Archives for posts with tag: classical music

The Nerve
A few years ago, Chris Brookes, Jowi Taylor and I produced a six-part series for CBC Radio called The Nerve: Music and the Human Experience. It was a follow-up to our Peabody-Award-winning series The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music, and it takes a look at how music is a facet of every part of our lives, from human evolution, to war and peace, to religion and personal identity.

This month, Radio New Zealand National is rebroadcasting The Nerve in its entirety, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm New Zealand time. (That’s 5pm Pacific time and 8pm Eastern time in North America on Fridays and Saturdays.) You can listen at those times HERE.

Music is found in every culture worldwide. It’s our constant companion, from birth through childhood, love, marriage and death. It has a starring role on every stage of the great human drama – whether we are at war or at prayer, by ourselves or with others, happy or sad – music is there. But does it really have a purpose? Where does it come from? And why does it have such power over our hearts and minds?

The Nerve asks those questions, featuring the voices and thoughts of top musicians and thinkers, from Zakir Hussain to Howard Shore to Richard Dawkins and more.

Episodes 1 and 2 aired last weekend – but you can listen to Episode 1, “Wired for Sound: Music and the Brain” right here:

In 2009, Episode 1 of The Nerve was Shortlisted for the Prix Italia in the Work on Music category. The Nerve as a series was awarded two Silver Medals at the 2009 New York Festivals of Radio Programming in the Culture & the Arts and Best Editing categories.

Another instalment in The Signature Series:

B minor: The Dark Romantic

Also known as:
The Gloomy Gus.
The Pessimist.

B minors you might know:
Werther from Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby.
Cliff Barnes from Dallas.

The notes: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A♯ – B.

Number of sharps: two.

Relative major: D major.

What they said about B minor in the 18th and 19th centuries:
“Banished from music of good taste.” – Francesco Galeazzi, 1796

“Bitter, gloomy lamentation, on account of hard suffering … in these tones the shocked soul looks around exhausted and almost without hope.” – J. A. Schrader, 1827

More G minor listening:
The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner.

Cello Concerto by Antonín Dvořák.

The Canadian connection:
“Robots” by Dan Mangan.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuriesby Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

 

Another instalment in The Signature Series:

D major: Miss Congeniality

Also known as:
The Workaholic.
The Homecoming Queen.

D majors you might know:
The Goddess Athena from Greek mythology.
Oprah Winfrey.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The notes: D - E – F♯ – G – A – B – C♯ – D.

Number of sharps: two.

Relative minor: B minor.

What they said about D major in the 18th century:
“The key of triumph, of Hallelujahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing.” – Christian Schubart, 1784

“Enflames the heart. The spirit … is roused to impudent, joyful, even to somewhat boisterous songs of praise. Even the god of thunder has a claim to this key.” – Georg Joseph Vogler, 1779

More D major listening:
The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss, Jr.

Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

The Canadian connection:
“Past in Present” by Feist.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, by Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

This Sunday I’m lucky enough to begin a fantastic gig: hosting CBC Radio 2′s weekly classical music performance program, In Concert.

Preparing tomorrow’s show put me in mind of summer camp – and thus conjured up all kinds of feelings and recollections.

Once upon a time there was a camp called Toronto Music Camp that happened every June, right at the end of the school year on the shores of Lake Couchiching, near Orillia, Ontario. I spent five years there as a camp counselor. I think it still exists, but these days it’s called Music by the Lake.

TMC wasn’t all fun and games (although there were many of those, too) – it was a lot of hard work – hours of rehearsal every day. The large ensembles used to rehearse in a cavernous barn with a tin roof. I remember one year we were playing the Planets by Gustav Holst and it seemed as though our endless repetition of the first eight bars of section J provoked Mars, Bringer of War to open the heavens upon our heads. The sound of the rain thundering on the roof made it impossible for us to continue.

Another year it was so cold, the coldest June in decades, that we had to light as many candles as we could find just to stay warm in the 19th-century farmhouse where the chamber ensembles rehearsed.

Those were five of the happiest fortnights of my adolescence. In those days it felt like there was TMC, and the rest of the year until the next TMC – two different levels of existence.

The mother of all musical summer camps in this country is a residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada – and I think that the instant camaraderie of the camp experience must have something to do with the magic that the NYOC produces year in and year out. This Sunday you can hear a fabulous concert by the NYOC on In Concert, beginning at 11 am in all Canadian time zones (except 11:30 in Newfoundland) on CBC Radio 2 or online at cbcmusic.ca.

Read the rest of this entry »

For the next little while, I’m excited to be sharing a project I’ve been working on called The Signature Series.

Here’s how it works:

1. Select a musical key.
2. Gather together the most famous melodies composed in that key.
3. Mash up.
4. Meet the person behind the key.

To get to know G minor, click on the orange play button. Follow along with the pop-up comments to find out what composition is playing.

G minor: The Contrarian

Also known as:
The Moody Teenager.
The Complicated Man.

G minors you might know:
Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.
Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
Pete Campbell from Mad Men.

The notes: G – A – B♭ – C – D – E♭ – F♯ – G.

Number of flats: two.

Relative major: B-flat major.

What they said about G minor in the 18th century:
“Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.” – Christian Schubart, 1784

“It is suited to frenzy, despair, agitation.” – Francesco Galeazzi, 1796

More G minor listening:
Dido’s Lament from Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.

Der Erlkönig by Franz Schubert.

The Canadian connection:
“Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, by Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

 

The year I moved to Vancouver, I arrived in the middle of November. It was dark and gloomy and dreary and rainy. I did a lot of walking that month, to get to know my new neighbourhood and my new city, and my constant companion was Rufus Wainwright.

I know not everyone likes Rufus Wainwright. But I fell in love with his music on those damp wanderings through Vancouver’s West End, my headphones blocking out the pitter patter of the rain.

I’ve listened and re-listened to all my favourite Rufus songs dozens of times over the years, and I’ve gradually come to realize what it is about his music that I find so satisfying.

It’s that I can’t figure it out. His music is a mystery to me: I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of those melodies, those harmonies, those orchestrations, and make those creative choices. It’s music I can’t dissect intellectually –in much the same way as does the music of Puccini or Debussy or Beethoven, it leaves me breathless and awestruck.

I think his music has as much depth, as much to discover, as classical song. Perhaps for that reason it came as no surprise to me when Rufus Wainwright decided to “cross over”, as they say, to the world of classical music with his opera Prima Donna or with his 2009 album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

Say what you will about pop musicians going classical – and say what you will about Rufus’s voice or his persona or whatever it is that might rub you the wrong way, if you’re one of those people who hasn’t been able to get into his music – I’m here to tell you to give him a chance, if you aren’t already a convert.

His work has somehow tapped into the uncertainty of our times and has captured the imagination of millions – including mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta (pictured above), who gave the premiere performance of All Days Are Nights as a classical song cycle in March in Toronto.

I’m chuffed to be able to share that concert with you today on CBC Radio 2′s In Concert. And if you miss the show today, you can listen to Wallis’s performance anytime you like at CBC’s excellent Concerts on Demand website.

What makes something classical or popular? I’m not sure it’s a question we should even be asking anymore. But if you’re intent on classification, I’ll wager you’ll have a hard time placing All Days Are Nights. Some songs sound like “pop”, others sound much more like “Broadway”, others have a “classical” ring. But does it really matter, in a world that shuffles through music the way ours does?

Back in Mozart’s day, I imagine that music was just music. I imagine people thought about what kind of music it was (if they did think about it in that way at all) based on where they heard it rather than by genre the way we do today. Because back then you couldn’t divorce music from the place in which it was being performed, of course. Salon music. After dinner with the family at the piano music. Concert hall music. Tavern music.

Applying those categories to music today, a lot of songs we think of as being in different genres would end up as new bedfellows. But not, I think, as strange bedfellows.

Here are some of my favourite things about America: Win Butler. Big Sur. The drumming of Art Blakey. The Third Coast International Audio Festival in Chicago. My earliest memories, of splashing through the shallows of Cape Cod as a toddler.

That list is quickly cobbled-together over a bleary Sunday morning coffee – but needless to say I could go on and on. Today, though, what I love most is the music of Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein, and it’s my pleasure to bring you a superb performance of classics by these American masters on CBC Radio 2′s In Concert this morning.

Their music encapsulates the best of the American spirit: optimism, endless horizons; that bright-eyed American philosophy of rolling up your sleeves and getting it done.

Try your hand at the In Concert Quiz, which celebrates US travel destinations that have been immortalized in music.

And listen for a new series I’ve been working on called the Signature Series, in which I attempt to anthropomorphize the keys. Can you ascribe a personality to a bunch of sharps and flats? Today, we’ll meet A Major.

Dramatic irony is one of those storytelling techniques we all learn about in high school, and I haven’t thought about it much since then – except to enjoy it, when it’s used effectively, and even then, I don’t sit there and think, “This is a really great example of dramatic irony.”

But I’ve been thinking a lot about dramatic irony this week. This afternoon, on CBC Radio 2‘s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, I’ll be presenting Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti. It’s a paragon when it comes to the tension and emotional impact that dramatic irony can confer. Especially when the incredible Edita Gruberová is in the title role.

For it’s the music which amps up the power of Donizetti’s plot line (which he adapted from a play by Victor Hugo, which in turn describes a fictional episode in the life of the real historical figure, Lucrezia Borgia.)

Usually, when the audience is in on something (as is always the case with dramatic irony) it has been well and duly tipped off: for example, in Romeo and Juliet, we all know Juliet’s not dead; she’s merely taken a sleeping potion, even if the rest of the characters (save the friar) are unawares.

But in the Prologue of Lucrezia Borgia, it’s never revealed to the audience that Gennaro’s long-lost mother is in fact Lucrezia. Sure, it’s blatantly obvious, if you’re paying attention. It may as well have been written into the script. But it wasn’t, and this creates an opportunity for Donizetti to tell you with the music. When Lucrezia first spots Gennaro asleep by the side of the canal in Venice, the tenderness with which she sings is unmistakable. It’s unconditional, maternal love. Donizetti captures her restraint, too, in the music: she can’t tell Gennaro when he wakes and tells her about his long-lost mother. And Donizetti captures her anguish too.

A mere reading of the plot doesn’t impart the effectiveness of this particular example of dramatic irony. The story itself isn’t what impresses. Here, it’s all about the music. A kind of musical irony – shall we call it operatic irony? (Or, perhaps better – melodramatic irony.)

In Gruberová’s voice, it’s all the more heartrending. If you’ve the opportunity to watch it, I highly recommend the documentary “The Art of Bel Canto”, all about the ageless Gruberová, and the amazing operatic career that has already spanned four decades. Towards the end of the above clip from this doc, there’s an example of just how powerful the end of Lucrezia Borgia can be in her hands.

 

I love the idea of music that is tied to specific places. It’s a stimulating challenge for a composer: to try and write music that somehow evokes or captures a place.

That’s one of the things I wanted to do when I was approached by Neworld Theatre to write the music for C.E. Gatchalian‘s new podplay, Authentic, which was released today and is available from the Neworld Theatre website.

(What’s a podplay? It’s a play you experience while walking a particular route, in a specific place, through your earphones. There’s a great explanation here.)

Authentic is a love story between two men from very different cities, a Vancouverite and a New Yorker. The script is gorgeous, highly evocative, and the performances (by actors Marco Soriano and Bob Frazer) are very compelling. It was a privilege to work with this material.

I strove to create a musical flow that had two contrasting motifs within it: two motifs that would reflect the differences between the two cities, but that could also meld into each other. The Adagietto from Gustav Mahler‘s 5th Symphony plays a part in the story, so I wanted to incorporate snippets from that lovely, famous melody into the music for this play, as well; and, finally, because it is a play that unfolds along two of downtown Vancouver’s busiest streets, Seymour and Richards, I wanted city sounds to make up a part of the music too.

Authentic is best enjoyed while walking the route for which it is written, but of course, you don’t have to be in downtown Vancouver to give it a listen.

The good folks over at The Banff Centre have been publishing a gorgeous multimedia journal for the past couple of years called BoulderPavement.  The latest issue is based around the idea of Body & Dance and features fabulous original artwork and compelling literary non-fiction, among other things.

I’ve been lucky enough to contribute regularly to BoulderPavement and I’m thrilled to be a part of this issue as well.  For this original audio composition I decided I wanted to get at the question of the origins of rhythm, and the close relationship between music and our bodies that we sometimes take for granted.

Thinking about this, I remembered a great story told by Ustad Zakir Hussain when my colleagues and I interviewed him for a project called The Nerve. That became the basis for this mini-doc, a kind of “scored story” with original music and sound design.

Read more – and visit Boulder Pavement

Metformin canada order Metformin without prescription buy Lisinopril online with a debit card order finpecia no prescription order cheap Lisinopril online buy Lisinopril diet pills buy prednisone online overseas prednisone fedex without a perscription buy finpecia online cheap buy finpecia fed ex finpecia to buy where to buy finpecia online buy prednisone with no prescription prednisone with out a prescription Metformin sale where to purchase cheap Metformin no rx metformin ohne rezept purchase online metformin without prescription order metformin online with overnight delivery online metformin buy pharmacy Metformin waterview comprar Metformin generico buy discount Metformin on line buying Amitriptyline online order no online rx Amitriptyline cheap finpecia no rx lisinopril finpecia without a perscription lisinopril buy Lisinopril cheap without prescription where to buy Premarin by cod buy Premarin next day delivery uk buy Premarin purchase cheap online Premarin Zovirax espana buy Zovirax on line buy genuine Metformin lisinopril finpecia online order lisinopril buying Metformin online safeMetformin suppliers prezzo Lisinopril maxalt online pharmacy purchase Premarin overnight delivery