Great Performances

World Music Exploration - Andrea Bocelli

This week, we are listening to Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, sometimes referred to as "the fourth tenor."  He has made a name for himself in opera as well as pop ballads, having recorded duets with Celine Dion, Sarah Brightman, Eros Ramazzotti and Al Jarreau,  This is "Dare to Live" (Vivere), one of my favourite tracks from from The Best of Andrea Bocelli:

 
 

It was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2008.

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Concert Review of CJO's An Evening of Romance

Quick post - I finally got my review of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra's Feb. 12 concert "An Evening of Romance" up (hip hip hooray). It featured big band music made famous by Billie Holiday and Chet Baker.
You know, if they ever do a CD, I hope they put "My Funny Valentine" on it.  That was the BEST VERSION EVER!

World Music Exploration - Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Our musical journey moves northward to Venezia (Venice) for this week's clip. While setting up the clip, I surveyed my students."Pizza" and "pasta" are the first words that came to mind when asked about their knowledge of Italy. "It's shaped like a boot," came third. However,  One of my 10 year-old students impressed me with his knowledge of Italian history, namely all about the city states and which country owned which area.

 

This week, we are listening to the music of Antonio Vivaldi (1675-1741). He was nicknamed the "red priest" because of his red hair, which was unusual at the time. He worked at Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pietà, which was a music school for orphaned girls.
 
Vivaldi composed cantatas, concerti, chamber music, church music, operas and an oratorio. He was one of the first Baroque composers to write for clarinet.
 
This is "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. This work is comprised of four violin concerti:
 
 
The first thing my students have commented on are the dramatic masks, which Venice is famous for. Next, their eyes bug out when they hear the opening theme played on the solo violin.
Four Seasons is an example of programme music. Based on sonnets, this work is rich in imagery. My students and I have decided that this excerpt could be used for a snowstorm. One student imagined a couple of dogs chasing and playing in the snow.
 

(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Rhapsody in g minor by Brahms

This week's selection is one of my personal faves, ever since I brother learned it many moons ago.

 

Johannes Brahms lived from 1833 - 1897. Like all the other selections this month, Brahms hailed from Germany. He wrote works for piano, orchestra, singers and several small chamber ensembles. I've heard many times that a certain level of emotional maturity is needed to play his works well. Having played and heard several of his works, I tend to agree.

 

This is Brahms' Rhapsody in g minor, op. 79 no. 2. It's in ABA (ternary) form as many works from the Romantic period are. It's stormy and full of angst. As some of my students have sensed, there's an element of melancholy as well.

 

The pianist is Martha Argerich from Argentina. She won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965This reclusive musician is hailed as one of the greatest pianists of our time.

 

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Handel's Messiah

This week, we are exploring the Messiah oratorio composed by George Fredrick Handel.

 

Handel was an interesting character. Born in Germany, immigrated to England. His opera seria were popular back in the day. Then, when the middle class began their ascent into power, opera seria wasn't so popular. Handel turned to oratorios as one way to win back audiences.

 

He wrote this oratorio about Jesus Christ in under 24 days. Some sources say he didn't leave his home until it was finished.

 

I enjoyed singing this part back in my university days. Here's "For Unto Us a Child is Born":

 

 

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Canadian Pop and Rock

Last week was Canada Music Week. I let my students choose which Canadian artist or band they'd like to share with me. Here are a few of their choices:

 

Celine Dion: we have been admiring her vocal range and stage presence.

 

Justin Bieber: Well, my students in his fan demographic would say "he's awesome". He's a cute kid. I like the drum grooves.

Frank Mills: This was one of the first "fun" (AKA, "supplemental") pieces my mom "asked" me to learn. Isn't Music Box Dancer catchy?

Two of my students introduced me to Cœur de Pirate last year. She sang at the 2011 Calgary Folk Fest. Here's C'était Salement Romantique:

 

 (c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Great Performances - VuVox Acapella Disney Medley

My students and I have been sorting out their ensemble pieces for their upcoming group classes. In my search to find some great Disney numbers, I stumbled upon this entertaining Disney medley by VuVox Acapella.
Their pitch is incredible (always impressive with such a large a cappella group. They are also just fun to watch, which is what makes this great. They really get into their characters. The audience is captivated throughout (always a good sign):
(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.