Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Hometown Recital

Last night, I joined Marty Bishop, a trumpet DMA candidate at the University of North Texas, for a recital at the Valley View High School Fine Arts Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  The program featured works by Henry Purcell, Joseph Haydn, Georges Enesco, Stanley Friedman, Gabriel Faure, and Jean-Baptiste Arban.  The recital was a celebration of accomplishment and an opportunity to play for supportive friends and family who have not heard us play in several years.  All in all, last night's performance was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable that I have recently played.

It was refreshing to work with a gifted musician who is confident in his abilities and does not need to come across as an ego maniac.  Other performance experiences this year have not been as pleasant because of overly exalted pride on the part of other participants.  It was refreshing to work with Marty, a musician who not only knows his strengths and weaknesses, but also recognizes that the ensemble playing is much better when kindness and laughter dominate the rehearsal and performance process.

Since this was not a recital that was high pressure, the approach to the program was much more relaxed.  Obviously both Marty and I wanted to play our best;  however, we were both realistic in our expectations as well.  Because we were fitting the rehearsal and performance into our busy holiday plans, we rehearsed on Monday afternoon and presented the recital on the following evening.  That meant that there were unresolved ensemble issues and some moments of uncertainty, but we both were confident enough as individuals that we pulled the performance off with aplomb.

As an ensemble, the highlight of the evening was the Haydn Concerto in Eb Major.  I have always enjoyed this piece and look forward to the opportunity to play the work with a gifted musician.  It was fun and effortless -- a high compliment when speaking of this early classical work. 

Personally, the recital also marked a turning point for me personally.  As a collaborative pianist, I rarely perform solo works.  In addition to generally not enjoying solo playing as much as chamber work, I often shy away from programming a solo work on a chamber program as I feel it is difficult to change mindsets mid-stream.  Last night, however, I played Faure's first nocturne in Eb minor as a solo.  Not only was the playing good, it was quite enjoyable.  Since I was already using scores in the collaborative works, I gave myself permission to present a solo composition with the printed music.  I felt comfortable and was able to think about the music itself rather than fretting over when the inevitable memory slip would occur and if I would be able to recover.  That is such a freeing experience!  I won't say that every program will now contain a piano solo, but I won't be diametrically opposed to it now.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Christmas Favorites - Day 5

For my last installment in this series of Christmas favorites, I can think of nothing more fitting than the majestic "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's oratorio, The Messiah!  The world forever changed with the coming of the Savior......and the only acceptable response is the exclamation "Hallelujah!"

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I'll see you again next week.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Christmas Favorites - Day 4

Today I spent some time surfing and accidentally stumbled across a series of videos known as the Forgotten Carols.  I had a great time listening to these and getting to know some songs I had never heard before.  I struggled to decide which to feature here, but finally settled upon Handel's Dream for my readers who are musicians.  Technically, the piece is more melodrama than song, but stick with it.....I think you'll enjoy the story!

If you have a chance, take a look at some of the other videos in the series.  I especially recommend I Cry When I Take the Tree Down and He's Not My Son

How awesome would it have been to have auditioned for the angelic chorus as this young cherub did!  I love this story....and hope you will too!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Christmas Favorites - Day 3

Okay, I know this piece does not qualify as "new" by any stretch of the imagination.  However, after a long absence, Gabrieli's O Magnum Mysterium has returned to my musical life and I am enjoying the beautiful harmonic progressions and excitement. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Christmas Favorites - Day 2

This year, the music ministry of the church that I serve decided to introduce Paul Baloche's worship song Offering during the Christmas season.  The opening verse contained here was a special addition for the holiday.  This month the song has found its way into all of our services and has become a bit of a personal anthem for me.  Like the shepherds and wise men of long ago, may we each bring what we have to give and place it at the feet of the child in the manger who is now Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Joy and Peace to you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Christmas Favorites - Day 1

Believe it or not, I'm actually back to some writing.  It feels good to be back among the land of the bloggers.....hopefully you noticed that I had disappeared for a while.

Much of my life recently has been devoted to Christmas music in all of its various guises.  I have discovered some new music and became reacquainted with some forgotten treasures.  This week, I would like to share some of my favorite Christmas songs.  To get things started, here's Amy Grant's I Need a Silent Night.  As you scramble to finish all of your holiday preparations, I pray that you will find some time to quietly reflect on the true reason we celebrate - the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!