CCG Junior Concert
OK, I should have blogged that it was coming up - but then, you should have been checking http://www.en.com/users/jaquick/ccg.html. The show was SRO...but then, we were in the little side chapel in The Holy Oil Can (Epworth-Euclid United Methodist), so it was cozy; I spent the concert on the organ bench in back. But the acoustics were better, and the walls shut out noise better than the recital hall at CMSS where the Junior Concert was usually been done. For those not in the know about this institution (14 years...does that make it an institution?), student performers from Junior Fortnightly Musical Club and the Cleveland Music School Settlement are put forward by their teachers, composers volunteer, and then the two are randomly matched; you don't know what or who you are going to write for, going in. When I have participated, I've written for violin/piano, bassoon/piano. trumpet/piano, voice/flute/piano (for the charming and talented flutist Allison Ballard, now an employee at Kulas Library), string bass/piano, piano, and 2 pianos. I haven't volunteered in several years, but probably will next year. The pieces are crafted to the student's strengths and weaknesses. The student gets paid, their teacher gets paid, and the composer gets paid (when the grant money comes through). The last several years, we have included the opposite approach: student compositions played by professionals.
This year, the more interesting entries were by new members of the Guild. With some of the members who have done this a lot, I had the feeling that they were writing down a bit...not technically, which is necessary, but musically. Consider: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Only one big word there, and it's one everyone knows. But it sure isn't baby talk. Everything was more-or-less tonal (nuthin' wring with that though), with not an extended technique to be heard.
The three student pieces were all worthwhile listens. Eric Lin's Night Hunt evoked Yakov Smirnoff's signature line (What a country!); where else could a Chinese-American write music that sounded like Vivaldi hanging out in a Hungarian gypsy camp? But the best (and I blush to admit, the best piece on the program, as well as the most progressive) was from Monica Houghton's student Max Mueller, a senior at Lakewood High who is going to Cal Arts to study film music. His Glass for 3 cellos spoke a pop/minimalist language with eloquence and cohesion. He may not be another Mozart (or even another Jay Greenberg), but he's a talented young man who should do well.
And, miraculously, I already got the CD from Wednesday's Gramercy Trio concert, and it's even better the 2nd time around.