When the Oregon Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall last spring, Alex Ross of the New Yorker said it was the most remarkable concert of the regular season–no small accolade, in view of the abundance of New York’s classical scene.
The program (“Music for a Time of War”) linked pieces by Ives, Adams, Britten and Vaughan Williams. If you didn’t hear our live broadcast in May–or even if–you can listen online here. Or tune in to SymphonyCast this Sunday at 1 pm.
We’re taking a European vacation. Starting Monday, we’ll highlight pieces that have been ascribed cities, (like Haydn’s “London” Symphony and Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony) on our 10 a.m. Morning Glories. It needn’t stop there, though we also want to share your musical experiences abroad. Whether it’s a professional orchestra, or a serendipitous encounter with an ensemble performing in public, we’d love to hear your favorite stories of music and beauty in far-flung lands.
Share your comments below, or on our Facebook page.
In the summer of 2000, my sister worked in Barcelona for a 6-week book conservation project. My mother and I went to visit, we rented a car, and traveled from Barcelona to A Coruña; via the north coast… or at least we tried. It was a long drive, and we ran out of time and needed to turn back before reaching our intended destination.
We went back toward Barcelona via the overland route, and stopped in some of the bigger cities along the way; one of them being Burgos. It was early, and we were looking for Breakfast (we joked: perhaps a Burgos King croissan’wich?). We were walking around the Plaza Cathedral and ran into three gentlemen, arms around each other, serenading some lucky soul in the apartments above.
They were probably drunk, but they sounded amazing. None of us could identify the music, so I snapped a photo, and shortly thereafter we found some coffee and pastries and we talked about how you just never see that sort of thing in the U.S. (or at least in the midwest).
With their ears all over the world, our listeners are forever turning us on to all sorts of great things to savor, delight, and astonish.
One such listener from South Carolina recently sent us information about Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, the first and only independent professional Chinese orchestra not run by the government in Taiwan, which she stumbled upon by accident.
These beautiful pieces are familiar in scope and form with western roots and orchestral setup, but because of the instrumentation they shimmer with a wash of sounds, colors, and expressions that form a remarkably palatable and interesting blend of East and West.
The term “blend of East and West” is often employed by musical groups who are in fact struggling to smash two traditions together, and not always gracefully. But the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, with it’s Western setup and (mostly) Eastern instrumentation, executes the intent of the cliché so gracefully that it feels truly like the skeleton of a larger musical idea, no more possible to remove or overtly obvious than the bones that structure the body. This “modern Chinese music orchestra” as they call themselves, “perform Chinese music as [they] think it should be performed. Normal si-zhu orchestras are restricted to traditional si-zhu forms, but the idea of [their] programme is to exploit different environments and opportunities in order to demonstrate the full range of possibilities of the beauty of Chinese music.”
Such beauty, indeed.
Highlights from July 26 to August 2
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Choral music by Joshua Nice; From Age to Age performs.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: From the BBC Proms
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar, recorded at Carnegie Hall
Monday, 8 pm: Roll Credits: Musicals, Part One
Comedies are on the docket for this week’s Roll Credits. From Chaplin to Mancini and everything in between.
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Charles Chaplin – Napoli March from The Great Dictator
Francis Shaw, conductor
The Munich Symphony Orchestra
Ray Shield – Little Rascals Music: Good Old Days; Beautiful Lady
The Beau Hunks
Harry Ruby – Everyone Says I Love You
Cafe Accordion Orchestra
Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther Theme; It Had Better Be Tonight
Henry Mancini, conductor
The Mancini Pops Orchestra
John Williams – March from “1941”
John Williams, conductor
Philips 420 178
Elmer Bernstein – Ghostbusters
Elmer Bernstein, conductor
Royal Philharmonic Pops
Stephen Sondheim – Comedy TOnight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Zero Mostel, vocal
Bay Cities 3002
Patrick Doyle – Much Ado About Nothing
Original Soundtrack Recording
Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin – “Tchaikovsky” from Lady in the Dark
Original Cast Recording
George and Ira Gershwin – They All Laughed from Shall We Dance
Ginger Rodgers, vocal
Fred Astaire, vocal
Irvin Berlin – The Hostess with the Mostess from Call Me Madam
Ethel Merman, vocal
William Walton – As You Like It
Carl Davis, conductor
Continue reading Roll Credits: July 25, 2011 – Comedies
Something in the concept of vacation was lost in translation for a small, portly but energetic German composer of the 19th century. The idea of kickin’ back always seemed to work out as kickin’ it up a notch.
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Final installment in these Rosenkavalier highlights, as we look ahead to tomorrow night’s broadcast:
Act III: The Baron is trying to seduce a chambermaid (actually Octavian in disguise). The Baron tries to get her/him tipsy. The response, which even non-German majors can understand, is: “Nein, nein, nein, nein! I trink kein Wein!”
The tune may seem trivial, but Strauss has plans for it.
At the end of the opera, the “Nein, nein” melody in the previous example makes its comeback–but transformed in its new context.
The Marschallin, Sophie, and Octavian all realize that, ready or not, their lives are changing forever. Strauss expresses this in a soaring trio–one of the most famous ensemble pieces in opera.
A messenger reads Baron Ochs a letter, asking him to a romantic rendezvous. He’s overcome with delight, as the waltzes swirl. . . .
(No subtitles here, but you do get a chance to see Manfred Hemm, who appears in our Saturday night broadcast.)
If you listen to only one thing today, listen at 10:00. It’s some of the most sublime music ever written. Four songs for soprano and orchestra. Lush, tender, soaring and I guarantee you’ll have constant goosebumps.
Strauss “Four Last Songs” in probably the greatest recording ever made with Elisabeth Scwarzkopf.