College students react to “Following the Ninth”

Part two of Kerry Candaele’s Beethoven trilogy is under way. I pledged $35 for the Kickstarter Project which ends on May 19th, 2016. The way this crowd funding works is that if the goal is not reached, the fundraiser gets nothing. It’s my sincere hope that my friends and readers click on the above link and preview the next film in the making. It’s about Beethoven’s only opera – Fidelio.
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Rose Concert 2015: Father’s Day, the Brain, Alzheimer’s Disease

Anne Ku connects the themes of rose, Father’s Day, the brain, and Alzheimer’s Disease to pay tribute and raise awareness at the Rose Concert 2015. She premieres Emre Aki’s “Little Angel” dedicated to his daughter.

Two years ago, I gave my first Rose Concert at Roselani Place, a home named after the rose in central Maui for elderly residents. When I ran out of songs about the rose, I ventured into songs about other flowers like jasmine, cherry blossoms, etc.

This time, on Friday June 19th, I also paid tribute to Father’s Day (Sunday June 21st) and National Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month. Call it a concert to celebrate the beautiful minds of Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, and Scott Joplin.

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Cloud Atlas for Easy Piano

The piano theme from Cloud Atlas is haunting and beautiful. While there are many versions arranged by piano fans, I have yet to find one for easy piano. Here is an attempt. Work in progress.

The melody of the movie Cloud Atlas (2012) is so haunting that it’s possible to loop it in a forever trance. It’s much slower than I had thought when I first sightread it. Not having seen the movie, I’m only guessing that the motif is the common thread throughout. Here’s a 30 minute version that can be used as background music or for meditation.

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Chopin in the movie Margin Call

Chopin’s Raindrop prelude was used in the movie Margin Call.

The movie “Margin Call” takes place in the space of 24-hours. In that time, someone is fired, a model gets completed, the results are communicated, decisions are made, actions are taken, reputations are ruined, and the financial crisis is triggered.

While waiting for dawn to break, head honcho Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) drifts off to sleep at his desk. We hear the second part of Chopin’s famous prelude, also known as “The Raindrop.”  It’s not the raindrops we hear but the growing sound of a storm coming. It starts low and builds in strength and range. When it finally reaches its peak, Rogers jolts from his nap and the headphones fall off. The music stops. He awakes.

Middle part of Chopin's Prelude 28 no. 15 "The Raindrop"
Middle part of Chopin's Prelude 28 no. 15 "The Raindrop"

The piano solo score can be downloaded for free from the IMLSLP Library. Listen to Horowitz play this famous work.

Click HERE for a good analysis of the movie “Margin Call” and analogies.

From performance to entertainment

Classical musicians are trained to perform not entertain. However, increasingly audiences want entertainment. Is there a compromise?

At conservatory, we’re taught to perform not entertain. Yet the world of performance is being crowded out by demand for entertainment.

Famous classical pieces take on new meaning after they have been chosen as themes for movies. Chopin’s posthumous Nocturne in C sharp minor reminds us of the movie “The Pianist.” Whenever I play it, I think of that tragic atmosphere of loss and hopelessness.

Debussy’s Clair de Lune accompanies that delicate moment when Bella visits Edward for the first time. My friend in Denver wants me to play it exactly the way it sounds in the Twilight movie.

Or is simply that classical music takes on a new context when used in situations that bear meaning to us?

Would it be a compromise on our training and eternal quest for beauty and perfection to abdicate performance and embrace entertainment?

Or should we pay attention to what our listeners want? They want to hear those tunes that remind them of the good times in their lives, the movies they love, the weddings they attended (or perhaps their own). We as musicians can easily execute that.

To us, Pachelbel’s Canon in D may be a performance. To them, it’s entertainment — reminding them of the theme from “Ordinary People.”

My friend in DC sent me the following clip of the most popular string quartet in Poland. They are popular because they are entertaining. But more importantly, they are virtuosic, creative, and fun! Mozart would be laughing at this. Click on Mozart Group.

In short, a performance can be entertaining. But to differentiate ourselves and to draw audiences, we as performing artists may need to do more than interpret the music the way we think the composers expect their works to be played.