Saturday, December 22, 2012

We All Need a Break

It's been a rough couple of weeks, and some are finding it harder to enjoy some of the traditions which make the holiday season what it is. As Christmas break takes us away from "this petty pace from day to day," it is comforting to know that the new year promises a whole new crop of transcendent moments and thrilling performances. January is packed with concerts, and there will be new determination to make every note count and provide nourishment to ears hungry for beauty. January 13th, the Chamber Orchestra will be bringing an all-British program to the Bijou. Just a couple nights later, on the 15th, we will be travelling to Maryville High School for a side-by-side concert with the MHS orchestra. Carrying on without a comma, on the 16th and 17th, Gabe Lefkowitz's Concertmaster Series continues with another installment at Remedy Coffee in the Old City. The British Invasion continues with a Lennon-McCartney tribute on the 19th, and the following Thursday and Friday brings us to the big stage at the Tennessee Theatre with Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and Schumann's Rhenish Symphony. Wow. Now that the world has not ended, I guess it's time to get cracking on some of those notes.

In the meantime, since all of us could use a laugh, I have scoured Facebook for more clever and downright hilarious holiday-related humor. Enjoy!

My friend Marjorie Goldberg Fink is a freelance violist in Philly. We went to the Hartt School together back in the 80's. Her kitteh Tulip is learning the rules of the dreidl. 

 Amy Muchnick is professor of viola at Missouri state university. Another old violist friend from college, another cat learning the hard way.

Maybe this is a little TMI, but it's nice to know that this elf will not HAVE to eat the prune cobbler.

Speaking of sugar plums, different ways of playing familiar holiday music are always entertaining. I never knew what a big instrument a glass harmonica was! (video)

This isn't holiday-related per se, but it's JUST WHAT I WANTED!!!!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays from the KSO family!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Images

The Clayton Holiday Concerts were a joy! I've gotten a lot of great comments and kudos. Making music and art with very good friends from a variety of avenues of my life always helps me get in the spirit of the season. I was hoping to have more pictures than words on this post, but well, now I've blown it.

The view from the lighting board.

A KSO quartet playing at West Town Mall last week. Clockwise, cellist Ihsan Kartal, violist Eunsoon Corliss, violinists Ruth Bacon and  Rachel Loseke.

Violinist Stacy Taylor is so much more than a violinist. She laid the violin aside this time, and ran the John Horner-designed lighting panel at the Civic Auditorium, which husband Sean Claire says is like being a soloist on an instrument which is seen and not heard. Christopher Sanders is "That Man Over There." To Stacy's right is Santa's dietitian, Ginger Breadman.

Associate Concertmaster Gordon Tsai in a winter wonderland. 

The brass got a dusting of snow; from the right, principal trombone Sam Chen, principal trumpet Cathy Leach and her trumpet elves, Marc Simpson and Sean White.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Concerts Approaching!

The 26th annual Clayton Holiday Concerts are happening this weekend (Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Saturday and Sunday at 3:00) at the Civic Auditorium. A variety of performers are helping to bring it off; Go! Contemporary Danceworks, Sound Company Children’s Showchoir, Soprano Natalee Louise McReynolds, and the Knoxville Choral Society.

The program is sprinkled with tunes from musicals and films spanning the 20th century to a couple months ago. From the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises comes the bubbly Turkey Lurkey Time. It’s another fine Burt Bacharach tune which some of you Glee fans will remember from a recent episode. Babes in Toyland was a monster hit operetta for Victor Herbert and his librettist Glen MacDonough in 1903. We will be playing The March of the Toys and Ms McReynolds will join us for Toyland. Check out Helen Traubel singing Toyland in this vintage recording. Be a Santa is a classic Broadway Christmas tune that closes act I of the 1962 musical Subways Are for Sleeping, with music by Jule Styne.

The 1942 movie Holiday Inn featured a veritable barrage of Irving Berlin tunes about various holidays, (including Washington’s Birthday!) but none more beloved than White Christmas. At the Christmas Eve service at our church growing up, our pastor (a WWII vet) requested that the congregation sing White Christmas; no song captures WWII-era holiday spirit the way this one does.

As the youngest of the family growing up, I was lucky to have older siblings with a variety of tastes in music and films. This is what led me to become enchanted by Lucille Ball’s last feature film, Mame, based on the Broadway musical Auntie Mame. I was dragged to the theatre one day by my sister Jean and her erudite husband Bruce to see it, and even though Leonard Maltin has since called it a BOMB, I loved it. What did I know? I was 12. Anyway, the tune We Need a Little Christmas comes from that movie. Like many of these tunes, the show from whence this comes is not a show about Christmas, per se, but has a holiday scene.

The 1963 musical Here’s Love sounds from its title, at least, that it should have been released in the late 60's. Meredith Willson had struck gold with The Music Man (featuring in the title role the same Robert Preston that played Gen. Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside in Mame), and this remake of Miracle on 34th Street mashes up Pine Cones and Holly Berries with It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

Hope to see you’uns out and about!! And remember, Santa will be watching...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Early December is a time for “runouts.” Although a couple of groups have library and Music and Wellness programs this week, the major offerings of the larger ensemble are out of town.

Yesterday, (Tuesday) the core strings traveled to Athens, TN for afternoon school concerts and a general-public concert in the evening at the Athens Junior High School. The schools we played at were spread throughout McMinn County– Athens, Englewood, Etowah, Riceville. It had been many years since we'd gone to Athens and they were positively thrilled to have us back.

Athens is a small town, not a college town like its sister in Georgia, and not a historic major city like its mother city in Greece, but it does have an attraction that is notable on any level. “The Three Tenors of Athens” wowed us and our audience last night with a trio of tunes with holiday ramifications. An arrangement of Verdi’s La donna รจ mobile from Rigoletto was upgraded with lyrics pertaining to Christmas food. Franck’s beautiful Panis Angelicus was next, and an a capella canticle entitled Hallelujah brought their portion of the show to a touching close.

The Three Tenors of Athens: (left to right)
Rusty Patterson, maestro James Fellenbaum, Mike Simmons, Tim Frazier

Tomorrow (Thursday) will find us 60 miles in the other direction, at Lincoln Memorial University in Harriman, TN. This rep for this concert, repeated at 4:00 and 7:30 at Duke Hall Auditorium on the LMU campus, is mostly the same as the Athens runout, except that instead of three tenors, we will have one soprano. KSO staff member Aubrey Baker will be singing Mozart’s motet Exsultate Jubilate, the final movement of which is known as the “Mozart Hallelujah.”

It was a great day when the Clayton Center for the Arts opened in Maryville, giving the Appalachian Ballet Company a first-class, in-town home for their productions. We will be providing music to their Nutcracker on Saturday, Dec. 8th  at 2:00 and 8:00 at the Clayton.

Finally, a quartet from the KSO will be performing holiday-flavored tunes at West Town Mall on Sunday the 9th. The shows will be at 1:00 p.m. and (approximately) 2:00 p.m., and will be located in Deer Park, which is (to quote the memo) the rotunda next to guest services – at the intersection in front of the food court. Take a break from shopping and enjoy some LIVE holiday music!