Friday, February 16, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #WeWriteSymphonies Annotated List - Week 2

I'm a regular contributor to the #ClassicsaDay feed on Twitter. At a speech in Poland on 7/6/17, the President said, "The world has never known anything like our community of nations. We write symphonies."  The next day #WeWriteSymphonies appeared on Twitter, citing all the non-Western -- and non-white -- composers who do indeed write symphonies.

To celebrate composers of color, I used both hashtags in my feed for the month of September.

Below is annotated list for the second week of posts.

Kenneth Amis (1970 - ) Concerto for Tuba

Amis is a tuba player with the Empire Brass and is on the faculty for the Boston Conservatory and MIT. Most of his works are written for brass instruments or wind ensembles. His Concerto for Tuba is an important addition to the tuba's repertoire.

Olly Wilson (1937 - ) Voices

Olly Wilson has had a long, successful career in academia, with stints at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and U of C Berkley. As a composer, he's received a Guggenheim Fellowship and won the Rome Prize. Wilson's received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

Alvin Singleton (1940 - ) Somehow We Can

Singleton has served as the Atlanta Symphony's composer in residence and enjoyed a number of important commissions. His music has been characterized as a blend of minimalism, Messiaen, and modern jazz.His 1994 composition for string quartet, "Somehow We Can" is a good example of his style.


Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) Afro-American Suite

She was a granddaughter of slaves, born in Virginia. over time she would become one of the most prolific composers of color, and a professor at Virginia State University. Most of Moore's works are choral and have elements of Negro spirituals. Her Afro-American Suite is one of her most-performed orchestral compositions.

Rosephanye Powell (1962 - ) Non nobis, Domine

Alabama native Rosaphanye Powell specializes in choral compositions. In addition to short SATB compositions, Powell has also written large-scale oratorios and cantatas for choirs, soloists, and orchestra. Her work "Non nobis, Domine" takes traditional Latin texts and presents them in a contemporary style that speaks to modern audiences.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 075 - Platform Truck

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

075. Platform Truck

This was an interesting industrial model. I can imagine something like this being trundled through a factory or a machine shop. I wonder if the platform raised and lowered on the original prototype?

The build itself was pretty simple. There were a fiew discrepencies between the illustration and the model, of course. The illustrator drew dowels that were exactly the right length.

In reality, the choices were more limited. Only one length of dowel extends the width of the truck body -- it's used for both the axels and the handle, with a little overhang on each.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Georg Schumann - a "post-Wagner" composer?

This is the first time I've heard the music of Georg Schumann -- but not the first time CPO's released it. This recording is the fourth of G. Schumann's music. Previously, CPO's released his first symphony, a disc of lieder, and one of chamber music.

Georg Schumann (no relation to Robert), was the longtime director of the Sing-Akademie in Berlin and composition professor at the Prussian Academy of Arts. He enjoyed a 60-year relationship with the Berlin Philharmonic, providing musicians for choral works, and occasionally original compositions.

So what's my impression of this prominent yet obscure composer? Listening to his 1905 Symphony, the phrase "post-Wagner" came to mind. Schumann meant his Symphony No. 2 to capture the heroic spirit. He does so in a more conservative fashion than Strauss with Ein Heldenleben (written seven years before).

Strauss' tone poem was autobiographical. Schumann's symphony is not. Schumann's themes reminded me strongly of Wagner without sounding derivative. Schumann masterfully develops his motifs in a way that keeps interest and dramatic tension high.

Included are two overtures. The 1906 Overture to a Drama is filled with sharp contrasts, keeping the listener off-balance until the very end.

The Lebensfreude overture is a jolly little work. This is the music of the operetta and Oktoberfest.

The Deutsches Symphony-Orchester Berlin directed James Feddeck does an outstanding job with this music. Schumann gives the orchestra lots to do, and they seem to enjoy every minute of it. Time to seek out those other recordings. I've got some catching up to do.

Georg Schumann: Symphony No. 2, Op. 42
Deutsches Symphony-Orchester Berlin; James Feddeck, conductor
CPO 555 110-2