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Christian Lane's "Organ Spooktakular"

I hope you're having a good Halloween!
Today Mom and I went with a large homeschool group to Christian Lane's "Organ Spooktakular" at Roy Thomson Hall for a lunch hour concert.

Christian Lane opened the concert with Tocatta in D Minor by J.S. Bach. I think everybody knows this piece. He played it really well. I wasn't expecting the extra trills that he played so it surprised me.
Carillion de Westminister, Opus 54, Number 6 by Louis Vierne wasn't really scary but he was very skillful with it. It must take a long time to be able to play with both of your hands and feet the way he does.

I really liked Prelude and Fugue in E minor by Bach. I think some of the kids in the audience were a little bored but I really liked it. I think Bach was really talented with the way he wrote for organ. He makes the player do acrobatics on the keys! Duo et Grand Choeur from Journal d'orgue by Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier was cool too!

Fantasmagorie by Jehan Alain was spooky and kind of creepy. It was perfect for Halloween.

I think my favourite pieces from this concert were the Choral Introduction and Toccata from Suite Gothique, Opus 25 by Leon Boellmann. They're both really dramatic and powerful. I could just picture myself listening to them inside some place like the Notre Dame in Paris.


The Weather

Last night we had wind and rain from Superstorm Sandy. We're safe.

During the storm Mom, Dad & I started reading Rob Kapilow's "What Makes it Great?" together. We read the first chapter. Dad had to explain what 78s are. It turns out that they were vinyl records that look kind of like CDs but they're bigger and they're black. We have a record player here but it's not for 78s. Mom played the clips  and Dad read and we had lots of fun reading all about Antonio Vivaldi's Spring (Movement 1). Here's a clip of it on youtube.

We also listened to Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland. It's so different from Vivaldi's Spring but you can feel the Spring in both of them.

It was nice listening to these songs especially in the not nice weather.


TSO & Rob Kapilow's What Makes it Great?

Last night I went to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony. They were conducted by Rob Kapilow. It was my second time going to one of his "What Makes it Great?" performances. (Last year I got to see them do "Spring" and "Summer" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Jennifer Koh.)

Rob Kapilow breaks the music down so that even my Mom can understand the music!

For Mozart's Jupiter Symphony he showed us how simple isn't always simple and how doing things slightly different can make a big difference.

We bought his book "What Makes It Great: Short Masterpieces, Great Composers"
He talks about masterpieces by composers like Bach, Handel, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. There is a website that has clips of what he's talking about in the book. We already downloaded the clips and I can't wait to read it and learn more about some of my favourite pieces of music.

The best part of the night was getting to meet him. He doesn't know it, but he's one of my musical heroes!

If you can't make it to one of Rob Kapilow's concerts you can hear him talk about "Summertime" by George Gershwin on NPR
There are links to other pieces as well, but Summertime is one of my favourites.

Here's a link to his website:


Classical Guitar - Drew Henderson

Here is a great piece by J.S. Bach played on guitar by Drew Henderson. It was written for the cello and Drew did the arrangement for guitar.
Pretty cool!

Here's another piece.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega played by Drew.


John Cage's 4'33

John Cage really did write a silent piece. I found out about it from the Horrible Histories Big Prom Party.
It's so funny! The orchestra doesn't play. They sit there quietly.
The conductor gives the downbeat and he uses a clock to time it.
You can hear all the coughs and you can see all the people looking at the orchestra.

Here's a recording of it:

I did find out that tacet means "It is silent".

I wonder how many bars each movement is?
What key signature is it written in?
Does the orchestra have to rehearse it?

Here's what John Cage says about 'silence'


The MILOŠ concert

I went to the MILOŠ  concert at Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music last night.
I am so happy I got to go!

Miloš Karadaglić is a classical guitarist and he's a great performer and entertainer. He seemed comfortable talking in front of everybody. He played songs that were slightly different from what was in the program but I was happy because he played one of my favourite songs in the world!

This is the song I'm talking about:
It's Albeniz's Asturias (Leyenda) - No.5 from Suite espanola op. 47
He said that if it weren't for this song he would have been a lawyer. 
The first time I heard it on the radio, I bugged my Mom to buy the CD on itunes. 

He played Batucata by Isias Savio. I really liked it. 

He also played Carlo Domeniconi's Koyunbaba. He tuned the guitar to C# minor instead of E.  I liked that he talked about it. We pictured ourselves on a cliff above the sea when we were listening to it. 

After the concert, Miloš signed CDs and we got the chance to meet him! He thinks I look like Jaden Smith. 

Here is a picture of the ceiling in Koerner Hall. It's different from any other ceiling I've seen. I wonder if it helps the sound?


Violincello da Spalla

This instrument is new to me but it is pretty old.
It's like a little cello that's held up. 
It must be heavy.

Here is a concerto written for the Violincello da Spalla by Antonio Vivaldi.


Get Well Uncle J.

This post is for my Uncle J.

Uncle J,
I hope you feel better soon!
I played these two songs for you. I hope you like them.

Minuet in D Minor by J.S. Bach

Play it Again by Christopher Norton


Horrible Histories Big Prom Party 2011

I love "Horrible Histories". It comes on on BBC Kids here. I got to see the Proms special on youtube.

It was great!
Nick Collon conducted the Aurora Orchestra and the cast of Horrible Histories performed with them.

They talked about Beethoven and Mozart and they argued over who was the greatest composer of all time. They also talked about Lully's 'stupid death' and gave a brief history of the orchestra! They even played some historical instruments like the lyre, serpent, rackett, crumhorn and the sackbutt.

I knew most of the songs but I looked up some. 
They played: 
  • Overture from "The Marriage of Figaro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss
  • Danse Macabre Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saens
  • Romeo avenging Mercutio's death from Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev
  • March to the Scaffold by Hector Berlioz
  • Royal Fireworks Music by George Frideric Handel
  • Marche pour la ceremonie des Turcs by Jean-Baptiste Lully
  • Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn
  • Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner

They also had some really cool songs by the cast of Horrible Histories like:
  • The 4 Georges
  • Richard III
  • Charles II
  • George IV 
  • Cleopatra
My favourite HH song is Henry VIII's song about his wives. "Divorced, beheaded and died. Divorced, beheaded, survived". I still can't believe three of his wives were named Catherine. 

(One interesting thing is that Jean-Baptiste Lully was Louis XIV's composer. Louis XIV built the Chateau de Versailles. I visited Versailles when I was in France in May.) 


Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers - Beethoven

Mom asked me to do a book report for English class but I really don't want to do it.
I am going to do it here (online) instead because I can give links to some music.

Title: Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers - Ludwig van Beethoven
Author: Mike Venezia

The book is a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven who was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany. 

Beethoven was a composer and his music was different from the cheerful, classical music that people listened to at the time. He grew up in Europe when things were changing. Everybody now thought that they were equally important even if they weren't born rich. It was the time of the French Revolution.

He wrote the Revolutionary Symphony in honour of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Here is a link to the first movement on youtube.

Beethoven was 4 years old when he started learning music but he had to stand on a stool to reach the keys. His Dad would work him very hard. He would hit his knuckles when he made a mistake.

I think the most  interesting fact about Beethoven is that he was deaf and still composed when he was older. He was deaf when he composed the Ninth Symphony.

Beethoven was crabby and unfriendly. But I think it's because he couldn't hear people very well. He needed an 'ear trumpet' to hear sounds.

I would recommend this book to any young person interested in Beethoven's life. I liked the comics inside which made the book more interesting. I would also recommend listening to the songs that they mention in the book. You can find a lot of them on youtube.