Week 36 (Week of November 23rd):
Greetings SRC participants and friends. I hope this finds you all doing well. This week I’d love to share with you a performance video by one of the piano ‘greats’- Arthur Rubinstein.
Arthur Rubinstein was a Polish American classical pianist who lived from 1887-1982 and is quite widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time. He is also widely regarded as the greatest Chopin interpreter/performer of all time. Arthur Rubinstein began playing the piano at the age of three and concertized until he was nearly ninety years old, his public performances spanning eight decades. The video performance I would like to share with you was recorded in 1975 – when Arthur was 88 years old! In this video performance, Arthur Rubinstein performs Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the great conductor Andre Previn. Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is in the key of f minor and was composed by Frederic Chopin in 1829, when Chopin was just around 20 years old! The work was first performed on March 17, 1830 with Frederic Chopin himself as the piano soloist. Though it was the first of his two piano concertos to be written, it is designated as ‘Piano Concerto No. 2″ since it was the second of his Piano Concertos to be published. This beautiful work that is approximately a half hour long has three movements, each movement described and named after how it is to be played and in what tempo. The first movement is called ‘Maestoso’ (Italian for ‘stately, majestically’), the second movement is ‘Larghetto’ (Italian for the tempo marking of ‘broadly’) and is in the ‘related Major key’ for f minor, A flat Major. This means that while the piece as a whole is in the key of f minor, this movement has the same key signature as f minor, but it is now in a happy, pleasant Major key compared to the melancholy and mysterious minor key. The final third movement is “Allegro Vivace” (Italian for ‘very fast’) and is in F minor- F Major. The final section is extremely virtuosic for all–orchestral performers as well–for the pianist the final section is extremely technically demanding. Enjoy this performance ‘from the musical archives’ of one of the greatest piano performers of all time! As you watch, ask yourself what it could be about his performing style, his ‘touch’, his approach to the music, that could have made Rubinstein to be considered one of the greatest performers of Chopin’s works specifically. Also, as you watch and listen, make sure to appreciate the camera angles and close up shots of Rubinstein’s fingers as he plays–this really allows you to appreciate his technique and skill level to an even higher degree! Here is the 1975 live performance -remember he is 88 years old at the time of this recording (amazing!): https://youtu.be/T_GecdMywPw
BONUS VIDEO: As always, here is your weekly Henry ‘Hank’ Shapiro virtual concert- this time from his online Facebook live stream from November 7th: https://youtu.be/orL819UP7vsEnjoy BOTH concerts this week and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Week 35 (Week of November 16th):
A very big hello to all SRC participants and friends. I hope this finds you all doing well! This week, let’s turn our attention to another installment of the website mini-theme that I have called “Weird, Wacky and Bizarre Instruments”.
Looking back at other ‘weird, wacky and bizarre’ instruments that we have covered- in Week 19 we discovered the eerie and ‘otherworldly’ sounds of the Theremin, in Week 24 we listened to the low rumble of the Octobass instrument and in Week 30 we explored the underground mystery that is the Great Stalacpipe Organ of Luray Caverns. This week, let’s travel across the sea and, speaking of the sea, let’s take a pit stop by the Croatian seaside as we learn about the Sea Organ of Zadar. The Sea Organ of Zadar, Croatia is an experimental musical instrument and an architectural sound art object; a creation of architect Nikola Basic. This strange device was a part of a project to redesign the city’s seaside after the enormous reconstruction of the city’s coastline following the destruction of World War II turned the majority of their seafront into an unbroken concrete wall. Opened to the public in April of 2005, the Sea Organ was located underneath a set of large white steps that lead down into the waters of the Adriatic Sea. The Zadar Sea Organ is a series of 35 organ piping tubes and a large resonating cavity- all in all a 230 foot long instrument that is “played” but the wind and the sea. Each stair in the set of stairs leading down into the waters holds 5 pipes underneath and each of these pipes is tuned to a different musical chord. The sounds which come spilling out from beneath these great stairs are often described by visitors and tourists as being ‘hypnotizing’, ‘hauntingly memorable’ and some even remark that sounds that come from the Sea Organ seem to resemble the sounds of whale calls. In 2006, the Zadar Sea Organ won the European prize for Urban Public Space. While you can certainly argue whether the Sea Organ is a musical instrument or simply an ‘art installation’, we can all agree that it deserves a spot in our exploration of strange and bizarre ‘instruments’- albeit an experimental instrument played by nature itself.
But let’s take a listen for ourselves, a ‘virtual trip’ to the Adriatic seaside: Here are a couple videos I was able to find online that simply film the sounds made by the Zadar Sea Organ – make sure you turn your volume up to get the full effect-
Also, I found a women’s video travel blog where she visits the Sea Organ: https://youtu.be/rErv9KMInqo.
BONUS VIDEO: As always, here is your weekly Henry ‘Hank’ Shapiro virtual concert- this time from his online Facebook Live Stream from this past Halloween- October 31, 2020. Enjoy– https://youtu.be/2GVkJdwDz-4
Week 34 (Week of November 9th):
A very warm hello to you all! I hope this finds you all doing well. This week, let’s return once more to our study of instruments that can be found in the broad category of Keyboard Instruments. Let’s turn the spotlight now to the world of Keyboard synthesizers.
Synthesizers of all forms and kinds, according to the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system that we have been referencing and using in our studies, fall into the Classification Category of ‘Electrophones’. An Electrophone instrument is one that makes its sound primarily by way of an electronically driven oscillator. This week, as we expand our study of Keyboard Instruments out to include Electrophone Keyboard Instruments, let’s look at a type of keyboard synthesizer called a ‘keytar’. A keytar, a blending of the words ‘keyboard’ and ‘guitar’, is a fairly lightweight keyboard synthesizer that is supported by a strap around the neck and shoulders (much like a guitar would be worn). While the ‘body’ of a keytar is a traditional musical keyboard, various controls on the ‘neck’ of the keytar instrument can be used to alter the sound- such as controls for pitch bends, pitch slides, vibrato and sustain . Most keytar instruments need to be electronically connected to an amplifier or a PA system to produce sound that both the audience and the performer would be able to hear. Many performers enjoy using a keytar in their live concerts and performances since, compared to a conventional stationary keyboard, the keytar allows the player a greater range of on stage movement and expression. In terms of the history behind this instrument, it is said that the oldest forerunner to the modern keytar is probably the ‘orphica’, a small portable piano that was invented in 1795 in Vienna, which was played in a similar position as the modern keytar. The keytar synthesizer as we know it today was established and came to the forefront in pop music in the late 1970s/early 1980s, through its popularity with 1980s glam metal bands, new wave groups and electro musicians. While the Keytar diminished in popularity in the 1990s and the 2000s, in the late 2000s it received a major revival- being used by pop groups and artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt and Lady Gaga.
Let me share a couple videos with you — I guarantee that you have most likely seen this instrument before and probably associate it with pop bands from the 1980s! First, this informational video- although this gal is quite delightfully quirky and a tad scattered with her delivery of Keytar facts, she does offer up quite a bit of interesting trivia and tidbits about the Keytar: https://youtu.be/H9epk9gxZng. For more of a ‘performance’ video, featuring little performance snippets on a keytar, enjoy this silly compilation video that features ‘Famous Keytar Riffs and melodies from well known 1980s pop songs (see how many you may recognize): https://youtu.be/rFcAQybcIms.
BONUS VIDEO: As always, here is your weekly Henry ‘Hank’ Shapiro virtual concert, taken from his Facebook Livestream concert from October 24th- Enjoy: https://youtu.be/0eLBfiORzcE
Greetings SRC participants & friends! I hope this finds you all doing well- despite the cold and rainy weekend that we just had. This week, again as a way of honoring and sending our best wishes to all college students across the country trying to ‘make it work’ during these challenging times, let’s have our 3rd installment of a little mini-theme that I have been calling our peek into the ‘typical Collegiate Music Student experience.
In Week 23, I shared with you the Music student experience of a ‘Faculty Recital’ where college students would get to see first hand the expertise of their professors on their instruments and in Week 29 we turned our attention to a typical “Guest Recital” for the college music student when visiting and often well known guest artists come and put on recitals/concerts for the entire campus. This week, I’d love to share with you another ‘staple’ of the College Music Student experience- the College Level Masterclass. In a music master class, a highly skilled and expert artist or teacher works with one student (or on occasion a small ensemble) in front of an audience. The student selected typically performs a piece they have prepared and polished down to every small detail. The “master” will then critique their performance, give them anecdotal background knowledge pertaining to their piece/composer, demonstrate for them certain passages and will give them overall nuanced advice on how to improve their performance. The student is then typically asked to play the piece or a passage of the piece over again, in light of the teacher’s comments and critiques. The intention behind having this kind of instruction in front of an audience is to provide a learning experience for both the performer and the audience observers. The student beforehand would need to polish their piece and know the nuances of their score quite well, be willing to start and stop when the instructor wishes, and be willing and prepared to accept criticism in front of an audience. While I have never been the “performer”, I have been an audience member for a handful of my College Music School’s voice masterclasses, specifically when we had outside guest experts/composers/artists come to our campus and give Masterclasses. I have found the Masterclass experience, from the standpoint of an audience member, to be a fascinating learning experience- albeit more than a little intimidating at times to imagine yourself in the performer’s shoes! This week, let’s all experience a College Masterclass from an ‘audience perspective’ together. The Masterclass I would like to share with you comes from the well known and prestigious conservatory- The Juilliard School in NYC. I’ve picked this Masterclass especially since I found the ‘master’ to be highly informative, nuanced and detailed in his instruction and just plain highly entertaining to listen to and learn from. The selection that the student will be playing and working from is Franz Joseph Haydn’s (1732-1909) ‘Sonata in C Major’ in its entirety. First she will play the entire work, which will take approximately 13 minutes and then we will get to see the critique of instructor Robert Levin as he works with this student performer.
Here is this excellent example of a Collegiate level Piano Masterclass, recorded just this past December 2019: https://youtu.be/_LNsFrJNvmA BONUS VIDEO: As always, here is your weekly Henry ‘Hank’ Shapiro virtual concert taken from his Facebook livestream from October 17th- enjoy! https://youtu.be/qhlQdUsvtsg
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