Skip to main content

Upcoming Concert

This weekend in South Bend we finally open our official season with James Beckel's Toccata for Orchestra, the Korngold Violin Concerto, and Brahms Symphony No. 1.  And I feel pretty good about this program.

Brahms 1 remains one of my very favorite orchestral works.  It has everything - fatefully tolling tympani, gorgeous oboe, horn, and violin solos, a deeply joyful major key string chorale melody, and a rock solid ending that leaves no doubt about when the audience should applaud.  I played this piece for the first time in Youth Orchestra in high school, and I never get tired of it. 

It's one of those warhorses that is truly overplayed, though.  I have only been with South Bend for 5 years, and I know I have performed it here at least once before.  There is so much great repertoire out there, and I am hard-pressed to explain why we would repeat a piece this soon.   Do people really want to hear the same pieces over and over again?  Across America, orchestras are struggling to maintain their aging audiences and reach out to younger people, who rightly see the symphony as a museum piece.  Why not perform newer works, contribute to the development of today's composers, and give support to local musicians?

Fortunately, in this case our music director has in fact done this.  The Toccata for Orchestra is a relatively new, relatively local work, composed in 2007 by James Beckel, Jr, a trombonist and composer from Indianapolis. It is lively, fun, and should be an enjoyable treat even for the Brahms lovers.  The Korngold Violin Concerto is beautiful and romantic, but has some edgy moments, and is certainly not nearly so commonly played as many other concerti.  I've never done it before, myself, and am looking forward to it quite a lot. 

Hopefully there is something for everyone on this concert - why not come and check us out if you live in the area?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Generosity in Programming

I had the most interesting conversations with a few of my students after my first recital performance last weekend.  One thanked me for exposing her to so many interesting new pieces that she had never heard before.  One admitted unabashedly that his favorites were the familiar ones, the ones he already knew from his previous listening.  And both of these observations rang true to me.

See, I LOVE learning new music.  I really enjoy digging into a piece and breaking through an unfamiliar harmonic language to get to the depths of it.  To discover the composer's intention, and to find the universal emotion or experience at the heart of the work, and then to communicate that meaning back out to an audience.  This challenge is fun for me, and I think I do it well.

I have to be fair, though.  By the time I have put that kind of work into a new piece, it's not new to me anymore.  By the time I get it to the recital stage, it's an old friend.  I find great pleasure in performing i…

Self-Talk

When we started the opera cycle (An American Dream, showing at the Harris Theater tonight and Sunday afternoon), the four woodwinds were sitting stacked in a rehearsal room.  In other words, the flute to my right, the bassoon behind me, the clarinet behind the flute, just like in the orchestra.  And it was OK.  We were fairly close together, the room was resonant, and we were working on orchestral details.  But when we moved into the pit, this seating felt VERY isolating.  The four of us were far apart, on two different levels, the wall was right next to me, and intonation and ensemble were very much more difficult.  Our entrances and releases were not clean together, and because we had to balance to the singers on stage, I found my playing getting more and more tentative.  Don't be too loud, don't come in early before the clarinet, keep everything in the box, try to lead the entrances but stay in the texture... And it felt like everything that was not quite great was my fault…