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Western Civilization Essay

1413 words - 6 pages

Shaquel Smith
Professor Dr. Anna Nisnevich (Masterman)
Intro to Western Art Music
11 April 2011
Concert Connections:
Critique and Comparison of a Classical Concert and Jazz Band Concert
Superb musicianship and masterful command of instrument take the stage at the Heinz Hall, the home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For this day, the orchestra is playing the classic works of three legendary composers: Schumann, Liszt, and Strauss. As I took my seat I realized that this place is packed with a full audience; dressed in their Sundays best, tipsy off of Wine, and ready to ‘engage’ in an experience, a musical experience. As I sat down I realized that I was in for a long night, for ...view middle of the document...

2”, this piece was amazing – intense octave runs, slight figuration, a perfectly balanced and transparent fugal section, all integrated into an organic whole.
In the final part of the show, Richard Strauss’s “Rosenkavalier”, the orchestra traversed the range of expression from lyrical reflection to emotional outburst. It takes a pianist of Osorio’s prodigious talents, for whom technical problems do not exist, to be able to focus on the bigger picture as well as the details, and give coherent readings of these sprawling works. A thundering standing ovation at last brought a hint of a smile from the pianist and the majority of the orchestra. The highpoint of the evening was the Second Concerto. Burgos led the orchestra descended over the hall as the audience listened intensely personal and delicate account of this piece. This intimate dimension lifted his playing to yet another, higher level. This caught my attention and allowed me to engage within the orchestral piece.
The other concert I decided to attend was The University of Pittsburgh’s Jazz Ensemble. The concert, which was untitled, explored various classical pieces in Jazz history ranging from a range of Jazz musicians and pieces. Music Director Leon Dorsey provided not only the history of the pieces, but careful instructions on how to listen to them. As a helpful guide, Dorsey would instruct the audience, “Now make sure you catch the ‘be-do-be-do-be-da-bop’ in the last measure.” This allowed folks that are not musically trained to have an idea what to look for and what to focus on during the pieces.
Through the entire show the amateur musicians gave an outstanding performance. Each soloist perfectly captured the music’s emotion. Even when there wasn’t a solo, each musician played with an almost tangible energy. The first half was filled with noteworthy pieces. Within one specific piece, the ensemble warmed up the audience with “All of Me” by the legendary Gerald Marks. This piece featured a mini-duet between the bass and drums. Dorsey instructed nicely the creative use of the trombones, saxophones, and trumpets with each instrument playing over the other but still somehow playing as one. It was very exciting to see fellow students play with such creativity. The first half ended strongly with a frenzied paced “Cotton Tail” by Duke Ellington.
The second half began with two pieces by Freddy Hubbard and the great Louis Armstrong. In between each performance, Dorsey, would keep the audience’s attention with short stories and funny anecdotes pertaining to each piece. It was almost like a comedy show, this helped keep the attention of the large student population in attendance and provided humor for the older lovers of jazz. The night ended as the ensemble played its interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Nicknamed a “tonal portrait,” this piece was just as visually stimulating as it was auditory. The piece started with an African beat provided by the percussion, bass, and piano....

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