Happy Birthday, CSO Chorus!


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.

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