As most of you know, we made some changes to this website in December. We now offer registered users free music downloads thanks to our member organizations, NAXOS, and Music Giants, access to some special offers from member organizations under the “Hot Deals” section, and a few other enhancements. We would love to hear how feel about these changes. At some point I’m sure we will ask you to provide more detailed information via a survey, but as a quick check-in, I’m hoping that some of you will share some anecdotal feedback right now.
Please hit the reply link and let us know if you like the free downloads, the “Hot Deals”, the periodic emails, and be sure to mention anything you think is missing. Thanks for the feedback!!
Some months ago, in a moment that at a certain point I thought was one of weakness - or maybe madness, I agreed to be Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer for the benefit that Midwest Young Artists hold annually at this time of year. Well the moment arrived yesterday and the morning after I am now reporting that the whole thing was not a mistake at all - I really enjoyed myself and got through my debut in this role with people threatening to ask me to do it again. For me that is quite something! I now know first hand what it feels like for it even to be suggested that I might be asked back. Maybe in my dotage I will do this more often - it was fun. And I do it for free.Typically professional auctioneers are employed for this kind if thing. They cost real money - believe me! I have seen a number of them in action and they are really good. No doubt I was a pallid imitation - but I managed to talk the talk and the hands went up. No problem!
MYA is a remarkable institution led and inspired by a unique character Allan Dennis. He has a dedicated board and a small staff - but above all a remarkable collection of young people who populate the various ensembles, chamber groups, orchestras bands etc that provide a multiplicity of thrilling activities for young musicians of all ages and levels. The best are very good indeed as was displayed last night by a variety of chamber groups playing String Quartets in the entrace lobby as we arrived, and the Schubert Trout Quintet in the silent auction room. We then had wind and brass ensembles during the rest of the evening between speeches and delicious food and my "performance" And the grand finale was the Big Band playing through to midnight. A great evening and a successful fund raiser most certainly.
As I am new to the blogosphere, I felt that it was appropriate for me to begin with something incredibly current in this art form that I experienced last night.
This week, the CSO is performing Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar for the first time. It was such a mind-blowing experience that it motivated me to begin blogging about “Classical” music in Chicago here at CCM.
If you don’t know the background, Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears), tells of the story of the death of legendary Spanish poet Federico García Lorca through the eyes of Margarita Xirgu', Lorca’s favorite actress and friend as she approaches the final hours of her own life. Check out CSO program annotator Phillip Huscher’s program notes for more detail. He does a superb job giving additional context to the piece (as always).
It is a tragic tale; one that dives into politics, revolution, friendship and more. I’ve been a huge fan of Dawn Upshaw’s since she sang Golijov’s Ayre as part of the CSO’s MusicNOW series last spring. But Kelly O’Connor’s performance as Lorca was stunning, just like the piece.
What truly motivated me to write is the impact I believe a composer like Golijov can have on music overall. His influences certainly come from his Argentine and Jewish roots, but his works truly reach across the globe. His music is melodic and beautiful but absolutely unique to his own sound and innovations. He has established a new direction for music as it continues in its never-ending evolution. I feel that if the 2016 Olympic Bid team from Chicago is seeking a composer for a theme, they should look no further than the CSO’s Mead Composer-in-Residence.
Experience Ainadamar if you can. The CSO performs it again Friday (2/8), Saturday (2/9) and Tuesday (2/12).
I’m always looking for “feel good” stories at this time of year. One such story caught my eye this week. There was an article written in the Los Angeles Times by Deborah Schoch about a classical music program entitled “The Harmony Project” that provides classical music training to 500 people ages 6 – 18. The disadvantaged children who participate in this program are organized into two orchestras and two choirs, once again picking up the slack left by the devastating cuts made in our school’s music budgets. In addition, the program, which is provided free to the participants, takes the children to the Hollywood Bowl for concerts and includes the use of instruments. The Harmony Project is partnering with the L.A. Philharmonic to extend this initiative to children throughout the area.
We have some wonderful programs for low-income students in Chicago, as well. Among others, the Merit School of Music, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Sherwood Conservatory of Music all provide music instruction for low-income children. I recently met with the administrative staff of El Valor, located in Pilsen, who are also providing free music instruction for the children of that neighborhood.
I can’t help but believe that every one of these students will become more successful as a result of this musical exposure. I would love to hear some similar stories from you, our readers, during this holiday season. Please share any musical stories that make you feel good.
This is my last blog of the year and I want to wish everyone a happy, safe, and musical holiday season! Don’t forget, a Chicago Sinfonietta subscription makes THE PERFECT gift. Sorry, I can’t help myself.