It wasn’t a New Year Resolution, but earlier this year I decided that I need to make more of an effort at attending some of the local classical/choral music performances. So by staying tuned with the internet, tips from friends, and a weekly entertainment guide published by the Erie Times I attended four concerts to date, the last one happening night. And, except for the one last evening, all were free. Yep I’m a miser…and Menno. By attending these concerts I discovered that classical music, while beautiful and worthwhile in recorded form, is twice if not thrice as wonderful “en vivo”. Live performances effectively capture the mood, intensity, authenticity and ultimately the beauty of the composer’s original intention.
Following are breakdowns for each concert in the order that they occured. I’m doing this to somewhat relive the experiences and because I didn’t have take the time to write something more substantial.
March 29, 2008
Perfomer(s): Grove City College Touring Choir
Conductor: Douglas A. Browne
Program Repertoire: “Sing and Rejoice”, “If Ye Love Me”, “Chantez a Dieu”, “O Nata Lux”, “God of Life”, “When David Heard”, “Cantate Domino”, “Ah, Holy Jesus”, “Lamb of God”, “Benedicamus Domino”, “Grant Us Thy Peace”, “Judge Me, Oh God”, “Psalm 67”, “Happy Is He”, “Lead Me, Guide Me”, “Easter Song”, “The Battle of Jericho”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Benediction”
Review: I love sacred choral music, especially when performed by people who believe what they sing. I of course cannot make that judgment since I don’t know any of the choir members, but they sure did an excellent job with interpretation. The concert took place in the beautiful Harbinson Chapel of Grove City College (where a fellow H.S. graduate and friend of mine, Marlin Sommers, currently attends). I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of the CD they recorded, although I’m guessing that it will not do justice to the actual performance.
April 3, 2008
Performer(s): The Alexander String Quartet
Selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances- John Adams
String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, K. 458 “The Hunt”- Wolfgang A. Mozart
String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127- Ludwig van Beethoven
Review: I was not familiar with the group or any of the pieces that they performed, but I had a lot of fun becoming familiar them. The talent of these men is absolutely incredible. Even though the string quartet is not my favorite arrangement of classical music the performance was flawless and spectacular, and I enjoyed it immensely.
April 26, 2008
Performer: Alec Chien
Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Op. 49 No. 1
Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49 No. 2
Sonata No. 4 in E-flat Major, Op. 7
Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerclavier”
Review: Although I claim no judging authority in piano music, or any of this music for that matter, I believe Chien is one of the greatest pianists in the world (his bio would back that up). I had heard much about this local legend through some friends but never had the opportunity to hear him play until this time. I at least expected him to use music, but no, he played over an hour of extremely complicated music without a single sheet of music. I was pretty well blown away. This concert completed his goal of performing all of Beethoven’s forty something sonatas.
June 6, 2008
Performer(s): The International Baroque Soloists
Conductor: Grant Cooper
Symphony in F (fr. Opus 2)- William Boyce
Concerto for Trombone- Georg Cristoph Wagenseil
Preludio e Fuga in C BWV 846- J. S. Bach
The Four Seasons- Antonio Vivaldi
Review: This concert was actually the first in a three concert series entitled Bach and Beyond: A Baroque Music Festival. As an afficianado of Baroque music and particularly Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons I wasted little time in buying tickets in convincing by brother and sister, Drea and Jake, to accompany me. The concert was held in a quintessential yet very elegant theater in Fredonia, NY called the Fredonia Opera House. Hearing one of my favorite pieces of music performed live made the tickets and driving costs seem like an afterthought. Even though I’m very familar with The Four Seasons this performance wonderfully captured the mood of the seasons like never before. To make the music even better they included Vivaldi’s explanatory sonnets with the programs. The man was a genius.
Personal News Bulletin: Today I swam in our swimming hole for the first time this year. It is considerably deeper and wider than last year, thanks to Dad and a bulldozer. I think the long-awaited summer weather has perhaps, maybe, nearly, almost arrived.