By Jacob Stockinger
Another weekend, another reader survey.
For The Ear, music was and remains much more an emotional experience than an intellectual one.
So he was intrigued when he came across a survey question on the Internet earlier this week.
The question was simple: When did you first connect emotionally with a piece of classical music and how old were you? And what was the piece and composer of the piece that you first connected with emotionally?
It sounds so easy. But The Ear found himself going back through time and really straining to choose the right answer.
Early on, The Ear loved the sound and drama of Smetana’s tone poem “The Moldau.” And he loved some works by Johann Sebastian Bach that he heard in church. During piano lessons, there was some pieces by Chopin.
But then at about age 11, the Great Emotional Awakening to Music came in a way that reminded him of the famous madeleine memory episode in Marcel Proust’s novel “Remembrance of Things Past,” translated more accurately, if less poetically, these days as “In Search of Lost Time.”
Since he himself was a young and aspiring pianist, The Ear has realized, he no doubt first connected with the powerful recording by Arthur Rubinstein (below top) of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18, by Sergei Rachmaninoff (below bottom). That recording also featured Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and you can hear it in the YouTube video at the bottom.
The answer really isn’t a surprise — young people love the sweep of Romantic music. After all, on a lesser emotional level, Rachmaninoff had also moved The Ear with the famous Prelude in C-Sharp Minor — the “Bells of Moscow” — which spurred The Ear into starting piano lessons when he heard it played live and right in front of him by a babysitter.
How intently he listened to the concerto, with a friend in the basement of his friend’s house, over and over again. How it moved him and never failed to move him – and still moves him today.
And then, maybe at 12 or 13, he rushed out and bought the Schirmer score tot he concerto when he was old enough and skilled enough to try to play some of it – the famous opening chords and excerpts from the beautiful and lyrical slow second movement. That experience of playing even excerpts also proved very emotional.
Now, there is also a practical purpose to this question. The answer just might give adults an idea about how to attract young children and new audiences to classical music.
Anyway, that’s what The Ear wants to know this weekend:
How old were you when you first connected EMOTIONALLY to classical music?
And who was the composer, the piece and the performer that you connected with emotionally?
The Ear hopes you have just as much poignant fun recollecting the answer as he did.
Let us know the answer in the COMMENT section with a YouTube link if possible.
The Ear wants to ear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Moravec was known especially for his interpretations of Chopin, Debussy, Brahms and especially Mozart – his playing of a Mozart piano concerto was heard on the soundtrack of the popular and Academy Award-winning film “Amadeus,” which you can hear in a YouTube video at the bottom. He also played composers from his native land including Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana and Leos Janacek.
Here are some obituaries:
From Gramophone magazine:
From Classical Music magazine:
From Voy Forums with mentions of awards:
From critic Norman Lebrecht‘s blog Slipped Disc:
By Jacob Stockinger
Our friends at the Oakwood Chamber Players write:
This weekend, the Oakwood Chamber Players (below) continue to celebrate its 30th anniversary season with an all-Czech program called “Recapitulate!”
The two performances of the program are on this coming Saturday, January 17, at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, January 18, at 1:30 p.m.
Both concerts will be held at the Oakwood Center for Arts and Education, 6209 Mineral Point Road. It is a comfortable and wheelchair-accessible space with good acoustics and sight-lines.
Tickets are available at the door – $20 general admission, $15 seniors and $5 students. Visit www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com for more information.
The program features three favorites from past OCP seasons:
Adolf Schreiner – “Immer Kleiner” (Always Smaller) for clarinet and piano (originally performed May, 2006). You can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video.
The Smetana work is an exciting and beautiful whirl of piano trio fun
The ensemble has performed the Janacek piece more than once and is happy to have Greg Smith, Jennifer Morgan and Dawn Lawler reunite for this performance.
The seemingly short and sweet “Immer Kleiner” is a comedic homage to the clarinet (below) that includes disassembling the instrument.
This is the third of five concerts in their celebratory 30th anniversary season series titled “Reprise! Looking Back Over 30 Years.”
Remaining concerts include:
For more details, including programs as well as critical reviews, player biographies and recordings, visit:
The Oakwood Chamber Players is a group of Madison-area professional musicians who have rehearsed and performed at Oakwood Village for 30 years. Many of them play in other professional groups including the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
By Jacob Stockinger
This coming season the Oakwood Chamber Players (below) turns 30.
The group, which features talented players and seasoned professionals — who also play with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music — in repertoire that is often neglected or unknown or new, will mark the occasion by reprising works from past concerts. Think of it as a season of Golden Oldies.
The real news to The Ear is that the group will no longer play one of its two weekend performances at the Visitor Center (below) in the Arboretum.
Here is how one spokesperson explained it: “While we really appreciated the environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, as well as the exposure to a different audience, the decision to hold both concerts at Oakwood was a financial one — as these things too often unfortunately are.
“There are space and piano rental fees at the Arboretum that we don’t incur at Oakwood that were making the concerts cost-prohibitive to hold there, and our audience size was not adequately offsetting these expenses.”
Here is an introduction plus a list of the 30th anniversary season programs:
Looking Back Over 30 Years
Looking back over 30 years of music making, the Oakwood Chamber Players remember great performances of unique and much-loved works of art. We also honor the fun and richness we’ve shared with our musician friends; some who have been with us for a single concert or a few years and others who have shared the stage with us for three decades.
And of course our trip down memory lane would not be complete without thoughts of all the terrific audiences who have honored us with their support and applause.
And so we come to this season, one of looking back, still with anticipation of what is to come! We hope you will join us on the journey!”
Concerts are Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. All 2014-15 concerts will be held at the Oakwood Center for Arts and Education, 6209 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705
Ticket prices are: Senior Single — $15/concert; Senior Series – $65/season; Adult Single – $20/concert; Adult Series – $85/season; Student Single – $5/concert.
For more information, visit: http://www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com
September 13 and 14, 2014 — REWORK!
Johannes Brahms (below top): Sonatas for Clarinet/Piano and Viola/Piano
Ferdinand Ries (below bottom): Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello
(Brahms Sonatas … one which the composer reworked from clarinet to viola)
November 28 and 30, 2014 — REMIX!
“Christmas Lights” Memories: Various selections from our long history of Christmas Lights performances (originally performed November, 1994)
NOTE: The dates and times for the November concerts are: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 1 p.m.; and Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.
January 17 and 18, 2015 — RECAPITULATE!
Bedrich Smetana (below top): Trio for violin, cello and piano, Op. 15 in g minor (originally performed May, 2004)
Leos Janacek (below bottom): “Mladi” (Youth) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and bass clarinet (originally performed July, 1989/May 2004)
Adolf Schreiner: “Immer Kleiner” for clarinet and piano (originally performed May, 2006)
March 14/15, 2015 — REPLAY!
May 23/24, 2015 — REISSUE!
Carl Nielsen (below bottom): “Serenato in Vano” for clarinet, horn, bassoon cello and bass (originally performed June, 1993/May, 2009)
By Jacob Stockinger
This weekend brings the annual Winterfest concerts given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.
Once again, The Ear predicts, audiences will see and hear some of the city’s biggest, most enthusiastic and youngest audiences (below) greet equally young, enthusiastic and talented young players who turn in performances of astounding and often unexpected high quality.
The Ear knows that from personal experience. I will never ever forget a remarkable performance of the Symphony No. 8 by Antonin Dvorak that I heard at a spring WYSO performance several years ago. It was serious music-making, not just student music-making.
In retrospect, all that should be no surprise. Young people from all around southcentral Wisconsin become members of WYSO only through a rigorous audition process, and the training is hard and long. But WYSO’s young performers end up making great music greatly, so that when they are invited to go on tour to Europe (two summers ago) and South America (this coming summer) it seems a natural outcome.
The concerts on this Saturday and Sunday are the primary concert fundraisers for the group that holds the most promise of insuring the future of classical music and music education among young people, especially at a time when arts funding is being taken away from many public schools.
The concerts also serve as the run-up to the all-important Art of Note gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 29, from 6 to 10 p.m. at CUNA Mutual. The concerts are guaranteed to whet your appetite for the Art of Note, which will feature fine food, wine, live music by student groups, auctions of items from sports matches and restaurants to vacations and entertainment, and old violins (below bottom) recycled as art.
(In the interest of full disclosure, The Ear has to say that he is a member of the Board of Directors of WYSO — precisely because he considers it such a vital investment in the future of the performing arts and arts education. You should attend the concerts if you can, and also donate what you can to WYSO because I can’t think of a better or more deserving investment you can make.)
On this Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and March 16, more than 350 talented young musicians will perform both classical and contemporary works.
WYSO concerts generally last about 1-1/2 hours, and provide a great orchestral concert opportunity for families. Dress is casual and the atmosphere is respectful, but informal. These concerts are, in a word, fun.
Tickets are available at the door: $10 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.
WYSO was founded in 1966 and has served nearly 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.
The concert series kicks off on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with Sinfonietta (below) performing works by Aaron Copland, Peter Illich Tchaikovsky, Bedrich Smetana, Gazda, and Leyden.
Then on Saturday at 4 p.m. the Concert Orchestra (below) will perform numerous works, including “Three Songs of Chopin” by Frederic Chopin, “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Gustav Holst, “Band of Brothers” by Michael Kamen, and “The Great Gate of Kiev” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modeste Mussorgsky.
On Sunday at 1:30, the Philharmonia Orchestra (below, rehearsing) will perform the irresistible final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 5 in C minor, the fourth movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s searing Symphony No. 5, “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1” by Edvard Grieg, “March and Procession to Bacchus” by Leo Delibes, and finally “Procession to the Cathedral” by Richard Wagner.
Then also on Sunday at 4 p.m., the Youth Orchestra (below, in performance under WYSO’s music director and UW-Madison conducting professor James Smith) will close the concert series with Symphony No. 4 in E-Flat by the 19th-century Romantic Russian composer Peter Illich Tchaikovsky (it is The Ear’s favorite of Tchaikovsky’s six wonderful symphonies); “Liturgical Scenes” by the 20th-century American composer Ellsworth Milburn; and “El sombrero de tres picos” (The Three-Cornered Hat) by the 20th-century Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. (At bottom is a YouTube video of the finale to Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 as performed at last year’s WYSO Winterfest.)
For more information about the Winterfest concerts and the Art of Note gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 29, as well as for information about auditioning to join WYSO and ways to support WYSO, visit:
WYSO extends special thanks to Diane Endres Ballweg for her generous multi-year support of the Winterfest Concerts. The concerts are also generously supported by Dane Arts, with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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