Finding Nemo… in Sibelius?

Here’s Callum’s “review” of the October 7, 2012 Canton Symphony concert (the 2012-13 season opener). Glancing at him from where Maggie and I were sitting farther back in the hall, it sometimes seemed like he wasn’t as focused on the orchestra as I would’ve expected.  But I guess he was paying more attention than I thought; and maybe he just had visions of Nemos, gazebos, and (yes, again) Marios dancing in his head. I’m also curious now to watch Finding Nemo again, to try to find the spot where he heard some similarity to Sibelius.

Callum’s review:

I got to go to the first concert of the Canton Symphony Orchestra’s 75th anniversary season Sunday night. I was really excited about this one, because I went with my Aunt Carole. My dad and my sister Maggie went too, but they sat someplace else. I think I have said something about my sisters before, but just in case, Maggie is 7 years old, and my other sister Mackenzie is 3 now. I was really excited because my Aunt Carole had never heard the Canton Symphony. She’s heard other orchestras, but not this one. I got to ride with her to the concert and tell her about the Canton Symphony. She loves music, and I couldn’t wait for her to hear our orchestra.

We went to the pre-concert lecture and it was really cool. Mrs. Mullaly, the Executive Director of the orchestra, showed us a slide show on a screen up next to the stage. She told us all about the new addition to Umstattd Hall, and it is going to be great. Mr. Zimmermann has been the conductor of the Canton Symphony for over 30 years, and has led them in the best possible direction. So in honor of his long dedication to the orchestra, they are going to build the Zimmermann Symphony Center. In the slide show there was a picture of what it is going to look like and it looked awesome. They are raising money to build it. They don’t have enough money yet, but they have raised most of it. I would love to think of a way to help them raise the money.

Then Mr. Zimmermann came out to talk about the music. As I’ve said many times before, I love to hear him talk about the music, and I was looking forward to my Aunt Carole hearing him talk. The first piece, called Gazebo Dances, was the first piece he talked about. He said it’s called Gazebo Dances because it’s sort of like a tribute to years ago when towns had gazebos where bands would play, and they usually had ice cream, which sounded good to me! Where we used to live, there was a gazebo next to a pond, and while he was talking about it, I could picture people standing around the gazebo in our neighborhood while a band was playing. I think he said he used to play trumpet in a band like that when he was growing up. Then the second piece he talked about was the violin concerto by Menotti, and he said that it was a favorite of his. The last piece he talked about was by Sibelius, his second symphony. Mr. Zimmermann said he thought that the ending was the best ending a classical piece could have, that it was the best ending in the world. It made me really excited to hear the ending. My dad played most of the symphony for me a few days ago, but not the ending. I didn’t want my dad to play any of the other music for me before the concert, because I like being surprised. I love hearing new pieces for the first time at Canton Symphony concerts.

Then the concert started. Like I said before, the Gazebo Dances came first, by John Corigliano. My mom told me that she and my dad really like his music. I thought this one was a little weird because it was different than anything I’d ever heard before, but I really liked it. Part of the first dance reminded me of some music from Super Mario Galaxy 2. The second dance was kind of like a waltz, but I can’t imagine somebody dancing to it. Mr. Zimmermann said it was like a couple trying to dance, but getting out of step. The whole piece was different. Parts of it were very dissonant, but like I said I really liked it.

The second piece was Menotti’s violin concerto. It was really awesome because it was fast and loud, well, most of it. The soloist was really amazing. She nailed it. She managed to play it with lots of feeling, even while she played fast and loud. I think someone at a lower level would play it choppy and not with as much feeling and dynamics. She played with perfect dynamics and with the sound of a great classical violinist. I heard her play in the Cameo Concert last season in Massillon. She was the soloist at that concert and she sounded better than a recording we have at home. Yesterday (the day after the concert), my dad played me a recording of the Menotti concerto, and we thought she sounded much better than that one, too!

Then there was intermission, and then they played the Sibelius symphony. Before the orchestra started playing, someone’s violin string broke. It took forever to change it. It seemed like Mr. Zimmermann was starting to get a little angry. I thought I heard him say “don’t make me lose my temper” or something like that, and the orchestra laughed. I kind of felt bad for the violinist because I heard some people in the audience laughing. I think it kind of threw the orchestra off schedule. I was really hoping that Mr. Zimmermann would talk to the audience like he usually does, but he didn’t in this concert, and I wonder if it was because the violin string took so long.

The beginning of this Sibelius symphony sounds like something from Finding Nemo, which was the first movie I saw in a theater. My dad took me to see the Cleveland Orchestra play this symphony when I was I think 3 years old, and then when I saw Finding Nemo, I remember saying that one part sounded like Sibelius. It is beautiful and I think the beginning sounds like the ocean, like waves, and I don’t think it’s just because of Finding Nemo. Then the oboes and some other woodwinds come in and in the concert it reminded me of a little kid dancing in a field. Then it got really minor sounding, and it made me think of a lion sneaking up behind something, waiting to pounce. A part of the first movement reminded me of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf for some reason. The second movement was beautiful, and the music was sort of almost scary sometimes, but I loved it. The third movement has a surprise in the middle, where it gets slow, quiet, and really beautiful, and then suddenly it’s fast and loud again. It didn’t surprise me this time because my dad already played most of the symphony for me (I didn’t remember much of it from when I was really young). But some people were surprised. I expected that part to be louder, though. I think it is more of a surprise than the Surprise Symphony by Haydn (and my dad says the orchestra is playing that later this season). I think the whole piece was beautiful, even though there are fast, loud and powerful parts. There are a couple times in the last movement that it sounded to me like it was going to end, but it didn’t. It’s like fireworks… they are exploding one at a time and then there’s a ton exploding at once, and you think that is the end. But it just ends up going back to one at a time.

I think I know why Mr. Zimmermann chose this to be the last piece, because of the ending. I think it is the best, most triumphant ending, except for Mahler’s second symphony, and that will be played at the next concert! Sibelius just keeps building it up and up and up until it gets so loud that it has to end. The main theme reminded me of some music from the first Harry Potter movie. Mr. Zimmermann had them hold the last note for a long time, like he didn’t want to end it, and I think that was what Sibelius wanted, too. When he sort of threw down his baton to end the note, it looked like he lifted off the ground. You can tell he’s really into it and is a great conductor. I felt really awesome when it was over. I loved this concert and so did my Aunt Carole. She said it was awesome. And she has tickets for the whole season! And of course, my dad and I loved it too, and Maggie said so did she. I can’t wait till the next concert. Of course, it’s going to be awesome!

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