Show 238: Listening Guide

From the Top’s Show 238 was taped in the Aire Crown Theater at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on  Saturday, July 2, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Stephanie Block, 17, viola 
I. Andante comodo from Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
By: William Walton 

Walton’s viola concerto holds a special place in my heart. It has been with me for the past year, and is definitely my favorite viola concerto. I love the “British-y” aspect of it- to me, British music has a certain unique quality. It’s not too melodramatic or too emotionless. It seems to have certain parts that are somewhat dramatic, but are masked by tranquility. Walton does a wonderful job of “sneaking” these emotions into the concerto. I like that you have to really look for the feeling in it and identify it.

My favorite part of this concerto is the beginning, with its calm and leisurely pace and its gradual move into the exciting and intense parts. Perhaps the hardest battle I have had with this piece is all of the chords! There is one part in the middle with a series of sixths, and those are so hard to bring out, not to mention play perfectly in tune. That will be a continuing project for me. This piece makes me think of a distinctive love story- one that is kept under wraps until one’s feelings are finally revealed. With the beginning of the piece, you wouldn’t guess that there is any love there, but it presents itself later. Accessing my own emotions is what really helps me bring across my feeling in this piece. Compared to other pieces I have performed, the Walton continues to be one of a kind. Many people love it for both its romantic and composed aspects. It’s more emotionally mature than many other pieces I have played on viola, and for someone as emotional as me, a piece like this is best.

Post Show Reflection: I loved getting to know everyone, both the kids and the staff. I never knew everyone could be so relaxed and nice! Also, playing on a great stage for a huge audience was amazing. I loved the feeling after I finished, sprinting upstairs with my medal. The actual performance was so exciting. It actually wasn’t that scary, more like encouraging. Nothing compares to the feeling of performing for me. It was truly amazing.

Music has the power to heal: broken hearts, so many things. The possibilities are endless.

Geoffrey Hahn, 18, baritone
“Whither Must I Wander?” from Songs of Travel
By: Ralph Vaughan Williams

This particular piece of music transports me into the English countryside. We experience the beauty of the landscape throughout the various seasons of the year, as seen through the eyes of a wanderer. The tune is beautiful and melodic. It is written as a strophic piece, which serves to emphasize the magnitude and power of lyrics. Although there are some lighter verses, there is feeling of sadness and nostalgia in many of the images of nature, especially those that describe the rain. The lyrics are a story, actually a poem, as “ Whither Must I Wander” is a part of the Songs of Travel, a group of poems written by Robert Louis Stevenson that describe the memories and observations of a solitary vagabond.

I chose this song to sing for my grandmother when she was in a coma following a serious stroke. She was a true inspiration to me; a lover of nature, an avid hiker, world traveler and music lover. Her fondest memories, which she shared with all of her grandchildren, were of her extensive travels both near and far. In her letters, she describes the magnificence of nature. Waves breaking over her on the stern of an ocean liner while she traveled through the Panama Canal, and a glorious sunrise she witnessed somewhere in the wilderness. As I finished singing to her, she opened her eyes for the first time in over a week. She died soon after, at the age of 104. I sang again at her memorial service. These memories will always be with me.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory from the last 2 days was the performance, especially the recording rehearsal. Being able to work with Christopher Riley is an experience I’ll never forget. The experience was fantastic! It was oddly comforting being in front of 4000 seats. The audience was warm and loving.

Music has the power to change everything from communities to countries, the power to reform! Continue reading

Center for the Development of Arts Leaders – Update from Hope Lodge

Hello from Molly, Keith, Ryan, Lillian and Rachel – one of From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL) teams! For the past ten months, the five of us have worked to bring music to Hope Lodge – a place where people who come to Boston for outpatient cancer treatment can stay free of charge.

Left to right: Lillian, Keith, Ryan, Chris (Lodge Staff), Rachel, Molly, Kassie (Mentor)

What have we done and what are we learning?
We started our work at Hope Lodge by organizing themed concert nights for the guests. They were fun and the residents enjoyed each one, but we realized that we were just playing for them. We could do that on our own – and being part of CDAL, we knew that we not only had the opportunity, but the support to pursue more. In an effort to provide both relaxing, comfortable musical environments as well as interactive experiences to the guests, our work has transformed over the past ten months into organizing collaborative concerts with Hope Lodge guests, discussions, playing games, raising money for the American Cancer Society, and performing at Boston’s Relay for Life!

Ryan and Keith play a duet for Hope Lodge guests as they finish their dinner.

What are some challenges we face?
When we started, we quickly realized that the turnover rate of those staying at the Lodge was as high as 2–3 people a day, which made planning experiences that built off of one another difficult. So, we had a dilemma: how do we create a “community of hope” and design a comprehensive, interactive musical program, when each time we come, we can’t build on what we did last time? We’re still working on this. Since the beginning, we’ve been interested in learning more about musical therapy and exploring how and why music can empower, inspire, and create positive change. Obviously none of us are professional music therapists, but we thought pursuing activities that resembled what music therapists do might be an effective way to connect with residents, especially since many are very sick.

Through research, meetings with professionals and partaking in some great music therapy events at Berklee College of Music, we got a chance to learn about clinical musical therapy and why it is so powerful. There are many studies that attribute music therapy to enhance the mood, quality of life, and in some cases, pain, in adults with cancer. We are trying to work out a happy medium between performing for the residents and having them partake in activities that will give them a temporary distraction from their pain. The research in musical therapy that we have done has been invaluable in planning our agenda for the fall.

What are we doing now?
This fall, we are focusing on planning programs that combine performing for and interacting with the residents. To start, we have been holding programs that mix performances with singalongs and writing activities that capture the residents’ experiences with music. We are also organizing a drum circle and recording a “CD of Hope,” filled with inspiring and hopeful songs. Hope Lodge guests will be able to take this CD home with them as a way to continue their journey towards healing.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates! We are really excited to see where the end of the year takes us!

On the Road with Joanne Robinson: Show #242 Santa Fe

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Greetings from high in the sky somewhere over the U.S. I’m flying back right now from beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we taped a show at the Lensic Performing Arts Center – and what a show it was! It was one the liveliest tapings I can recall.

Kicking it off was 16-year-old pianist Hugo Kitano who performed the finale from Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 and then further wowed the crowed by demonstrating his amazing parkour skills. He ran down the aisles of the theater, jumped onto the stage and then over an obstacle course of piano benches and up a set of stairs!

Next up was a local classical guitarist, 14-year-old Audra Vigil, who played a gorgeous piece called “Saudade No. 3” by Roland Dyens.

Following her wonderful performance was 17-year-old mezzo-soprano Micäela Aldridge who sang from Handel’s Giulio Cesare as well as part of an aria from Elmer Gantry, an opera that was written by her father, Robert Aldridge. One of the show’s most touching moments was when Christopher O’Riley asked Micäela’s dad what it was like to hear his daughter sing his piece, and her dad was so overwhelmed with pride he was in tears.

Next up was cellist Russell Houston, 17, who played the flirtatious Requiebros by Gaspar Cassadó and provided some of the show’s most comical moments by participating in a quiz about his self-described lack of common sense.

The show ended on a gorgeous note when violinist Amelia Sie, 15, took to the stage to play a dreamy piece called “Lotus Land” by Cyril Scott.

Enjoy this flipcam montage from our dress rehearsal. And as a special treat, I also caught Hugo doing his parkour demonstration during the show! Don’t forget to tune in when this show airs the week of December 26, 2011.

From the Top Arts Leaders Host Benefit Concert

Anna DeLoi (harp) and Nash Ryder (violin), two arts leaders of From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders, will be presenting a benefit concert this Sunday, October 30th at 3pm at the Unitarian Universality Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Click here to view the invitation (PDF).

Donations given will directly support MusiConnects, the music education nonprofit they have worked with since January. Read more about Anna and Nash’s inspiring leadership project.

Admission to the concert is free and open to the public. There will be a reception following the performance – a great time to catch up with Anna and Nash and learn more about their music and arts leadership work!

Address: Unitarian Universality Church, 28 Mugford Street, Marblehead, MA

Ten Years Later, Andrew Roitstein is Still Inspired by From the Top

It’s been ten whole years since we’ve heard from alum Andrew Roitstein, a bassist who played on Show 051 in Lenox, Massachusetts alongside his twin brother, flutist Matthew Roitstein.

These days Andrew lives in New York and plays with another From the Top alum, violinist Pala Garcia (Show 068 in Portland, Oregon), in the Toomai String Quintet, the resident string ensemble for Carnegie Hall’s Music Connections program. Through this program, the group plays in hospitals, community centers, and even correctional facilities. They are currently the Ensemble in Residence at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

“We are working with Jacobi staff to create a ‘musical hospital’,” said Andrew. “We are searching for ways that we can make not only an emotional, but also medical impact through our music.” Andrew’s work with the music hospital is similar to the arts leadership project of another radio show alum. This year violinist Caeli Smith founded Rayos de Canción (Rays of Music) to raise awareness about the power of music to facilitate healing. She traveled to Guatemala with several Juilliard students to put her work into action – read about it on our map!

Andrew on a music outreach trip to Mexico.

Andrew has been a substitute for the New York and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras, but a large part of his career is spent working with young people. He is part of the faculty at the New York Philharmonic’s School Partnership Program and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, helping public school elementary students perform, compose, and see great classical music. Andrew’s work with children was greatly inspired by his time on From the Top, which he said really set an example.

“As a professional musician looking back on my experience with From the Top, I think the show really demonstrates how much of a difference one meaningful, high-quality musical encounter can make on a young person,” said Andrew. “Now that I work with young people, I strive to instill that same sense of empowerment in them, whether I am playing an interactive concert, teaching a lesson, or getting a group of Brooklyn public school 3rd graders ready to watch their first NY Philharmonic concert.”

From the Top Now Airing on Minnesota Public Radio!

We are thrilled to announce that starting November 6, From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley will air weekly on Sundays at 12pm on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)! We’ve been off the air in Minnesota for some time, and this very exciting news that we just received yesterday.

On a related note, Classical MPR’s Artist-in-Residence for 2011-12 is a three-time From the Top alum! 17-year-old violinist Chad Hoopes appeared on Show 171 in Cleveland, OH and Show 189 in Cincinnati, OH, and on Season 2 of PBS’ From the Top at Carnegie Hall a few years ago. As part of the Artist-In-Residence program, Chad will participate in educational activities at Minnesota schools and give concert performances in towns throughout the state. Click here to see a recent video of him performing Ravel’s “Tzigane” at the MacPhail Center for Music in St. Paul.

Chad Hoopes at age 14

Alum Sarina Zhang to Perform with the New York Philharmonic!

Four-time radio show alum Sarina Zhang will perform with the New York Philharmonic next month! Sarina appeared as a pianist on Show 112 in San Diego, CA and Highlight Show 011, and as a cellist on Show 163 in Lewiston, NY and Show 236 in Rockport, MA. Sarina’s appearance with the NY Phil is part of their Young People’s Concert Series, with this particular event on Saturday, November 12 at 2pm celebrating Leonard Bernstein.

Sarina on Show 163 in Lewiston, New York, with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Renowned bass singer Kevin Deas is also scheduled to perform at this event. The program includes a few of Bernstein’s pieces, including “Ain’t Got No Tears Left” from On the Town and music from Aaron Copland, Antonín Dvořák, and the traditional Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Sarina will perform “The Masque” from The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2, a piece for piano and orchestra.

Tickets range from $12.00 to $34.00 and can be purchased online here.

We wish Sarina good luck on her big performance!

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