Show 228: Listening Guide

This week’s broadcast was taped at the University of Georgia’s Center for the Performing Arts in Athens, GA with special guest Sir James Galway on Sunday February 27, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Arianna Smith, 17, viola
From My Heart and Circus
By: Paul Coletti

When I first heard my teacher play From My Heart I wanted to cry. The tenderness and beautiful ease in the opening is breathtaking. I love that every time I perform this piece, it’s different. Whatever I am feeling in the moment just comes out of the music. Paul Coletti (my teacher) enforced this feeling of improvisation. Circus is the complete opposite! From the first of note, it is a whirlwind.

Both of these pieces are all about changing color throughout. Circus is difficult to keep at a steady tempo and stay with the pianist. It’s so thrilling to push the tempo and make such a drastic change from the From My Heart piece.

Nicholas Allgeier
Rhapsody in G Minor, Op.79, No.2
By: Johannes Brahms

I feel a lot of things when I play this piece; power, fear, and strength. My favorite part is at about a minute into the song when the music suddenly gets eerily quiet like impending doom. I imagine a dark menacing figure pursing a person throughout the piece, at the end of which he finally gets the victim.

This song is a great example of the passion that Brahms puts into his music. I have been wanting to play Brahms for several years now, but my hands were not big enough. I hope people really feel the emotions as I do.

Post show reflection: So, something super funny happened at the taping. Sir James Galway, the superstar flutist, ended up pretending to be my pet chicken Clementine on my interview portion of the show!  He even sang Brahms’s Lullaby in chicken!  IN CHICKEN!! You gotta listen to it to believe it!  :) All the people I met at “From the Top” were extremely nice.  I was nervous the first day (I was there for three days), but I felt fine by the real recording day.  The staff & crew made me feel comfortable all the time, and my stay at the hotel was nice, too.

On the last day, we did “Arts Leadership Orientation” at UGA.  We got some good ideas on how to reach out to kids to share classical music. I like being part of something like that because kids need to know classical music can be really cool.  Many kids think classical music is for old people, and that’s got to change for sure.  Overall it was an awesome experience :)

Angelica Hairston, 18, harp
By: Gabriel Pierne

At one performance of the Pierne, I was scheduled to warm up on stage before performing first in the recital. It took me a bit longer to get my harp in place than I had expected. By the time I was set up, the house was already open. I had to do a quick run through of the piece while in sweatpants and with bright green rollers in my hair! It was a bit shocking for the audience members who were filing in.

I enjoy performing the Pierne because it has such a range of feelings. I think one of the exciting things about the piece is being able to have the audience connect with the various moods. It is a piece that really evokes emotion and has helped me learn to voice what I have to say through music.

Post-Show Reflection: I had a blast performing on From the Top! When I came out on the stage, I was overwhelmed by all of the positive energy in the room. It was fun to chat with Christopher O’Riley and so rewarding to play for such a receptive audience.

Kenneth Renshaw, 17, violin
VI. Adagio-Allegro Vivace Disinvolto from Serenade in D Major for Flute, Violin and Viola, Op.25
By: Ludwig van Beethoven

I particularly enjoy the elements of conversation between the three instruments and the clever ways that Beethoven trades off motives between the players. The Adagio is typical of the  “pastorale” mood that Beethoven was so good at evoking in much of his music, and it is therefore a complete surprise – surprise being another of Beethoven’s specialties – when the energetic last movement suddenly begins. The last movement is marked Disinvolto, meaning “carefree and easy”; I have never seen any other composer use this marking in any other piece.

The instrumentation of the Serenade presents both challenges and opportunities for lightness and freedom. There is no cello or piano to provide a strong harmonic base, the viola being the instrument with the lowest register of the three. Although this thin texture makes the interpretation more challenging, it also makes it easier for the performers to listen to each other.