Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

My stand partner in the Ridgewood Concert Band asked my if I had an all-time favorite piece of music. I answered (more on this later) but on my drive home the wheels started turning about great pieces of music and why I love them. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie High Fidelity. The dialogue goes like this:

Dick: It guess it looks as if you're reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?
Rob: No...
Dick: Not alphabetical...
Rob: Nope.
Dick: What?
Rob: Autobiographical.

Even for non-musicians I think songs bring people to a very specific time and place in their life, reminds them of an event or a relationship, etc. For me I can be like Rob and write my autobiography with music. (But that's not why I'm here now....I think I just wanted to use that High Fidelity quote!)

Everything got me thinking about my favorite pieces of music and why I like them so much. Since it's Tuesday and I like alliteration, I give you Top Ten Tuesday: The Band/Orchestra Music Edition (in no real particular order):

#10: Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky

I've never played this one and I don't have a personal story to go with this one, I just really enjoy it.

#9: Watchman, Tell Us of the Night by Mark Camphouse
This piece was the first time I KNEW that I was in music for the right reasons. I was a sophomore in High School and prior to this concert I wasn't sure I was working so hard and putting so much into music for myself or for my parents. I made All-State Band my sophomore year and we played this under the direction of a phenomenal conductor. The piece is so emotional and wonderful and it made me really fall in love with playing my clarinet.

#8: Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli

Come to think of it...we played this piece on the same All-State concert mentioned above! It is a super-fun piece of music that never gets old to listen to! My friends and I always joked about having a Blue Shades party in which we would play this on secondary instruments (i.e. not the ones we usually played). I wish we had done it because I think it would have been kind of amazing. Maybe it's not too late...

#7: Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi

I think this piece is pretty paints interesting pictures in my mind when I listen to it. For those of you who don't have good imaginations when it comes to "classical" music, the link I provided for the piece is Disney's Fantasia 2000 version that gives you a story to go with it.

#6: First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst

You can't have a list of band favorites without some Holst. I'll keep it simple with the First Suite. I loved playing this in High School, especially since I was sitting next to one of my closest friends. We loved Holst so much that we used to flash each other the American Sign Language sign for "H" like a gang sign! (Nerd alert!)

#5: Celebration by Philip Sparke

I think Philip Sparke is my favorite living composer for wind ensemble. I played this piece of music my freshman year at JMU when the Wind Symphony traveled to perform at a national conference. It was a great overall concert but this piece stands out to me.

#4: Dance Movements by Philip Sparke

I know I just picked a Sparke piece and generally you don't double up in a list but here I am....Dance Movements is just SO FUN!

The link above is just for the first movement but you can find the others on the related video list next to it.

#3: Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein

This is the first piece of music that I can remember really loving. I must have been maybe eight or so and I used to play this piece over and over again. I have clear memory of dancing with a broom to it around my grandmother's kitchen when it still had it's black and white checked floor tiles.

What's awesome now is that Henry loves watching this video. He walks up to the computer and waves his arms around, which is his way of requesting "Lenny".

#2: Symphony #4 by David Maslanka

We played this at JMU the spring of my junior year, which was a personally challenging semester for me. When we played it at the concert it was one of those performances when everyone was really in it and pouring everything they had into it. I remember people looking around at each other, some with tears in their eyes, as we passed through theme after theme. I don't listen to this piece often but when I do it brings me back to that concert and that time in my life and makes me thankful that I had music around me that semester.

#1: Appalachian Spring, by Aaron Copland

This is the piece I told my stand partner was my all-time favorite piece of music. If I could only hear one piece of music again in my life, I think I would pick this one. From the beautiful opening dawn of intervals it just captivates me. It has so much to it that I can't help but get lost in it. When I listen to it I can imagine the sun rising over the prairie, pioneers heading west, adventure, simplicity in living, sweeping vistas. Copland's music sounds like America, like the soundtrack of our history, landscapes, and memories.

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