Callum and Maggie Go Baroque


Just a quick note from Dad before I turn it over to Callum and Maggie:

Hearing Scott Johnston’s impeccable piccolo trumpet playing in Let the Bright Seraphim and Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March brought back one of my earliest CSO memories: Enjoying his fantastic solos during Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz, featuring the four Romeros with the CSO way back in 1981. Unforgettable. Speaking of Scott, here’s a nice article regarding his long, distinguished tenure with the CSO:  35 Year Veteran of the Canton Symphony, Scott Johnston, Featured in the Upcoming Concert

And now, Callum’s thoughts:

This Canton Symphony Orchestra concert is going to be amazing. I am really looking forward to it. They are playing all Baroque pieces, and Erin Cooper Gay is singing with them. I can’t wait to hear her sing in this concert. She played the French horn for the Canton Symphony for 8 years, but after she left, she decided she loved singing Baroque music too. The pieces on the program are by Handel, Corelli, Bach, Vivaldi, Clarke, and Pachelbel. I read all the program notes and I listened to all of the pieces, and I’m going to talk about some things that stood out to me. Also, the night before the concert, my dad, my sister Maggie, and I went to the rehearsal, but I’m going to talk about that later. We went to Milk & Honey after the rehearsal, and here’s a picture. We love that place!


Handel wrote four of the pieces on the program, and one of them is Lascia ch’oi pianga from an opera he wrote called Rinaldo. Something I found sort of funny is that Handel was born in Germany, moved to Italy, then to England, and used an Asian dance. It says in the program notes that “The melody’s first incarnation was as an Asian dance in Handel’s 1705 opera, Almira.” The piece is very beautiful, and very peaceful. I love the harpsichord in this piece. It is very beautiful, and really gives the piece a very Baroque feeling to it. I really love it, and I can’t wait to hear it in concert. Another piece by Handel is his Water Music, which I am also really looking forward to. Handel wrote this piece to be played on party barges on water. On a summer evening, the king had a party, and musicians played Handel’s Water Music until after 2:00 AM. Another piece by Handel that they are going to play is his Entrance of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon. I think it’s funny that the program notes say this piece was not called Entrance of the Queen of Sheba until the twentieth century. Finally, the last piece by Handel is Let the Bright Seraphim.

I am looking forward to the other pieces, too. I really want to talk about the Bach first. They are playing one part of Bach’s Coffee Cantata. One of the lines in a different part of the cantata, translated to English, says “If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.” I think that’s really funny. I love coffee, so I will really be looking forward to this piece. I wish we could take coffee into Umstattd Hall, but I understand why we can’t, especially with the new seats. They are also going to play The Prince of Denmark’s March (Trumpet Voluntary) by Jeremiah Clarke. This piece is used in many weddings all over the world.

Another piece they’re going to play is a Concerto Grosso by Corelli. He was Vivaldi’s music teacher, and Handel wrote some pieces that were influenced by his style. They are also going to play Vivaldi’s In furore iustissimae irae (In the Fury of the Most Just Wrath). Here is a cool fact about Vivaldi: He wrote over 500 concertos. That is really amazing. I can’t possibly imagine writing all that music. This piece is not easy to sing, not that I’ve tried it. Ms. Cooper Gay has to sing tons of notes and she has to sing them pretty fast.

Next, I will talk a little bit about Pachelbel’s Canon. First of all, Pachelbel was Bach’s older brother’s teacher. Second of all, there is a hilarious video of a guy singing and talking about how he hates Pachelbel and how Pachelbel haunts him. It is really funny. It’s called the “Pachelbel Rant” and here’s the link to it: Pachelbel Rant  People use this piece in weddings all the time, and I think it’s cool that there is a possibility that Pachelbel may have written it for a wedding of one of the members of the Bach family. My mom and dad used it in their wedding, and the string trio really messed it up when my mom was done walking down the aisle.

Now I am going to talk about the rehearsal on Saturday. Like I said before, my dad, my 8 year old sister Maggie and I went to the rehearsal. Maggie really liked it, and she took notes and wrote 7 and a half pages. Most of what she wrote will be at the end of this blog.

When we got there, I noticed that there was a smaller orchestra, and a harpsichord sitting right in the middle of the stage, in front of Mr. Zimmermann. The first piece they rehearsed was the one from Rinaldo by Handel. The harpsichord and singing sounds really beautiful together. The singing really blends in with the orchestra in some parts of the piece. The harpsichord sounds really cool, and it really stands out from the orchestra and singer. The singer’s voice was really strong, even though she was facing the orchestra with her back to us in the rehearsal. The singer memorized this piece in Italian. The orchestra sounds very good, and everything sounds very beautiful.

The next piece they rehearsed was from Bach’s Coffee Cantata. The only people who were on the stage to play the piece were a cellist, a flutist, the singer, the man playing the harpsichord, and Mr. Zimmermann. The flute and the harpsichord sounded very beautiful with each other. Unfortunately the piece was really short. Ms. Cooper Gay had to sing really high and you have to have good strong lungs to be able to sing that high. I think it’s a lot like playing trombone. For example, you need to have fast air, or as my awesome band teacher Mr. Kibler would say, you have to have intensity in your air to play full, strong, and get a good tone. The higher you go, the more air you need, and the faster you need to use it.

The next piece that they rehearsed was Let the Bright Seraphim from Handel’s Samson. I thought it was sort of weird that the beginning of this piece is very happy and triumphant, because I was surprised since the end of Samson is about him dying. The trumpet soloist was great. The trumpet helps make it sound so beautiful, happy, and triumphant. The middle of the piece is very minor, and sad. I wonder if it’s because that is when Samson was imprisoned. Then it goes back to major and triumphant.

The next piece they rehearsed was the Vivaldi. A lot of this piece is very fast and minor. Very powerfully minor, but very baroque at the same time. A small orchestra sure can have a big sound if they’re good like the Canton Symphony. This orchestra sure is a very powerful orchestra, and Ms. Cooper Gay sings very powerfully too. I love this piece, it is very beautiful.

During the break, we went up to talk to Mr. Zimmermann so Maggie could meet him. I noticed that the harpsichord looked pretty cool. It looked a lot different than a piano. It had shiny gold strings, and it had spiral legs, unlike pianos. It also had pens actually stuck inside of it. The man who played the harpsichord sat down at it, and then he took the pens out. Mr. Zimmermann said that they were trying to keep that harpsichord in tune, so maybe that is what the pens were for. When they were warming up, someone was playing a part of the last movement of Handel’s Water Music to warm up.

Then they rehearsed Handel’s Water Music. It starts out really beautifully, of course. I imagined water trickling out of a crack in a huge rock. Near the beginning, I noticed only a few strings were playing. Then there is a fugue between the strings. Even though Handel did not write this actually about water, if I didn’t know anything about the piece and didn’t know the name, then I think I still would think it was about water. When I hear one of the movements then I picture a dripping creek because it is staccato, and very short notes played by the harpsichord make me think of dripping water off a little cliff into a water filled gorge in the middle of the forest, which is a really beautiful picture. The French horns sound really good, and these French horn parts are hard in this piece. The harpsichord is like the water drops hitting the rocks in a huge, dark, moist cave. When they hit the rock, it is the sound bouncing off the walls. Handel has a certain style that you can recognize as Handel, and it’s awesome. Mr. Kibler has us write things and make markings on our music to help us, like stuff he says, and so does Mr. Zimmermann. Mr. Zimmermann knows the results he wants, and knows exactly what to do to get them. He is such an amazing conductor, and I think it would be awesome to be taught and conducted by him. The orchestra is so amazing, they just sound so great, and of course, as I just said, they have an amazing conductor. I love how Mr. Zimmermann conducts, and how he sings along with the music. I know I’ve said before that it shows how passionate about music he is. They keep repeating and practicing until it’s exactly how he wants it. We have had to do that in band all the time. The last movement is the most famous movement, and is my favorite. It’s also the one that I really think captures Handel’s style.

I know I say this every time, but I hope as many people as possible can come to the concert. The Canton Symphony is such a great orchestra and they deserve to have every seat taken, and tickets sold out because of how hard they work and how well they play. I hope to see you there.

Note from Dad:
Here’s some of what Maggie wrote during the rehearsal and after…

(Lascia ch’oi pianga from Rinaldo, by Handel)
I think it’s a really beautiful piece. The singer is really good. I really like the violins, cellos and basses. I like all the high notes and how the singer can sing that high. The piece is really calming. It’s really slow and quiet. Even though I can’t understand the words, they’re really calming and beautiful. The singer is a really beautiful singer. It’s amazing how she can sing in Italian even though she’s American, and how she can memorize all those Italian words. It’s amazing how they only have about 3 rehearsals and everyone can play that well. I heard an instrument that I thought was the flute that was so beautiful with her singing, but later my dad says that was probably the oboe. And so are the cellos and violins and basses and everything else together is so beautiful.

(Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht from Bach’s Coffee Cantata)
This piece is so beautiful with only the flute, the cello, and the harpsichord, and her singing. At first I thought it looked like a piano, but my dad told me it was a harpsichord. The flute player was really good, and I want to play the flute someday when I get older. The singer is singing about coffee. It’s also amazing how she could sing in German. I think the piece about coffee would sound funny in English because the words are really funny. Some of the words are “Ah how sweet coffee tastes. Lovelier than a thousand kisses.” No one else in the orchestra is playing. It’s a really funny piece. Bach wrote the music and someone else wrote the words.

The next piece they played is really beautiful, too. It’s called Let the Bright Seraphim, and Handel wrote it. It’s a really fast piece, it’s in English, but it doesn’t really sound like it. The trumpet is really good. The singer can sing really fast. It’s amazing how the singer can sing that well and that fast with the music. It’s also amazing how she can hold all those notes that long and that high. Some parts of the piece are really fast, some parts are slow. Some parts are really high and some parts are really low. It’s also amazing how everyone can play that fast. It’s also amazing how she can do trills with her voice. I thought it was called vibrato, but my dad said that what she was doing was actually a trill.

(Vivaldi: In furore iustissimae irae)
This piece is really fast. The singer can sing really fast with the music. It’s a really beautiful piece. The piece is by Antonio Vivaldi. Some of the piece is fast, and some of it is sort of slow. It’s amazing how she can sing so fast in a different language. All the violins are playing really fast, and it’s also amazing how fast the harpsichord player can play. It’s amazing how everyone can play so fast and still stay together.

Water Music by Handel is really beautiful too. Some parts are really fast, and some parts are really slow. It’s cool how they can all stay at the same tempo. It’s a really calming piece. The singer doesn’t sing in this piece. It’s really pretty. Mr. Zimmermann stopped a lot and talked to the orchestra in this piece. They’re only doing 8 movements, but there’s a lot more movements in the piece. One movement is slow, and then the next one is fast, and they sort of go back and forth like that. The violins, the cellos, and the basses sound really good all together. My dad also told me about another string instrument that I didn’t know before, the violas, and they sounded really good, too. The harpsichord sounds really good with all the other instruments, too. The conductor helps them know when it’s their turn to play, and when to slow down, and when to go fast, and tells them when to start playing and when to stop playing. So the conductor helps the orchestra a lot. When the orchestra took a break before this piece, I got to meet the conductor, Mr. Zimmermann, and he is really nice. I am really enjoying the rehearsal, even though it’s really long. And I love all the music. This is going to be a really great concert.

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