Nashville Symphony musicians are in the process of performing in three programs featuring the music of the German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn. Beginning last Friday through Sunday, the symphony accompanied the Nashville Ballet in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.
Then (TONIGHT) Wednesday evening, April 29, symphony violinist Jessica Blackwell leads two string ensembles in performances of Mendelssohn’s famous Octet, as well as the Prelude and Scherzo, Op. 11 for string octet by Dmitri Shostakovich, as part of our ongoing Onstage series of free chamber music performances at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Finally, beginning (TOMORROW) Thursday, April 30 with performances following on Friday, May 1 and Saturday May 2, the symphony will perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with guest soloist Benjamin Pasternack in a program that also includes music by contemporary composer Frank Tichelli and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique”.
This weekend I was reminded of the embarrassment of riches we have in Music City. The symphony presented fabulous concerts on Friday and Saturday, featuring two works by American composer Michael Daugherty, both recent and one (Tales of Hemingway for Cello and Orchestra with the incomparable Zuill Bailey) a world premiere, alongside standard repertoire by Beethoven and Stravinsky. On Sunday, Music City Baroque presented their 10th Anniversary Season Finale with a performance of the Vivaldi Gloria at St. George’s Episcopal Church, and West End United Methodist Church presented a performance of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms featuring their Chancel Choir under the direction of Matthew Phelps, with Margy Bredemann, soprano, and Jonathan Carle, baritone. Both of Sunday’s concerts were free.
This is the first in a series of occasional posts about the recorder, its historical and contemporary repertoire, its champions, and its place in music education.
Being a recorder player has been a humbling experience. The recorder is not highly regarded in American musical culture, and most people who know of the instrument only know it because they were given a cheap plastic recorder in elementary school and learned to play a few simple tunes on it in a classroom setting. Occasionally I meet someone who is familiar with it from its occasional use by folk music groups or recognizes the instrument from the opening of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (or perhaps I’ve Seen All Good People by Yes). Most people – including many classical musicians I have met, and many elementary school music teachers who actually teach recorder to their music classes – are unaware of or uninformed about the recorder’s long history, or of its beautiful if modest historical repertoire that includes works written specifically for recorder by masters including J.S. Bach, Händel, and Vivaldi, or of it’s employment in virtuosic avant-garde compositions since the 1960s.
I just learned today that the Nashville Symphony has changed our program for student tickets to be inclusive of all students, from Kindergarten through university and graduate school. This program – called SOUNDCHECK – provides $10 tickets to Aegis Sciences Classical Series performances and has been in existence for years, but until this week the program has been limited to students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs.