REVIEW: Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra with Lang Lang

· Prokofiev : Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (“Classical”) (1917)
· Prokofiev : Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 (1917-21)
· Encore – Chopin : Etude, Op. 10, No 3
· Brahms : Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 (1877)
· Encore : Smetana’s “Dance of the Comedians” from The Bartered Bride

Did you know Lang Lang has his own shoe? Of the facts from the talk at the Arts and Eats Program, that was probably the most interesting one! Never mind that all of the members of the orchestra are all 26 years old or younger (they’re all virtuosos)…a shoe with his picture and his name in Chinese on it. Of course, the first thing I did when I returned to my room was to google it.

Our seats were in the very last row of the middle of the mezzanine section. While these seats are usually pretty cheap, they turned out to be perfect for my friend and me. The person in front of us was at least 6.5 feet tall and if we were sitting down, we would not be able to see anything! We ended up letting the seat fold up and then sit on top of that. The Arts and Eats program turned out to be a pretty good deal after all!

I found the selection of pieces to be very intriguing. The first Prokofiev piece took me by surprise and was much more “cheerful” than I expected. To be honest, I was expecting a loud crash of the symbols, dissonant chords played by the strings and brass, topped off by a smattering of the drums and timpani. Instead, the symphony sounded more reminiscent of a classical symphony, but with a little more freedom and less restriction of the form. The second piece, the piano concerto with Lang Lang had more of modern music that I was expecting. The piece was not hard to listen to though, since the piano melody helped relieve some of the tension felt in the notes played by the brass and strings section.

By the last piece, a lot of the audience was gone. I had a vague impression that the majority of the Asians who had tickets (I noticed there was a larger percentage of Asians at this concert than in previous classical music concerts) were gone. Lang Lang was also done playing. I loved the Brahms symphony though. It turned out to be a very characteristically “orchestral” piece. And throughout, I was sure I heard snippets of Brahms’ famous “Lullaby,” creating the perfect ending to a long day.

PREVIEW: Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra with Lang Lang

Date: Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 8 pm
Location: Hill Auditorium
Tickets: rush tix available at the League today!

· Prokofiev : Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (“Classical”) (1917)
· Prokofiev : Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 (1917-21)
· Brahms : Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 (1877)

I have finally taken advantage of the UMS Arts and Eats Program and I look forward to a pizza dinner, talk from an expert, and good seats. Though I have been to many piano and orchestra concerts, I am excited to hear the “biggest, most exciting keyboard talent encountered in many years” (quoted from the Chicago Tribune). I’ll keep y’all posted about the “good” seats and the talk from the expert!

PREVIEW: Interview with Pierre Boulez (conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Wed Jan 27th!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010
12 pm
Rackham Building, Fourth Floor Amphitheatre

Interviews are fascinating. I also wonder how and why the interviewer chooses certain questions…and are there any taboo questions? Although, I can’t really think of a taboo question when it comes to orchestras and music.

According to the UMS website, “U-M School of Music Professor Emeritus of Musicology Glenn Watkins and Maestro Boulez will discuss the past, present, and future of orchestras, live performance, artistic choices, and contemporary composition.”

How do you feel about live performances? With advances in technology and sound recording, do you think orchestras and concerts will become a thing of the past? What about contemporary music? I’m particularly curious to hear what Boulez has to say regarding contemporary music (he’s a composer as well). Occasionally, contemporary music is too crazy for my baroque and classical music brain, but I’d like to hear his thoughts. Perhaps I’ll be able to “understand” the music better.

PREVIEW: Rosseels String Quartet

PREVIEW: Rosseels String Quartet

Date: Sunday, Dec 13th, 2009

Location: Michigan League – Room D (3rd floor)

Time: 8:30pm

Tickets: free!


String Quartet in a minor, Op. 51 #2 ——————————————————-Johannes Brahms

String Quartet in g minor, Op. 10————————————————————Claude Debussy

Performers: Paula Muldoon and Christopher Jones, violins

Jarita Ng, viola

James Jaffe, cello

Though the Rosseels Quartet is the official “Graduate Student Quartet” at the University, some of them are only undergraduates! This talented group will perform a dramatic piece by Brahms and a dreamy, impressionistic piece by Debussy. Only an hour long, this program will be the perfect study break to clear your mind of the stress of exams and prepare you for a long night of studying.

A reception with delicious cookies with follow.

PREVIEW: Michigan Pops Orchestra – aPOPScalypse

Date: Sunday, Nov 22nd, 2009
Location: Michigan Theater
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $5 students and $8 adults
Buy them from the Pops Orchestra members or at the Michigan Theater right before the concert.

Watch this exciting performance by the only student-run and student-directed orchestra at Michigan! The Michigan Pops Orchestra, comprised of about 100 students, performs popular music from movies, shows, and classical works. In addition to the captivating music, there’s often a fun PowerPoint presentation full of fun pictures.

The Pops Orchestra was founded in 1995 by Warren Hsu to provide non-music major undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to continue playing their instruments. From within the orchestra, chamber ensembles and a smaller string orchestra is formed, giving students even more chances to play their instruments in a relaxed atmosphere.

The theme this semester is aPOPScalyse. The program has not been posted yet, but based on the name, there will be a lot of music related to fighting, the end of the world, and whatever other themes the name conjures up.

REVIEW: IASA Cultural Show – Vistaara

Having grown up in a very American household, I was quite confused by the cultural differences in the IASA Cultural Show. I enjoyed the experience though, even though I was not able to appreciate it the way my Indian friends did.

I have heard jokes about “Indian standard time” and many of my Indian friends have told me that Indians always arrive late to events, but I did not believe this stereotype until I sat in Hill Auditorium from 7pm (the supposed start time) to 7:30 with my Indian friend, Bella, wondering when the show would start. To add to that, another Indian friend texted me at 8pm and told me he just arrived. And after the 4th act, the people sitting next to me finally arrived!

The theme, Vistaara, was prevalent throughout the performance but I didn’t notice it right away. Luckily, Bella explained that the first couple of pictures in the slide show were from movies and TV shows that were popular a long time ago, and the last couple pictures were ones from more recent films. The organizers of the show did the same thing for the music, choosing a mixture of old and new songs. At that point, part of me wished I were Indian so I would catch the references!

I watched the show and admired the costumes the way a tourist looks at a famous painting, noticing the colors and sparkles and comprehending the beauty in the costume, but not understanding the culture and history embedded in the piece of art. It was the same thing with the music; I loved the rhythm and melodies but I had no idea about the meaning or the cultural implications. Most of the songs were upbeat, and I found myself bouncing in my seat wishing I could stand up and dance with the performers!

When I realized that I enjoyed bollywood and bangra the most, I began to wonder whether it was because I was the most familiar with those two forms of dance. I thought about a previous post by Laurie about what it means to appreciate music (she wrote about the Itzhak Perlman concert in September). My friend, Bella, was entranced by the different dances and she smiled whenever a new song was played, obviously recognizing the song and catching the reference to “Vistaara – a progression through time.” However, after a few minutes of watching unfamiliar dances, I started getting distracted and made faces at the little baby next to me (by the end of the show, I had taught her how to blow a kiss!). I was able to appreciate the hard work that went into the performance, but I wasn’t able to appreciate the references and allusions to the various aspects of the culture.

I truly enjoyed the show, I just felt mildly “uncultured” and wished I had watched a few more movies and listened to different songs before the show. When walking out of Hill Auditorium, I wanted to watch a Bollywood movie and practice the new dance moves I learned watching the dancers. Unfortunately, I needed to work on homework. But there’s always this weekend…

Time to break out my bangra moves!