My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More than meets the ears - visual and aural treats to inspire

I'm on a quest right now.  A quest to put up on this blog examples of inspiring people, performances, videos, and projects that give me incredible hope in where classical music is headed.  Of course this is all subjective - what inspires me might not inspire the next person.  And I don't always feel personally that everything that's being tried "works," but I don't know that matters.  For me what matters is that musicians are being creative, open-minded, and willing to show a bit of themselves and their interests in their performances.  I think it's also important to see what's going on out there so that the many stories about the more dire situations in the classical music world don't overshadow the creative work that is in fact being done.

Today I'm going to start with videos.  Here are some that I find to be exciting, each for their own reasons.  So please, sit back and enjoy and if your mind starts buzzing because of some of it, fabulous!

First up is a video of the Anderson and Roe piano duo. This team is made up of two young and very fine pianists, each in their own right. What I love about them is their infectious love of performing and of being creative. They don't seem to have any problem trying their hand at a little acting, especially when it comes to their videos. Perhaps some will feel they go overboard but it doesn't bother me, especially since I know they have times when they just let the music speak for itself too. All of their videos are fabulous and definitely unique but I think it's important to let you know that Greg puts the videos together himself - pretty incredible. . This particular one is more of an overview so do check out their others. And if you ever get a chance to see them live, do it!

Along the same lines of the Anderson and Roe style of video, violinist Janine Jansen has appeared in a classical video playing Fauré's Après un Rêve. It's magical to me which is exactly what music is all about in my book.

The next video is a collaboration between musician, choreographer, dancer, and cinematographer. Cellist Pieter Wispelwey performs a Bach cello suite that is accompanied by storyline portrayed through dance. What I love about this especially is how the the musician is not just a musician in this interpretation. He crosses over into the drama in a fascinating way. If this is interesting to you, there are two other videos that make up the entire cello suite.

One of my favorite pieces, Vivaldi's Four Seasons is up next but it's not like I'd ever seen it before. The Academy for Ancient Music in Berlin, put together a very unique performance of this famous work, combining choreography for everyone involved in the ensemble along with the music . When I watch this video I marvel at the willingness and flexibility of the musicians to do something like this. I know, I know, they're being paid, but I still respect that they pulled it off, at least in my book. I'm not sure if I could do as well with such a project but I love it. There are videos on youtube for all of the movements so if they are to your liking, do check them out. This particular one is my favorite.

Here is a recent video that was just put up on youtube on April 11 of this year. Yo-Yo Ma, a musician who is always trying new things it seems and has a great time doing it, performed "The Swan," accompanied by the young dancer, Lil Buck. It's a really interesting collaboration and one that was relatively spontaneous, I believe. It's that spontaneity that I particularly love. Two artists coming together and merging seemingly disparate styles of art in a way that can work.

And now for a hometown example. The cello teacher at Virginia Tech, Alan Weinstein, along with his trio, the Kandinsky Trio, put together a performance called "Kandinsky Trio Beat Down" in which the beatboxer Shodekeh and two hip hop dancers known as the Bugaloo Crew joined to create an evening that welcomed lots of new ears and eyes into the Kandinsky Trio's world. I recently saw this performance live and was thrilled to see such a wide variety of people in the audience. I was also greatly inspired by the dancers. I guess for me, dance adds another wonderful, welcome element into the mix.

To carry on the beatboxing combo with classical musicians, here is another great cello video of a beatboxing cellist, Kevin Olusola,  playing one of my favorite cello pieces. So incredibly fresh and fun!

Wow. How can I just stop here? There are so many more wonderful examples. Well at least this is a start.

Now what I want to do know is, "What's next?"

Plenty of wonderful stuff, I'm sure!  Let's keep creating!

If you liked this post, you may also like:
Keeping eyes, ears, and minds wide open
An Outside-the-Box Recital: "Poe-ism" at Virginia Tech


  1. These are all fantastic. You've made my afternoon. Thanks, Erica.

  2. You're very welcome, Sarah. Glad you enjoyed them :-)


  3. Such great stuff here! I LOVE the breadth of artistry shown in some of these, like the Vivaldi performance incorporating choreography and dramatic elements. And of course Kevin Olusola's musicianship. Wow. Thanks for sharing these.

  4. Thank you, Bob! And it's amazing to me how many videos I actually didn't include. I guess that means I need to put some more up eventually. :-)

    It's all good, very good!


  5. Erica -
    Amazing how you find the time to be so creative with you posts when you are balacning so much in life. I admire you.

  6. Thank you, Wayne.

    Thanks to a sprained wrist and fractured thumb, I have plenty of time right now to apply my creativity to my blog. It's great to know that others, like you, are enjoying the posts.

    And watch may just happen to appear in one of those posts shortly!

    All my regards,