With the advent of the month of December, the mood around the country has changed. We have entered “the holidays,” a time when we look forward to spending time with family and friends, shopping for gifts, and perhaps relaxing and taking a little time off from work.
Sometimes during December, we get trapped in the bustle of errands, shopping, cleaning, and cooking, and we forget that really the most important thing we can do during this time of year is to spend time with the people we care about.
There has long been a connection between art and music, with one often inspiring the other. Many musicians are also artists and vice-versa.
Years ago, when I first started conducting the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, someone asked me if I had ever heard any of the sound sculptures created by the artist Harry Bertoia. At that point I had not, so they invited me out to Harry’s Barn and Studio in Bally, Berks County, along Route 100, about 15 miles from Allentown.
As I was growing up, opera was a type of music that I didn’t think appealed to me, but I really didn’t know much about it. I had heard all the jokes about opera music and the loud wobbly voices and crazy plots, and so I decided I didn’t like opera music.
When I was young, I also didn’t like vegetables, tomatoes, mushrooms, or avocados, until later in my teens when I actually tried them. Then I realized they were really quite good. I’ve enjoyed vegetables, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocados, especially guacamole, ever since.
Broadway under the stars: Allentown Symphony joined by Freddy soloists, Parkland Chorale for free Levitt concert in Bethlehem
Summer is for sitting outside eating hamburgers and hot dogs, relaxing, kicking back, and in general, just having a good time.
Summer nights are for listening to music under the stars, enjoying the cool air and letting the music wash over you as you sit with friends outside on the lawn.
I think of places like Tanglewood in Massachusetts, with the Boston Symphony; Wolftrap in the Washington, D.C., area, with the National Symphony, and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the LA Philharmonic.
Why do people write music? Why do people search for a meaning of life beyond themselves? What is the purpose of our time on earth? What legacy will we leave behind? And what might we experience after death?
These are questions that have haunted musicians, artists and creative souls for generations and for centuries.
We are continually searching: Pursuing our never-ending quest for answers that we will never confirm.
King of Instruments Week-long ‘Organ Extravaganza’ precedes ‘Symphonic Organ Festival’ and Ewazen ‘Concertino’ world premiere
“In my eyes and ears, the organ will forever be the King of Instruments.”
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Allen Organ is the official organ of the Allentown Symphony and we have enjoyed a wonderful partnership for many years.
Classical Ice: Allentown Symphony proves a good skate for debut concert, PPL Center ‘Holiday Spectacular’
Great images come to mind when you think of a “Symphony Orchestra on Ice.”
I can see the tuba player skating along next to the piccolo player, and maybe the cellists sitting on chairs being pushed by the percussion section, but it got a little tricky when I tried to figure out how they would hold their music, skate and play their instruments all at the same time.
e·nig·ma /iˈniɡmə/ noun a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
This is the word used by Sir Edward Elgar as part of the title for the set of variations that he wrote on a single theme, the “Enigma Variations.”
The story goes that Elgar was improvising on his piano and came up with this nice melody that reminded him of his wife, Alice. As he experimented with the music, changing it around, he jokingly called out to his wife in the kitchen, “Who does this sound like?”
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.