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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Silence and Sound: 4'33'' for Orchestra

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 22, 2010

Just after I talked with my American music class about John Cage, this orchestral performance of Cage's 4'33" came to my attention via kottke.org.

This video reminds me of something, about a decade ago...


My 4'33" Story:

I performed 4'33" on the viola at student musicale in college. It started as a lark, something interesting to do when I didn't have other music that I was quite ready to perform. I had fun researching the piece and the movement lengths, borrowing a friend's pocket watch to keep me on track, printing out pieces of paper with the times, and deciding to play the middle movement pizzicato.

Then, when I stood on the stage of Kemp Recital Hall, holding my viola on my shoulder, staring at the audience, it was amazing. Some people knew the piece, others didn't. A woman in the audience kept trying to get her husband to sit still, which just made his winter coat rustle even louder. I heard laughter from the green room. It took a lot of effort to raise my head to look up at the audience, instead of just at the watch on the stand. But once I did, I felt wonderfully calm, which is a very unusual experience for me, especially on stage. I think my staring at them made the audience even more uncomfortable than the silence. 

At the end of the piece, when I took my viola from my shoulder the third time and bowed before walking off of the stage, the sound of the applause and the rush of ... confidence, adrenaline, something ... was heady. But the feeling of those few minutes of silence on stage has remained with me. Every now and then I remember and capture that same feeling, the silence and the focus.

Is it what the composer intended? Does that matter? Although you won't hear me playing it on the radio any time soon, Cage's 4'33" is one of my favorite pieces. Because of what this music has given me, I'll defend Cage's infamous composition against all the eyerolling and disbelief that it often provokes.

 

Hallelujah! Random Acts of Culture

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 19, 2010

My choir director just emailed me this video. It just makes me happy, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Now I wish that a mall near me had a pipe organ! The group singing is part of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, who have done at least one other of these performances in unexpected public places. At the end of the video, there's a sign mentioning the Random Acts of Culture website. Definitely something to explore when I have some time, perhaps after today's show.

Menotti at Wesleyan

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By Carole Carter
 · November 18, 2010

Colleges and universities with music programs generally produce performances of opera scenes, but few actually produce full operas. Admittedly, there are few one-act operas from which to choose.

West Virginia Wesleyan undertook the task of presenting two one-act operas by Gian Carlo Menotti – the seasonal favorite, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the smaller two-person, The Telephone.

This was a collaboration between the school’s Theatre, Dance and Music departments – and they acquitted themselves well.


Amahl & the Night Visitors WVWC
Nathan Elsener
The Magi seek shelter from Amahl and his Mother.

The four performances began with Amahl, the story of a boy who is lame and his Mother. The Magi, following the Star to find the Child, ask them for shelter. Mother tries to steal their gold to help her child, but is caught. What happens then is a Christmas miracle.

The mostly college cast of Amahl also included the kings’ page plus a singing and dancing chorus. They hailed from all over West Virginia with a handful of WVWC students from MD, NY, OH, PA and VA. One high school senior and a fifth-grader, both from Buckhannon, rounded out the cast. The opera enjoyed four performances (Th-Sat eves & Sun matinee), so the part of Amahl was double cast.


Amahl & the Night Visitors
Nathan Elsener
Mother is caught stealing the gold.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for a performance by young Sean Crites as Amahl, but the cast I saw opening night was pretty well-balanced with special mention of Rebecca Culp as The Mother. The electric keyboard accompaniment was a tad too loud and overshadowed these young voices however; I hope this was corrected at ensuing performances. The oboe was effective.

The Telephone is the comic story of Ben and Lucy. Ben arrives at Lucy’s door, planning to propose before he has to leave on the train. His repeated attempts are thwarted by constant phone calls, to which Lucy seems addicted. He finally succeeds in getting his message across with a comic twist. 


The Telephone - WVWC
Nathan Elsener
Ben despairs as Lucy takes another call.

The week before the performances, Dr. Mandy Spivak assumed the role of Lucy due to illness of the originally cast student. Spivak is Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice, and directed the productions.

While as a vocal professional, she understandably outshone the student Ben (Robert Quarles), she also provided the students and audience with a fine operatic performance. It’s always a plus to know that your teacher can actually DO what she teaches – and delightfully so!

Piano accompaniment was provided upstage from the singers most effectively by Zachary Allen.


The Telephone
Nathan Elsener
Lucy explains to Ben why she simply MUST make a phone call immediately.

The set (Nathan Elsener) and lighting (Joshua Holets) designs were simple, practical and very effective. The costumes (Rebecca Britner)were also well-designed and executed. The music and music students were allowed to be the stars in the school’s lovely new Center for the Performing Arts, which.seats less than 400, and boasts wonderful backstage and onstage appointments.

Bravo!

River Cities Symphony Orchestra 2010-11

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 16, 2010
Bob Turizziani
Music Director Bob Turriziani

I just recently received the line-up for the River Cities Symphony Orchestra's 2010-11 Season.  They start with a chamber music concert this weekend in Parkersburg. 

Here's the full list of their concerts this season: 

Chamber Music Concert
Sunday November 21, 2010
3 PM
First Presbyterian Church, 1341 Juliana St. Parkersburg
Artists:              
    Ian Jessee - Violin 

    Lindsey Goodman - Flute 
    Robert Turizzianin - Clarinet 
    Victoria Berneking - Piano

Program includes works by Debussy, Vivaldi, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Grant Cooper, Jeanjean, Bartok, De Falla & Saint-Saens.


Messiah Sing Along 
Sunday December 5, 2010 3 PM
First Presbyterian Church, 1341 Juliana St.
Community Sing Along for Handel's Messiah, open to all comers 
No admission charge, donations of food and cash for food pantry welcomed


Orchestra Concert
Sunday January 23, 2011 3 PM
Blennerhassett School, Parkersburg, WV 
Conductor - Robert Turizziani
Program:       
     Brighter By the Second -  Matthew Jackfert (interview) (World Premier)
       Commissioned by River Cities Symphony Orchestra
     Bach Violin Concerto in E Major– John Harrison, Violin 
     Symphony No. 9 – From the New World – Antonin Dvorak


Bach Choral Concert 
Sunday, February 27, 2011 7 PM
St. Mary’s Church, Marietta, OH 
Conductor - Robert Truizziani 
Program:        
    Cantata “Wachet Auf!” – JS Bach - Marietta College Chorus
   
Brandenberg Concertos – JS Bach 

Ballet Concerts
Wednesday April 27, 2011 

2 Educational Concerts + Concert Open to Public 7 PM - All at Parkersburg South HS 
Conductor - Robert Turizziani 
Program:        
    Peter and the Wolf – Prokofiev – Featuring Schrader Youth Ballet 
    Carnival of the Animals – Camille Saint-Saens – Victoria Berneking & Deborah Gross, piano


Pops Concert
Friday, June 3, 2011 8 PM
Lafayette Hotel, Marietta, OH 
Conductor - Robert Turiizziani 
Program: Light Classical and Romantic selections


Related links:
* River Cities Symphony, Julie Hepler
* WV Classical Calendar -- November

Fiddle or Violin? O’Connor and Cooper Discuss

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 10, 2010

Fiddle or Violin talk
Mark O'Connor and Maestro Grant Cooper discuss "Is it a fiddle or a violin?" at the Clay Center in Charleston

The subject of the lunchtime lecture at the Clay Center today was “Is it a violin or a fiddle?”

After a bit of discussion of terms (and a few jokes), the conversation moved on to more interesting matters, including understanding music throughout different cultures, improvisation, how we learn music, finding new directions for American music, and the inspiration for Grant Cooper’s and Mark O’Connor’s compositions that blend folk and classical music.

Here’s the main discussion (to download, podcast, or stream online):

This audio player requires Adobe Flash
Mark O'Connor and WV Symphony artistic director Grant Cooper

Here’s the question and answer session.  The questions are off-mic, so you can’t hear them, but the answers are very interesting even without the questions and worth hearing. Some questions led to even more in-depth discussions. 

This audio player requires Adobe Flash
Q & A from "Is it a violin or a fiddle?"

Catching up and Fiddle Fun

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 10, 2010

I keep going to concerts, and planning to write about them here, but then I keep going to more concerts!

The good part is that I’ve heard a lot of great music – Red Priest, Opus Chorale, the Met Opera’s Live in HD broadcast of  Boris Godunov (the encore is tonight!), the Wheeling Symphony, Eliot Fisk. The downside is that I really do want to take the time to write and think about the music, so I hope to catch up on that soon.

Mark O'Connor
Mark O'Connor

But now, I’m getting ready to attend a lunchtime lecture – with Mark O’Connor! His talk with WV Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director Grant Cooper is called “Is it a Violin or a Fiddle?” and it will be at the Clay Center in Charleston at 12:15pm today.

If you can get over there, I think it’s worth taking the time. But don’t worry if you’re too far away or stuck at work – I’ll be recording the talk and posting it here on the blog later today. 

Here’s some videos to enjoy for now: Eliot Fisk playing Cordoba by Isaac Albeniz, and Mark O’Connor backstage at Mountain Stage earlier this year and performing with Sharon Isbin.

-

WV Classical Calendar - November 2010

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 1, 2010

November 2010

Nov. 2: Marshall University Brass Quintet (Ohio University Southern)

Nov. 3: Matthew Morris, bassoon; Michele Fiala, oboe; William Averill, horn (Marshall University Guest Recital)

Nov. 4: Concord University Choral Festival Concert

Nov. 4: WVU Music Gala Fundraising Concert

Nov. 4: Marshall University Choir

Nov. 4: Fairmont State University Department Recital

Nov. 5: Wheeling Symphony “Guitar Magic and WV’s Own”

Nov. 5: WVU Low Brass Concert

 Nov. 5-6: Handel's Messiah - Masterworks Chorale (Shepherd University Friends of Music)

Nov. 6: Russian and Ukrainian Music with the ABS Balalaika Trio (Bottling Works, Romney)

 Nov. 6: Percussion and Drumming Festival (Shepherd University)

Nov. 7: Montclaire String Quartet “Something for Everyone”

Nov. 7: Fairmont State University Community Orchestra

Nov. 8: WVU Faculty Piano Quartet

Nov. 9: SAI Musicale (Fairmont State University)

Nov. 9: Tuesdays with Fran: Schumann’s Album for the Young (Carnegie Hall Lewisburg)

Nov. 9: WVU Symphonic Band

Nov. 10: Lunchtime lecture “Is it a Violin or a Fiddle?” (Clay Center, Charleston)

Nov. 10: Afternoon Recital (Alderson-Broaddus)

 Nov. 10: Moscow State Symphony Orchestra at WVU

Nov. 10: Met Opera HD Encore: Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (Barboursville, Ashland, KY; Germantown, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; many others in the region)

Nov. 10-13: WVU Opera Scenes

Nov. 11: WVU Graduate Wind Quintet

Nov. 11: Marshall University Percussion Ensemble

 Nov. 11-14: Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" and "The Telephone" (West Virginia Wesleyan)

Nov. 12: WVU New Music Concert

Nov. 12: Romantic Tunes with String Bass (MUsic Alive)

Nov. 12: George Palton, tuba (Marshall University Faculty Recital)

Nov. 12-13: WV Symphony with Mark O’Connor “Appalachian Autumn”

Nov. 13: WV Symphony Family Concert: “Legends of Appalachia

 Nov. 13: Met Opera Live in HD: Donizetti's Don Pasquale (Barboursville, Morgantown, Ashland, KY; Germantown, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; many others in the region)

Nov. 14: Hope Koehler, soprano (WVU Faculty Recital)

Nov. 14: Marshall University Chamber Choir

Nov. 14: Robert Gruca, guitar (Fairmont Chamber Music Society)

 Nov. 14: WV Symphony with Mark O'Connor "Appalachian Autumn" (Parkersburg)

 Nov. 14: William Haller, organ (First Presbyterian Church, Buckhannon)

Nov. 15: The Looking Glass Ensemble (Marshall University)

Nov. 15: Jack Gibbons, piano (interview) (Carnegie Hall, Lewisburg)

Nov. 16: Alderson-Broaddus Concert Band & Honors Wind Ensemble

Nov. 16: WVU Wind Symphony

Nov. 17: Sarvasti Trio (WVU)

Nov. 17: Marshall University Guitar Ensemble 

Nov. 17: Concord University Percussion Ensemble Concert

Nov. 18: Tean H’wa Ping, piano; Pei Sien Lim, piano (WVU Guest Artist Recital)

Nov. 18: WVU Symphony Orchestra

 Nov. 19: These Three Tenors (Beckley Concert Association)

Nov. 19: Lui Barros, piano (Marshall University Guest Recital)

Nov. 20: Max Brod Trio (Charleston Chamber Music Society)

 Nov. 21: "Autumn Serenade" River Cities Symphony with Lindsey Goodman, flute (Parkersburg)

Nov. 29-30: WVU Marching Band Keynotes Concert

Nov. 30: Fairmont State University Guitar Ensemble

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