The Planets – An HD Odyssey

MW-7-billboard

Callum previews the April 26, 2014 CSO MasterWorks program, talks about rehearsal, and then “reviews” the concert:

This concert, which will be the final MasterWorks concert of the season, will be really awesome. The first piece will be Mozart’s Symphony No. 41. It’s called “Jupiter” – but Mozart didn’t originally call it that. It was titled that after he died. I think it was named Jupiter after the Roman god, not the planet, but they still included it in this program. I heard this piece played by the Canton Symphony Orchestra at Lions Lincoln Theatre conducted by Matthew Brown, who was the assistant conductor at the time. It was awesome. It says in the program notes “After moving from Salzburg to Vienna in 1781, Mozart had been singularly unsuccessful in his efforts to earn a living as a free-lance composer in the Austrian capital.” That is really sad because he was obviously an amazing composer, and he shouldn’t be in a situation like that.

Then on the second half of the concert, they are playing Holst’s Planets. The first movement is Mars, the Bringer of War. I noticed that in the Mario games, the Airship theme (especially the Super Smash Bros. Brawl version, which is my personal favorite) sounds very, very similar to this movement. The person who wrote the music was probably inspired by that movement. I think that makes sense because the Airship is a warship. Here’s a video of me playing a little bit of that Mario theme a few years ago. Then I start playing one of the keyboards with my foot (forgetting that I could have used the pedals on the organ)…


Cal3keys

I really love this whole Holst piece. It is so awesome. Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age is another movement that stands out to me. It’s kind of scary. When I hear both Holst and Pink Floyd, they both remind me of space. In Neptune, the Mystic the chorus reminds me a little bit of some music from the game Portal 2, a track called Ghost of Rattman. My dad and I watched a video that we have about the planets narrated by Patrick Stewart. The music was Holst’s Planets, but redone in a version by Isao Tomita, a Japanese musician who played it on the Moog and other synthesizers. The synthesizer sounds were a bit dated, and some of them sounded really old and even funny, but some of that was intentional. In the video, when the rocket was launching, the sounds were made by his Moog. Part of Tomita’s version reminds me of Minecraft music because of the sounds he used. My awesome piano teacher, Matt Riddle, was playing his mini-Moog at the Going for the One concert in Cleveland on Friday, and it was really cool as always. I really want one someday, so badly. Robert Moog was an absolute genius. Here’s some video of Matt playing his Moog: Starship Trooper

Rehearsal:

My dad and I went to the rehearsal and stayed only for the Holst. I loved it though, and it was really cool. I loved the footage on the screen. I thought they were going to have the screen hanging over the front of the stage, above the orchestra, like they did for the Civil War themed concert a few seasons ago. But instead, they used the new screen that they added this year, which is really awesome. The orchestra played so well as always. They’re amazing. I really loved the women’s choir in the end of Neptune the Mystic because it was really creepy and mysterious. They were singing outside of one of the entrances to the hall. They had a TV out there so that they could see Mr. Zimmermann conducting. They sang really well, and it sounded really difficult to sing, with really weird harmonies.

Concert:

So then we went to the concert, which ended up being sold out, which was awesome. I wish they would all sell out.  There were some instruments that I wasn’t used to seeing in the orchestra like an alto flute, bass oboe, tenor tuba, and keyboards. The orchestra played the Mozart so well. They sounded amazing. There were no trombones or tubas. There were only two trumpets, and two French horns. I was really surprised that I could hear the trumpets so well, and that they had such a full sound, because there were only two of them during this piece. There were no other percussionists up on stage for this piece other than the timpanist. The orchestra was playing, as usual, with such precision and accuracy, just like Mozart should be played. There was a really hard French horn part, but they did really well, as usual. During the last movement, which is really complex, my dad dared me to try to hear everything that was going on, and I failed. I tried to but it felt like my head was going to explode in the process, because there is so much going on all at once. I don’t think the human brain, especially my brain (because I have ADHD) can concentrate on everything and process it all at once. But obviously Mozart’s brain could. Anyway, this piece is so beautiful and awesome, and it got such a huge standing ovation. I remember thinking that if the Mozart got that big of a response, I couldn’t imagine the kind of response The Planets was going to get.

And then my most anticipated piece finally came after intermission. This piece is so awesome. My two favorite movements are Mars and Neptune. What made it even more awesome was the fact that the orchestra was so powerful. The Assistant Conductor, Rachel Waddell, made a good point during the pre-concert lecture. She said that no matter how great a recording is, it still cannot capture everything you hear in a live concert. During Mars, the low brass really showed off their power, and it was awesome. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything so powerful and ground shaking, sound and music and decibel wise. The whole stage was filled with musicians. I bet, for the low brass, that this piece (especially the first movement) is fun to play, because it is so powerful. Everybody laughed when the title Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age came up on the screen. Then Mr. Zimmermann turned around very slowly in his chair and looked at the audience and said “It’s not me.” That was really funny. I am definitely a Holst fan. And during the concert I was thinking… does that make me a Holster? I do wish there was less coughing during the piece. It seems like in every piece, during all the quiet parts, people start coughing all the time, but during the loud parts, it seems like they don’t. It really annoys me.

I am glad that the concert was sold out because it was so amazing, and it was great that as many people as possible heard it. The pictures were really cool. This concert was probably one of my favorite concerts ever. This piece got such a huge, long standing ovation, and they really deserved it. I loved this entire concert. Ms. Waddell also did an amazing job on the pre-concert lecture. I wore a bow tie to the concert because I am a Doctor Who fan, or a Wholian, and for anyone who might not know, it is one of the best shows ever, in my opinion. Plus, when I’m trying to take notes at a concert with a regular tie, it gets in the way, so that makes bow ties all the more practical. They’re also making a comeback (thanks to The Doctor). Anyway, I think everybody there loved that concert. I know I did, and so did my dad. I am really sad but happy at the same time. I am sad because it was the last concert of the season, and the next concert isn’t for a while. But I am happy because I can’t wait until next season. Next season is going to be really awesome. They are going to be playing really amazing music, as usual. I am also looking forward to the Zimmermann Symphony Center opening. I can’t wait until I can go inside. I hope to see you next season, and hope you have a great summer!

Here’s a great review of the concert on ClevelandClassical.com:

CC

CSO Pops @ the Palace w/ Matt Corey & Elec Simon

 pops3bb_Corey-Simon3

Before we get to Callum’s preview/review, here – in no particular order – is just a sample of audience (and performer) reactions to this concert on the CSO Facebook page and elsewhere:

  • What a great night of entertainment in downtown Canton!
  • Best concert I’ve been to in a while. Thanks for introducing me to Matt Corey & Elec Simon, both. Very talented musicians.
  • A-Mazing!!!!
  • When is the next one?!
  • Fantastic night of music and energy! Great mix of music with the CSO and the talents of local musicians.
  • Was awesome! Hope there is a repeat soon!
  • The conductor was awesome! And the CSO members were class musicians who blended well to Matt’s band.
  • Really fun – loved it!
  • Awesome! Do it again!!!!
  • Best time ever!!!! Great show guys!!!!!
  • It was a complete pleasure to be on stage and, be a part of the show! The orchestra was amazing and, as incredible as they may have been to the crowd, it was phenomenal to be sitting on stage right next to them! Major kudos to Matt and Elec! Let’s do it again soon!
  • It was fabulous!!!
  • Totally AWESOME show!!
  • Excellent time for all of us!
  • It was a delightful evening! Please consider to continue your work with Matt and Elec! Amazing!
  • What a fantastic show!!
  • I was just wishing it was last Saturday again and had the concert to go to!! So much fun! 
  • Best concert that Canton Palace has done ever for local professionals!
  • YOU ALL WERE AWESOME! THANK YOU!

Here’s what Callum had to say about the rehearsal and concert:

My dad, my sister, and I went to the rehearsal (there was only one) for the Matt Corey and Elec Simon concert and it was fun to get a little taste of what it was going to be like before the concert. I could tell it was going to be a great rehearsal and concert, and that it would be fun as soon as I got there. I wanted to stay for the second half of the rehearsal but couldn’t (I had solo and ensemble early the next morning), but at least I can talk about the first half. It was really cool how Elec Simon was drumming. He was drumming, just to be funny, on a ladder that happened to be next to him when we first got there. He and Matt Corey are both amazing musicians and both amazing at the instruments they play. Elec played in STOMP, which I used to watch a lot when I was much younger. STOMP is a group of percussionists and dancers who use miscellaneous, everyday objects like stools, brooms, trash cans, etc. as percussion instruments. STOMP still tours around and Elec still tours with them sometimes. If you’ve never seen them, I recommend that you look up their videos.

Matt Corey played in Blast: Cyberjam, which is basically Blast 2. I used to love Blast (still do), and I used to watch it really often when I was younger. I also recommend watching them. I also really like Matt Corey’s band. One of the electric basses the bassist was playing, which was a nice wooden one, looked like it might have been an eight string bass instead of four. I really liked the music they were playing. I was sitting up in the balcony and I could see everything. It was really awesome. It was really cool to see what Elec Simon was doing from above. One time he was tap dancing and there was a pad on the stage right next to him. It must have been there to pick up the sounds of the tapping almost like a little flat microphone on the stage floor. I really like the way Matt and Elec were playing together. Matt played super high sometimes, and I bet that took a lot of air. There was so much going on that, at the one point where the guitarist was using the acoustic guitar, I couldn’t hear him at all. There were two keyboardists, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a DJ with a turntable.

Here’s a short video from rehearsal:

rehe

The orchestra was only strings and brass. I think there were two trombones, four trumpets, and some horns. A lot of these pieces are very jazzy and they keep getting stuck in my head. The setup on the stage looked really cool. On the left side of the stage was the band, on the far right was the orchestra, and in the middle of it all was Matt Corey. There was a guy there with turntables but I couldn’t really hear them, but he might have been doing other stuff like the mixing for the band as well. One time the rhythm that Elec played on the bongos sounded like the bongos at the end of Super Mario 64, during the credits. Elec was playing them really fast, and when he was done, he threw his arm up into the air, and yelled “YAA!” Elec also clapped for the orchestra because they sounded great. This concert is going to be awesome.

Then the next night my dad and I went to the concert, and we loved it so much. Before we went to the rehearsal, I didn’t think I was going to like this concert all that much, but it became one of my favorites. One thing thing that was really cool during the concert was that Elec Simon brought one of his students, who was about eight years old, up on stage to play the drums with him, and he did really well. I bet he was nervous coming up there, but he didn’t seem like it at all, and I was surprised. But he wasn’t the only special guest to come and play up on stage with the rest of them. There was also a trumpet player up there for one song that did a really good job. Matt Corey met him in college. There is a whole story Matt told about it, but I don’t remember it well enough to tell it.

Here’s some video of that song:

Tunisia

I’m in jazz band at my middle school, and in the high school jazz band there is a kid, who is a very good saxophonist, who has a black saxophone with gold keys. It looks really cool. And Matt Corey had a huge baritone sax, and it was black with shiny gold keys just like that kid’s. He didn’t play it very often, though. I only remember him playing it once. The first piece they played after the orchestra came out was a version of Beethoven’s Fifth (Walter Murphy/Robin Thicke’s A Fifth of Beethoven/When I Get You Alone). A lot of people there probably weren’t big classical or orchestra fans, so some of them might not be as enthusiastic about the orchestra as they are for Matt Corey or Elec Simon. So when that piece started out with those famous four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth, I’m going to guess that some of those people were maybe thinking “Oh, of course, they have to play their classical music…ughhh” until they heard Matt Corey and the rest of the band start playing and realized what it was.

Some other highlights on video:

Corey-Simon_CSO

At the end of the last song, it was really awesome. Elec had a huge drum solo, then he grabbed a metal folding chair and started drumming on it, and then he started tap dancing. Then he told one part of the audience to clap a certain rhythm and then did the same for another part of the audience but with a different rhythm and so on. Then, while we were clapping those rhythms, he told us to keep going, and he and everybody else on stage left the stage, leaving us sitting there clapping, having no idea what just happened. And that was the end of the concert. It was really funny. The concert was awesome, and I wish I could relive it, including the entire day, because I had solo and ensemble for band that morning, and I loved it.

The André Watts of the banjo!

MW6bb

Callum’s preview of the March 22, 2014 MasterWorks concert, featuring Béla Fleck (don’t miss the March 21 concert as well!) It was a school night, so he didn’t have much time to revise his notes for continuity.

My dad and I went to the Canton Symphony rehearsal on Wednesday night. First, I got to see, in real life, not through pictures, the outside of the Zimmermann Symphony Center, and it looks awesome. I wonder what it felt like for Mr. Zimmermann to see it for the first time. To see his name up there on a building dedicated to him would be awesome. I bet he felt great, and he deserves it. The building is amazing. I was hoping the words would light up when it got dark that night, but they didn’t yet. The building is really beautiful. I can’t wait until the inside is finished, because then we can see what it looks like on the inside, which will be awesome.

Note from Dad:
Here are some recent construction photos of the interior (mostly), and artist renderings of the completed project.

Béla Fleck didn’t rehearse on Wednesday night. The orchestra rehearsed Franck’s Symphony in D minor. There was a different concertmaster this time. He is probably just filling in. The Franck was really awesome. I love the theme which seems to get repeated a thousand times. There was a lot of pizzicato in the second movement, which is the first movement they rehearsed. In this second movement, Franck was able to make the symphony only in three movements by combining the slow movement and the scherzo together, making it one movement instead of the usual two. There was a part where no one was playing except for the bass clarinet, and he or she held onto a note for a couple seconds. It sounded really cool. At first I thought it was a bassoon, but it was the bass clarinet. Mr. Zimmermann said that the orchestra members need to drink more coffee because he was trying to get them to play a part the way Franck wrote it, which is agitato, which means agitated, just the way a lot of people get after drinking coffee or espresso. The contrary motion in the first movement comes back in the third movement. This piece is awesome. I also got to hear a bit of the surprise, but I’m not telling you what it is.

Then we went to the rehearsal on Thursday night and Béla Fleck was there. It was so awesome. There was a big screen, and Mr. Fleck was shown up there while he is playing, plus different sections of the orchestra. He wrote the piece that was being played, his banjo concerto. It’s awesome. He has fingerpicks, or picks that you somehow attach to your fingers, which must feel weird at first. It’s amazing how when he plays, he makes it look so easy when it really isn’t. This is a really cool piece. The banjo really does stand out from the orchestra because it’s definitely not every day that we hear a banjo with an orchestra, but I really like the combination. Some of this piece is very dissonant and minor. The beginning of the first movement reminds me a lot of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Gates to Infinity music. Another part of it sounds like a march.

Mr. Fleck really gets into the music. I wonder what mode some of this is in. It almost sounds like a mode Debussy would use, but in a different style. He keeps changing the style he plays his banjo in. Sometimes he plays it like a guitar, and other times he switches to a classic, more known style of banjo playing. His playing is amazing. The banjo isn’t usually my favorite instrument. It’s okay, but the way Mr. Fleck plays it is awesome, and I love it. Some of the piece sounds very contemporary, but other times it doesn’t at all. There are some really complicated rhythms in this piece. Sometimes it seems like the banjo is against the orchestra, or vice versa, or even orchestra against orchestra. I bet it’s really hard for everyone to play. The piece changes time signatures so much, and it’s really obvious when it does. Since it’s changing literally all the time, then that makes it more difficult. But the orchestra sounds amazing as always, and of course so does Mr. Fleck.

Having the big screen at the back of the stage is awesome, and I love the zoom on the cameras they have built into the hall now. They have such great quality from such a distance away. You can see Mr. Fleck’s hands so well on the screen. The cameras zoom in on his hands, with such great quality, and you can see as if you were literally that close to the banjo, watching his hands. It will be so awesome in the concert. This piece uses a lot of bells, and whenever the percussionist started playing, the cameras made an awesome side angle zoom so you could see him play in detail. I thought about calling him a “bellist” as a joke.

Like I said before, Mr. Fleck sometimes plays his banjo almost as if it were a guitar (at least that’s what it sounds like to me). I love guitar, and now my nine year old sister Maggie is learning guitar, which is awesome, but more about that later. Anyway, all of the sudden, the music got really jazzy and had a kind of swing to it. I like that. There are about three parts in the piece that sound so much like Gershwin, it had to be on purpose. One of them is the slurred clarinet parts, like in Rhapsody in Blue. The orchestra is doing great. Mr. Fleck plays so fast, as fast as André Watts on the piano. I can’t get over how awesome he is on the banjo. I think he’s the André Watts of the banjo, which is saying something. There was a theme that I swear I have heard many times before. My dad told me it was just written by Mr. Fleck to sound like a familiar style, but I swear I have heard it many times before, I just can’t remember where.

Remember how I said something about my sister learning guitar? Well here are the details. Maggie is now taking guitar with my piano teacher, Matt Riddle, who also is a great guitar teacher. Maggie has a nice pink guitar she got for Christmas. She loves it. She is doing very well already. I think she has a talent for it if she keeps it up and works hard. Maybe my dad will post some pictures sometime of her at her lesson. But my dad, mom, and I thought she would love the banjo, and seeing Béla Fleck play would inspire her, as much as the banjo can inspire a most-likely soon to be great guitarist. She is doing great, and I can’t wait to see what she becomes. Anyway, I hope everybody can come to this concert on Saturday, (and the one on Friday night, too!) because it will be so awesome. And I also can’t wait for everyone to hear the surprise!

Note from Dad:
Maggie took some notes at rehearsal as well, and they’re below (most of them at least), but here’s a picture of her first lesson with Matt, by Callum’s request: ;)

Mags-n-Matt

Maggie’s notes:
The new Zimmermann Symphony Center is amazing. It looks really cool. Béla Fleck wrote this piece, and the beginning sounds sort of spooky and calming at the same time. Part of it reminds me of the headless horseman. We just read that in school today, but I also remember seeing the Canton Symphony play it. The beginning also reminds me of Narnia – the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Béla Fleck is a really amazing banjo player. He can play really fast without missing a note. The flutes also sound great and really pretty, and they sound good with the banjo. Callum told me he thinks the white part of the banjo is sort of like a drum, so when someone plucks the strings, the sound bounces off the white part almost like a drum to make that banjo sound. The banjo doesn’t have a hole like the guitar does for the vibrations to come out. Instead it has the part that’s like a drum.

The person playing the bells played the same rhythm over and over in a pattern. Mr. Fleck played a little lower and then a little bit higher with the same tune each time. This piece sounds like a hard piece to play. There is a little bit of jazz in it. It’s amazing how Mr. Fleck can pluck the strings that fast without missing a single note in the piece. He has these things on his fingers to help him pluck the notes. He is an amazing banjo player. I’m really glad I got to see him play.