Show 248: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top’s broadcast (Show 248) was taped at Weber State University’s Austad Auditorium in Ogden, Utah on Thursday, March 8, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Nick Tisherman, oboe, 17
I. Allegro from Sonata in F major, KV 370
By: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I like to think very happy, joyful, bubbly thoughts when I play this piece. I always keep in mind that Mozart wrote the oboe quartet as a show-off piece for a friend, so I think that it needs to be flashy as well. My favorite part is a section in which the music sounds like two voices arguing. I’ve played this for an audience of children at the Blythedale Children’s Hospital near where I live. I think the piece really lifted their spirits. When I played the Mozart for Frank Rosemein at CIM, he said my interpretation needed more “sparkle”, and should be more “effervescent.” On the flight home from Cleveland I ordered a Sprite and decided that my complimentary beverage represented the character I should shoot for.

This piece is really cool because in the third movement, the oboe rebels and goes into a 4/4 feel while the strings stay in 6/8. It creates a really cool effect. I feel that I most get across my personality when I play the oboe quartet. It is such an exciting piece, and it has so much character in it. I finally unlocked the hardest part of playing Mozart after I stopped thinking of the quartet as a super-light, bubbly showpiece, and pretended I was singing an aria instead. Once I gave the piece this mentality, all the lines and melodies fell into place and Mozart in general felt easier to play.

Post Show Reflections: I enjoyed bonding with my fellow performers and especially liked talking with audience members and hearing their reactions. The performance was completely exhilarating. The audience was warm and receptive, and playing with Chris O’Riley was amazing. I felt like a star, and I signed my first autograph!

Music connects in a way that no other medium, art form, or any sort of rhetorical device can. It speaks to everyone. It can evoke emotion in anyone. We can use music to touch life and reach out to make a change that we could not make without music.

Midnight Duo 
III. Finale (Allegro vivacissimo) from Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35
By: Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky 

Aubree Oliverson, violin, 13

The 3rd movement is my favorite. It starts off with a BANG and it makes me smile! After the beginning fast part, it slows down a little and the music reminds me of Russian men dancing. My favorite part of the movement is the ending because it’s super exciting! =)

I know that Tchaikovsky went through some really difficult times in his life and I think that helped him put a whole lot of meaning into this beautiful concerto. The deep meaning is one thing that sets it apart from other violin works – this piece gets me every time I hear it.

Post Show Reflections: My favorite memory was the pizza party! Because there were really good cookies! The performance was soooo fun! I wanted to do it again! I wasn’t nervous at all.

I believe music can change people for the better. Music can change the way people think about the world.

Anastasia Magamedova, piano, 14

My favorite part of the piece is the coda. I like how it’s fast in the violin part and the piano part has big chords. I also like the violin solo because the melody is very pretty. While playing this piece in my head I can see a Russian Autumn fair and a dancing bear. I can connect with this piece easily because I am familiar with Russian traditions and their music. It’s very interesting how Aubree and I look at each other at the same time.

This piece is unique in a way that it can switch from a very exciting part to a very slow part. This piece is not technically hard; the hard thing is to be together with the violinist and catch her at the right time. This piece is very exciting although it has very melodic parts.

Post Show Reflections: The Arts Leadership orientation that took place the morning after the show was probably my favorite memory. For the performance, the hall was great and I also really like the piano.

People can communicate through music.

Hannah Urias, soprano, 18
“Quando m’en vo” from La Boheme
By: Giacomo Puccini

I love this piece; it’s an incredibly fun piece of music that I get to pretend to be sexy in, which I never do in real life! Once, I was singing this piece for a fundraiser in which I sang from an aisle that wentdown the middle of the audience (it was a small venue). I went up to a man on the edge of the row and ran my hand down his arm and he didn’t react at all! I mean the man didn’t blink or flinch or anything. It was hilarious and slightly awkward.

It is the most legato piece I have. Most of my repertoire is fast and melismatic, and even the other legato pieces I do have don’t compare to the flow of Puccini lines. Other than the attitude of the song, the flow of it is probably the most important to think about. The hardest thing for me is remembering to take my time with the piece and really milk some of the lines, instead of charging through it like I do with other songs.

Post-Show Reflections: My favorite moments from the three days were watching The Artist Thursday night after the show with some of the other cast members, the real performance (byreal I mean “live”), and getting to hear everybody else! The performance was great! I loved the stage and the hall was really great to sing in.

I believe music has the power to change people, mainly in a positive way. It has the power to tell a story and communicate with people what would be difficult to communicate otherwise.

Meshugene Quartet 
V. Allegro from the String Quartet No.9 in E-flat, Op.117
By: Dmitri Shostakovich

Rachel Stenzel, violin, 15

I think this piece fits us well as a quartet, since we tend to be pretty “crazy” (hence the name “Meshugene”). All four of us have very different personalities, but we’re able to “let it all out” in a sense when we play this Shostakovich quartet.  Most people think that we wouldn’t be able to work well together as a group because we all have such different personalities and come from such different backgrounds and lifestyles, but I think our diversity has actually enabled us to bring a lot more to the music that we could have otherwise.  Not to mention, it makes rehearsals quite entertaining!

This piece is very difficult both individually and as an ensemble, and I think the key to a good performance is making it sound relatively easy to the audience so that they can just be blown away by the sheer energy and excitement of it. At the same time, it is exhausting to play, and at the end of every rehearsal and performance I feel completely emotionally and physically drained.

Post-Show Reflections: I thought that the whole performance/interview part would be intimidating (it is NPR!) but being a part of such an incredible show was just an awesome and super fun experience in every way. I loved performing and getting to meet other people who share a common interest in music. It made me realize that I’ve “made it this far,” but also how much farther I still have to go.

Music has the power to reach and touch people in a way more powerful than words. It can change and transform lives and give people the motivation and inspiration to live differently.

Lisa Chertok, violin, 18

This piece reminds me of Crime and Punishment, and the character  Raskolinikov’s inner struggle with a murder he committed as well as the other miserable characters he comes across, as he himself becomes less and less mentally stable. My favorite part is the conversation between the viola and second violin (after the cello solo) where it evokes, for me, the image of a murderer cloaked in black, treading a narrow cobblestone street at midnight with chilling fog swirling around his legs. One of the funniest moments was when our cellist broke 24 bow hairs during a performance; we counted.

It definitely makes me feel like I’m getting tendonitis. It is so intense for 9 minutes straight! It’s actually similar in character and intensity to the other pieces we’ve explored, such as Bartok and Grieg.

Post-Show Reflections: My favorite memory was sitting in the audience before dress rehearsal, seeing the crew setting up the stage, and the “On the Air” sign lighting up; thinking, “Wow, we really got this far!” and feeling so appreciative of everyone that got us here. Knowing that we’re reaching so many people was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. I felt really accomplished and excited about sharing the music we worked so hard on, especially since Shosty 9 is not a well-known piece.

Music has the power to make people exuberant and melancholy, to inspire people to do beautiful things, to change the way we think and feel. Music is such an incredible force that can be used to enlighten people and lift them up, empower them and infuse them with hope. In my opinion, music is one of the most powerful thing that God has given to the human race.

Ariel Chapman, viola, 18

Whatever specific thoughts or images I may have about this piece are generally only articulated in rehearsals. Otherwise I just perform the piece with the understanding that it has gravity. I remember one competition we actually ended up winning where, by the end of our performance, Christopher’s bow wrapping has almost completely unraveled and he was missing several bow hairs. He of course proceeded to beat this record by breaking 24 bows in one performance just the other week.

For our group, I think one of the hardest things to achieve is good sound balance. It may appear to a sort of one-dimensional, fast and furious piece; but should be treated as though (or at least rehearsed as though) it were something round and colorful. Once all members of the quartet appreciate it “musically”, you can add the “teeth” and blood and guts that the movement requires. I also believe a historical perspective is necessary.

Post-Show Reflections: I particularly enjoyed the interview portion of the show for which we played, like the game “Music You Have to be Angry to Perform.” Performing on stage during the dress rehearsal was more nerve-wracking than the actual final performance. The live audience gave me ammunition, like I was giving them a part of myself, and hoping there would be a good reception.

I believe music has the power to bind people from back, cultures, and various points of view that may seem disparate.

Christopher Gao, cello, 15

I think this piece by far has been the hardest our quartet has tackled. At the same time, it’s also one of the most fun. Shostakovich is great in bringing out the violent side of musicians; when we perform, the audience sees a side of us they never expected. I think this especially applies to me. My friends (being mostly non-musical) see me as a socially awkward guy. So when I play this piece, I feel like it’s my way of saying “guess again!” to them. And it’s always fun to break A LOT of hairs.

Our quartet has played very vulgar and violent pieces so far; this piece is the most violent and most vulgar. In this piece especially, communication is imperative. It’s easy to bury yourself in the sheet music amidst all the chaos; but once we start playing as a group, then the music really comes alive.

Post-Show Reflections: My favorite memories were watching The Artist after the show, and finishing Shosty with a bang…oh the radio! The performance was amazing! It was great performing a violent piece on stage, especially coming to the end of Shosty where there was the whole head-banging going on.

Music is an extension of our emotions – our emotions dictate how we live our lives, and how we live our lives changes the world; music can change the world.

Trenton Chang, piano14
III. Anime from Sonatine
By: Maurice Ravel

I think this piece is a very exciting piece, with lots of ups and downs. When playing, I tend to think of something sneaky running around, surprising you but you never find out what it is. Because of this, musically, I really enjoy every part of the piece. However, there is also the technical aspect of the piece, especially a certain part that requires soft, fast, and clear playing with voicing too. I still find this piece very fun to play.

This piece is unique in that extreme dynamic control is intensely necessary, more so than any of my other pieces. To be honest, when I play, I just want to not miss that very fast important last note; I don’t worry about other difficulties. The piece as a whole is very demanding; as a result, everything is hard to get. The very special thing was that it was written during the Impressionistic time period, resulting in its vivid and colorful sound. Everything is so dynamic; the piece is never the same, always changing.

Post-Show Reflections: My favorite memory was getting to talk to and know my fellow performers. It was exciting to perform on stage. I found it was more relaxed than other performances I’d had so far.

Music has the power to change lives, motivate people, share enjoyment and passion, and even empower people, among many other possibilities.