2011 has started in a rush, and it’s already a week into February!
Just back from the 2011 Sphinx Competition, which featured final performances from the Junior Division this year. Congratulations to Alexandra Switala, who captured the first place price with a passionate, charismatic performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5 in A Major. Her animated performance stole the show from Annelle Gregory, whose more restrained classic performance was gorgeously rendered, but which left her in third place. My row, however, was rooting for Xavier Foley, the young bassist who captured second place while bending in half over his instrument to play notes in positions never intended on the bass in his performance of the Dittersdorf Concerto in E Major. Continue reading
Anne Midgette, who writes The Classical Beat blog at the Washington Post, has a posting today about the large number of orchestras in the Washington, D.C. area. In her post, she writes:
“I’d submit that orchestras also offer a more participatory experience than, at least, opera; more people have had enough music lessons to make their way through some symphonic repertory than are able to sing “Don Giovanni” on stage.”
Indeed. The full post is worth a read, and is inspiring to look at.
As the Christmas/New Years holiday week approaches, Chuck and I have finished a furious round of concerts. The New Horizons Band where Chuck plays had three concerts of Christmas music – one in the midst of the big snowstorm that hit southeast Michigan on the 11th. Continue reading
Australia will host the next edition of the YouTube orchestra, and musicians have until the end of November to submit their auditions. The Strad had an article announcing the competition. Selected musicians will play with Michael Tilson Thomas at the Sydney Opera House next spring (or is that fall down under?). Continue reading
Just for fun. Johann Sebastian Bach meets the Pink Panther. Sort of. Continue reading
This past week, 60 Minutes did a piece on the new artistic director of the Los Angeles Symphony and his drive to bring more music into urban schools. There were a lot of claims made about music providing discipline, hope, and a way out for children who live in seemingly hopeless situations.
A quick search on the web turns up a lot of studies about the effect of music on older adults. One, published a few years ago jointly by professors at the University of Miami and Michigan State University, found that participating in group keyboard lessons caused Human Growth Hormone levels to skyrocket in older adults. HGH is one of the new “wonder compounds”, given credit for making people feel better, have better muscle tone, and fighting the visible signs of aging. Check it out at http://www.amc-music.com/musicmaking/wellness/hormone.htm. Now that’s a cheap alternative to plastic surgery!
If you are looking for more incentive, check out www.WannaPlayMusic.com, a website that defines midlife musicians like me as “recreational music makers” or people who enjoy “playing musical instruments alone or in a group without the goals of mastery or performance.” They have links to teachers and other resources to get your juices running.
The site is affiliated with Making Music Magazine, which has a pretty nifty website of its own at www.MakingMusicMag.com. Southeast Michigan’s own Mitch Albom is featured on this month’s cover. Be sure to check out their interactive map of summer music camps. Also, check out the Hollywood stars who are also “recreational musicians.”
And keep playing. The weather is better — so take it outdoors!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, winding up my corporate career. This week, I’ll formally begin my new life as an entrepreneur. And, in a strange way, my musical life has been the better for it.
It’s not that I’ve been practicing more; if anything, I have had much less time to practice. Continue reading
If you weren’t there, I don’t know how to describe what it was like.
The Motor City Festival of Bands concluded Sunday with 294 musicians on the stage, under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. Dozens of clarinets, six bassoons, at least a dozen percussionists, and more brass than I could identify. When the first piece began during the finale, even pianissimo filled the Dearborn Performing Arts Center with an awesome sound. And when they broke out into full fortissimo, there’s no wonder that Leonard Slatkin was left breathless and said, “It’s kinda scary up here.” Continue reading