QCSO Concert Reflection - Masterworks I: Postcards from Paris

October 8, 2017, 3:20 PM · I know I've mentioned the QCSO a lot, but while I'm at Augie they are my community orchestra, and it's so lovely to get to see their work alongside the Augustana Symphony and me personally playing with them. I am especially excited for the season's theme: dividing music into different parts of the world! Today's concert was all about Paris - that's mainly why I wanted to record my thoughts, as I was just at Paris this summer!

The program began with George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" - a piece I've always enjoyed and of course listened to it while doing laundry once in my apartment in Paris. This piece was particularly special because I think both my big summer works, my harp piece "Le Chat et L'Hardage Mystérieux", which I recently completed and am currently entering the story - and my Trombone Concerto, both fuse a bit of Gershwin/Ravel-esque jazz harmonies and styles into them. It was lovely to hear this jazz come out in the orchestra, and those really sultry major seventh chords were really powerful.

Next came an Italian opera: Puccini's La bohéme, or an excerpt from Act I of it. I'm not the largest fan of opera, but, just like you can't not be happy listening to Mozart, you can't not be swayed at least a little by his over-dramatic leaps. Both of the singers performed beautifully and wonderfully with the orchestra, and there was a bit of acting of course going alongside, the story following the music. This was plenty of fun, and I could get the sense of an Italian style taking place in Paris, just like Gershwin's American style.

After intermission, we got to the only French piece on the program, as it happened: Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. A great work I studied last year, this piece was particularly powerful, especially in the final couple movements. The second movement, "A Ball", remains to be my favorite of them all. The Dies Irae in the brass was particularly powerful, and the chimes were really just fine, nothing to spectacular. I always get chills when for the first time I hear live a piece I'd listened to many times in recordings, so it was really fun to hear this.

Looking forward to going to more concerts this season! I'll be playing our music with the Augie Orchestra in a couple more weekends, and we'll have a short Chicago tour as well at the beginning of November. Also exciting for me is getting to play Maurice Ravel's "Introduction et Allegro" next winter! Finally, I get to play Ravel with an ensemble!!! What a great piece to start that for me - it's always been a piece I've loved since I first heard it back in 2014.

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