August 2012

Summer Breeze Pops Concert

August 26, 2012 07:32

Every quarter in school we are required to write a Concert Review about a performance we went and saw (but did not play in). I wrote this one early about a concert I went to see last night. Apart from handing this in to my orchestra teacher, I'd like to share it with all of you!

As you may or may not know, in July me and my family went to see the West Suburban Symphony perform a variety of movie music outside on a beautiful clear evening. Conducted by Frank Winkler, this concert was no different – although one difference was my violin teacher played in it! It was a wonderful evening last night as well, and there were vocalists and a large variety of music ranging from Rossini’s William Tell Overture to Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. From ‘classical’ 20th Century music to newer hits, this concert was a fabulous one I would enjoy listening through again!

The music in the concert was brilliantly selected. John Williams’ America, the Dream Goes On, though a song I had never heard before, was a piece I could still recognize as the work of Williams, because in my head whenever I play or listen to his music I have this distinct tonal viewpoint in how he writes his compositions that sets him apart from other movie soundtrack composers like Howard Shore or Alexandre Desplat. One quick example of this is the Harry Potter films; the music of the first three films has a different feeling than the music of the other five. Although his song was beautiful, I think my favorite had to be Bolero by French composer Maurice Ravel. The piece was meant for ladies to perform a graceful dance on a table and then fall into the arms of their lovers. Discussing the piece alone, however, I thought it was beautiful and graceful, and had hints of spices only a Spanish song can bring.

While watching the performance, there were, of course, many things to look at. While the orchestra was playing, I could not see the stage from where I was sitting, so most of the time I had my eyes shut so as to allow me to “see” the music better. Although I did get up during intermission to say “hello” to my violin teacher, and I did notice they had stand-lamps (like in May’s Pops Concert). Unlike the last concert in July, my family brought blankets and, from 6:30 to 7:00 while waiting for the show to start we had a little picnic with chicken, carrots, wraps, and even apple-banana muffins. And, of course, the concert was outside, so along with the music we could hear cicadas chirping and nighttime bugs buzzing around. Apparently on the stage in the middle of a piece, two cicadas mated, which was an interesting sight to see. I did not see it; I merely heard about it by the conductor.

Out of all the pieces the one I recognized the least (well, actually, I did not recognize it at all!) was Finian’s Rainbow. The film came out in 1947, and though Burton Lane was the main composer for the film’s soundtrack, he had another person help him out with lyrics, and that was E.Y. Harburg. Harburg found lyric-writing nerve-wracking and hard on the brain; however for this piece he found inspiration about the story took over and he managed to, with research in Irish poetry, create fantastic lyrics to Lane’s orchestra. Here is a quote I found that he stated in 1970 at New York: "The magic in song only happens when the words give destination and meaning to the music and the music gives wings to the words. Together as a song they go places you've never been before. The reason is obvious: words make you think thoughts. Music makes you feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought. Songs are the pulse of a nation's heart, a fever chart of its health. Are we at peace? Are we in trouble? Are we floundering? Do we feel beautiful? Do we feel ugly?...listen to our songs...The lyricist, like any artist, cannot be neutral. He should be committed to the side of humanity.” I really like this quote because it describes the combining of orchestra and, well, bands today, and how this combination can allow you to feel emotions and think about the words of the piece. It was also the start of a new era in popular music.

The concert was an amazing experience, especially considering the fact my violin teacher played in it! It really tells a fantastic story of how movie and musical music created stories for the plot, and I had a blast listening to the symphony and picking out different melodies, rhythms, and even dynamics. I hope this concert will inspire me to compose my own music, just as July’s did.

Here is a link to July’s Concert Review (although I did not follow any direct format): Click here!

Here is a link to some information about Finian’s Rainbow, as well as the quote: Click here!

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First Rehearsal!

August 24, 2012 20:10

Today in school during orchestra (I'm in Symphonic Strings, the second highest group), we had a rehearsal! (That sentence sounds pathetic. Sorry.) It's been quite a while since I've played my violin with a group; mostly I've been practicing on my own over the summer. We have I believe 50+ students in the class, so even though we had only time for separate to bow two notes to bow four notes three octave scales, the sound was incredibly impressive and filled the room with wonderful noise. Monday we will start with some music, and it will be fun.

One more quick thing before I end this post. In my AP Music Theory class (which is apparently a collage level course), we had homework to write an essay on the definition of music. Here's mine: 'Music is nothing more than mere organized sound.' Well, that's a summary of it.

Have any of you heard of John Cage's "4'33?" :) My teacher performed the first movement of it, and we realized how even that piece can be considered music.

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Sweet Sixteen

August 16, 2012 08:47

Yesterday was my sixteenth birthday! Various things happened that day that are related to what I've been posting in previous blog entries. So I'll just explain my day in its entirety.

For starters, that morning, I ended my symphony! Yep, it's 142 measures and 28 pages long for a thirteen instrument score (although most instruments come in two parts, like the violins, flutes, and oboes). I'm not quite finished with all the parts yet, but I'm just about there.

After that we all went to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago! This is a rare treat because we never usually go there. We saw two shows, and for the sake of discussing music in any possible way I'll just say that I really enjoyed the soundtrack of these shows. They were beautifully orchestrated, and combining that remarkable orchestra with the smooth visuals of outer space just about made my day.

We went out for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, which is, for the record, my #1 favorite restaurant ever. I got a too-large salad (as usual), a baked potato (as usual), and non-seasoned vegetables (which I seasoned). Then they had apple cobbler, and although an apple pie was waiting at home for my birthday treat, I decided to save the pie for today.

After dinner we went home and I opened presents. I got two books solely on music composition (one was an appreciation for classical music book and the other was about movie music), and a Doctor Who picture almanac. (I don't know if I've already mentioned this, but Doctor Who is my favorite show ever. And the way I got interested to watch it was by listening to the music! Then, of course, I enjoyed the plot and characters and such...) Finally, I got two violin books: one with songs by Lennon and McCartney and one with the various pieces from The Lord of the Rings. Maybe sometime I'll post videos of these performances on YouTube if I play any of them with my violin teacher.

To wrap the day up, we watched The Waters of Mars, which was a David Tennant (he plays the Tenth Doctor) special. Then I read my new book until it was time for bed.

So yeah. That was my sixteenth birthday. Hooray! Although I didn't pull out my violin (which I was going to do after I practiced piano and guitar but didn't), I still did plenty of musical related things and so that's why I felt like posting here. Thanks for reading!

By the way, I'm planning on posting my symphony once it's fully complete on YouTube. More than likely I'll put out a link on a future blog entry, so you can listen to it from there.

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Summer Movie

August 2, 2012 19:28

If I'm not mistaken, I mentioned me and my sister's annual summer movie on June 1st. We waited for a while before finally starting it about a week ago. (Maybe it was six days ago). We've been filming a scene or a couple scenes a day, but it's hard to do anything outside because it's just been so hot!

But I'm not here to talk about the plot of the movie, or the characters, or even my little acting experiences I'm having. I'm here to talk about my first time in writing the complete soundtrack for the movie, and having the experience of composing a movie soundtrack before I go into a class about it. It's been a lot of fun! I've used my violin, sad to say, very little so far in the making of these songs, but I'll try to pull it out again sometime. For one piece, where the heroine is reunited with a character who has been sick for a while and is healed, I took my time on the song, timing the scene for Quarter=88 measures and writing various spots down. That way, when I sat down at my keyboard, I could write themes based on different things that were happening in the scene. I may do this again for maybe a battle scene.

So on some days this week on my blog I'll try to write about a song I wrote or something like that. Please enjoy! And if you have any tips for me that would make my composing even better, please feel free to let me know! :)

Oh, yeah. Kinda off topic, but I should probably mention I'm learning John Williams' 1984 Olympic Fanfare and Theme on piano, which is a whole lot of fun!

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More entries: July 2012

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