For the past few months, the Pepper editors have listened to mountains of music to find the best choices for our Pepper Live events, and we’re looking forward to sharing all that new music with you. If you’ve never joined us for a reading session, we’d like to share our top five reasons for attending:
In March, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and music associations across the nation celebrate Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM). It is a time to appreciate the importance of music to the formation of young minds and its value in our everyday lives.
Every spring, orchestra teachers anticipate getting next year’s rosters. They give a good indication of the instrumentation they’ll be working with in the coming fall when school begins.
You have decided on the trip, made all the preparations, and your students and parent groups have been hard at work raising the funds to ensure that every student can participate. Now it is time to choose the repertoire that you will be presenting.
Performance planning is rarely the highlight of any music director’s season. Designing your concert may be enjoyable in itself, but the stress that comes with finding the right music, keeping track of what you have and haven’t reviewed, and deciding on the best concert order can begin to weigh on anyone after a while.
Our editors have their work cut out for them when choosing which titles to include in our Editors’ Choice series each year. We did some digging to find out which titles Pepper customers favored this past year and were pleased to see that, for the most part, you liked what we liked. Here is a list of the top 10 picks for both band and choir music, amongst you, our customers!
One of the highlights of the holiday season is enjoying one of the many music programs that add so much to the season. While attending one such holiday concert, I experienced an added touch that really enhanced the evening’s performance.
I recently enjoyed a Ballston Spa Community Band concert while attending the New York State School Music Conference in Albany, New York. Prior to the concert, I had the opportunity to meet the conductor, Ms. Tracy DeRagon. One of the pieces programmed generated a rather interesting conversation.
Concert etiquette is important as it shows respect for both performers and fellow audience members alike. Musicians that pursue their craft in earnest grow to appreciate the hard work and just plain guts it takes to take the stage and carry out a musical performance. When I taught middle school, we included concert etiquette as part of the general music curriculum and reinforced the concept at concerts. A brief concert etiquette guide was listed on the back of concert programs, stating a few obvious points such as waiting until a piece is concluded if you must leave the room, and refraining from talking while the music is being performed. When the Principal made his opening remarks to begin the concert, he would often draw attention to the guide. This brief mention supported the effort of the musicians on stage, and pointed to the responsibility of the audience to be courteous during the concert. It effectively set the tone in the auditorium (or gym, or cafeteria.)
Here’s a perspective on concert etiquette provided by MENC featuring renowned music advocate and motivational speaker, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.
If you have ideas that work for you in promoting concert etiquette, please share them and we’ll post them here.
When we think of classical music we conjure sounds of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Wagner, and Copland, among others. But it’s no secret that with that love of the classics often comes a noticeable hesitation to embrace contemporary classical music, a genre encompassing works composed from the mid-1970s to the present day.
Finding an audience for modern music that is perceived as awkward and unpleasant is not easy. Fortunately there are major orchestras that, through artist residency programs, openly support works from new composers. But should we as listeners take a chance on contemporary classical music? As rhetorical as this question might sound, I believe that I have nothing to lose and attempting to answer it will only help the longevity of classical music as a whole. In other words, why not?
Spaces Between (2006) – Jen Wang
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D major, op. 102 no. 2 – Ludwig van Beethoven
S.T.I.C. (1995) – Dan Becker (b. 1960)
This was a new kind of symphonic experience, an auditory buffet that introduced me to contemporary music paired with pieces that were not so contemporary, without program notes or a pre-concert lecture. Instead, prior to each piece the members of the ensemble would demonstrate each piece’s contrasting styles through the recitation of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” It was fascinating to realize the vast differences between Beethoven’s counterpoint and Carter’s complexity, explained through a well-known folk tune.
This process gave the audience a chance to learn about each piece and the composer’s creative approach that created it. It enabled us to personalize the music as it was played, therefore making it more difficult to dismiss it as inaccessible. Kathyrn Bates Williams, founding member and cellist, states in her blog, “Listening to all music is important. It distinguishes the artistic values that we appreciate and those we don’t. It brings us surprises both good and bad.” I can’t help but agree with her. It’s a risk, a small risk that we take in seeing contemporary concerts, equivalent to trying a new restaurant.
After the concert we filed into the lobby where the composers Jen Wang and Dan Becker mingled with the audience. Suddenly it dawned on me how important it was for these two artists that there even was an audience, that it possibly didn’t matter whether or not I actually liked their music.
This is an extremely liberating concept for me as a listener and performer. The New Spectrum Ensemble strives to promote contemporary composers, and to accomplish that it took me on a strange journey made available through their unique, tongue-in-cheek programming. My journey might result in me not liking everything that I hear and that’s ok. In the end all that matters is that I showed up and listened.
Meet the members of the New Spectrum Ensemble here: www.thenewspectrum.com. Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about contemporary classical music or just looking for an informative website from one of today’s most entertaining musical thinkers, please check out Alex Ross, music writer for The New Yorker. His website and blog are located at www.therestisnoise.com