What a night!

Albert-George Schram rehearses with the SCHS band
Maestro Schram leads the Nashville Symphony
The crowd for the annual Nashville Symphony concert at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville may have been down a little from last year. But I don’t care. We had a great crowd anyway, and it was a wonderful evening. The symphony sounded great and the Shelbyville Central High School band sounded great and the Motlow College Jazz Band sounded great.
Elizabeth Doyle, an SCHS student and the daughter of my pastor, the Rev. Lloyd Doyle, was picked this afternoon by Maestro Albert-George Schram to do the piccolo solo when the symphony and the SCHS band played “The Stars and Stripes Forever” in tandem at the end of the evening. Elizabeth did a terrific job.
Maestro Schram, as always, was a delight, with his enthusiasm and his wonderful humor (delivered in his native Dutch accent).
Just a great evening, as always, and I’m proud to have had any little part in putting it together as a member of the steering committee.

More on Giancarlo

The live Gershwin concert — which was terrific — is being followed by a half-hour interview of Giancarlo Guerrero by John Siegenthaler. (For our out of town readers, this is the father of the former NBC anchor John Siegenthaler, whom Middle Tennessee residents still tend to think of with “Jr.” after his name.)

It’s a wonderful interview. When Siegenthaler asked Guerrero about his favorite pieces to conduct, his first reaction was Verdi’s “Requiem” — which is the only thing I’ve seen Guerrero conduct in person, on my birthday this year.

Guerrero told a very funny story about dreaming of playing the violin and then switching to the drums because the line for the violin tryouts was so long and he hates standing in line!


I’m getting ready to watch (on TV, unfortunately) the Nashville Symphony play Gershwin under the baton of its new conductor and music director: Nicaraguan-born, Costa Rica-raised Giancarlo Guerrero. (Technically, for contract reasons, he is conductor-designate this year and will become conductor a year from now.) And I love the new ads the symphony is running to introduce him. One will appear above the jump; the other three below.

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The absent-minded reporter

Well, the focal point of my afternoon was the live radio interview on WLIJ-AM with Kelly Corcoran, who will conduct the Nashville Symphony at this year’s Shelbyville concert. I went to WLIJ’s studios and conducted a live telephone interview with Kelly. The radio folks know me (I had a weekly talk show on the station at one time, years ago) and they just put me on the air and let me do the interview, since I know what the concert is about and what we need to promote. My plan, just as with last year’s interview of Albert-George Schram, was to do the live radio interview and then pull some quotes and turn it into a a brief news story for tomorrow’s T-G.

That was why I had a note pad and pen sitting in front of me during the interview.

But I was so in the moment, so excited and so focused on getting the radio interview right, that I didn’t take any notes. Not one. The interview turned out relatively short — 10 minutes or so. And last year, the announcer who was on duty at the station taped the interview; I didn’t think to ask them to do that this year.

Yes, I know the gist of what Kelly said, but the only purpose of doing a story like that is to incorporate some exact quotes, and I don’t have any and don’t have a way to get any.

Fortunately, we weren’t counting on the story from a news standpoint; we have plenty of other stuff for the front page tomorrow. And I can always come up with a different news peg for another symphony article in a few days. But I feel like such an idiot.

Promoting the concert

For our southern Middle Tennessee readers:

I taped an episode of “Marilyn & Company” today promoting the Symphony at the Celebration” concert and also talking about my foreign mission trips. It will air Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2:30 on Charter Communications Channel 22 in Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Manchester, McMinnville and another market or two I don’t recall off the top of my head. The show may run additional times between now and the concert.

Also, I will be on WLIJ-AM 1580 about 2:30 Wednesday helping to interview conductor Kelly Corcoran. The interview will be live on the radio, then I’ll use it as the basis for a news story the next day in the T-G, and maybe a new press release for media in the surrounding counties.

And He shall reign forever and ever

Well, I suspect that my fellow Mountain T.O.P. board member Sally Chambers has summed it up far better than I can hope to do. (I didn’t know Sally was going to be there, and I’m sorry I missed seeing her.)

What can I say about Handel’s “Messiah” that hasn’t been said by so many others over the years? It’s a glorious, reverent retelling of the Gospel story, with music and art equal to the truth of the tale.

Thursday night was my first “Messiah,” so I have nothing to compare it to, but I thought it was a fabulous performance. All four soloists were great, but soprano Awet Andemicael was particularly so, at once precise and emotional. Even when she wasn’t singing, she seemed not like she was waiting for a cue but like she was lost in the music herself.

I’ve blogged on previous occasions about Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s wonderful acoustics, and they certainly enhanced this experience. If you hear something like the “Hallelujah” chorus through the little speakers in your TV, you’ve not really heard it. In a live performance, especially in this venue, the sound is so much brighter and there are so many different layers to it. If you think you don’t like classical music, you’ve never heard it performed live.

I am no musician, and am very uninformed about composers and styles and what have you. I don’t know what I’m listening to without reading the program notes. But I know the joy of sound that a concert like this one can create.

Some people look at the Grand Canyon or the vastness of space and find proof of a Creator in their beauty, which is quite appropriate. I think that a work like “Messiah” functions the same way. Mrs. Rittenberry, the fourth member of our party Thursday night, is a math teacher, and technically the score to a musical composition can be expressed as just a series of formulae. But to hear something like this in its majesty, it just gives me the awesome sense of God giving one human being the ability to compose it, giving others the ability to perform it, and giving us all the ability to hear it and be moved.

Handel, with care

Although I’m sad about the circumstances — someone had to drop out at the last minute due to a family illness — I’m thrilled to be headed, along with my parents and a friend from church, to the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Symphony Chorus performance of Handel’s “Messiah” tonight at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. My parents have been going to see “Messiah” for several years now, and it’s the high point of their holiday season. The first year they saw it, they were literally in tears by the end of the evening.

I’ve wanted to go ever since, but just haven’t been able to work it out. I’ve never seen “Messiah” live before. When we had our meeting on Tuesday to plan the Nashville Symphony concert in Shelbyville, I was reminded that Shelby Strickland — the symphony’s director of education and community outreach, and an important part of our committee — is also a member of the chorus, and we were chatting about the concert. I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t make it this year, and we said that maybe I would get to see it next year.

When Dad called me last night to invite me, I knew I had three things to cover tonight for the newspaper and wasn’t sure if I could make it. But a co-worker is going to cover the most critical one and I’m going to talk to someone after the fact to get stories on the other two.

Symphony site beta

We’ll have our first planning committee meeting next week for the annual Nashville Symphony concert in Shelbyville, and in preparation I have upgraded WordPress and downloaded a new theme for the official concert web site which I host. I need to confirm that Kelly Corcoran will be our conductor — that was the last information I had — but I went ahead and posted her photo and the link to her bio page at the symphony’s own web site. (Believe me, I don’t mind having her photo on the site at all.) I know that the band from my alma mater, Cascade High School, will be the guest artists, so I have them linked as well.

Most of the pages have “information coming soon” on them, except for the page with general background information about the concert. I may be able to post some of that information after our meeting next week, although some of it won’t be available until after the first of the year.

Christmas parade

I’ll be working my normal shift at the paper this afternoon, and then I’ll grab dinner somehow, and then I will head for the square to photograph the annual Christmas parade.

I haven’t heard for sure, but I assume that all three of our public high schools will have their bands in the parade. When I was growing up, only the big high school in Shelbyville had a band, but now all three of our public high schools have bands, and they all sound great. I’m proud to say that my alma mater, Cascade, won awards at a big band competition this fall. Community High’s band played at our local Nashville Symphony concert this year, and Cascade will play in 2008, with Central presumably on tap for 2009.