Willkommen in Österreich! Welcome to Austria – home of great skiing, Lippizaner Stallions, and a huge variety of music which is so diverse, from yodeling (yes, I like “The Lonely Goatherd,” too!) to Alpine Punk to Death Metal (Belphegor, anyone?) to the Vienna Boys Choir (which sings on Sundays at the Habsburg Palace) to the Vienna Philharmonic.
Throughout its centuries-long history, music has always been a center point of Austria’s culture. Its capital city, Vienna, catapulted to an arts and cultural center beginning in the 1600s thanks to traffic brought on by trade along the Danube and an influx of travelers from near and far. It is in the 1800s however, that Austria had made itself known as the premier city in Europe for the highest caliber of music.
If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere
A couple of centuries earlier and Frank Sinatra would have sung those lyrics about Vienna.
Perhaps a lesser-known composer (at least to those of us who never actually studied music in school) is Vienna native, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. I first heard his music a few months ago on my local classical music station, Classical 101. I also have to admit, I had fun just saying his name. (Go ahead and say it out loud. See? Told you!)
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799)
Hometown: Vienna, Austria
Known for: Some of everything – concertos, symphonies, operas, chamber music and sacred music.
He was also a silvologist! Don’t worry if you had to look that up – I did, too. That just means that in addition to composing and playing the violin, Carl Ditters was also an environmentalist. He was a student of nature, forests and their ecosystems. Can you imagine a nicer setting for some of his music?
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf composed a little bit of everything, but he also did a lot of performing. He spent several occasions playing in a string quartet with one of his composition students, Johann Baptist Wanhal, Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hayden played 2nd violin, Ditters played 1st, Mozart played the viola and Wanhal the cello. How’s that for an impressive quartet?!
Unfortunately I don’t remember the pieces of his I heard on the radio, but I do remember that I enjoyed them all.
Keep in mind he wrote a little of everything, such as this beautiful Harp concerto, played by Jana Bouskova with the Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Vladislav Czarnecki conducting. It’s great fun to listen to, though I’d love to hear Jude Mollenhauer play it live with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (hint hint!)
How about his String Quartet No. 1 in D-Major. Can’t you just imagine seeing him with Haydn, Mozart and Wanhal? Wow!
Or Symphony No. 4 in F-Major – also known as “Die Rettung der Andromeda durch Perseus” (The Rescuing of Andromeda by Perseus).
He composed some rather wonderful music, don’t you agree? I hope you took a moment to listen to them – especially the harp concerto! My next profile will be later this month when we travel to Monaco!
My Dad and I had fun at the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra concert this past weekend. Thanks to my Peace Corps friend, Dorothy – who also happens to serve on the Sustaining Board with ProMusica, we were treated to a pair of complimentary tickets to last Saturday’s performance at the Southern Theatre.
Here’s what was on the program.
AUERBACH Eterniday (Homage to W.A .Mozart) for Bass Drum, Celesta, and Strings
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1
Under the direction of Maestro David Danzmayr – who is a fun and animated conductor to watch – the program started with an introduction to Ms. Lera Auerbach herself who was both the composer of the first piece and the soloist for the Mozart Piano concerto.
I don’t know of much music that’s been composed by women, so it was cool to hear her music. She seemed quite likable. I’m almost sorry I didn’t like her music at all. Auerbach and Maestro Danzmayr took a few minutes to discuss the first piece with the audience, called Eterniday, which was written as an homage to Mozart.
There was nothing in it – even after the explanation of the piece itself – that made me think of Mozart. It was a bunch of hard, dissonent, glissando-filled music that – according to a friend of mine who was also there on Saturday – just sounded angry. She couldn’t figure out how it was an homage to Mozart either.
That said, the concertmaster, Katherin McLin, was absolutely incredible and did an amazing job with the many solos throughout the piece. The principal double bass, cello and viola did some impressive playing, too, but the violin! Wow! I swear that piece had her playing the absolute full range of the instrument.
One interesting tidbit about this piece is that it was written twice. Auerbach had written it and was traveling when an electrical fire started in her music studio burning down everything from the piano to her newly-written manuscript. I don’t care if you like something or not. That’s just the worst thing that could happen to a composer. Imagine how much music has been lost throughout history because of fires or floods or other such disasters. It’s just heartbreaking.
Speaking of Mozart
The Mozart piece was nice – Piano Concerto #20. The soloist (also the composer of the 1st piece) had a rather heavy touch on the keys – like I do when I play that same piece, though quite honestly, I only play the second movement. The heavy touch is one thing I don’t really like about my own playing! I don’t know – maybe I’m pickier on this piece even knowing that she still played it better than I ever could, but it just didn’t seem like her performance was polished. It was as if playing the piano solo were an afterthought, a side gig to the performing of her own music that was played that same evening.
As for the cadenzas – bleck. I absolutely did not care for them. We were playing Mozart now – she already had a chance to show her 21st century tastes. They don’t belong in 18th century music.
We were in a concert hall, not an SCA event, so they didn’t fit. I did not like them one bit. It’s as if we were listening to this lovely 18th century music and then BAM! We were yanked right out of it for no reason. When I go to a concert to hear a piano concerto by Mozart, I expect to hear a piano concerto by Mozart. I know that traditionally, pianists can create their own cadenzas, but this was billed as Mozart, not Mozart with a twist of Boulez or Lindberg.
She did say that she added that cadenza, which had originally been written for another pianist, to be more introspective and meditative so she could give it a 21st century perspective.
My line of thinking is this: Please save the 21st century perspective for 21st century music.
Maybe I’m a purist – I like original Hershey’s chocolate and I think our National Anthem should be sung as written, but I also love classical era music. So – don’t mess with Mozart!
Which leads me to the Beethoven
This was the absolute best piece of the evening – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1! ProMusica musicians – you outdid yourselves. OMG – WOW!
Obviously his earliest symphony as it’s Symphony No 1, it wasn’t as obviously recognizable as Beethoven. It was kind of Beethoven before he was Beethoven. You could definitely pick out parts here and there that were reminiscent, as it were, of his later works, but this was music of a man perhaps still figuring out his own style and it was just gorgeous.
This symphony was the greatest part of the entire concert and Maestro Danzmayr had to have been having so much fun. He was bouncing around and dancing the whole time – totally getting into it. His enjoyment was infectious. I would love to have seen his face while he conducted! For my part, THIS piece deserved the standing ovation it received from a very enthusiastic audience!
WELL DONE ProMusica! Thank you for an evening of great music!
Our local classical music station here in Columbus, Ohio, Classical 101 (WOSA 101.1), is currently holding its spring fund drive to raise money for operations and the programming it provides to the listeners here and all over.
Classical 101 is public radio. It survives only thanks to the financial support of its listeners. Our local symphony survives the same way – 70% of its operations are financed by donations. Classical 101 however, doesn’t have that 30% funded by ticket sales. For some reason, they don’t sell tickets to the public to watch the on-air personalities, or hosts, while they’re actually on air! :-) That means, it’s up to us to keep them in business. It’s up to us to keep the music on our radios.
Sure we can’t buy tickets to see them on the job, (perhaps they like it that way?!) but we here in Columbus still have plenty of opportunities to see them live and in person, though I’ve only seen three of the four so far. These are fun people and they’re super smart. They know so very much about classical music. I learn a ton while listening!
* Christopher Purdy – who always talks to us at his pre-concert chats before Columbus Symphony Orchestra concerts and who I will see again a week from Saturday for Mozart’s Requiem with the CSO
* Boyce Lancaster who talks to us after ProMusica Chamber Orchestra concerts and – who I will see again this Saturday at the Southern Theatre after I see their concert with Beethoven Symphony No 1 and a Mozart Piano Concerto (No 20).
These chats before and after concerts last about a half hour or so – give or take – and all members of the audience who attend are most welcome to ask questions or just sit back and enjoy. Inevitably, humor is added in as well. Heck – even my (then 10-year old) nephew commented that he really enjoyed it and got a lot out of one of Mr. Purdy’s pre-concert chats! It’s always just enough to teach us something about the composer and the music so we all have a better appreciation of what we’re about to hear.
That’s what Classical 101 does for us. They play classical music all day every day – that’s their tag line. The actual live times though are, I think, during the week / during the day – from 6am through the Symphony at 7 with John Rittmeyer. They play an opera every Saturday afternoon, American and guitar music on Saturday nights and replay CSO and Ohio State University concerts on Sunday afternoons. Of course, Sundays always start with Sunday Baroque. Love that! Sunday nights are filled with organ music as well as Musica Sacra – sacred church music written through the centuries. (That’s how I discovered William Byrd several years back – beautiful music!) Heck – they even take requests on Fridays AND guarantee us some Mozart every day during the week at 12 noon for the Amadeus Deli.
You just can’t go wrong with Mozart!
Support them if you can
I’m a sustaining donor in that I’m set up to automatically donate $5 to them every month. See? You don’t have to donate a huge amount. (though I’m sure they won’t turn it down) You’re welcome to call in and donate whatever you want and / or whatever you can afford. It’s entirely up to you and it’s all appreciated! And it all adds up! If every listener were to jump in with $5, they’d probably be set! Every listener doesn’t call in – only a few call in. It’s tough.
I listen to Classical 101 via my iTunes radio listing on my laptop as well as on my phone with their app. You can download it from here.
Remember when the jazz station in town changed its format to 80s music? Which has since changed a bit beyond that as well? Well – that change caused us to lose our only jazz station in town. (That I know of at this stage) Sure you can get a little jazz on Sundays on NPR, but you’re pretty much on your own after that. 103.5 / 104.3 – two stations – do they both have to be the same? Couldn’t one at least be jazz? That’s why you see, in the above picture, that my second station there is a jazz station – out of Toronto. Shouldn’t we have a station here in Columbus?
Don’t let something like that happen to our classical music!
You can support Classical 101 by calling them during the day at 866-485-1011 or by placing a donation online. So many cities don’t have what we have. Please join me in supporting this great music! :-)
Today I registered for the Race for the Cure 5K which will be run here in Columbus on Saturday, May 17. I was looking for a 5K in May and my friend at work, Ginger Clark – who lost her sister to breast cancer – was already planning to walk it. Breast cancer stinks, so why not join in and show some support?
The site asks all registrants to help raise money – like so many 5Ks. So – I have a fundraising page. I’m not big on fundraising, so I set my goal at the suggested amount of $100.
I lost a cousin to breast cancer. A very good friend of mine from college fought a damn good fight for the longest time. Another friend of mine is going through chemo and is fighting the good fight right now.
Another knitting friend of mine, Dee, fought and actually won.
My friend, Sandra, who is fighting right now will join Dee in kicking its butt. That’s the plan!
If you would like to donate to help me reach the goal I’ve set (or go well beyond it – that’s fine, too!) Please click here!
And they’re off
For the racing portion of this, I won’t be walking with my coworker, but I’ll meet her at the end. I plan to fast walk/jog. Hopefully, by mid-May, I’ll be able to jog more than I walk – especially since I plan to jog the whole 5K I’ll be in on June 7. So – wish me luck!
Benvenuto in Italia! Welcome to Italy! My passport series continues by heading south from Switzerland into the beautiful country of Italy where good food, good music and good shopping abound! It’s also the home to the majority of the musical terms we use today.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
Hometown: Lesi, Italy (SE of San Marino)
Played: Violin and Organ
Known for: Comic operas and sacred music
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was a composer in Italy who wrote music at the end of the baroque era, beginning of the classical era of music. As you can see by the dates next to his name above, he, like so many other composers – Purcell, Mozart, Shubert, Bizet, Gershwin – died at a very young age. In his case, of TB at just 26 years of age.
Though his life was far too short, we were fortunately left with some amazing music!
Pergolesi was probably best known for writing his comic operas, also known as opera buffas.
During a time in Paris when his opera Il Prigionier Superbo was performed, it is said to have prompted the Guerre des Bouffons, or war of the comic actors – i.e. ongoing arguments between supporters of opera buffa and serious opera as to which style should continue to be performed. Pergolesi was held in high esteem and did a little of both, though within Il Prigionier Superbo – and perhaps what started it all – was an opera buffa intermezzo in two acts called La Serva Padrona, The Servant Mistress, which became quite a success in its own right.
Who knows if Pergolesi was playing both sides of the fence at the time but it seems the comic operas won out as he wrote a handful more, all but one of which premiered in Naples and were quite successful. Below is a video of La Serva Padrona. Take a moment to watch some of it. It’s a lot of fun and while I’m not a huge fan of opera, it had me laughing within the first minute or so. Gotta love a good comedy!
In addition to his comedic music, Pergolesi also wrote sacred music for the church. He was born in Lesi, Italy which, at the time, was considered part of the Papal state, under the direct rule of the Pope. (now part of the province of Ancona) Knowing that, you can imagine how the church could easily have influenced what he wrote.
Of course, a good commission by the Confraternità dei Cavalieri di San Luigi di Palazzo never hurts. What is probably his most popular work, Stabat Mater (1736) is a piece originally commissioned as music for Good Friday in honor of the Virgin Mary.
I’ve included two versions of the Quando Corpus Morietur and Amen here, but for the first, it’s probably best if you just hit play and then lean back, close your eyes and enjoy. It’s a gorgeous piece with a small chamber ensemble accompanying a choir along with a soprano and mezzo-soprano.
And because I live in Columbus, Ohio, here’s a version of the Stabat Mater from just a couple of years ago by the Columbus International Choir that I think is just wonderful.
So? What did you think? Che bellissima!
Thanks for reading this and hopefully treating yourself to some new opera and choral works. What better way to have a great day but by listening to wonderful music. Next time, I’ll be talking about the Austrian composer Ignaz Pleyel. See you then!
Welcome to Switzerland – land of great skiing, yodeling, neutrality, chocolate and gorgeous mountains. (I highly recommend taking a train ride through the Alps at sunset. It’s absolutely breathtaking!)
It’s also land to the latest composer in my passport series: Heinrich Sutermeister. He’s a 20th century composer who is probably best known for his operas and choral works.
Heinrich Sutermeister (1910-1995)
Hometown: Feuerthalen (near Zurich) Switzerland
Alma Mater: Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst (State Academy of Music), Munich, Germany
Known for: Operas, choral pieces
Sutermeister studied in Munich under Carl Orff (Carmina Burana) whose music influenced him throughout his life. Early in his musical career, he had a one-year apprenticeship at the Berne City Theatre. It’s perhaps thanks to his time there that he gained a lot of support by way of several commissions and play time on the Berne Radio.
I love that he even made it onto a Swiss postage stamp!
This is a performance of his Capriccio for unaccompanied Clarinet in A (1947). I especially like the playful section about a minute and a half in. It just sounds fun to me. There are other fun parts, too – particularly around the 4-minute mark. Take a listen and enjoy!
I hope you’ll listen to this lovely choral piece, Schilflieder, sung by the German a cappella group, Quartonal. It’s a relaxing piece that is beautifully sung. I don’t understand a word since my German really stinks, but regardless of how much you do or do not understand, it’s worth listening to the entire 5-1/2 minutes.
Sutermeister originally wrote works for the radio, but later turned to television opera, loosely converting stories such as Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco to small scale operas.
He also wrote the libretto and music for a two-act opera Romeo and Julia after Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The video below allows you to listen to some excerpts from that particular opera.
Thanks for reading this! I hope you were able to take some time to listen to Sutermeister’s music and get to know him a little better like I did. Prior to starting this series, I’d never heard of him before, so I’m excited to try something new.
The next composer I’ll be writing about is from Italy: Giovanni Pergolesi.
Last fall, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra put on its first Happy Hour Concert at the Ohio Theatre downtown. Welcoming all with free admission and even free appetizers, the CSO offered up some wonderful, mid-week concerts with the goal of bringing in new concert-goers right after work or who might not otherwise be able to enjoy a concert over the weekend.
Kudos to CSO marketing because these concerts are a fantastic idea for which they deserve nothing but praise. Not only do they present it in a far more informal setting, but they also get to introduce amazing music to a whole new audience. It brings in all kind of people to those dressed up for a fancy night out to people with baggy pants and ball caps. Oh yeah – and everything in between as well!
I heard that they were expecting 3-400 people at the first concert and ended up welcoming nearly 1,200! WOW! I’m sure the second concert had just as many because the best seats filled up quickly! Putting on any concert – especially a free one – isn’t easy. And I’m sure it certainly doesn’t come cheap which is why it’s so important to get the community involved. Fortunately, the CSO is on top of that. And, though more are always welcome, there are people and businesses out there doing exactly that: getting involved.
Enter Watershed Distillery.
Watershed Distillery is a locally owned and operated distillery of world-class spirits right here in Columbus. Located in Grandview (Columbus’ best neighborhood), it was founded in 2010 by owners Greg Lehman and Dave Rigo who liked the concept of locally owned and produced spirits. With that in mind, they put their heads together to make that a reality. Seven years later, they have Watershed Distillery – home to Vodka, Bourbon and two kinds of Gin.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave Rigo between tours to talk about Watershed Distillery and its support of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Here’s our conversation.
How did you end up supporting the Happy Hour Concerts? The CSO contacted us about happy hour concerts. It’s the right thing to do – to support the arts. We have an upscale brand and in our minds, we think that’s a good fit for the CSO.
Why support the Symphony? I personally think that with a 2 & 3-year old, there are so many things – whether its music or painting – that…it just is part of a cultural thing you have to have in order to balance out with everything else in the world. It makes you a better, well-rounded person. There’s so much that is a distraction (e.g. Smart phones) it’s nice to see someone more creative than me, to see what they’re able to produce. We can sit back and relax to forget about the world we live in sometimes.
Did you attend concerts prior to the Happy Hour Concerts? Oh yeah.
What are your thoughts on the success of these concerts? Wow! We’d like to take some of the credit, but we didn’t think we’d have so many people. We obviously love the exposure to a totally different customer base that we sometimes don’t get in front of, so it’s a win-win. In talking to the CSO, they said they’d like to start appealing to a younger demographic. We’re a younger brand and we already appeal to the young professional.
Is this something you’ll continue into next season? Yeah – I think so! We’ve got one more left this year. If they ask us to be a part of it again, we’ll definitely do it.
So who’s your favorite composer? No idea! I like going, but, by no means am I able to answer that question! I could listen to anything – such a wide range of music. Country, rap, rock and everything in between! With young kids, I’ve been listening to a lot of Frozen lately! Rock / Grunge in high school to Country in college because the truck I had for my landscaping job would only get one station and that was country!
Take a tour
Prior to the first Happy Hour concert, I’d never heard of Watershed before, despite the fact that I live walking distance from their distillery! That’s OK – I’m pretty much a teetotaler, so that’s not too surprising. That said, I was interested in learning more about them. Fortunately that was made easy because they offer tours! For $10, you can take a tour and learn all about the process as well as sample each of the four spirits they make. Either Greg or Dave will talk about the distilling process, show you around, answer any questions you may have and then treat you to a tasting at the end. While you’re there, pick up a bottle or two. I took my tour before Christmas, so I know they make great gifts!
The next Happy Hour concert is this Wednesday, March 26 at the Ohio theatre at 6:30 pm. (Bar opens at 5:30 pm!). Look for Greg and Dave while you’re there!
Watershed Distillery products can be found in 700 bars and restaurants all over Ohio as well as in six other states! To learn more about Watershed Distillery and their world-class spirits, please visit their website and like them on Facebook. To read the rest of my interview with Dave as well as a Cliff’s Notes version of distilling (and more pictures!), check out my post Grandview: Watershed Distillery on my blog, Itinerant Knitter.
Last summer, after learning that my friend, Holly Mulcahy, had been selected to be the Concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, I promised her that I’d do whatever I could to make it down there at least once to hear her play. So I looked to see what was on the schedule. There were lots of concerts to choose from – Masterworks, concerts at the VW plant (which would be awesome since I drive a Jetta!) and Chamber music concerts.
My favorite music is anything Beethoven and earlier, so I found a great Chamber concert that featured Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Perfect! Also on the program were a flute trio (my mom would have loved it!), Casterede’s Flutes en Vacances and a Trumpet Concerto by Vivaldi. I wasn’t familiar with the Casterede piece, but with classical and baroque on the same program? I was totally set.
I arrived at the Sheraton Read Ballroom and bought my ticket. Greeting us at the door was Executive Director, Molly Sasse. We’d Emailed a few times before so it was great to meet her in person. It was funny because I introduced myself and after the briefest of hesitations, she smiled really big and said – “oh – you’re the Itinerant Knitter!” Yep – that’s me! Had to giggle at that!
She immediately told me she wanted to introduce me to someone and walked me into the ballroom where the concert was to be performed. She introduced me to one of the donors, Mr. Franklin McCallie, and told him he needed to take me under his wings because I’d traveled all the way to Chattanooga from Columbus, OH! Thanks, Molly! Mr. McCallie was a super nice guy and a lot of fun to talk to! I had the pleasure of meeting his wife, too – along with a handful of other people – a short while later.
Hall of Mirrors
Now, let me tell you about the setting. Imagine walking into a large, white ballroom with walls covered with huge mirrors reflecting the sparkle of the silver highlights and detailed molding. Located in the center were the chairs set up for the orchestra. Fanning out from each side of the orchestra were seats for the patrons. It was beautiful!
I was excited to finally be able to hear the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra perform! I’m quite happy to say they did not disappoint! Under the direction of Music Director, Kayoko Dan, the CSO-TN played the following were three pieces:
I wasn’t already familiar with the Casterede piece, but I enjoyed listening to it. It’s a flute trio played by Principal flautist, Kristen Holritz, Kayoko Dan and Nora Kile. As Kristen told us during her introduction, it was a happy piece. After all – it’s called Flutes on Vacation. You can’t go wrong! In four parts, Pastorales, Joyeuses, Reveuses and Legeres, (Pastoral, Joyous, Dreamy, Light) the piece was a happy, upbeat tune that was beautifully played.
The concert actually opened with the Vivaldi Concerto in C major for 2 Trumpets and Strings, RV 537. Sure I chose this weekend’s concert because of the Mozart, but this was clearly my favorite piece of the whole day. Trumpet players Brian Roberts and Principal David Hobbs did a magnificent job with this piece. I just loved it – especially the third movement, the Allegro. Wow! I was taken aback at the clarity in their tone as it was so crisp and clear. I seriously could have listened to this about three more times as encores, it was so amazingly well-played. Well done!
Intermission was fun because I was introduced to a handful of musicians and donors. I was really given the star treatment while I was there!
The 2nd half of the program was dedicated to the Mozart piece: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550. One of two minor symphonies that Mozart wrote, (the other’s being his Symphony No. 25 – listen to the opening of Amadeus – you’ll recognize it!) this is probably my favorite of the two, though they’re both terrific.
It was for this piece that I really wish the concert set up were different. I was sitting off to the side of the orchestra and not in front of it, so the sound wasn’t as well-blended as I would have liked, but all things considered though, it sounded great and definitely made me happy! I probably had this goofy grin on my face the whole time, too. It was just so nice to get lost in the music – especially of my favorite composer! That’s why we go to concerts – to kick back, relax and enjoy fabulous music by wonderfully talented musicians.
Fortunately, there was no shortage of talent at this concert. The Mozart piece was just lovely. It started with all the intensity you’d expect from the Molto Allegro and then calmed down for the Andante. Things started ramping up for the Menuetto, but Maestro Dan saved the best part for last. The Allegro Assai was exciting! Remember the goofy grin I had? This movement is why I had it. What a great ending! Sure it’s the last movement – of course it’s the end – but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Ok – along with the three additional playings of the Vivaldi Trumpet concerto for my handpicked encore, perhaps they can add in the Allegro Assai movement of the Mozart? Symphonies take requests, right?
Well – whether or not they do, it was a wonderful concert. I’m so glad I chose this one. Hmm…so which concert should I choose for next year’s road trip to Chattanooga? Yo-Yo Ma? OK – that would be incredible. Tribute to Boston Pops? Pirates of Penzance in November? I missed it here in Columbus. Basically Baroque Chamber concert in January? Jennifer Higdon’s violin concerto in March?
So many concerts. So little time.
Post-concert Mexican food
During my trip to Tennessee, I somehow ended up eating at three different Mexican restaurants. I thought Tennessee was known for its barbecued ribs or something. Who knew it had so much delicious Mexican food? Mas Tacos Por favor in Nashville on my way down and Taqueria Jalisco (Great tacos!) with Kayoko on Friday before going to the Aquarium and now Poblanos with more fun musicians! Oh well – last time I went to Mexico, I had Chinese food at a place called Palacio Hunan. Go figure. (It was really good) Anyway, after the concert I hung out with some of the musicians for some relaxing down time. We talked about Josh’s PhD (My offer to proof your paper still stands, Josh! – signed the language/grammar geek from Ohio!), all sorts of music and fundraising.
What fun people. I’m so glad I had a chance to meet them. It was interesting getting their take on the challenges of fundraising. I wish I could do more to help out (Why yes – I do love the thought of working in the non-profit world. Someday!!) though attending concerts is important – and obviously my favorite part. That said, as I know from reading annual reports here in Columbus, ticket sales account for about 30-40% (TOPS!) of an orchestra’s annual budget. There’s a lot of talent in our cities which is why it’s so important that we support them to ensure their continued existence. The arts, good music, professional orchestras are an integral part of our culture and helping out a great organization like the Chattanooga Symphony takes about 2-3 minutes. Seriously – click here and see for yourself how insanely easy it is.
Anyway, I couldn’t have had a nicer day! I had a wonderful day full of great music and great company. Thank you for your hospitality, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra! I look forward to seeing and hearing you again!
It’s Holly Mulcahy’s fault, I mean, * thanks to * Holly Mulcahy that I went to the Rite of Spring concert here in Columbus because she was the guest concertmaster for that performance. Yes – because of her, Stravinsky is growing on me. But – in case you missed it here in Columbus – which was really cool because the dancers of Ballet Met Columbus performed to it as well – you should plan a trip to Chattanooga next month. On April 24, the CSO-TN will be performing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Check it out!
A friend posted this on Facebook and I couldn’t resist sharing this with you. It’ll make you smile, I promise you!
This is the Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Rainer Hersch at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
See? I told you you’d smile! :-)
Back in January, I gave my readers a quick lesson in Italian because so many musical terms are indeed Italian. For some reason, Italy got the jump on everyone and ended up with a monopoly in musical lingo. Totally fine – it all sounds good, Italy has produced some fabulous music and the country itself is gorgeous.
I thought I’d go a little more specific with you today. Here in Columbus, our classical music station, Classical 101, broadcasts a complete opera each and every Saturday afternoon. Likewise we can view opera performances at the Met on the large screen at area movie theaters.
What goes into making an opera? Who makes up the story? Where does it all come from? Well like a good movie, many operas come from existing stories or plays.
Like any large production, there are many people involved in the making of an opera. With movies, we have directors, actors, crew, editors, you name it. With operas, there are composers, instrumental musicians, crew, costume designers, and the actors / singers on stage. All that goes without saying, but who writes it? We know where the music comes from, but who writes the opera’s story itself?
The best way I could describe a story on which an opera is based is to equate it to an adapted screen play.
In this year’s Oscars, John Ridley won the award for best adapted screenplay. He took the book 12 Years a Slave, originally written by Solomon Northrup, and converted it to a screen play for a movie.
He’s the librettist of modern-day movie productions. That’s what a librettist does: converts an already-existing story into a production that can be performed on stage. The composer, then sets all that to music.
In classical music, in particular with operas, one often hears the word “libretto.” Think of this as the script.
li·bret·to - noun \lə-ˈbre-(ˌ)tō\ : the words of an opera or musical
According to Merriam Webster, a libretto is defined as follows.
The text of a work (as an opera) for the musical theater
Pierre Beaumarchais, who, in addition to being a playwright, was also an inventor, spy and arms dealer, wrote a series of plays featuring the character Figaro. Though controversial, these plays were picked up by composers who worked with librettists to turn them into operas for the stage. Two main examples are by Rossini and Mozart.
The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini - libretto by Cesare Sterbini
The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Rossini and Mozart were great at the music part of it, but needed some help with story itself. That’s where Sterbini and da Ponte came in.
In more modern times, the great American composer, George Gershwin collaborated with his brother, Ira Gershwin, on writing such great songs as “I Got Rhythm”, “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Embraceable You.” And while George wrote the music, Ira was the librettist for the opera Porgy and Bess – considered one of the most important 20th century operas written.
These operas would not have been possible without the script – made possible by the talented librettists. Sure the composer gets all the credit, but until he has a story, he has nothing to set to music. Just like with modern-day movies, the actors and the directors are those who get noticed and who are therefore well-known.
Every performance – symphony, movie or opera – is a collaborative effort with an incredible amount of work put in both in advance and behind the scenes during a performance. As patrons we typically just see the finished product, but there’s definitely far more to the creative process! Try to think of that the next time you head out to a concert or movie.