Listen... the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is playing

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last week I was planning on writing a post to highlight our slightly unusual Midweek Classics concert that takes place tomorrow evening.  The slightly unusual bit was that our two guest artists - conductor and pianist -  share a last name - Kuerti - and happen to be father and son. I'm not sure how often this happens with professional orchestras, but I'd have to say, not often. The whole concept behind the concert was intriguing, no matter what they were performing! And then some things happened in Boston.  In a nutshell, famed conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky was scheduled to conduct four concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and pulled out at the last minute, feeling slighted and insulted by how he was (or wasn't) marketed to the public by the BSO.  This left the conducting job to the BSO's assistant conductor, Julian Kuerti, who, by all accounts, is doing a marvelous job.  Of course, this meant that he had to request to be released from his engagement with us.

Now, my own personal take on all this is that Rozhdestvensky may be totally justified in his feelings, but it's hard to see how his actions are justified. Reading through the comments on the Boston Globe article, it's clear this is a contentious issue.  I suppose if Rozhdestvensky wanted more publicity than he was getting, he got it. But in the end, half the people now think less of the BSO, and half the people now think less of Rozhdestvensky. I don't think either opinion helps the orchestra business in any way. As well, his actions affect many, many more people than just the BSO and their patrons - for instance, we had to replace a conductor on very short notice. Thankfully, Claude Lapalme, one of our regular guest conductors, has graciously agreed to step in, and there is only a slight change to the program. CBC radio has also pulled out of recording the concert for broadcast on Sunday Afternoon in Concert. So the dominoes fall.

Oh, and if the original concept of the concert intrigues you, then you probably should check out Two Horns, featuring former Canadian Brass member Martin Hackleman and current ESO principal horn Allene Hackleman.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A few random things...

As follow-up to the last posting on Buster Keaton, I attended the show last Thursday, and quite enjoyed it! As a film, The General is rather entertaining, and it's quite interesting to me to trace the roots of physical comedy through vaudeville, to silent film, to what we know today. Certainly performances from Steve Martin (or even Adam Sandler) are an homage to these earlier times. Of course, the movie also predates blue/green screens and digital effects, so there's something wondrous about the stunts and special effects on screen achieved through camera tricks and altering your perceptions of what you're seeing, rather than through computer modeling.

As you may know, we post program notes for upcoming concerts on our website, and they are formatted like a blog, in that you can post comments on the articles.  I was amused last week to read a particular comment:

this site sux!!

Nothing like classical music heckling.

In other orchestral news, Pinchas Zukerman has been named the principal guest conductor at the Royal Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has been named the world's best by classical music magazine Gramophone - the top twenty are listed here.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Nobody ever thought to ask him...

On November 20th the ESO is having it's annual movie night, and this year we're showing Buster Keaton's "The General". There are lots of clips available on youtube, but here's one to set the mood. Although this film was a box office flop when it was released back in 1927, it's now considered one of the finest movies ever made. Dennis James, who compiled the score to be performed live, will be joining the orchestra on organ. These concerts are always fun, so get your tickets now.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The $11 House

This really has nothing to do with the ESO, but it's something I came across today: The 11 Dollar House(TM) contest.  In a nutshell, for an $11 dollar entry fee and a submission of an essay, anecdote, poem, artwork, song, video, or whatever, you will be entered to win a rebuilt and renovated house here in Edmonton - if the owners receive at least 25,000 entries by December 31st.  They're only at 131 received, so they've got a long way to go.  If they don't get the minimum number of entries, then the fees will be returned.  Could it be a scam? Sure, but it doesn't sound like it, and apparently it has been approved by the AGLC.  It sounds like one of those stories that'll be on the news any day now...

In any case, it's an interesting idea.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's not HNIC

Just like Hockey Night in Canada's contest earlier this year, "Live with Regis and Kelly" is looking for a new viewer-written theme song for when they launch in Hi-Def this January.  All the details can be found here, and yes, it's open to Canadians.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too hard to explain, just watch

Ok, here's the description from

"It's the music of John Williams (from his most well-known soundtracks) performed a cappella using lines - and concepts - from the Star Wars movies."


Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat: Backstage at the ESO 1
Originally uploaded by edmontonsymphony

This past weekend the ESO performed music from the 60s - the Beatles, Beach Boys, Motown, Burt Bacharach, etc. It just happened to be Halloween, so appropriate costumes were certainly in order. I'm posting this from our brand-spanking-new flickr photo stream - check it out: