Music for the Community

Welcome to our Music for the Community page! Since we can't take our music out to local nursing homes and libraries at the moment, we're inviting you in to enjoy it here instead. Each day you'll find a new student performance on this page, along with some info about the composer or instrument - and sometimes words too so you can sing along. 

If you're interested in a particular category, you can sort performances by student age, instrument, singalong music, composer and so on - click on the orange tags under the text. We hope you and your family will enjoy watching our students share their music! 

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Displaying items by tag: Cello

Thursday, June 11 2020 00:00

Day 49 - Bach Prelude from Suite in G

Violist age 14 and Cellist age 16 play Bach Prelude in G major

Today, an opportunity to make a direct comparison between the sound of viola and cello playing the same piece. The two instruments have the same string set-up but the cello is an octave lower, meaning the strings (which are much longer) vibrate exactly twice as slowly. The bigger air cavity inside also deepens the sound.
Bach’s beautiful suites for solo cello were probably written between 1717 and 1723. They all have six movements, starting with a prelude and followed by Baroque dance movements such as here and here. This Prelude is the first movement of the first suite.

Because of their musical and technical difficulty, the Suites were not much performed until the great 20th century cellist Pablo Casals took them up, after discovering them in a thrift shop in Barcelona, Spain at the age of 13. His famous recordings of them were selected in 2019 for preservation in the Library of Congress. 

They have been adapted for many instruments, including viola – and in fact it’s been recently suggested that they were not necessarily written for the familiar cello balanced between the knees (da gamba), but possibly for a cello-like instrument played rather like a large violin, on the shoulder (da spalla)! 
Published in Music For Community
Monday, June 01 2020 00:00

Week of June 1st: Lament


To quote Martin Luther King Jr., "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." As members of communities both smaller and larger, what affects some of us affects all of us, and if we stay silent in the face of egregious injustice, we risk becoming become complicit in it. 
In light of the multiple blatant incidents over the past few weeks (which of course are just the visible tip of the iceberg) involving the targeting and victimization of Americans of color, culminating in the horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25th, we therefore offer a musical commentary that surely speaks for itself: Lament.

"Lament", performed by the composer

We would like to thank the artist for allowing us to offer their powerful composition as commentary. This is our only "Music for the Community" for this week.

Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, May 27 2020 00:00

Day 38: Bourrée 1 & 2 by Bach

Cellist age 16 plays Bourrées I & II from Bach Solo Suite #3 in C 

More old-fashioned dance music today, but unlike a Minuet, a Bourrée (pronounced "boo-ray") is in duple time (ONE two, ONE two) – similar to a Gavotte. Still, like our Minuet and Trio on Day 36, this set of two Bourrées is again made on an overall A B A pattern.  

Why is this such a common musical form? It's because it's satisfying: after you hear the A, then the B in contrast, returning to the A gives a feeling of “coming home”, and also provides a simple sense of symmetry. That’s true in very small pieces like Twinkle, in dance sets like this one – and even often in big symphonies by composers such as Beethoven. Teaching students to hear and understand this in the music they're playing helps them to appreciate all music more deeply.
The music of Bach’s six unaccompanied cello/viola suites is some of the most beautiful there is to play, and gives musicians both a musical and technical workout. It’s always exciting for us as teachers when student reach the milestone of being ready to discover them!
Published in Music For Community
Friday, May 22 2020 00:00

Day 35: Vivaldi Cello Sonata in A minor

Cellist age 15 plays Vivaldi Cello Sonata in A minor

Born in Venice on the day of an earthquake, Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678 -1741) is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, and during his lifetime he was famous across Europe. He composed many instrumental works, especially for string instruments - many of which were written for girls at the orphanage in Venice, whose musical skill improved their marriage prospects at a time when there were few other options for women. He also wrote a large amount of church music, and more than forty operas. His best-known work is the series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons - we featured "Spring" earlier in this series.

Vivaldi wrote a set of six cello sonatas (works for a solo instrument, usually with accompaniment by a keyboard) between 1720 and 1730. All of them have four alternating slow and fast movements (separate pieces); this is the second movement of the third sonata.

Published in Music For Community
Tuesday, May 19 2020 00:00

Day 32: Harry Potter

Cellist age 9 plays Harry Potter: Hedwig’s Theme and Fireworks

“Hedwig’s Theme” (by John Williams) is the dominant theme used in all of the Harry Potter films. In spite of its title, it doesn't always specifically represent Hedwig, Harry’s owl, but rather the wider idea of magic and the Wizarding World. 
“Fireworks” (by Nicholas Hooper) is first heard in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, and is a musical picture of the antics of the Weasley twins, Fred and George, who frequently cause havoc with their mischievous magical experiments.
This young performer not only found and prepared this music herself, then persuaded her talented Mom to accompany her - she gave us an extra bonus by performing in full Harry Potter costume!
Published in Music For Community

Cellist age 16 plays Allegro Appassionato by Saint-Saens

French composer Camille Saint-Saens (pronounced Sanh-Sonh) was born in Paris in 1835. By the time he was three he was picking out tunes on the piano, and his great-aunt started teaching him. He made his professional debut at the age of 10, and also became a brilliant organist. 

His first job was as a church organist, which allowed him time to pursue his interests in piano and composing. He later became a beloved teacher at a school for future organists and choirmasters, and wrote his famous “Carnival of the Animals” with his students in mind (although he didn’t finish it till much later, after he left the school). 

Saint-Saëns was a keen traveler - from the 1870s until the end of his life he made 179 trips to 27 countries! His performances took him mostly to Germany and England; for vacations, and to avoid Parisian winters which affected his weak lungs, he often went to Algiers and Egypt in north Africa.  
At his last public recital in 1921 it was noted that his playing was “as vivid and precise as ever”, and that he appeared “admirable for a man of eighty-six”. He died about a month later in Algiers, after a long and full musical life.
Published in Music For Community
Friday, April 24 2020 00:00

Day 15: Haydn Cello Concerto in C

Cellist age 15 plays Haydn Cello Concerto in C, first movement

A concerto is a big piece designed to show off a solo instrument, originally written with accompaniment by an orchestra. In recital, the piano plays a condensed version of the orchestra part, with the student's teacher providing a bass line (called a "continuo"). So you have to imagine the several dozen other instruments and performers who would normally provide the backing for the solo cello.
Concertos are often written in three “movements” which are separate but related pieces – usually following the pattern of fast first movement, slow second, fast (sometimes very fast!) third movement. This first movement covers the full range of the cello, starting with big chords for all four strings, and sometimes climbing to sections high enough to be played (more easily!) on a violin. Listen out for the cadenza just before the end – a free-form solo section where the orchestra drops out and leaves the cellist to show off her technical skills.
Austrian composer Franz Josef Haydn wrote this piece in 1761 for his friend Josef Weigl, the principal cellist in the orchestra of Prince Nicolaus of Esterhazy, where Haydn was court composer at the time.
Published in Music For Community
Tuesday, April 14 2020 00:00

Day 7: Minuet in C by Bach

Cellist age 11 plays Bach’s Minuet in C

A minuet is an elegant 18th century dance – think ladies in dresses with huge ruffled skirts, and gentlemen in knee britches. This dance in 3/4 time, with small, elegant steps and many bows and curtsies, was all the rage in the fancy ballrooms of Europe (especially France and England) from about 1650 to 1750. Since Bach lived from 1685-1750, this was basically the pop music of his time. See if you can feel the 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 pulse, then get our your dress-up stuff and dance to the 18th century beat!

Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, April 08 2020 00:00

Day 3: Sonata In G by Sammartini

Cellist age 16 plays Sonata in G by Sammartini

Giovanni (in English, John) Sammartini was an Italian composer, violinist, choir master, organist and teacher. He lived from 1700 – 1775. While he was alive he was famous both in Italy and abroad, particularly as a church composer, but his music fell out of fashion after his death and was not rediscovered till the early 20th century. He wasn’t the only famous musician in his family - his brother Giuseppe (Joseph) was known as the finest oboe player of his time.

In the opening of this cello piece, you can hear that Sammartini must have been a fine composer for voice – it’s easy to imagine this being sung by a tenor!

Published in Music For Community