The Galaxy – Congratulations!

Illinois High School Association

Illinois High School Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the young musicians of Carbondale Community High School, who placed 2nd in Class A Music Program Overall (Solo/Ensemble + Organizational) at the IHSA Solo and Ensemble Music Festival.  They received 84 Division 1 ratings and 10 Division 2 Ratings, earning 2nd Place Band, 2nd Place Strings, as well as 2nd Place Overall.  In addition, I’d also like to congratulate Carterville High School, which received 41 Division 1 Ratings and 13 Division 2 Ratings, earning 10th place Band, 8th Place Vocal, and 9th Place Overall Class B Music Program.  Both of these are substantial achievements for these schools, and can serve as an indicator of the strength of their music programs.  Good job, guys!

In addition, the following local (or at least fairly local) schools also did well:

  • Waterloo (up near St. Louis – I’m including them because I have friends up there) finished 23rd in Class A
  • Mt. Vernon HS finished 25th in Class A, tied with Mattoon HS.
  • Jacksonville HS (way up north, but my cousin is on the school board, so I should be inclusive here too) finished 32nd in Class A
  • Herrin HS finished 55th in Class A
  • Nashville placed 10th in Class B, one behind Carterville.
  • Pinckneyville placed 20th in Class B
  • Duquoin HS placed 36th in Class B
  • Christopher placed 42nd in Class B
  • Massac County placed 56th in Class B
  • Sparta placed 68th in Class B.
  • Sesser-Valier placed 20th in Class C.
  • Chester placed 33rd in Class C.
  • Trico placed 68th in Class C.
  • Egyptian HS (in Tamms) tied for 33rd in Class D.
  • Pope County HS (that’s Golconda) placed 38th.

In addition, the following soloists and ensembles were given special recognition at the regional event hosted at Carbondale Community High School:

  • Alina Tichacek, Marian Repp, Trevon Sherrill – Carbondale  (Trumpet Ensemble) 
  • Alex Taylor, Chris Glennon, Jacob Criddle, and Tyler Anderson – Carterville (Mixed Brass Ensemble) 
  • Kelsey Crawford, Amanda Halter and Marissa Roath – Anna (A.-Jonesboro) (Treble Ensemble) 
  • Pinckneyville Men’s Octet – Pinckneyville (Bass Ensemble) 
  • Murphysboro Madrigal Choir – Murphysboro (Madrigal Group) 
  • Carbondale Guitar Choir – Carbondale (String Choir) 
  • Yenna Cho – Carbondale (Flute) 
  • Aaron Kennedy – Massac County (E-Flat Alto Sax.) 
  • Rachel Brady – Murphysboro (Trumpet) 
  • David Blaise – Carbondale (Marimba) 
  • Nick Ginsburg – Carbondale (Piano) 
  • Carbondale Percussion Choir – Carbondale (Percussion Choir) 
  • Emily Fink – Carbondale (Female Voice) 
  • Shannon Nehrkorn – Pinckneyville (Female Voice) 
  • Anne Visser – Herrin (Female Voice) 
  • Marian Repp – Carbondale (Female Voice) 
  • Quinlan Monk, John Sarvela, Stephen Blair – Carbondale (Mixed Wind Ensemble)

Each of these schools and their students should be congratulated for doing so well.  Having participated in that competition myself when I was in high school, I remember the experience – the nerves, the hours of practice time.  To that end, I take  great joy in seeing young musicians striving to develop their musical potential.  In my eyes, it gives us all hope for the future.

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Pete’s Place – 3/26/12 Playlist

Herbie Hancock, “Watermelon Man” from Takin’ Off (Blue Note, 1962). Soul jazz from Herbie’s debut record.

James Farm with Joshua Redman (Nonesuch, 2011), “Plliwog”.

Steve Lacy, “Bye-a” from Reflections: Steve Lacy Plays Thelonious Monk (Prestige, 1959). Soprano saxophonist along with Mal Waldron on piano and Elvin Jones on drums. The first recording to feature Monk compositions throughout.

Stanton Moore, “Green Chimney’s” from All Kooked Out (1998), the former Galactic drummer’s debut recording as a leader. Great New Orleans back-beat funk-jazz, with Charlie Hunter on 8-string guitar and Sherik on sax.

Stanton Moore, “Stanton Hits the Bottle”. Make it a double.

Chico Hamilton, “Lady Gabor” from Passin’ Through (Impluse, 1962). The 7 O’Clock stretch at Pete’s featuring a long jazz jam. Charles Lloyd on flute and Gabor Szabo on guitar.

Charlie Hunter, “Let’s Get Medieval” from Ready, Set, Shango (Blue Note, 1996). More 8-string guitar grooves.

Arthur Blythe, “Bush Baby” from Illusions (Columbia, 1980). The California alto sax player’s band with tuba, cello, and chunk guitar (Blood Ulmer).

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, “Prelude Back Home” from Natural Black Inventions: Roots Strata (Atlantic, 1971). Kirk playing multiple reeds simultaneously, with thundersheet back ground reminding of us the May 2009 “inland hurricane” in Carbondale.

Ursula Dudsiak, “Shenkansen” from Future Talk (Inner City, 1979). Wordless vocals. Weird. But cool.

Bennie Wallace, “All Night Dance” from Twilight Time (Blue Note, 1980). New Orleans tenor sax player with Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar.

Robert Mazurek, “Blow Up” from Playground (Delmark, 1998). Cornet/trumpet player leads band of Chicago musicians on the local Chicago jazz label. Song composed by Herbie Hancock to close up Pete’s for the week.

(archived playlists at peteplace.wordpress.com)

WDBX Opera Overnight – Mozart, Puccini

Emanuel Schikaneder as the first Papageno in M...

Emanuel Schikaneder as the first Papageno in Mozarts Die Zauberflöte. Front page of the original edition of the libretto of the Zauberflöte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re going to start the evening with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, The Magic Flute.  This opera was premiered in September of 1791, using a libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, who also was the original Papageno.  Mozart had been involved with Schikaneder’s theatrical troupe since 1789, and constructed the opera so that it could be sung by both virtuosos and ordinary comic actors.  The notable exception is the Queen of the Night role, which was originated by Mozart’s sister in law Josepha Hofer (sister of Mozart’s wife Constance, both of whom were half-sisters to composer Carl Maria von Weber), and is noted for its difficulty, which includes a rare high F6 in the aria Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.  In this manner the opera takes the form of a singspiel, with both spoken and sung elements.  The opera is infused throughout with a number of Masonic elements, which should not be surprising as Schikaneder and Mozart were both in the same Masonic lodge.  It was an immediate success, and had already been performed 100 times by November of 1792.

Dorothea Röschmann

Dorothea Röschmann

Tonight’s recording is a well-regarded set that was made in 2005, and features a fine cast of current generation singers, including Dorothea Röschmann (a soprano with a lovely voice, who can range from Mozart to Wagner), Christoph Strehl, Erika Miklósa (a noted Queen of the Night specialist), Rene Pape (Sarastro), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Papageno), Julia Kleiter (Papagena), and Kurt Azesberger (Monostatos).  The Mahler Chamber Orchestra was conducted by Claudio Abbado.

Adolfo Hohenstein: poster for Madama Butterfly...

Adolfo Hohenstein: poster for Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (1904). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our second opera of the evening is Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini.  The opera used a libretto by frequent Puccini collaborators  Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, and was based in part by a story by John Luther Long, which had been dramatized by David Belasco, and was premiered at La Scala in Milan on February 17, 1904.  It was poorly received due to lack of rehearsal time, so Puccini made revisions, including splitting the 2nd act into two parts.  The revision was premiered on May 28, 1904 and was quite successful.  Puccini made other revisions over time, and eventually produced five different revisions, with the fifth now considered as the “standard version” that is most frequently performed, although the original 1904 version is also occasionally staged.  It currently ranks as the 8th most performed opera in the repertory, and the Act 2 soprano area “Un bel di Vedremo” is one of the most popular soprano arias in the literature.

Solomiya Krushelnytska

Solomiya Krushelnytska, who sang the title role of Madama Butterfly in the May 28 1904 premiere of the 2nd revision. An prodigious talent who could learn a new role in two days, develop a character for a new opera in four days, and could speak 8 languages. Her repertory included an amazing 63 roles.

It is interesting to note the location of the opera.  Puccini enjoyed exotic locations, and as a result many of his operas actually take place outside of Italy (even though they are still sung in Italian).  So, like with Turandot, you have a notably ethnic character that is rarely sung by a person of the same ethnicity.  The difference in ethnicity is usually resolved through the use of makeup, although this has not always been the case (Japanese opera singer Tamaki Miura was well known for her performances in the title role between 1915 and 1920).  Given the popularity of the Un bel di vendremo aria, the opera is considered a favorite vehicle for major soprano stars, especially Italian sopranos.  Also, as with Turandot, Puccini infused a number of local folk tunes into the music, and one will also hear the use of the Star Spangled Banner as a lietmotif when Pinkerton, the lead male character, first enters the action.

Angela Gheorghiu

Angela Gheorghiu, the Madama Butterfly album cover photo

Tonight’s performance is from 2009 (in a lovely package), and features Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann (a rather popular German tenor with excellent vocal power), Enkelejda Shkosa, Fabio Capitanucci, Gregory Bonfatti, and Raymond Aceto.  Antonio Pappano conducts the St. Cecilia Academy Orchestra & Chorus.

The Galaxy – a Tribute to Gustav Leonhardt

Tonight we are going to take a few minutes and pay tribute to a great keyboardist, and a musicologist whose research has done much to impact our awareness of how beautiful early classical music truly is, or can be.

Gustav Leonhardt (30 May 1928 – 16 January 2012)

Gustav Leonhardt (30 May 1928 – 16 January 2012) - image obtained from musicianmilestones.blogspot.com

Gustav Leonhardt was born in Holland on May 30, 1928.  He studied harpsichord with Eduard Miller at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and made his debut as a harpsichordist in Vienna in 1950.  He worked as Professor of Harpsichord at the Academy of Music in Vienna from 1952 to 1955, and at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 1954 onward.  He began issuing major harpsichord recordings in 1953, with recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Art of Fugue (this being the first ever recording of that work).  Later on he worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt to record the first ever complete set of Bach’s cantatas, an effort which took many years to accomplish.  Among his many awards, he was awarded the Medal of Honour for the Arts and Sciences from the Netherlands in 2009.

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We started the show with a 1973 pipe organ recording of a set of Partitas that Bach based on O Gott, du Frommer Gott (“O God, Thou Righteous God”), BWV 767.  The work is believed to be one of Bach’s early compositions, possibly dating back to 1700, and is an excellent example of Bach’s skill at creating a diverse set of variations upon a simple theme, a concept that Bach would return to repeatedly over the course of his life.  One cannot say that Leonhardt was more masterly at pipe organ or harpsichord – he demonstrated equally great skill on each.  So it is good that we can represent both his harpsichord and pipe organ work, as both were equally important.

Pastel of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach drawn by h...

Pastel of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach drawn by his godson Johann Philipp Bach, currently in the Staatsbibliothek, Berlin (Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonhardt recorded a lot of Bach, and most of what I have available to me for tonight’s show consists of Bach.  But we do have some samplings of other composers, including one of the few occasions in which he ventured past the Baroque era in a recording.  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (son of Johann), a key figure in the post Baroque era, wrote three keyboard concertos in D minor between 1745 and 1748.  Tonight we heard the third of these, Wq 23, in a 1987 recording with Leonhardt conducting an unnamed ensemble from the harpsichord.  The differences between C.P.E. Bach and his father are quite strikingly demonstrated here (J.S. Bach also wrote a keyboard concerto in D minor), yet at the same time the keyboard still rules the day.

Portrait of François Couperin "the Great&...

Portrait of François Couperin "the Great" (nephew of Louis Couperin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonhardt put a great deal of effort into researching composers who may have slid into obscurity, and over time demonstrated that, with an effective performance, such obscurity was often undeserved.  One such composer that Leonhardt championed was François Couperin.  Couperin (b. 1668, d. 1753) was greatly admired in his day, and J.S. Bach even had copied one of Couperin’s rondeaus into the notebook that he was assembling for his young wife Anna Magdalena.  In addition to his harpsichord literature, he also wrote a book, L’art de toucher le clavecin (1716) that gives us fundamental information about keyboard performance practice of the day.  This book also contains eight preludes, which we heard in a 1987 recording by Leonhardt.  I am particularly struck by the tone that Leonhardt gets out of his instrument here, a particularly beautiful sound that really frames the music quite well.

Gustav Leonhardt in 1972

Gustav Leonhardt in 1972

Not only was Leonhardt a keyboardist, but from time to time he also conducted, often from his keyboard.  Conducting was not his preferred activity, but there are a number of available recordings that Leonhardt conducted (which includes the C.P.E. Bach we’ve already heard).  In the case of the complete Bach cantata set, conducting was probably a creature of necessity, given the amount of time that was required to record the huge number of cantatas that Bach wrote (at one point Bach was writing a cantata each week, which he did for a total of four year-long cycles that were based on the Lutheran religious calendar).  It is notable that Leonhardt did this in cooperation with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who Leonhardt is known to have thought to play too much to popular sentiment – this probably reflects the challenge involved with performing the huge volume of music involved.  Tonight we heard one of those recordings, Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt (“Sweet comfort, my Jesus comes”), BWV 151, in a 1985 recording that sees Leonhardt leading his own Leonhardt Consort.  BWV 151 is actually a Christmas cantata, written for the third day of Christmas, and uses a libretto by Georg Christian Lehms.  So, yes, we may hear this one again come Christmas time.

Frontispiece of Bach's Clavier-Büchlein vor An...

Frontispiece of Bach's Clavier-Büchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bach, composed in 1722 for his second wife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In preparing tonight’s show, I stumbled upon a recording of the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach.  I find this quite startling, as I’ve long wanted to see such a recording, dating back to my teenage years.  This “notebook” was a piano exercise book that J.S. Bach prepared for his young second wife Anna Magdalena, whom he had married in the winter of 1721-22.  She was the daughter of a trumpet player in the Zerbst court, and had been active as a singer prior to her marriage to Bach.  There are two known such notebooks, one dated 1722, and a second that was dated 1725, with the title pages in Anna Magdalena’s hand.  The music was in a mixture of Bach’s and Anna’s handwriting, and include a number of his own works, as well as works by the aforementioned François Couperin and a few by son C.P.E Bach.  There are other works that may be from other writers (which may include Johann Adolph Hasse), but in many instances it is quite challenging to establish actual authorship, as Bach did not intend this for public consumption.  From this compilation, we heard a Polonaise in G minor (BWV anh 119), a March in E flat major (BWV Anh 127), a Menuet in G minor (BWV anh 114/115, which is believed to have been written by Christian Petzold), and “Willst du dein Herz mir schenken” (BWV 518), an aria.  Most of this is done solo by Leonhart, while Elly Ameling performed the aria to Leonhardt’s accompaniment.

Main organ of Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg)...

Main organ of Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg), by Johann Andreas Silbermann, 1741 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We closed the show with a 1973 recording of one of J.S. Bach’s more monumental works for pipe organ, his E minor Prelude and Fugue, BWV 548.  Believed to have been written after Bach’s 1723 move to Leipzig, the piece is a fine example of organwerke at its finest, both in terms of its composition and in terms of Leonhardt’s performance.  The composition of the work is interesting – while most preludes tend to be relatively free-wheeling while the fugue is locked into technical precision, BWV 548 is the opposite, with a rather strict prelude that then opens up into a fugue of three sections – an initial fugual section, a toccata-like middle, then a third section that includes a complete recapitulation of the first section.

Upcoming on the Galaxy!!!!! A tribute to a great master!

Gustav Leonhardt (Cité de la Musique, Paris)

Gustav Leonhardt (Cité de la Musique, Paris) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This coming Sunday night/Monday morning, we’re going to have a special edition of the Galaxy, as we’ll be paying tribute to the important musicologist and keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt, who passed away back in January 16th.  Leonhardt was a pioneer in the period instrument movement, as a soloist, ensemble member and as a conductor.  His  collaborations with Nicholas Harnoncourt, which include recording the complete set of Bach canatas (a process that took many years, and the first time that had ever been done), rank among some of the most prestigious achievements of the late 20th century.  He was a preeminent performer on the harpsichord and pipe organ, with numerous important recordings of many works of the baroque era and earlier.  He also was a noted instructor of keyboard technique, and his students include many of today’s most important keyboardists musicologists and conductors, including Christopher Hogwood, Alan Curtis, Richard Egarr, John Fesperman, Davitt Moroney, Martin Pearlman, Colin Tilney, Bob van Asperen, Philippe Herreweghe, Ton Koopman, among others, many of whom are regularly featured on this program.  His recordings and research constitute a primary influence on the direction of this show – even when I wasn’t playing his recordings (which I have on numerous occasions over the years), I have often used selection criteria that is influenced in part by the movement that he helped launch back in the 1950s.  He might not be as big a name as, say, Luciano Pavarotti, but his influence on performance and recording practices is probably much greater.

A Tribute to Gustav Leonhardt – coming up Sunday night, March 25/26, on the Galaxy on WDBX.