Please remember us on May 20th, 2015 in Omaha Gives.
You may donate any time between now and May 20th by clicking here!
Please remember us on May 20th, 2015 in Omaha Gives.
You may donate any time between now and May 20th by clicking here!
Have you ever been in a situation where you thought, “Man, I wish I could see the future…” ? I’ve wondered if some of the great master composers ever thought that their works would still be performed 50 years nevertheless hundreds of years after their creation. I’ve read several threads on message boards asking what people think makes a song or piece “a classic.” Some people say it’s the cultural impact that allows something to stick around for a long time. Others say something that it is remembered and revered by not only the current generation, but those who were around when it was first released. At one point, classical music had to have been contemporary, right?
What does the future of music have in store for us? It’s hard to imagine that anything released in the last 10 years will become a “classic” but some of it is destined to be remembered that way due to devoted fans who will work to keep it alive. It’s also amazing to me to see music that I know to be classics being kept alive by today’s generation of young music lovers. Kids on Facebook talking about how much they love Led Zeppelin or Ella Fitzgerald. I suppose a lot of it has to do with what parents are listening to or what is being taught in music education or appreciation classes.
It’s also interesting to see the music recycling or upcycling (taking an older style and adding a modern feel) that is happening. Trends in music, fashion, and movies are all related in this aspect. We see pop music beats from the 80’s showing up in 2013 along with the resurgence in popularity of neon colors in the fashion world. In the last 10 years, young bands have been bringing back bluegrass and folk music at the same time movies are depicting that time period with Inside Llewyn Davis, A Mighty Wind, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Who has a crystal ball to see what is coming or will come back in the next 10 years? Will we see the same trends time after time? Is Disco dead forever? Only time will tell. One thing is pretty certain: OUR classics will be around for a long time. The masters will continue to be revered and hopefully their masterpieces will continue to have many outlets for performance.
The Omaha metro has a really great music scene. There is always something going on in Omaha or Lincoln on any given day of the week. In the style of New Years’ resolutions, Kevin Coffey, a music critic and reporter for the Omaha World Herald, released some resolutions for a more musical 2014 on January 2nd. You can find the article on Omaha.com (it’s from his “Rock Candy” blog), but here are his ideas (and my comments) to broaden your musical perspectives in the coming year.
1. Find a band you like and listen to its entire discography. The good, the bad, and the ugly will help you appreciate the artist in a new way.
2. Go to the merch booth and buy a t-shirt or CD or both. Support the band in the best, most direct way.
3. Omahans and Lincolnites, go to the other’s city for a show. There are awesome opportunities to see music less than an hour away.
4. Buy an album from a local band. Support the little guy – who knows if you’ll be helping the next big thing?!
5. Try something you’re not normally into. Coffey suggests country fans try listening to Daft Punk or to give Jay-Z a listen even if you hate hip-hop. You can at least say you tried it.
6. Read someone’s autobiography. Learn something new!
7. Resolve to give new music one more chance. You may have dismissed it once but maybe it’ll grow on you.
8. Buy a turntable. Or dig it our of your basement, or borrow one. Listening to a beloved album on vinyl is an experience.
9. Organize your music. Even the smallest of collections can benefit from a little alphabetizing. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something that you thought was lost or re-discover a favorite from times past.
10. Instead of streaming a song online a million times, just buy it. You’re supporting the artist, you won’t have to worry about your internet connection, and with iTunes, you can buy just about anything as a single song.
Bonus: Listen to one band from each of the 50 states. Coffey just writes: Good luck with that one.
Happy 2014 to everyone! Most people find the beginning of a new year as a good time to reflect upon the past and commit to themselves or others to make some changes in their lives. These resolutions can become life-long changes or end up as fleeting thoughts, but the act of making a resolution can be very powerful.
In music, there is another kind of resolution. It’s that moment (and I know you’ve felt it at some point) where the music you’re singing or listening to starts in a dissonant place – uncomfortable, suspenseful, almost painful at times – and ends up in a consonant place – beautiful, positive, full of relief. Many find these types of resolutions to be some of the most powerful moments in music.
The resolutions we make as individuals and collectively can be a powerful force. When researching “resolutions” in music, there was more than just consonance and dissonance. There are people out there who really believe that classical music could use a few “resolutions” of its own. An Authentic Cadence is a blog dedicated to all things classical music and here are the resolutions that they think classical music should make (they’re a couple of years old but I think they still apply).
1. Find someone who can “decode” classical music for the general public.. A relatable “face” for classical music, this person should be able to break it down for general public – what is classical music, why should people support it. Think Oprah for classical music!
2. Become a part of the local music community, not just the arts community. You might ask “what’s the difference?” but if you think about it, the music community is so much more expansive that the fine arts is generally considered. In order to be appealing to a greater audience, classical music needs to integrate itself into the local music scene.
3. Identify “franchise” musicians. A sports “franchise” player is someone who is known for their work on and off the field. Classical music needs the same – musicians who are willing to work outside of music in the community for the greater good.
4. Dethrone yourself. Let’s face it – sometimes classical musicians and die-hard fans can be considered hoity toity and elitist. Classical music is not the “best” music or the “only civilized form of musical expression.” By appreciating other genres and bringing classical music down to more even level, it will become more approachable for a broader audience.
5. Learn to listen. Don’t disrespect other genres and write them off as unmusical or worthless. Use that classical training to listen and appreciate how other musicians express themselves.
Thank you to everyone who emailed in the pieces or composers that hold special memories or are particularly moving for you.
Soprano Laura Schollaert emailed me right away with her piece, Credo from Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Laura believes that this is the most theologically perfect piece she has ever sung. There is excitement from the first measure; as if the singers can’t wait to tell everyone these words. The ups and downs of the story are told through the music. Great selection, Laura!
Soprano Marge Mullin’s journey with her father requiring her and her siblings to memorize barbershop arrangements before being allowed to leave the dinner table! One of Marge’s most profound choral experience was rehearsing with Robert Shaw for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnes with the Detroit Symphony. It was one of those experiences where you almost don’t want to hear it again because of how special it was. Thanks for sharing, Marge!
This comes from Soprano Lauren Anderson: check out Drop, Drop Slow Tears by Paul Mealor (on YouTube the version by the Antioch Chamber Ensemble in NYC). “This piece is just haunting, beautiful, stark and glorious. I just hope that this is what Heaven sounds like.”
My (Alto Erin Kurth) favorites are the works of Aaron Copeland. To me, his compositions are the epitome of Americana. Especially on a road trip, his music sets a tone of excitement and adds the perfect accompaniment to the beauty of our great nation. Even Copeland’s choral works, like In The Beginning, have been favorites throughout my choral life.
Again, thank you to those who shared these experiences and thoughts. If you have one you’d like to share with the group, email the newsletter. Help others discover the music you love!
So I asked the chorus to send in any blogs that they may follow regularly. These are personal preferences, so if you take a look at one and enjoy it great. If not, that’s fine too.
If you have one to share or better yet if you write one, comment so that others can also enjoy!
So obviously the internet isn’t new, but there are some things that are relatively new to the internet scene. Recently there has been buzz around people creating their own versions of well known (and maybe some not-so-well known) songs and then posting them on a site like YouTube. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about covers.
Some covers are pretty amazing. Like Whitney Houston covering Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” amazing. And some are not – like American Idol audition bad. The good ones are often people who have amazing talents for a unique instrument or people who have arranged songs into a completely different style transforming it to the point where you have to know it’s a cover to appreciate how amazing it is.
Some favorite cover artists are Jake Shimabukuro who is a master at the ukulele and will dazzle you with his talent. YouTube channel ScottBradleeLovesYa has some fun covers of popular current songs arranged mainly in “old timey” styles like big band, ragtime, bluegrass, and western. Jimmy Fallon has a segment on his late-night television show called the Music Room where he brings in a current artist and using classroom playtime instruments, he, the artist, and the music group The Roots perform the songs.
For some artists, covers are what have made them who they are. The a cappella scene is rooted in taking other people’s music, deconstructing it, and putting it back together in parts for the voice. Rockapella (of Folger’s and Carmen Sandiego fame) and the more current group Pentatonix will blow you away with these complex arrangements for only 4 or 5 voices. To create something so rich-sounding is truly amazing. Driving the point home, who hasn’t heard of Glee? A lot of the albums and singles from the show are out-selling the original artists’ recordings.
The idea of taking someone else’s creation and putting your own spin on it could make one think that choirs and ensembles virtually do the same thing. Our directors have a vision for a piece and help us to achieve a sound and proficiency to complete that vision. Boundaries in classical and choral music can be pushed to touch people, reach someone previously thought to be unreachable. It can inspire other groups, thus perpetuating the cycle of creativity.
The arts is centered around imagination; creating something extraordinary. Not everything that OSC has done or will do is going to be unique or different, but the goal is to create great music. Our directors have the vision and ability to help us get there and we are the tools. So while we won’t likely be doing a choral arrangement of “Call Me Maybe” anytime soon, we can sure work hard and deliver a great performance at the Cathedral in a few weeks!
When did you first fall in love with music? Most responses are likely associated with experiences we’ve had – listening to the radio as a child with parents and grandparents, seeing our first movie in the theater, singing for the first time in a choir. It’s the reason we’re all singing today with the OSC – we love music.
I read an article recently and it was geared toward the “millennial” generation. The author of the article, a young millennial himself, explains how there is a gap in understanding and appreciation of classical music and he gives recommendations as to the “4 Composers That Will Actually Make You Like Classical Music.” This is what got me thinking about how I came to love music, and specifically classical music.
I’m sure everyone has their favorite pieces or composers, but I thought I’d share with you the composers called out in the article (mainly because I wasn’t familiar with some of them) in hopes of helping to expand your love of classical music. There’s always room for move love, right?
The first composer is Gustav Holst (1874-1934). He was English and his most well-known work is called “The Planets.” He was a lifelong friend of Ralph Vaughn Williams whom he met while studying at the Royal College of Music. Holst was often inspired in his composition by literature and folk song settings. His pieces are said to have inspired Benjamin Britten.
Next in the article is Percy Grainger (1882-1961). Grainger was born in Australia but became an American citizen in 1918. He had a successful career as a concert pianist and served in the American Army during World War I. After the war, he was offered a position as conductor of the St. Louis Symphony but declined the offer to continue his career as a pianist. Grainger’s compositions were mainly either originals or folk song arrangements. Grainger was also said to be an influence of Benjamin Britten. Some of his works to check out are “Colonial Song,” “Irish Tune From County Derry,” “Country Gardens,” and “Molly on the Shore.”
As choral singers, most of us are familiar with Eric Whitacre’s work. Whitacre (born in 1970) mainly writes choral and wind ensemble compositions and blew the industry away with his all-choral CD Cloudburst in 2008. He also created the concept of a virtual choir where individuals from around the world lend their voices online together to sing. OSC has performed Whitacre’s “Cloudburst,” “A Boy and A Girl,” and “Lux Aurumque.”
The fourth composer in the article is George Gershwin (1898-1937). People are most familiar with Gershwin’s works “An American in Paris,” “Rhapsody in Blue, “ and the self-described folk opera “Porgy and Bess.” Gershwin grew up, with his brother Ira, around the Yiddish Theater District in New York. He composed for orchestra, theater, and film throughout his very short but extraordinary life.
Most musicians have certain composers and pieces that they are drawn to – styles of music that evoke emotion and pieces that hold memories. If you have a special favorite, email the newsletter and share with us the piece and/or the composer and why you connect with it. Let’s help each other discover our loves in this musical world that we share.
Digging through the choral library can be a lot of work but you can also discover some treasures hidden within long-forgotten folders of documents. This program from the winter 1972 program is a gem. The artwork on the front is so groovy (pardon the vernacular) and shows a creative side of OSC that many of us didn’t realize existed.
You’re probably wondering if the concert looked like a revival of the musical “Hair” or if the chorus was staging productions of “Pippin” or “Grease” which debuted on Broadway that year. In all likelihood (and we don’t have any sources who were there to verify) it was very similar to how it is now. All of the ladies in matching outfits and the gentlemen in tuxedos (maybe leisure suits?) singing classical masterworks. The concert was held at First Christian Church in Omaha. The church had just been built in 1963 and was on the outskirts of town at 66th and Dodge (can you imagine Omaha ending at 66th Street?!).
Although it is a little tough to pick out on the design without seeing it in person, that concert’s program included Cherubini’s “Mass in C Minor” and Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb.” For those unfamiliar with these pieces, here is some background summarized from the notes in the program.
Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini (that’s a mouthful) was born on Sept. 14, 1760 in Florence. He began musical training at 6 years old and wrote his first acknowledged piece, “Mass in D,” when he was 13 years old. At 17 years old, he went to study with opera composer Sarti in Venice. The “Mass in C Minor” is in a polyphonic style where the singers are supported by the organ and there are no solo voices. The mood of the piece is of confident faith even through dramatic movements like “Dies Ire.” However, faith always triumphs.
Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” is based on a poem of the same name by Christopher Smart. Smart is said to have been deeply religious but with a strange and unbalanced mind (yikes!). The poem was written while in an asylum and is chaotic with moments of genius. The main theme of the poem and Cantata is the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way. The Cantata is broken into 10 sections, each illustrating various ways to rejoice in God.
So, how different was it 41 years ago? Very – from popular music, fashion, and car styles to political landscapes and major events. One thing is the same, though, the OSC was making great music!
You’ll begin seeing the major portions of our monthly (or bi-monthly) newsletter posted in this section of the OSC website. Enjoy!