Well, Oscar Season is over and I can re-focus this blog on music. Before I tell you about some of the thing I've been up to in the past six weeks, here are some new videos.
First up is a performance of Mambo Incognito in Plano, Texas:
Now, I've seen and have participated in plenty of concerts in school gyms. It's just a fact of school scheduling and resources and, to be honest, the acoustics are often more flattering than in auditoriums. I have not, however, seen an audience in the bleachers and the orchestras filling the floor. Look at all those orchestra students! Looks like those teachers are doing something right. The performance is really good too. Great job, kids!
Up next is Gauntlet, performed at Hanahan High school for an unnamed All-County concert.
Excellent tempo. As I've written before, one of the biggest problems I hear with Gauntlet is the tempo. It requires a fast tempo, but faster is not better. Take note - this is how it should be done. I don't know who the conductor is here, but she got it just right. Also, great style on the middle section. Way to go!
Next is a performance of Elementals as a quintet performed by the Naomi Hasan violin studio in Madison, WI.
Orchestras and classes come in all sizes, so it's not uncommon to hear the same piece played by a band of sixty or a chamber ensemble. Admittedly, some pieces work better than others when reduced down and I think Elementals is one of them (though a bass added to the mix wouldn't have hurt). This appears to be a group of adult students and I think that, for the most part, they did a fine job. I don't mean to sound disparaging, but the 'cello was off. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt - maybe his pegs got knocked out of tune before going on stage or he was sight reading (I've done some sight reading in performances before).
Finally, let's hear Las Mariposas Exoticas, performed by the Lanier Middle School Philharmonia:
Fantastic. The orchestra did such a great job here and I'd like to point out the excellent use of the harp. There's no harp part in the original version and the part they came up with was very tasteful. I love the harp and wish I could write more for them, but harps in school ensembles are rare and it's not cost-effective to write for them most of the time. And in my experience, harpists can't stand playing piano parts - they're such idiomatically different instruments that it's hard to play one on the other.