As I was growing up, everyone knew the names Wynton and Branford Marsalis. Trumpeter Wynton was winning Grammy Awards for his classical and jazz recordings. His brother, saxophonist Branford, was leader of the Tonight Show Band (1992-’95) on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Initially, they both surprised the musical world with their ability to fluctuate between the genres of classical and jazz.
What an amazing year this has been celebrating my 20th anniversary as the Music Director and Conductor of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra.
It was thrilling to open the season with pianist Emanuel Ax. In November, we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of our renowned national Schadt String Competition with violin winner Zeyu Victor Lee.
And on Valentine’s Day weekend, we performed a splendid night of favorite Puccini opera arias with a stellar cast of soloists from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
In all cultures and throughout history, storytelling has played an important role in igniting our imaginations and in preserving stories for future generations.
Composers like Gioachino Rossini, Rickard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky were experts in bringing a story to life through music. We will bring their music to life as I conduct a performance of music based upon stories with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. March 12 and 3 p.m. March 13, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
‘Puccini’s Greatest Hits’:
Celebrate Valentine’s Day
with Allentown Symphony
Valentine’s Day is a very special day that we want to spend doing something memorable with someone we love.
The question each year is: “What should we do for Valentine’s Day?”
Well, I have a wonderful suggestion. Come to the Allentown Symphony’s concerts of “Puccini’s Greatest Hits.”
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is such an amazing piece. It's a work that transcends time, culture and economic differences. In Japan, they sing the main melody together in stadiums. This is a piece that focuses on brotherhood and love for all mankind. They played it as the Berlin Wall was taken down in 1989.
The guitar is an instrument that has been around since the 13th century, although, at that time it had a few less strings and it was much smaller in size and shape.
During the Renaissance, it was used by the troubadours to serenade their loved ones and it has remained a part of musical culture ever since. The electric guitar was invented in 1931 and with it came the inclusion of the guitar into rock bands and other performing ensembles. Today, we almost can't imagine music without some form of guitar in it.
I vividly remember my very first circus experience. It was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus three-ring big-top circus.
Everything was so colorful and the acrobatic acts were so spectacular and engaging. I was entranced from the very first moment the show began.
A circus just wouldn't be as exciting if you didn't have some great music to go with it. Heart-warming melodies, toe-tapping rhythms, and fast, furious musical passages show off the skill of the orchestra as well as the circus performer.
Have you ever fantasized about doing something unusual, out of the ordinary, over the top? Something that you thought might only be possible in your dreams, or in another life-time?
Maybe you wanted to climb Mount Everest, or become an Olympic ice skating champion, or an explorer in the Amazon?
Often the activities we become involved with as children and through high school and college are the ones that we care the most about although we don't pursue them as a career. Sports and music are two very popular activities that many people are involved with growing up.
The first four notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony are perhaps the most well-known in the world. We hear them and we immediately know the piece. In reality, it is only two notes, because the first note is repeated three times: da, da, da, dah! This piece crosses cultural boundaries and has been adapted into all different types of orchestration, including versions that incorporate rock 'n' roll and disco beats.