Listen... the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is playing

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scratch My Back

Something to watch for this spring - Peter Gabriel will be releasing a cover album of songs by "all-time great singer-songwriters and bands." The interesting thing? There will be no guitars, drums or "world instruments", only orchestral instruments. Plus, it seems that the artists being covered will then cover Peter Gabriel's songs - what's being described as a song-swap. The Guardian explains more in the full article here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cell phones at the symphony

Ok, so maybe not quite as controversial as the post title might indicate. Anyhow, via Engadget and Mashable short video of the 1812 Overture recreated with 1000 cell phone ringtones:

I agree with the spirit of the project (even if it is a commercial), and especially with this piece. Perhaps along with the bells that the audience rings near the end of the piece every year at Sobeys Symphony Under the Sky, people can contribute ring tones.

Oh, you can visit Mashable to watch the "making-of" videos.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Instrument of the Future

The Eigenharp looks like something straight out of an episode of Star Trek (like that roll-up piano), and Engadget has posted a review and a few videos of how this multi-faceted instrument works. It's like a piano, guitar, drums and wind instrument in one - you just have to watch below for the walkthrough of features.

Then watch the demo song:

This is a versatile instrument, and I can imagine that some people are going to become very, very good at playing the Eigenharp.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Walk in Beauty

ESO Principal Trombone John McPherson stopped by the ESO admin office to talk about his composition Walk in Beauty and play a short excerpt. The accompaniment is provided by my computer, using the notation software Finale, so that portion is a bit... mechanical, but it gives you the idea, anyways.

The piece was commissioned by the ESO and premiered in 2000, and will be performed again this Sunday, October 18. Watch the video (complete with background typing - see, we're really working!) below:


Friday, October 9, 2009

Practicing the stairs

Darren Barefoot posted something today that's interesting, cute and kind of heart-warming. I've included the video below - just watch:


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

He finally made it to that gala

CBC blog "Things That Go Pop!" has a recap of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's impromptu performance at the National Arts Centre Gala last Saturday and explores a few other famous musical performances by politicians.

The ESO gets by with a little help from our friends too...

Thanks to the Canada Council, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council, plus our corporate and individual donors.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Classical Idol

Did you have a melody in mind? I know I certainly didn’t. I was in too much of a state of awe and amazement to think anything but “how does she do it?”

For those who had the privilege of seeing Gabriela Montero perform with your ESO last night at the Winspear, you were probably thinking along the same lines as I was. What’s her secret? Where does this brilliant musical gift come from? And how do I get a jukebox of melodies floating around in my head?

Gabriela, who I understand quite literally hears music 24/7, even in a room that is completely silent, invited the audience to participate in her improvisational solo recital. With a Chopin melody suggested here, and a John Denver tune hinted there, Gabriela was effortlessly provoked and delved into a completely unique world, all her own. Something called improvisation. Something quite uncommon in the classical world today, especially in a concert setting. Few artists have the natural innate ability to create something extraordinary on the spot, with no preconceived thought or intention going into that particular creation ahead of time. Simply put, it’s astonishing to see, hear, and experience first hand.

Despite spending 15 of my childhood years in piano lessons, attempting to master the perfect tone and degree of emotion in which a piece should be performed (i.e. how the examiner wants to hear it, as they afterall, have all the power to decide your pass / fail fate), I can’t remember very many occasions that I was freely encouraged to add my own little tidbit of interpretation to the music I was playing. That said, the entire concept of simply sitting down at a piano, with no notes on the music rack to read, and just allowing your fingers to move across the ivory keys to create an impeccably harmonic series of sounds is completely foreign and unbelievable to me, and I’m sure many others.

Every time I visit my parents home, I make an effort to play the lonely baby grand that these days sits as simply a beautiful piece of art in the front den. I gather the next time I visit and open up the piano, my inspired mind will transcribe a brilliantly crafted fugue and my fingers will go wild on the keyboard. Ummm… hardly. Who am I kidding? I suppose I can start with the basics and improvise my own unique Hanon, one that will warm up my fingers for an eventual and masterful act of improvisation. Yes, that would be a good start. Consider it semitone steps. Melodies are now being accepted.

Gabriela Montero improvising at Koln Philharmonie