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Posts Tagged ‘melody’

How I Discovered the Cascade Symphony Orchestra: the 2016 “Holiday Pops” Concert, Edmonds

Posted by glennled on December 15, 2016

 

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Cascade Symphony Orchestra at Edmonds Center for the Arts

My wife and I have lived in Edmonds for 13 years and had never heard of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra until this month. That says a lot more about us than about the CSO which was formed in 1962. But it’s never too late to discover another of the good things in life, is it? How did this one finally happen?

Well, I’d been thinking about taking her out on a date, and one evening I was talking with the outstanding principal horn player in the Alderwood Community Church Orchestra. “What other orchestra do you play in?” I asked. “The Cascade Symphony Orchestra,” he replied, and that took me to the internet the next day. I found out that CSO was presenting its “Holiday Pops” concert in Edmonds on 11-12 December. My wife said yes, so I drove to the ticket office at the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA), bought two tickets for Sunday night, peaked inside to see the dark auditorium, and picked up a booklet on the ECA to educate myself a little.

The Edmonds Center for the Arts, with its new 700-seat auditorium, held its Grand Opening on 6 Jan 2007 (see http://www.facebook.com/edmondscenterforthearts). Originally, in 1910, the building was the Edmonds High School. This is now ECA’s 10th Anniversary Season.

CSO is a non-professional orchestra, composed of accomplished musicians with careers in other fields who “perform purely for the joy of it.” The orchestra was formed in 1962, and led by Robert Anderson, the original conductor (see http://www.cascadesymphony.org). That was the year of the Seattle World’s Fair and opening of the Space Needle. It was also the year I graduated from the University of Washington, joined the Navy, and reported for duty at Officer’s Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. There was no freeway in Seattle then. The Seattle portion of I-5 opened in 1967, the year I returned to Seattle to teach Naval ROTC at the University of Washington for the final two years of my active duty.

Several musicians in the original orchestra were still members in 2011-12, the 50th-Anniversary season. The 2016 Holiday Pops program lists 86 musicians in CSO. Of those, 17 members have played in CSO for 30 years or more. And of those, five members (two violinists, two violists, and one cellist) have been members for 50 years or more! The trumpeters are George Steward, Principal; Rocklyn Meredith; and Delsin Thomas. Annual auditions are held in August; individual auditions are scheduled by appointment. At least four CSO members also play in the Alderwood Community Church Orchestra: Lance Ellis (Principal, French Horn); Rob Rankin (Principal, Trumpet); Madison Bromel (Cello); and Heather Hoskins (Bass).

CSO’s 2016-17 concert season (September through May) consists of five symphony performances, all at ECA in Edmonds. The orchestra rehearses every Monday night during the concert season—it’s known as “Cascade night.” Maestro Michael Miropolsky (a Russian violinist) is the Music Director and current Conductor.

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Michael Miropolsky

As for the concert itself, the program included works by Johann Strauss, Peter Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, Victor Herbert, and Robin Seletsky/Ed Marcus, as well as five “Holiday Sing-Along” songs led by the Maestro playing his violin. The orchestra is composed of accomplished musicians and is well-rehearsed. It was a good reminder of how widespread musical talent is shared among all societies, nationalities, and races throughout the world. To me, that has a divine purpose. No wonder music is called the “universal language.”

The piece arranged by Robin Seletsky and orchestrated by Ed Marcus is called “Chanukah [Hanukah] Klezmer Medley” was extraordinary. It features a Klezmer clarinet solo, expertly performed by Beverly Setzer, who made her clarinet talk like a person—amazing! Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews that reflects the emotional vocal and dance music of Eastern Europe, especially Romania, and is most often played at Jewish weddings and celebrations.

The two Leroy Anderson pieces, “Sleigh Ride” and “Chicken Reel,” showcased the composer’s catchy tunes and playful orchestrations. We learned from the program that Anderson was a linguist who specialized in Scandanavian and German languages. He was Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence at the Pentagon. But, like the CSO musicians, he pursued a second career simultaneously—in his case, with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He wrote “Sleigh Ride” in 1946. “Chicken Reel” is a dance tune written in 1910 by Joseph M. Daly which Anderson then orchestrated.

Learning more about Victor Herbert was also a treat for me. A composer, conductor, and cellist, he was Irish-born in 1859 and died in Connecticut in 1924. CSO concluded the concert with his march, “Auditorium Festival,” which premiered in 1901 in Chicago with Herbert conducting the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra on tour. It incorporates the familiar folk song melody, “Auld Lang Syne.” Among his many compositions are 43 operettas, including Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913), and his best-known Babes in Toyland (1903).

Oh, by the way, the date was a success. When we returned home, I got a kiss from my bride, and she accepted when I asked for another date. Perhaps I’ll suggest Monday, 9 January 2017 at 7:30 p.m. when CSO presents Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in Eb major, featuring Jeffrey Fair, soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor (Pathetique). Maybe we’ll see you there.

Most of these photos can be enlarged simply by clicking on them.

 

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“A Time for Christmas,” the 2014 Musical at Alderwood Community Church, Lynnwood

Posted by glennled on April 23, 2015

"It's a Merry Christmas Eve!" sung on a city sidewalk by townspeople and carolers

“It’s a Merry Christmas Eve!” sung on a city sidewalk by townspeople and carolers

I confess–I love musicals more than I love opera. I’m simple. After most musicals, I walk out of the theater with some song in my head, some melody in my heart, some lyrics on my lips. I like that. But although some opera music is magnificently beautiful and I like it, too, I often can hardly hum even my most favorite arias.

And so it was when I was invited to play trumpet with the orchestra of Alderwood Community Church (ACC) last Christmas season. Each year, ACC stages a Christmas play, and in 2014, the choice was the superlative religious musical, “A Time for Christmas” by Paul McCusker, David T. Clydesdale, Steven Amerson, and Lowell Alexander.

Mistress Lewis and children sing and dance at the orphanage in 1850 to "With A Little Bit of Faith"

Mistress Lewis and children sing and dance at the orphanage in 1850 to “With A Little Bit of Faith”

The plot features the very hard-working Bill, a young businessman who gives lip service to Christmas but is too busy to celebrate it, and his consultant, Mary, who understands the meaning of Christmas and loves the joy and hope found in the celebration of it. In a dream, Bill encounters Bartholomew, a mysterious stranger, who leads Bill on a journey through five scenes of various Christmases past, from the birth of Christ to the present. It awakens Bill—through watching others in other times and places, he begins to realize what he’s missing and warms to Mary.

play2014-2The orchestra and choir were conducted by Linda Collins, and the musical was dedicated to Dave Ballbach, “whose support and encouragement has inspired this endeavor for two decades.” It was presented five times during the weekend of 5-7 December at the church, which is located in Lynnwood near the intersection of I-5 with 196th St.

What tune was I singing when I left the church after the performances? Well, sometimes it was “With a Little Bit of Faith,” but more often it was “It’s a Merry Christmas Day!” And you know it’s a truly special musical when there are TWO songs stuck in your mind and heart!

The photos in the gallery below were provided courtesy of the professional photographer, John Crozier of Edmonds (see http://www.crozierphotography.com). Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

 

Posted in Church Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“A Room With a View” Musical at Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle

Posted by glennled on June 6, 2014

George and Lucy. Photo by Tracy Martin

George and Lucy. Photo by Tracy Martin

My wife and I “opened” our Christmas gift on the 19th of April—that’s when we went to see the musical, “A Room with a View,” at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle with tickets given to us by our daughter and son-in-law last December. We had great seats on the main floor, mid-way down toward the stage.

The musical is based on the 1908 novel by E. M. Forster, English author of novels, short stories, and essays. He was the author I probably would have concentrated on, had I gone for a post-graduate degree in English literature. To me, he was the academic, the professor, the critic, who tried to do what he studied, reviewed, and taught. That is, he tried to defy the adage, “Those who cannot do, teach.” To me, his novels are excellent but never literary masterpieces.

E. M. Forster, 1879-1970

E. M. Forster, 1879-1970

A Rome with a View, the third of sixth published novels, is said to be his lightest, most optimistic, and popular. Like most of his other works, this one explores the conflicts of propriety and class as Lucy Honeychurch faces the choice of a husband–the free-thinking, high spirited George Emerson or the repressed, snobbish aesthete, Cecil Vyse.

These characters sing all the way through this romantic musical comedy. But it’s a funny thing—none of the 20 songs is easily memorable. I like to come out of a musical humming a great tune. Not here, not this one. Where’s a song like “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” (Oklahoma!), “Tomorrow” (Annie), “Ya Got Trouble” (The Music Man), “What Do the Simple Folk Do?” (Camelot), “Get Me to the Church on Time” (My Fair Lady), and many more? Come on, guys, write a nice melody for your lyrics!

The 5th Avenue Theatre is renowned for producing and developing new musicals. Nine of the 17 new works which have premiered at The 5th since 2001, have later opened on Broadway. Whether “A Room with a View” will do so is yet to be determined. The 5th has more than 25,000 season subscribers. More than 300,000 audience members attend performances there each year. Incidentally, in The 5th Avenue Theatre Orchestra, the principal trumpet is Brad Allison, and Trumpet 2 is Paul Baron.

The production photos in this post are courtesy of The 5th Avenue Theatre. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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