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concerts - overview

BACKGROUND/PLAY-ALONG CONCEPT. Beginning in 1991, at the request of Charles Calmer, Education Director of the Cleveland Orchestra at that time, Dr. Woodson was asked to present his first play-along concert. Calmer's idea was to have audience members actively participate in a concert performance by making a simple instrument before or even during the concert and then play-along with the professional musicians on stage.

Other concerts followed with that orchestra and have continued to the present with many other orchestras around the country. A composition called "Shake, Rattle, and Roar," written for the Orchestra by a graduate student named Steve Smith, became the first of many orchestral compositions written for Dr. Woodson's simple instruments. Others include "Hello Family" by Phillip Koplow, and 'Concerto for Drumpet' by Eric Benjamin.

In the play-along approach, Dr. Woodson has carefully designed 'composite' instruments that produce considerable sound quality, that represent the main sound families of the orchestra, and are easy to make and play. He has devised a way of conducting the audience from the stage with a series of large sign boards and large conducting dots.

In the end, students are able to take away the experiences of listening to an orchestra and of playing along in a synchronized way. In addition they are led by a conductor and in certain sections have fun improvising.

ORCHESTRAS. This program concept was picked up by many orchestras in the 1990's, one being the National Symphony Orchestra, where 25,000 students made instruments for 10 concerts with the Orchestra. For these events, Dr. Woodson produced a video for schools describing how to make the instruments; it went out to 400 schools for teachers to help make the instruments in advance of concert. Students later came to the Kennedy Center to attend a National Symphony concert and during this event, took out their instrument and played along with the Orchestra on a specially commissioned work. Many other orchestras have hired Dr. Woodson to present his play-along family concerts.

KRONOS QUARTET. Another organization to incorporate play-along concerts was the Kronos Quartet. Beginning their relationship in 1995, Dr. Woodson has worked with the Quartet in many venues across the United States as well as in Europe reaching thousands of concert goers. For these concerts, he uses his Drumpet, a 5-in-one composite of several types of instruments that includes a drum, trumpet, string sound, and scraper.


1991 The Cleveland Orchestra

1993 The National Symphony Orchestra

1994 The Cleveland Orchestra

1994 The Colorado Springs Symphony

1995 The Canton Symphony Orchestra

1995 Los Angeles Philharmonic

1995 The Akron Symphony Orchestra

1996 Blue Ash Symphony

1998 Wyoming Symphony Orchestra

1998 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

1999 Columbus Symphony

2000 New World Symphony

2001 Tulsa Philharmonic

2001 Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

2001 Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony

2002 Carlson Quartet UCLA

2003 UCLA Woodwind Quintet UCLA

2004 UCLA World Quartet UCLA

2004 West Chester Symphony

2008 Kronos Quartet - Carnegie Hall

2013 Kronos Quartet - Lincoln Center

2014 Dallas Symphony Orchestra

For information contact Dr. Craig Woodson at 440-725-8767

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Copyright 2015 Craig Woodson. All rights reserved