Taken onstage at last week’s wcfsymphony Youth Concerts, right after these awesome kids led the orchestra in various themes from John Williams’ Harry Potter scores. My nine assistant conductors – and about a thousand of their peers at schools throughout the region – hosted me at their campuses earlier in 2014 for insights into orchestra and quick conducting lessons en-masse. This year’s volunteer maestros represented about two-thirds of the schools I visited: Poyner, St Edward’s, Lincoln, Becker, and Lou Henry schools in Waterloo, Lincoln and St. Patrick’s in Cedar Falls, and Lenihan Intermediate in Marshalltown.
'No professionals here - they're all steelworkers and their wives and daughters.'
A remarkable bit of American cultural history: rehearsal at the Youngstown [aka Steel Town] Symphony Orchestra in 1944. In addition to serving as a reminder of just how closely connected so-called high culture was to big industry in 20th-century America, this artifact also offers an unexpected perspective on the issue of organized labor in music.
UNI Percussion and West African Drum Ensemble at our final Lollipop concert of the season a few weeks back. This year our free mini-series for (mini-)audiences was enjoyed by 630 young people and their family members, including the group pictured above. ‘It was a blast. My kids loved it, I loved it. Lots of movement and interaction,’ shared one parent after the show.
We’re thrilled that so many families here in Iowa chose to spend Saturday mornings exploring music with us, and I’m thrilled that I got to enjoy the amazing show pictured above with my own kids!
Looks like Iowa’s typically capricious spring weather will deliver some snow tonight, so I’ll make the best of it and toss in one more post contrasting the winter vistas of various riding spots with shots from other times of year. This pairing shows six months to the day on the Cedar River. More at Exposure.
'It’s no exaggeration to say that the crowd went wild.'
And for a world premiere, no less!
Read on at Iowa Public Radio for Barney Sherman response to our presentation of Brooke Joyce’s Uné Cite Moderne last weekend at wcfsymphony. His review also includes a spot-on recognition of what we were aiming to accomplish in our performance of Mahler 1 later in the evening:
'It was light on its feet in a specifically rural Eastern European way … In the second movement Saturday night, the wcfsymphony players sounded as if they actually dance Austrian ländlers in their spare time, and in the klezmer-band section in the third movement the players sounded as if they had wandered in from a rural Hapsburg village.'
Audio of our evocative approach to Mahler is coming to this space next week.
The opening and two final movement passages from Mahler’s First Symphony, as they appeared in a revised manuscript prepared by the composer for a performance in Hamburg four years after the symphony’s disastrous premiere. The first movement subtitle [‘Spring without end’] was added for this 1893 version of the piece, along with the overall title ‘Titan’ and other contextual notes. The Hamburg version also included a fifth movement entitled Blumine, which like the title and extra-musical indications was jettisoned by Mahler prior to the work’s publication in 1898. [View the entire Hamburg manuscript in low-res at IMSLP.]
Tonight at wcfsymphony we present the First Symphony in an interpretation inspired by Mahler’s final conception of the piece. For those of you outside the area, audio and video from our performance will be posted here within the next few weeks.
Stunning architectural drawings by Robert Mallet-Stevens, published in a 1921 volume entitled Une Cité Moderne and the inspiration for a new piece of the same name by Decorah, Iowa composer Brooke Joyce:
Although none of these designs were built, they represent a playful and beautiful vision of modernity. I chose seven of these drawings as starting points, imagining how seven French composers, contemporaries of Mallet-Stevens, might have responded to his work. A citizen of the modern city awakened by the sounds of the beffroi (Vierne), dropping off children at the école (Debussy), doing some shopping at the halles (Poulenc), running an errand at the bureau de poste (Honegger), stopping to buy a gift at the magasin de nouveautes (Satie), attending a late afternoon service at the église (Messiaen), and ending the day at the cinéma (Ravel).
I’m thrilled to perform the world premiere of Brooke’s delightfully evocative concerto tomorrow at wcfsymphony alongside its dedicatee, principal oboe Heather Armstrong.