Archive for April, 2014

You Meet Some Really Interesting Folks at the River Center

April 29, 2014

Sometimes I am tempted to stop blogging on a basically weekly basis,  but then someone will let me know that they read my musings, and that inspires me to keep on keeping on.

It happened Sunday evening in the Bill Heard Theater at the  River Center.  Shortly after a friend and I took our seats in the audience, my friend started a conversation with a lady in the row in front of us.  Turns out the lady’s teenage daughter plays French Horn  with the  Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, which was about to play its part of a concert titled ASYO & CSU Philharmonic “Atlanta Day.”

When I heard that, I commented that my son and daughter-in-law played French Horn in their  high schools’ concert bands.  When another lady sitting with her husband also in the row in front of us heard that, she volunteered that their son plays the French Horn in the Columbus State University Philharmonic, which would be playing the second half of the “Atlanta Day” concert. They had come down from Scranton, PA to hear their son play in a number of concerts this weekend.

As she was saying that, her gaze focused on me, and she asked, “Are you a writer … a reporter?”

“Well, yes.”

She must have recognized me from my picture on this blog. “I thought so,” she exclaimed, and explained that she and her husband read posts on this blog about the Schwob School of Music.  They were impressed and decided Schwob might be the school that would be right for their son. She said that it turned out that it is, and they are glad he is here.

That’s definitely a compliment, because she should know a good school of music when she sees one; she is a middle and high school band director herself.

We’re glad he’s here, too, because that means he passed auditions, and to do that he simply has to be a truly talented musician.  Schwob, with its internationally respected teachers, generous scholarships, and impressive facilities, attracts really fine college musicians from all over the world.

As far as the Sunday concert is concerned, both orchestras brought the house down with their inspired performances.  The Atlanta Symphony  Youth Orchestra bussed its one hundred members to Columbus  for some master class lessons,  a look at the River Center, and to play in the Sunday concert.  Schwob School of Music leaders added that it was also a good opportunity to do some  recruiting.  Those Atlanta kids were truly impressive when they played Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Alexander Borodin’s charming Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. 

That experience made me reflect on how CSU’s College of the Arts has transformed downtown Columbus into a charming,  vibrant, happening place again. More on that coming up. Stay tuned.    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Learned at the Mayoral Debate

April 22, 2014
Uiversity Hall, Columbhus State University

University Hall, Columbus State University

 

It was much easier to follow the debate on TV than in that sad auditorium. I could understand very little of what was said there because of the sound system and acoustics in University Hall. I had recorded it at home because I suspected I might have a hard time hearing in UH.  CSU is really fortunate that it has those great state-of-the-art theaters downtown now.  

As far as the debate was concerned, Mayor Tomlinson pointed with pride, while challenger Martin viewed with alarm. Surprise, surprise!

 

 

 

And the Classical Beat Goes On

April 13, 2014

Schwob School of Music’s Kaleidoscope again Showcases Brilliant Student Musicians

' Skeezix1000

Statue of Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. Wikipedia says, “It was unveiled in June 2010 by the reigning sovereign of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II.” (Photo by Skeezix1000)

The late Oscar Peterson, who garnered 8 Grammy Awards as best Jazz Pianist, was considered by many musicians to be the greatest jazz pianist in the world. He had been classically trained. He advised his jazz students to learn to play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in order to play jazz well. 

The Bill Heard Theater was full of classically trained musicians – some who played some swinging jazz – Saturday night, students of the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music, performing the school’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert. Those young people are brilliant college musicians who are being taught by world-class classical instructors, who  are also internationally recognized virtuosos themselves.   They demonstrated those facts for a large, appreciative audience. The different ensembles and soloists sang and played on the main stage, in front of it, and in the boxes, going from one number to the next without applause. The audience had been asked not to applaud until the end of the concert. Once they could applaud, they did so thunderously.

It’s really encouraging that Columbus is giving such moral and financial support to the Schwob School of Music. Columbus has been supportive of serious music since 1855, when the country’s second symphonic orchestra was formed by Mendelssohn’s student Herman S. Saroni . The first one was the New York Philharmonic. Thankfully, that tradition continues.

 

Mickey Rooney Memories

April 7, 2014

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillThough he wasn’t among the movie stars I interviewed over the years, I feel as though I lost a buddy when I learned that Mickey Rooney died.  That’s because I saw his Andy Hardy movies when they were first-run.  The first one, A Family Affair,  was shot in 1937.  Mickey was 17-years-old, and  I was 6 at the time.  There was no question about it. When an Andy Hardy movie  played between 1937 and 1946,  somebody in my family – sometimes my mom and dad took me, but there were others when either my older sister Betty or Brother Elbert would take me – and I went to  see it.

Judy Garland not only starred with him in three of the fourteen Andy Hardy films, but in some smash hit musicals.  They were never reported as being romantically involved, but Mickey said their love ran deeper than that.  Maybe that’s why they played so well in movies together.

Those movies catapulted him to  being the top box-office draw in 1939. Time magazine put his face on the cover of a 1940 edition, saying, according to Wikipedia, “Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U. S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.”

He proved he could also act in a serious role,  starring as “Young Tom Edison” for MGM in 1940.  He won a bunch of awards over the years, including a Jspecial juvenile Academy Award when the Academy was giving those and a Honoirary Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys.

He continued to work in movies, radio  and TV right up until his death, April 6, 2014.  He was married 8 times.  He was surrounded by his family when he died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife of 37 years,  Jan Chamberlain, eight surviving children, nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  He was 93-years-old.  As Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang, he did his way.  He did it very well “his way.