Shaquel Smith Professor Dr. Anna Nisnevich (Masterman) Intro to Western Art Music 11 April 2011 Concert Connections: Critique and Comparison of a Classical Concert and Jazz Band Concert Superb musicianship and masterful command of instrument take the stage at the Heinz Hall, the home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For this day, the orchestra is playing the classic works of three legendary composers: Schumann, Liszt, and Strauss. As I took my seat I realized that this place is packed with a full audience; dressed in their Sundays best, tipsy off of Wine, and ready to ‘engage’ in an experience, a musical experience.
As I sat down I realized that I was in for a long night, for this type of concert was not my forte. I did not want to be there nor pay attention to the concert at all, only for the completion of this paper But little did I know, I was about to attend one of the greatest musical experiences that I have witnessed. Rafael Frukbeck de Burgos, the conductor, barely acknowledging the audience’s applause, he lunged into Robert Schumann “Symphony No. 3” with a huge burst of energy, which was maintained through all phases of the piece. The orchestra gave a spirited and joyful account of the piece.
They received a great ovation, of which I stood, for their great depiction of Schumann’s classic. I was in awe, I was shocked, that I was ‘enjoying’ a classical concert. Jorge Federico Osorio, the pianist, walked upon stage receiving a standing ovation upon mere visibility. Bowing separately to the audience in the sold-out hall and in the stage seats with very deliberate and studied manner at each entry and exit, they struck as dignified and remote powerful figures. Starting to play almost as soon as he sat down, Osorio was thoroughly absorbed in his own, exalted world.
His technical command of the instrument was astounding. They played Franz Liszt “Concertos No. 2”, this piece was amazing – intense octave runs, slight figuration, a perfectly balanced and transparent fugal section, all integrated into an organic whole. In the final part of the show, Richard Strauss’s “Rosenkavalier”, the orchestra traversed the range of expression from lyrical reflection to emotional outburst. It takes a pianist of Osorio’s prodigious talents, for whom technical problems do not exist, to be able to focus on the bigger picture as well as the details, and give coherent readings of these sprawling works.
A thundering standing ovation at last brought a hint of a smile from the pianist and the majority of the orchestra. The highpoint of the evening was the Second Concerto. Burgos led the orchestra descended over the hall as the audience listened intensely personal and delicate account of this piece. This intimate dimension lifted his playing to yet another, higher level. This caught my attention and allowed me to engage within the orchestral piece. The other concert I decided to attend was The University of Pittsburgh’s Jazz Ensemble.
The concert, which was untitled, explored various classical pieces in Jazz history ranging from a range of Jazz musicians and pieces. Music Director Leon Dorsey provided not only the history of the pieces, but careful instructions on how to listen to them. As a helpful guide, Dorsey would instruct the audience, “Now make sure you catch the ‘be-do-be-do-be-da-bop’ in the last measure. ” This allowed folks that are not musically trained to have an idea what to look for and what to focus on during the pieces. Through the entire show the amateur musicians gave an outstanding performance.
Each soloist perfectly captured the music’s emotion. Even when there wasn’t a solo, each musician played with an almost tangible energy. The first half was filled with noteworthy pieces. Within one specific piece, the ensemble warmed up the audience with “All of Me” by the legendary Gerald Marks. This piece featured a mini-duet between the bass and drums. Dorsey instructed nicely the creative use of the trombones, saxophones, and trumpets with each instrument playing over the other but still somehow playing as one. It was very exciting to see fellow students play with such creativity.
The first half ended strongly with a frenzied paced “Cotton Tail” by Duke Ellington. The second half began with two pieces by Freddy Hubbard and the great Louis Armstrong. In between each performance, Dorsey, would keep the audience’s attention with short stories and funny anecdotes pertaining to each piece. It was almost like a comedy show, this helped keep the attention of the large student population in attendance and provided humor for the older lovers of jazz. The night ended as the ensemble played its interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan. ” Nicknamed a “tonal portrait,” this piece was just as visually stimulating as t was auditory. The piece started with an African beat provided by the percussion, bass, and piano. Then the trumpets and trombones chirped, mimicking the sounds of animals. Throughout the entire piece, the listener almost feels as if they are in an actual caravan, seeing the landscape around them and feeling the rhythm of the travel. This helped me relate to the music and kept my attention. Pitt’s Jazz Band would tease the audience with quick changes in tempo and rhythm, repeatedly speeding up and then slowing to a standstill only to pick up the pace again.
It was truly an exciting performance. There were a lot of differences and similarities between the Orchestra Concert and the Jazz band concert. In parallel, both concerts had a leader. For the classical concert Rafael Furhbeck de Burgos ‘lead’ and for the jazz ensemble Leon Dorsey directed. Burgos and Dorsey were the front men of their specific concert. Traditional orchestra usually maintains a conductor to organize the pieces manage on stage. Dorsey played that similar role for the Jazz Ensemble. The difference in the way they conducted was obvious.
Burgos used a more classical style of conducting and Dorsey used a more contemporary style. This braches off of the fact that Jazz is a more modern style of music which has roots from western art music, which the classical concert portrayed. Both concerts also used similar instruments. The woodwind, brass, percussion, and keyboard instrument are used in both a jazz ensemble and orchestra. The orchestra, however, uses string instruments. The high resemblance instrumentality is another result of the emergence of Jazz music based upon its influence from Western Art Classical Orchestral music genre.
The differences affected me in many ways. Primarily, with the idea that the classical orchestra is more of traditional culture in my mind, I dressed for the occasion. I maintained a ‘civilized behavior’ while at Heinz Hall, only because I understood that the “classical culture” had a specific mannerisms. On the other hand, the more contemporary and modern Jazz band concert allowed me to have more freedom: I dressed down, used my phone, whispered comments to my neighbor, and had more freedom at the Jazz band concert. This was also due to the fact that it was more of a laid back occasion.
That is one of the major differences in a live classical performance as opposed to a non-classical performance. The way one would act, think, and carry oneself in an orchestra show is ‘classical’ classy behavior, being one of class. As opposed, the non-classical, is more of a common folk ordeal where more is acceptable. Both concerts were connected in many ways while being distinct experiences. I believe classical music is still powerful. Many believe that classical music is dead*. I beg to differ. As shown within this paper, there were many similarities between the classical concert I attended and the jazz band concert I attended.
This is evidence that classical music continues to live on through other forms of music. I firmly believe that modern music is classical music expressed in today’s language. The jazz ensemble was basically a classical concert without the stringed instruments. Think about it: the base, derivation, the feel of it was influences from something. The word classic means something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. Classical music is everlasting, it isn’t a fad, and it will always be around. Classical Music is connected to all genres of music in some way, shape, or form, including a Jazz Ensemble.