Around the web

First- a nice piece on my upcoming concert at the University of Delaware Master Players series on the 13th of November from Delaware Online, including lots of information on my colleagues.

 The University of Delaware Department of Music is proud to present the Fifth Annual Master Players Concert Series.(Formerly known as the Master Players Chamber Series) The second concert will be held on Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. and is entitled, “Quasi Expressivo.” It will take place at Mitchell Hall located on South College Avenue in Newark, Delaware. Admission is $21 for the general public; $17 for senior citizens, UD faculty, staff and alumni; and $7 for students with ID and children. Tickets may be available at the door, however many of the concerts were sold out last season. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended. Tickets are available at the Trabant or Bob Carpenter box offices on the UD campus. Please call 302.831.4012 for box office locations and hours. For more information about the 2008-2009 Master Players Concert Series visit our website mpcs.music.udel.edu.

Under the artistic direction of Xiang Gao, the internationally renowned UD faculty violinist, the Master Players Concert Series serves as a vital cultural resource for the UD campus, the city of Newark and surrounding communities. Season after season, the extremely successful concert series has brought many of the world’s most established classical musicians to Delaware.

November 13th is an evening of romantic music by Beethoven, Saint-Saëns and other masters performed by such renowned concert artists as acclaimed American cellist Kenneth Woods, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Kermit Poling, international prize winning violist Hongmei Xiao, renowned harpist Anne Sullivan, UD faculty pianist Julie Nishimura, and MPCS artistic director, violinist Xiang Gao. There will be guest artists’ master classes held at 1:25 PM-2:30 PM, November 14th,

Gore Recital Hall, Center for the Arts they are free and open to the public

You can read the whole thing here.

Next, for those of you coming to the Gulf Coast Symphony for the first time this week, they have an unusually nice system of online program notes, with a generous selection of musical examples. It is an excellent primer on all three pieces on the program, especially the Elgar. I have a very different take on the Finale than the authors Elizabeth and Joseph Kahn, who describe the end of the symphony as follows-

The movement abounds with the grand orchestral gestures that Elgar was so fond of, all based on variations and combinations of the motivic kernels, but the mood remains ambivalent. He brings back the motto to tie this enormous structure together. Just as at first, it seemed powerless against the angry restlessness of the movement, in the end it returns “triumphant” to give a final, peaceful resolution to the enormous structure.

I agree that this final appearance of the opening theme is the key to the structure of the entire piece, but I’m not sure I find any peace in this ending. Michael Steinberg describes this ending as the the theme being battered and assailed from all sides, like a ship sailing into harbour in a fierce storm, and I can’t escape that metaphor, especially given my feelings about what comes before it.

 Of course, longtime Vftp readers will know that Elgar looms large on these pages and that this symphony has often been discussed here before.

Not long ago, I discussed why more of his music isn’t done in America here. Maybe it is nice to revisit that post since his music is being done with a vengeance this week.

More from Michael Steinberg and others about Elgar on the occasion of his anniversary celebrations last year can be found here. As I get ready for this weekend’s performance, this quote comparing Mahler to Elgar from Michael particularly resonated with me-

Both detested white rooms, both took what their censorious contemporaries saw as an unholy delight in orchestral virtuosity, and Elgar’s injunction to conductors that he wanted his music played “elastically and mystically” applies equally to Mahler.

“Elastically and mystically.” Oh yes, and non vibrato? Sorry, couldn’t help myself….

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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