Posts Tagged ‘Music’

THE SUBJECT IS MUSIC

July 28, 2019

Let’s Discuss

Chapter 5

My Popular Music

Each generation, it appears, has its own popular music. For mine, it is what is now called The Great American Songbook, or Standards. I was born in 1930. The number one hit that year was “Happy Days Are Here Again,” which was adopted by the Democratic Party and played at the 1932 Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President. Americans were looking for happy days to return, and FDR promised them “a new deal.”
Some of the other hits of 1930 were “Ten Cents a Dance,” ”On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Body and Soul,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Embraceable You,” and “Three Little Words.”

Big Bands were still popular when I was the drummer for the Teen Tavern Tooters in the late 1940’s. Teen Tavern was a teen club for Columbus, Jordan, and Baker High Schools that was operated by the Columbus Recreation Department when World War II ended. The above photo was taken in 1947.

By 1930, big bands were beginning their dominance of the popular music scene because dance music was very much in demand. Swing was becoming the thing. The fox trot, jitterbug, and Lindy Hop were gaining popularity in the ballrooms. By 1936, the big bands had become dominant. There were a few vocalists whose names topped their accompanying orchestras on record labels. The number one hit of 1936 was “Pennies from Heaven” sung by Bing Crosby. However, the vast majority of hits featured big bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Shep Fields, Jimmy Dorsey, Jan Garber, Eddy Duchin, Guy Lombardo, Hal Kemp, and Jimmie Lunceford.

Then, in 1938 Glenn Miller started his climb to the top. Wikipedia reports he was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943. In 1942, he and his orchestra were given the first gold record by RCA Victor for “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” It was a big hit with 11-year-old me at the time. Another favorite of mine was “Tuxedo Junction,” which was recorded in 1940. It sold 115,000 copies in the first week. When the Bradley Theater opened in downtown Columbus in 1940, it featured an organist from Atlanta whose Hammond organ was hooked up to the theater’s sound system. After the feature film finished, he would play a short concert. He sat on a sofa in the lobby reading a book between concerts. He was a friendly young man and he would take requests. I asked him to play “Tuxedo Junction.” I was thrilled when he played it. Unfortunately, he and his organ were gone in a few weeks. If you wanted to enjoy a live organ performance after that, you had to go to the Fabulous Fox in Atlanta, which was something I wouldn’t experience until six years late, when I was 15 years old.

Since it’s generally accepted that a generation is about 25 years, we can say that my generation began in 1930 and ended 25 years later in 1955. 1955 was the beginning of the ascendance of Rock and Roll music, and the ending of the reign of Swing. Bill Haley and His Comets multi-million selling recording “Rock Around the Clock” was played over the credits of the film “Blackboard Jungle.” Elvis Presley started his career in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis. Little Richard recorded “Tutti Frutti” in 1955. At the time, I thought Rock and Roll was a fad that would not last. Swing never entirely went away but was rapidly eclipsed by Rock and Roll which is still the dominant form of popular music.

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THE SUBJECT IS MUSIC

June 10, 2019

Let’s Discuss

Chapter 4

The Symphony

George Del Gobbo, Music Director and Conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Photo courtesy CSO.

Things get hectic. There are many demands on our time.  Frustrations abound. What to do? George Del Gobbo has a palatable solution. The director and conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra sent out a note promoting the orchestra’s upcoming season that makes a lot of sense to me. I am going to quote from it liberally.

He simply says, “You need music.” He urges us to take “a couple of hours on a regular basis and treat yourself to the sound of a wonderful orchestra playing some of the world’s greatest music.” When he says “world’s greatest music,” he is not just referring to the masters like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky  — though, he is certainly including them —  because he says, “You can expect us to have music for everyone…classical, pops, country…loud, soft, fast, slow … music that entertains…music that touches the soul … music that’s alive and begging to be heard and felt by none other than you.”

He even gives you a guarantee, saying, “We guarantee that our music will lift your spirits, soothe your soul, and inspire you to carry on.”

To me, the thing that makes it work is the live sound of a large symphony orchestra in an acoustically ideal auditorium, and that’s what you get at the Bill Heard Theater in the River Center. So, do yourself and your community a musical favor by purchasing tickets.

“Think about…music entertains, music relaxes, and music inspires.

“The Columbus Symphony Orchestra…join us and enjoy life a little more.”

For more info click this link:

Columbus Symphony Orchestra.”

 

THE SUBJECT IS MUSIC

June 9, 2019

Let’s Discuss

Chapter 3

The Symphony

 

In my lifetime, I have seen a decline in audiences that attend symphonic concerts. Not too many years ago, when the Columbus Symphony
Orchestra performed at the 2,700 seat Three Arts Theater, formally the Royal movie and stage show theater, the theater was almost
filled for every concert. Not only were the audiences large,they were dressed well, the wearing men suits and ties and ladies in their
Sunday bests.Now, in the beautiful, state of the art almost 2,000 seat Bill Heard Theater at the River Center, there are many empty
seats. Also, many attendees just don’t bother to dress up any more. That’s certainly not because of the quality of the orchestra,
because, in my view, it is superb.

It’s true that back in the Three Arts Theater,  days there were not as many competing musical events as now. The Columbus State University Schwob School off Music offers many free concerts, some by the school’s Philharmonic Orchestra, an excellent  full-sized student symphony orchestra.  Except for Kaleidoscope, when all students in the Schwob School participate, the Philharmonic does not use the Bill Heard Theater. It performs in the much smaller Legacy Hall.  Still, I think the professional Columbus Symphony should be attracting more patrons. Hopefully, the upcoming season will draw larger crowds again.  Director George Del Gobbo makes a very good case for your participation. More on that in Chapter 4.

THE SUBJECT IS MUSIC

May 27, 2019

L e t ‘ s D I s c u s s

Chapter 1 — Marching Bands

The man with the baton, whose picture I took a few years ago, and I have something in common. He was leading the Williamsburg Drum and Fife Corps, representing the very first U.S. Army marching musical units. They started during the American Revolutionary War. Over time woodwinds and brass were added to become the Army bands like the 30th Army Band that I led as drum major in Munich.

Richmond 162

Fife and Drum Corps, WIlliamsburg, VA

It was a very good band. After all, Army bands are made up of professional musicians. The Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Band is truly impressive right now, not only on parade, but in concert, also. Let me hastily add, the Munich band was quite good not because of me. My MOS was “percussionist.” I was good enough to know that I was outclassed by the rest of the section. However, I think I was quite proficient as a drum major, so I didn’t feel guilty about my musician status. That’s because I had been legendary band director Bob Barr’s first male Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band drum major. He accepted nothing less than a student’s absolutely best effort. And, not only did I lead the band in football game halftime shows, I led it in ROTC Pass in Review parades, so I already knew how to do that. As a side note, when he learned I wanted to be a radio announcer, he introduced me to WDAK’s Ed Snyder, a savvy announcer who had a degree in broadcasting from the University of Alabama. Ed became my mentor and helped me land my first job in broadcasting at WDAK in 1948. Pardon the digression. Back to the subject, marching bands.

Then, there is the college marching band. My experience there is quite limited. In the early 1950s, I was in the Mercer University ROTC band. It was the school’s only band at the time, formed when I was there to play for ROTC parades. I played snare drum in that one. Maybe someone reading this has big time college band experiences to tell us about, bands like Georgia’s, Auburn’s, Alabama’s, Tech’s, etc. I have four great-nephews and one great- niece who played at Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. I don’t know if any of them will see this, though.

If I get any comments on this way too long post, I’ll continue the series. The symphony will be Chapter 2.

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.

 

 

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.

 

The Move South

April 2, 2016

TEXAS AND FLORIDA NOW HAVE LARGER POPULATIONS THAN NEW YORK.

No doubt it’s mostly a generational thing that I only sample American Idol. A lot of the singing is way too much over the emotional top for my tastes, and much of it sounds like tortured yelling to me. However, I do sample the program, and I did watch it more when it would feature a night of standards from the Great American Songbook. That’s was when I could really tell whether which of the  kids could actually sing, and some definitely could, in my view.

The thing I noticed most when I sampled it this week is that all four of the finalist are from the South. (As you probably know, the winners are finally determined by viewer voting.) That could mean that it really doesn’t matter from which section of the country a contestant comes, and there is reason to believe that is now the case. However, it is interesting to note that the South is now the most populous section of the United States. A Google search reveals there are now more than 114-million people living in the American South.  California is the most populous state; however, Texas and Florida now come in second and third, both ahead of New York. My own state of Georgia is now 8th in population.

A check of internal  migration in the United  States shows that up until 1861, when the Civil War started,  the move was from the east coast to the west. From 1861 to 1929, when the Great depression started,  from rural areas to cities in the North and South. From 1929 to 2009 generally from the Northeast to the South and West.

No doubt there are a number of reasons for the population shifts; however, weather certainly has to be at or near the top. Northerners fleeing the cold simply could not take the long hot summers of the South. That changed with  the advent of air conditioning. So, probably the number one reason for the shift to the South is the advent of air conditioning.

 

Stage Floors Matter, Too

February 20, 2016

Maybe not a lot last night because there very few people sitting in the mezzanine of the Bill Heard Theater. But, for those few of us who were there, we got a very good view of a pretty messy stage floor apron.  The turn-out for the Rising Stars of the Metropolitan Opera concert was not impressive.  The three sopranos, a baritone, and a pianist/emcee were quite impressive. Too bad  so few people were there to hear  them. I guess not many Columbus folks are into opera concerts. They do seem to show up more when a popular opera with a pit orchestra and sets play the  Heard. There were good crowds for Madam Butterfly and Carmen when road companies brought them to town. I know, because I was there.

Talk About a Bargain

February 1, 2016

CSU provides a great gift to music lovers in our area, concerts by extraordinarily talented student musicians and their instructors.  Julie Bray and I were among those who attended Sunday’s impressive concert by the CSU Philharmonic and Joseph Golden on Legacy Hall’s million-dollar organ.  Admission price: zero. 

We agreed that the orchestra’s opening selection, Emmanuel Chabrier’s rthymic and colorful Espana, ,was delightful.   The second selection, Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 “Organ” in C Minor, Op. was powerful and gave the orchestra and Joseph Golden the opportunity to display their extraordinary musical talents.  We were impressed by the second one.  However, we agreed the first one was more enjoyable. It created a festive and happy mood. The second one was very dramatic. Very.

There are many more free concerts by CSU students and faculty that you can attend. If you love great live music performances, the price is certainly right.  We plan to take advantage of that. Maybe you will, too.     

 

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.