Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturday Performance at 2 Stoeny Creek

Performance for Friends is held every other Saturday somewhere, and usually it is at 2 Stoney Creek, Scarborough. It is easy to get to, and there are chairs and room enough for twelve or fifteen people if we are all friends!
Sometimes there are twelve, and sometimes like last Saturday there are only five counting ME. As the name implies, we play music for each other and learn more about the organ as we go along. Performance for Friends is actually part of the Lowrey program, but as we have limited access to the dealer studio, we move it around. We do have an hour on Thursdays for people who would rather be there. Everyone is welcome at both "performance" sessions.

What do you like to hear? Do you like a lot of orchestration; a lot of "scat" vocal; a lot of solo instruments? Music is a personal thing somewhat influenced by what the individual hears. As we age our ranges of hearing change. I am sensitive to very high pitched tones, but I also hear the base and like it more mellow than most. I like a subtle drum beat, usually, unless I am playing a march. I am partial to solo instruments with unobtrusive orchestral background. The organ is a wonderful place to find all of the best sounds and the modern organs can be adjusted to suit any taste. The Prestige and Stardust organs have more buttons for adjustments on the mixer board making very interesting changes.

Another "ten week" session at Starbird is coming to an end this coming Thursday. We have not been having lessons, but "critiques" for music we choose and perform. There is no open dialog about our arrangements or choices, and no open criticisms as to our effort. A change needs to be made to keep people interested, but I am not sure what that change can be. A small group of students including me, have discussed it at length, and frankly, our main problem seems to be formulating and presenting a plan to the Starbird group. So, next week will be interesting. Who will stay and who will leave? Do they (Starbird Music) care if we leave? I think they do, but I don't think they have good communication skills. Well, time will tell what comes next.

MEANWHILE - Let's take a look at BRIGADOON that wonderfully fantastic musical about two New Yorkers visiting Scotland on a huntning trip who stumble into a remote, misty glen on the very day when BRIGADOON makes a brief centennial appearance. BRIGADOON was written by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music). It opened on Broadway in 1947 and ran for more than 500 performances. We may remember a movie by the same name which starred Gene Kelley. Some of the show tunes continue to be played on the radio: "Almost Like Being in Love" "Heather on the Hill" "I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean" many others. Interestingly enough, the Lerner story was based on a story by a German who wrote the tale about a mythical German village which had fallen under an evil, magic curse, as opposed to Lerner's version in which the village became enchanted.
Also, rather interesting is the people of Brigadoon became fluent in English for at least the one day. BRIGADOON is a really "cute" story romance and enchantment.

Frederick Loewe Was born in Berlin in 1901. His father, Edmond Loewe was a world renowned musician. Frederick, called Fritz, went to military
cadet school from the age of five until thirteen. HIs parents left him there while they travelled, and he hated it. At eight he learned to play piano by ear, therefore, his father encouraged his music. (His mother did not, saying "They all do that!") Fritz did eventually attend conservatory in Berlin, and gave performances asd a concert pianist while still in Germany.

In 1925 he travelled to New York with his father, and decided to stay saying he was going to "crash Broadway.
" He was on the verge of starvation several times, slept on benches in Central Park in winter. Fritz ended up playing piano in German clubs and movie theaters, accompanied silent pictures and discovered he had a real talent for improvisation. One problem he had was a theater which began every performance with the "Star Spangled Banner", and Fritz did not know how it went. SO, he improvised a new national anthem on the spot.
He was promptly advised to learn the real one or hit the road. Through club jobs he met Alan Lerner and they began collaborating. Their first real hit, although not their first work, was BRIGADOON.

Alan Jay Lerner was born in New York to parents who owned a chain of dress shops. He was educated at Bedales School in England, The Choate School, and Harvard. At both Choate and Harvard he was a classmate of John F. Kennedy. Lerner was younger by 17 years than his collaborator Loewe. While attending Harvard Alan lost an eye in a boxing accident. He studied at Juliard during the summers, and collarborated with Leonard Bernstein on a pardody of the school song.

During WWII, he could not serve do to his injury, he wrote scripts for radio programs, including "YOUR HIT PARADE." In 1942 he joined with Loewe. The two of them wrote LIFE OF THE PARTY, WHAT'S UP and THE DAY BEFORE SPRING. These were minimally successful. And then came BRIGADOON.

Other productions: Paint Your Wagon, Royal Wedding, An American in Paris, Gigi, My Fair Lady, Camelot.

Loewe retired to Palm Springs, Calif. after suffering heart problems. Lerner continued to work with other composers and coaxed Loewe to come out of retirement in 1973 for GIGI. Lerner was married eight times and had three daughters and one son. He said of himself, "...if I had no flair for marriage, I also had no flair for bachelorhood." He died of lung cancer at the age of 67.

Strangely enough I did not find personal information on Frederich Loewe.
There is no mention of marriage in his autobiography.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing - it's good for the soul. Janice

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