YAKIMA, Wash. -- What’s in a crescendo: that “V” turned on its side, that distinctive sign from elementary school math that also appears in written music?
Making its first appearance in the late 1700s, the crescendo’s origins are Italian and Latin and mean “increasing” or “growing.” The crescendo, written as a word or noted as a symbol (), was incorporated into music as a way for composers to communicate that a music passage should gradually increase in loudness over time. As such, it became part of the road map that is embedded within a piece of music that tells musicians not only what notes to play, but how to play them.
A crescendo can occur over just a few measures of music, building sound and effect quickly, or it can be extended over many measures and so develop excitement and anticipation as the listener becomes part of the sound-building experience.
A familiar example of the latter is Ravel’s “Bolero” — or, for those who attended last April’s “When In Rome” program, the final movement of Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” In both, the music begins with a simple, quiet idea that returns time and time again, each instance bringing new layers of harmony and counterpoint, each time changing slightly its meaning and increasing its impact along with its volume.
In the spirit of developing and building over time, the essence of the crescendo, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra established the Crescendo Club this season for its student subscribers. Student subscribers are automatically part of the Crescendo Club and have unique opportunities each season to connect with the orchestra, Maestro Lawrence Golan and more.
While students have been attending the YSO since it started, it is only since the 2016-17 season that they have had their own student subscription rate. Students of all ages, preschool through graduate school, may attend the full symphony season of 11 concerts for only $55. They also may attend the six-concert classical series for $30 or the five-concert pops series for $25.
The student subscription rate has made it possible for more students to attend the symphony and for more families to make symphony attendance something they do regularly together. It has created the opportunity for more shared experiences through live orchestral music and lots of memory- making along the way.
What’s in a crescendo? Like the symbol () itself, which starts with a point and has an open end, it is a story-in-the-making, growing and developing in impact and expressive capacity over time.
• This column was written by Yakima Symphony Orchestra staff. Learn more at www.ysomusic.org.