Piano Hands

nine-letter word

...for awesome, that is

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Music making!
Piano Hands
Well, I'm dustin' off my bloggin' shoes. (Yeah, I know it's been a while since I've written, but now I'm blogging under the sky again, so somebody's expecting something of me. Maybe. I dunno.) Awesome! Symphony under the Sky always feels so much more like the new year than January 1st ever could. Summer's over, it's time to get down to business. Or music-making. Or blogging. Or tweeting. Whatever floats your boat.

One of the things I like the most about Symphony under the Sky is that I get to watch people - I'm not a stalker! I just mean I often see the same faces year after year - volunteers and employees doing the same jobs, concertgoers in the same seats, musicians in their same roles. I love watching the ESO because even though I don't know many of the members personally, I feel like they're my orchestra. I've been living in Boston the past couple of years and sometimes go to watch the Boston Symphony Orchestra - most recently at Tanglewood!!! - and they're a great orchestra, but I don't feel like I know them. In some weird way, the ESO feels like my family! It's wonderful. You other SUTS regulars might even recognize me and my mom - we sit on grass seats in the lawn chair section, as close to the front¢re as we can. Tonight we were seen sporting toques, winter jackets, ski mitts, boots, fleece blankets, and thermoses of tea. Oh, we love September nights in Edmonton, yes we do!

So, just some of my thoughts on the music tonight:

Night on Bare Mountain - Mussorgsky
Everybody knows this piece from the movie Fantasia. Watching that part of the movie used to freak me out, but keep in mind, this comes from a kid who couldn't ever watch the part of Mickey and the Beanstalk when the beanstalk was growing because it was too scary. For me, it was a little hard to get into the mood of the piece tonight - not because of anything that happened musically, but because the weather became so pleasant! It was difficult to conjure up images of a stormy and possibly haunted night when I was watching the sun setting behind my favourite orchestra. The best part of it: at the exact moment when the church bells came in, signifying the sunrise and survival of the night, the sun came out from behind a cloud and hit my face. I got goosebumps, and it wasn't from the chilliness!

Italian Symphony - Mendelssohn
You know, I played a lot of Mendelssohn's music on the piano before I ever learned that he, unlike most of the other successful composers from the Romantic era, didn't really have any angst in his life. It was odd for me to learn that in my music history classes - then I felt like I had to go back and re-listen to the music from that perspective. It's kind of strange! But it's great too - Mendelssohn's life story gives me hope that I don't necessarily have to go through some kind of drama or trauma or something to be a successful professional musician. I'm very glad that Maestro Bernhardt brought up that point tonight about Mendelssohn. One clearly doesn't need to be a tragic figure in order to write beautiful music.
Oh, and on another note - this one's for the audience. Guys, don't clap between the movements! If Maestro Bernhardt doesn't turn around and acknowledge your applause (or if he just turns around for a split second with a wan smile on his face), and if there seem to be a bunch of people around you who aren't clapping, then you really ought not to be clapping either. I'm just sayin'.

Concerto in F - Gershwin
Edmonton? We are SO LUCKY to have somebody like Maestro Bill Eddins conducting our orchestra and playing the piano with us. Seriously! There are so few people out there who are respected as both professional conductors and professional instrumentalists in this world, and to have someone like Maestro Eddins who is AWESOME at both things hanging out in our city? Guys, that's amazing. I can't get over how amazing that is.
Watching and hearing Maestro Eddins play is such a treat for me. (Okay, I need to admit this - I tweeted Maestro Eddins today after the concert and I think he might think I'm creepy, but this is seriously just professional admiration here, folks.) I love that he came out in a SUTS hockey jersey to play, and I love that he was not afraid to show how much he enjoyed the music - he was bouncing along to the orchestral parts of the piece and played with so much joy that I couldn't help but smile through the whole thing. So many times I see pianists (and, well, any other instrumentalists too) play concertos with so much concentration it looks like they're in pain - and it also looks like they're forgetting why they play music in the first place, which is because they enjoy it. (Seriously, if you're in the music business for the money, you're in the wrong business.) Anyways - it was so refreshing to see Maestro Eddins enjoying the music he was playing. It kind of gave us permission to enjoy it too, if that makes sense. Gershwin is the kind of music that needs to be enjoyed out loud. Yay for Gershwin!

And that's all I got for tonight, folks - see you tomorrow!


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