Show 222: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top broadcast (Show 222) was taped at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA on Tuesday November 02, 2010. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Jean Kim, 15, cello
By Lukas Foss

The Capriccio, for me, is like the background music of a Western action movie about cowboys and their quests- at least that’s what I think about every time I play this piece. It begins with hold gunshots to horseback riding scenes and even includes the soft melodies in between. I love the irony of the abrupt, small pizzicato that finishes off the piece after all the chaotic moments before it. My favorite part is when the cell plays (on the lower two strings) a brief melody in the middle of a stormy passage. There’s a hint of peace and nostalgia during the cowboy’s hectic life. I can picture myself in the early 9th century performing this piece somewhere in Texas. If I could, I definitely would.

Foss’ Capriccio has a very unique style and story it is “…” American like the music of Aaron Copland. Compared to the other pieces I’ve played, capriccio has a fun, syncopated rhythm that adds to the character of the piece. In fact, it is more rhythmic than melodic. It depicts various scenes from a cowboy’s quest of life. When I play this piece, I always think about Woody from Toy Story- very cute and caring and yet adventurous, who is always faithful to his friends. The excitement, humor, and drama in this piece takes me to a world where I am a cowgirl on an open field having fun in the midst of all kinds of disasters. I would like to share this excitement with the audience.

Jennifer Tu, 16, piano
I. L’isle Joyeuse
By: Claude Debussy

The Debussy L’isle joyeuse is one of my favorite pieces because of its mystifying sound & vivid imagery. I think it lends itself to stories. After all, it’s based on Watteau’s painting of young lovers on a pilgrimage to Cythera. I hear mermaids flipping and spraying water, waves, drums, singing, dancing, and magic. I think the audience’s favorite part is probably when I stand up to hit the last note, the lowest key on the keyboard… but nothing hurts like missing and jamming my fingers into the cheekblock. My favorite part, on the other hand, would be the singing, lyrical sections (where I don’t hurt myself).

To me, the L’isle joyeuse is a unique adventure on an exotic island like its title says. I try to play so that the audience is drawn into the piece’s world, a bubble of passion and lyricism. This is especially difficult for me because I often “tune out” or “get bored” of pieces I’ve worked on for a long time, so if I’m not focused on transporting the audience or transferring the emotions of my stories to them, the music can get pretty drab.

Marcus Rose, 17, viola
I. Rapsodie from Suite Hebraique
By Ernest Bloch

I am in absolute love with piece. I personally picked it out four years ago and have been playing it since. I experience something new every time I perform the piece. I’m extremely for it because it has taken me to places I would’ve never imagined. I don’t usually picture a scenario or moment when I’m playing it, but since my relationship is so strong with it, it is incredibly easy to forget every thing but the music.

The piece reflects Bloch’s Jewish background, and as I recently found out, it incorporates traditional Jewish motifs. Bloch’s interpretation of the shofar’s sounds can be heard throughout the piece, especially in the second movement. I try to portray to the audience a new way of understanding a culture, and I want them to be moved by the emotions behind the notes. It’s very hard, though, considering the movements are extremely hard to put together with an accompaniment.

Jennifer Seidel, 17, soprano
Les Filles de Cadix
By Leo Delibes

I absolutely love this piece! It is one of the funniest songs I have sung. It makes me think of gypsies dancing around at night, having a great time. I particularly like the way it slows down as if luring someone in and then speeds up abruptly, like the gypsy dancing away. It is a fantastic song to sing to my dogs because they get very excited and dance and play with me.

This piece is not as easy as it sounds. Definitely the hardest part for me is the cadenza at the end. To hit even note dead on requires a lot of concentration, and making it seems effortless is even more difficult! In the end, this song is just a light, fun, almost teasing song that seems to go by in a flash when I sung it. This was one of my harder pieces, but ever since my teacher showed it to me, I’ve insisted on new songs being just as challenging!

Doyle Cooper, 17, trumpet
Just a Closer Walk with Thee

This is the most traditional Jazz Funeral Piece in my opinion. I think no song tells a story better than when you put these two together.

One of the first songs I learned. It is one of the most meaningful songs I know.

Greg Morrow, 17, alto saxophone
Just a Closer Walk with Thee

One very strong memory I have from playing this piece is playing it for my friends’ moms’ funeral. It was very tough. We played the slow, mourning part of the song first, then it broke out into a very joyous up beat part and that is when every one is remembering all the happy memories with that person and celebrating their life.

When playing this song, it is very important to remember that it is a funeral  march and you are mourning and it is very slow, sad, and soulful. The song then breaks into an upbeat, happy part where everyone is celebrating. I think that getting those emotions to come threw the music is the most important part, and the hardest to nail.

Colin Frishberg, 18, trombone
Just a Closer Walk with Thee

This piece of music is very emotional to me. The slowness of the song and its beautiful harmonies bring out emotions deep within one. This song was played at my mother’s funeral and that day will forever be ingrained in my head whenever I play this song.

This piece of music is special because it has such a known melody that everyone can relate to. To any traditional jazz player this song is tantamount to a classical musician playing Beethoven’s 9th. “A” is the essential dirge that permeates throughout New Orleans history. Every single jazz funeral has had this song played. When I play it I try to express all the emotions I can through my trombone.

Paul Robertson, tuba
Just a Closer Walk with Thee

My thought about the piece of music is basically New Orleans. I picture people dancing in the streets of New Orleans enjoying their time. My favorite part is when the tune double time and my least are the slow parts.

The thing that is unique about this music I compared to older pieces, I’ve played is that this piece warms me up. It’s like the beginning of a great “movie”. The hardest thing to nail in this piece for me is keeping the time and keeping it flowing throughout the entire song.