Show 251: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 251 was taped in Hosmer Concert Hall at Crane School of Music-SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, April 21, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

John Lee, cello, 17
Dance of the Green Devil
By: Gaspar Cassado

I knew what a devil was, and I knew what a red devil was, but a green devil? Not so much. After scouring through pages about green devil tattoos, green devil designs and the boss in the MegaMan game series, I gave up my search
and decided that the green-ness described the devil’s playfulness and quirky nature. But I was not satisfied, so I headed back to Google and finally hit the jackpot: the devil wears green, just as hunter wear camouflage, to hide among men and capture their souls. Indeed, Cassado captures this wily nature of the green devil: quick, tricky, and hard to find on Google.

For me, the most difficult task was also the most enjoyable one: delivering a portrayal of the green devil. From the tip-toeing of the bow to the blood-boiling runs to the shockingly celestial glissandos, the piece itself provides a framework of the devil. However, the artist has the job of coloring that framework green and filling the piece with the emotion of the devil itself.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was definitely the interview with Chris on stage – I’ve never felt so refreshed and excited to speak to an audience. The performance was a wonderful experience for me, both as a musician and a person. Being onstage was so exciting and I would do almost anything to relive that moment.

I believe that music has the ability to reach into the hearts and minds of people as human and create another world in which we can flourish and there.

Avery Gagliano, piano, 10
“The Cat and the Mouse”
By: Aaron Copland

I think Aaron Copland’s “The Cat and the Mouse” is very energetic, fun, and exciting. When I play this piece, I tell the story of “The Cat and the Mouse” and picture in my mind an exaggerated cartoon. The music makes me think about the cartoon Tom and Jerry: I see images of cats pouncing, mice skittering, and everybody going around and around. The story behind this piece of music is about a cat and a mouse that always fight: from dawn to dusk they bicker until one day, the cat retires for the day and lounges around admiring himself, feeling all confident and superior. All of a sudden, the mouse takes advantage of the moment thinking that he might be able to get a snack or do something exciting. Then, the cat follows and begins to chase the mouse again. In the end, the cat and the mouse move on to live new lives in separate places, but there is still a little bit of their energy and excitement left in the old house they used to live in, which is represented by a little tinkering in the last few notes.

Since the music of “The Cat and the Mouse” is so wild and creative, I can experiment a lot with it. It is full of false harmonies (meaning harmonies that don’t really sound harmonic), and many other interesting things you can observe in the music. For example, there is sometimes a moment when everything begins to speed up and then all of a sudden, it slows down again and hushes up. Things like this make me love “The Cat and the Mouse” and I think it is a great piece to play.

Continue reading

Show 248: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top’s broadcast (Show 248) was taped at Weber State University’s Austad Auditorium in Ogden, Utah on Thursday, March 8, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Nick Tisherman, oboe, 17
I. Allegro from Sonata in F major, KV 370
By: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I like to think very happy, joyful, bubbly thoughts when I play this piece. I always keep in mind that Mozart wrote the oboe quartet as a show-off piece for a friend, so I think that it needs to be flashy as well. My favorite part is a section in which the music sounds like two voices arguing. I’ve played this for an audience of children at the Blythedale Children’s Hospital near where I live. I think the piece really lifted their spirits. When I played the Mozart for Frank Rosemein at CIM, he said my interpretation needed more “sparkle”, and should be more “effervescent.” On the flight home from Cleveland I ordered a Sprite and decided that my complimentary beverage represented the character I should shoot for.

This piece is really cool because in the third movement, the oboe rebels and goes into a 4/4 feel while the strings stay in 6/8. It creates a really cool effect. I feel that I most get across my personality when I play the oboe quartet. It is such an exciting piece, and it has so much character in it. I finally unlocked the hardest part of playing Mozart after I stopped thinking of the quartet as a super-light, bubbly showpiece, and pretended I was singing an aria instead. Once I gave the piece this mentality, all the lines and melodies fell into place and Mozart in general felt easier to play.

Post Show Reflections: I enjoyed bonding with my fellow performers and especially liked talking with audience members and hearing their reactions. The performance was completely exhilarating. The audience was warm and receptive, and playing with Chris O’Riley was amazing. I felt like a star, and I signed my first autograph!

Music connects in a way that no other medium, art form, or any sort of rhetorical device can. It speaks to everyone. It can evoke emotion in anyone. We can use music to touch life and reach out to make a change that we could not make without music.

Midnight Duo 
III. Finale (Allegro vivacissimo) from Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35
By: Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky 

Aubree Oliverson, violin, 13

The 3rd movement is my favorite. It starts off with a BANG and it makes me smile! After the beginning fast part, it slows down a little and the music reminds me of Russian men dancing. My favorite part of the movement is the ending because it’s super exciting! =)

I know that Tchaikovsky went through some really difficult times in his life and I think that helped him put a whole lot of meaning into this beautiful concerto. The deep meaning is one thing that sets it apart from other violin works – this piece gets me every time I hear it.

Post Show Reflections: My favorite memory was the pizza party! Because there were really good cookies! The performance was soooo fun! I wanted to do it again! I wasn’t nervous at all.

I believe music can change people for the better. Music can change the way people think about the world. Continue reading

Check Out a Video of Music Producer Tom Vignieri’s “Haec Dies”!

For many around the world Easter is an important date on the religious calendar. And for music lovers it’s an opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful music ever written. Perhaps above all, the St. John and St. Matthew Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach. Recently our music producer, Tom Vignieri, added a work of his own to the canon. He set the Easter text “Haec dies” or “This is the day” (Psalm 118:24) for chorus, organ & trumpet to help inaugurate a new era for the Boston based Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline. And together with From the Top friend and videographer Eleanor Dowling they produced the following music video. Enjoy, and a very happy Easter and Passover season from all of us at From the Top.

247: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 247 was taped in the Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Gloria Ferry-Brennan, violin, 15 
I. Allegro con fuoco from Violin Sonata, Op. 119
By: Francis Poulenc

This piece with its rhythmic complexity and disjointed melodies is both angry and sad in nature. This moody quality expresses Poulenc’s feelings surrounding the execution of the poet Garcia Lorca during the Spanish Civil War. Playing this sonata sets me free to express those difficult emotions as well.

(credit Michele Stapleton)

I like the way Poulenc explores feelings about death in unexpected and unfamiliar ways. He makes some passages, such as the opening theme, “tres violent” and others he marks “tres doux”, alternating urgently back and forth. It is this tension and release that I look for in the music.

Post Show Reflection: I loved meeting the awesome kids and the inspirational staff. I felt like I learned more about myself and what I can do to make a difference in the world through my music. The performance felt great! It was a wonderful experience to talk as well as perform in front of an audience.

Music can change people’s lives and heal.

Moon Sun Yoo, clarinet, 17
Introduction, Theme and Variations
By: Gioacchino Rossini

The piece that I will be performing is Introduction, Theme, and Variations by Rossini. This piece is one of my favorite pieces because whenever I play this piece I feel like I’m flying in the sky. The introduction (very first part) gives me an image of a fat tenor singing his part in the opera. This is my favorite part because even though I’m a short little girl, I feel like I’ve just become such a different person, like a tenor! The least favorite part is the very last part, Maggiore. I’ve made a lot of mistakes on this part in my past.

(credit Michele Stapleton)

I think this piece is unique because it has this simple and humorous “ theme” and as the variations go on to the end, it gets very faster which makes the piece much joyful and various. The most challenging parts of this piece are the passages that ask players to play extremely fast, while the fingering are so difficult. It is also hard to stay musical while playing those different passages.

Post Show Reflections: The performance was great! Before I go on a stage, I am always a little nervous but when I actually performed, I just concentrated on my playing. The interview was fun too!!My favorite memory was the Arts Leadership Orientation. It was a great experience to think about myself as a musician.

Music has the ability to change and move people’s lives.

Elan Duo
(Stephanie Curcio, coach) 

Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
By: Claude Debussy

Nash Ryder, violin, 16

I am a fan of all things French, especially the music; what composer is more quintessentially French than Debussy? When Anna and I play his Preludetogether,  I imagine and feel like I am in a Paris café or in the forest of Fontainebleau.

(credit Michele Stapleton)

The Prelude is from the popular Suite Bergamasque, written by Debussy for solo piano, but I think the piece has a more delicate French-like quality when played by the violin and harp.  It’s a pleasure to play this piece and every time we do something new and more interesting seems to come through, both in the color and texture of the music and the feelings and images it invokes.

French music, like the culture and the people of France, tends to be more understated and gentle compared to the gusto of Spanish or German music….that is not to say it can’t be exciting or just as brilliant. The Preludehas incredible color and its melodies and harmonies paint a very vivid picture in my mind.  Anna and I try to express this color and vivid picture in the audience’s mind with the script Debussy gives, and it has definitely taken time to interpret and deliver. We love playing this piece!

Post-Show Reflection: Playing on the show was incredible, and I’ll always be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.  I’m very thankful for all the great work and support from the FTT organizers, staff, and Chris O’Riley.   Also, it was really cool hanging out with the other performers till the early hours of the morning.

Music has the ability to change lives and communities, as long as the arts leaders are passionate.

Anna DeLoi, harp, 16

Do you know that amazing, inexplicable feeling you get when you listen to a piece of music and it seems to be written just for you? That’s what I felt the first time I listened to the Prelude from Suite Bergamasque. I know it’s a crazy idea that I can find something so personal in something that was created one hundred years ago, but I think that’s Debussy’s secret right there – he knows how to write about the things we all have in common, the parts of human nature we can’t even fully understand. Therefore, unlike with many pieces I’ve played, I don’t connect this Prelude to a picture or a story, but to an emotion.

(credit Michele Stapleton)

To me, this piece sounds like hope; like starting something new, a little bit scared of the unknown, but filled with wonderful possibilities. In my life, that translates to the feeling of being an adolescent – this turning point when everything is suddenly scary, but it’s also going to be one of the most exciting times in my life! I hope that when you listen to Nash and me perform it, you’ll hear something entirely different – but that it will fell just as personal as it does to me.

This piece is really unique to play, for a couple of reasons. For one, it was originally a piano piece. Nash and I had to figure out how to translate that to our instruments – working on colors, and balancing the lines that are divided between us. But in spite of that, it has always been one of our favorite pieces to perform. Because weirdly, even the first few times we played it together, we never had to work very much on synching our interpretations or timing the rubato. For some reason, we just seemed to feel the music the same way – which is such an awesome feeling! I think that music, especially chamber music, is always more fun when you don’t have to overthink it.

Post Show Reflections: A favorite memory for me was the atmosphere in the green room during the show – we had all bonded before then, and it felt like being with old friends as each of us went out to perform. We cheered for each other and gave encouragement. It was just so positive back there! It’s always a little scary to walk on stage for a performance, but in Studzinski. I could really feel the support of the audience and everyone backstage. It made me want to give them the absolute BEST performance I could.

I think that music has the power to express the feelings and stories of the people who listen to it, even when those people come from completely different places and backgrounds. I think that’s what makes it so powerful.

Allen Yu, piano, 19
“The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition
By: Modest Mussorgsky

“The Great Gate of Kiev” is the last piece in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which Mussorgsky composed in honor of his friend, the artist Viktor Hartmann. Hartmann died from an aneurysm at the young age of 39, and his death shocked many great artists, including the critic Vladimir Stasov. As a memorial, Stasov set up an exhibition of Hartmann’s greatest works in St. Petersburg. Mussorgsky attended this exhibition and was so deeply inspired by the experience that he proceeded to complete Pictures at an Exhibition in only six weeks. The piece depicts eleven of Hartmann’s works, of which only six have survived until now, including “The Great Gate of Kiev” (or “The Bogatyr Gates”).

(credit Michele Stapleton)

This piece really is the climax of the suite – it is full of the signature grandiosity and majesty so prevalent in Russian music. The movement starts with the grand chords of the main “Maestoso” theme, but then it goes to a solemn Orthodox baptismal hymn. Although it’s so easy to be engrossed by the opening chords, I think the most beautiful parts of this movement are the secondary themes in between the main one. Kiev is the birthplace of the Orthodox Church in Russia, and the hymn not only gives the audience (and me) a chance to breathe, but it also foreshadows the ringing of the church bells when the “Promenade” theme (the signature theme of the entire suite) returns. The entire piece is very orchestral and it is the perfect piece to orchestrate.

Playing the entire suite is challenging in many ways, but the hardest thing about playing just this movement is that in a few seconds before playing the opening chords, I would need to produce the same energy and momentum as if I had played every movement that came before it. The movement before, “Baba-Yaga’s Hut,” is a perfect prelude to “Kiev” because it builds up the momentum with the big octave passage right before the opening of “Kiev”. It’s very easy to play the opening chords of “Kiev” as simple and isolated chords, but actually the chords are really the resolution to all the tension that was built up in “Baba-Yaga” and the movements that came before it. Playing just this movement means I’ll need to be extra concentrated before the start of the piece.

Even though Pictures was originally written for piano, the one most people recognize now is Ravel’s orchestration of the suite. I think this piece really sounds better in Ravel’s arrangement because the piano simply cannot compete with the sounds that the brass section can produce or the various colors that the percussion instruments can make. Playing this movement on the piano is particularly challenging because I needed to assume the role of so many different instruments. At one performance of this piece last year, I got really excited that I may have broken a string on the piano playing the last few chords of the piece. However, the chords ended up having a peculiar “ringing” tone that sounded like a cross between tubular bells and a triangle – I actually really liked it!

Pictures was one of the favorite pieces of the Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz. There had been many transcriptions and orchestrations of Pictures in existence by the late 20th century, and Horowitz took many of those editions and arranged it back into a piano version that he believed gave more orchestral colors to the music. The version I will be playing on air is a mix between the original Mussorgsky, Horowitz’s arrangement, and parts that I arranged myself.

Post Show Reflections: Other than sheer excitement of being back on the stage of From the Top, my favorite memories came from bonding with everyone on the show – it’s always the best part of being on FTT. As soon as I sat down on that bench on stage to play, the anxiety I was feeling became the energy that helped me make a memorable performance.

Music has the potential to unite and cross barriers no other activity can.

Ben Manis, cello, 17
III. Andante from Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op.19
By: Sergei Rachmaninoff

This theme of this work is about love, I guess; not romantic, but a kind of deep compassion and sensitivity. At the beginning, it’s all about yearning, pushing forward, until we get to the massive release, and then it’s all perfect and wonderful. I don’t think of anything specific, just big, broad emotions.

(credit Michele Stapleton)

The technique in this work is all about smoothness. The crescendo through the first half of the piece has to be absolutely smooth and continuous, so when we get to the climax we feel like we don’t even know how we got there. You gotta nail the long lines and the transitions between the phrases, like a painter painting with a perfectly stretched arm.

Post Show Reflection: A favorite moment for me was listening to the banter between Tom and Tim. Those guys are awesome. The performance itself was awesome – great sound, great audience…fun.

Music can do…anything? It’s not really the music, it’s the people playing it.

Show 246: Listening Guide

From the Top’s Show 246 was taped at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, February 14, 2012, in celebration of the 100th anniversary celebration of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music. Check out their video scrapbook!

We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Grant Jameson, euphonium, 17
“Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms”
By: Simone Mantia

Photo Credit: Alisa Garin Photography

I feel that this piece is a great example of your typical theme and variations that euphonium players would so often steal from the cornet literature. “Believe Me” was one of the first really popular “Euphonium” pieces; because of this piece, many pieces were written specifically for the euphonium, making it more and more popular as a solo instrument. I feel that this piece is the origin of the fast growing literature we see today.

This piece is special to me because I feel I can really show off a lot of the great qualities of the instrument. The lyrical section provides the audience an opportunity to hear the voice of the euphonium and the fast, technical sections let them know that the euphonium can be virtuosic as well.

Post Show Reflection: It was terrific to perform for such a great audience. Before I went on stage I felt a little bit anxious. At that point I just told myself, “why feel anything but happy when I am about ready to go out and do exactly what I love?” I will always remember the three days I got to spend with such fine musicians and the “From the Top” staff, especially the day of the performance.  I had a great time at the Arts Leadership Orientation the last day and came away from that with so many great ideas that I will be able to use in my everyday life!

I believe music has the power to change lives by taking people away momentarily from the everyday stressors.

Aleksandr (Sasha) Voinov, piano/composer, 14
Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53
By: Frédéric Chopin

Photo Credit: Alisa Garin Photography

Polonaise: In my eyes and ears, this piece is a battle. We join a heroic group of troops engaged in a war. Throughout this Polonaise, one can detect when soldiers triumph, and when they run into trouble. I feel like in the beginning the battle is at full-scale, but our heroes are slowly losing ground. In the exciting middle part, a genius yet risky plan for an ambush is conceived… and immediately put to use. Finally, the loyal troops regain control in the fight and hammer home their victory in the breathtaking ending of the piece.

What makes this piece stand out is its intensity. The entire Polonaise is one big bowl of excitement and stunning persistence. It is tricky (mildly put) in the middle section, where there are no-stop sixteenths octaves in the left hand. But wait, Chopin made it even more challenging – they must be played quietly, too!

Mistakes on a Theme of Paganini: It was a few summers ago that I was writing Variations on Paganini’s Caprice No.24. After I wrapped that project up, it was close to Halloween. I was in deep thought as to what I should compose for the recital on October 31st, and then it came to me: isn’t it freaky for Paganini to have mistakes?! Well, that idea immediately got me started and finished within a week, and then I performed this piece with a nice little act to go with on Halloween Day.

But the act didn’t get completely left behind; here’s me with a little surprise up my sleeve still!

Post Show Reflection: One of my favorite memories was playing “Spoons” with cards right before our big performance, and of course catching Mr. O’Reilly off-guard with the Paganini wig. J The crowd was such a blast to perform for…it was the most fun I have had in a long time.

Music can influence anyone to do anything, that’s why we enjoy it so.

Daniel Orsen, viola, 17
IV. Vivace from Sonata in F-minor
By: Johannes Brahms

Photo Credit: Alisa Garin Photography

This is a very happy movement. Even though the first movement of the sonata is the only one in minor, this it is so dark that it takes the other three to balance it out. The last movement is actually quite triumphant, and the repeated three-note motif reminds me of bells.

One unique thing about this movement is that it is so straightforwardly happy and exciting. Most viola music seems to be kind of depressing or obscure. The most important thing for me when playing this movement is the dynamics, while the most difficult thing is the articulation with the bow.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the after-concert reception when everyone could just relax and have fun. The performance was a little scary, every performance always is, but it was also really fun and exciting.

Music can do a lot. I’m not sure exactly what its limits are, it probably has some like it can’t feed and clothe people; outside of physical stuff, maybe none.

Temple University Music Preparatory Honors String Quartet 
(Charles Parker, Coach)  
I. Allegro from String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, “Death and a Maiden”
By: Franz Schubert

Photo Credit: Alisa Garin Photography

Amy Semes, violin, 16 (missing listening guide)

Throughout this entire piece, there is always a sense of urgency and mysteriousness. This piece was written when Schubert was contemplating his own death, which, in of itself, gives the music an edge.  He knew that he was going to be dying soon, and you can sometimes hear the clock ticking in the music.

The most challenging part about this piece is keeping the sense of intensity and high energy going even when it is quiet. The emotion that Schubert put into the piece is the most important element to convey to the audience because that is what really drives the story of the piece.

Post Show Reflection: I really enjoyed listening to everyone play at the dress rehearsal. Everyone played so well; it was a bit intimidating, but it was very fun. Everyone on the From the Top staff made the actual taping very laid back and relaxing. The talking was a little scary but I think it was fun.

I believe music has a lot of power. It can connect to people even just by listening.

Brenden Zak, violin, 14

When I play this piece, I feel it really sounds like the nickname it was given (“Death and a Maiden”).

When I play this piece, I get an intense feeling of the a seriousness to it, which really draws me into the music. This is something I really enjoy happening when I play a piece of music.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was when all the performers met in the hotel lobby after the show. I felt that the performance went amazing the acoustics were wonderful and the audience was absolutely superb

I believe music has the power to give people hope.

Tiffany Laraia, Viola, 17

I think of this piece as being sinister, aggressive and mysterious. I think most of the piece requires an unknown mysterious feeling. When the piece begins, I think about 2 people talking about something odd and confusing that happened. As the music continues, the story unfolds and we get a sneaky and a bit of a scary story. My favorite part is the last loud and aggressive part right before the slow ending. At that point, we’re able to pick up a little speed and give everything we have into those notes; I love that part of the story.

This piece has more of a flowing & continuous feeling of confusion, fright, and mystery. I haven’t played a piece with so much of the emotion just continuously building up to a grand point. It’s important for us to get across the sinister-like story using dynamics and just plain showing our feelings through our playing. We need to get the emotion for the piece so the audience can picture the story aclearly. It’s a little difficult to change the similar emotions in the piece and really cause an effect that the audience feels.

Post Show Reflection: A favorite moment for me was the rehearsal – it was fun to do and interesting to see how the show is produced. The performance was very exciting, and yet not too nerve-wracking because we were able to get a good take at rehearsal. The hall was beautiful, the lighting was great to set the mood, and the sound was great as well.

Music will change people’s lives. It can make you feel so many emotions and it a lot of the time brings me so much joy. I’ve also made the best of friends through music!

Bihn Park, cello, 15

During our concert in December, in which we played the first movement of Schubert’s Death of the Maiden, I was really busy that day, already having played a concert. In order to make-up some of the time I needed to play the piece with my group, I went to a practice room in the building and went through the spots I needed to practice. But apparently, I had more than a few spots to practice so I completely lost track of time. Not realizing this, I continued practicing but one of my quartet members came to find me, frantic, saying that we were on stage in two minutes. When I heard that, all I could think of was “What?” and we all sprinted together towards backstage and as we caught our breath we walked on stage.

The most difficult thing about playing this piece is getting into the right flow of the music right away, starting with the first note. Too many times it can sound bogged down, which resulted in a funeral-like march rather than an energetic folksong

Post Show Reflection: My favorite moment was talking with my fellow From the Top’ers late at night after the show. The performance was very exciting, no pressure, and just a great time to enjoy the hall and the music I was playing for the audience.

Music has the power to inspire and move people to action.

Kelly Talim, violin,16 
Rhapsody No. 2, BB96a, Sz. 89 
By: Béla Bartók

Because these are folk dances, I tend to think of people in costume having a great time. Some of these dances have elements similar to the footsteps of the people, sometimes sounding heavy and sometimes light. In one dance, I image little elves prancing around with a very cheeky grin on their faces because the music is very light and fun.

Each dance has a unique character to it, and I find it challenging to capture each character as well as transition from one dance to the next.

Post-Show Reflection: I don’t have a favorite memory; everything is my favorite memory! I enjoyed meeting and getting to know everyone and I especially enjoyed performing for the audience. The reception after the concert was also delicious! I’m currently on a recipe hunt to make those raspberry cream pies…

Music can give energy to people and allow them to experience new emotions. It’s funny that we performed on Valentine’s Day!

Show 245: Listening Guide

From the Top’s Show 245 was taped at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday, February 4, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Gordon Neidinger, Mandolin, 17
Doina and Variations of the E-Flat Sirba
By: Charles Rappaport

I think the most important thing about playing this piece is conveying the light, energetic spirit of the dances it’s based upon – it’s very easy to fall into “just playing the notes” without any feeling or verve. The hardest part of this piece is getting all the notes right while also giving it life, particularly in the beginning and end, both of which have particularly difficult sections. Playing accurately requires great concentration; playing with feeling requires one to “let go”. Balancing technicality and feeling – being able to play with both at the same time – is a challenge common to all music, but it seems particularly important in this piece.

One interesting thing about the Doina and E-flat Sirba is that Charley Rappaport, the composer, is also my teacher. He wrote this piece based on a traditional Romanian dance tune, adding a number of variations and the Doina, which he wrote from scratch. He also drew on the repertoire of his own teacher, Martin Kalisky, adding as an interlude a melody of Kalisky’s, and my suggestion of raising the octave of the ending.  My favorite part is the section in the middle that utilizes a drone effect because this technique is unique to the mandolin and related instruments. It’s very powerful, and I think it really jumps out at the listener. This technique was pioneered on the mandolin by Martin Kalisky. It’s an honor for me to be the first person to perform this piece.

I’ve been studying with Charley for five years. For the last year and a half, we’ve also been travelling the country, performing together everywhere from Los Angeles to New York City. Collaborating with him on the interpretation and organization of his piece has been very interesting experience. Studying with Charley – performing with him and jamming with him, travelling with him and just talking with him – has had a profound influence on me both musically and personally.

Post Show Reflection: There are so many memories for only three days! I really enjoyed meeting the other performers and hearing their stories and seeing and hearing them play. It’s inspiring to meet other kids who love music and dedicate so much time to it! The From The Top staff is amazing – they’re all extremely friendly, easy to work with and very professional. They made it so easy to play – I felt like I could just do my best without having to worry about anything else. Playing with Christopher O’Reilly was amazing! It was so much fun.

I believe music has the ability to change people’s lives. I think it perfectly demonstrates how hard work and passion can get you very far. Performances have always inspired me to work harder.

Carson Marshall, Violin, 18
II. Andante Scherzando from the Violin Sonata No.3
By: Frederick Delius

When I play this piece of music, I am constantly battling with the idea of making the music interesting and beautiful for the audience, yet maintaining the simplicity that the composer clearly wrote into the music. I always try to think about where each phrase is going, what its function is, and what my sound is communicating to the audience.

My favorite part of the piece is the part where the piano has a solo that is then echoed by the violin. It is the same music, but how it is played is solely up to the discretion of the player. I also like the end, being somewhat strong, it’s fun to play. My least favorite part is this one measure that is quite hard to play in tune, it’s kind of hit or miss, and can be frustrating sometimes. But other than that I love the piece.

The most important thing to get across in this piece is a sense of ease and effortlessness of playing, which flows from one phrase to the next without too much meandering. This piece while not especially virtuosic is difficult because the intonation is up for interpretation as much as the phrasing. So, centering and deciding on an effective standard of intonation is difficult. This piece holds a special significance for me because I had wanted to play it for a long time, and was never able to find the music for it. Then over the summer at Interlochen, I found it in the library. So as I play it, I’m reminded of how we should not to take the music we have today for granted, and feel lucky to be able to share this piece with others.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memories were meeting all the staff and seeing how supportive they all are. During the actual performance, the light was bright enough so when I was playing I wasenveloped in light. All I could feel was my instrument and what Chris was doing.

Music has the power to change lives and reach people in ways that words cannot. 

Alexia DelGiudice Bigari, Viola, 17
Rhapsodie from Suite Hebraique
By: Ernest Bloch

This piece has a really special place in my heart. When I play this piece, the Holocaust comes to my mind. I created a story for thispiece: the story is about a young boy who is sent to a concentration camp with his mother and what he is going through. One time when I was playing this piece, I started to cry because of how emotional it was.

This piece is very unique because it is harmonic throughout. Since it is in harmonic minor, it gives off a very sad and emotional feeling. The feeling of the piece is very moody and it sounds in a way like a person crying out for help. The hardest part to nail would have to be the part when I to play the scales very high upon the fingerboard. I got so annoyed while practicing that.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite moment were hanging out in the green room, taking pictures and laughing, and playing the Bloch with Christopher O’Riley. At first, I was very nervous because I have never played a solo performance in a place like Jordan Hall. It has the most amazing acoustics, and when I started playing, all of my nerves flew away. It was amazing!

Music is a universal language so potentially; it could save the world and bring everyone together.

Anthony Trionfo, Flute, 16
Andante Pastoral et Scherzettino
By: Paul Taffanel

The Andante Pastoral section of this piece is great to play because it is very thoughtful and seems to ask a very deep question. The melodies are very imploring, but the answer never seems to come. You have slight moments of irritation, acceptance, and playfulness all for a simple answer. The Andante ends with an idea that the question will never be answered, when the Scherzettino comes. It is extremely playful and joking and shows you that the answer is right in front of your face!

This piece offers a lot of room for rhythmic freedom, and it is difficult to balance rubato with metered time without compromising flow.This piece can seem extremely stagnant so it is very important to constantly think about motion and playing in the magical space between notes. Although the Scherzenttino is very fun, you still need to maintain your center and not get too crazy

Post Show Reflection: One of my favorite memories from the past few days was waiting in the green room before the show with everyone. The energy wasawesome and it was so fun to feed off of everyone’s energy. Performing on stage was magical. The lights were dimmed and I felt free to let myself sing with my flute into the hall.

Music has the power to bring life and energy into silence. It has the power to convey all emotions that cannot be shown through words.

Angie Zhang, Piano, 15
Basso Ostinato
By: Rodion Shchedrin

When I play this piece I imagine an act of a play with synchronized robbers who try to rob the Great Pyramid of Giza. I imagine the sudden Fortes and dynamic changes in the Basso Ostinato to be various traps in the pyramid. The synchronized steps of the robbers are the repeating and constant ostinato in the bass.

From my point of view, this piece is an exciting and interesting piece to play and share. It is a showy and festive piece. The syncopations are really important in the piece because it adds moments of surprise and suspense to the piece. The dynamic changes are also very effective. For me, the hardest thing to nail in this piece is the left hand. The reason is because the notes have to be evenly spaced and I have to play them at the precise moment to make the most out of the basso ostinato.

Post Show Reflection: One of the many memories I have from these 3 days would be the dress rehearsal/recording because it was really funny at moments and playing in the hall was a great experience. The performance was definitely a dream come true for me. I loved the acoustics and the piano was phenomenal! Talking to Chris was exciting and the audience was so friendly and had a great sense of humor.

Music has the power to change people’s lives forever. Music has the ability to help people through troubled times, and music can also bringhappiness that nothing else can. Music changes the way we feel about life.

Show 243: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 243 was taped at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, MA on Sunday December 18, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:


Boston Children’s Chorus, featuring the Premier Choir & Young Men’s Ensemble

“Alleluia,” by Randall Thompson
Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director

This is a great piece of music – one of the standard choral pieces out there. Written by an American composer for the Tanglewood Festival, he originally intended it to be more of a practice piece (particularly for conductors). It has everything you could want in a piece: tempo changes, meter changes, a large dynamic range, difficult harmonies. It is a challenging piece for choirs to pull off, and is just the kind of piece I like to challenge our singers with – even though it’s a standard, it’s still a difficult piece.

From the Top Alumni String Quartet
II. Molto adagio from String Quartet No.1
 By: George Walker

Tessa Lark, Violin

It’s so beautiful and powerful! I’d actually never heard of the composer or heard this piece until a couple weeks before the show – but I’m so glad I know about it now! The piece seems to tell a story of love and the many faces it wears- tenderness, warmth, passion – what a beautiful work.

These kinds of tear-jerker pieces are my absolute favorite to play. It’s easy to relate to and as a performer I can really pour my heart and soul into it which acts, in a way, as my own personal emotional therapy!

Ryan Shannon, Violin

This piece has quickly become one of my favorites, even after such a short time as it is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and heartwarming pieces that I have ever played. I believe it is a piece that touches a very deep part of our souls, a part of us that is not effected very often in our day to day lives; a part of us that is near the very root of our being, part of our foundation, part of the essence of our humanity that makes us who we are. When I play this piece I am transported in a way that I have never been before in my life: it takes me out of time and space to a medium beyond my understanding. I feel, so strongly, but I cannot put my finger on what I am feeling, as if the music has transformed the physical world around me and I cannot breath without being a part of it and feeling the emotions that it evokes, as if the very air has become imbibed with emotion, with meaning. It is almost impossible to describe these emotions, as I have never felt them before: some sort of combination of extreme sadness and elation, or perhaps the point at which these two meet and become one and the same.

As a group, I think the most difficult, or rather important, aspects of performing this piece is the blending of sound. Each of us has an equal role in creating and filling the sound and we must all be a cohesive and unbreakable whole in order for the effect of the intense emotions to come across. Our sound is the foundation for our audience’s experience and it must be capable of raising them high, to experience the foundation of their soul. They must be able to find themselves in the sound that we create.

Post-Show Reflection: The show was an absolute blast!! As totally expected! I was wowed by the choir and their truly remarkable ability to change the music so quickly while being completely together! At times it felt like I could almost see the air as it was blown away by a blast of sound or as it disappeared in a sudden dramatic quietening. Alexandra’s tone on the bassoon was so poignant, it was all I could do but look up into the rafters and feel the beauty in the sound fall over me. And of course I would have given an arm and a leg to see Tessa fiddle, but it was all delivered quite wonderfully! (No amputations necessary :D)

I want to thank the entire From the Top crew and staff for giving me this amazing opportunity (again!) to play with such incredible musicians, tell my story at the Hope Lodge (through From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders) to the world, hear and play such moving music, and be a part of everyone that enjoyed! Thank You!!

Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, Viola

This piece is a very beautiful piece; the type that gives me goose bumps. It has a beautiful calm opening that builds and climaxes into the middle of the piece, and then slowly deflates through the end.

This piece is very beautiful and slow, so it is difficult to sustain the phrase. One thing we watch out for especially is intonation. It’s so beautiful that I feel like I would let everyone down on experiencing the full beauty of the chords and harmonies if I were to play something out of the tune.

Michael Dahlberg, Cello

It captures the emotional journey and stillness of Barber’s Adagio for Strings but casts it in a new light. Because it is played less frequently, I find it easier to hear anew, like a fresh way to experience that feeling of eternity.

I think what makes it tick is the right balance of flow and stillness. It has to get across a feeling of timelessness while being grounded in an inevitable pulse.

Post-Show Reflection: Returning to the show, I was reminded of how much fun concert productions can be. The staff is intent on bringing out your best playing while keeping you focused on having fun and being yourself. So glad to take part again!

Boston Children’s Chorus
“My Soul’s Been Anchored In The Lord”, trad. spiritual (arr. Moses Hogan)
“In His Care-O”, trad. spiritual (arr. William Dawson)
Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director

I like to regularly touch on different spirituals. They are truly an American idiom, and something that we can call our own, not a borrowed genre of music. Historically, such deep roots important, so I try to do a couple of different ones every year. Though these spirituals may appear joyful, they each have a profound sense of seriousness.

When listening to the theme of “My Soul’s Been Anchored,” for example, just that statement says, “I am sure of myself – I’m anchored in the Lord.” “In His Care-O” conveys a similar message of comfort in having faith. Both come out of the context of slavery – being enslaved and not really having a future, it was nice to find solace in something else, something beautiful. A lot of time spirituals are performed too carefree – what we try to do is, though we may appear joyful in performance, bring a sense of seriousness to this music. That’s what I try to bring across whenever we are performing a spiritual.

Boston Children’s Chorus
“I’ll Fly Away,” by Albert E. Brumley (arr. Jim Papoulis)
Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director

This is a gospel hymn, and we just want to have fun with it – it is very different from anything that we’ve done before. I wanted a very bluegrass, roots-y feel to it – we brought in a guitar, a bass, and a fiddle to help set the stage for this. The composer actually wrote it when he was picking cotton in Oklahoma – it as though he literally wanted to “fly away” from his responsibilities in the fields. We tried to change our sound for this piece to a slightly brighter, more “twang-y” sound, so hopefully we sound different here than from the previous three.

Show 242: Listening Guide

This week’s From the Top’s broadcast (Show 242) was taped at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, in Santa Fe, on October 25, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Hugo Kitano, piano, 16
IV. Finale: Presto non tango; Agitato from Piano Sonata No. 3
 By: Frédéric Chopin

When I play this piece, I think of the Headless Horseman galloping because of the 6/8-meter and the sinister theme. My favorite part is when the piece changes to B major at the very end, because it gets rid of all the sorrow and is so uplifting. It also gives my left hand a much-needed rest after four pages of nonstop arpeggios.

The most difficult part of the piece is to resist the temptation to play loud everywhere. It’s so fun to play really loud and really fast, but I’ve come to realize that that doesn’t sound very good. When I play it, I think of the duality of the two themes, one in minor and one in major, one good and one evil. It’s a struggle ultimately won by B major and righteousness.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory from the three days was the dress rehearsal, and how informal, relaxed, and hilarious everybody was. I felt totally prepared and ready, and calm and comfortable. It was so fun and organized, yet memorable. The concert was very exciting. I had no nervousness at all, I felt at ease and really enjoyed the actual performance, and the audience was so appreciative and the staff was so helpful.

Music has the power to transcend our differences in a diverse human culture and evoke emotions we never could have known existed. It celebrates our universal humanity and unifies as a whole, opening up opportunities for all.

Audra Vigil, guitar, 14
Saudade No.3
By: Roland Dyens

Saudade No. 3 by Roland Dyens is definitely one of my favorite pieces. Every time I play it, it makes me want to dance. It’s really groovy and funky. All the syncopation makes the piece come alive. It’s just an all-around fun and happy piece.

Saudade No. 3 holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been playing it for about 5 years now, and I’ve grown to love it and love playing it. I’ve spent a long time with it, but every time I look at the score I find something new and interesting I’d never noticed before. Getting to know a piece of music is really like getting to know a person; you think you know them well, but there’s always something new to discover. Every time I play this piece, it’s like talking to an old friend. I really do love this piece.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was backstage before the concert. I felt like we all connected to each other in a way that only musicians can do. We all sort of subconsciously knew that we were in this together.  The concert was amazing! I’ve never played for an audience that large, and I really fed off the crowds’ energy. I knew that they all wanted to support me and wanted me to do well. My performance was for them, and by connecting with them, I was also performing for myself.

Music has the power to change the world. Music is about imagination, and its only limit is one’s creativity. As long as you can think of it, music can do it.

Micäela Aldridge, mezzo-soprano,17
“Svegliatevi nel Core” (4:15) from the opera Giulio Cesare
By: George Frideric Handel
The Sun Embraces the Stony Earth” from the opera Elmer Gantry
By: Robert Aldridge (father)

When I sing this Handel aria, I really try to think of ways to get into the character that sings this aria, by any means necessary. I also think of how I can get an audience member to experience what I as a character am struggling with in the aria. The most common scenario that I think of for this is an operatic version of Harry Potter, where I, as Harry, have to avenge the death of my parents and the many others that were killed by Voledmort. When I see a ghost that is telling me defeat Voldemort, it is the ghost of Albus Dumbledore

Compared to other pieces I’ve performed, this aria is very challenging – it has a very fast tempo, with a sudden change to a slower pace in the second section, or “B section”, which requires a lot of breath control and support. In the “A-section”, I move a lot more and have more freedom. Another hard part is figuring out, or composing, Baroque ornamentations – there are endless possibilities for what I can do, and which ones are better to use given certain circumstances.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite part of the experience was getting to know the performers and staff members, the pizza party, and being silly in the dressing room. The performance felt so surreal and I couldn’t believe that it was happening. I’ve waited for to do this for a couple mouths and it was like a fantasy when it happened. Although I was really nervous, it turned out to be surprisingly easy once I open my mouth to sing. 

Music can really change someone’s life for the better and can develop a passion for music or just art in general. 

Russell Houston, cello, 17
Requiebros
By Gaspar Cassadó 

“Requiebros” means flirting in Spanish. So naturally when I’m performing the piece, I check out the cute girls in the room and play out towards them. My favorite part is definitely the flirtations and outgoing nature of the piece; I think it suits me well, because I’m always a fan of flirting with girls! After I played this piece once, I got compliments on my “flirty dance” from a lot of girls and that was exciting!

Again, this piece is a lot of fun to play because it’s about flirting. It’s imperative that you to not get nervous and overanalyze when flirting, just as it is important to let go and not worry too much about performing during this piece. Without letting go of those inhibitions, it’s impossible to fully express the fun nature of this piece.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the Interview portion of the show: it was awesome how comfortable and flexible the staff made me feel while talking onstage! The performance was surprisingly easy: I wasn’t nervous beforehand because the staff prepared me so well for everything that was to come.

Music has the power to connect a room full of one-time acquaintances. Though the audience doesn’t necessarily know each other, it’s amazing that through music a large anonymous group of people can share the same experience. That’s very powerful in and of itself.

Amelia Sie, violin, 15
Lotus Land
By: Cyril Scott

Since the Lotus is a sacred item in Buddhism (and other religions), it reminds me of an oriental song, especially with its whole-note intervals. It reminds me of clear ponds with lots of Lotus flowers, and a mist blanketing the ground. When I was playing it through for violinist Jan Mark Sloman, he told me that I should make people feel stoned…that was very strange.

A lot of pieces I’ve played before evoke strong emotions. Usually, I play pieces that are super-flashy or very emotional. This piece, however, is more subdued. It has a mystical feel. When performing Lotus Land, I try to make people feel in a different, enchanted world. This is very different for me, so that’s probably the hardest thing for me.

Post Show Reflection: The Performance was my favorite memory from the three days! Everyone put in so much work to make the live taping work, and it was so gratifying to be able to participate in it and perform for the crowd. At first I was really nervous, but then I remembered I had already recorded everything earlier that day, so the performance was much more exciting and laid-back. This was such an uplifting experience.

Music has the power to move people; to make people cry, laugh, and smile. It expresses emotions to people you couldn’t normally communicate with.

Show 241: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 241 was taped in East Building Auditorium at the national Gallery of Art, Washington, DC on Sunday, October 16, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Jehshua Karunakaran, violin, age 17
Danse Espagnole from “La Vide Breve”
By: Manuel de Falla

Danse Espagnole is taken from Falla’s  2-act opera: La Vida Breve, or “The Short Life”.  It is a dramatic tragedy involving a Gypsy girl, Salud, who falls in love with another man, Paco, who is already engaged to another woman.  When the Gypsy discovers this, she confronts Paco, who, in front of many people, denies knowing her.  Brokenhearted, Salud drops dead at his feet.  How much more drama is needed?!

There are 2 interludes in this opera: Interlude, and Danse Espagnole.  Fritz Kreisler recognized the potential of the Danse as a violin virtuoso piece and transcribed it for violin.  As with most Spanish music, the Danse is packed with melodrama, panache, flair, and flashes of color.  When I first started learning this piece, my teacher recommended that I watch several Flamenco dances to get a sense of what this kind of Spanish dance represents.  As I perform this piece, I think of two Flamenco dancers interacting with each other.  Keeping the Flamenco image/movie playing in my head helps me express the vibrant Spanish character of Danse Espagnole.

This piece is more stylistically challenging than technically demanding. To ensure that this piece is performed effectively, it’s important to consider all the colorful rhythms, twists, and turns that make this piece so Spanish.

Post Show Reflection:  Performing on this show was more exciting than what I had anticipated.  I think we had a really great selection of performers for this show, and I really enjoyed the teamwork.  Also, playing at the National Gallery of Art was special, and I really appreciate all the planning that was put into the production of this show.   The Arts Leadership Workshops were also very insightful.  Thumbs up to the From The Top staff!!

Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Noah Lee, cello, age 11
Hungarian Rhapsody, Op. 68
By: David Popper

The Hungarian Rhapsody has many colors. It is a very emotional piece. When I begin the piece, a blast of emotions hit me. I either become sad or angry or happy, and so forth. Once I capture the feeling, I think of a moment in my life and express it in my music by playing what’s in my heart. In this piece there are many dynamic and tempo changes that make it fun to play! Hungarian Rhapsody is Gypsy music. My favorite part is the fast part because I can picture the Gypsies singing and dancing and having a good time. I don’t have a least favorite part.

There are many technical spots in this piece that I worked on, but musically it came naturally to me. When I play this piece, I want the audience to be entertained.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memories are the “Swag” performers, the FTT Staff, the CIA SUV (the FTT mini van that shuttled us to and from the hotel), and my new friends. The performance itself was so bright and intense

Music can inspire and promote change.

The Clevand Piano Trio (Annie Fullard, Coach)
Primavera Porteña from “The 4 Seasons of Buenos Aires
By: Astor Piazzolla

Haruno Sato, violin, age 16

I really enjoy playing this piece, because I can do whatever I want with it. Obviously not entirely, but if you listen to different recordings, people have very different ways of playing it, and I just like to have some fun with it. My way of having fun is playing around with slides and glissandos. Also, our coach was joking around and told us to imagine ourselves playing at a bar. I kept that image actually, just chillin and playing some sexy Piazzolla at a bar.

For me, this is the first piece that I’ve played that isn’t a straight classical piece. It’s hard to keep a relaxed chill feeling while playing it, since usually I’m sitting upright in a chair with a metronome, steadily hacking at the Tchaikovsky concerto. It’s a completely different feel, and you really just have to have fun playing this piece. And quite honestly, I think it’s hard to do for a lot of young classical musicians.

Post Show Reflection: I really enjoyed the “CIA SUV” rides with Tom Vignieri and the performers, the first day with all the performers where we started the whole “swag” thing, and playing at the NGA. The concert was really fun because you could actually feel the excited audience, and it was so casual; it felt good.

Music has the power to bring people together. It connects people from all parts of the world.

Hannah Moses, cello, age 16

The Piazzolla is really just a lot of fun to play. Haruno and I first heard the piece last year when we actually performed it as part of a large group ensemble, and we sort of fell in love with it and wanted to play it on our concert with Arianna. It’s a fantastic, fun tango and we all just love having fun with it together. It brings out the fun, sometimes crazy, sides in all three of us, and I love it (shout-out to our fun, crazy, wonderful chamber music coach Annie Fullard!).

It’s a special piece to me because we played it on a benefit concert Haruno and I organized in June. I hope when we play it that it makes our audience feel like dancing as much as it makes us feel like dancing.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite moments were hanging out with Tom Vigneri and the rest of the kids from the “CIA SUV”, and also performing with my friends at the soiree and the taping. The taping was a blast. I loved every second of being on stage. Everyone was so supportive and fun and the energy was fantastic. 

Music can change the world.

Arianna Körting, piano, age 17

This particular trio piece is one of my favorites because it brings out the sassy/spicy side of our group. We have a lot of fun playing the piece together, even when it is written in a minor key! When I play this piece, I can picture beautifully dressed dancers dancing the tango. That is why we decided to wear red dresses!

This is actually the first time I have ever played a tango. The unique thing about this piece is that we are able to make it our own. There are so many different interpretations of the music and we have the ability to transform this piece into a dance party everyone can enjoy!

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memories were getting to know all of these wonderful musicians and playing for such a lively audience on Sunday! I also loved the soiree on Friday. It was great to mingle with the audience afterwards and to share our passions for music. The experience was plain FUN! The vibe was very exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining the audience! I was not nervous at all; I was much more excited to perform!

Music has the power to make a difference in society because it can take the audience members away from their daily stresses and into a world where sense of time and space are transformed, even if only for a brief moment. People of different cultures are able to communicate through the feelings expressed.

Dong Won Lee, piano, age 17
Prelude No. 8, “Un reflet dans le vent”
By: Olivier Messiaen

Messiaen’s “Un reflet dans le vent” reminds me of two things: Mongolia and Thomas Wilfred’s “lumia compositions”. Although the piece is very French and subdued, it is extremely sweeping (it’s a reflection in the wind, after all). The up and down melody makes me wish that I could hear the Gobi Desert howling at night! Next, I think of Wilfred‘s “lumia compositions” (Op. 161, 1965-66), which he uses constantly transforming beams of light in a wooden cabinet. Connect the Prelude and the “lumia compositions” together, and you experience the cosmos.

I have never played any minimalist pieces. I’m not saying that Messiaen is a minimalist, but he is certainly very repetitive. The Prelude No. 8 is a challenge because I need to enjoy the repetition to make it sound special. Especially important to emphasize are the moments when Messiaen tricks you into thinking that you are entering a completely new strain, when actually he leads you right back to where you started.

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the school visit with the kids at the Center City Public Charter School, the Chester Dale Collection at the National Art Gallery, the word “Swag!,” and the two Tom’s (Voegli and Vignieri). The performance was really relaxing because everything felt so casual. The spirit of music really came alive. The other performers inspired me to connect with the audience-something that I had forgotten.

Music can make you feel, make you jealous (in a good way), and make you forget reality.

Stephen Banks, saxophone, age 18
II. Chanson Pour Ma Mie and V. Lou Cabridan from Tableaux de Provence
By: Paule Maurice

Post Show Reflection: My favorite memories were interacting with the other musicians backstage before the taping, and seeing other musicians play genuinely. The performance was much different than I expected; it was very comfortable.

Music can change one’s state of mind, and give people a means of expression.

Show 239: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 239 was taped in on the Music Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Amy Semes, 16, Violin
I. Allegro Moderato from Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op 14
By: Henryk Wienawski

This piece is very technically intimidating. Although there are a few moments of calmness, the majority of the piece is angry and mad.

This piece is in the key of F-Sharp minor which is very unique. Not many composers write in that key. It’s relative major, A-major, is much more popular and used a lot more often. This key makes the technical passages in this piece so much harder.

Post Show Reflection: Being able to hear all the other fabulous performers was inspiring. After the show, we all ate an apple funnel cake, and we did know what was in that thing. =) Performing on the stage was an amazing experience. The Ocean City Pops was amazing and the entire FTT staff was so much fun.

I believe music has the power to make people really happy. I often play at nursing homes and I see people really enlivened when I play for them.

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