Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Little Blogging Here & There

This weekend, I hope to begin teaching a class at the State Street Academy in beautiful downtown Harrisburg, an “Introduction to Theory and History” for the music students there. It's kind of an experiment, beginning it mid-year: it meets only 8 times, due to scheduling issues, so it's not much of a “course” and I have no idea how varied the levels of the students, however many may sign up for it, will be.

But the important thing is getting some background information in front of them as they take lessons on their instruments, information that will make them better musicians as well as better-informed listeners. So we'll see how it goes: if it's a success, there may be enough students to warrant a regular two-semester class starting in the fall.

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UPDATE: So far, there are 11 students signed up for the class!
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This weekend - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm - also marks the “Winterscapes” concert with the Harrisburg Symphony, featuring Jennifer Higdon's “SkyLine” (the opening of “CityScape”), the Symphonic Dances of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Augustin Hadelich returning to the Forum as the soloist.

You can hear the podcast Stuart Malina and I recorded about the program – he describes the orchestra's reaction to hearing Hadelich play Mozart's “Turkish” Concerto a few seasons ago and how excited he is to be bringing him back to do the Beethoven concerto which he views as an extension of the Mozart tradition rather than a precursor of the traditional 19th Century virtuosic concerto most listeners are familiar with.

There are also two posts in the “Up Close and Personal” series on the concerto – the first is more about the circumstances of its composition and the impact of Beethoven's impending deafness on his life at this time in his career; the second focuses on one structural facet of the first movement – a seemingly insignificant drum-beat in the first measure – and the concerto's context within the other works Beethoven was writing that year and what Viennese concertgoers were listening to at the time.

Last week, the Cypress Quartet and composer Jennifer Higdon were in town for a concert with Market Square Concerts which I blogged about here. I really do want to come back to this in a subsequent post, but I've been kind of in the writing doldrums, trying to get back in the mood to compose after a week spent following the earthquake in Haiti and then figuring out what to say about a work as familiar as Beethoven's Violin Concerto (then cutting it down to around 3,000 words).

And this Sunday evening, the winners of the Grammys will be announced. Not that I intend to sit through the TV broadcast – I'll check on line where they'll eventually post the winners of the Classical Division. Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto is nominated for Best Contemporary Composition. You can read about all the nominees here – and then stay tuned: I'll be posting the list of winners here as soon as I can!

Meanwhile, it's going to get cold again here in Central Pennsylvania as winter returns after a couple weeks of “above-average” temperatures. Monday, it was in the 60s – hardly enjoyable, though, given the 1.5” of rain and the 40-50 mph winds. Friday and Saturday, the forecast highs are to be in the mid-20s with the possibility of “some snow.” Appropriate for a concert called “Winterscapes.”

52 Days till Spring, regardless of what the groundhog says next Tuesday...

- Dr. Dick

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