Listen... the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is playing

Monday, August 24, 2009

50 different performances

As of August 18, all of the ESO's concerts are available for purchase as individual performances (as opposed to purchasing a subscription package). It's what we call the "single ticket on-sale day", and for me it has always signaled that the end of summer is approaching. Sad, yes, but it also means that a new season of concerts is almost here, and that's always a bit exciting! It also marks the point at which we as a marketing department begin to really focus on the individual performances and the full reality hits that we've got over fifty different shows to think about.

And there are already changes! Our gala fundraiser was rescheduled for two weeks later, and we've adjusted the performer's roster for our first set of Masters performances on September 18 & 19. The reasons for both of these essentially boil down to scheduling difficulties. And sadly, conductor Erich Kunzel has had to pull out of his engagement with the ESO on January 29 & 30, 2010. He's currently undergoing treatments for cancer and has been advised not to travel. Steven Reineke, who some might call Kunzel's protege, will conduct instead. These things happen every year - after all, getting highly sought-after musicians together in the same place and time is tricky at best.

But all that aside, it's a rather exciting season! Our very first concerts (after Sobeys Symphony Under the Sky) are the above mentioned Masters performances on September 18 & 19, and they're quite the shows! Here's why:

1. Crouching Tiger Concerto featuring the erhu. Yes - it's the music from the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the erhu is a traditional Chinese instrument - perhaps the first time it's been featured with the ESO? (I'm actually not sure, but that's a guess...)

2. Red Violin Chaconne. Yep, another great movie soundtrack that's been arranged as a concert piece. Composer John Corigliano received the Oscar for Best Original Score, and it's one of the more haunting and beautiful soundtracks out there.

3. Gershwin's Second Rhapsody. Who doesn't love a Gerswhin Rhapsody? This one isn't as famous as the Rhapsody in Blue, but it has that signature Gershwin sound. It's known as the New York Rhapsody in some circles, and was originally written for the film Delicious in the early 30s.

4. A new-ish fanfare for organ, brass and percussion from Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore. The Philadelphia Orchestra premiered the fanfare last year for Macy's 150th anniversary. The piece was commissioned by Macy's to use the world's largest playing pipe organ - the Wanamaker Organ at The Grand Court at Macy's in Philadelphia. We obviously don't have the largest organ in the world (just the largest concert organ in Canada), but it will be spectacular nevertheless, and a splendid locale for the fanfare's Canadian premiere.

So that's four movie-related orchestral works for our main classical series - can't get more exciting than that! Do I really have to tell you to buy tickets?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bernstein and the F.B.I. (via Alex Ross)

This is one of the most fascinating things I've read in a long time, a look at the FBI's interest in Leonard Bernstein, as written by Alex Ross for the New Yorker:

Bernstein and the F.B.I.

It includes FBI documents, memos, Nixon tapes - like I said, fascinating!

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

See It to Believe It

I've heard of instrument-playing robots. Actually... correction. I've seen and heard, live in person, a trumpet-playing robot. I even have a picture to prove it!

While in Washington, D.C. last spring I paid a visit to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. At the time, they were showcasing an all encompassing exhibit on how ancient Japanese traditions are being layered with modern sensibility and technological innovation to create culture. This included the wizardry of robots. Instrument-playing robots. A pretty intriguing sight, I have to admit.

Recently I came across this video, wherein robotic instruments perform George Antheil's infamous piece, Ballet Mécanique. Fascinating, with a hint of creepiness at the same time. Is this the future of orchestras? A consideration for pre-concert lobby entertainment? I'm not fully convinced... yet. Perhaps I'll just have to see it in person first, to really truly believe it... and accept it!