This week’s selections are visually stunning, emotionally compelling, and technically inspiring. The creativity that exists amongst musicians is nothing short of amazing. I will always be in awe of music's ability to heal our hearts and be the final words for our lost souls. As I listened to the lovely lyrics in one selection — "…to turn, turn will be our delight, ’til by turning, turning we come round right" — all that came to mind is that in these turbulent times, oh, that we could turn, turn and come round right.
An anything but simple “Simple Gifts”
My first selection is as glorious visually as it is musically. The Knights perform the traditional Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts," but in a splendid, not so simple, arrangement. I’ve read this performance evolved out of "friendly late-night chamber music sessions" at the home of violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen and conductor/cellist Eric Jacobsen. (I guess my e-vite accidentally went to my spam folder.) In addition to the Jacobsen brothers, pristine performances are delivered by Aoife O'Donovan, vocals, Christina Courtin, violin, Shawn Conley, bass, Alex Sopp, flute, Michael P. Atkinson, horn, David Byrd-Marrow, horn, Sycil Mathai, trumpet, Dave Nelson, trombone, and Megan Conley, harp. (In the “always last to know” category, the winner is this writer, who just realized Colin Jacobsen also plays violin in one of her favorite string quartets, Brooklyn Rider.)
I dare you not to listen to the entire movement
Remember the old Lay’s potato chip commercial? Nobody can eat just one? When testing the clips (not chips), I always think I’ll just listen for a minute and make sure everything is operational. But I simply can't start W.A. Mozart’s Divertimento in D and not listen to the entire Allegro! For the final recital of the virtual Sphinx Performance Academy Curtis Summerfest, students performed an exhilarating finale to Mozart's Divertimento in D Major. (If these players represent our future, then we’re in very good hands!)
Never to forget is unforgettable
I will never forget being physically overcome when I first visited the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. Although I was a teenager during the war and had seen the grizzly footage and photos, nothing prepared me for the two acres of names engraved in the stone wall. Quite literally, it knocked the wind out of me. I had a similar reaction hearing Never to Forget, a piece commissioned by the London Symphony Chorus, composed by Howard Goodall CBE. Brainchild of choral director Simon Halsey CBE, it pays tribute to 122 health care workers who were among the first die from Covid-19. The lyrics are simply, and heartbreakingly, the names of the fallen. One hundred singers from the chorus performed, alongside members of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the composer himself. (When the piece receives its first “live" performance, it will be extended, sadly, to include over 300 names.)
Vivaldi at a distance
Violinist Joshua Bell and the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra give a socially-distanced (and masked) performance of "Summer" from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Who needs fireworks when you can listen to this explosive performance! (While I could posit a few great reasons not to have a stand partner, how do you turn pages?)
A tribute to Elijah McClain
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra violist Michael Casimir is joined by his friends, violinist Randall Goosby, cellist Sterling Elliott, pianist Rafalimanana Yannick, and dancer Amber Barbee Pickens. With Antonín Dvorák’s Piano Quartet, Opus 87, Lento as the backdrop, the artists deliver a poignant tribute "dedicated to the life of Elijah McClain." (Thank you, Michael, for all that you did to create this clip and make it available.)
Thank you very much
Composer/cellist Mike Block and Silkroad debut a video of Mike's piece "Iniche Cosebe," which means "thank you very much." The ensemble consists of faculty and artists from the cancelled Global Musician Workshop. The performance was dedicated with gratitude to all front-line health care workers. (Mike guarantees it will inject a dose of musical joy into your day. Agreed!)
Summer of change ideas welcome
With large-scale concerts and symphony performances almost universally on hiatus, we've put "The Week in Reviews" on hold and instead bring you this roundup of "summer of change" activities. If you’d like to share links of socially-distanced performances, teaching experiences, camps, or master classes you’ve enjoyed, please do so in the comments or e-mail me for possible inclusion in a later opus.Tweet
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