Catching up… again!

at Realgrey

‘Bring Your Song’ at Realgrey Records

It has been way too long since I last posted. And as expected, so much has happened that I don’t know where to start. Just to name a few things since my last post, I started marching band, I got 3rd chair in my school’s top concert band, I became part of the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra, I started taking trombone lessons with Dr. James Albrecht, and I got to perform as the 1st chair trombonist in the OBDC (Ohio Band Directors Conference) Honor Band at The University of Akron. This year has probably been the most eventful year of my life so far. I have written most of a number of blog posts, but I never had a chance to finish and post them because I’ve been so busy. I also unfortunately have not even been able to attend some of the Canton Symphony concerts so far this season due to conflicts. My sister Maggie has gone to them instead, and even took notes to help write blog posts, but also never got around to posting. I have gone to some of the rehearsals though, and taken notes, but that isn’t what I am going to write about today. I want to focus more on updating you on what I have done in the past year, in more detail than just listing things off.

Taking notes at a Canton Symphony rehearsal for one of those posts I never finished. Principal Trumpet Scott Johnston invited me to sit next to him. He’s awesome.
CSO rehearsal

Sitting on stage again at a different CSO rehearsal. I love watching Maestro Zimmermann work.
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So first I am going to talk about marching band, and an awesome friend I made. If you have ever been in marching band, you know that we have squads within sections. And there is always a squad leader and a right guide. My squad leader was senior Jacob Prokop, and I couldn’t have asked for anybody better. He is an excellent trombonist, and an amazing musician. He is part of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which is outstanding. My dad and I went to see them perform at Severance Hall. They are amazing. Jacob has also gone to Interlochen. I really look up to him, and I am very grateful for his kindness in helping me improve as a trombonist, and for putting up with my endless stream of questions. He is the reason that I wanted to improve so much on trombone and join the Canton Youth Symphony. So I asked my band director Mr. Kibler if I could borrow an f-attachment trombone from the school, and he so kindly said yes. I took it home and started working on my audition music.

In front of Zimmermann Symphony Center after my audition, and outside Lake Performing Arts Hall before our first CYSAO concert:
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The audition went well and I got 2nd chair, although I got to play first chair in our first concert because the 1st-chair trombonist wasn’t able to start until marching band was over. My friend Derek from school also joined. So the three of us have a lot of fun playing in the orchestra. I did get my own trombone right after my audition, so I took the school’s back. In our first concert, we performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2. In our upcoming concert, we are going to be playing parts from both of Bizet’s Carmen Suites and Danzon No. 2 by Márquez alongside the Canton Symphony Orchestra members! So that is going to be really fun, and an amazing experience. It’s already been awesome getting to work with the Canton Symphony’s principal trombonist, Tom Pylinski. He’s an amazing musician and a super nice guy, too. I can’t believe I’m going to get to play right alongside him and the rest of the Canton Symphony.

 Jacob, Derek, & me in the Blue Streak News for COYO & CYSAO:
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Next, I want to talk about my lessons with Dr. Albrecht, the trombone professor at the University of Akron, and playing in the OBDC Honor Band. I started taking lessons with Dr. Albrecht also because of Jacob, as he is Jacob’s teacher as well. He is a really good teacher and an amazing musician, and I am blessed to be able to take lessons with him. I’m also of course still taking piano lessons (and guitar lessons, too) with Matt Riddle, so along with my tennis lessons, they’re part of why I’ve been so busy.

I played my guitar while I walked my sisters around for trick ‘r treat. That was a blast.
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During the summer, our band directors handed out forms about the Honor Band to people they thought should do it. Dr. Albrecht told my dad that I should audition for it. Mr. Kibler gave me permission to audition, and I was accepted. Here’s the recording I made for the audition. Then we had to audition again for chair placement when we got to the university for the OBDC conference. I got first chair, which was a pleasant surprise (since I’m a freshman and the other trombonists were a senior, a junior and a sophomore), and it really motivated me.

Here’s the photo I texted my dad to let him know I’d gotten 1st chair:
Cal1trom

We were directed by Lt. Gregory Fritz, who directs one of the US Navy bands. We played a lot of great music, but my favorite out of all of them was Festivity by James Curnow. He is a very well-known band composer. But the most awesome thing was, he conducted us on that piece, and it was a really cool experience to work under him. Someone took a video of the whole concert, and you can even hear a short solo I had starting at around 10:50.  It was such an amazing opportunity, and I’ll never forget it.

Now about another amazing experience I’ve had. As you know, I have a passion for writing my own music, and I enjoy playing what I write for other musicians when I get the chance. There is this awesome thing called “Bring Your Song” hosted at a really nice recording studio in Canton called Realgrey Records. You just show up with an instrument, and when you feel like it, go up and perform, and fellow musicians give you feedback and their thoughts and opinions on what you’re working on. They only get together on the first Monday of every month. It is a really fun thing to do, and it is a great time to socialize and connect with other local musicians. I have heard all kinds of things like rap, pop, country, rock, pop-rock, country-rock, jazz, blues, and even some just acapella. I usually just play some of my jazz ideas and chord progressions I put together to improvise on top of. Here’s a recording of me playing there last July (photo is at the top of this post). But the first time I went, I played my 7th grade talent show piece (here’s the actual recording of it). The only reason I knew about it was because of John Yany (my youth pastor and worship team leader). He is a really awesome guy, and a great musical and spiritual inspiration. He is also an outstanding guitarist and a great pianist. I am really happy that God has brought him into my life.

While playing in our church praise band, I’ve even gotten to play with members of the Canton Symphony for Christmas and Easter services:
PKSpraise-CSO

Another thing I want to mention, I have gone to (and am going to see) some pretty awesome concerts. In October, my mom and I went to Pittsburgh to see Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. That concert was amazing and I really enjoyed it. My dad and I have also gone to an awesome jazz club in Akron called BLU Jazz+ where I saw the Huntertones and the Sam Blakeslee Large Group (a big band), and they were both phenomenal. The Huntertones also came to our school and worked with us in the jazz band, which was awesome. Coming up in April, I am going to Chicago with my mom and dad to see David Gilmour from Pink Floyd! It is going to be extremely fun! Since we only got two tickets, my mom and I are going to see him while my dad goes to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra directed by the one and only Riccardo Muti. I am really looking forward to that. Also in April, the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra is traveling to Columbus to play with the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. That is going to amazing as well.

Sam Blakeslee Large Group & the Huntertones at BLU Jazz+
Blakeslee LG  HtonesBLU2

Well I have so much more I want to talk about, like especially the Canton Symphony concerts, but unfortunately that will have to wait until next time. I hope that will be soon!

Catching Up

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I have a lot to talk about in this blog post. I haven’t posted in a long time because I have been so busy with school and other things. I’ve started to write posts many different times but never was able to finish them. Three Canton Symphony concerts have passed since I last wrote, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Two of those were MasterWorks concerts, while the other was the first in the casual series. I’m going to blog about the first Casual Concert, which was awesome, in a later post, but now I’m going to talk about the last MasterWorks concert called Orchestra Spotlight, and the next one called Remembrance.

The Orchestra Spotlight concert was awesome and I really enjoyed it. My dad and I usually go to most of the rehearsals, but this time we unfortunately only went to one. I’m going to talk a bit about that first. We got there while they were rehearsing Bach Brandenburg Concerto #5. This piece doesn’t require very many orchestra members, so the orchestra was pretty small for this piece, like a chamber orchestra. There was a harpsichord there too, and it sounded really good. It was perfectly in tune as well.

We were late to the rehearsal, so we got there about ten minutes before break. During break, my dad and I went out into the room where you hang your coats up and there was a harpsichord sitting right there. I wondered why, but I didn’t want to play it just in case I wasn’t allowed. Afterwards, I got to go sit up on stage for the rest of the rehearsal and the orchestra was playing really well. They were rehearsing the Mozart piece on the program, his Sinfonia Concertante for Winds. They all sounded awesome. There was a little girl sitting where the audience would be, and she kept making noises during the rehearsal, but it wasn’t annoying at all; it was just kind of endearing. After the orchestra finished rehearsing one of the pieces, she yelled “YAY!” and I thought that was pretty funny, too. Mr. Zimmermann turned around and smiled at her.

In the middle of rehearsing the Mozart, there was a really loud sudden noise on the side of the stage right behind the violins. A couple of them jumped and one of them dropped something. I think it was a speaker that made the noise. Whatever it was, Mr. Zimmermann almost totally ignored it. I’m surprised that it didn’t really throw the musicians off. After they were done rehearsing the Mozart, they moved on to the last piece on the program, by Ginastera. I really love the opening to this piece. It starts out with harp and cello. There’s one part where the cello starts on a high note, and then a few seconds before the cello hits a rest, the violins pick up on that note and the lower strings descend. There is a bit of a scare that made me jump near the beginning, because the orchestra is playing really quietly until suddenly they play fortissimo. I know a way to avoid being startled by that kind of thing: Just watch Mr. Zimmermann and if he raises his baton above his head, then that means the orchestra is most likely going to play pretty loud. Anyway, the piece is sort of jazzy, and different, but I love it a lot. The concertmaster also played a really awesome solo. I love how string instruments can play more than one note at a time, and that technique was used a lot in the solo.

Then came the concert. During the pre-concert lecture, they had a display of instruments that are used in the orchestra, including the harpsichord I had found just outside of the hall during rehearsal. My dad and I were in charge of introducing the harpsichord to the audience members walking through to look at them. A lot of them played the harpsichord, or at least tried to. The reason I say they tried is not because they don’t know how to play, but because the state the harpsichord was in. Some of the keys didn’t work and at least half of the harpsichord was out of tune. But that’s understandable because they’re really hard to keep in tune. My dad and I went to a lecture on harpsichords at a university one time, and all four harpsichords they used were completely out of tune. It sounded terrible. One of the stops was broken on this one as well. But other than that, I was happy to be able to stand by the harpsichord, sometimes watching other people play it, but most of the time playing it myself. I’m happy I didn’t have to stand by any of the other instruments because all the other ones I have absolutely no idea how to play. Besides, I have always wanted to play a harpsichord and it gave me the opportunity to do just that.

A few harpsichord photos Callum took with his phone:
(click to enlarge)

harpsi1   harpsi2

harpsi3   harpsi-4

I also met a really nice man, and he asked me if I liked classical guitar. I do, and I told him that. He recommended a piece to me that was written for orchestra and classical guitar. He then gave me his email address and asked me to email him my opinion of the piece. I felt kind of bad because I took forever to find a pen to write down his email, and I left him standing there waiting. When I couldn’t find one he left to go search for a pen and he couldn’t find one. Finally, I found one, but I had nothing to write on, so I used my phone. It was really, really thoughtful of him to take so much of his time just for me, even when he had to stand there waiting forever. I met him when I was standing near the violin display and attempting to play a single note that sounded good. It turns out that my Aunt Carole also met him a week later, and I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, I was a bit disappointed that I missed Mr. Albacete’s pre-concert lecture, but I enjoyed meeting new people out in the lobby.

Now on to the concert, which was amazing. They started out with the Vivaldi. I could barely hear the harpsichord for the majority of this piece, but what I could hear of it sounded great. I liked this piece a lot, which I know might be very much a cliché because I say it all the time, but I don’t think there has been a piece that the Canton Symphony has played that I haven’t liked or enjoyed. Anyway, I thought it was funny when the two violin soloists kept switching spots back and forth throughout the piece and some people were laughing.

Next was the Bach. I tried to imagine the harpsichord being louder than it was, but I don’t think that would have fit the music. I wished it was louder before, not that anybody could do anything about it anyway, but I guess it was actually just at the right volume to blend in with the orchestra, and since the orchestra consisted of only strings, the harpsichord fits in pretty well. I wasn’t used to the orchestra being so small because the stage just looked so empty. Even though the orchestra was so small, they still had a powerful, big, full sound, along with their usual beautiful playing. This piece brings back memories of when I used to watch The Little Einsteins when I was younger. My favorite episode revolved around this piece, and so I could recognize it anytime. I love everything Bach wrote. They are all such amazing works of art. Then they played the Mozart, and it was awesome, too. All four soloists sounded great.

The orchestra was almost full sized for the last piece, by Ginastera. I love the chords at the beginning. It started with just cello and harp, and the cellist nailed it. When the basses came in, it got pretty creepy. This piece was sometimes dissonant, but it usually resolved, leaving you feeling relieved. It also has a lot of odd but cool rhythms and meters, as well as chords. This concert was awesome, and I was really happy that so many people came. At the end of the concert there was a question and answer with all of the soloists as well as Mr. Zimmermann. We went to that, and I really enjoyed it, but I didn’t take any notes. As usual, I had a really great time at this concert. I hope to see you at the next concert, which I am going to talk about now.

MW3bb

The next concert is called Remembrance. It is in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War 1 and the 75th Anniversary of World War 2. They are going to show pictures of those time periods and the wars. Westwater Arts photochoreography has worked with the Canton Symphony before. They did pictures for one of the first concerts I ever wrote about. They showed pictures that were taken at the time of the Civil War at that one. I am really excited to see this one. We weren’t able to make it to any of the rehearsals for this concert, so I can’t wait to be surprised by it. They are playing a lot of Copland, like Fanfare for the Common Man, Quiet City, and the first movement from Symphony No. 3.

They are also playing Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, and a piece by Kelly. I am really going to enjoy this concert.  I think a lot of war veterans will be there and they probably will have them stand up either at the beginning or the end. I am going to talk a little bit about each piece they are playing. First is Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The conductor of the orchestra that premiered this piece suggested to Copland that they should premier it on March 12, 1943, at “income tax time” and Copland then said that he was all for honoring the common man at tax time. One of my favorite rock bands, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, did a version of this piece and I really love it. I used to listen to it all the time. ELP’s manager had to ask permission from Copland, and he even called his home phone number. Copland told him to send it to him, and he thought it was great. He said “”This is brilliant, this is fantastic.”

They’re only playing the first movement of Copland’s Symphony No. 3, but I wish they had time to play the whole thing. It was the longest piece he had ever written. Something I find really cool about it is that he included a part of Fanfare for the Common Man, which was written in the hope of boosting morale during the war. I also can’t wait to hear Frederick Kelly’s Elegy for Strings and Harp. He wasn’t very old when he died. He unfortunately was killed in the war, and he only lived to be about 37 years old. He memorized Mozart piano sonatas at five years old and a couple years later started writing his own music. This piece was written in memory of a friend who died of blood poisoning from a mosquito bite. Actually, the original title of this piece was Elegy for Strings: In Memoriam Rupert Brooke. He didn’t add the harp part until a month before he died.

Finally, the last piece they are going to perform is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9. Shostakovich wrote this during Stalin’s suppression of Russian citizens. This piece failed to “convey” (as said in the program notes) any Soviet spirit whatsoever. Stalin was apparently offended by the fact that there were no soloists, no chorus, and no climax. This piece was actually banned until Stalin died. That is just a little bit about the pieces and their composers. The concert is actually tonight, and I really hope to see you there.

Callum on Broadway! (and in a talent show)

Well, ok… so he’s not actually on Broadway, but he’s on Broadway World! 😉
Click below or here to read the article:

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We’re very excited to be part of the Canton Symphony’s new FREE lecture series at the “Z” (the new Zimmermann Symphony Center) called ConverZations! If you’re in the Canton area and available at lunch time on Columbus Day (October 13, 2014), please consider joining us! (click below for details)…

Since the BWW article mentions Callum’s Philip Glass video, here it is:

Philip Glass birthday tribute

Now Callum would like to share a quick update and a few other videos w/ you:

After my last blog post, I did something really exciting. I played in a talent show at my school. I wrote a solo piece for keyboard and I played it in front of my entire school and then also in front of the parents and students, and it was an awesome experience. I first had to audition for the show, and it was cool because my two favorite (non-music) teachers from last year – Mr. Rhoades and Mrs. Ley – were there. My mom brought my keyboard to school for the audition and she took this video:

talent-aud1

Then almost 2 months later we had the performances. I played at the two school assemblies, and then at the actual talent show in front of all the parents and students. I was nervous at first, but when I was in the middle of the piece, I realized that I shouldn’t be so nervous, and to just have fun with it. I think my ending sounds like something Rick Wakeman would do. I had a lot of fun. Here is a video of the talent show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking, and during the first after-school rehearsal, when Mrs. Ley asked if I wanted to use the sound system in the Performing Arts Hall, I said no because I thought my keyboard speakers would be loud enough. I was very much wrong, and so, as a result, you can’t hear me very well:

talent-show1

So after the talent show, I made a video that you can hear very well, but I didn’t play as well because I was having a lot of pain in my right wrist from playing so many constant arpeggios:

talent-studio1

I can’t wait until the talent show this year, because I am writing another piece, and I’m planning on a surprise!

~ Callum

 Callum plans to write next about the CSO‘s exciting new season, the first at the Z!

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