Monday, September 28, 2009

Musical Postcards: Ciao Bella Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra

Musical Postcards: CIAO BELLA
Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra

Packed into the auditorium of Old Cabell Hall of the University of Virginia, many people are probably not aware of this wonderful treasure which is offered free to students and for around $20-30 for guests to attend this concert. Ciao Bella (Italian for “Hello Beautiful”) is the first piece to the orchestra’s take on a series of concerts which bring the audience through the landscapes of different countries or regions through music. This initial concert did so with Italy, which was characterized by the orchestra as operatic and outgoing. This music was surely among some of the most beautiful and classical art at its best and included the instruments such as: the violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, piccolo, organ, piano and a handful of others. This music brought observers closer to the sounds of classical pieces which included the works of Giuseppe Verdi, Tomaso Albinoni, Nino Rota and Felix Mendelssohn. This series of concerts will also cover music by France- which puts emphasis on the harp, Central Europe- featuring Polish composers, the British and will end well with “Jefferson, In His Own Words” – which will provide a musical take on selections by the University of Virginia’s founding father, Thomas Jefferson.

The interaction of the audience and the orchestra were very much correlated. The orchestra was very uniform in appearance and in their performance. Almost in a militia influenced manner, the band members were color coordinated, dressed professionally in only black and white attire with serious and determined facial expressions. There were no smiles and there was almost a sense of an omnipotent and well-respected aura that was given off by them. In correlation to that, the audience too was dressed mainly in semi-formal attire and made it a point to not make any noise unless it was clapping at the end of a piece. This shows that different types of music have different expectations in audience interaction. While in other types of music, the band is offended if the audience is not participatory in response, however in this case the ushers made it a point to be seated on time and to minimize any extra action caused by the audience.

In terms of the sound, usually the music was very uniform as well. Often times every member was playing the same melody. Melody is described as the sequence of notes that compose basic structure of the tune; it is horizontal and can be thought of as playing one note at a time. Other times the music was played in layers, such as the violins playing one set of tunes, and the bass playing another, etc. Furthermore what makes this music interesting and a secret treasure of the University is the talents and prestige behind the orchestra’s music director, Kate Tamarkin. Tamarkin has received distinguished national and international recognition as a conductor at many levels. She has conducted some of the world’s leadings orchestras and has even been a part of CNN and the Today Show of NBC. She has received her DMA, Masters of Music and Bachelor of Music Education from Peabody Conservatory, Northwestern University and Chapman University respectively. It’s a shame that a lot of this talent from both the conductor, Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra goes unheard of and aware to many students, who have access to it for free. Hopefully this essay has helped others of the University and Charlottesville community alike become more aware of the divine talents that are taking place right in their own backyards.

-Mersedes Sweeney

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