For the past three nights, P-town’s ultimate cover band ended their program with Aaron Copland’s Symphony #3 – a composition whose well-known brassy chorales of American triumph made it an easy dedication to the recently terrified people of Boston. What preceded this symphonic sympathy note, however, was a pair of works so filled with palpably resilient energy, they were more than equal reminders of what’s best about the human condition. Kicking off the show was A Jazz Symphony written by the über-intriguing figure of George Antheil. Its herky-jerky syncopation, unpredictable insanity, and super sick stylings resulted in 8 solid minutes of perma-grinning for over 2,000 folks. [In my book, the kick-ass piano chops of Carol Rich were independently worth the price of admission.] And the evening’s soloist was Manitoban genius James Ehnes, whose deft display of violin virtuosity throughout the entirety of Bernstein’s Serenade was almost unnerving. Even from Row Y in the Upper Balcony bleachers, my ears were struck by the cool brilliance and unstoppable technique of Mr. Ehnes and his 298-year-old Stradivarius. Glimpsing the sublime moments when Jimmy’s fiddle teamed up with Nancy’s cello or Jennifer’s harp or Mike’s xylophone was like capturing sonic encomiums of love, tenderly delivered within a Schnitzer symposium. Oh, what a night!
Posts Tagged 'Nancy Ives'
Tags: A Jazz Symphony, Boston, Carol Rich, George Antheil, James Ehnes, Jennifer Craig, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Roberts, Nancy Ives, Oregon Symphony, Serenade, Symposium
Tags: Dick Cheney, Nancy Ives, Oregon Symphony, percussion, Sarah Kwak, Shostakovich 15, tam-tam, timpani, waterboard, whip
Generally speaking, the symphonic output of Shostakovich has all the charms of being waterboarded by a cackling Dick Cheney, and the composer’s final symphony is certainly no exception. Filled to capacity with haunting quotations, harsh angularity, and harrowing emotions, Symphony No. 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich is probably music best avoided if suicidal tendencies are at all an issue for you. This composition of uneasy listening was first played 41 years ago in Moscow, but the Oregon Symphony’s first performance wasn’t until Saturday night in downtown Portland. The work opens surprisingly with the bright clarity of a chiming glockenspiel and a deceivingly pleasant flute melody, but the playful façade is quickly destroyed by a stabbing onslaught of evil strings and an eruption of absolute percussive chaos. It’s freaking brilliant music. And to hear it played live by a technical army of 76 professional musicians? Shiiit. And as if the remarkable amount of solo time the composer offers to string goddesses Sarah and Nancy weren’t parting gift enough, the 65-year-old Shostakovich also left us with some insanely sick writing for symphonic percussionists. I’ll tell you what: Yoko & the Boys blew it up at the Schnitz, ripping through an arsenal of toys that included a bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, triangle, castanets, a whip (!), the xylophone, an entire vibraphone kit, four timpani, and a most ghostly celesta. Forty minutes of utter dread never sounded better. [whew!] Seriously.
Tags: buenos aires, FearNoMusic, four seasons, mousai remix, nadja salerno-sonnenberg, Nancy Ives, piazzolla, third angle
now before ol’ beavey rambles on about uncle camille’s organ, can i just say a few more words about those 23 string players accompanying nadja on her seasonal journey through buenos aires? dear god. quite simply, they are some of our town’s finest musicians ~ violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists of the highest order who have devoted their lives to their instruments ~ founding members of celebrated portland chamber ensembles like *third angle, *mousāi remix, and *fearnomusic. it was a rare treat to hear these two dozen folks strut their tango-riffic stuff and let it all hang out, rhythmically and technically speaking (of course). and the most wonderful surprise of the night? getting to witness principal cellist nancy ives play this amazing extended solo during the final autumnal chapter… a solo so amazing and so extended (like, 2 minutes!) that ms. salerno-sonnenberg graciously stepped aside to ensure all eyes and ears were focused on that gorgeous cello sound. when people ask me if there are any perks to writing this blog, my number one answer is the opportunity to meet the musicians of our orchestra. and from the bottom of my tiny heart, i have to say i’ve met no one finer than ms. ives… an absolutely stellar musician consistently dedicated to her craft and a genuinely warm human being who inspires me to be a better rodent. smooches to nancy and the whole string summit! xoxo, cb
Tags: abso-fucking-lutely, Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, jun iwasaki, Nancy Ives
this saturday, sunday, and monday at the schnitz (and don’t forget tuesday in salem!) the oregon symphony will shine a spotlight on some of its own as 8 oso musicians take center stage as soloists in a variety of lil’ musical gems. and to cap off their phenomenal 2010/11 season? why it’s mr. béla bartók’s abso-fucking-lutely wicked concerto for orchestra!
why go? well, for all those who couldn’t make it to carnegie, the same brilliant band will be playing the schnitzer concert hall – the war is over and it’s time to celebrate good times, c’mon! seriously, eight of the best musicians in stumpland are gonna showcase their own musical chops and totally blow away the audience – the beav guarantees it. joël on viola… alicia on flute and todd on clarinet… nancy on cello… niel and matt on percussion… játtik on tuba… jun [sigh] on violin… oh my. i’m looking forward to hearing every single one of ‘em, especially the fabulous ms. ives who will somehow transform her cello into a country fiddle during tchaikovsky’s pezzo capriccioso.
go. go. go. check out deets and grab your tix by clicking on this sentence. see you there (for reals, if you’re going monday)!
Tags: chuck heston, Nancy Ives, opposable thumbs, overacting, soylent green
back in the day, the beaver relied heavily on siskel & ebert’s opposable thumbs. now, my primary source for movie-viewing suggestions is the principal cellist for the oregon symphony. soylent green? check. when *nancy ives mentioned the scene where Beethoven #6 serves as the soundtrack for an assisted suicide, i knew i (finally) had to see this movie. while the king’s speech still holds the award for best use of Ludwig in a motion picture, soylent green was better than i had anticipated, and not just for its use of the pastoral symphony. thumbs up for the brilliant cinematography, lighting, and of course, edward g. robinson’s quite moving final performance. while i won’t give an outright thumbs down to the sometimes hokey special effects and the not-so-subtle objectification of women, it’s best to be mentally prepared for some serious cheese. and speaking of fromage, i’m still thinking about chuck heston’s outrageous overacting (he kinda makes william shatner look respectable). the fact that this somewhat creepy über-man was a major box-office draw the year i was born explains a lot about my childhood. at least a new drinking game was developed: everytime mr. heston dramatically put on or took off this ridiculous neck scarf, bottoms up. sure was glad i didn’t have to work the next day. thanks nancy!