to fourteen strings (wow). Nine was uh university students (mhmm), and rest was community musicians (mhmm), and uh it wasn’t good (haha). I just I thought we need to recruit more students (yeah), so I worked really hard for five years to make sure lots of um students who come at this university. This university has good niche because good violin players do not want to go to conservatories. They want to pursue other things. They want to be study leadership, or law, or chemistry, science (mhmm), and liberal arts, but they still play their instrument or sing (mhmm) really well. And they do not want to go to conservatory setting (right), so they come here and if you offer them real music program, then they will come, and that’s what we did. I went and aggressively recruited them (wow), and they came, and uh ff--at the end of the first year, we played Beethoven first symphony with full orchestra, and those spots where we did not have university students, we, because I was music director of Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra and knew lots of community musicians, and I brought them in and it’s full orchestra. Yep.

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Kordzaia talks about how he became the conductor of University of Richmond's Symphony Orchestra.

Keywords: conductor; orchestra; richmond; symphony

Subjects: Conductors (Music); Orchestra.; Symphony.

00:02:12 - Member Interactions

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Partial Transcript: V: You have overlap. Cool. So that actually brings me to my follow up question, so the orchestra has always been a mix of students, community members, and faculty (faculty) too? (yes) Um do you think that there have been relationships developed through the orchestra between those members, or do you notice that students mostly talk to students, community members mostly talk to community members, do you see any, any crossover?

K: Oh my gosh absolutely (yeah). Students interacted with community musicians, and they formed friendship, and this friendship went beyond university. I see them on Facebook, and I see these relationships, and I’m thinking wow isn’t it neat that they’re friends, and they uh communicate, and students are playing in the community uh gigs (nice) and interacted with community, so this really symphony orchestra is a hhh-- bridge (mhmm) to the big, I mean, there’s a bigger picture. It’s a bridge to the community (yeah). And when you have community musicians, and when you have faculty members, then we dis-- we discovered we had alumni who came back and stayed and played (oh). So that created incredible, this multifaceted, you know, mm-- organization (yeah), which I had no control over after that (hehe). It had its own life (yeah), so that’s what made it so neat.

Segment Synopsis: During this segment, Kordzaia discusses the types of interactions that occur because of the orchestra.

Keywords: alumni; community; network; organization; relationships; students

Subjects: Friendship.; Orchestra.; Students.

00:03:38 - Audience Members

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Partial Transcript: V: I also wanted to ask, who do you think comes to orchestra concerts the most. Do you think it’s more outside community members, maybe parents of students?

K: That was another work I had to do (mhmm) to establish, a well first time we had a concert, we didn’t have a huge audience. Now, at the university, this is most attended performance this symphony orchestra has, and um because word, word of mouth (mhmm). People thought why am I gonna go and pay if I bring my family here, I’m gonna pay so much money to attend ticketed performances. We have free parking, we have free performance, there’s a symphony orchestra, there are so many talents, when we have concerto competition and singers and instrumentalists perform, and if you give them high level performance for free (mhmm), they come, and they came! (yeah!) And now we have, sometime I come, come out of the concert just I’m thinking, who are these people, and they come, and I see same faces from the community. There’s a lady who comes from Windsor Farms and she br-- brings four or five other ladies with her (ah that’s amazing). And this group always uh gets bigger and bigger, she says we have dinner, then we come here for concert, I think they are former students here alumnis (oh wow). And ya know, this is, now, this is a thing to do for them (mhmm), twice a year or three times a year if you count Family Weekend concert.

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia explains that the symphony concert is a big one, and old and new people come enjoy the performance for free.

Keywords: audience; community; orchestra; performance

Subjects: Orchestra.; Performance.

00:05:07 - Auditions and Seating Arrangements

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Partial Transcript: V: So the rest of my questions are more like organizational based. Um how do you do auditions every year? Do you have them every year or every semester?

K: Yes, we do every year auditions (mhmm) because now so many students come. First, first year when we did it, we just said oh just come to the rehearsal (yeah). But then we couldn’t do it second year because we had so many flutes and so many strings and so many cellos and you had to determine, you know, who is the best and who can handle this repertoire (yeah), so we started, I started auditioning them, and of course Dr. Kong helps a lot (mmmm), tremendously, and also Linda Smalley, who is administrator (mhmm). And um we do auditions before rehearsals, and we determine who’s gonna sit where and what’s ability, and if some students just played few years instrument, they cannot handle like Saint-Saens Organ Symphony or Sibelius or (yeah) uh really master works of symphonic repertoire (right). It’s hard music.

V: Mhmm. Do you have a number of how many new students come out every year about?

K: Uh probably every year, so in the orchestra we have 75-82 musicians altogether (uh huh) depending what repertoire we play (mhmm). I th-- I would say registered students are 27, 28, 29 (ok). So last year only four graduated (mhmm), and then we had we I auditioned another ten came in (mhmm) now right now we have 27 ummm registered and um 28 and uh another five will graduate (mhmm). And I have no doubt another six or seven gonna come back or (next year) nine gonna next year new student (uh huh) gonna come, come in. (s) So it’s always, and because I also do lots of regional orchestras, all-state orchestra, and I travel and if I am in um Northern Virginia or Maryland or DC or New Jersey, Connecticut (mhmm). These are the students that come here (yeah) to Richmond. So they always choose oh smaller um campus and it’s beautiful (mhmm), and lots of choices academic, academics this university offers, and music program and that’s just only classical music (yeah), there’s jazz there’s a band, there’s the choir (yeah), there’s uh Taiko drums, and you can experience a lot of big spectrum of ya know musical experience, there’s theatre, ballet, dance (mhmm), you can do anything you want to do.

V: That’s amazing, amazing. So…

K: And we’re not conservatory, you know (mm-mm). But we offer this. And also we have Eighth Blackbird who has four Grammys and we have Modlin Center who brings the incredible performers (mhmm), and why would you go, want to go to DC or New York? (no) They come here.

V: Exactly. So you said there’s about 28 students in the orchestra?

K: Right now registered 28 students.

V: Ok. Cool. Ummm my next question had to do with the seating arrangements. So that’s all based on merit and skill?

K: Yes (ok). Merit and skill and uh Somehow when I came here students wanted to base it who’s a senior and who’s a freshman, and it not always work that way (haha). Can be senior and not able two notes straight (mhmm). So you have to be a really good player to play because also I do not want to set them up for failure, you know.

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia talks about auditions and the number of students registered for orchestra. He also addresses the seating arrangement for rehearsals and concerts.

Keywords: auditions; instrumentalists; music; orchestra; students; symphony

Subjects: Auditions.; Music.; Orchestra.; Symphony.

00:08:29 - Rehearsal Protocol

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Partial Transcript: V: Um also what are kind of the rehearsal protocols like no cell phone, obviously no talking (no talking), everyone seems very attentive all of rehearsal. Umm

K: No cell phones (no cell phones), absolutely no texting (mhmm), and it’s we have only 2 hour rehearsal (yeah, once a week), and it’s so intense one a week, and we have also one hour rehearsal Thursdays. (sectionals?) Sectionals. It’s so intense you cannot, you know, this is not a class (no), and this is not professor comes in and just tell talks about what he needs to talk, and you either make a note or not make a note (mhmm). You make a note constantly (right) you play your notes (mhmm). You have no (yeah)… did you see what I just did? Making notes and playing notes? Hahaha

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia talks about the rules and expectations of rehearsals throughout the semester.

Keywords: attention; cell phones; rehearsal; sectional

Subjects: Attention.; Cell phones

00:09:14 - Kordzaia's Passion for Music

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Partial Transcript: V: Um so you always seem really energetic like and I’ve noticed when I was at rehearsals last semester for singing and this semester observing um you seem like super energetic the entire rehearsal. How are you so energetic the whole rehearsal? D-- is it do is it just like a passion of yours?

K: It’s the music. I love the music.

V: It’s just second nature it’s the—it’s the music?

K: Yeah you know when I pick music…

V: I wa-- that was gonna be another question of mine haha

K:…I have to love that I have to be in love with the music. I cannot pick something boring, and I do not believe in it (mhmm) and I do not feel it (yeah) and if I cannot feel it, and I do not love this music how am I gonna fire up (mhmm) student to play?

V: Yeah. So it’s the passion (it’s a passion, yeah) that goes into to the music and you choose music based on that. Do you have any kind of protocol for picking different genres like maybe more new music (right), older music (yes, yes) do you like to have a mix every concert?

K: Yes, you have to. You have to, and uh this orchestra do not like too much modern music (haha), and I think I always fight with that and we we have so many uh occasions when students wrote compositions (mm) or invited conductors brought their own composition, and we tried not to turn this into museum (yeah), and you have to perform new music and you have to stay alive and have something different. You cannot just perform dead composers music you have to have someone in on stage or in the audience saying no no no this this way. And this is I-I-I composed this music, and I can turn around and ask. You know I cannot ask Sibelius or Saint-Saens. I have to figure it out.

V: Unfortunately! That would be nice!

K: It would be nice! Yeah

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia talks about how he chooses the repertoire for the orchestra, and it all comes back to his passion for music and the orchestra.

Keywords: composition; conductor; music; orchestra; passion; repertoire

Subjects: Conductors (Music); Music.; Orchestra.

00:11:01 - Sectionals and Limited Rehearsal Space

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Partial Transcript: V: So do you have the same um people in sectionals every week, or does it rotate different sections?

K: It rotates um strings, rotate first violin second violins together, lower strings together (mhmm), and woodwinds together, and some rehearsals all strings or some rehear we had rehearsal where we had all strings and woodwinds (mhmm) uh unfortunately we do not have the space to rehearse. Orchestra doesn’t have any space but Camp Concert Hall.

V: Except for Camp, and it’s hard to reserve Camp.

K: Right and Camp is so busy because Modlin Center is busy (mhmm), and we do not have any facility or to put full orchestra to rehearse.

V: Right. Do you find that one section needs more work than others?

K: Depends on score if it’s…

V: Ok, if it’s more string heavy it’s…

K: It’s like Saint-Saens is very difficult (mmk). It’s a monster of of symphony so strings really need a lot of work (mhmm). Like there was a piece when we played woodwinds had more work or brass (mhmm) players more work. So you always you’re dependent on what score you’re reading and performing so.

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia talks briefly about sectionals and reflects on the difficulty of finding space for the orchestra to rehearse.

Keywords: brass; sectionals; strings; violins; woodwinds

Subjects: Orchestra.; Violins.

00:12:08 - The Organ Symphony and Arabella

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Partial Transcript: V: Yeah, was tonight the first time with Dr. Bennett on organ?

K: This was her 3rd time with us.

V: Third time?

K: Yes.

V: Are you feeling comfortable two weeks out from the performance?

K: Yes, I’m confident.

V: Feeling good? Yeah.

K: Absolutely, and this is such a glorious piece, and we’re so honored to be able to perform this piece. And when we decided Dr. Bennett proposed to perform uh Organ Symphony, and we I we researched and chapel chapel wa-- was not available and only place to perform was Camp Concert Hall and to rent organ was $7000.

V: Oh woowww ooo

K: Something in that um $6000 altogether with moving and everything was so… then Michael Stumpf bass play principal bass player (mhmm) researched it and St. Paul’s Catholic Church was renovating their sanctuary and they said you can have our organ for free and organ’s name is Arabella, so Arabella is having outing in Camp Concert Hall and performing with us, and fif-- April fifth is the concert (yeah) and April sixth she is going back to renovated sanctuary.

V: WOW That’s amazing!

K: So it’s just incredible. For free!

V: For free! $7000 or zero!

K: For free! Zero.

V: Um.. I’ll take the zero one.

K: I know it’s incredible we just have to pay moving expenses (mhmm, yeah). So we we said we could not say no to that.

V: No yeah that’s an amazing time that’s crazy timing. But um yeah thank you so much for answering all my questions!

K: Thank you so much! I appreciate that!

Segment Synopsis: Kordzaia is honored to be able to perform Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony with Dr. Mary Beth Bennett on the organ, and he was very fortunate to be able to borrow Arabella, an organ, for free!

Keywords: orchestra; organ; symphony

Subjects: Orchestra.; Symphony.