St. Olaf Choir Concert

Time:  7:30 p.m., 31 January 2009

Place:  War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN

Teagan and I attended this concert.  Nashville was the first stop on a southeastern tour of the 75-person choir.  During the 2 1/2 hour concert they performed about 20 selections, so we got our money’s worth.

Their singing was top notch.  It was a pleasure to hear a choir that was trained to blend together and not allow stronger singers stand out.

They performed a wide variety of pieces.  Some were very difficult like the Penderecki Agnus Dei.  I especially enjoyed some of the modern selections like the three selections of Eric Whitacre they sang.

This was a wonderful concert that represented St. Olaf College very well.

Erik Gratton Recital (with Leah Bowes and Erin Hall)

Time:  7:00 p.m. 24 January 2009

Place:  Turner Recital Hall, Vanderbilt University

Mr. Gratton is principal flutist with the Nashville Symphony.  Getting straight to the point, this was a wonderful recital.  The tone, intonation, interpretation, and ensemble playing all were top notch.

The recital opened with Aaron Copland’s (1900-1990) Duo for Flute and Piano.  Published in 1971, this was  Copland’s last major composition, I believe.  I heard Albert Tipton and Mary Norris perform this the year it was published.  And yes, the performance was that good (that I still remember hearing it).

The first movement begins with what I think of as the characteristic Copland sound – a melodic line consisting mostly of perfect intervals.  After only six notes or so, most musically literate individuals could identify this as a Copland composition without having heard it before.  The performance of this piece was impeccable.

The second selection was J.S. Bach’s Partita in a minor for solo flute.  This is one of my favorite flute compositions.  Mr. Gratton provided a fresh interpretation of this, perhaps, over-played piece.  His use of embellishments was especially unique and appropriate.  This was not the same old interpretation of one of the work-horse recital pieces, but rather an inventive and refreshing rethinking (for me).

After a brief intermission, Gratton and Bowes were joined by violinist Erin Hall for Martinu’s Madrigal Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano.  I was not familiar with this piece.  The performance was excellent.  The violin and flute blended well together.  All three performers played with excellent balance and sense of ensemble.

The last selection was stadard of flute recitals, Prokiev’s Sonata in D Major.  This is one of the more difficult  flute pieces, at least in my opinion.  It is also one of my favorites.  The performance was again excellent.  If I were forced to name a fault, it would be that the flute and piano were not together in some of the more technical parts, but this is really quibling.

In summary, the recital was performed at a very high musical level.  It was a real treat to hear these performers.