Posts Tagged ‘symphony’


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.”



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.


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.

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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.

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.

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.     


What Do Tchaikovsky and “The Roosevelts” Have In Common?

September 15, 2014

They provided me with an enjoyable weekend. 

CSO Conductor George Del Gobbo conducting his "Know the Score" pre-concert session.  He told us all about Tchaikovsky and his powerful and beautiful music  before the concert. Not only was it informative, but entertaining. The complimentary wine added to the enjoyment.

CSO Conductor George Del Gobbo conducting his “Know the Score” pre-concert session. He told us all about Tchaikovsky and his powerful and beautiful music before the concert. Not only was it informative, but entertaining. The complimentary wine added to the enjoyment.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s all-Tchaikovsky concert Saturday evening provided a wonderful demonstration of how the sound of a first-class orchestra can lift your spirits to dazzling heights. It was a marvelous experience in transporting sound.  And the champagne and dessert reception before the concert didn’t hurt.  It really helped that the dessert came in small portions. You got that great taste without sending your blood sugar through the roof.

Columbus Symphony in Bill Heard Theater at the River Center.

Columbus Symphony in Bill Heard Theater at the River Center.

Watching Episode 1 of Ken Burn’s “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” was also a special experience.  I have read a few books about Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt and thought I knew a lot about them.  Watching the Burn’s film provided not only some things I didn’t know, but did it in an arresting way with the use of historic movie film and still photographs to great effect.  I knew that Theodore liked war, but I didn’t realize how he took great pleasure in being a killer in Cuba during the Spanish-American War until I saw the Burn’s film.  It wasn’t something he had to do, but something that he wanted to do. That was one side of him.  Another side was his drive to improve the lives of the working class of America, even though he was a wealthy New York aristocrat.   I’m looking forward to the rest of the series on GPTV which runs all this week.




September 10, 2014

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As Maestro George Del Gobbo says, “There is nothing in the world like hearing a symphony orchestra live.” The first symphony  orchestra I heard live was the Pittsburg Symphony when it came to Columbus in the mid-1940s. I have been hooked on that wonderful  sound since. And, believe me, being live makes a huge difference.

The CSO  season, which starts Saturday, Sept. 13 at the River Center at 7:30, has something for everyone, including a concert that features the lush sounds of a symphony playing some country music  favorites. The opener Saturday is an all Tchaikovsky  concert. This is great powerful, passionate, romantic, beautiful symphonic music with  melodies that you’ll humming on your way back to your car. Do yourself a favor and join me Saturday and experience what Maestro Del Gobbo says is sound that “comes from the depths of the human soul.”

Oh, the T-shirt is something I won a few years ago when the orchestra held a pops concert that featured an audience quiz.  The orchestra played excerpts and the person who identified the most titles won some tickets and a T-shirt.  It was my lucky  day. I got all of them.  The concert had been scheduled for the band shell in Weracoba Park, but it was moved into the Jordan High auditorium because of rain. That old auditorium has excellent acoustics.

Musical Chairs that Make a Big Difference

October 4, 2010

The Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra concert last Thursday was a smash hit.  It was the debut concert for the orchestra’s new leader Paul Hostetter.  Reading his credits and past professional positions makes it easy to understand why his dynamic leadership paid off with a brilliant concert. 

I was so impressed with the CSU Philharmonic Orchestra performance I had to whip out my iPhone and take this picture.

How can Columbus State University attract such high-powered  talent? Money and respect. The extra money comes from endowments called Chairs.  Hostetter is the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair in Orchestral Conducting. That million-dollar-endowment made number 15 for the Schwob School.  And I am told there are more to come.   Add student scholarships to the roster of world-class faculty members attracted by impressive stipends and you get a good idea why Schwob is probably one of the finest music schools in the country, maybe the world.

Fred Cohen’s Gift to Maxine Schiffman

October 7, 2009
Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Fred Cohen, Director

Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Fred Cohen, Director, Dr. Gila Goldstein, piano soloist

 Just as I said it would be, the Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sunday afternoon concert was special.  In that context, “special” could be inferred as meaning good.  That’s not necessarily the case. Something can be especially bad, but  that was not the case Sunday.

The young musicians once again proved they are up to expertly playing the great classics . They nailed Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E-minor, OP 98, as best as I can tell. And, this time, they showed they were up to to playing a big, new,  and challenging  symphonic work.   That work is what made the concert special, because it was the world premier of Dr. Fred Cohen’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Maxine Schiffman, whose family foundation donated 67 Steinways to CSU Schwob School of Music

Maxine Schiffman, whose family foundation donated 67 Steinways to CSU Schwob School of Music

Dr. Cohen, who is Director of the Schwob School of Music, wrote the Concerto as a gift to Maxine Schiffman to show his appreciation for her family foundation’s  gift of 67 Steinway pianos to the school.  The word “Steinway” is to pianos what the word “Cadillac” is to cars. 

Dr. Gila Goldstein, CSU Professor of Piano

Dr. Gila Goldstein, CSU Professor of Piano

Professor Gila Goldstein brilliantly played the complex and unique concerto on one of the Steinways Sunday.  It’s a Hamburg Steinway.  The sound coming from it was indeed grand. 

What about the Concerto itself?  What was it like?  Was it good?  Not being a musicologist myself, how can I write a review on it?  I decided I can’t.  I can tell you my reaction to it, but it’s not an expert opinion.  All right, I will tell you my reaction to it.  It was exciting, and, since I was a drummer at one time, I really enjoyed the fact that Dr. Cohen effectively used a lot of percussion.  The sounds coming from the orchestra had a uniqueness to them. They certainly weren’t the harmonies of the Romantic and Classical periods of symphonic music.  They were contemporary, and some were dissonant. 

Piano Concerto featured unqiue sounds with lots of percussion. It takes a really big mute for a tuba.

Piano Concerto featured unique sounds with lots of percussion. It takes a really big mute for a tuba.

After the concert, I went out into the lobby looking for a real expert to get a take on the piece.  I found one, retired Columbus Symphony Orchestra violist and pediatrician Dr. Mary Schley. Our conversation went something like this:

“What did you think of the Piano Concerto?”

“It was magnificent!”

“What did you like  about it?”

“The wonderful colors that he gave us.  He is one of the best composers in being able to do that.”

“Could you hum any of it as you leave the theater?”

“I don’t need that.  After all, it’s not a Broadway musical.”

“The great composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms all gave us memorable melodies.”

“I need to hear it again.”

“So do I.”

“Maybe when we hear it again, some of those great colorful passages will provide melodies of color.”

Maybe they will.

I decided to ask a lay person for an impression of it.  “What do you think of concert?” I asked another doctor who was headed for the Spring Harbor bus. (Spring Harbor is a plush, expensive retirement facility.)  I’m not sure he knew I have a blog. So I won’t use his name.

“I liked two-thirds of it.”

“What was the third you didn’t like?”

With a wry smile, he said, “The one in the middle.”

“The Piano Concerto.”

“Right.  I am not much for contemporary music,” he said.  “It has too much dissonance in it.”

An honest answer.

Me? Well, I can enjoy some contemporary music.  I don’t need to hear knock-offs of the great classical composers.  I can get the real thing, and I did with the Mozart and Brahms.  I did enjoy the Piano Concerto because of that color that Dr. Schley talked about, those unique sounds coming not only coming from the orchestra, but also from the piano and, as I said,  the use of a lot of percussion.  As Dr. Schley said, we need to hear it again.