Posts Tagged ‘music education’

Why This Man is a VIP

December 12, 2015
JVHS Band Director Brian Walker

JVHS Band Director Brian Walker

He is a Very Important Person because he is one of many VIPs who are charged with the responsibility for teaching and inspiring our children to lead productive and fulfilling lives. The reason I selected him to make this point is because he brings to mind a very special music educator who positively affected mine and many other lives, the late Jordan Band Director Bob Barr, who grew a 17-piece pretty bad band – I was a member – into large bands that achieved national recognition. .

Walker, who recently graduated from the University of Georgia, in a sense, is starting his career as a music educator like Barr did. He’s in a little better shape. He’s starting out with a 30-piece band that plays well. The Jordan music program is in a rebuilding stage. Not too long ago, it had a drum line, but no band. That’s changed. And when Walker led the Symphonic Orchestra and Symphonic Band during the renovated auditorium dedication ceremony – it’s now the Robert M. Barr Auditorium – they sounded quite good to me.  They also knew they were appreciated, because the large audience of Jordan alumni and students gave them thunderous ovations.  Those ovations  continued when the Bob Barr Community Band played. The auditorium stage really filled up when the Jordan band joined them for the last two selections. It was a great finale with the school’s chorus, under the direction of Kirk Weller, joining the combined bands in a Christmas song medley. That one got a prolonged standing ovation.

Things are looking up again for Jordan musically.  I’m sure a lot of Jordan grads are glad.  I know I am.

 

 

 

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PA Parents Pay Tribute to CSU’s Schwob School of Music

May 15, 2014

The following came as a comment to my blog post on the recent “Atlanta Day” concert from the parents of a Columbus State University student who played a French Horn in the concert. I decided it needs to run as a main post. It’s a fine tribute to the Schwob School of Music. Also, I appreciate the nice things said about this blog. Comments like this make blogging worthwhile.     

Mr. McMichael,

This is a note from the ‘interesting ‘folks’ you met from Scranton, PA at the CSU Philharminic/Atlanta Youth Orchestra concert……we are absolutely THRILLED to be an anecdote for your writings. I was not kidding you when I told you how much of an impact your articles about Schwob had on our decision to send our son Justin so far away to school. I hope that there are other parents of young, hard-working, talented musicians who read this entry and post and find assurance that Schwob is simply the best of all worlds, artistically speaking. My son is growing tremendously as a musician and artist, as well as getting the very best preparation for his future hopes of being a Music Educator and working with young aspiring minds.

I just can’t say enough about the wonderful faculty at Schwob. Our family will always be indebted to them for all they do for our college age children.

If I may, I’d also like to personally thank the benefactors of the Schwob community. I hope they know what a truly spectacular world they have created here. It is nothing short of miraculous.

So, Mr. McMichael….. you now have great friends as well as avid readers up North! We love you and your column….are grateful to you for your past writings, and look forward to all those in the future. Thank You for all you do you do to spread optimism, positive spirit, and musical sunshine. The world needs MORE of that!

Keep ON!! (See you next Spring!)

All the Best!!
Justin and Sharon Ambrozia
Scranton, PA

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.    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Live Music Drought is Almost Over

August 2, 2010

Thanks goodness fall is just around the corner, and not just because I am totally fed up with the incredibly oppressive heat of summer, but because the CSU Schwob School of Music halls will again be alive with the sound of really good live music.

Paul Hostetter, Director of the CSU Philharmonic

The CSU Philharmonic is getting a new leader. Conductor Paul Hostetter will take over the orchestra’s baton as part of his duties as the first occupant of  The Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair for Orchestral Activities. His list of impressive credentials is so long that I won’t attempt to list them all. I will tell you that he graduated from Florida State University and the Julliard School. He has appeared with college and professional orchestras all over America. You can read all about him by going to this link. His first concert with the Philharmonic is Thursday, September 30th at 7:30.

Jamie Nix, Director of the CSU Wind Ensemble

You can see the new Director of Wind Ensemble Activities Jamie Nix when he directs the CSU Wind Ensemble in its Monday September 27th concert. It also starts at 7:30.

Also coming onboard is Susan Bennet Brady as Professor of Harp. Joseph Eklund is the new horn instructor. Zoran Jakovcic is the Visiting Associate of Viola. Alexander Kobrin becomes Schwob’s Professor of Piano. He is the initial occupant of the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair of Piano.  And Wendy Warner is Schwob’s new Professor of Cello.

Next summer promises not to be another musical desert because Schwob Director Fred Cohen tells me new summer classes will be offered. That’s good news because it’s hard to go for a whole summer without Schwob School of Music concerts.

This year’s faculty concert series will start August 16th when Amy Griffiths holds forth with her saxophone.

On August 23rd, pianist Yien Wang will play some of her favorites.

On August 30th, trumpeter Robert Murray will premier a new duo composition with oboist Lauren Murray.

Actually, you won’t have to wait until September 30th to attend a symphony concert. On September 25t,h The Columbus Symphony opens its season with its I’m Down with Dvorak concert featuring Tim Fain, violinist.

Let the music begin again. 

It’s Live. Most of It is Free. It’s Incredibly Outstanding.

March 5, 2010

Adam Kirkpatric, lyric tenor, and Russell Young, pianist, performing in Legacy Hall, Columbus, GA. Legacy Hall is a show in itself.

 As I listened to Adam Kirkpatric, a lyric tenor who teaches at Kennesaw State University,  singing some of the great arias in Legacy Hall at the River Center, thoughts of Pavorati,  Caruso, and Mario Lanza surfaced.  He was that good,  nailing the really high note at the end of “La donna e mobile” just like they did.  For a reminder, you can hear Mario Lanza hitting that note by going to this website.

I was disappointed with the size of the audience, but the event didn’t get a lot of promotion, and the Schwob School of Music has so many concerts and recitals that it’s understandable that they are not all going to attract big audiences.  The CSU Philharmonic and Wind Ensemble, along with the Jazz Band, seem to attract the largest audiences outside of the really big yearly program  in the Bill Heard Theater that features all departments of the School of Music.

But, for people who really like top flight “serious” music, it is wonderful to have the choices available for free admission that the Schwob offers.  I went to an incredibly impressive piano concert  recently that featured five students playing the music of Chopin and Schumann.  It was stunning to see and hear those young people conquering those highly complicated and demanding selections written by those great composers.

If you like live performances of some of the world’s greatest music, just check out the Schwob School of Music website for event listings and come on down and fill those empty seats. The pleasure will be two-fold: you will enjoy the music, and you’ll give the performers a boost, especially when you join everyone else in giving them a standing ovation at the end.  The faculty and students at Schwob are truly outstanding performers.

Great Orchestra, but Where Were the People?

September 16, 2008

    What a weekend. The Columbus Symphony raised the musical roof Saturday evening with one of the greatest warhorses in classical music, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Then, on Sunday night, the Atlanta Seventeen blew everyone away with Count Basie-Buddy Rich-type big band jazz charts. 

  First, the Columbus Symphony season opener.

Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Courtesy: Columbus Symphony Orchestra

  As we sat on the front row of the balcony soaking in Beethoven emotion, I decided that the front row is not a good place to be in the balcony. You have to lean foward in order to see over the rail. We moved up to the second row after the intermission where the view was better. There was no problem moving almost anywhere you wanted in the balcony because there were plenty of empty seats.  

  What a shame. We have a first-rate orchestra, thanks to conductor George del Gobo, and all of the fine musicians, many of whom come from out of town. It was doing Beethoven justice – really outstanding performances.

Columbus Symphony Orchestra)

George Del Gobo, Musical Director, Columbus Symphony Orchestra (Courtesy: Columbus Symphony Orchestra)

  But where were the people?  Looking down from the balcony, I could see that the orchestra level had a lot of empty seats, too. But, that’s not as bad as it sounds. As the CSO’s Executive Director J.J. Musgrove said, “There are about 150 empty seats [on the orchestra level] , but that doesn’t represent a loss because they belong to season ticket holders.” He suggested that when season ticket holders can’t come, it would be a good idea to give the tickets to someone else so that they will be exposed to the symphony and maybe decide to buy a ticket in the future.

  Actually the symphony is doing right well in this economic downturn. Musgrove said the orchestra went against the national trend and had a budget surplus for the last two years. It was only $1,500, but that’s better than losing money. Also, the orchestra is not truncating its season the way a lot of big orchestras are doing right now, some cutting their season in half.

  No symphony orchestra can make it on ticket sales alone. Only 19 percent of the CSO’s budget comes from that. The rest comes from contributions by individuals and foundations. There is a small but generous corps of contributors for the Columbus orchestra.

  I asked Musgrove if symphonic music is losing its audience. He said, “We’ve been debating that one for a few hundred years.”  He did admit that keeping people coming depends greatly on their being exposed to the music when they are children, and he is concerned that elementary school music programs are the first to go any time there is a school budget crunch.  Also, a big factor is if they have ever played an instrument. He said studies have shown that about 70 percent of symphony concert audiences have played an instrument at some time in their lives.  I’m part of the 70  percent. Percussion was my game.

  You know, what he said makes me reflect back to my childhood. I don’t think I really heard any symphonic music until I was in the 4th grade at Wynnton  School. Up until then I was only exposed to popular music, vocalists like Bing Crosby, Wee Bonnie Baker, and Kate Smith, and big bands like Sammy Kaye, Glenn Miller and Kay Kyser. 

 My fourth grade teacher brought her own small record player to class and played some symphonic records for us from time to time. I was sitting on the other side of the room when she explained that she couldn’t turn up the volume any more because it might disturb other classes. She asked, “Is there anyone who can’t hear this well? If so, and you really want to hear it better, I’ll let you move closer to the record player.” I held up my hand.  I guess I didn’t look very cultural because she seemed really surprised that I wanted to hear that long-haired music better, but, she seemed pleased that I did and let me move closer. I wasn’t doing that for show. I really liked it and wanted to hear it better.  

  I never got over really liking it, and the first time I heard a live symphony performance I was really hooked.  I was in the Jordan Vocational High School Band at the time. Our band director Bob Barr said, “The whole band has been invited to attend the Three Arts League concert by the Pittsburg Symphony.” When questioned about who paid for the tickets, he said, “Some rich lady. She doesn’t want everyone to know who she is.”  My guess is that it was the late Virginia Illges, a primary backer of the League. She was instrumental in starting the Columbus Symphony and asked Barr to be its first conductor. Whoever it was, she also paid for the Columbus High Band to go. What a great gift. We were sitting right on the front two rows and when that grand orchestra cranked up, it was magical.    

  It does pay to provide musical education, because appreciating great music gives one pleasure all through life, especially when you can hear it live and played by a good orchestra.  Speaking of live and by a good orchestra, tomorrow  I’ll tell you about the wonderful evening of music provided by the Columbus Jazz Society on Sunday night. Stay tuned.