Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beethoven & Rachmaninoff

When the final bell rings to end the school day on a Friday afternoon, I am usually thrilled with the prospect of an entire weekend ahead of me.  When I have a ticket to a Utah Symphony concert on a Friday night, I am even more excited.  I left an enormous stack of argumentative essays that need to be graded on my desk and drove home with a smile on my face anticipating a concert featuring Mozart and Rachmaninoff, two of my favorite composers.  TGIF!  The concert was wonderful, definitely worthy of anticipation.  The orchestra began with Mozart's Symphony No. 19.  Mozart's music is light (not to be confused with simple), airy, and melodic filled with beautiful themes throughout each movement.  I enjoyed this piece immensely. Then soloist Jeffrey Kahane joined the orchestra for a marvelous performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2.  I especially enjoyed the second movement, which was very contemplative, and the third, which was, conversely, very lively.  After the intermission it was time for some Rachmaninoff!  The orchestra played the powerful Symphony No. 3 to the delight of the audience.  I find Rachmaninoff (and all of the Russian composers, really) to be incredibly romantic and the second movement is particularly beautiful.  I love the plaintive themes played by the various woodwinds.  Sigh!  It was the perfect way to begin the weekend!  The same program will be performed again tonight and, really, what's not to love about Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff?  Tickets can be purchased here.

Note:  If you get a ticket, give yourself some extra time to get to Abravanel Hall.  It is that time of year when driving downtown is crazy because of the lights at Temple Square.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Festival of Trees 2016

Last night I volunteered as a hostess at the Festival of Trees, something I have done for many, many years.  Every year people donate decorated trees and other items which are put up for auction and then displayed to the public.  One hundred percent of the proceeds of this event go to Primary Children's Hospital.  It is such a great cause and I am happy to help out every year.  My job is to watch over the trees and items to make sure they are not damaged or stolen (remember the little girl who stole a doll off the Frozen tree?) and to answer any questions that people might have.  I say items because, for the first time ever, I was not assigned to an area of trees.  Rather, I was placed in an area filled with centerpieces.  I have to say that this wasn't quite as fun for me as the trees because the centerpieces don't usually have a story so I didn't get to interact with people as much as I usually do.  However, there was an elaborately mechanized clock in my area that the children really liked.  They were positively mesmerized by it, which was cool, but children don't really talk to strangers!  After my shift, I was able to wander around and look at the trees (and get a sweet roll).  Here are some of my favorites.
This Grinch tree was my very favorite!  There are literally hundreds of trees to see, not to mention all of the centerpieces, wreaths, and gingerbread houses!  You really should make your way to the South Towne Expo Center to experience the Festival of Trees yourself!  It runs until Saturday and more information can be found here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Silver Screen Classics: Singin' in the Rain

Last night's screening of Singin' in the Rain was simply delightful!  This is one of the movies in the Silver Screen Classics series that I have actually seen on the big screen before (it was re-released in theaters in 2002 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the film) and I enjoyed it just as much last night as I did watching it then.  Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a silent film star in the 1920s along with his bubble-headed partner Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen).  When the studio decides to transition to "talkies," Lina's obnoxious voice and terrible acting threaten to ruin the picture.  Don decides to dub Lina's voice with that of Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds), an aspiring actress he recently met, and chaos ensues with Lina finds out!  All of the big song and dance production numbers are amazing (the audience applauded after every single one) and I especially loved "Make 'Em Laugh" performed by Don's sidekick played by Donald Sutherland, "Good Morning" performed by Kelly, Sutherland, and Reynolds, and, of course, the iconic title song performed by Kelly.  There were many moments when I laughed out loud, most of them involving Hagen, and I particularly enjoyed when Lina had to go to a vocal coach!  I think it is a great movie, widely considered to be the greatest movie musical of all-time, and it seems that many agree with me because there literally wasn't an empty seat in the theater.  Watch it, preferably on the big screen, if you have the chance!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Storyteller

Last night I took my niece Tashena to see Carrie Underwood's sold-out Storyteller tour at the Maverik Center.  To say that Tashena was in heaven would be an understatement!  In fact, I think my standings have improved dramatically in the Coolest Aunt Ever category!  Country music is not my favorite genre but I like artists who have a pop crossover sound and I like a lot of Carrie Underwood's songs, particularly "Last Name" and "Jesus, Take the Wheel." Tashena, however, absolutely loves her and she sang every single word!  Underwood began her set with "Renegade Runaway" from her latest album Storyteller and sprinkled quite a few others from this album throughout: "Dirty Laundry," "Church Bells," "Heartbeat," "Choctaw County Affair" while playing a mean harmonica, and "Clock Don't Stop."  I sang along with Tashena when she played her hits: "Last Name," a rousing rendition of "Undo It" with lots of audience participation, "Good Girl," "Cowboy Casanova," an emotional rendition of "Jesus, Take the Wheel" (she had to stop to compose herself while the audience sang for her), "Wasted," "Blown Away," "Two Black Cadillacs," "All-American Girl," "Little Toy Guns," and "Before He Cheats." She gave a very heart-felt thanks to all of the fans who have supported her along the way and dedicated Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" to the crowd.  She sang it a capella because she can!  She performed a fun version of "Mountain Music" with her opening acts, The Swon Brothers and Easton Corbin, and dedicated "What I Never Knew I Always Wanted" to her husband Mike Fisher (a hockey player, sigh) and her son Isaiah with adorable pictures of both on the big screen.  For the encore, she performed "Smoke Break" and "Something in the Water."  She put on a great show on a stage in the round with all of the requisite costume changes, light shows, and pyrotechnics but, more importantly, she can sing and she sang her heart out!  I certainly enjoyed this concert immensely and Tashena?  I could hardly contain her!  I often bemoan the fact that I can't buy Barbies for the little girl any more but I have to admit that I really enjoy spending time with the teen-age Tashena!  She was a great concert buddy!

Note: Tashena and I didn't get to see the opening acts!  We hit the trifecta of bad commutes: construction on I-15, a massive snowstorm, and about a billion people trying to get to the Maverik Center!  It's good thing Carrie Underwood was worth all of the hassle!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Messiah Sing-In 2016

Last night I went to a performance of Handel's Messiah by the Utah Symphony, under the baton of guest conductor Eric Schmidt, the Westminster College Choir, the Utah Symphony Chorus, and soloists Abigail Rethwisch, Sarah Coit, Christian Sanders, and Markel Reed.  The audience is invited to sing along during the chorus and it was so much fun!  Handel's music is absolutely glorious and I especially loved "For unto us a Child is Born," "Glory to God in the Highest," and, of course, "Hallelujah!"  Markel Reed sang the baritone part at last year's performance and he was amazing.  He was amazing again this year, especially in "The trumpet shall sound."  He received thunderous applause after this section!  I was a member of the Westminster College Choir all four years of college and seeing them on the stage made me feel very nostalgic.  I used to love performing Christmas music this time of year and, to this day, I still love hearing Christmas music performed live.  The annual performance of Handel's Messiah is a wonderful tradition (I have done it now for three years) and, while I was feeling pretty festive after putting up my tree on Saturday, I am now filled with Christmas spirit after such an amazing concert!

Note:  I bought a copy of the score last year and put it in a very safe place.  Of course this necessitated a massive search of my house to find it for this year.  Luckily I found it in time.
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