CSO Beethoven Opener was a Winner

September 19, 2016
George Del Gobbo, Music Director and Conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

George Del Gobbo, Music Director and Conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

To me, the litmus test for a symphony orchestra is how well it masters the classical music master Beethoven. Saturday night the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, in my view, definitely mastered the master.

It didn’t hurt that it had a world-class concert pianist to dazzle us. Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel’s rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 was…well… breathtaking. I didn’t know anyone could  move their fingers that  fast.  Judging from the standing ovation he got, I would say that the audience was transported.  I know I was .

Once, when rehearsing the Bob Barr Community Band, retired legendary public school music educator George Corridino, not pleased with the way the band was playing the Sousa classic Stars and Stripes Forever, told the band that it simply could not get  away with not playing that song well. “Everybody in the world knows that song! They’ll know you’re not playing it right.”  When it comes to Beethoven, it’s probably Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.  That’s the one that its first four notes have the same rhythm as the Morse code’s “V.” The British used it to stand for “victory” during World War II. I remember that. I was 14 when World War II ended.  To put it mildly, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra nailed it.

It was really good to hear CSO Executive Director Cameron Bean announce before the concert that there were 200 middle school students in the balcony. Leter, he told me a sponsor made that possible. It’s really important to expose young people to the sound of a live full symphony orchestra.  I was 15 when I first heard one. The Three Arts League brought the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra to Columbus.  A wealthy Columbus lady bought tickets for all members of  the Jordan and Columbus High bands. We sat on the first and second rows.  I have loved live symphonic music from that moment on.

CALL Calls Again

September 15, 2016

Live and learn takes on special meaning when it comes to the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning in Columbus, Georgia.

Learning with a lot of friends is quality living. And that’s what happens with about 200 seniors who attend CALL classes, trips, Pinocle and board games, and socials at the Columbus State University’s Turner Center for Continuing Education.

Everyone, who pays registration fees,  is eligible to attend. Mostly retired folks join. There are lots of retired professionals, including educators, health care folks, a lawyer, a broadcast journalist (guess who), and others including a former Jeopardy champion and a Radio City Music Hall Rockette — really!

So, if you want to learn more about thngs like Inventions that Changed the  World, Understanding Great Art, Line Dancing, History’s Great Military Blunders, CSU Theater, and more go to the front desk at Turner Continuing Ed and sign up. $145 pays for annual membership for three quarters, or $65 for one. Believe me it’s a big time bargain.

Classes start September 26.

 

 

 

Some May Just Like Symphonic Music and Not Know It

September 5, 2016

CSO OScars

Symphonic music is highbrow, stuff for the snooty social elite, some think. For an example of that not being the case, look no further than movie music.  D.W. Griffith’s 1915  silent blockbuster Birth of a Nation  featured a symphonic score played by a live orchestra. Like many film score composers, Joseph Breil adapted some classical music for the film, using, for instance, passages from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

For a modern example,  composer, conductor, and pianist John Williams wrote symphonic scores for Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and three Harry Potter films.

It’s impressive on the big sound systems in movie theaters. But, to me, better when played by a live orchestra. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra demonstrated that last year with its highly successful John Williams concert. The orchestra is going to give us more memorable movie music this year. CSO at the Oscars features such blockbuster scores as James  Bond, Out of Africa, Lawrence of Arabia, and many more including a repeat of the John Williams’ Star Wars composition.

CSO AMerican Icons

The other pops concert this season will be American Icons: Words of our Nation. Musical tributes will be paid to the flag, jazz, bluegrass, baseball, cowboys, and the Grand Canyon and, iconic Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr,  John Wayne, Lincoln, and Elvis, featuring the music of Aaron Copland, John Williams, Ferde Grofe, and others.

The season will feature great classics also. The opener on September 17th is Beethoven’s Fifth, which also features his Piano Concerto no. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37, and Consecration of the House Overture, Op. 67.

There will also be concerts featuring the music of Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Strauss, and Prokofiev and others.

So, join me at the River Center for a super CSO season.

For more info go to www.csoga.org.

 

 

Giving and Receiving Care

September 3, 2016

CARING FOR YOU, CARING FOR ME TRAINING SESSIONS AT UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST FELLOWSHIP OF COLUMBUS, GA

Coping with being a longterm caregiver can be a costly affair, physically and emotionally. Just ask anyone who has ever done it.

However, there are ways to make it less costly, and that’s what the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving is all about.

Gayle Alston, MS, Director the RCI Training Center of Excellence, explained the program recently at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.

There are a number of ways to do that.  Probably topping the list is to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of someone else.

Taking care of yourself includes making sure you have some time for yourself. To get that time you’re going to need help from others. If a friend offers to come over and sit a while so you can get away from the house for a while, don’t be shy about accepting that offer. If they are true friends they will mean it when they say it.

If you want to learn more about this you can attend Caring for You, Caring for Me training sessions offered in October at the UU Fellowship of Columbus. It will be led by Maureen and Jim Humphies who recently participated in a Trainer workshop at the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving.  Maureen has been involved with the RCI since 1990.

If you would  like more information you can call the Humphries at (706) 505-8223, or email maureenhumphries1946@gmail.com or humfriesjim43@gmail.com.

 

 

You Got to Accentuate the Negative

August 19, 2016

What will the most memorable  story to come out of the Rio Olympics?

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps, the all-time medal winning Olympics champion, ending his Olympics career with even more gold medals?

The gold medal winning athletes who tear up when their national anthems are played?

The sportsmanship displayed when winners and losers hug each other after a competition?

Or, some allegedly miscreant drunken American swimmers who are accused of causing a ruckus at a Rio gas station and charged with making up a story about being robbed at gunpoint?

Unfortunately, it appears it will be the latter, but maybe not. As many reporters have said a lot at the end of a story, only time will tell. How’s that for hedging?

 

Hopefully “Pete’s Dragon” and “Florence Foster Jenkin’s” are Positive Bellwethers

August 18, 2016

Maybe those two films signal that the summer drought of quality photoplays has ended. They are, in my view, both worth our time in a movie house.

“Florence” is for grown-ups and “Pete” is for everyone. I’ve already reviewed “Florence” glowingly,  so this is about “Pete.”

Not only is the computer generated lovable dragon named Elliot stunningly realistic in this live-action computer animated film , there is an engaging story. It’s  multi-level, both kids and adults can enjoy it. We certainly did.  It should end up making a lot of money and have a long movie life. It’s Disney at it’s best.

 

 

The Music is Back!

August 15, 2016
Professor of Music  Joseph Golden, University Organist, Director of External Relations and Director Opera, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University

Professor of Music Joseph Golden, University Organist, Director of External Relations and Director Opera, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, at the Allen Theater Organ.

The summer music drought is over, and the Schwob School of Music kicked off its concert season Sunday with Dueling Organs.

We  enjoyed the classical opening session featuring Naples, Florida organist Dr. James Cochran at the Jordan Concert Organ playing duets with five local organists at the Allen Classic Organ. But, to be honest, we enjoyed the closing pop section with Professor Golden at the Allen Theater Organ even more.  I mean, how are you going to beat “Over the Rainbow,” “Embraceable You,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” Cabaret,” and “I Got Rhythm?”

The Allen electric  digital organ which is both a classic and theater organ, depending, I guess, on which button the organist presses. It was trucked in from Atlanta and set up on the stage of Legacy Hall. The million-dollar Jordan Pipe Organ is permanently installed.

The Allen, with its many speakers, sounds very much like a pipe organ.  The theatrical mode really stood out when it was used to provide the music for Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 silent comedy “The Rink.”  The big movie theaters of the silent movie era all had theater organs to supply the music and sound effects for the films.

Professor Golden improvised the score. His performance was truly impressive.

The Fox Theater in Atlanta still has its huge theater pipe organ,  as does the Rylander Theater in Americus. Those organs are almost a hundred years old, and they sound great.  Of course, they have had a little maintenance over the years.

 

“Florence Foster Jenkins” is Laugh-out-loud Hilarious and Sad

August 13, 2016

Critics aren’t being kind reviewing a movie that isn’t that doesn’t portray them as a kind lot.  When informed that  the review in Friday morning’s Ledger–Enquirer  panned “Florence Foster Jenkins,” I informed my informers that a critic’s review is simply one person’s subjective opinion.  I can judge for myself whether I enjoy a movie or not. I found the film very entertaining.  A friend who I ran into in the theater after the movie said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I told him I did both. He admitted that he did, also.

Meryl Steep being in a movie is enough to get me in the theater. And she didn’t disappoint in this one about a wealthy Manhattan socialite who a 1944 New York Post critic called the “world’s worst singer.” Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg all turn in the great performances.

Not only did I get caught up in the emotions of the film, I found the depiction of 1940s Manhattan very entertaining. I love really good period pieces, especially ones using a lot of antique autos.

Do I recommend it? Definitely.

Oh, and we enjoyed the recliner seats Carmike has recently installed in some of its theaters.

Whatever Happened to Ciivil Discourse?

August 3, 2016

Whereas, because they wanted their children to see democracy at work, many parents in the past wanted their young children to watch presidential campaign speeches,  but they now don’t. The uncivil behavior sets a poor example for their kids. That was one of the points made by the Rev. Ed Helton when he spoke to the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.

Helton, a former Baptist minister who is now Director of the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, in making his case for civil discourse, cited the Unitarian Universalist 1st Principle,  which says that Unitarian Universalist affirm “the inherent worth and dignity of  every person .”

He said that people should treat one another with respect even when they disagree.

Since I mentioned the Principles that Unitarian Universalists affirm, I may as well give you all of the them.

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement in  spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the Democratic process within our congregation and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus is located at the end of Heiferhorn Way, which, heading north,  is the first left turn off Whitesville Road past the Williams Road intersection. Sunday services start at 10:40 a.m., and everyone is invited. Coffee,  snacks, and conversation are available before and after the service.

 

 

 

 

The Largely Unknown Story of How Georgia and Alabama Creeks were Shafted

July 12, 2016

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When William “Billy” Winn, Columbus historian and former journalist,  finished his presentation to Columbus Unitarian Universalists about his history about Creek Indian Removal from Georgia and Alabama, I asked him about the fact that very few people know anything about what really happened to Native Americans during that period. I told him I was taught almost nothing back in the 1930s and 1940s about Native American history in elementary and high  school.

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He said, in effect,  that’s because those who profited most from Indian Removal didn’t want it taught or even talked about. It was a shameful episode. To make a long story short, Indians were forced off their tribal lands in order for white settlers to operate cotton plantations, which led to importation of  African American slaves to do the work. I won’t get into the details because there are many. However, you can get the whole story by reading Billy’s impressive history The Triumph of the Ecunnau-Nuxulgee: Land Speculators, George M. Troup, States Rights, and the Removal of the Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama, 1825 – 38.