Posts Tagged ‘symphony’

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.