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Mozart

This tag is associated with 56 posts

More Sh!t Clift Sends Me

Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Okay, hit it, Clift!

There you go. Feel free to tell Clift how much you love him in the comments.

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A dance with a broom that is not Fantasia

I don’t know if your violin instructor ever told you to sweep your bow arm, but this… isn’t what he meant.

My favorite bit is when the vacuum interrupts the Massanet. I played that piece way too many times not to be sick of it now, let me tell you.

I’d buy that

Wouldn’t you?

“Tell me, what comes after the sixty-eighth measure of diarrhea?”

Remember when Beethoven took on the Biebs and rap battled him right out of the music world? Seems Mozart recently caught the rhyming bug. You have no idea how many potential post titles I rejected before I settled on this one. Did I make the right choice?

Concert Roundup, Shaken Not Stirred

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra offers you multiple options this week! Item one? A performance in Frederick on April 12, with a very interesting combination of violin, viola, and bassoon. I don’t even know what repertoire there is for that – intrigue, anyone? [ See it! ]
  • Or perhaps the BSO Pops are more your speed – or maybe James Bond is? The Pops play a concert featuring extracts from fifty year’s worth of Bond soundtracks. April 11 at Strathmore, April 12 – 14 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • OR! Perhaps you have one of those “small child” things I keep hearing about? The BSO performs a special concert just for them, featuring works by composers such as Mozart and Haydn. No word on whether the musicians will watch your kid while you sneak off to the bar, but at least the music should be good. Two performances on April 13 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • By contrast, the National Symphony Orchestra has nothing for you. SO FAR.
  • This week at StrathmoreRevolutionary organist Cameron Carpenter; legendary pianist Maurizio Pollini. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Music, aquatic

Dilemma! If you’re crawling through the dessert and come upon a glass harmonica, is it destructive to drink from it?

Concert Roundup (Snow)flakes Out

Hey, you know how it was supposed to snow today? Well, it IS! Right now! As I type! You could knock me over with one of those long tickly things that birds use for insulation and flight. Nevertheless, music marches on undaunted! At least so far. Check individual symphony websites for inclement weather schedule changes and what have you. Okay, onward!

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra knows how to get on my good side; they’re playing the best. Symphony. Of all time. OF ALL TIME! Yes, it’s Beethoven‘s Seventh, with a side of Debussy‘s Petite Suite and the Strauss (Reek-ard) oboe concerto. But mostly Beethoven. Always mostly Beethoven. March 7 & 8 at the Meyerhoff; March 9 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra isn’t going to give this week to the BSO without a fight, though. They promise Mahler (ooh!), Schubert (OOOOH!!!!!!!), and … Mozart (oh). But it’s Mozart’s Requiem, so it’s actually kind of awesome, and among the Schubert lieder they’re busting out? “ERLKONIG!” I LOVE “Erlkonig”! Good times. March 7 – 9. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreChinese acrobats, a piano/sax jazz combo, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Concert Roundup Cool

  • Hey, remember that bit in Amadeus where Salieri pretends to be Mozart’s dead father and Wolfie freaks the hell out and composes a requiem and then dies? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does! So they’re playing Mozart‘s Requiem, which even I, an inveterate Mozart skeptic, admit is pretty darn good. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society helps out with the singing; Part‘s Tabula Rasa rounds out the program. February 28 at Strathmore; March 2 & 3 at the Meyerhoff. It looks like they might also be doing some version of it at the Weinberg  Center in Frederick on March 1. [ See it! ] [ See it in Frederick! ]
  • Or! If you tend to feel jazzy in the morning, the BSO is offering a matinee performance on March 2 centered around the African American influence on music. Specifically mentioned: Duke Ellington, Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue, and a tap master. [ See it! ]
  • This week the National Symphony Orchestra gets glacial, chills out, cools it, and other puns about cold with an all-Nordic program, featuring SibeliusLindberg, and Saariaho. Even the solo violinist is Nordic – the awesomely named Pekka Kuusisto. February 28 – March 2. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreViolinist Jennifer Koh explores the farther reaches of Bach, Parisian jazz, a snazzy marching band. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Interview with the Composer: “It allowed the emotional states of the characters to come through on a non-verbal level”

A few weeks ago, composer Matt Siffert made the grave tactical error of emailing me and offering me a streaming link to his album, Cold Songs. Naturally I took his email hostage and refused to return it until he granted me an interview. Read on to learn more about inspiration, orchestration, and the emotional impact of the creative process. Oh, and to hear a little of the album yourself. Allons-y!

TheSiff

Jenn German: The first question is VERY IMPORTANT, so I want you to consider it carefully. The fate of this entire interview and all the people on it rests in your hands. Beethoven or Mozart?

Matt Siffert: Beethoven, no question.

JG: Correct!

MS: Hah!

JG: We shall do well here.

MS: Whew… that was a close one…

JG: Okay, Matt Siffert’s Musical Pedigree. What’s your background? Go!

MS: I went to college at Carnegie Mellon, where I studied music and psychology. The music portion of my studies were mostly jazz, with a bit of classical theory/performance practice.

I also did a fair share of music history. I studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, which was where I developed an interest in songwriting. Upon returning to CMU in my senior year, I recorded an album of songs I wrote and arranged for a singer and jazz musicians.

JG: Nice! I took an Latin American ethnomusicology course in undergrad, but we didn’t spend a ton of time on Cuban music. Highly influential?

MS: Yeah, Havana was very, very influential. They had a perfect balance of melodically-driven songs with sensitive musicianship accompaniment.

So it was there that I realized I can put the worlds of songwriting and sophisticated musical technique together. As I got more interested in arranging, I became drawn to the sound of classical instruments. And that’s when I started studying composition; first on my own, then in the evening division at Julliard, which is where I’ve been for the last two years.

JG: Would you say you’re working on a sort of Cuban fusion music, or are you more influenced by the idea of melody and sensitivity as opposed to literal Cuban rhythms and motifs?

MS: Definitely the latter. I’m not as interested in the actual Cuban rhythmic sensibilities as I am the idea of melody paired with musical sensitivity.

JG: How would you describe your niche?

MS: I strive to combine folk-influenced songwriting with musical sensibilities from the jazz and classical worlds.

JG: What instruments do you play?

MS: My primary instrument is bass, but I play a bit of guitar and piano. And I sing.

JG: Do you compose around these instruments?

MS: Yeah. Usually the seed of a song comes when I’m in random places, like the train, shower, or in bed, but when I build them out and really sculpt them I usually work on guitar or piano.

JG: Do you later re-orchestrate them, or stick to the original arrangement?

MS: Yeah, I then re-orchestrate them. Sometimes I write the whole song and then orchestrate; sometimes I want the orchestration to be more integrated into the lyric and form, and will start orchestrating while I develop the song itself. It just depends on what that initial seed calls for.

On [my album] Cold Songs, for example, I wrote every song except “Show-Off” first. With that one, I really wanted it to be about combining the virtuosity of the quartet with the melodic line I wrote. So there was more of a back and forth when I composed that one.

JG: What’s your concept behind Cold Songs?

MS: I started writing songs for the project right after a convergence of three crummy events; health problems, job problems, and relationship problems. But funnily enough I was still working through those problems in my head, and wasn’t ready to write songs about them. So I took themes that I have previously written about – new-found love, nature, ego, growing up – and fed them through this dark wavelength I was living on.

After writing the songs on guitar, I felt like the accompaniment wasn’t bringing the stories and characters to life in the way I wanted. I had been listening to lots of string quartet music, as well as pop music that utilized strings, and thought that this austere sound world was a perfect match for my songs. So I devoured the music of Ligeti, Schoenberg, Britten, Dvorak, and others, and arranged the songs for a string quartet.

JG: How did you find the chamber orchestration transformed the work?

MS: It allowed the emotional states of the characters to come through on a non-verbal level. On songs where the narrator is angry, the strings get gritty and brutal. In songs where the narrator is flashy, the strings are virtuosic, etc., etc. These musical backdrops support the narrator in a way that adds depth and life that you just can’t get with a voice and guitar.

JG: It seems like the music on this album came from an emotionally dark place, but as in so many cases it brought about some catharsis. Would you say the listener should find it ultimately uplifting, or is it a soundtrack to help through rough times?

MS: Great question, and funny, I was just talking about this with a friend last night…

I don’t really feel like this should be either uplifting or depressing. I felt my work as almost journalistic, in some respects. I more just want people to see this darker world and feel okay living in it for a little while. People tend to smell sadness and run away from it, often at great expense. They often ignore the confrontation of problems stuff away their problems, which always come back at some point. So my hope was that I invite the listener into this dark world and show them the insides of it; that it’s really not a horrible place. You just need adjust to it, work your way through it, and move on.

JG: As the original thinker of dark thoughts and writer of dark notes, how you feel when you hear your work?

Matt: Another great question… When I listen back to Cold Songs, I am drawn mostly to the steps I made in terms of songwriting and compositional craft. With these songs I really started to find my own voice as a lyricist, and made genuine strides in pairing my songs with the appropriate musical accompaniment.

JG: Now that you’ve found your voice, where do you expect to take it next?

MS: I’m actually about halfway through my next project, which is a group of songs I’m writing for myself (voice) and harp! I’m continuing the idea of pushing myself as a songwriter, and striving for the most appropriate musical accompaniment for the songs I’m writing.

JG: Any performances coming up? I assume you continue to post your appearances on your website, which you sent me. Would you by chance want to offer a streaming track?

MS: I do indeed post the appearances. And sure! I’d be happy to offer a streaming track!

JG: Beautiful. And the full album can be purchased on your website? iTunes?

MS: Yeah, it’s up on iTunes here.

JG: Sounds good. Anything you wanted to add?

MS: I think that’s it! Thank you so much for doing this, it was a blast!

JG: Pleasure’s all mine!

Thank you, Matt! Be sure to check out his website, mattsiffert.com.

Wolfie, care to weigh in?

I mean, it’s no secret that Mozart and I have had our differences, but I see his point.