Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An extra post this week

In Sunday's post I forgot to mention a concert by the Milwaukee Festival Brass, coming up this Sunday November 2 at 3 PM at the United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay on East Silver Spring Drive. This concert celebrates Dr. Pat Backhaus' 40th anniversary of playing the cornet. I guess she started when she was 2 years old ;-) . On the program will be some of her favorite pieces and composers, but she won't tell me any more than that. You'll have to attend to find out what they play.

Seriously, these concerts are always a lot of fun and a lot of good music. I suggest you mark you calendar for this one. I'm disappointed that I will be traveling for my job and cannot attend...maybe you can attend for me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Concert Preview

Just a reminder about the Halloween concert presented by the Wauwatosa Community Band this Saturday November 1st at 1 PM at Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa, at 76th and North Avenue.

This week's post describes a few more pieces to be performed by the Knightwind Ensemble at their Pastiche concert on November 23rd. For ticket info, see the web site: http://www.knightwind.org/.

On the program is Edward Gregson's Partita, written around 1970. This music is somber as the thread throughout the work is the Dies Irae from the Requiem Mass. Hammer-like chords begin and end the first movement with a more lyrical modal tune in between. In the second movement, the Dies Irae is the bases for an extended melody and five variations.

Also on the program is the James Spinazzola transcription of John Adams' Lollapalooza. Now I have to admit that my familiarity with the name Lollapalooza extends only to heavy metal concerts. However, John Adams wrote this interesting and very difficult piece as a 40th birthday present for Simon Rattle, the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony. The theme is the rhythm of the word itself: lollapalooza, da-da-da-DAH-da. But there are also other motives and they all appear, disappear, and chain together. It is a very interesting piece and the group is working hard at rehearsals to keep all the motives together. This is one of those pieces where some people will like it, some people won't, and many people won't be sure! So come have a listen and judge for yourself.

Finally on the program is a band arrangement by Mark Hindley of the Ravel orchestration of Moussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. The transcription is very true to the orchestration and the music is wonderful. Not much more to say about this piece. The sound is magnificent!

Again, for more information or to order tickets, see the web site: www.knightwind.org/.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Halloween Concert

I usually post on Sunday mornings, but this weekend is messy. So, here's to an early posting.

Mark your calendars for Saturday November 1 for an afternoon of Halloween music, fun, and surprises with the Wauwatosa Community Band. The concert begins at 1 PM and admission is free if you are in costume (only $2 without a costume).

No Halloween concert would be complete without Moussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. But the little ones will also enjoy Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and Rats Bats and Spiders. And a piece by P.D.Q. Back entitled March of the Cute Little Wood Sprites will not be what you think. But then again, none of the music of P.D.Q. Bach is what anyone would think!

Great fun for Halloween, and practical too! After all, the little goblins will get to wear their costumes twice, once for Trick or Treat and again to the concert. And the concert does not interfere with Trick or Treat (a very important point, especially for the costumed crowd)!

Everyone will have fun. There will be prizes for the best costumes, and treats will be served. All in all, no better way to spend an afternoon.

It all begins at 1 PM at Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa, at the corner of 76th and North Avenue. Don't miss it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A concert in Racine this Thursday

The Racine Concert Band is performing this Thursday evening at Horlick High School with the Horlick High School Band at 7 PM. On the program are Four Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, Walter Hartley's Sinfonia No. 4, and Tears by David Maslanka. For the finale, members of the High School Band will sit in with the Racine Concert Band for a rousing Karl King march.

Just one comment for this upcoming concert. The big season of performances for the Racine Concert Band are the performances during the summer at the Racine Zoo. But during the school year, these musicians play at the Racine High Schools, and with the High School bands. It is a nice touch which gives the school musicians a taste of what performing is like after high school. A great tool to keep someone playing their horn in college! If you have Thursday evening open, I suggest you take in the concert.

On another subject, let me congratulate the members of the orchestra, and all of the cast at the Modjeska Youth Theater. Their performance of West Side Story was very good (I saw it on Friday evening). Here is a group that needs our support. The members of the Theater Group come from schools all over the Milwaukee area and must maintain a B average or better to continue. The performance I saw was very high quality - an excellent show. The orchestra was made up of members of a number of community music groups and their performance was equally as good. The Theater group has decided not to mount a production for the Christmas Season, but concentrate on fund raising instead. They are very short on cash and need to stabilize the finances before moving forward. Their production of Willy Wonka will be moved to the spring. Here is an excellent group doing wonderful things for our community, and they get very little publicity. Please consider supporting them...they do very good work.

Next week, a post on a special Halloween concert by the Wauwatosa Community Band.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Concert Preview

Before I get to the first concert preview of the season, just a reminder. One weekend of performances is in the books for the Modjeska Youth Theater's production of West Side Story. But you still have one more weekend of performances. Don't miss the show, it's a good one. As an aside, a number of different community music groups are represented by the members of the pit orchestra: Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, Wauwatosa Community Band, and the Knightwind Ensemble. Here's another example of community musicians improving the lifestyle in the area. And don't forget the good work that the Modjeska Youth Theater Company does. Kids can be a part of the performances ONLY if they have a B or better average in school. Definitely a group worth supporting! And the shows very good!

Also for those of you in the Sheboygan area, the Milwaukee Festival Brass performs next week Sunday the 11th at St. Mark's Lutheran Church. Here's a link to an article about that upcoming concert from the Sheboygan Press: http://www.sheboyganpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080921/SHE04/809210447

And onto the first concert preview of the season. Many of you know that I volunteer for the Knightwind Ensemble. As a result, I get to know about the music for their concerts very early in the season. So I thought I would describe a few of the selections for the November 23rd concert. (Be sure to put that on your calendar and to visit their web site: http://www.knightwind.org/).

I have to write about a charming march that is on the program: The Padstow Lifeboat by Englishman Malcolm Arnold (arranged by Ray Woodfield). First a bit about the composer. He was very active in writing for motion pictures: 132 film scores. His most famous is from the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an Oscar in 1958. While he wrote many works for band, he also wrote chamber music, operas, and nine symphonies. This march, written for the opening of a new lifeboat station in Padstow in 1968, has a distinctive foghorn sound within it. The opening tune is in the key of A flat, and the foghorn sounds are in D. So the foghorn sound, which is played very loud compared to the rest of the march, sticks out more than just a bit. One review I read called it "a bit rude". It's quite the charming little march; lots of fun to listen to.

Another piece on the concert is the mourning sounds of Elegy for a Young American by Ronald Lo Presti. Written in 1964, it is dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy. Feelings of shock, denial, anger, and remorse are heard, but are replaced by a celebration of the contributions of this great American. A wonderful piece, you must hear it.

There are three other pieces on the concert. I'll have a bit on each of them in an upcoming post.