Seamus Egan: Music Director Of A Christmas Celtic Sojourn

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Sept. 10: Jez Lowe And The Bad Pennies

Monday, September 26, 2011
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My Favorites: Introspective Brahms and Soaring Gnattali

By Alice Abraham   |   Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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For the week of Valentine's Day, we'll be playing the music you love most, and in that spirit, here is the next in a series of what a few of us here at 99.5 All Classical love most.  Alice Abraham is our Music Librarian, responsible for a collection of over 90,000 individual recordings and books in support of the classical music we bring you 24 hours a day.

We hope these ideas prompt you to think through your favorites, which you can submit here!

Feb. 9

My favorite music Valentines features intense emotional dialogues for strings.

I was the youngest of four and was second fiddle in our family string quartet. Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, Op. 78, reminds me of my parents encouraging us to spread our wings and to be adventurous. But the melancholy woven throughout this work represents to me our loss and resignation when my sister disappeared/died on an expedition. Long ago I performed this sonata on my sister’s 1747 violin. The second movement is one of those rare occasions where Brahms borrowed a theme from one of his earlier works. The introspective Adagio quotes the rain motif from his song “Das Regenlied” Op. 59 No. 3.

In contrast, Radames Gnattali’s Sonata, written in 1969, is a vibrant and passionate dialogue for cello and guitar influenced by strong sonorities and rhythms found in Brazilian popular music. I’m so glad that cellist Maxine Neuman, one half of the Claremont Duo, introduced me to this work, which the duo included on a CD from Artek called “Histoires.” The first and third movements are especially inspirational, lifting you up, soaring and swirling with the wind through new adventures in life!

The Zodiac Trio

Thursday, January 27, 2011
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Oct. 21: Classical, Beer, and a Chat

By Brian McCreath   |   Thursday, October 21, 2010
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Last week, I ran across a blog entry that tackled the always relevant question of the relevance of classical music.  The context was the Toronto subway system's use of classical music as a way to keep teenagers from hanging out in train stations, but it was broadened out by Colin Eatock at 3quarksdaily to pose the question of where classical music fits in in today's society.  A few comments came in, which you can read as part of the original post, and here are some highlights:

Sara wrote that classical music should "stop trying to market itself;  just make it available, let it pervade the environment, and those who want to appreciate it will come to it."  So maybe using classical as something people encounter in a subway is a good thing, even if the intent is a bit questionable?

Robert wrote that the placement (marginalization?) of classical music today "is a decision that has been taken and that lovers of classical music have largely accepted."  Which makes me wonder what any particular individual can do to NOT accept that decision.  How can lovers of classical music activate and change the way the music is perceived in our society?

Finally, Ruth, wrote that it's about context, and that a big problem is "formal setting of classical concerts, formal behavior required despite changed social mores, for ex., applause between movements scorned ('hold down that enthusiasm please') [is] all offputting in today's culture of informality and audience involvement."

Well, now comes a study of younger listeners (which you can read about at the London Evening Standard) that suggests something like what Ruth is getting at:  that 24-36 year old listeners want a casual setting, maybe with a beer to relax with, and they want to be addressed from the stage, i.e. brought into the conversation.

Personally I can see both sides of this:  I see a lot of value in staying silent during an extraordinary performance, partly to enhance my own experience, but also out of sheer respect for the experience of others.  On the other hand, if an especially explosive movement ends, it does feel pretty bizarre at times for an entire hall to sit on their hands.  As for talking from the stage and having a beer at the concert, I'm all for it!

What's your take?  Comment below to get in on the discussion.
(photo:  Easter brew in Prague, April 2010)

A Celtic Sojourn 11/22/2014

Monday, November 24, 2014
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About the Authors
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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