Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sinfonia Concert No. 1

Shostakovich - Jazz Suite No. 1

This short piece is a comedic mash of early 20th century musical styles, but with that special flair that Dmitri is know for. What really makes the piece is the use of Hawaiian guitar. On keyboard!

Stravinsky - Violin Concerto in D

I was unfamiliar with this work until this concert cycle. But, despite the odd mixture of rhythms and thematic ideas, Shih-Kai Lin made me open my mind to the new compositions.

Ravel - Mother Goose Suite

This piece, originally written for four hand piano for the amusement of children, has been brilliantly orchestrated to show off the intricate details in the score. The contrabasson, emulating the Beast, converses with the Beauty, as the clarinet, before the magic of the violin solo breaks the enchantment.

Gershwin - An American in Paris

What more can I say. It is a standard in the American symphonic literature and it has car horns. That are now in tune.

I am so proud of my orchestra. I relished the applause, although I did little more than shuffle names on paper and make a few announcements.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Music that moves you

Since my last post I have:

  • Assisted in checking in the nearly 750 students for the Aspen Festival.
  • Meet up with seven of my old friends from my two years at the NRO.
  • Worked until 1am Monday morning to get version one of my orchestra's roster.
  • Refined the above roster 5 more times to finally get an orchestra.
  • Enjoyed wine with the librarians.
  • Managed my first rehearsal with Maestro Xian Zhang, to a wonderful success.

And I still am worried that I will be a failure as a manager. It is tough to wield the power of a manager when you are sweating before a sea of people with large, expensive instruments. So intimidating, but then again, that is why I am in this fellowship.... to beat down this fear and conquer it.

But, something amazing did happen today. After all my "work" was done, I stopped into the Academy of Conducting orchestra, where tomorrow's conductor work on their baton skills today. I was called over to sit with me fellow Fellow to enjoy the reading of Tchaik 5. And suddenly I was sitting IN the orchestra, right at the back of the 2nd violins. Now, this may not sound like anything special to most of you, but check this out from a vocalist point of view. I have never experienced being in the center of a body of individuals creating instrumental sound, so it was electric to just be there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I want Carl Kasell's voice on my home answering machine

This post was inspired while I was driving across the Great Plains, with nothing but NPR stations and my podcasts on my iPod. This one's for you, Carl.

I remember how I got hooked on NPR. After the many afternoons of catching All Things Considered on my drive home, I actually started paying attention to the programs that were playing on the weekends. It was after a long week full of car problems that I tuned into, quite serendipitously, to Car Talk. With the witty banter between Click and Clack, and the knack for more jokes than actually car advice, I began to fall in love with the allure of radio broadcasting.

Over the years since my first discovery, I have become a true NPR junkie. I would totally classify myself with the NPR brand (as described in a recent Weekend America report). The throaty voice of Diane Rehm cuts through my car to provide me with great thinking points before I even step in the door at work. A recent program of Fresh Air interviewed the creative force behind the new comedy "Knocked Up," which was provided much amusement while Kansas was passing by. The ever impressive Garrison Keillor plainly states how life is in a small, Minnesota town, which could be a sister city to my own birthplace. And then there Ira Glass, who every week brings to life stories of the common person, with universal themes that echo to the depths of my soul, and provide a great soundtrack while I work out.

My favorite show, however, is one that got me several stares when I shouted and jumped outta my seat while on I-70 through Missouri. When heard that Mo Rocca was a panelist on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, I was extremely happy. A news show that is part information, part humor and all liberal is perfect for me.

NPR is wonderful, so please support your local station. The same individuals who listen to NPR are those who also are quite apt to patronize local performing arts, so by supporting the radio shows you enjoy, you are feeding the future symphony audience.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Let's Dance

This entry has been sitting on my mental white board for the past month, so I finally have decided that it was time to commit it to electronic paper.

For the last show this season of the Cincinnati Ballet, one of the pieces they performed was “Baker’s Dozen” by Twyla Tharp. This piece, set to the sound of flowing jazz music, was a wonderful mesh of classic dance steps with modern motions. Okay, I fully admit it, I cannot talk about dance. But, after 20 months with the ballet, I developed an admiration for it, a desire to learn more about it, and to be entertained by it in the future. But, what fascinated me about this piece was how I observed it go from being just a few individuals learning a set of moves into a 12 individuals moving in a cohesive force onstage.

During one of my lunch hour’s, I took time to lean in the entrance of the Mickey Jarson Kaplan Studio Theatre and observe this evolution. Now, in ballet the modus operandi comes in the form of a reperteur. This individual was attached to the originally choreographer in some fashion. This could either be a former dancer or a person specifically trained and licensed to set, or train, the dance. This reperteur will travel to a company and work directly with the dancers to set a piece. Sometimes films and videos are sent to the company beforehand to get the company a general idea about the steps and movements, with the reperteur only coming in the week before to perform any clean up and resolve spacing issues.

This piece must have been fun to set. Just to watch the energy, the stopping and starting of various flailing motions and the large smiles on the dancers faces as the overcame tumbles and missteps to get the piece just right.

Now, I have often though of having a musicologist on the staff of a symphony could provide a great wealth of knowledge. From program notes, to performance practice to just having another musical mind with which to engage the more active and educated patrons, the person would have a lot of work in my orchestra structure.

Dr. J, would you come work for me?

Monday, June 04, 2007

I've finally stopped moving

After traveling for a good portion of a week, I have finally made out to Aspen, Coloardo, Home of Aspen Music Festival and School and site of my first assignment for the Fellowship.

Over the next few days, we (the Fellows) will have orientation about our next year, develop learning objectives for ourselves and get to know our place within the Aspen organization.

I have a few updates that will be posted in the comming days, as soon as I can get online at our condos.

Until then, just know that I am safe, tired and do not want to get behind the wheel of my car for a good, long while.