Monday, May 24, 2004

A Week of Concerts

So the last few days I have gone to one concert after another. A friend of mine calls it business research. I went to hear the Terra Linda High School concert band and jazz band concert on Wednesday. They were pretty good for a high school. It was only an hour concert. The most notable piece was Cielo De Oro by Strommen played by the concert band which had a really cool Latin percussion part. I also went to hear their orchestra on Thursday. Also pretty good for a high school. The most notable piece and my favorite on the concert was the concerto for 4 violins by Vivaldi. Both concerts were only an hour.

The weekend concerts I went to were at the College of Marin, which is a community college. The orchestra concert was on Saturday. First on the concert was Brahms' 1st symphony. It was just as I remember it, bor-ing. The best part of that piece is the introduction in the 1st movement. The orchestra played it ok. It was as if the piece was just above the orchestra's playing ability, especially some of the woodwind players. After intermission was Symphonic Sketches: Jubilee and Noel by George Chadwick. Very romantic period sounding. They seemed to play that piece better for some reason, though the piece itself was nothing special. The last piece on the concert was Fanfare and Ode for choir and orchestra by Stan Kraczek, who is the choir director at the college who is retiring. It was nice to hear the choir and orchestra together. In the program notes it said, "This piece is 'pedestrian' - in the most literal sense - the march theme really makes the audience walk with it..." The piece was pedestrian compositionally. It was predictable and just sat there. Nothing really special to it either. I went to these concerts to hear what a high school and college level ensembles sound like since I had not heard ensembles at this level in awhile. As for the orchestra concert, as my brother would say "those were 2 hours I would like to have back." Here is something funny. In the orchestra personnel part of the program it has violin 1, violin 2 and viola, which is fine but then there is violoncello and bass violin. First of all make a decision whether to use the technical or the slang. If you are going to call is a bass violin then call the other one cello. If you are going to call it violoncello then call the other one double bass. If you really what to be accurate, the bass violin is not a low version of the violin but the low version of the viol family. The viol was over shadowed by the violin a few centuries ago because it had the ability to play louder. I just got a kick out of that in the program, especially for a college.

Sunday was the College of Marin Symphonic Band Concert. It is a community band. They sounded pretty good. Much better than the orchestra in playing ability. This concert had a nice variety. The concert included:
Holst's Second Suite - which is not played as often as his First Suite. I personally like the First Suite better but the Second is good too.
Komm Susser Tod (Come Sweet Death) - a transcription of a Bach choral. Bach always sounds good transcribed for concert band. It makes the concert band sound like a big organ.
The Rite of Spring - an arrangement by Lauren Keiser. Pretty good and the band did a decent job. After hearing that piece I was thinking that there really are not that many concert band pieces that would be considered masterpieces. A lot of typical cookie cutter fluff (rhythmic fast stuff with a lot of snare drum to a slow melody/accompaniment section then repeat back the rhythmic fast section and end). But at least the concert bands play more music by people still alive unlike orchestras which consistently play music by dead people. I think that the orchestra world and the concert band world should take lesson from each other, more new orchestra pieces played and more masterpieces being written for concert band.

On Sunday night, I was invited to a Styx concert which was held in Marysville (ya I know, sounds similar and no I have not heard yet). Marysville is north of Sacramento. Nelson and Peter Frampton played first. If you can not put your finger on who Styx is, they are one of the power rock bands of the 70's and 80's and have a sound like Journey. Among their famous songs were Come Sail Way and Lady It was a great concert. They sounded good. They have an awesome keyboard player who played the "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin during the concert. They had a lot of energy and were pretty funny when they talked to the audience. It was cool sitting under the stars with my favorite moon phase up (the crescent moon) listening to a rocken concert.

Posted by Eric at May 24, 2004 11:22 PM