Show 242: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top’s broadcast (Show 242) was taped at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, in Santa Fe, on October 25, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Hugo Kitano, piano, 16
IV. Finale: Presto non tango; Agitato from Piano Sonata No. 3
 By: Frédéric Chopin

When I play this piece, I think of the Headless Horseman galloping because of the 6/8-meter and the sinister theme. My favorite part is when the piece changes to B major at the very end, because it gets rid of all the sorrow and is so uplifting. It also gives my left hand a much-needed rest after four pages of nonstop arpeggios.

The most difficult part of the piece is to resist the temptation to play loud everywhere. It’s so fun to play really loud and really fast, but I’ve come to realize that that doesn’t sound very good. When I play it, I think of the duality of the two themes, one in minor and one in major, one good and one evil. It’s a struggle ultimately won by B major and righteousness.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory from the three days was the dress rehearsal, and how informal, relaxed, and hilarious everybody was. I felt totally prepared and ready, and calm and comfortable. It was so fun and organized, yet memorable. The concert was very exciting. I had no nervousness at all, I felt at ease and really enjoyed the actual performance, and the audience was so appreciative and the staff was so helpful.

Music has the power to transcend our differences in a diverse human culture and evoke emotions we never could have known existed. It celebrates our universal humanity and unifies as a whole, opening up opportunities for all.

Audra Vigil, guitar, 14
Saudade No.3
By: Roland Dyens

Saudade No. 3 by Roland Dyens is definitely one of my favorite pieces. Every time I play it, it makes me want to dance. It’s really groovy and funky. All the syncopation makes the piece come alive. It’s just an all-around fun and happy piece.

Saudade No. 3 holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been playing it for about 5 years now, and I’ve grown to love it and love playing it. I’ve spent a long time with it, but every time I look at the score I find something new and interesting I’d never noticed before. Getting to know a piece of music is really like getting to know a person; you think you know them well, but there’s always something new to discover. Every time I play this piece, it’s like talking to an old friend. I really do love this piece.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was backstage before the concert. I felt like we all connected to each other in a way that only musicians can do. We all sort of subconsciously knew that we were in this together.  The concert was amazing! I’ve never played for an audience that large, and I really fed off the crowds’ energy. I knew that they all wanted to support me and wanted me to do well. My performance was for them, and by connecting with them, I was also performing for myself.

Music has the power to change the world. Music is about imagination, and its only limit is one’s creativity. As long as you can think of it, music can do it.

Micäela Aldridge, mezzo-soprano,17
“Svegliatevi nel Core” (4:15) from the opera Giulio Cesare
By: George Frideric Handel
The Sun Embraces the Stony Earth” from the opera Elmer Gantry
By: Robert Aldridge (father)

When I sing this Handel aria, I really try to think of ways to get into the character that sings this aria, by any means necessary. I also think of how I can get an audience member to experience what I as a character am struggling with in the aria. The most common scenario that I think of for this is an operatic version of Harry Potter, where I, as Harry, have to avenge the death of my parents and the many others that were killed by Voledmort. When I see a ghost that is telling me defeat Voldemort, it is the ghost of Albus Dumbledore

Compared to other pieces I’ve performed, this aria is very challenging – it has a very fast tempo, with a sudden change to a slower pace in the second section, or “B section”, which requires a lot of breath control and support. In the “A-section”, I move a lot more and have more freedom. Another hard part is figuring out, or composing, Baroque ornamentations – there are endless possibilities for what I can do, and which ones are better to use given certain circumstances.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite part of the experience was getting to know the performers and staff members, the pizza party, and being silly in the dressing room. The performance felt so surreal and I couldn’t believe that it was happening. I’ve waited for to do this for a couple mouths and it was like a fantasy when it happened. Although I was really nervous, it turned out to be surprisingly easy once I open my mouth to sing.

Music can really change someone’s life for the better and can develop a passion for music or just art in general. 

Russell Houston, cello, 17
By Gaspar Cassadó 

“Requiebros” means flirting in Spanish. So naturally when I’m performing the piece, I check out the cute girls in the room and play out towards them. My favorite part is definitely the flirtations and outgoing nature of the piece; I think it suits me well, because I’m always a fan of flirting with girls! After I played this piece once, I got compliments on my “flirty dance” from a lot of girls and that was exciting!

Again, this piece is a lot of fun to play because it’s about flirting. It’s imperative that you to not get nervous and overanalyze when flirting, just as it is important to let go and not worry too much about performing during this piece. Without letting go of those inhibitions, it’s impossible to fully express the fun nature of this piece.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the Interview portion of the show: it was awesome how comfortable and flexible the staff made me feel while talking onstage! The performance was surprisingly easy: I wasn’t nervous beforehand because the staff prepared me so well for everything that was to come.

Music has the power to connect a room full of one-time acquaintances. Though the audience doesn’t necessarily know each other, it’s amazing that through music a large anonymous group of people can share the same experience. That’s very powerful in and of itself.

Amelia Sie, violin, 15
Lotus Land
By: Cyril Scott

Since the Lotus is a sacred item in Buddhism (and other religions), it reminds me of an oriental song, especially with its whole-note intervals. It reminds me of clear ponds with lots of Lotus flowers, and a mist blanketing the ground. When I was playing it through for violinist Jan Mark Sloman, he told me that I should make people feel stoned…that was very strange.

A lot of pieces I’ve played before evoke strong emotions. Usually, I play pieces that are super-flashy or very emotional. This piece, however, is more subdued. It has a mystical feel. When performing Lotus Land, I try to make people feel in a different, enchanted world. This is very different for me, so that’s probably the hardest thing for me.

Post Show Reflection: The Performance was my favorite memory from the three days! Everyone put in so much work to make the live taping work, and it was so gratifying to be able to participate in it and perform for the crowd. At first I was really nervous, but then I remembered I had already recorded everything earlier that day, so the performance was much more exciting and laid-back. This was such an uplifting experience.

Music has the power to move people; to make people cry, laugh, and smile. It expresses emotions to people you couldn’t normally communicate with.