Friday, November 30, 2012

A Bugler’s Holiday with the Symphonic Band

It’s a bugler’s holiday with the HSU Symphonic Band on Friday November 30 at Fulkerson Hall, but there’s more. It’s also a tribute to gum-suckers, a dramatic sunset, a visit to Electric Park, a Mexican anthem and a rare demonstration of the art of “the smear.”

Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday—a holiday favorite since the 1950s--centers the Band’s holiday concert, with solos by three student trumpeters: Jesse Burns, Andrew Henderson and McKenna Smith. “The audience should be very impressed with their playing,” commented conductor Paul Cummings. “They are really terrific.”

Percy Grainger learned to write band music in the U.S. Army Band in World War I, but he remembered the folk melodies of his Australian boyhood. He combined the two in “The Gum-Suckers March,” named for a local habit in Victoria, Australia of sucking on eucalyptus leaves. “It has a lyrical section but it’s mostly raucous,” Cummings said. “It’s a challenging piece for all the instruments, and not your typical march.”

When composer Robert Bennett as a boy walked past the dance hall in the turn-of-the-century amusement park called Electric Park, he heard snatches of popular tunes of the time. This music is reflected in his Suite of Old American Dances, the main work on the program. “The five movements show the music moving from dances like the waltz and the western one- step to ragtime, as popular music was becoming more influenced by jazz,” Cummings said. Bennett went on to become the legendary arranger for 1940s-60s Broadway musicals.

  “Zacatecas,” is a late 19th century march written by Genaro Codina to win a muncipal band concert, but its popularity grew to such proportions that it is now considered the second national anthem of Mexico.

  The only slow piece on the program is “Dusk” by contemporary American composer Steven Bryant, which reflects on the dual nature of the sunset, it’s “dramatic stillness.” “It’s the contrast of the calmness of that time of day with the intense fiery hues of the sky,” Cummings explained.

Now about that smear. “It’s a little known genre for wind band—a style of light march music in which the trombones use their slide to create melodic effects that cannot be done on any other instrument—at least not very easily,” Cummings said. Five trombonists display the smear technique in the most famous example of this genre, Henry Fillmore’s “Lassus Trombone.” “Lassus” stands for molasses, as in smooth as molasses... or as a slide trombone.

  The HSU Symphonic Band performs on Friday November 30 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $7/$3/free to HSU students with i.d. from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye
Conductor's Notes by Paul Cummings

Zacatecas (1892) by Genaro Codina

Zacatecas is a state in Mexico where Genaro Codina was born and raised, and never left. The municipal band had a composition contest, and Codina won it with this march. Since then it’s become amazingly famous in Mexico. It’s known as Mexico’s second national anthem.

Dusk (2004) by Steven Bryant

This is our one and only slow piece on the program—and it’s a very, very slow piece. The tempo marking is a quarter note equals 48 beats a minute--so slow that some metronomes don’t even go down to that speed. It’s a challenge to play.

 This piece attempts to capture the spirit of sunset. In the introduction to the score he writes, “This simple chorale-like work captures the reflective calm of dusk, paradoxically illuminated by the fiery hues of sunset. I’m always struck by the dual nature of this experience, as if witnessing an event of epic proportions silently occurring in slow motion. Dusk is intended as a short, passionate evocation of this moment of dramatic stillness.” That’s one of the best descriptions of a piece by a composer I’ve ever read.

Bryant is a living American composer in his 40s, gaining national recognition mostly because he includes electronica in his works for acoustic instruments. This particular piece doesn’t do that, but that’s his claim to fame.

Gum-Suckers March (1914) by Percy Grainger

We do a lot of Grainger’s music, as do most collegiate wind bands, because he’s written more for wind bands than any other composer. He was born in Australia, went to Europe and lived for awhile in England. He started out as a concert pianist—he was famous for performing the world premiere of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. But he emigrated in the United States towards the end of World War I, and joined the U.S. Army Band, which he where he learned how to write for wind band.

Gum-Suckers March incorporates an Australian folk song in the middle of it—something Grainger did in other pieces. This folk song is the one lyric moment. Otherwise it is a raucous piece, and a challenging one for all the instruments. Its Australian roots are in the title as well as the folk melody. Gum-suckers refers to the people from the state of Victoria in Australia, and the local habit of sucking the leaves of eucalyptus trees for their flavor, until the leaf turns kind of gum-like.

Bugler’s Holiday (1954) by Leroy Anderson

This is a famous piece from 1954, often done around the holiday season. It features three soloists who will be out in front of the band. I know the audience will be impressed with them—they are really terrific. It’s a delightful, toe-tapping piece—not really pop music, but sort of light Americana. It’s sort of in the vein of Victor Herbert and his operettas. It’s the type of piece that the John Philip Sousa band did on their tours, mixed in with marches, opera arias and transcriptions of orchestral overtures.

Suite of Old American Dances (1949) by Robert Bennett

This is by far the most substantial work on the program—a five movement work, with each movement centered on a particular dance that was popular in America in the early 20th century.

  Bennett’s original title for this suite was “Electric Park,” because when he was growing up in Kansas City he often went to the amusement park of that name. He recalled spending many hours, walking past the dance hall there and hearing a little combo inside playing these various dances. Later he wrote, “I had a nice name for it but you know how publishers are. They know their customers and we authors never seem to.” The publishers made him change it to Suite of Old American Dances.

The five dances are the Cakewalk, the Schottische-- a Scottish waltz which is actually more similar to a polka in 2/4 time, the Western One-Step, Wallflower Waltz and Rag. It’s a wonderful piece, with lots of demanding rhythmic playing because Bennett uses jazz rhythms that were coming into vogue in the first decade of the 20th century.

  Bennett is probably best known as the greatest Broadway arranger who ever lived. He worked with all the great composers of the 40s, 50s and into the 60s. He took their scores—often just a lead piano sheet—and fully orchestrated them for the Broadway pit orchestra. Oklahoma, Showboat, Kiss Me Kate, Sound of Music, Camelot, Porgy and Bess, Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady and a lot more--he really knew how to write for a small pit ensemble, and his concert band pieces are great.

Lassus Trombone (1915) by Henry Fillmore

This is a piece from the little known genre for wind band called “the smear.” No one should be too upset if they didn’t learn about it in music appreciation class, because it’s a style of light march music in which trombones use their slide to create wonderful melodic effects that cannot be done on any other instrument—at least not very easily.

Since trombones can produce an infinite range of pitches within one partial of the harmonic series, it’s capable of doing smears-- the technical term is glissando. So this piece is based on this technical capability. Other instruments call do glissando but they basically go pitch by pitch in the equal tempered chromatic scale. The trombone doesn’t have to bother with the equal tempered chromatic scale because it can produce every micro pitch in between the standard 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

We have five trombonists out in front of the band displaying their smear technique for one and all. Fillmore wrote a number of smears but this one is by far the most famous. John Philip Sousa performed it daily for years with his band. You’ll hear it—along with Bugler’s Holiday—in almost every municipal band concert in the summer, in hundreds of small towards throughout the United States.

Somebody asked Fillmore what the title meant, and he said “Why, molasses, of course. I thought of molasses on bread for breakfast, dinner and supper.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Operation: Rhythmic Tornado-- Alex Espe, Aaron Loughlin, Ian Taylor, Josh Foster, Justin Bertolini, Thatcher Holvick-Norton. One of five jazz combos performing in two shows Nov. 11.

Choose Your Jazz in Two Shows at Fulkerson Hall

  There may be no such thing as too much jazz, but this fall there was too much for one Jazz Combos concert—so Fulkerson Recital Hall will host two separate shows with a total of five combos on Sunday November 11.

The 7 p.m. show features two groups: the all-acoustic La Musique Diabolique (Drew McGowan, violin; Dan Fair and Kris Lang, guitars; Steven Workman, bass) and Tafkatdaq (Nev Mattinson, vibes; Jason Hall, guitar; Matt Engleman, bass; and Tyler Burkhart, drums.)

Three other combos perform for the 9 p.m. show. The Monday Sextet features Claire Bent on vocals, Danny Gaon on bassoon, Ari Davie on trumpet, Aber Miller on piano, Brian Hennesy on bass and Kevin Amos on drums. The Monday trio is Joe Welnick (piano,) Keith Brown (bass) and Matt Cox (drums.) The electric Operation: Rhythmic Tornado (Justin Bertolini, trumpet; Josh Foster, trombone; Aaron Laughlin, guitar; Alex Espe, piano; Ian Taylor, bass; Thatcher Holvick-Norton, drums) completes the evening.

  “If there's a theme to the evening,” said Jazz Combos director Dan Aldag, “it's eclecticism. There are tunes from the 1930s to 2012 played in styles from the gypsy jazz in the style of Django Reinhardt to swing and bebop, jazz-rock fusion and post-modern. Several groups also show the influence of the pop music that all the students listened to as they grew up.”

Jazz Combos perform at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $7/$3/free to HSU students with i.d. from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Dan Aldag, produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye

Saturday, November 10, 2012

 The Cornet section of Humboldt Bay Brass Band. Back, left to right: Chris Cox, Sean Gill, Tom Cover, Leon Hamilton, & Ryan Brown. Front, left to right: Fredéric Bélanger, Molly Harvis, Victoria Sacramento, and John Ferreira. Similar to an orchestra, the cornet section is one-third of an entire brass band.

Heroes and Warriors with the Humboldt Bay Brass Band

The Humboldt Bay Brass Band salutes veterans and the Olympics in its “Heroes and Warriors” concert on Saturday, November 10 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

The concert will include several familiar tunes, including the Colonel Bogey March from The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Bugler’s Dream, which includes the famous theme used by ABC for its Olympic coverage. It is played on natural (no valve) signal trumpets by the group within the band, Trumpet Consort von Humboldt, which performed it this summer at the international symposium of the Historic Brass Society in New York.

  Other selections carrying forward the themes include Old Comrades, a quick-step march by William Rimmer, Heroes and Warriors by contemporary British composer Rodney Newton and Requiem and Prayer by Anton Bruckner, which Humboldt Bay Brass Band director Gilbert Cline describes as “calm and reflective.”

The Light Cavalry Overture by Franz von Suppe is another well-known tune, familiar from numerous soundtracks and advertisements. In addition, four cornet soloists combine on “Bugler’s Holiday,” the 1950s hit by Leroy Anderson, and the band plays a brass version of the Dave Brubeck Quartet classic, “Take Five.”

Humboldt Bay Brass Band performs on Saturday November 10 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $7/$3/free to HSU students with i.d. from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Gilbert Cline, produced by the HSU Music Department. 

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, Tri-City Weekly
The Program
Humboldt Bay Brass Band
with brief notes by director Gilbert Cline

 Light Cavalry Overture by  F. von Suppe

 Classic that references veterans of collective ancestry.

The Golden Hinde (tone poem) by Drake Rimmer

In music, describes voyages of Sir Francis Drake. A golden hinde is a doe. "The Golden Hind or Hinde was an English galleon best known for its circumnavigation of the globe between 1577 and 1580, captained by Sir Francis Drake. She was originally known as the Pelican, but was renamed by Drake mid-voyage in 1578.

The Dam Busters by Eric Coates

Music from the 1955 movie of the same name, about a British air operation in World War II. Begins with the sound of four-engine heavy bombers. Ends with the addition of pipe organ.

Colonel Bogey by Kenneth Alford

Used in the 1957 British World War II movie, Bridge on the River Kwai. Be prepared to whistle along!

Take Five by Dave Brubeck

The classic cool jazz tune, written by a great Californian, joining world dance music with jazz. Complete on this concert with jazz solos.

A L’Etendard by  F. Buhle / Bugler’s Dream by Leo Arnaud

The themes heard on ABC sports from the 1960s but here with the complete first suite. Based on the 1830s cavalry signal trumpet theme by Buhle.

 Heroes and Warriors by Rodney Newton

Exciting single movement work featuring timpani, and mini-fugues.

Requiem and Prayer by Anton Bruckner

Beautiful; calm; vocal in nature; reflective.

Old Comrades by William Rimmer

A “quick step” march, tempo 140 beats per minute!

Bugler’s Holiday by Leroy Anderson

The famous 1950s American hit, here featuring four cornet soloists!

The Humboldt Bay Brass Band:

E-flat Soprano Cornet: Chris Cox; B-flat Cornets: Fréderic Bélanger, Ryan Brown, Tom Cover, McKenna Smith, Sean Gill, Victoria Sacramento, John Ferriera, Leon Hamilton, & Molly Harvis; Flügelhorn: Gary Ross; Tenor Horns: Matt Morgan, Anwyn Halliday, & Spencer Hitzeroth; Baritone Horns: Toshi Noguchi & William Zoller; Trombones: George Epperson, Matthew Brown, & Corey Tamondong; Euphoniums: Phil Sams & Joshua Perkins; Basses (tubas): Jerry Carter, Ryan Egan, Matt Farquar-Leicester, Wilson Bowles, and Joyce Carter. Percussion: Grace Kerr, Nev Mattinson, & Dylan Williams, & Molly Newkirk; Organ: Joe Welnick.

Friday, November 09, 2012

photo (l to r, back to front): HSU Guitar Ensemble members Greg Willis, director Nicholas Lambson, Rory Urquhart, Justin Santos, Dan Fair, Jason Hall, Jerry Olofsson, Kris Lang, Nigel Gunn.

  Guitar Ensemble Explores the 20th Century

The HSU Guitar Ensemble explores twentieth century music in its fall concert on Friday November 9 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Students Charlie Sleep and Justin Santos perform the Tango Suite by Astor Piazzolla. “He revitalized the old tango style and incorporated more modern harmonies,” said Ensemble director and HSU professor Nicholas Lambson. “Piazzolla’s music is extremely passionate, seductive and fiery.”

The quartet of Jerry Olofsson, Greg Willis, Tyler Vaughan and Rory Urquhart plays John Duarte’s Little Suite.  Duarte’s background was in jazz, and his style is “essentially a mixture of the traditional and the decidedly modern. Little Suite is an excellent example.”

Members of the Ensemble perform three works by famous composers who didn’t write for guitar, though “the guitar would have suited them very well.” Jason Hall and Dan Fair play Debussy’s Reverie, Kris Lang and Nigel Gunn play Arabian Dance by Bartok, and a quartet of Sleep, Santos, Olofsson and Lang perform Pavane for a Dead Princess by Ravel.

A quartet of Hall, Olofsson, Lang and Fair will play the most unusual work on the program: Mbira, written by William Kanengiser for “prepared” guitar, with instruments altered in ways analogous to John Cage’s “prepared piano.” Lambson recalls that his own student quartet wrote to Kanengiser and his Los Angeles Guitar Quartet to obtain this unpublished music. “Performing this piece was a highlight of my studies,” he said, “and I hope the same is true for the quartet playing it on November 9.”

   HSU Guitar Ensemble performs on November 9 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $7/$3/free to HSU students with i.d. from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Nicholas Lambson, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now, North Coast Journal, Arcata Eye
The Program
 HSU Guitar Ensemble Concert November 9, 2012
Nicholas Lambson, Director

Tango Suite by Astor Piazzolla
Performed by: Charlie Sleep and Justin Santos

Little Suite by John Duarte
Jerry Olofsson, Greg Willis, Tyler Vaughan, Rory Urquhart

Reverie by Claude Debussy, Arranged by Laurindo Almeida
Jason Hall and Dan Fair

Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) by  Maurice Ravel  
Charlie Sleep, Justin Santos, Jerry Olofsson, Kris Lang

Arabian Dance by Bela Bartok
Kris Lang and Nigel Gunn

Mbira by William Kanengiser
Jason Hall, Jerry Olofsson, Kris Lang and Dan Fair

Concert Notes by Nicholas Lambson, Director

Last academic year, the HSU Guitar Ensemble focused on music from Spain. In the spirit of these themed concerts, which explore the various genres that the guitar belongs to, we are now going to focus on music from the 20th century. While I definitely enjoy music from all time periods, the 20th century to me is the most interesting. Within this 100-year period, there are a multitude of styles ranging from atonality to Rock. While it is not possible to include every 20th century style in one concert, our program is certainly diverse.

Astor Piazzolla is a fascinating musician and composer from Argentina. He is universally loved by performers and audience members, and it is very common to see his works on programs by professionals and students alike. Piazzolla studied with the great Nadia Boulanger, as did many other great composers of the day including Aaron Copland. Boulanger is a somewhat rare figure in that she is very well known as a pedagogue, although she was also a fine composer. I believe that one of her greatest strengths was the ability to discover her students’ own musical voice and cultivate that. With Copland, it was American music; with Piazzolla, it was Tango music.

Piazzolla revitalized the old tango style and created Tango Nuevo which incorporated more modern harmonies, scales, and other contemporary compositional techniques. Stylistically, Piazzolla’s music is extremely passionate, seductive, and fiery. The Tango Suite was written for the famous Assad Duo who are brothers and come from a large musical family in Brazil. The Assad brothers tour extensively and are considered by many to be the preeminent guitar duo in the world right now, perhaps of all time. One of the members, Sergio, is a faculty member at my alma mater, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The suite has three movements, and the Andante is the second lyrical movement. While it is not as flashy as the other movements, it is a fine example of the kind of passion that Piazzolla is known for.

John Duarte is an interesting figure in the guitar world. While he did not have a traditional musical education, he studied Jazz guitar, studied on his own, and was proficient on other instruments as well. Playing bass, he sat in with Jazz greats Coleman Hawkins and Django Reinhardt. He was also well connected with other such guitar luminaries as Ida Presti and Andres Segovia, who was the most highly esteemed guitarist of the time. Segovia was so influential that any other composers and musicians that he associated with and respected were in turn respected by the international community.

 John Duarte was a gifted composer and musician, but he was also an academic and a socialite. He has written countless articles for all of the top guitar publications, wrote liner notes for major artists, and contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He frequently hosted gatherings which brought together various other important composers and performers in the guitar world. These meetings culminated in various collaborations and allowed for a free exchange of ideas. Segovia was certainly present at of many of those meetings, and met the number of other composers that he would go on to work with, creating new repertoire for the guitar. Segovia and Duarte became friends as well as professional collaborators. Duarte composed the music for Segovia's wedding. Duarte’s style is essentially a mixture of the traditional and the decidedly modern.

The nature of his Little Suite is an excellent example of this. The dance suite was a fixture of instrumental music in the Baroque era, though the dances themselves came from individual nations in Europe during the Renaissance. By using the form of the suite, Duarte draws upon historical and somewhat familiar music, and indeed the two movements that we will be performing, the Anglaise and the Gigue, very clearly recall dances that are hundreds of years old. However, Duarte frequently plays with the listener’s expectations by incorporating very modern elements.

For example, in the Anglaise, Duarte alters what would otherwise be a very traditional musical device used in the Renaissance and Baroque. There is a short melody that is passed around the group, which normally would be repeated exactly by each member using the same notes but staggered by a measure or two, or it would be repeated up or down a perfect fourth/fifth. Instead, Duarte has each member repeat the same melody only a note apart. After all the members enter, a cluster of notes is formed which was a very modern practice and indeed. Often the effect is one of surprise, where dissonance is introduced suddenly in an otherwise traditional passage. Other times, Duarte walks us gently into a modern idiom, which blurs the distinction between the two. A final interesting note on this work – the first movement has the interior voices harmonizing in 2nds! This, along with the clusters, definitely makes the work sound very modern and very tense. This clash is resolved later in a more traditional way in the Gigue, which is another iteration of the mix of traditional and modern in this work.

Half of the pieces on this program are actually arrangements for guitar, which is a very common occurrence. The guitar has a complicated relationship with the musical community. It exists somewhere between folk/popular music and classical. I've often felt this to be its greatest strength, and occasionally also its greatest weakness.

 Case in point, the next three composers on our program did not write for the guitar, though they were some of the most influential composers of all time and in many ways the guitar would have suited them very well. I believe that good arrangements are based on the idea that the music will translate well to the new instrument or instruments. I believe this to be the case with the following works.

We will be performing works by the two main French Impressionist composers, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Claude Debussy is credited with being the father of the style. He was a great innovator who inspired, or at least influenced, every composer that followed to some extent. He tested and defied convention through his progressive use of harmony, timbre, form, and expression. He also stands as one of the great composers for the piano, and has helped define the entire genre as Chopin did before him.

 Reverie is a famous work that is a good representation of his style. The harmonies in particular are very progressive and utilize harmonic extensions, as well as Debussy’s usual synthetic scales here and there. The arranger, Laurindo Almeida, was a classical and jazz guitarist who specialized in Latin American music. In addition to touring extensively, he has done a number of arrangements and has also published a method book.

Maurice Ravel is the other main composer in this style. Debussy and Ravel were contemporaries and were similar in many ways, but they were not terribly close and were quite different. Both composers were influenced by exoticism, their national heritage, and used progressive harmonic techniques among other things, but they did so in their own ways. Ravel was particularly interested in blues and jazz, and incorporated their traits into his own language. He also invested his time into other “exotic” works evocative of distant lands, his Bolero being an extremely famous example.

  One of Ravel’s most famous works is the Pavane for a Dead Princess, which was dedicated to his patron, the Princess de Polignac, and is meant to evoke a Spanish court of the past when a Pavane might have been danced. It was originally composed for piano, though it has been arranged many times. Ravel was himself a master at orchestration and arranging, and orchestrated this work himself, along with many others. His orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a fine example, and is so famous and convincing that many do not realize that it was originally a piano work.

 This arrangement is for guitar quartet. I find that Impressionist works are nearly impossible to pull off on solo guitar because of the thick textures required. Reverie is able to get by with two guitars, but I believe the Pavane works much better with four.

Bela Bartok holds a special place in the annals of music history. He was a master composer, ethnomusicologist, and a pedagogue. He is considered to be the first real musicologist. From an early age, he was inspired to travel to remote villages in Eastern Europe to study the music of the people there. He transcribed melodies and later did field recordings to allow for further study. This love for non-Western music is clearly represented in many of his works.

 However, Bartok was also a progressive Western composer who pushed the boundaries of harmony, melody, rhythm, and form. It is not uncommon to see both sides in his music, and that is the case with Arabian Dance. This piece actually comes from his 44 Violin Duets. The works translate extremely well to the guitar in many respects including the keys used. With this particular piece, everything remains intact except for a long, sustained bowed note in the original. Bartok evokes the Arabian aspect by using the augmented 2nd throughout the work, heightened by a semi-ornamented melodic style. Bartok also subverts the meter with melodies that do not “fit in-between the lines.”

  Mbira is a very special work in many ways. There are few works like it for any instrumentation, mostly because of the style and the prepared guitar techniques used. Mbira was composed by a member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, William Kanengiser, which they recorded. While I was earning my undergraduate degrees, my guitar quartet decided to write and ask for a copy of the score since it had not been published. They graciously sent us the score, and performing that piece was a highlight of my studies, and I hope that the same is true for the quartet playing it on November 9th.

  An mbira is an African thumb piano, also sometimes called a kalimba. A small wooden box is held in both hands, and the thumbs press on small metal tines that are similar to piano keys to make sound. Not only does this work employ some African musical devices, it requires the performers to alter the sound of the guitar to mimic the mbira.

 A strong representation of African music is achieved through the use of syncopation, cross-rhythms, and rhythmic layering. To achieve the mbira effect, the players “prepare” the guitar strings by crimping staples around pairs of strings. Most players crimp one staple around the first two strings, placed close to the bridge, though one guitar adds another staple to the third and fourth strings. American experimental composer John Cage is famous for his prepared piano works (among other things), where various objects are placed directly on the strings of the piano to achieve new timbres. There are a number of prepared guitar works out there as well which can use alligator clips, bottle caps, and fishing line sinkers to name a few. I hope to do another piece that uses all of those techniques next semester, but until then this prepared guitar piece definitely achieves the desired effect of making the guitar sound like an mbira!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Opera Workshop Puts the Comic Back in Opera

HSU Opera Workshop puts the comic back in opera with a series of spoofs on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Famous opera characters visit a TV talk show in a spoof by Milton Granger to discuss the topic “My Dad Works for My Boyfriend.” The three characters from Verdi’s Rigoletto bring operatic passion to the subject. The Workshop also performs scenes from Granger’s zany Peter Rabbit in the Garden of Doom.

Composer Seymour Barab provides more musical mirth, including some four-part harmony on 1950s tunes, as well as deconstructing the hysterics of Bizet’s Carmen in a staged excerpt from his Opera Plotz

The Opera Workshop, directed by Elisabeth Harrington, performs on November 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $7/$3/free to HSU students with i.d. from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by the HSU Music Department.  

Media: Tri-City Weekly, Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye