After compiling 17 issues of "Week in Hope-Inspiring Music Online" and "Week in Review: Summer of Change," it’s time for me to step away from this incredible listening and writing opportunity to focus on other projects. In pondering the last 17 weeks, I find much to be grateful for in terms of what the pandemic has imposed on my musical knowledge, listening habits, and overall musical appreciation.
I've had a chance to hear the virtuosity of the musicians who populate our great orchestras. I've gained exposure to composers I had not listened to previously. I've discovered new artists who have quickly been added to my list of favorites. And I've been inspired by the never-say-die spirit of amateur and professional musicians around the globe in their herculean efforts to keep music alive.
My sincere thanks go to those who have faithfully read this weekly roundup over the past four months. I am proud to be part of the violinist.com community. In fact, I’m not sure how I would have survived quarantine without this optimistic group of string players and violin lovers who always elevate my spirits. My hope is that hearing the glorious music featured in this column has brought you solace, joy, and inspiration. (And, if I’ve thrown in a little too much Elgar along the way, all I can say is, you’re welcome.)
Bach in Berlin
We all know that Noah Bendix-Balgley is an incredible concertmaster. (He got the Berlin job, after all.) With neither conductor nor audience in sight, and in a socially-distanced configuration, watch him masterfully showcase the incredible talent that lies within the Berliner Philharmoniker as they play the final Allegro of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major. If you ever wondered about the chops of these orchestral players, wonder no more. (Don’t miss the tutti celli at 0:15, the solo contrabass at 1:06, and the solo viola at 1:43.)
Adoration, Courtesy of Florence Price
Violinist Elena Urioste and pianist/husband Tom Poster left an indelible mark on virtual music by posting a new tune (often in full costume) for 88 straight days during the pandemic. After taking a bit of a break to "laze in the garden, cook, tackle some home improvement projects, obsess over our houseplant babies, and drum up some new musical plans," they bring us a poignant gem: Adoration by Florence Price. (In a very sweet note, Elena assures us that after months in lockdown, she and Tom can confirm that they truly do adore each other… something I believe is quite apparent throughout this beautiful duet.)
Ray Chen at Home
Thanks to the pandemic, I now know what violinist Ray Chen eats for breakfast. And I know why he finally feels he’s "become an adult." (Spoiler alert: cable management.) His highly-entertaining vlog highlights his journey to recording and releasing a professional album from the privacy of his own living room. (I found it fascinating to hear Chen’s down-under accent become more evident as he became increasingly comfortable with the recording process.)
World Bach Competition
The Boulder Bach Festival has been providing solace concerts and educational videos throughout the pandemic. As if that weren’t enough, they launched the World Bach Competition and opened up categories from high school through professional levels in a variety of instrumental and vocal categories. With over 300,000 views in just a few days, the panel of judges will ultimately award cash prizes and viewers will get to vote on audience favorites. Zachary Carrettín, the festival’s music director, says one of the most inspiring aspects of the competition has been "reading the positive comments participants are leaving on the videos of their competitors." Here is one entry in the high school division, Sophie Chung of China, who gives you a glimpse of the quality of the competition. (What poise this young violinist displays in the 14-minute-plus J.S. Bach Chaconne… matching socks and all!)
Doori Na Goes to Cuba
Early on in the pandemic, violinist Doori Na took a stand that he was going to familiarize himself with the music of minority composers. You need only visit his fan page or YouTube channel to realize he took this challenge seriously, playing works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Adolphus Hailstork, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Asaf Zeynally, Jessie Montgomery, and more. I’ve featured Doori many times in this column and he continues to not only inspire me with his artistry, but he learns new pieces every few days. In this selection, pianist Sean Kennard joins Doori in Granadina from Chants d'Espagne (Songs from Spain) by Cuban composer, Joaquín Nin. (Love all the left-hand pizz! Well, just to clarify, I love it when someone else is doing it.)
Acoustic on the Rocks
When the Colorado Symphony announced Acoustic on the Rocks, a one-week series at the spectacular Red Rocks Park & Ampitheatre, it quickly sold out. The idea was to feature 20 string players, led by Resident Conductor Christopher Dragon, performing works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Walker. The concert would be repeated five times, with 175 tickets available for each concert (which represents less than 2% of the venue’s capacity). Back by popular demand, the string concert will be repeated five more times and the series will also add five concerts for brass and percussion. (While we don’t have video available, here are a few photos of the socially-distanced and masked string orchestra, as well as the socially-distanced audience.)
Week in Review Ideas Welcome
With large-scale concerts and symphony performances almost universally on hiatus, our weekly roundup has switched focus from concert reviews to the many different ways that artists, orchestras and educational institutions are continuing to keep the music going. If you’d like to share links of socially-distanced performances, new performance videos, teaching experiences, camps, or master classes you’ve enjoyed, please do so in the comments or email Laurie for possible inclusion in a later opus.Tweet
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