REVIEW: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

When’s the last time you listened to music by itself? Not in the background, not while walking to class, not as you’re watching the music video, but just on its own; when was the last time? Before the evening of March 15, I probably could not have given an accurate answer. It seems that we’re always multitasking nowadays, and that being busy reduces our ability to sit and listen. That’s what I did during the performance from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and I would recommend it to you.

The music hardly paused once the first note was played, and the entire performance was rather intimidating. Hill Auditorium’s stage was filled with extraordinarily talented musicians who played Bruckner’s 8th Symphony, a rollercoaster of tempo and dynamics, for 90 minutes. 90 minutes that flew by because so much of the audience was entranced by the sounds the Israel Philharmonic was able to produce. I don’t know why I keep being surprised by how talented professionals are at their professions, but all of the musicians occupying the stage played their parts passionately (especially you, triangle player and cymbal player. You both played for just a handful of measures an hour into the performance and stole the show, at least from where I was sitting).

Of course, I’m no expert because most of the time, if I am listening to classical music then I am also studying. This time, however, there was nothing else to pay attention to but the orchestra. While listening to them, I got the full force of fortissimo without the ability to turn down the volume, not that I would have wanted to. I felt the floor shake under my feet with the vibrations emitted from the low brass section. When’s the last time you avidly observed someone play the timpani?

I would imagine that most of the audience would agree that what we heard was a brilliantly executed performance from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. I feel privileged to have received that performance live; I know now that live symphonies are so much better than a YouTube playlist can produce.

Again I’m no expert, but I think that should make the following advice mean even more: don’t be afraid of classical instrumental music. I don’t think you’ll be bored, and I hope you’ll enjoy yourself. The university gives us great opportunities to see extremely talented people, so take advantage of it! In a few years you’ll have to pay full ticket price.

PREVIEW: Coriolanus

Photo from the National Theatre website

This Sunday, February 9 at 7:00PM the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Coriolanus will be shown at the Michigan Theater.

Broadcast by National Theatre Live, this Shakespeare play stars Tom Hiddleston (probably best known for his role of Loki in the Marvel franchise) as the title character who must defend the people of his city from imminent attack while also addressing their call for political change. This production is sure to be an intense spectacle not to be missed.

Tickets to see the recorded stage production at the Michigan Theater are still available and can be found through the University Musical Society here.

Preview for Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah is an Ann Arbor Holiday Tradition! Many townies say that the Holiday season hasn’t officially started here until one sees Handel’s Messiah. So, why not take a break from frenzy-final-studies and go to this glorious masterpiece of music. The instrumental music and glorious voices are offered by the UMS choral union. It is rumored that the Hill Auditorium is decorated with holiday magic for this performance:) Go and See it!!

REVIEW: CollegeHumor Live

Oh sheesh, y’all! ‘Twas a great show at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase! First of all, the popcorn there is delicious (even Amir thought so). Secondly, Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld started the show off with reading embarrassing texts and dueling in an epic “rap battle, not a rap war” containing more bashing of Ohio than actual rapping, but I’m not here to complain. Thirdly, Streeter Seidell performed some stand-up comedy in spite of losing his voice, and described Candy Crush addiction in such a perfect way that I felt I connected with him on a spiritual level.

This whole experience was interesting for me because I had been a fan of CollegeHumor for many years, but lately I’ve been skipping over their videos in my YouTube subscription feed. I haven’t had much interest in watching the classic Jake and Amir bit, but seeing them perform live in that same style was very entertaining and exciting. The internet as a platform for creators and viewers produces a unique dynamic in which the people appearing in videos are not quite famous, but they are definitely recognizable in a way that most people are not. Watching Jake and Amir perform was almost like watching a celebrity perform live, and it brought new life to their sketch, especially when they made each other laugh. I’m a sucker for breaking character.

Streeter Seidell’s stand-up set was a nice change from the Jake and Amir duo, and seemed perfect for the atmosphere of the Comedy Showcase. (Side note: I had never been to a comedy club before. I’d seen them on TV and in movies, but had not once ventured downstairs into a dark room filled with tiny tables and a stage barely big enough for three people to move around comfortably.) This was real stand-up with Streeter’s glass of water and towel perched on a nearby stool and his arm resting on the microphone stand. He was comfortable on the stage and the audience was comfortable with him: gladly laughing with him as he observed and poked fun at some of the people sitting in the front row (I was in the second row, thank goodness). I’m not sure how long his set lasted, but it ranged from the too-happy employees of Zingerman’s to taking his dog out during hurricane Sandy, and I was laughing the whole time.

Looking back at the show (at the time I’m writing this it was only about an hour ago, but I’m looking back nonetheless), I’ve come to the conclusion that comedy is generally better with people to share it. Maybe part of the reason I stopped watching every CollegeHumor video was because it involved just me at my computer and not an audience of other people ready to laugh. The whole experience of going to a show and watching as performers got up on a stage with the sole purpose of making people laugh was new to me but I really enjoyed it, and I hope I get another chance to appreciate it.

PREVIEW: CollegeHumor Live

This Monday, November 18 at 8:00pm, Jake Hurwitz, Amir Blumenfeld, Streeter Seidell, and some more from the CollegeHumor gang are coming to Ann Arbor! They’ll be performing live at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, and there are still tickets available at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase website. Tickets are only $15 for a night that’s sure to be filled with hilarity and entertainment. Whether you’re a fan of (like me) or if you’ve never heard of it before (you should check it out), you should definitely come out to see this one-night-only live comedy event!

REVIEW: Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

Photo from A Night of Premieres Facebook event page

A night of premieres and a night of transitions, the Women’s Glee Club fall concert was fantastic. As a celebration of Hill Auditorium’s 100th anniversary, each song the club sang was composed or arranged in the year 2013, and the styles ranged from classical to operatic to pop.

The song choices were not the only demonstration of range in this concert, however, because there were little kids! Little, elementary-aged kids from the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale Descant Choir; older, middle school-aged kids from the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale Concert Choir; and even older, high school-aged girls from the Ann Arbor Huron High School Bel Canto Choir. It was a shocking, adorable transition when the Women’s Glee Club left the stage after a few opening songs and the tiny Descant Choir entered. Their first song, “The Path to the Moon”, remains one of my favorites of the concert because they all looked and sounded so adorable on the massive Hill Auditorium stage.

Each choir took the stage—getting progressively older, taller, and more mature voices—until we were back to the Women’s Glee Club, which proceeded to add another level to their program in the second act. A graduate student in the school of Music, Theatre, and Dance, the immensely talented Elizabeth Galafa joined the club as a soloist for a beautiful piece titled “BeNevel Vekinor”, which was composed by University of Michigan doctoral student Asaf Peres.

This one concert told a tale of the passion for singing that can span across decades of life. It just might be that some of the children who performed that night and heard the college students sing will be inspired to pursue music. Perhaps the next U of M graduate student studying voice or the next composer was sitting in the seats tonight after performing with his or her school choir. Concerts like this are important not just for the students who participate in them, but for the community to see and hear the talent that surrounds them.

Also, I can’t end this without saying that these women did a kick-ass version of the Bellas Final from Pitch Perfect. I mean it. Top notch.

Moral of the story: check out a Women’s Glee Club concert sometime, you guys.