Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alex Ross reviews the YouTube Symphony Orchestra

From Critic's Corner in what appears to be next week's New Yorker (May 4, 2009):

The YouTube Symphony, a global orchestra assembled from online audition videos, may sound like yet another groan-inducing attempt to make classical music hip. But there’s some method in the marketing madness: YouTube has become a serious resource for professional musicians, who use it to investigate up-and-coming talent.

Read the rest of the article here.  There's a great illustration of MTT, as well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Friday - Sara Teasdale, again

Another little bit of serendipity came my way this week in the area of music meets poetry. Last week my PF post was a poem by Sara Teasdale ("April"), and three days later I sat down in a choir rehearsal to begin working on a song called "A Blessing," by New Zealand-born composer David N. Childs (SATB, piano, flute; published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc.). The lyrics just happen to be based on another poem by Sara Teasdale that I find very moving:

Sara Teasdale

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies--
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today at Becky's Book Reviews.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tan Dun and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra

You can watch all sorts of videos, from auditions to snippets of the musicians' arrival in NYC to an hour long "Act One" of the actual Carnegie Hall concert, as introduced by Michael Tilson Thomas at the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Channel. MTT called the three-day event "a classical music summit/conference/scout/jamboree with an element of speed dating thrown in."

The composer of the featured musical work in the concert (Internet Symphony No. 1 "Eroica"), Tan Dun, is also the composer of the music in one of my most-loved films, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Played by the ever-brilliant Yo-Yo Ma on both the movie soundtrack and Classic Yo-Yo. You can hear more here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

YouTube Symphony Orchestra

Tonight at Carnegie Hall:

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra's show features soloists, chamber groups, chamber orchestra, large orchestra, electronica and multi-media, and samples diverse periods and styles of classical music, including works by Gabrieli, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Villa-Lobos, John Cage and Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony No. 1 “Eroica.”
from the Carnegie Hall website

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the first collaborative online orchestra, and can be heard talking about the project here at NPR's All Things Considered. From that article:

From fiddlers to French-horn players to percussionists, musicians in more than 40 countries submitted their auditions via YouTube. They were required to post two videos: one specifically highlighting their instrumental talent and another performing a piece by composer Tan Dun, written specifically for the project.
Ninety musicians from more than three thousand that auditioned were chosen and flown to NYC for a three-day workshop, culminating in tonight's performance.

Thanks to LB for the breaking news alert! I had heard about the project last December, but hadn't thought about it again since then. LB has a great YouTube video of the orchestra posted at her blog. Keep your eyes peeled for the trumpet-playing Clone Trooper!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Music Monday - Peter Louis van Dijk (b. 1953)

Music that is new to me: "Horizons," by Netherlands-born composer Peter Louis van Dijk, who emigrated to South Africa with his family at age nine. This piece was originally written for The King's Singers, and has since been arranged for choir by the composer (SATTBB, published by Hal Leonard Coporation). I didn't expect to like this song, but I absolutely love it. It is the best kind of chamber music--its parts fit together like the interlocking pieces of a puzzle, and it creates a vivid picture of the San of South Africa by implementing non-sung vocal sounds and body percussion (snaps, claps, etc.) throughout the song.

This is just a small snip of the piece as sung by the King's Singers on their CD Street Songs, which recording is absolutely pristine. I highly recommend this version of the song.

From the inside cover of the sheet music:

In a cave, somewhere in the Western Cape region, is a well documented San (Bushman) painting of a Dutch (or, perhaps English) ship, resplendent with flags and sails, rounding the Cape. The painting dates back to the early 1700s and serves as a poignant reminder of the incredible powers of observation of these now virtually extinct people.

Sadly, the very people the San saw as gods, certainly in terms of stature and relative opulence, were to become their executioners (with the help of other black tribes). Physically small, the San described their larger neighbours as animals without hooves and were often mistakenly regarded as cowardly due to their non-confrontational approach to conflict with friend and foe alike.

The eland (a large antelope) represented more than just food and took on an almost supernatural significance, while the rain was seen, supernaturally, to be either male or female (either rain-cow or bull), depending on its intensity.

“Horizons” was written at the request of the King’s Singers for their 1995 South African tour, and commissioned for them by the Foundation for the Creative Arts (South Africa).
Lyrics, in part (written by the composer):

Sleep, my spring-bok baby,
Sleep for me, my spring-bok child,
When morning comes I'll go out hunting,
for you are hungry and thirsty, thirsty and hungry
(repeated several times)

Small moon, Hai! Young moon,
When the sun rises
you must speak to the Rain,
Charm her with herbs and honeycomb,
O speak to her, that I may drink, this little thing,
that I may drink, that I may drink, that I may drink.

She will come across the dark sky:
mighty Rain-cow sing your song for me
that I may find you on the far horizon,
far horizon, horizon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Pysanky

from The Art of Sofia Zielyk. Just gorgeous!

Poetry Friday - Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

Sara Teasdale

The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows twitter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet the back yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree--
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.

My sentiments exactly.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today at Carol's Corner.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rechenka's Eggs

If you are at all interested in the art of Pysanky, I highly recommend finding the Reading Rainbow episode featuring Rechenka's Eggs, by Patricia Polacco. In it, the author demonstrates and explains traditional Ukrainian egg decorating, and watching her fly with her kitska around her egg is quite amazing for any Pysanky novices out there.

Egg Art