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Students at the Paris National Conservatory of Music are engaged in the serious business of making music on a daily basis. However, their routine of dedicated practice and preparation moved to another level during a special set of master classes  led by musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during a stop on the current Europe Tour 2020.

Organized by the CSO’s Negaunee Music Institute, with support from colleagues at the National Conservatory, the CSO musicians leading the classes included Concertmaster Robert Chen, Principal Percussion Cynthia Yeh, Principal Flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, Principal Trumpet Esteban Batallán and trombone Michael Mulcahy.

Occurring just hours before the CSO’s sold-out concert Jan. 17 at the Philharmonie de Paris, students and the CSO coaches quickly got to work, sharing ideas and interpretations about musical selections ranging from the signature trumpet solo in Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition to flute solos in Brahms’ symphonies to a glockenspiel solo from Mozart’s The Magic Flute to  Ysaÿe’s virtuosic Violin Sonata No. 5 (Danse rusticana).

The young musicians played with precision and style, but what quickly emerged from the sessions was an emphasis on using each instrument to sing the melodic line and communicate the ideas within the heart of the music with relaxed confidence. In fact, there was singing in each studio from percussion to violin, with the CSO musicians demonstrating their ideas for developing this special quality in the music.

First-year trumpet student Min Choi expressed her thanks for the opportunity: “It was a great opportunity to learn that I can express a music in a more easy way when I play it.”

Over all, it was an afternoon of connection and communication through music that neither students or coaches will soon forget.

For more coverage, go to the tour page on, Sounds and Stories’ CSO on Tour category, the CSO’s Facebook page and other social media outlets, including Twitter and Instagram.

TOP: Principal Flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson offers some pointers during a master class in Paris. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2020