From the Top’s broadcast for Show 262 was taped at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg, PA on Sunday October 21, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us more about their experience on the show…
IV. Allegro from String Quartet No.2 “Intimate Letters,”
By: Leoš Janáček
Erika Gray, 16, violin
As a group, we have talked about how this movement is a love story, putting emphasis on the title “Intimate Letters,” One of my favorite sections, no doubt, is an especially intimate section between the 2 violins: the melody and octaves are beautifully crafter. In a quartet rehearsal once, we came up with a very elaborate story – every time we rehearse this, we end up laughing at the story’s particular highlights.
What helped us in learning this piece a lot was creating characters and playing with those emotions. Definitely getting intonation was difficult but not so that we couldn’t accomplish it. This piece has such a high level of intensity that performing is exhausting. We know we’ve done our job if we are breathless by that last note.
Post-Show Reflection: There are so many favorite memories – of course, putting together the show and dancing to “Gangnam Style” for the bows was awesome. One memory that stuck out was the dinner at the Olive Garden. Stephanie, Johannes, Ariel, Daniel and I went and had the best time. We laughed so hard that Daniel fell out of his char. We really bonded, and created lifelong friendships. Ever since I was little, I had wanted to play on this show. Now that I have had that chance, it was incredible ad exhilarating! I had so much fun, and it was one of the most amazing performance opportunities ever!
Music has the power to inspire, make a difference, encourage, and take us beyond our limits.
HyunJae Lim, 14, violin
It is a unique piece, and there are “solo” parts marked for all of us.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite moment was seeing how the From the Top radio show is taped. It was a new experience for me, and was exciting since so many people will be hearing it later on.
Music has the power to encourage, strengthen, and inspire people who may have difficulties with their lives or not. Without music, the world be just be in dead silence.
Stephanie Block, 18, viola
When I play this piece with my quartet, I think of all the chances it gives us to interact (more than usual) with one another. We have kind of a weird story that goes along with it that has to do with love affairs, going along with the “Intimate Letters” that Janacek wrote to a woman he loved. It has so many exciting and different emotions that are all CRAZY – what’s not to like? It’s so fun to play every time. Sometimes it was hard to get through it without laughing, though.
It can be a challenge for a group of young kids to play a piece like this without simply hacking though it. What we try to do is make sure the sweet and romantic parts are just as clear as the crazy ones. The hardest things to nail are definitely the crazy jumps and accidentals and coordinating them with the other members of the group!
Post-Show Reflection: There are too many good memories from the weekend! However, I think my top memories start with getting to know everyone, celebrating our Fischoff achievement on stage, bonding with my quartet and Daniel and Ariel for three hours at the Olive Garden, and of course convincing FTT to let us surprise the audience with “Gangnam Style”! The performance was just fun. I have been on a stage with my quartet many times, and the mutual care and understanding of each other always comes through when we perform. We knew it was going to be a blast, so there is nothing to worry about!
Music has the power to bring joy, relieve physical pain, heal broken hearts, invigorate, and inspire. Its power never fades.
Johannes Gray, 15, cello
Our quartet always thinks of a love story between the players, and there is some dream between us happening, so we all get mad at each other. Those are the angry sounding sections. But there are also the beautiful duet parts where everything is going swimmingly.
The most important thing is bringing our story to the audience. It has more meanng to them because as a more modern piece, it’s ore unusual than most classical pieces.
Post-Show Reflection: I loved going to the Olive Garden with some other performers, and bonding so well. We had so much fun and I feel like I know them so well. Performing on a stage is always an amazing experience and, as a quartet, it’s different than solo performance. I know I have a backup no matter what happens, are we’re here to have fun!
Music has the power to do anything, so long that people respect/listen to the music. As long as people love, it will continue to be a very powerful means of communication.
Ariana Chiu, 12, piano
“The Cat and the Mouse”
By: Aaron Copland
“The Cat and the Mouse” is an interesting piece of music because it’s an actual story based on a fable. When I play through the difference “scenes” of the story, I mostly think from the mouse’s point of view, not the cat’s. My favorite part of the “chasing” is the part where the mouse is hiding in the mouse hole. The cat is waiting impatiently outside the hole, slowly becoming drowsier…and drowsier. My least favorite part is when the mouse is at its funeral: the grave and sad part near the end. I can just imagine the cat chasing the mouse, succeeding, and then walking away like nothing happened.
When I perform this piece, I’m usually aiming to have the person who’s listening know what’s going on in the story. For example, the audience should recognize when the mouse is caught from the way I play that particular passage. The hardest part of playing this piece is maintaining the excitement. Compared to other pieces, this particular one should be the most recognizable in where the story is going, what it’s about, and where the peak resolution is.
Post-Show Reflection: Some highlights from the show were experiencing the rehearsals and meeting new friends! I really liked how everything was very welcoming and familiar, and made my experience on From the Top even better!!! (plus, dancing to “Gangnam Style” after bowing on stage!)
Performing was so exciting! The performance itself was so enjoyable, and the whole experience in general was/has been one of my biggest goals, and one of the biggest highlights of my musical experiences. I loved it!!!
I believe music has the power to do anything – if you believe in it and put your mind to it. In the future, I’m sure we all hope classical music will spread and that we can share our love and passion for music with everyone.
Ariel Horowitz, 16, violin
I. Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck from Sonata No.1 for Violin & Piano in A minor, Op.105
By Robert Schumann
I find this piece to be very dark – almost cold and evil at times. I know Schumann had many psychological issues, and this piece really reflects that – he switches from his angry, passionate side to his cold, austere side many times throughout the movements – sometime in the middle of the measure! It almost reminds me of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland: one second she is ordering peoples’ heads to be cut off, and the next she is haughty, and then she is weak and vulnerable. Schumann’s mood changes make shivers run down your spine.
Learning this piece has been a deeply emotional journey for me. I originally played the piece in a mushy, gushy romantic way – that is, until I played it for Professor William Van der Sloot at Morningside Music Bridge last summer. He told me to play the piece while cowering in the corner, as if I were in total darkness and hadn’t seen any light in twenty years! I’d never felt as frighteningly powerless while playing a piece of music before. Now, I always imagine I’m in a dark little hole when I play Schumann. The irony is that it takes a lot of power to convey the powerlessness and pain of the piece.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was going to Olive Garden with my new friends for dinner after the show! I had so much fun getting to know all of these talented people ,and we are all going to be lifelong friends! I hope we can have a musical reunion! For the radio taping, I felt completely at ease – I wasn’t nervous at all! I think it’s because the staff are all so friendly and welcoming. I felt really great about my performance, and sharing the stage with Christopher O’Riley was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Music brings people together across cultures, border, and experiences. If we can use that power to make a difference in our communities, we can make the world better.
Sophia Lee, 14, harp
“Féerie: Prélude et Danse”
By: Marcel Tournier.
“Féerie” is French for “fairy-like.” So when I play this piece, I imagine small magical creatures that flit about in various nature scenes. For example, the opening scene is a meadow. Twinkling fairies appear in different distances, depending on the dynamics. The piece is split into 2 parts – a prelude and a dance. My favorite part of the piece is the dance, which is quick and light. I imagine a fairy party with fairies enjoying various festivities, such as dancing and feasting.
This is by far the longest and most challenging piece I have every played. It is challenging, both technically and musically. There are a variety of techniques I use to make different sounds to create changing moods. The most important and difficult message to convey is the variety of different moods through this piece. There are brittle, sharp sounds and subtle sounds that can be achieved through harmonics.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the dress rehearsal listening to everybody play and hearing about all of the great activities everyone does to incorporate music even more into their community. FTT definitely did so much to keep me relaxed. One of the best things was that it was organized and everybody was very professional, so I didn’t have to worry about important details (like moving the harp). Instead, I could concentrate on playing to the best of my ability :-)
Music has the power to do whatever the musician wants. Using creativity and some resources, the musician can do whatever they want to help make a difference in the world and community.
Daniel Hass, 15, cello
III. Rasch, mit Feuer from Fantasiestücke, Op.73
By: Robert Schumann
This is a beautiful piece by Schumann, and I just enjoy playing it. It is lively and energetic, and very lyrical all at the same time. The piece has a lot of contrast between the lyrical part and the fiery part, and it is important to bring out those contrasts. Throughout the movement, motifs from previous movements appear, and you need to get in the mood of those movements just for these one or two bars.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was dinner at the Olive Garden. The live taping was really a lot of fun!
Music has the power to make people feel good and show them how to have fun!