Applying scientific knowledge to music inevitably changes the course of what gets published, what gets popular. In the earliest electrical adaptation- the phonograph- we find certain instruments and certain ranges work better than others. As a result some artists’ careers are defined by the invention of the phonograph. Also- particular instruments became associated with certain genres of music simply because they sounded the best on the discs. Finally, the recording process prompts innovation in the studio when a musician has to improvise on the spot, creating a new type of Jazz.
TheViolins of Hope, visiting cities around the world, makes a seven week stop in Pittsburgh. They are both a museum exhibit and an interactive display because Violins of Hope lets musicians play on their violins for concerts and educational programs. The instruments (including over 70 violins violas, cello and bass) have a rich history that relate to the lives of their Jewish owners during World War II. Over thirty five programs by Arts Organizations in the region have already, or will present the instruments. Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra, Edgewood Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, Duquesne and Chatham Universities, to name just a few, had opportunity to play and perform on the Violins of Hope. On this episode we hear Aron Zelkowicz, a cellist who directed over 80 programs centered around Jewish music as founder of the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival. Aron tells us about his journey discovering and bringing Jewish music to Pittsburgh and elsewhere. We also hear Glenn Lewis, the Head of Music at Pittsburgh Opera talk about an upcoming event at the Bitz Opera Factory where the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artists and Concertmaster Charles Stegeman present music of Ernest Bloch, Viktor Ullman, Alexander Zemlinsky and other Jewish composers of note. Four violinists who played the instruments will talk about their experience, the instruments’ stories and the music they performed. Charles Stegeman, Concertmaster for Pittsburgh Opera plays on a Violin of Hope that Shlomo Mintz performed on at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. Rachel Stegeman played on two Violins of Hope for Wheeling Symphony and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in several World Premieres and other works by or about Jewish composers. Tina Faigen had multiple opportunities to play on a Violin of Hope with Edgewood Symphony and related chamber performances. Juan Jaramillo gives his thoughts on the experience playing a Violin of Hope with the Wheeling Symphony.
In 1820 François Sudre, a musician and a music teacher, created a language based on the musical scale. For twenty years he worked to complete this auxlang. He offered it to the military first, calling it La Telephone. For a while his language was considered because it seemed codeable. When the government declined, he continued writing the language in the hopes people wouldn’t need to learn foreign languages. Solresol wouldn’t catch on to the degree Esperanto as a universal language, but some groups enjoy exploring it, even today.
Christopher is known to the world of trumpet players as a clinician, YouTuber and multi-career classical trumpeter. Today he talks about his passion for teaching young players and sheperding them through the rigorous audition process. The auditions for Military Bands are both special and similar to symphonies. He gets into the particulars about excerpts and we get a picture of life as a Military Musician. He joins trumpeters and buglers across the nation on the Memorial Day Taps Across America, and anyone with a trumpet can do the same.
Being a performer and a union member doesn’t usually compute. The two seem to be worlds apart. Thats why its hard for musicians to join committees and negotiating panels. They play on a stage for a living. And this might seem glamourous, maybe even powerful, and anything but mundane. And Unions seem like trouble makers for blue collar workers, teachers, electricians, service industry workers and factory labor. But orchestras are protected by a union specific to musicians. So most of us tend to bury our heads in the sand since these two personas of classical performer and union member are very dissimilar. We don’t embrace the label laborer very well. The dictionary definition under laborer is unskilled worker. Well, maybe there’s the problem. As a result, most of us are unaware of the entitlements and priviledges that come with union membership. The best way to learn? Become an active member of the Orchestra Committee. Its not going to be what you think it will be. I guarantee.
Composition was a practical skill in Naples in the sixteenth century. There were over 3000 Churches in need of music. And they needed lots of musicians and singers too. The conservatories pumped out a lot of music apprentices, organists, singers, instrumentalists. These conservatories and the churches they served made up a large portion of the economy, and the welfare system in Naples. Naple’s conservatory syllabus was adopted by conservatories all over Italy and Europe. The first conservatory in Naples was built in 1535, the Santa Maria di Loreto. Today the San Pietro a Majella is the main conservatory. Composers that studied there include Alessandro Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. The secrets to making the most prolofic composers lies in their daily exercises. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
The Beo String quartet is in its second decade and remains in Pittsburgh because they recognize the city’s artistic and logistic values. With Artist Residencies in several states, they maintain a vigorous schedule of concerts, recording, video production, music publication and educational programs. But there is so much more: they are dedicated to expanding their audience by including styles found in rock and heavy metal concerts. Their album and movie Triggerland features heavy metal music for string quartet and drum and electric guitar. It was composed by Sean Neukom, violist in the quartet, brother to Jason, violinist in the group. Cellist Ryan Ash and violinist Andrew “Gio” Giordano make the other half of the ensemble. Their concept of a modern string quartet playing is well thought out, discussed in great detail and executed superbly. Both the album 131 and the movie Triggerland received high praise: 131 got five star reviews and was featured on the front page of Fanfare Magazine, and Triggerland got first prize in film festivals California and Canada. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Does Classical Music carry a note of elitism, maybe even a mystique? Or is classical music just a bit confusing? Classical music shouldn’t be for just some of our society: it is intended for the masses. Most of the time. But there are a few decades where classical music went a bit high brow and academic. Maybe some people think Classical Music is always trying to be snobbish. But lately Symphony Orchestras are trying to please the listeners, bring them in the halls, give them more palatable programs. Are composers doing the same? More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Gershwin and Ellington came from different corners of the musical world. They both started their careers in New York: Gershwin started in Tin Pan Alley where songwriters and “songpluggers”, worked in department stores to sell instruments and songs. Ellington was drawn to the poolrooms and the ragtime pianists. Both a product of their times, and both famous in their lifetimes. Was there a friendship between them? Did they talk about collaboration? More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Pythagoros was a polymath: He dabbled in so many subjects including the mathmatics behind the musical scale. Today’s scale is not that far off from what he proposed 2,500 years ago. His passion for harmony within the universe was a gift and a curse. At least he started things in the right direction. He just needed to let go of the notion that only rational numbers can work in the world. More in the Show Notes at accelerandocast.com