Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Brass Blast!

As I described in this earlier post, the Washington Symphonic Brass are presenting concerts at three locations this month, with the final concert being Sunday evening. My family and I attended the concert this evening in Annapolis, and it was a fantastic experience.

If you play a brass instrument, you owe it to yourself to hear this ensemble. If you play in the MCO Brass, please rearrange your schedule and shake out your piggy bank and meet me in McLean, Virginia this Sunday evening at 7:30. Brass players, if you have ever needed to have the "brass dream" refreshed in your heart and your imagination, this concert will do it for you.

If you are familiar with string repertoire, this will be a moving experience for you no matter what instrument you play. The concert this evening contained the following numbers, and I expect to hear the same Sunday evening:
  • Holst - Jig from St. Paul's Suite
  • Albinoni/Giazotto - Adagio in g minor
  • Vaughan-Williams - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
  • Schostakovich - Chamber Symphony from String Quartet No. 8
  • Barber - Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
  • Tchaikovsky - Serenade for Strings, Op. 48 (although omitting the third movement)
Four of the six selections were arranged or adapted by WSB founder Phil Snedecor, so the arrangements are perfectly suited to the instrumental forces of this ensemble.

This concert was particularly moving for me because I am intimately acquainted with these works in their original string settings, and observed with amazement and joy the way in which the brass transcriptions met the challenges presented. The opening Jig by Holst set the scene perfectly, showcasing the technical abilities of these musicians. And I was moved to tears again by the opening and closing of the Tchaikovsky Serenade. The full brass presention of those opening and closing chords would surely have met with approval from the composer.

The conductor, Milt Stevens, gave very appropriate commentary on the background of each of the works, and I'm glad to have thus become acquainted with Schostakovich' 8th quartet.

Overall, this was an experience that I cannot put into words. I urge you to make time in your schedule to catch their last performance Sunday evening.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Worthy Student Recital

I received notice today that Gabrielle Liverpool will be presenting a recital this weekend, at five o'clock in the evening of April 29, at the Metropolitan Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6307 Riggs Road, Hyattsville, MD.

Gabrielle was one of the student violins who played for our recent Messiah performance, and I think she attended as many rehearsals as any other orchestra player. She supported us, so lets take time to support her in this recital.

Washington Symphonic Brass

I have avoided WSB concerts in the past not because of their quality: on the contrary, they play very professionaly and their concerts are a pleasure to experience! Rather, most of their recent concerts have featured explicitly anti-sacred music (such as Carmina Burana) performed in the dedicated sanctuaries of churches.

Although they are still performing in church sanctuaries, their current repertoire, as listed in their advertising, does not apparently include such overtly secular music, and so I am very eager to hear their next performance, and I recommend them to you. The remaining concerts are Wednesday evening, April 26 and Sunday evening, April 30. You can find more information on their website.

Their tickets are a little pricey, perhaps, but the performances are worthwhile and awe-inspiring.