BACKSTAGE PASS

Welcome to Backstage Pass where I stay connected with you about music and the music business in a more casual and behind-the-scenes way. I hope you will spend time connecting to the music with me here.

Natural world inspires lineup of Elgin Symphony season opening concert

Natural world inspires lineup of Elgin Symphony season opening concert

Nature has been the catalyst for some grand musical works. In the spirit of this, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will open the season with its “Pines of Rome” concert at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. “This concert is largely inspired by nature, particularly with two pieces: (Ottorino) Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome’ and a new work by Jared Miller, an American/Canadian composer who received a Juno award nomination for the piece that we are going to perform called ‘Under Sea, Above Sky,’” said guest conductor Tania Miller. Completed in 1924, “Pines of Rome” is a four-movement symphonic poem that paints a musical picture of pine trees in four different places around Rome at various...

Program change with the KBS Symphony

Program change with the KBS Symphony

Today I want to tell you about programming. Program change with the KBS SymphonyI had mentioned that my program in Korea has changed, and that's because the original program was for a large orchestra including brass, winds, percussion and strings.  Now, many musicians have had to isolate because of a case of Covid in the orchestra, and to be safe, the orchestra wishes to create a program that is for strings, and some woodwinds, horns and piano.  This will ensure that the concert can continue, but take precaution for everyone's safety.  Normally an orchestra programs a concert at least a year in advance of the concert.  In this case, I knew since Sept. what the program would be.  The librarian has to order music, often...

Shostakovich Chamber Symphony Op. 110a

Shostakovich Chamber Symphony Op. 110a

Shostakovich suffered terribly under the Stalinist regime, as did so many artists, and people of all kinds and positions. He had the ability to show two sides of himself through his music.  One was always on the surface, and the other hidden underneath. In this, his String Quartet #8 (arr. as his Chamber Symphony), he reveals his true self, even though much of the meaning is still hidden if you don't know what to look for.  It is profound to feel very close to a composer, and to understand, just in a tiny way, another life, another culture, another person's intimate emotions - and through music we can do this in a very special way. He spelled the first four letters of his name in this work, and used it as a motto.  He...

Studying the Shostakovich score

Studying the Shostakovich score

Hello everyone. I thought I’d show you a peek at the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony score. This is actually a fairly easy score to read because it's only for string instruments.  So, normally an orchestra conductor’s score has a separate line for each woodwind, brass, string and percussion which can add up to 25 or more lines to read all at once!  In this case, there are only five lines for Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello and Bass.  I’ll share a full score of a big orchestral work with you sometime.  Shostakovich has added "down bows" in two places.  You can see them in the third measure, and the ninth and they look like upside down square U’s.  You see that there is a slur (a curvy line) that connects these two bars...