Tuesday, October 23, 2012

AM and PM

Wow, folks, it’s a busy week. Mornings are taken up with Young People’s Concerts at the Civic Auditorium, and evenings find us rehearsing and performing Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. Our YPC’s are an exploration of “the science... of sound.” Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum leads the orchestra through music of Beethoven, Puccini, Richman, Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and all the way to Mars for a reprise performance of that movement of Holst’s The Planets. The concerts start with Moussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, effective “mad scientist" music, indeed. Maestro Fellenbaum and Ken Mayes, from the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, don safety goggles, rubber gloves and lab coats to perform a chemical experiment in front of the orchestra, involving liquid nitrogen and other chemicals. Lots of oohing and aahing. An oscilloscope is used to map waves of the pitches of some instruments, and the finale from Lucas Richman’s United Symphony is played into the oscilloscope to show what the aggregate sound wave of the entire orchestra looks like. The Holst segment is accompanied by images from the Mars rover Curiosity, and although my eyes are buried in the music, what I can catch a glimpse of is far out.

No sooner had I posted the last blog, about my first Candide experience, when I learned that Kevin Anderson would be singing in the Knoxville Opera Company’s Fledermaus. (Friday, Oct. 26 at 8:00, Sunday Oct. 28 at 2:30). This operetta, like Candide, has an overture that includes many of the themes from the operetta; it is interesting to see how themes from the overture unfold into entire arias and ensembles. The entire work is chock full of side-splitting, locally adapted lines, but what takes the cake is John Forrest Ferguson’s hilarious drunken soliloquy which opens Act 3. (If you’ve been here a while, you’ll remember him as Claudius, King of Denmark in the amazing KSO/Clarence Brown Theater collaborative production of Hamlet that sold out 8 shows at the Civic Auditorium in 2000. Not to mention countless performances at CBT). Strauss’ unshakably effervescent music is of course a joy throughout, and other surprises await opera-goers.

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