Weekly Concert Roundup

February 5, 2020, 10:32 PM · I've been to a few different concerts over this past week, and I haven't had any time to sit down and write about them in a blog post. Since I have a little free time this evening, and can use notes from my journal to recall each concert, I thought I'd do a brief review of each one - nothing too substantial, but just enough to document my time at Krannert Center! If I don't have time to go to many more concerts later on this semester, this can be my justification. :P

February 1, 2020 - Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra (60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Season) - "Magical Delights"
Ft. Rachel Barton Pine - violin
Mozart: Overture to "The Magic Flute"
Barber: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
Smetana: Overture to "The Bartered Bride"
Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

It says on their website Pine plays on a del Gezu 1742 violin, and she played Brahms' Lullaby to her daughter with it! Anyways - this concert was super fun, and after hearing the Dvorak that I had played at Augustana, I really wanted to go on a Romantic kick! (I listened to some Grieg the next day :P) Hearing the Barber again live really makes me thing this might be my all-time favorite violin concerto... Maybe. Some of Pine's nuances were really special - just a little special wiggle of her finger to bring a sense of warmth. After her piece, she played a caprice written by her fiddler-composer friend, who wrote in the style of American country music mixed with a Paganini caprice. The music went so fast, I could hardly keep up! All in all, this was a great concert, and I hope I can see them again another time. I liked the violin on the cover of the CUSO-special program - reminded me of the QCSO programs I got when they were my prominent city orchestra...

(I should also mention the pre-show for this concert - a group of young string players performed some popular and country pieces on Stage 5 in the lobby! They were very fun to listen to while I read my book waiting for the doors to open to the Great Hall.)

February 4, 2020 - Jupiter String Quartet
Beethoven - String Quartet No. 10 in E-Flat Major, Op. 74
Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122
Mendelssohn - String Quartet No 3 in D Major, Op. 44, No. 1

Reading the program notes, it was so great to see how familial this group was, and their closeness really came through. There were many stunning moments, such as in the Mendelssohn, when one of the pitches would shine through the texture with beautiful vibrato and make my heart soar. Their subito pianos were all superb as well, going from sound to nothing instantly, taking advantage of the concert hall's reverb. The first violinist or cellist playing solos pitted against the other members of the ensemble in the Shostakovich reflected the lonely nature of the piece (as he had written it for the second violinist of the Beethoven String Quartet, which premiered many of his Quartets, who had just passed) was also very stunning. I really enjoyed hearing this group - I helped out a colleague with notating and playing through the violin part of a Quartet he wrote that they might play in the future!

January 29, 2020 - saxophone and electronics concert

I saved this one for last just because I really only wanted to briefly mention one piece on it for this blog (though there were lots of things I loved about the other works!). This was a saxophone concert put together by one of our faculty who manages our keys in the UIUC School of Music. While most of the pieces were just saxophone and electronics (and I am possibly thinking of working on a piece for violin and electronics I could perform myself...), Rudolf Haken's "Surennatalia 3" (rev. 2020) included saxophone, electric keyboard, and the composer playing electric viola (or, as I like to call it from TwoSet Violin, electric viola/violin hybrid thing :P)! Even though I prefer my acoustic instruments, there is an interesting case to be made for the marketability of electronic instruments in this new digital age we all live in, and it's neat to see these kinds of developments like we see in gaming, television, or computer industries take place in electronic/electroacoustic music as well. Anyways! The second version of this piece, "Surrennatalia 2", was premiered on 16 March 2012 (just a few days before I started this blog...), and was a soprano saxophone, violin, and piano rendition of a 1997 cello duo. So this 3rd version has quite a history behind it! It's a big Suite of six movements, with a Prelude that resembles the "Mission Impossible" soundtrack. The second rag (IV. "Rag des r├ęgrets") takes from Brahms' Waltz in A-flat major. And after a frantic Gigue, the sixth movement progresses as a series of variations called "Triathlon." It was really neat to hear a "wah wah" effect added to the electric viola/violin in parts of the piece, and to hear the electric keyboard change timbres (or literally MIDI data to change instruments) as well.

So yeah - although this took way longer than expected to write, I hope you enjoyed reading about a few concerts I've been to. There will always be more events for me to discuss, and I'll try and keep this blog updated on pieces or other things I'm doing in graduate school. Being a music student definitely has its fair share of days where I'm totally excited about music and composing and/or the violin, and days where I just don't want to think about it at all. But that's part of life, and I'm still glad I have all these concerts and am studying music in the end, as it is still and will always be my greatest passion for life. The biggest thing I love about concerts are how they bring a community together - hearing the audience chat about their lives before the event starts really makes me very happy with my life and where I am!


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