I’m Deirdre Kellerman, the 1st year graduate choral conducting student at NEC. I’m in a pretty amazing program. Not only do I get to work with the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir on a regular basis, I get to sing with them, too! Choir rehearsals are quickly proving to be the highlight of my week and I’m excited to share our work with you all.
When we were asked to each write about our “Desert Island Recordings”, a lot of music immediately came to mind. 60 minutes of music is not very much… but I gave it a shot and here is my list of I-can’t-live-without-it songs.
1. Franz and the Eagle - The Goat Rodeo Sessions
I would list this whole album if I could!
2. L’heure exquise (Reynaldo Hahn) - Susan Graham
Susan Graham’s album, La Belle Epoque, is perfect. I love her voice and her interpretation.
3. This Is How I Know - Ron Sexsmith
This man is a songwriting champion. This is from one of my favorite albums, Exit Strategy of the Soul.
4. Motion Picture Soundtrack – Radiohead
I love the vibe of this piece. Definitely one of the songs I’d want if I was stuck on a desert island.
5. One Voice - The Wailin’ Jennys
Lots of personal attachment to this song. Reminds me of my choir back home, Xara Choral Theatre!
6. Awake My Soul - Mumford and Sons
Everyone needs a little Mumford to get them through the rough days.
7. Amor from Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs - Measha Brueggergosman
I’m a huge Measha fan. I think she’s hilarious and she is such a great performer. Make sure to watch the video past the first minute!
8. Simple - k.d. lang
I love k.d. lang and I love this song!
9. Chelsea Morning - Joni Mitchell
I also love Joni. She’s the best.
10. Fire and Rain - James Taylor
For those long, lonely desert island days…
11. All Will Be Well - Gabe Dixon Band
Again, one for the rough days. Desert island anthem!
12. Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
Could play this on repeat for hours.
13. You’re the Top - Ella Fitzgerald
All hail Queen Ella.
14. Safe Here - Craig Cardiff
I think this is one of the most comforting pieces of music ever.
15. Way Over Yonder - Carole King
I adore this lady. This song is just one of my favs.
Keep checking in on the blog to see what my fellow Chamber Singers absolutely cannot live without!
Choral Conducting candidate, MM, ’15
Excerpt from The Oklahoman - Sunday Life Edition
By Carla Hinton, 09/15
"Education should not be just about nurturing the intellect, it should also be about nourishing the soul..."
Jose Luis Hernandez-Estrada followed his father into a rehearsal hall filled with members of a professional orchestra in Tampico, Mexico. The musicians crowded around his father, yelling “Maestro!” in their excitement to meet the piano soloist for their next performance.
His dad merely smiled and quietly led the child to a piano.
At 10 years old, Hernandez-Estrada was the acclaimed pianist the musicians awaited — much to their surprise.
“The conductor knew who the soloist was, but the musicians thought they were waiting for my father,” Hernandez-Estrada said, smiling, during a recent interview at Oklahoma City University.
That memorable moment from 1994 rose to the surface recently as Hernandez-Estrada anticipated his first season as executive director of El Sistema Oklahoma. The program, in its inaugural year, provides free orchestral music training to a group of students in third through sixth grades from six Oklahoma City public schools: Sequoyah, Linwood, Gatewood, Kaiser, Putnam Heights and Cleveland.
Hernandez-Estrada, 29, is now an internationally acclaimed pianist and classical conductor. He said sharing the gift of music with the Oklahoma youths reminds him of his childhood when he discovered music for the first time.
Also see the first article in the series: 'Kaleidoscope of sound': Students begin acclaimed after-school music program.
Hello! My name is Zach, and I’m back for this school year’s first post on our blog! The theme of this semester is Desert Island Recordings, and I’m really excited to share mine with you. For those who are unfamiliar with the topic, it is one that people ask musicians pretty frequently. “If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring so much music to listen to for the rest of your life, what would you bring?” It can be in any genre and any style, and I’m sure throughout the Chamber Singers we’re pretty much going to run the gamut. For this exercise, Erica limited us to 45-60 minutes, which means I only have a couple DAYS worth of music to cut. So, with that spiel completed, I hope you enjoy my Desert Island Recordings!
Sred Shumnogo Bala—Pyotr Tchaikovisky
When I was around 14, I participated in the New York State School Music Association’s (NYSSMA) Solo and Ensemble festival for the first time, and the song I sang was a song called “At the Ball.” It was a translation of a song by Tchaikovsky, and it was the most hauntingly beautiful melody I had ever heard. It tells the story of a man dancing at a ball when he sees the face of a young woman dance by, and notices that, despite her happy smile and beautiful laughter, her eyes are terribly sad and pensive. He loses her in all the dancing, but on some lonely nights, he thinks back to this ghost of a woman and wonders if he loves her, all the while knowing that just asking the question means he does. It’s a truly special song, and it has a special place in my heart. And it also took me a LONG time to find in Russian again! This is Dmitri Hvorostovsky losing himself in it
While I was searching for The previous song, I stumbled on a series of recordings by a man named Boris Gmyrya, who was a Soviet singer back in the 50’s, singing a large amount of Russian romantic art songs. I bought 3 albums and probably 70 songs worth. This one is undoubtedly my favorite. I could listen to it on repeat for longer than you would expect. It Translates in English to “Doubt.” I hope you like Hvorostovsky, because here he is again!
Sweet Baby James—James Taylor
When I was a child, my mother read us all sorts of stories every night that she could. On the nights that she couldn’t, and sometimes even after she did, our dad would come in and sing us all sorts of songs. We heard the Beatles, Crosby Stills and Nash, and, our favorite, James Taylor. This was my favorite song as a child, and the one I will never forget.
Intermezzo for Strings—Franz Schreker
I don’t really remember how I stumbled onto this remarkable composer, but sometime about two years ago, I did. And I learned his fantastic music right in the middle of NEC’s Mahler Unleashed festival as the Chamber Orchestra performed its “Mahler’s Contemporaries” concert, which featured Schreker’s music. I was drawn to the performance, and it was magical. And then I downloaded it and listened to this song (another I could play on repeat endlessly) and I fell even more in love. I listen to it all the time now. Another haunting, delicate melody. It’s fantastic. Hopefully, if Erica lets me, I can tell you more about Franz Schreker later in the semester, because he fits very well into NEC’s Truth to Power theme this year, and especially with our first choir concert devoted to Anne Frank and her time.
If I were to choose a favorite classic rock band, I would have to choose The Zombies. Their songs were so jazzy, and their harmonies so much more complex than the average band back then. And I especially love them singing this great song by George Gershwin from “Porgy and Bess,” that has since become a classic. Maybe not operatic, but so satisfying.
Broken Heart—Motion City Soundtrack
When I was in high school, I went through a musical crisis. I started to realize that I didn’t like any of the bands on the radio. My solution? Listen to all my sister’s music. The result was my discovery of Motion City Soundtrack, now one of my go-to bands. This song, definitely one of their most angsty, became one of my favorites because I think it’s a very well written.
The Promise of Living—Aaron Copland
The only reason I’m a musician right now is because I, on a whim actually, attended the New York Summer School of the Arts at SUNY Fredonia in upstate New York. The program opened my eyes to the entire classical community and the viability of a life performing classical music. The finale of the program every year was Copland’s Promise of Living. I also performed this in Marching band. I’ve done it a lot, and it never grows old. It is still so incredibly beautiful. This version is only instrumental, but the vocal version is spectacular too.
Solitary Hotel—Samuel Barber
This song is so mysterious, and so enchanting. It is to me one of the best examples of setting text in the history of art song. Samuel Barber is also one of my all time favorite composers. With a text pulled straight from Ulysses by James Joyce, it is a powerful piece. I encourage you to take a listen to Thomas Hampson’s interpretation. It is chilling.
I Hear an Army—Samuel Barber
Yes. He’s worth two. The first time I heard someone sing this song live, the performance was so incredibly intense that he made his accompanist cry. Of course, the accompanist may have been crying at how hard the piano part is. It doesn’t sound as pleasing as some of the others, but the finale pulls at your heart unlike any song I’ve ever heard.
Sleepy Time Down South—Louis Armstrong
I love Louis Armstrong. That’s pretty much it. He makes me happy. In fact, I can’t think of a person he doesn’t make happy.
One of my favorite lieder, this song is also one of Schubert’s beautiful melodies, which is saying something. And Thomas Quasthoff has the perfect voice for it.
Man Up—Book of Mormon’
I’m also a big fan of musical theater, and the funniest show out there is probably Book of Mormon, by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I’d like to put the whole show on here, but I can only afford so much time, and this tune is my favorite from the show. It also conveniently has a great summary of many of the other songs from the show, which would be an excellent memory trigger when stranded on a desert island.
And there we go. That’s about as close to 45 minutes as I can make it. These are the bare essentials, what I would survive with if I had nothing else. I hope someone enjoyed reading it (sorry the explanations got a bit lengthy). Enjoy the rest of the blog!
NEC Junior, Vocal Performance
American composer Laura Karpman leads today’s seminar. Named one of the most important women in Hollywood by Variety Magazine, Karpman’s genre bending film, television, and video game scores, ranging from sci-fi Americana to neo-noir, racing action adventure to ambient sound design, world fusion to modernist orchestral colors, have garnered her four Emmys and numerous nominations.
There is always a certain amount of excitement around the first day of school. At NEC Prep, first notes vibrated through the air this past Saturday. You could literally reach out and feel them.
I arrived at Brown Hall around 7:30am and it was already buzzing with students and parents for the 8am String Training Orchestra. Students where unpacking instruments of all sizes to match these young apprentices. Peter Jarvis placed nametags on all the stands and students cautiously made their way to their seats. For some, this was their first orchestra rehearsal ever. For me, it was a flashback to years ago, when I walked into the String Training Orchestra with my three-quarter violin in hand.
Parents lined the edges of Brown Hall and took seats in the balcony. Amazingly, when the clock struck 8am, everyone was ready. 92 string members of STO had arrived and Peter Jarvis took the podium for their first notes. “To start we are only going to play the first two bars.” Bows rose to strings and two bars of music were played. Magic. We all learn to walk, skip and run, one note at a time.
At 5:55pm, later that same day and I’ll admit-exhausted, I found myself back in Brown Hall. String Training Orchestra members were no longer sitting in their seats. Instead, now our oldest students, members of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, had taken their places. Juniors and Seniors smiled at long time friends and welcomed new students into the fold. I watched, as once again, students raised their bows to their strings. I closed my eyes. Strings swelled through the air and I heard the harp enter. They were playing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony’s Adagietto. David Loebel took a moment to remind the orchestra that the rests where just as important as the notes.
I smiled. In the whirlwind that flew through the school today, so many musical journeys had begun.
Wishing everyone a wonderful year at NEC PREP!
NEC Prep Director
There is something quite ineffable about music. It is an invisible language, mysterious and powerful at the same time. You cannot see music but you can feel it. It embraces anyone who would be called to listen to and participate in it. Its effects transcend any scholarly explanations. The properties of this physical phenomenon can probably be best described in spiritual or even ethical terms. As an artist and educator, I often ask myself the question, “Why is music important?” And more specifically, “What can music do to help us thrive as people?” The practice of music invites us to embolden our creative spirits and often begets spaces of beauty. These are tremendous opportunities for anyone, yet the presence of these in the life of a poor child can be the best antidote and hope that he may have to succeed through the challenges of life. When a child in need is given a musical instrument, he discovers a new and hopeful voice framed in harmony that elevates a sometime fragile human condition.
In El Sistema, we recognize music as a fundamental right and as a social action in service to others. An “art at the service of those who cry for vindication and the raising up of the dignity,” as Jose Antonio Abreu would explain. To better understand the essence of our work let us also ponder the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta as she often expressed, “The most miserable and tragic thing about poverty is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no one.” And the words of Maestro Abreu, as he refers to education as the means to aspire towards something much greater than ourselves. “Education being the synthesis of wisdom and knowledge, it is the means to strive for a more perfect, more enlightened, and just society.” Both statements are as eloquent and as important to embody the work of El Sistema.
In doing this work, we believe that all children should be valued and that investing in a participatory and collective music education is the means to achieve a positive and lasting social change in their lives. We strive to provide the best opportunities—which include the best teachers, instruments, and infrastructure to show our students and families that we are committed to their success. Even at the very nascent stages of the Oklahoma City program we are already seeing many smiles and shining eyes. “Thank you for giving Adrian a second chance,” one parent said, “No one believes in him, but you do.” This is precisely what we aspire to. To believe. To have faith on the infinite potential of our youth and in the aspirations of families who seek for a better life. And we are using music as the vehicle. It is our best hope to help make a difference.
Welcome back, dear Readers, and welcome to you Readers who are new to the NEC Chamber Singers blog Facing Front!
So many wonderful performances and opportunities are programmed for the NEC Choral Department this year, from a New England premiere of James Whitbourn’s “Annelies”, an Advent celebration of the music of Benjamin Britten, to several symphonic performances this spring, featuring works by Beethoven, Shostakovich, J.S. Bach and Brahms. Thousands of notes and just as many words in more than seven languages are on the docket of things to be learned and experienced for the 2013-14 season. I encourage you to become a regular follower of this blog as the Chamber Singers share their thoughts with you regarding the process and performance experience.
A new twist on the blog for the first half of this year will also highlight Chamber Singer opinions on “Desert Island Recordings.” Allow me to explain: the students were challenged to compose a voluntary blog entry that would share with you not only their experiences at the Conservatory, but also their most treasured 45-60 minutes of music. These 45-60 precious minutes are to encompass the only recordings they would be permitted to bring if they were stranded on a deserted tropical island (yes, they will have their playback device to enjoy those minutes!). I, for one, cannot wait to read/hear their choices! It is a common misconception that classical conservatory students only listen to classical music. I think the selections these students make will end up pleasantly surprising many!
We hope you enjoy the updates our NEC students will provide over the course of this new academic year. And don’t forget - you are ALWAYS welcome at our (wonderfully FREE) performances!
Erica J. Washburn
Director of Choral Activities
New England Conservatory
NEC is proud to have legendary mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne share her insights and knowledge with our voice and opera students in a residency that includes two public masterclasses as well as private coachings. Observing her interaction with our young artists will be an unforgettable experience.
Join us Friday October 11 for the second public masterclass.
Check out this sample from the new PBS series, “Genealogy Roadshow,” composed by NEC SCE Director and Chair of Music Technology studies, Sean Hagon!
Sean Peter Hagon is a composer, orchestrator and conductor for the film, video game, television and advertisement industries. An experienced and well rounded musician in all genres, Hagon received his music degree from Berklee College of Music and graduated cum laude with a degree in Professional Music focusing on film scoring, composition, and music education. He also received his diploma in Media Composition from the accredited Music For The Media of the London School of Creative Studes and studied with Charles Fernandez who is know for his orchestrations and compositions for HBO’s “The Band of Brothers”, The Butterfly Effect, Disney’s 101 Dalmations, numerous film trailers including The Haunting, Windtalkers, Castaway and his many contibutions to Disney, MGM and Universal. Hagon received his Masters Degree from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in Music Technology.
Hagon has extensive computer music and music technology expertise and is a composer, orchestrator, and conductor for the film, video game, television and advertisement industries. Hagon is an active film and TV composer represented by The Music Collective. He has composed music for the Celebrity Build television series on Fox Sports Net New England, and has recently completed the music score for the German independent film Cibe and is in the midst of his next film score for Luminosity.
Hagon was born and raised just outside of Boston, MA and began studying music at the age of 5 which included trumpet, voice, violin and piano. As a teenager, he began to compose music in many styles and was commissioned by the 215th Massachusetts National Guard Army Band to compose Scenes From A Battlefield, a full-length work for concert band. He spent much of his teenage years recording and performing nationally in the early 90s with the Boston based rock group Last Cry. Last Cry penned a #1 hit on radio stations in New England with In The Name of Love and received airplay on numerous radio stations throughout the country. With Last Cry, Hagon worked closely with producer John Fannon of the 70s rock group New England and Lennie Petze who is best known as the man who discovered and produced hit records for Cyndi Lauper.
Hagon has made appearances as pianist/keyboardist for the national act The Dan Lawson Band at the Nashville New Music Conference, T.V. appearances on CN8 for Back Stage With Barry Nolan, The Fox 25 Morning News program and has been an opener for national acts such as Derek St. Holmes (Formerly with Ted Nugent) Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Great White, Zakk Wylde, Jimmy Van Zant, Trixter and Eddie Money .
When not composing for film, T.V. and multimedia, Hagon currently serves as the Director of Continuing Education at New England Conservatory and is a recipient of the Exemplary Music Educator Award from Berklee College of Music in recognition of his outstanding teaching and efforts to advance the music education profession.