Archive for the ‘Music’ category

My Funeral Music

April 23, 2017

2000px-GClef.svgSo, my post the other day about funerals got me thinking. Joe, what about your funeral. Mind you, I’m not planning on checking out any time soon, but you never know. So I had a chat with Paula about what music I would like played at my funeral. A while back, I had created a playlist on my iPhone titled “My Funeral Music”. So here’s my list. You might not be able to play it all inside of 60 minutes. If you are reading this (and have some time), hook up your ear buds and spend some time listening to the pieces.

  1. The intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. This is the music that is heard between the two acts of the opera. One of the most beautiful, relaxing piece of music I have ever heard.”
  2. Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I first heard this piece at a music appreciation class when I was in college. The professor was talking about 5/4 time signature which is a tad unusual. 5/4 time is five beats to the measure and 1/4 note gets one beat. He was comparing “Tchaikovsky – Sixth Symphony – Second Movement” to “Take Five” (both in 5/4 time)
  3.  A Hymn to New England by John Williams. This version is played by the Boston Pops with pictures of New England Scenery.
  4. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. This rag time piece was made famous in recent years by reason of its use in the film “The Sting” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. There was a time when I could play this but I don’t have the hand strength to play the octaves anymore.
  5. Heigh Ho from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. This is probably one the most recognized (and loved) Disney tunes. When I first started playing the organ for my lodge back in Mass.I would play this tune at the beginning of every meeting. I don’t play it as much anymore. Maybe, I will push it up the stack for our next meeting.  Here’s another version done by Dave Brubeck in the album “Dave Digs Disney” done in 1957. Dave Brubeck is one of my all time favorite Jazz artists. Paula and I saw him in concert about a dozen years ago. Still touring into his 80’s. Amazing. And it that’s not enough heigh ho’ing for you, here is Louis Armstrong doing Heigh Ho.
  6. Next up would be the second movement from Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto. This piece was made popular by the movie “Elvira Madigan” back in 1967.
  7. Now let’s get into some actual hymns. First on my list would be How Great Thou Art, followed closely by Amazing Grace.  And one more for my friend at OVBC, Daryl “What a Friend We Have in Jesus“.

Leonard Cohen, RIP

November 11, 2016

11cohen_leonard_web1-master768I was saddened to hear today that Leonard Cohen had died. Mr Cohen had such a great body of work, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are the lyrics to the opening stanza to “Hallelujah”

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Here’s a video of a performance of “Hallelujah”:

Leonard Cohen’s most recent album was released in October 2016. Here’s the link on Amazon. Also, get the “Essential Leonard Cohen“. As if there isn’t any non-essential Leonard Cohen.

One more song and then I’m done. This is the song “Suzanne”. I think the first version I ever heard was the one done by Judy Collins, long, long ago. One of the first loves of my life was named Suzanne. Long, Long time ago.

Rach 3

October 20, 2016

Today, I am continuing on the music theme. Today’s subject is “Rach 3” or “Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto in E minor. Okay, I play the piano, but there is no way in hell, that I could ever play the Rach 3. The only version I could play is the version in my “Classical Fake Book”. Not exactly a Symphony Hall version. This is another one of those pieces that I listen to when I am alone in my Jeep and can turn up the volume without my wife or mother-in-law complaining.

This is the version that I can play.

I found an article in the Guardian about the Rach 3 by Alex Wade. Here’s how he describes it:

The Rach 3 is the K2 of the piano repertory: a savage, relentless exposure to everything the keyboard can throw at anyone who dares to take it on. Just as K2, despite its death rate of one in three, will always attract the elite in mountaineering circles, so too is Rach 3 the work that every pianist of genuine ability will want to master.

So I started searching youtube for suitable performances of the Rach 3. The performers that I found should be in the hall of fame class of classical piano artists. We’re talking about Van Cliburn or Vladimir Horovitz. There is plenty of film but most of the versions are grainy, black and white videos.

Listening to Rach 3 brought back memories of a movie done about 20 years ago called “Shine”. It was the biography of David Helfgott played by Geoffrey Rush (Rush won Best Actor Oscar in 1997). Here’s the Wiki entry about the film.

If you have less time to listen, try this excerpt from the soundtrack of “Shine” (about 4 minutes).

Finally, here is a full length performance (runs about 45 minutes) of the Rach 3 by Anna Federova and the Avrotros Symphony Orchestra. Also, there is a good technical discussion about the Rach 3 in Wikipedia.

Saint-Saens Organ Symphony

October 19, 2016

As many of my readers know, I am a big fan of classical music. When I lived back east, I played the organ for several Masonic organizations. I love listening to big organs, especially big pipe organs. You just want to turn up the volume.

So one of my favorite, classical organ pieces is Saint-Saens Organ Symphony No 3, movement 4. I was listening to this on a CD I had in my Jeep the other day and thought to myself. I should do a blog post on this. This is a version done by the Radio France Philharmonic, directed by Myung-Whun Chung.

So without further ado, go ahead and turn up your volume.

Thanksgiving

November 27, 2015

Well another Thanksgiving Day is in the record books. We had a delightful day. Our current tradition is to visit Theresa’s cousin Eric up in Rancho Palos Verdes. it has become a fairly large family gathering. We have children ranging in age from 14 down to 1 years old.

We do it at Eric’s house because he has the largest house available for the occasion. We end up with three tables. One for the seniors (minimum age of 60), one for the little kids, and one for the young adults.

Our contribution to the festivities was wine. I was instructed to bring 4-5 bottles of wine. So I brought two bottles of Beuajolais Nouveau, one of Chardonnay, a Reisling and a Gewurstraminer. I went home with an empty bag.

There are pluses and minuses to going to other people’s homes for Thanksgiving. On the plus side, we don’t have to cook. We just come and bring what we are told to bring. On the minus side, there are no left overs and I have less control over the menu. Like no mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. But the food was all good. It was a mixture of American and Chinese cuisines.

Mary did pretty good. The terrain is a bit tough for her. Eric’s home has a steep, long driveway. We had to be extra careful. No falls or trips to the ER, thank you very much. We didn’t have any white zin for her so she had to make do with the riesling.

It was fun to watch the little ones play. Jonathan was keeping pretty good. Sarah is improving her toddling skills.

Sarah, keeping up with the big boys.

 

Jonathan’s Yellow Wheels

So the family room had football playing on the big screen. Guests were shooed out of the kitchen. Everyone got some piano playing time. I know enough to bring my iPad so that I have my music. Eric has a beautiful Steinway baby grand. Everyone in the family takes piano lessons.
We were home by 8pm.

1125alice01No dishes to do. Mary was all worn out. She headed off to her bedroom and went to bed. Paula and I sat down to watch Arlo Guthrie perform “Alice’s Restaurant” on PBS. I had recorded it on the DVR so I could skip through the pledge breaks.  Here’s a link to a live recording of Alice’s Restauarant done in 2005. That ditty sure has staying power. The pledge-persons on the LA PBS station seemed to be more annoying than usual, but I could skip over the breaks. Young man in suit and tie, woman of similar age. You couldn’t pick two people more unlike Arlo Guthrie than these two. It was a good concert if you ignore the pledge breaks.

The Grapevine

August 13, 2015

If you live in Southern California, you know about a stretch of road called the “Grapevine”. This post is more for my east coast friends who have never been west of the Mississippi. The section of road runs through the Angeles National Forest from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles to the acres of farmland in the California Central Valley. The road can be particularly nasty during winter months with ice and snow (but not so much of recent years). 

Often times we will stop at the town of Castaic for lunch. Castaic is the southern terminus of the Grapevine. Castaic is the last bit of civilization before we hit the Grapevine.

So we will be heading up through the Grapevine on our way to San Francisco for an OES reception on Saturday.

Here’s the map.

  
And while we’re on the subject here is in a blast from the past, Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard it though the Grapevine”

Listen and enjoy.

Church Music continued…

April 7, 2015

pianoSo we were watching the TV show “CBS Sunday Morning” this past Sunday. That was unusual in and of itself. We hardly ever get around to watching the program until much later in the week. Thank the lord for the DVR! We certainly don’t watch the show in the morning.

They did an interview with a hymn song writing team of Keith and Krystyn Getty that I found interesting. Here’s the pointer to the CBS piece. First, I find it amazing that people are still writing hymns. If one were look at the typical Protestant hymnal, you would be hard pressed to find a hymn that written less than a hundred years ago.

Second amazing thing is that one can make a living writing hymns. Keith talks about his start in hymn writing. Their mega-hit was “In Christ Alone”, written in 2001.

Getty co-wrote “In Christ Alone” in 2001, and as church songs go, it’s become something of a hit. Chances are, if you’ve actually been to church in the past decade, you’ve heard it, or sung it yourself.

In fact, in a 2013 survey of the best-loved hymns in the U.K., “In Christ Alone” was the second most-popular hymn of all time, just behind “How Great Thou Art.”

Actually, i hadn’t heard it. I found it on Musicnotes.com and will be playing it in the next week or so for our Bible Study group.

And finally, here’s a rendition by Keith and Krystn on Youtube.

My favorite quote from the CBS article is aimed at all of the preachers out there. Something to think about for our friends Pastor Jacques and Pastor Katherine.

“My joke with all my preacher friends is that if they finish a good sermon, the people go out singing the last hymn. And if they do a really bad sermon, people go out singing the last hymn. So it really doesn’t matter what they say!”

Enjoy.