Callum’s preview of the February 16, 2014 CSO MasterWorks concert:
The upcoming Canton Symphony Orchestra concert is going to be really awesome, and it’s also the Canton Symphony Chorus’s 30th anniversary. The Canton Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Malone University Chorale, soprano Rachel Hall, and baritone (singer) Brian Keith Johnson are all going to be performing together in this concert. It’s going to be great. They are also going to announce next season, and I can’t wait to hear what they are going to play. I already know about the Beethoven Festival with André Watts, which is going to be so awesome. I cannot wait for that.
The first piece they are going to perform on Sunday is Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. Mozart wrote this piece as a gift for Anton Stoll, who took care of Mozart’s wife and son for him while he was gone. His wife was pregnant and sick, so she went to another city hoping the hot springs would help her feel better. I was really surprised that the whole piece is only 48 measures. It’s very beautiful.
When I was getting ready to write this, my dad told me a really cool story about Mozart. There was a piece (Miserere, by Allegri) written specifically for the Vatican. It was not allowed to leave the Vatican, and if it did, whoever took it out would be excommunicated from the church. Mozart went to hear the piece once, and then came home and wrote it all down, just from hearing it once. Then he went again a couple days later and fixed a few things. I guess you can stop somebody from taking a score out of the Vatican, but you can’t keep a genius from taking it out in his head. After he finished writing it all down, he gave it to a British historian, who published it. Then the pope sent for Mozart to come see him, but instead of excommunicating him, he praised him for his musical abilities. It just goes to show that Mozart was an absolute musical genius. He was only 14 when he did that. I find that really amazing. Here’s a video all about it: The story of Allegri’s Miserere Anyway, back to Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. This piece is so beautiful. I can’t wait to hear it in concert. It’s sad to think that this piece was one of the last Mozart wrote before he died. He could have written so much more. What an awesome gift it would be to have this piece written for you. I wish it was longer because there would be more to enjoy.
The second piece they are going to perform is Brahms’ German Requiem. He got the idea to write the piece when two deaths occurred that greatly affected him. First, his friend Robert Schumann, and then later his mom. This piece is fairly long; it’s usually well over an hour. It’s all really beautiful. This is the piece where the soprano and baritone sing. At first I thought when it said baritone, that it meant the band instrument. That would be really cool if it was, because I love the baritone as an instrument, but I also like the vocal baritone. The partial premiere of the Requiem, when they performed the first three movements, was a little bit of a disappointment. The timpanist messed up because he, for some reason, just interpreted the dynamics incorrectly. During the fugue at the end of the third movement, he was supposed to be playing quietly, but instead he started playing really loudly, so that the only thing you could hear was the timpani. I bet that would be funny to see because you would see everybody else playing but you can’t really hear them, and then there’s the timpanist up there banging on his timpani completely unaware of his mistake, thinking that he’s doing the right thing.
The chorus is really awesome in this piece. Some of the chorus parts sound to me like a Russian theme in a movie, probably because of the basses. I don’t know if they will use the organ or not in this concert, since it’s optional. In the first movement, the chorus starts out very, very quiet. I wonder if they are going to use half the chorus to sing so softly. I love how in the middle of this movement, it goes back to how it was right at the very beginning when the chorus comes in, but it changes key instead of going on like it was the first time. The second movement is probably my favorite. I love this whole piece, but especially this movement. The basses are awesome, they’re so low and it’s so intense. It sounds like the theme for an evil character in a movie, like Sauron’s theme in the Lord of the Rings series. I don’t remember exactly what it sounds like, because I haven’t seen any of the three movies in such a long time, but it just sounds like it would be a theme for someone like that.
This piece is very intense. My dad played a recording for me of this piece with all the words translated into English, which sounded sort of weird. I don’t think the translation sounded very good because it just didn’t seem to fit. Since Brahms wrote the music to fit the German language, it didn’t flow as well in English and didn’t sound right. My dad has a lot of recordings of this piece, like one conducted by his teacher Robert Spano. The dynamic contrast is amazing in this piece, especially with the choir. I love the way the orchestra blends in and enhances the sound of the chorus. It wouldn’t sound nearly as good if it were just the orchestra, or if it were just the chorus. This piece is great for chorus because the chorus and orchestra fit perfectly well together.
The fourth movement is the most popular. The part of this movement that has pizzicato in the strings sounds to me a little bit like the second half of the Pokémon cave music from Pokémon Platinum, Pearl, and Diamond. The fifth movement is the one with the soprano. My dad played me this movement with an amazing singer, Kathleen Battle. She has amazing talent and an amazing voice, but he’s told me some stories before about her, and she is a piece of work. He told me that one time when she performed an opera somewhere, that after she left, they had shirts made that said “I Survived the Battle!” But her voice in the recording my dad played was absolutely amazing. The sixth movement has the baritone in it, as well as the third. The recording with Kathleen Battle has an amazing baritone, too.
My dad and I went to the rehearsal on Thursday night, and so did my sister Maggie. We didn’t think that the chorus was going to be in this rehearsal because we had an old schedule that had changed. Dr. Cooper, the Canton Symphony Chorus director and conductor, was standing in the aisle with a music stand with the score on it. One time during the rehearsal, he easily climbed and jumped onto the stage from the ground, and Mr. Zimmermann said “Ah, such a young man.” Since the chorus is there, they take up the whole back of the stage, so the timpanist is really close to the orchestra. For once I can’t see him very well at all. Mr. Zimmermann is conducting the orchestra, the Malone University Chorale, the Canton Symphony Chorus, and the soloists. I bet it’s pretty hard to conduct all of that, having everyone depending on you. Mr. Zimmermann knows exactly what kind of sound he wants to get out of the orchestra and chorus. He didn’t like the sound of the mallets that the timpanist was using during one part, so he had him switch to hard wood mallets. It’s amazing how much the timpani adds to the sound of the orchestra, and how all the different kinds of mallets make sounds so different from each other.
As soon as break was over, they got back to rehearsing right away, starting where they left off. They sounded really good. They were still on the third movement when it was 9:40, which is really late. They are supposed to end at 10:00. Mr. Zimmermann sang some of the part of the baritone because he was not there that night. The soloists won’t rehearse with the orchestra until Saturday. The rehearsal was great and I loved it. Maggie decided not to take any notes this time. She said she just wanted to enjoy the music.
I really am looking forward to this concert, which I know I say every time, but that’s true because I love every Canton Symphony Orchestra concert. The Canton Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are going to do a tremendous job, and so is the soprano, the baritone and the Malone University Chorale. I hope as many people as possible can come. It looks like the weather will be better, so hopefully no whiteouts like last time. I hope to see you there.
Callum’s review of the January 25, 2014 CSO MasterWorks concert
(with notes at the end from Maggie, too)…
I have already written two blog posts about this concert and one of the rehearsals, but the concert was so awesome, I decided to write one more. The concert was amazing. I loved it. André Watts played like no other pianist I’ve ever seen, and all of it was awesome. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the pre-concert lecture because the roads were terrible. I wish we had, because Mr. Albacete did it. We took my sister Maggie to the concert, too. She was really excited to go, and she loved it. She took some more notes during the concert, and they’re at the bottom of this page. The concert hall had a lot of vacant seats, unfortunately, but that’s because the roads were so bad. Mr. Zimmermann thanked the audience for coming even in the bad weather, and the orchestra applauded the audience.
The first piece they played was Foote’s Suite for strings in E major, Op. 63. Rachel Waddell conducted this piece and she did a great job. The piece is only for strings, but some of it sounded almost as if there were more than just strings, because they had such a full sound. The third movement is a fugue, and I love it. It sounds sort of baroque. This piece is really beautiful, and it was played very well, of course.
The second piece they performed was the Hanson (Symphony No. 2). The principal French hornist, Meghan Guegold, is a great musician, and she did so well in her solos. The whole orchestra did an amazing job. I really enjoy hearing and seeing the orchestra perform. When you’re watching the orchestra, the timpanist kind of stands out, because he sits higher than the rest of the orchestra. I wonder what it feels like to be the timpanist. You are the highest level on the stage, so I bet it feels like everybody is watching you, which is probably a bit nerve-racking. I said before how John Williams was inspired by Hanson, especially this piece, when it comes to E.T. It’s really cool how the beginning of the third movement sounds almost just like the beginning of the music for the bike chase scene in E.T. On the soundtrack, it’s called the “Adventures on Earth” theme. I don’t know if Hanson intentionally wrote it to sound like one or not, but there is also a part in the third movement that I think sounds like a Native American dance, and I love it.
The third piece they performed was the MacDowell (Piano Concerto No. 2). This is my favorite out of the four pieces. André Watts did an amazing job, as usual, and I really loved watching him play. He even kicked his feet in the air a few times, and it was funny. I wanted to clap after the first and second movements because they were so great. I’m sure that the orchestra sounded better than ever because Mr. Watts was on the stage. He makes playing this piece on the piano look easy, even though it’s the opposite. This piece went by too fast. I was watching him and wondering how he does any of it, and never misses a note. It looks like he’s just hitting random keys, but he’s actually hitting all the right notes perfectly. Kind of like in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, when Flint was typing, he was just flopping his hands on the keyboard, but still managing to hit all the right letters: video
The last piece they performed was the Piston (The Incredible Flutist Suite). To me, the oboes sounded like the first trickle of people coming into the circus. Usually there is just a dog bark at the end of the circus march episode, but this time, somebody added a cat screech after the dog, and it was done really well and was really funny. This piece is very high spirits, well, some of it at least. Anyway, I loved it, along with all the other pieces, and so did the rest of the audience.
I really loved this concert. André Watts did an amazing job, and so did the orchestra and Ms. Waddell and Mr. Zimmermann. And speaking of Mr. Zimmermann, while he was conducting the Hanson, he accidentally let go of his baton and it flew into the audience. We didn’t see it happen, but we saw a little girl go up to the stage right before intermission and give the baton to the concertmaster, and she put it back on Mr. Zimmermann’s music stand. Then he came out and took it off the stand and gave it to the girl to keep as a souvenir. I thought that was kind of him. Anyway, I wish the weather wasn’t so bad, because then more people would have been able to come. It was a great concert, and I can’t wait until the next one, with Brahms and Mozart, which is also the 30th anniversary of the Canton Symphony Chorus!
Here’s some of what Maggie wrote during the concert:
My brother ran back out to the car before the concert because he forgot his notebook, and he tripped over the curb twice on the way back. He couldn’t see the curb because of all the snow.
It’s a really beautiful piece. In the beginning of the second movement they are not using the bows to play the violins, they’re just plucking the strings. It gets really low in the middle of the movement. The violins are really pretty, and they can play really high. In this piece, Mr. Zimmermann isn’t conducting, Rachel Waddell is conducting.
It starts out soft and then gets louder and louder and then softer and softer with the same tune. It is a very beautiful piece. It reminds me a lot of the beginning and end of E.T. At one part it gets really high pitched and then it gets nice and soft and then louder and louder again with the same tune it started with in the beginning of the piece. Then it gets softer and softer with the same tune again and again. It’s so beautiful. You can really hear the tuba and violins. The violins were not playing for a minute and then they started playing again. You can really hear the flutes and violins with all the other instruments in the orchestra. At one part it gets a lot lower with the tuba and the double basses. Its so, so, so beautiful. At another part, only the flutes play, and then only the big drum plays. At another part, it gets really fast and super super loud as they speed up the piece, and then stops and gets softer again.
It’s the most beautiful piece yet. Mr. Watts is really good at playing the piano. He is the best piano player I have ever seen. It is so beautiful. It is amazing how they can all play together like that with some people playing different tunes and how they don’t get distracted by everyone else. Mr. Zimmermann is a really good conductor. Everyone in the orchestra is so good at playing music, especially Andre Watts the piano player. He is amazing. It’s amazing how he doesn’t get one note wrong. He can play so fast at exactly the right time. There is a part that sort of reminds me of the Nutcracker and another part of it reminds me of Toy Story 3. I don’t know why.
Callum loved rehearsal so much he decided to post a “Part 2“…
We went to the Canton Symphony Orchestra rehearsal Friday night, and it was awesome. André Watts rehearsed, and the orchestra sounded great. My 8-year-old sister Maggie also got to come, take notes, and listen to Mr. Watts and the orchestra, and some of what she wrote is at the end of this post.
I love the sound André Watts gets out of the piano. As my awesome piano teacher Matt Riddle says, it’s almost as if he were pulling the sound out of the keys. Even when Mr. Watts is not playing, he is so into the music, sometimes he looks like he’s almost in pain because of how beautiful the music is. I think that’s really cool, because it shows how much he loves music and how passionate he is about it. I said something about that in the blog I wrote about Mr. Watts last season. A lot of the time, he looks at the orchestra when he’s playing, like he’s enjoying just watching and listening to them. You can almost hear how Mr. Watts feels about the music. It’s like he transforms his passion for music into sound, so you can hear the way he feels about the music he’s playing and hearing. The control he has over his hands is just amazing. They just glide over the piano keys. The softer he plays, the more he crouches into the piano, like he’s trying to see tiny words etched in the piano keys. He mouths the notes almost as if they are words. Mr. Watts is just so amazing and it’s really great to have him back.
The first piece they rehearsed is the MacDowell (Piano Concerto No. 2). This piece is very powerful and beautiful. I couldn’t see Mr. Zimmermann because the piano lid was in the way. It was funny because, from the angle I was sitting, and since the piano lid was blocking Mr. Zimmermann, all I could see was his arm coming out from the side of the piano lid. Mr. Zimmermann mentioned The Shadow again when he was talking to the orchestra, and what I mean by again, is that he said something about it in one of the concerts two seasons ago and I wrote about it in the blog about that concert. The second movement was just as awesome. At one part, Mr. Watts did a really, really soft, but really fast trill, which I find is pretty hard if you want to play it well.
Mr. Watts looked closely at the keys when he was playing really softly, almost as if the softer he plays, the smaller the keys get. He is amazing, as I’ve said many times before. He taps his foot to the rhythm, and once, he tapped so hard, you could hear it over the piano and orchestra. If I were in the orchestra, I would be so captured by the awesomeness of his playing, I wouldn’t be able to turn the page, or play. I would just be sitting there, frozen.
Unfortunately, Mr. Watts left after the break because they were going to rehearse the Hanson (Symphony No. 2). This piece is great, I really love it. Mr. Zimmermann made a joke with the orchestra about the Woody Woodpecker part in the first movement (I mentioned in my last blog). Another part of it sounds like Pokémon Platinum cave music. There is also a part in this piece that reminds me of Star Wars music, which makes sense because John Williams was influenced by Hanson, as I said in my previous blog. The French horns are amazing. As I’ve probably said before, the French horn is a really hard instrument to play, and this orchestra’s French hornists are great. There is also a really hard part for trumpet that’s really, really high and hard to play in tune. There is a theme repeating in many different forms throughout the movement, but that’s normal.
This rehearsal was awesome and I really loved it. It was great to see André Watts play, even though it was just a rehearsal. I’m glad my sister Maggie got to go. She took some notes, and really enjoyed it, which is great. Here are some things she wrote down:
It’s very beautiful and calming and part of it is loud. It’s amazing how they can play all at the same time, and Mr. Watts can play so fast without looking and not miss one note. Some of the music is very peaceful, and the double basses sound really cool. Mr. Watts is AMAZING. The double basses and cellos and violas and violins and all the other instruments are very beautiful. It’s amazing how they can all play at the same pace. It sounds great. It makes me feel relaxed and it makes me think of the Nutcracker sometimes. I’ve been wondering what the projector and screen is for. It’s amazing how the violinists can play so fast and not mess up a note.
Mr. Watts is not playing the piano in this piece. I really like the trumpets, French horns, tuba, and trombones. Mr. Zimmermann is using a pencil instead of a baton. The violins, violas, cellos, double basses, and harp are all really beautiful. It reminds me of ET. I think the music is very calming. The oboe is very beautiful. A part of the piece sounds like Woody Woodpecker’s laugh. The cymbals are really loud. The piccolo is really high pitched. The double basses are really low, and they’re way in the back. This is a very beautiful piece.