Tag Archives: Ohio

Bring on the Horns!

French horn week starts on Monday, so I thought I’d get you ready for what’s to come! Let the sounding of the horns begin!

I couldn’t resist putting that in there, especially since the French horn originally got its start as a hunting horn!

Next week’s going to be a lot of fun because – thanks very much to the gracious help and hospitality of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s horn players – I’m going to share what I’ve learned about their wonderful instruments.

I’m also going to introduce you to the CSO’s French horn players themselves, so you can get to know the real people behind some of the beautiful music we all enjoy at concerts.

Or that you will soon enjoy if you’re working on becoming a CSO first timer!

Here’s the plan for next week: 

We’re going to start by talking about the French horn itself – where it came from, what people think, some trivia and basics about this beautiful instrument. When I asked some friends to tell me what they thought when they heard someone say “French horn”, the first things I heard about were pastries and cocktails, so by all means – I’m including those, too, but the real focus is on the music.

Starting later on Monday morning, we’re going to meet our first – and newest – horn player, Erin Lano. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to meet the rest of the section: Adam Koch, Julia Rose and Principal, Gene Standley. Finally on Friday, we’re going to get into the more serious side of things and learn their thoughts on leadership and where they hope to see the orchestra in the next few years. Naturally, I’ll include some great music for you to try!


Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes!: Who said you should never eyeball a horn player? Find out on Monday!

 Erin Lano: Ask her about Chloe!


Adam Koch: Invite him to dinner – as the chef!


Julia Rose: Has a new baby girl!


Gene Standley: Great vinyl collection!


Soul of the Orchestra: Bringing it all together – thoughts on and samples of great music, hopes for the future

Interspersed throughout the week will be comments from conductors, professors and even the next generation of horn players, so I hope you’ll join us next week. I especially hope you’ll let me know what you think by leaving comments and sharing this with your friends as well.

And on a side note, no pun intended…

I don’t work for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra nor do I work in any part of the music industry. I just love music and have been fortunate enough to have gotten a lot of cooperation needed to be able to put all this together. My hope is that you’ll want to get to know these amazing musicians as well as learn a bit more about the music that inspires them to dedicate their lives to creating and communicating to us via this art form. My other hope is that maybe this week’s worth of blog posts will entice some of you to join me for a night at the symphony! If an extra one or two of you decide to try out a concert, then it will have been worth it. If an extra 10-15 of you show up – that’ll be even better!

So in the meantime, have a great weekend!  I’ll see you next week!  :-)

Bring on the Horns! (Preview) – Don’t Look ‘em in the Eyes – Erin Lano – Adam Koch – Julia Rose – Gene StandleySoul of the Orchestra – Thank you! 

A Football Fan’s Dilemma

I live in Columbus, Ohio.  We’re a large city in a small state located on the edge of the midwest – in between my home state of Indiana and another adopted state of Pennsylvania.  (Having lived in 7 states, I have a lot of “adopted” states.)  We’re also next to Michigan.

These are great states.  Why, you ask?  They are all home to Big Ten Universities.  Big Ten schools are big on academics, of course, but they’re also big on athletics.  If you’re not aware, or you’re from out of the country, you should know this:

American football is kind of big over here.

All these Big Ten universities have football teams and in Ohio – especially in Columbus, Ohio, home of The Ohio State University and one of the most storied football programs in the country – football is pretty much everything.  If you don’t like football, you might as well just move away now.  Starting in late August / early September, you automatically have plans on all your Saturdays – unless your allegiance is only to one school at which point you have at least one bye week during the season.

Classical music fans in Columbus

As I say over and over again in this blog, Columbus is home to an awful lot of arts organizations including my personal favorite, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  It performs on an awful lot of Saturday nights, which during football season, might – to the outsider – appear to be no problem, especially for a 12 noon kick off.

But that’s where you’d be wrong.  No.  You see – that IS a problem to the 100,000 + fans who have tickets to the game and the thousands more who will tailgate despite not being able to set foot inside the actual stadium.  Trust me.  Buckeye fans take tailgating to a whole new level. It’s an art unto itself. And it sure as heck doesn’t end when the alma mater is sung at post-game!

You’d be amazed at the game watching set up people create out of the trunks of their cars.  Can’t imagine what Buckeye fans can do?  Well, I think it’s pretty safe to liken it to the Weasley family tent at the Quidditch World Cup.

But with all the people watching football – either inside the stadium or on their 52″ TVs that some have inside their trailers (yes, friends – I’ve seen them – with my own eyes) still in the stadium parking lots, or at the veritable plethora of game watching parties in sports bars or people’s homes, there are classical music fans among them.

Saturdays are taken up with college football.  Home game?  Away game? Doesn’t matter, it’s all about Buckeye football.  So I ask you to please consider the difficulty classical music fans experience during the football season – the tugging at their heartstrings – Buckeyes?  Or Beethoven?  The CSO is performing Beethoven’s 5th on November 16th – the same day as the OSU game against the Illini.  Sure, it’s an away game, but Buckeye fans will be glued to their TVs watching it anyway.

Now imagine this dilemma of having bought season tickets to the Symphony last year only to learn that my alma maters, Indiana University and The Ohio State University were playing each other the night I had tickets to hear Shubert’s Great Symphony.  I was torn. Imagine how nerve wracking it was to not be able to check the score until intermission.  Imagine as well that the Hoosiers went 1-11 in 2011, yet on that October night in 2012, we scored 49 (yes – forty-nine) points against the Buckeyes – THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES – but – we – still – lost!  GAHH!  49-52!



But man oh man – the Schubert piece was great.  And the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 was just beautiful.

So what’s a football fan to do?

Well fortunately, these Big Ten universities also have great music schools – especially my first alma mater of Indiana University, about which, of course, I have a slightly biased opinion!

But alas we’re talking about Columbus, Ohio now and the Ohio State University School of Music is also rather incredible.  Not only is it home to The Best Damn Band in the Land, i.e. the Ohio State University Marching Band which does an amazing script Ohio in all their pre-games (the real reason people attend games), but it’s also home to Jazz ensembles, a Wind Symphony, a Percussion ensemble, Symphonic Band, the Men’s Glee Club and Symphonic Choir and a Symphony Orchestra.  Shall I go on and list more ensembles?  …because I can! The OSU School of Music has so much to offer and there’s almost always something going on.

And fortunately, there’s a lot going on, on days other than Saturday. The Ohio State University School of Music has over 300 events and performances throughout the year.  Over 300!  That’s pretty impressive!

While the Columbus Symphony Orchestra also performs on Fridays and occasional Sundays, the OSU School of Music has music ensembles performing nearly every day of the week.  So you see, classical music-loving football fans?  You DON’T have to miss out on good music!

Check out this schedule of upcoming events.  There’s so much going on and tickets to most events are $10 to $20 – literally half that if you’re a member of the alumni association.  Concerts are already happening and last Saturday was even the First Annual Viola Day.  Coming up in November is a Clarinet Spectacular – Jazz Meets the Classics which includes performances, master classes, clinics, etc.  You can attend the entire event or just the Saturday evening concert.

Even though events are already taking place, I encourage you to check out the schedule because there is an absolute ton of great concerts coming up in October and November.

Each of the main ensembles puts on about 2-3 concerts per semester and the majority of them start at 8pm, though there are Sunday concerts that begin at 3.  Check out the schedule.  Whether it be sports or music, you’re still supporting your Buckeyes.

So what do you say, sports fans?

Looks like you can have your football and music, too!

Visit the OSU School of Music Facebook page for more info, too!

French Horn Week – coming up the week of September 23-27 here on Giocosity! 

Must See Classical Music in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio is a city filled with arts organizations and for those of us interested in listening to classical music, it provides us with a wealth of options.  The classical music concert season is starting in the next few weeks and whether you’re a veteran of going to see the symphony or looking to venture out for the first time, I’ve put together a list of what I think are some must-see concerts.

For those of you who might be new symphony goers, the classical music concert season follows the school year, so it starts in the fall a few weeks into football season and goes through collegiate finals weeks in May. After that, it usually takes a few weeks off before starting the summer pops season.  Plenty of music – all year long!

This is not an all-encompassing list – heck, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra has 15 classical music series concerts this year alone – but it does offer up a nice sampling of things to try in the coming months.  Check this out – there’s something for everybody.  Maybe we’ll even see each other at some of these.  I sure hope so because there’s some great music on upcoming programs and the musicians are fabulous!

Columbus Symphony OrchestraComplete schedule

Mahler’s Symphony #2 – Resurrection – Friday, October 5. at the Ohio Theatre

Includes the Columbus Symphony orchestra playing alongside the Columbus Symphony Chorus.  Canadian soprano Dominique LaBelle, who sang at last year’s season opener of Beethoven’s 9th, will again be one of the soloists.  And if you thought Beethoven’s 9th was good, you shouldn’t miss this!  Be sure to listen for the French horns!

Beethoven’s 5th – Friday/Saturday, November 15-16 at the Ohio Theatre

Who didn’t love the movie Immortal Beloved with Gary Oldman as Ludwig von Beethoven?  Everyone recognizes his well-known 5th Symphony – heard anywhere from in the movie to the Google Chrome commercials and by everyone else who marks a dramatic moment by singing these four notes: DA DA DA DAAAAAAAA!

Rhapsody in Blue – Saturday, February 8 at the Ohio Theatre

Want a chance to hear that fabulous clarinet glissando at the beginning of Rhapsody in Blue?  Here’s your chance – in an evening of nothing but music by George Gershwin.  One of the premier interpreters of Gershwin, pianist Peter Nero plays a variety of music such as Rhapsody in Blue, S’Wonderful, Someone to Watch Over Me, etc.  I bet that if you close your eyes, you’ll even be able to picture Gene Kelly singing and dancing!

Mozart’s Requiem – Friday/Saturday, April 11-12 at the Ohio Theatre

Speaking of movies, Mozart’s Requiem, left unfinished at the time of his death in 1791, but later finished by one of his students, is probably (in this writer’s humble opinion) the most beautiful piece of music ever written in the entire history of man. (No pressure, CSO!) It was the piece of music depicted at the end of the 1984 movie Amadeus that was being dictated by a very sick Mozart to an awed Antonio Salieri. Whether what happened on film was really true doesn’t matter as it’s a beautiful beautiful beautiful piece of music that you should see performed live if you possibly can.

Not enough Mozart for you? Never fear – there are two other concerts earlier in the season (November and February) that also feature his music.

ProMusica Chamber OrchestraComplete Schedule

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor -   Saturday/Sunday, November 9-10 at the Southern Theatre

Violinist Vadim Gluzman, who played the Alban Berg violin concerto with the CSO last May, is back to play one of Felix Mendelssohn’s most famous pieces.  While it gets a lot of play time on the radio, a live performance should not be missed!

Mozart Mass in C-Minor – Saturday/Sunday, February 22,23 at the Pontifical College Josephinum/Southern Theatre

Not to keep referring to movies, but if you have the Amadeus soundtrack, then you’re familiar with the Kyrie from this mass by W.A. Mozart, featuring soprano, Felicity Lott.  In the movie, it was in the scene when Mozart’s wife took some of his music to Maestro Salieri and was being played at the point he dropped all the manuscripts on the floor because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  Beautiful! This live version features the Lancaster Chorale under the direction of newly appointed music director, David Danzmayr.

Opera ColumbusComplete Schedule

Madama Butterfly – Friday/Sunday, November 22, 24 at the Southern Theatre

Puccini’s most beloved opera about how a Japanese maiden falls in love with an American Naval officer.  Originally a flop when premiered in Milan back in 1904 it has since become one of the most highly performed operas around the world.  Featuring Priti Ghandi as Cio-Cio San and Harold Meers as Pinkerton, this is performed in collaboration with the Ohio State University.

The Pirates of Penzance – Saturday/Sunday, March 8-9 at the Southern Theatre

Considered “light opera,” this Gilbert and Sullivan work features the character, Frederic, who is mistakenly apprenticed to the pirates through his 21st birthday – something made more challenging because of his having been born on February 29th!  With a constant theme of duty, everything works out in the end with this fun story.

Ballet MetComplete Schedule

Swan Lake – October 18-20 at the Ohio Theatre, October 25-27 at the Aranoff Theatre

Tchaikovsky’s beautiful ballet about a princess who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse only able to return to life as a princess if a prince swears his love to her.

The Nutcracker – December 12-24 at the Ohio Theatre

Don’t miss an opportunity to see Clara and her Nutcracker prince for yet another wonderful Tchaikovsky ballet.  With two weeks’ worth of performances, there’s a chance for everyone to see one!

Early Music in ColumbusComplete Schedule

Twelfth Night – Saturday/Sunday, January 4-5 at the First Congregational Church

The Early Interval will perform music from the 12th -17th centuries in France, Italy, Spain and North Africa on traditional instruments such as the recorder, bass dulcian, crumhorns, medieval lute, chitarone, rebecs, violin and pipe and tabor.  Don’t know what some of those are? No worries. Neither do I, but I look forward to finding out in this celebration of music marking the end of the Christmas season and welcoming in the new year.

Westerville Symphony OrchestraComplete schedule

Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 1 – Saturday, May 10 at Fritsche Theatre in Cowan Hall – Otterbein University

Didn’t get enough of the high seas with the Pirates of Penzance? Great! This symphony is actually titled “A Sea Symphony: A Song for All Seas, All Ships” and has text from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” It will be performed next spring along with vocalists from a variety of choral ensembles at Otterbein University.

Chamber Music Columbus - Complete Schedule

Dvorak Quintet in A Major, Op 81  – Saturday, November 16 at the Southern Theatre

The Pacifica Quartet plays along with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, who played just beautifully last year with the CSO. They’ll be performing quintets by Shostakovich, Dvorak and Ornstein.

Ravel and Mozart – Saturday, January 18 at the Southern Theatre

The Escher String Quartet will be playing Ravel’s quartet in F Major, Mozart’s Quartet in G Major, K.387 and Ainsi la Nuit by Henri Dutilleux.

New Albany Symphony OrchestraComplete Schedule

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Sunday, October 13 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts

If you didn’t get to see the 9th, Ode to Joy, last year with the CSO, then don’t miss your chance to see it next month in New Albany, OH with the New Albany Symphony Orchestra, featuring the Capital University Chapel Choir.

Holiday Concerts

Looking for some great Christmas music?  Most of these ensembles offer up some great music sometime in December that allows for audience participation and enjoyment.  Don’t worry, I’ll post it all later on, but between various pops concerts, the Nutcracker and more traditional music, I promise you’ll have plenty of options.  If you’d like, you can go ahead and get a head start by checking out their complete schedules linked above.

French Horn Week – coming up the week of September 23-27 here on Giocosity! 

Ohio Theatre Tour: Islamic Architecture

During my tour of the Ohio Theatre a couple of weeks ago, I learned that the Ohio Theatre, designed and built by architect, Thomas Lamb, was built in the Spanish Baroque style.  (Palace Theatre was French, Ohio Theatre was Spanish – very multi-cultural).  Our docent went on to explain that that style was heavily influenced by Islamic art because not only were many of the workers in Spain Moorish themselves, but Moors played a large role in designing and building much of the architecture seen all around the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Spain and Portugal.

A couple of years ago, I traveled to Spain and Morocco.  During my trip, I spent a few days in Granada and had the great fortune of visiting the Alhambra which houses the Palacios Nazaries, or Nasrid Palace. While the Ohio Theatre seems like child’s play in comparison to the overall size and amazingly intricate work within the Nasrid Palace, there are definite similarities in the styles.  Take a look.

This picture is at the top level within the Ohio Theatre – the lounge area behind the rear balcony.  I’d like to draw your attention to the archway on the left.  Notice the rounded corners as well as the point at the top?  It’s beautiful, don’t you think?

Islamic Architecture

Here it is again.  To my left, is the door that takes patrons to their seats up in the balcony.  Take a look again at the details within the corners as well as the pointed sections in the top.  The very top of this is obscured by one of the lamps, but it’s there.

IMG_0617Now take a look at the general shape of this archway of the Nasrid Palace that leads out to one of the courtyards.  Do you see the similarities?  It has the same rounded corners as well as the point at the top.  Clearly I’m not an architect, so I’m unable to give you actual – and technical – architectural terms, but though our theatre’s archway is a bit flatter at the top (though overall the archway below is definitely much larger), they both contain the same basic elements.


This next picture is of an artistic element located to the right of the door that leads patrons to their seats in the rear balcony.  This is another example of a well-defined, Islamic arch.  You can see the rounded corner with the curves that lead up to a pointed top.  It also contains some additional decorative touches around the arch itself.

Islamic Architecture

Now look at this beautiful wall niche within the Nasrid Palace.  This kind of detail can never be matched because nobody makes this kind of building any more.  They just don’t, but the same general shape that we see above in the Ohio Theatre is the same as what is seen here.  Pretty cool, huh?


I think it’s pretty safe to say that Ohio Theatre architect, Thomas Lamb, definitely knew what he was doing.  There are plenty of other similarities as well: the decor inside, the wood work, the ceilings, etc. It’s absolutely beautiful, our Ohio Theatre, so don’t pass up an opportunity to see a concert and check it out for yourself.

Of course, if you ever get the opportunity to see the original – the Nasrid Palace within the Alhambra – you shouldn’t pass that up either!

2013 Arts Festival

This weekend was the 2013 Annual Columbus Arts Festival where folks from all over central Ohio had the opportunity to journey downtown to enjoy a day of wandering amongst beautiful art of all kinds from artists around the region and country. In addition to 270+ artists’ hawking their wares all along the Scioto Mile downtown, festival attendees were also treated to some great food and live music and storytelling all day long on three different stages interspersed throughout the festival.

2013 Arts Festival

This weekend and along with other local arts organizations, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) had a great presence next to CATCO and CAPA.  Musicians (and other assorted volunteers) were out in full force talking to everyone who stopped by – or even walked by!  We had a great time talking to everyone about the pops season that starts next week and the upcoming Classical Music series which is going to be absolutely incredible (slightly biased opinion admitted) in 2013-2014.   Seriously – it’s like Candy Land for classical music lovers!

People we talked to were very excited about the upcoming performances of Beethoven’s 5th, Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 and one person stopped dead in her tracks when I told her about Mozart’s Requiem.  “They’re performing his requiem?  Really?  WHEN?!”  I loved her enthusiasm! And by the way, it’ll be performed April 11-12 along with Four Last Songs by Strauss.

2013 Arts Festival - Adam and Kat

We all wore name tags which included a picture of the instrument we play (or in my case, played – past tense!) I was always pretty amused when people would ask me if I played clarinet for the Symphony.  HA!  “Oh heck no!  The Symphony is GOOD!  They don’t want me to play.  I just stay back and watch from the balcony. You should join me!”  Whenever they’d ask that, I’d also refer them to the real musicians, such as Betsy – Bassonist or Jude – Harpist or Adam who plays the French Horn (pictured above with his wife, Kat).  I discovered that he and I have a shared appreciation of the theme music to several Star Trek movies (including the two recent releases) which employ French Horns for the main melody.  Gorgeous!  I also learned that he played in a concert down in Cincinnati that showcased music from various Star Trek movies.   I’m guessing that was his version of musical Candy Land!

My clarinet days - revisited

I’ve never been to a Picnic With the Pops performance with the CSO before so it was interesting talking to people about it based on zero experience.  That’s OK – learning a lot along the way, I muddled through and could talk at least about upcoming performances like the Pointer Sisters this weekend to kick off the series (Chaka Khan had medical issues and had to cancel), Kansas and Natalie Merchant on July 6 and 13th, respectively.  A lot of us also talked about a group I’d never heard of before, called Pink Martini, which is performing on June 22.  No one could really describe their music, except to say that they were extremely good and quite entertaining.  One couple I spoke to said that NPR’s Ari Shapiro occasionally performs with them which they liked because they think he’s cute.  Had to laugh at that one!

2013 Arts Fest - CSO Booth

I did talk to a couple who just moved to Columbus from Portland, OR, which is apparently Pink Martini’s hometown.  This couple, who was kind enough to fill out one of my Arts surveys, told me that Pink Martini was indeed a terrific group that not only plays an eclectic mix of music, but that also sings in a variety of languages.  As a linguist, hearing this totally piqued my curiosity.  Now I have to check them out!

2013 Arts Festival

As you can see, it was a beautiful day in downtown Columbus, Ohio yesterday.  While my feet were completely sore after standing on hard pavement for 4 hours and then walking the festival with my mom for another hour and a half – even stopping by the water color-filled booth of my friend’s aunt, Wanda Zuchowski-Schick, – I must say that the day was a good one.

Downtown Columbus has so much going for it in terms of night life, festivals, live music performances of all kinds, shops, you name it.  I hope that more and more people will continue to take advantage of it as the summer progresses.  We’ve got a great city here, folks.  Come on over and check it out!

Columbus Arts – Quick Survey

Hello friends.  Since I plan to write about classical music – especially within central Ohio – I’d like to ask a favor of you.  I’ve put together a super quick, 10-question survey about the arts in Columbus.  Whether or not you actually live in this area though, your input is still quite valuable.  Would you please take about 3-5 minutes (tops!) to answer these few questions?  As for privacy, unless you tell me what you answered, I’ll only be able to tell from which country you responded.  It doesn’t even ask for basic demographics.

Here’s a link to my survey:

Columbus Arts Survey

Thank you so much for your assistance in getting this new classical music blog started!  Your time is much appreciated!

Take care – Heather

Shall We Dance?

This past Saturday, I had the good fortune to return to the Ohio Theater to hear the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the new year: Vienna Dances.  How exciting!   I hurriedly dressed in my white, sequined jacket and bellbottoms, grabbed my dancing shoes and went out to meet up with John Travolta for a thrilling night of dancing.

To my utter surprise there was no disco ball hanging from the ceiling of the Ohio Theater.

Instead, we were all treated to a night of dances from Romantic-era composers J. Strauss, R. Strauss, Brahms and Mozart that were popular in Vienna.  What a delight!  OK, so Mozart was from the classical era, but I’ll take his music anytime!

The evening started out with a Strauss overture to Die Fledermaus. Don’t know what a Fledermaus is? That’s OK because I don’t either. However the music was a ton of fun!  It was almost bouncy – happy – joyous, even!

The next piece was Strauss’ (another Strauss) Burleske in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra.  Pianist Marc-André Hamelin, another terrific Canadian import, did a wonderful job with this fun piece

Maestro Zeitouni went on to play a few Hungarian dances by Brahms. Don’t recognize them by name? Don’t worry – I didn’t either, but I did recognize them when I heard them, and couldn’t help but clapping my hands off with a huge grin afterwards. Didn’t think I could like waltzes this much.

During intermission, I took it upon myself to change seats and move back a few rows since a very tall man had been sitting in front of me.  On a positive note, there were plenty of empty seats available which allowed me to do that.  On a negative note, there were plenty of empty seats available which allowed me to do that.  Where are you, Columbus?  You have this amazing musical talent at your disposal, super easy and convenient parking (State House Lot – $4 only) yet you stayed home.  Yes – some tickets can be super expensive and like me, you may end up trading off haircuts and highlights in favor of going, but once in a while – that $25 for the ticket just may be what the doctor ordered.  Yes – I sit in the cheap seats – $25 each – and am very high up, but did you know that there’s simply not a bad seat in the house – especially up in the balcony?  The view is good (albeit a tad high) and the sound is wonderful. 

I’m a fan of the balcony for that very reason: the wonderful sound.  Even if given the choice, I wouldn’t sit in the orchestra section.  For starters, I’m short and everybody who sits in front of me is not.  But the more important reason is the sound itself.  Why do I go to the symphony?  To hear music, of course!  I’m not there to gab with someone during the performance, that’s why there’s an intermission.  No, I go for the music and if I’m sitting in the orchestra section, the orchestra itself is potentially higher up than I am which means the sound travels right over me.  Plus, if sitting in the front,  I hear whatever section happens to be right there in front.  I can’t get a full appreciation of the ensemble’s full output at that level.  However, if sitting in the balcony, the sound has a chance to blend quite nicely before working its way up to greet me.  Finally, it’s always nice to be able to see all the musicians. 

Sure, I would love to sit right by the pianist while he’s playing, but if the CSO has yet to take me up on my offer to be a seat filler for the clarinet section they sure as heck aren’t going to let me sit right next to the pianist during a performance. 

OK fine.  I’ll settle for sitting next to the pianist during a rehearsal. 

Can’t blame a girl for trying.

After Intermission we came back to Strauss’ Emperor Waltz and a slightly-out-of-place Classical era piano piece by Mozart, the Concert-Rondo in D Major.  This was my favorite piece of the evening despite its being the least showy of them all, but I’m hopelessly biased when it comes to Classical, Baroque or Early music.  Everything else is too heavy or too funky for me and yes, that pretty much includes all Romantic-era and 20th Century music, though don’t worry – I have plenty of exceptions from those two centuries!

The concert ended with the Strauss Suite from Der Rosenkavalier which resulted in a standing ovation and a bunch of “BRAVO”s being yelled out in the section next to mine!

Mr. Hamelin did a wonderful job on the piano.  He had a very light and happy touch – nothing too heavy or overbearing.  The program stated that he started piano lessons at age 5, too.  Music is so important – not something to ever be denied someone, no matter what age.  Look what he became!  He’s playing concert halls all over the world including, thankfully, right here in Columbus for us all to enjoy.  Bravo, sir!  Bravo!

I really do recommend taking a moment to look at the upcoming schedule and pick out at least one concert to attend.  There are some really good ones coming up, too.  This Saturday, for example, promises a great performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the first weekend in February will be a great performance of Mozart and Haydn’s music.  The Mozart and Haydn concert is the one to which I’m taking Mom and Dad because that’s their favorite, too.  These two concerts present the music that is probably most popularly known although Rite of Spring is coming up in March.

You can even make these concerts a last-minute idea for an evening’s worth of entertainment.  Last weekend when I was there, my 500-seat section up top was at about 10-15% capacity.

Come on, Columbus!  Help me fill it up and I PROMISE to leave my sequins and bellbottoms at home!

Immortal Amadeus

In my third Columbus Symphony concert in three weeks, I had the good fortune of sharing the music with a friend of mine from work, Sarah, as well as my young nephew, Ben.  Sarah had been to the symphony before, but Ben never had, so I was excited to see how he took it all in.  

Ben has been learning the guitar the last couple of years and is into music.  In fact this year, he started playing the alto sax.  His first question to me when I picked him up on Saturday evening was: Are there going to be any saxophones? 

Sorry, kid.  No saxes.  Columbus Symphony – how about some jazzy tunes next time so my nephew can hear the sax?  No?  OK – I had to ask.

Last weekend, I went to the theater early to listen to a pre-concert talk by Christopher Purdy of WOSU radio.  It was fun – and insightful.  He talked about the composers and their music so we could learn some of the back story on what we were about to hear. I threw out the possibility of going again this week and both Sarah and Ben wanted to go.

Ben – waiting for Christopher Purdy to start the pre-concert talk

It was nice having a little while to learn about the program and Mr. Purdy always makes it both fun and interesting.  He included snippets of music and humorous anecdotes about the composers and times in which they lived.  It’s just the right amount of info to keep a 10-year old – already in a food coma from our earlier trip to Five Guys – interested before the concert started.  

The view from our seats – way up in the upper balcony

Like many of the CSO Masterworks concerts, this week’s concert was themed.  Titled “In Nature’s Realm,” it was performed in the acoustically-amazing Southern Theater which is a couple blocks south of the Ohio Theater in downtown Columbus.  Included in the program were pieces that all had something to do with nature: Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to William Tell (the reason why most everyone came to hear the orchestra play?); Jean-Féry Rebel’s Les Elémens (Cool baroque-era music!); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” in F Major, Opus 68 (not enough loud parts). 

Unlike the first two concerts of the season, where Maestro Zeitouni didn’t say a single word to the audience – not even hello, welcome, yo, ça-va,? nothing. – he was rather talkative this time around.  He even had slides!  (Side note: loved the accent, but I was a French major, so go figure.  Ahem.)  Before each piece and while the seats were being rearranged, he talked about what they were about to play.  It was all really interesting so I hope he does it more often.  Sarah and I especially liked the part where he had the orchestra play little passages of the Rossini piece up against similar portions of the Beethoven for comparison.

In honor of Maestro Zeitouni’s slide show, I’m including a nature shot or two of my own.  Let me know if you feel inspired.

Griggs Reservoir Park – Columbus, OH

The order of the performance was as I listed it above: Rossini, then Rebel, then Beethoven.  Had I been given the option, I would have done the complete opposite: Start with the Beethoven, intermission, Rebel and then Rossini – so it ends with a bang.  Instead, the exciting piece was first and not-so-exciting piece was how the concert ended.  Ben told me that there just weren’t enough loud parts. 

Beethoven?  Not enough loud parts?

He was right!  According to Ben, the Beethoven was his least favorite of the three and I tend to agree with him.  It’s a beautiful piece, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not that exciting and it’s pretty long – about 50+ minutes.  It deserved its own half, sure, but the ending just, well, happened.  It’s as if they just stopped playing without the benefit of a definitive ending.  It even took us, the audience, a moment or two to realize it was over.  There was no exciting finish.

Had it ended with Rossini, we would have been excited.  We would have been jumping up and down in our seats.  OK – so maybe not the jumping up and down in our seats part like we did back at IU when we played the William Tell during the second half of all the Hoosier basketball games – but the excited part, definitely!  And no – I didn’t yell out I! U! during that part.  (I thought it though!)  The Rossini was the fun piece of the evening and would have been a fitting end to the concert.   

Heck!  Maybe we can just put together a completely new concert!  Maybe we can pull some Beethoven pieces from Immortal Beloved and throw in some music by Mozart.  We’ll title it: Immortal Amadeus!  Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, a Mozart piano concerto or two, and some more Beethoven, perhaps his 7th symphony since I really like the Allegretto movement.  If Beethoven can make up his own 4-1/2 hour long concert, I’m happy to do the same.  

Yet an other opportunity for the folks at the CSO to roll their collectives eyes at my idea.  (They still haven’t called me about being a seat filler for the clarinet section.  So bummed.)  

With regard to this weekend’s concert, I personally liked the middle part the best: Rebel’s Les Elémens.  Loved it, actually.  Jean-Féry Rebel (more French!) was a court composer for King Louis XIV.  He starts off with a funky dissonant chord at the very beginning to make the audience go “hmm,” and then it’s all wonderful, Baroque, musical goodness to the very end.  I’ve already downloaded it off iTunes.  

Glinka last week – hein – it was OK, but Rebel, I really, really liked.  Thank you, CSO, for exposing me to something really terrific!

Scioto River at Griggs – Columbus, OH

All in all, it was a wonderful concert, at least according to me, the non-10-year-old.  The Beethoven was beautiful.  You can’t go wrong with Rossini and I absolutely loved the Rebel.

Ben told us all afterwards that he really liked the concert, so I hope to be able to take him to another one – perhaps in the new year. Maybe I’ll introduce him to some more baroque music in the new year when the CSO puts on a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  

Still no saxophones, but we can work on that!

Boom, Chocolate-uh Boom

Last evening I had the pleasure of seeing our Columbus Symphony perform again at the Ohio Theater.  While last week’s performance was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, (an amazing performance and if you weren’t there, you really missed out). this week’s included music by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Schubert.

This week, in what was officially the first concert of the Masterworks season, we were treated to a super fun (and super good) performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor by a talented young soloist, Ms. Nareh Arghamanyan.  Originally from Armenia and trained in Vienna, her interpretation of this piano concerto was wonderful.  It looked like she had a lot of fun playing it, too!

In a pre-concert music lecture by Christopher Purdy of WOSU radio, he said that Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto was not originally well-received in Moscow, but was in America.  Of course, he also said that the first two minutes were considered really weird and were especially disliked. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t like that part either.  My favorite movement was the third.  :-)

After intermission, the entire second half of the concert was by Schubert: his 9th (?) Symphony, also known as the “Great” Symphony – something that was never performed until about 20 years after his death.  This one, I really liked.  I liked it a lot!

You may remember that I wrote about the CSO in September because I was excited about being able to return to the symphony and excited as well about seeing our new music director.  Well, a violinist named Holly Mulcahy commented on my blog which started an ongoing conversation.  A few weeks later, she referenced my blog, and my excitement of the new season, in her monthly column called Neo Classical.  Her article was called Twitter Seats and Knitter Seats.  How appropriate for me, right?  Holly was the acting Concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony this weekend, so I’m excited about having heard her play.  I also had the pleasure of meeting her in person after the concert.  She’s very nice and I hope for an opportunity to hear her play again.

Earlier this week on Holly’s Facebook page, one of her musician friends made the following comment:

One warning: please avoid repetitive stress injury in the last movement of the Schubert. (boom, chickeda..boom ad infinitum).”

Apparently I’m rather susceptible to suggestion because during that final movement, I kept hearing “boom chickeda boom chickeda boom” in my head!  HA!

Waiting on my seat when I arrived inside the Ohio Theater was a welcome and thank you card from the symphony for me as a season ticket holder.  Attached to it was a piece of chocolate.  Well, chocolate makes me happy, so maybe the next time I hear Schubert’s Great Symphony, I’ll actually hear “Boom, chocolate-uh boom chocolate-uh boom!”

Holly wrote (facetiously, I’m sure) about how orchestras might start considering seats for knitters.  For the record, I have yet to pull out a knitting project at the Symphony.  Sure I could knit to the beat, but I’m…uh…no.  I can knit and listen to music at home, but I don’t want to distract myself from a live performance.

Although – the faster the music, the faster I knit and with the William Tell Overture on next weekend’s program at the Southern Theater, I could probably make some good progress on these socks!

Hmm…I’ll have to think about that idea!

Columbus Symphony Orchestra

The last time I went to a concert, it was to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra with my dad.  It was at least 3-4 years back and I’m sure it had something by Mozart on the program.  (Or J.S. Bach, since that’s Dad’s favorite)

Since then, hard times have kept me from going to more.  C’est la vie, hein?  And while I love my favorite Grandview coffee shops, I occasionally want a little something more on the weekends, something not just work-related.

So, with good music in mind, I decided to forgo vanity for a while in exchange for season tickets.  Thanks to not entering a salon for what seemed like ages (yeah, yeah, yeah – I’m a girl, ok?!), I now get to hear some fabulous music by great composers like Rossini, Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Mozart and by a bunch more I’ve not even heard of, such as Rébel, Glinka, Berg, and Paulus.

Thanks to becoming an official season ticket holder (and this is the really cool part!) I also get to go to the season opener at which Beethoven’s 9th Symphony will be performed. We’re talking a full symphony, a full chorus, you name it – a true performance.  And we thought the Som Sabadell flash mob was impressive!
This is going to be so incredibly awesome!!  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to see it LIVE!  October 5th – I cannot wait!!

In addition to these concerts, two friends and I are also going to a performance at the Southern Theatre to hear Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Beethoven’s 6th Pastoral symphony.  They just hope that I don’t yell out “I! U!” during the Lone Ranger section of the William Tell since that’s what I used to do when I played it with the Pep Band back at all the Indiana basketball games in Bloomington.  Yeah. Probably not a good idea.

The beautiful Ohio Theatre, across from the Statehouse in downtown Columbus, has been home to our symphony, or CSO, for over 40 years. The majority of the concerts I see this season will be there.  In fact, the CSO is credited with saving the Ohio Theatre itself from demolition because it had once run into such a bad state of disrepair.

Among the locals here in Columbus, it’s no secret that the hard times we’ve experienced the last few years, have been shared by the CSO, but for them, over the last decade.  Patronage dropped.  The musicians took pay cuts.  They had a different conductor for every single performance.   There were times that they were probably unsure as to whether or not the CSO would even survive!

In 2010, our symphony brought in a new Music Director, the up and coming Montreal native, Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni.  Not only was he a skilled and charismatic conductor, but he was hired with the hope that he would lead the CSO out of the abyss and back to more successful times.

What I’ve dug up and read about him online is pretty darned impressive.  Like many of us these days he, too, works more than one job.  In addition to starting his second full season as the Music Director of our orchestra here in Columbus, he’s also the  newly-appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the world-renowned chamber music ensemble, I Musici de Montréal.

Someday the term “world-renowned” will be used to describe our symphony, too.

It is said that his conducting style is simply incredible, very energetic and animated. One person I spoke to used the word “amazing” to describe him.  While the bio page on the CSO website desperately needs to be updated, the I Musici biography page has some good info and calls him “expressive and convincing” among other positive terms. The Handel and Haydn Society calls his style “eloquent yet fiery.” The Seattle Times called his performance of Handel’s Messiah “…edgy and exciting…”.

Aside from conducting, he apparently travels – a lot.  As a fellow travel-addict, I can totally appreciate that.  Of course, he travels to and from all his numerous guest-conducting gigs, not to mention splitting his time working jobs in two different countries.  I’m sure he’s accumulated an absolute ton of airline miles by now!  Heck – I think he may have traveled to more US states than I have and I’ve lived in a lot of them!

In the U.S., he’s conducted anywhere from New York to Oregon to Texas to Hawaii (lucky dog!) as well as all over Canada, pretty much hitting every NHL city up there save, perhaps, Ottawa.  Smart man.  I wonder if he needs an assistant.  Let’s go Jackets!

He’s a young director, not yet 40, but it’s not as if he gained the title of Music Director on a whim.  Our Maestro is very well-educated. He has three masters degrees from the Montreal Conservatory in theory, conducting and, yes, percussion. In one of the preview videos he makes before each concert, he totally geeks out on all the various percussion instruments used in one of Mahler’s symphonies. In his defense, I know percussionists (my dad included). I’m not sure there’s a single one who wouldn’t also go nuts over a huge hammer.  Hmm.  Could just be a guy thing.

Via Twitter though, I happily learned that they plan on making these videos again before the concerts this year.  You can follow their sporadically-active twitter account here.

If you’re not yet impressed, check out this interesting tidbit: he has perfect pitch. Yeah.  Perfect pitch. You know, that talent that allows him to tell you that the horns of a Prius, Impala, F150 and Jetta combine to make a G-minor diminished 7th chord*.

All kidding aside though, even musicians within the orchestra have commented that his ear is a huge advantage because he can hear anything from any instrument at any time.  They cannot get away with anything which makes them play all the better. He can tell during a rehearsal when something is potentially off and can therefore make the necessary adjustments before the final performance.  That, in turn, makes the concert-goer’s experience that much more enjoyable.

While I’ve not yet seen him perform live, my expectations of our symphony now are extremely high. He is said to be able to draw the highest quality of music out of those he directs so I look forward to hearing that in person.

On a final note, no pun intended, I’m going to see the Columbus Symphony Orchestra three times in October and then not again until January.  If he’s as good as I’ve heard he is, then November and December are going to make for two very long months!

* No fact-checking done. I have no earthly idea if this is actually true or not! 

Sources: In addition to the articles linked above, here are two more from which I sourced some of the details included in this blog post.  Enjoy!  

Photo credits: Both pictures of Maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni were from the Facebook pages of I Musici and CSO, respectively.  The Ohio Theater picture is my own.

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