What an incredible challenge we musicians face in this year of Covid-19! Who would have predicted that a time would come when live music performances would stop? Music, after all, has such a functional role in every part of life – weddings, funerals, church services, sporting events, school assemblies, rallies, concerts of all kinds.
But even though live performances have come to a halt, Facebook and YouTube feature a smorgasbord of virtual offerings that remind us of human creativity that knows no bounds. In order to create these musical jewels, one needs resourcefulness, diligence, confidence, hard work, problem solving, flexibility and discipline. ALL of these skills are learned through the study of music. Is it any wonder that musicians can create these amazing things?!
I am sad though because, just this week, the WSO board decided to cancel the remainder of our concerts for this season – a heartbreak because it means we won’t be able to perform together as the WSO family or collaborate with fantastic soloists – Nachito Herrera, Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe.
But, the good news is that we are merely postponing these collaborations until it is safe to perform together and for our loyal audience once again.
The human need for music is self-evident. Music will never stop.
Until I can see all of you again…
Hello WSO Family!
Today would have been our Mahler #1 performance – this season’s Musicians’ Choice concert.
Of all the pieces we have performed over the last several years, Mahler #1 seems to describe the emotions of this difficult time better than the rest.
Mvt. 1 has a jovial main melody directly taken from one of Mahler’s songs, I Went This Morning Over the Field, that describes the heartache of a lonely wanderer who is ironically surrounded by the joy and beauty of the natural world. Like many of you, I have experienced a renewed appreciation for the wonder of nature, in spite of all the heartache around us.
Mvt. 2 portrays a heavy-footed peasant dance, followed by a retrospective waltz – music that reminds us of the enormous importance of community which we are sorely missing right now.
Mvt. 3: The threat of death presents itself by way of a funeral march parody on Frére Jacques in the minor key. The contrasting middle section, based on another of Mahler’s songs, The Two Blue Eyes of my Beloved, describes the struggles of finding the will to continue life after loss.
Mvt. 4: All the sentiments of love, heartache, death and confusion have built up so much tension that the only release can be through the drama of nature’s forces. The music shifts back and forth between darkness and light, storm and calm, violence and peace. The “dawning of day” motive from the very beginning of the 1st mvt. returns and transforms into a triumphant brass chorale with the horns literally standing up to play this magnificent fanfare. One might even suggest that the music reminds us that life triumphs over death in resounding victory.
I am thinking about all of you today and looking forward to performing this amazing piece, re-scheduled for next season. Until then stay safe, be well, cherish your loved ones and play music.
I am so honored to be the WSO music director.
Stravinsky is my favorite composer. We will be performing the music from Petrushka, one of three ballets he wrote for Serge Diaghilev and the Russian Ballet between 1910 and 1913. Petrushka is the iconic character of puppet theater in many countries – Punch in England; Pulcinella in Italy; Polichinelle in France; Kasperle in Austria/Germany.
The first music we hear describes the hustle and bustle of the Shrovetide Fair in St. Petersburg (Shrovetide, also known as Pre-Lenten season). One hears the joyful, energetic activities of organ grinders, hurdy-gurdies, dancers and street vendors. The music is mostly in major keys. Soon the puppet show draws everyone’s attention.
We meet the puppets, Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Blackamoor. When the puppet show is over, the real story of the characters unfolds behind stage. Petrushka is in love with the ballerina but she falls for the Blackamoor who bullies Petrushka. The dramatic, emotional, dissonant music describes puppets imbued with human emotions of rage, sadness, tenderness. Petrushka’s cries and screams are vividly portrayed through use of the famous Petrushka chord – C major plus F# major. This combination creates the dissonance of the tri-tone, an interval that, throughout music history, has been called the devil’s interval.
We open the program in splendid fashion with CHUCK ULLERY, bassoonist extraordinaire. I’ve known Chuck for many years – we sat in the same row of wind players during my years in the SPCO. We call this program, Clowning Around, because the bassoon is often referred to as the clown of the orchestra. Chuck will provide arguments for and against that title during his Bassoon 101 “TedTalk.” Then, he will impress us with his performance of Weber, Bassoon Concerto.
I hope you’ll be there to hear this amazing music!
Our concerts are free. Parking is free.
AND, we have wonderful treats to share at the meet n’ greet reception that follows.
See you there!