Rather than share things I’m listening to right now, I decided to share some of my favorites from my teenage years, all the way up to now. I’ve broken the list down to a few symphonic pieces, a few albums, and a few individual songs.
Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
No music list of mine would be complete without Tchaikovsky. This amazing symphony helped spark my love for the symphony orchestra as a teenager, and I hope it does the same for you. I was captivated immediately by Tchaikovsky’s ability to express heartbreak and tragedy, passion and longing, all in a beautiful musical package that’ll whisk you away. If nothing else, I hope your heart melts a little with mine at the 6:13 mark. This particular recording displays the music so you can follow along.
blue cathedral, Jennifer Higdon
In addition to the touching story behind this composition’s genesis, I’m drawn to the sensationally intricate rhythms that float through this music, seeming to obscure pulse and eventually boiling over into an exhilarating orchestral dance party at 7:03. There are other perhaps ‘better’ recordings, but I couldn’t help recommend this one of a fabulous youth symphony.
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Claude Debussy
This music is saturated in colorful harmonies. One of my absolute favorite moments in all of symphonic music is the 40 seconds of ecstasy starting at 5:04. The blissful clashes between the soaring string melody and delicately insistent woodwind pulses have always been inspiring to me. Try conducting along with the music in your three pattern- it’s not easy! Use the strings as your gravitational guide for beat one. I’ve included a recording with the sheet music to help.
Honorable Mention: Death & Transfiguration, Richard Strauss
For the full albums below, I’ve included links that should play each track in succession.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
On a personal level, this record has meant the world to me. Nearly each track has hit me uniquely at different moments in my life, perhaps none more than the opener.
Ok Computer - Radiohead
Similar to the Wilco above, this one has always had a direct line to my heart, especially as a teenager. In particular I’ve loved Paranoid Android, Exit Music, Climbing the Walls, and No Surprises.
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Great album or greatest album? I can’t decide.
Honorable Mention: Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
Transatlantique - Beirut
I was quite late to discovering Beirut, but have enjoyed the interesting blend of flavors in much of their music. Incidentally, their front man, Zach Condon spent lots of his life in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Echos - Pink Floyd
More Pink Floyd, I know. I know. I’ve just always loved the different ‘worlds’ this music travels through in one song. In particular, the groove starting at the 7:00 mark.
All Blues, Miles Davis
Miles, Cannonball, Evans, Mr. PC, Jimmy C., and my favorite- Coltrane? Yes please!
Honorable Mention: Elephant Gun, Beirut
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 and died in 1750. He was a German composer during the Baroque era which began around 1600 and ended with his death in 1750. The Baroque era included among others, the composers Handel, Monteverdi, Vivaldi and Buxtehude. Baroque music is noted for its ornamentations such as trills, its counterpoint, (multiple lines with rhythmic variation), and its various complex forms such as Fugues, Inventions, Toccatas, Sonatas, Suites, and Oratorios.
During Bach’s lifetime, the system of equal temperament tuning that we use to this day emerged, which allowed composers to develop complex modulations to far away keys over the course of a composition. This tuning system of equal distant semi-tones allowed Bach and his contemporaries to compose increasingly complex harmonic music. One of Bach’s master works are his “Well Tempered Clavier”, which includes 2 books of preludes and fugues for keyboard in all 24 keys (12 major, 12 minor), that explore the possibilities available in an equal temperament tuning system, and established what we now call the “Common Practice Era” of western harmony that defined the next 200 years of classical music (early 18th century-1900), and includes among others; Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, as well as many popular music composers from in the 20th and 21st century who continue to work in similar harmonic structures.
Among Bach’s numerous compositions are many works for Church including numerous Oratorios, Church Cantatas, Motets, Passions, Masses, and hundreds of Chorales. His responsibilities as a church organist included writing new music every week, which he did for most of his professional life.
He also wrote numerous solo works for keyboard, cello, solo violin, lute and various other solo works.
Some of his most famous works include the following master works:
Toccata and Fugue
The Brandenburg Concerto
The Well Tempered Clavier
Air for the G string
The St. Matthew Passion
The Intermezzo String Orchestra will be performing a collection of short Bach Miniatures for the upcoming “From Sea To Shining Sea” SFYSA concert this month.
This month we hear from Mr. Finn, conductor of our Youth Philharmonic, with his current listening picks.
My personal connection to Bob Marley's music and the music of the Caribbean is important. I spent the first 7 years of my teaching career on a small island in the Southern Caribbean, St. Lucia. I absolutely fell in love with the rhythmic complexity, the harmonic simplicity, and the melodic phrasing. It's hard to quantify, reggae music just makes me smile. I love it.
Of course, as with most people, my musical interests are definitely not confined to one style. I love listening to all sorts of different music. The music of Miles Davis is something I delved into very deeply while in school. I approached it with an academic mindset, so whenever I listen to 50s and 60s jazz, I find it difficult to just let go the way I do with Caribbean music. The music analyst in me gets to work when I hear jazz improvisation and I absolutely love to try to imagine what the improviser was thinking/imaging/focusing-on while they played that solo. One solo of Miles Davis that I always enjoy listening to and analyzing is off his 1958 record, Milestones. In fact, that entire album is fantastic. There are two takes of "Straight, No Chaser" that were released (one on the original and one on a more recent release), both of which have fantastic improvisations from everyone in the band. The way Miles solos on trumpet is so lyrical and expressive, while not being overly complicated. It's easy to sing along to, and when analyzed against the harmony, it is fascinating how he plays around with 'sticking to the chord tones' and 'exploring the upper extensions'. Really hip!
In addition to listening to music that 'makes me feel good' and music that 'makes me think good', I also spend a good bit of time listening to music that 'makes me smarter'. As a musician, this is hugely important. The Santa Fe Youth Philharmonic is currently preparing an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture. In order for me to better understand stylistic and musical phrasing that will help me lead the orchestra, I've spent a lot of time listening to some different recordings of the piece. In particular, I've really enjoyed the interpretation by Gustavo Dudamel and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The passion and energy that he represents visually in his conducting is so clearly interpreted by the orchestra. It's simply amazing. This type of listening is more "in depth" than the other listening I do. I listen over and over again, pausing the recording, rewinding, listening again.
In the era of YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify it's easy to have a wide 'breadth' in our listening - which is fantastic, so much at our fingertips. But it's SO important to have 'depth' as well. That way we have an intimate understanding of the music. I encourage everyone to listen both widely and deeply. Happy listening!
He even slept in the guest room for quite a while. Realizing life would not return to normal for a while and school would mostly be online, my mom started applying for a Taiwanese passport for me and my brother because the Taiwan government has done an outstanding job with COVID control and life is mostly normal there -- despite some places where wearing a mask is mandatory. After going through four Taiwanese embassies in the US and many hurdles, our Taiwanese passports came through in early July and within a week, we were on the plane back to Taiwan.
But before we could enjoy full freedom, 14 days of strict quarantine was mandatory for everyone who traveled from overseas. The strict quarantine required we not leave our quarantine place at all or we would receive up to a 30,000 USD fine. My mom booked an Airbnb and our days were spent on movies, deciding on all the good food to eat, some academic and music work, exercise, opening the door and watching pedestrians walk by. Overall, even though we could not leave the place during those 14 days, it was quite an interesting experience. When we finally sat in a restaurant packed with people after being reunited with my grandparents, it was a bit weird at first as we had not eaten in restaurants for a few months and seeing so many people without distancing was kind of weird but made the quarantine all worth it.
During our stay, we traveled a bit around the island. I was able to go scuba diving and spent a night sleeping with penguins in the aquarium, met my friends who used to be our neighbors in Shanghai. We even watched Tenet and Mulan in the movie theater with popcorn and drinks. All of these activities seemed normal and we enjoyed them so much during the un-normal times. We stayed in Taiwan for almost three months and we enjoyed the freedom people collectively achieved.
My early favorites were Frank Sinatra and Glenn Campbell…. Flash forward about 50 years, and I am still a big fan of regular listening sessions on my chosen format, vinyl records.
I want to highlight some of my favorite vinyl recordings that I own and have been checking out over the last week.
Some of these recordings I am very familiar with but recently bought on vinyl, others have been in my collection for years.
I have chosen 5 distinctly different musics to share below, by category or style, enjoy the links!
String quartets in general are really interesting things to listen to, as they provide a kind of laboratory for composers to work out ideas for strings that may find their way into orchestral works. Another one I recently bought the score for is Charles Ive’s String Quartet #1.
New Favorite Group:
Okay, now this music is really in heavy rotation at my house, the group is called Goat Rodeo and contains some familiar names to the classical, bluegrass, new grass and contemporary classical world. This amazing group is doing beautiful realizations of multi-styled compositions with seamless improvisations that touch on so many styles and some real virtuosity in its playing.
These extraordinary times call forth our creativity and our need for stability. We continue to meet with our students regularly and find ways to connect, play music and learn together. While live rehearsal, coaching, and performances can never be replaced, our kids are participating through listening projects, conversations about music and composers, practice challenges, coaching and demonstrations, video projects, playing their instruments and receiving feedback.
We have also been learning new technologies, solving new problems, and finding ways to create value, opportunities for expression, and collaborative projects with our amazing student community. As an organization, we are engaging our teaching artists and staff in new ways, at the same time making sure they continue to receive paychecks and support for their livelihood in dependable ways. Bringing our community together through music is one of our primary intentions and we continue to do that as we all navigate personally and communally through this global pandemic. If you can support our efforts, please contribute here to our spring appeal, "Making Music Together Apart."
Virtual connection is providing new opportunities for students to go deeper into their music education. The shift from in-person classes and public performance to an online platform allows students more one-on-one attention to refine their skills, and creates new space for individual creativity to flourish where students can write their own music. It's become a time to go deeper.
Youth Philharmonic with Ryan Finn, our middle school orchestra created this fabulous virtual performance. This concert season, the Youth Philharmonic was preparing a suite of Caribbean Folk dances arranged by their conductor, Ryan Finn.
In the absence of the ensembles performances at both the SFSYA-wide Music for Everyone concert and the end of season orchestra concert in May, the students of the ensemble recorded their parts independently and Mr. Finn creating a collaborative video to feature both their hard work and to celebrate the joyful music of the Kwéyol culture. Enjoy!
Instead of his scheduled spring recital, Jack, one of our Intermezzo String Orchestra students, had a private performance in his home and shared it with us. Please join us in being his audience, sharing his success, and celebrating him. Thank you so much, Jack, for sharing Bach with us.
After a student-requested conducting clinic with William Waag, SFYSA Director of Orchestras, the kids shared:
"That was so cool." "This gave me an idea of what conducting is like and will affect how I play..."
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the concert and reception on March 14, 2019! It was an extraordinary evening and success. Our students performed music from Mission Impossible, The Postman with Jono Manson, Anchorman, Studio Ghibli, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and songs from Coco with Nacha Mendez. They had a wonderful time and so many audience members have sent me messages that they were simply blown away by the show, the performances and excellence, and the variety of music! An extra thank you to our staff, volunteers, parents, and both Jono Manson and Nacha Mendez for all of the heart and soul you gave to the event.
Our fundraising reception at Manitou Galleries was elegant and yummy. We enjoyed the jazz talents of Michael Burt, Jr, Milton Villarrubia, and Christopher Ishee holding down the groove while our Jazz Performance students jumped in with some impressive and swinging improvisation. The painted violins were a sight to behold and some lively bidding ensued. The limited edition guitar from Coco went to lucky winner Boris Maiorov!
Our fundraising goal for this evening’s event was $25,000 in honor of our 25th anniversary. With everything currently added in, our gross fundraising amount was $24,500. If you missed the chance to donate, and would like to jump in now to help us meet that goal, please click here!
The Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association presents Con Vivo! Free Family Chamber Music Outreach Concerts on April 7th at Santa Fe Public Library Main Branch 3-4PM and on April 13th 11am-noon at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos.
Students ranging from middle school to high school ages are participants in our Con Vivo chamber music program. They will be performing and speaking to the public about their instruments and the pieces that they are working on, composed by Antonio Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Astor Piazzolla, Joseph Haydn, Studio Ghibli, Claude Debussy. There will be time allotted for Q & A. All ages invited to attend! Our performing students are from public and private schools throughout Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, Albuquerque and Los Alamos.
The final Con Vivo concert of the season is May 11th, 5 P.M. at the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe. Suggested donation: $10.
Photos from the Dec 16, 2018 Con Vivo Concert below by Joseph Ferrell.
The SFYSA's Third Annual Music for Everyone: Silverscreen 25th Anniversary Celebration is just around the corner! The 90-minute concert at the Lensic will feature performances by the Jazz, Mariachi, Orchestra ensembles, the Con Vivo program, an SFYSA staff ensemble, and special guests Nacha Mendez and Jono Manson. The concert is followed by a wine and dessert reception at Manitou Gallery on Palace Ave. Guests will enjoy music by Jazz Trio featuring Chris Ishee, Mike Burt, and Milton Villarubia. Guests will also have a chance to enter the raffle for the limited edition Coco guitar donated by Cordoba Guitars and finalize bids for the painted violin silent auction.
The nine painted violins from local, regional, and nationally-renowned artists are currently on display and open for early bidding at the Manitou Palace Ave Gallery (123 W. Palace Ave) and Nuart Gallery (670 Canyon Road).
CLICK TO ENLARGE, VIEW ARTIST, TITLE, AND STARTING BID
BC Nowlin, Carole Nowlin, Alvin Gill-Tapia, Fran Larsen, Leela Marcum, Mark Frossard, Jono Tew, Mariah Scee, and Scott Ritter donated their time and talents to create original works of art using retired, unplayable violins as their canvas.
You can bid early on these beautiful pieces at each gallery. All pieces will be sold in silent auction at the Music for Everyone Concert Reception on March 14 at Manitou Palace Ave Gallery. Ensure your win by purchasing a concert & reception ticket here.
All funds raised will support Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association students and programs, including providing instruments, sliding scale tuition and financial assistance, increasing community access across socioeconomic and cultural divides, and promoting musical expression and creative joy in our youth.
THANK YOU, ARTISTS!
Both the Jazz Performance and Jazz Essentials groups performed for adjudication at the ABQ Jazz Festival in mid February. Both groups performed admirably, received excellent ratings, and had a private clinic with two nationally active jazz educators, Tom Matta and David Glenn. Forty-eight Middle School and High School bands participated in this event, capped off with an incredible concert with trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and tenor player Joel Frahm, who also ran clinics in the afternoon for the students.
Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.
Interlochen Center For The Arts
Las Vegas Mariachi Conference
Lea County Commission For The Arts
Mariachi In Hobbs
Mariachi In Lovington
Mariachi Juvenil Santa Fe
Mariachi Outreach Performance
Music For Kids In Santa Fe
Music In Santa Fe
Music On The Santa Fe Plaza
Quartet Santa Fe
Santa Fe Mariachi
Santa Fe Youth Mariachi
Santa Fe Youth Symphony
Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association
Summer Music Program Santa Fe
The Lensic Performing Arts Center
William Reece Waag
Youth Symphony Conductor