Music has always brought people from different parts of the worldtogether. It has helped noble causes such as raising funds for thevulnerable and the needy in the society, and Musica Viva Concerts areno exception. Music Viva had organized a concert for the 2015/2016season at All Souls Unitarian Church (Lexington Avenue & 80thSt). Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez was performing alongside his wife,pianist Grace Cho. Musica Viva had organized the concert to raisefunds for the 2015/2016 season since most of their daily operationsrelied on donations from the public or the funds generated throughsuch concerts. Walter Klauss founded Musica Viva in 1977 in 1977(Musica Viva, 2015). He organized at least four concerts each seasonwhere choral, orchestral, and organ works representing differentcultures and different music periods in history were performed.Walter Klauss helped to nurture talents of composers and performersand helped to reach a larger audience through their musicalperformance. Therefore, the main theme of the concert was to raisefunds for Musica Viva so that the great work of Klauss may continuein future seasons.
The musicians performed four pieces with an intermission of 2-3minutes between each performance. The only instrument being played atthe concert was the piano yet there were two pianists. The twomusicians played the same instrument alongside each other creating apleasant performance from the audience. One could see the audiencewas pleased with the performance based on the way they applaudedheartily at the end of each. Most of the people in the audience werepatrons of Musica Viva, and one could clearly tell that they enjoyedthe performance of their director that showed that Musica Viva had abright future. The musicians managed to create a cultural environmentduring their performance when they informed the audience that theirson had turned 100days old. The occasion is usually a traditionalceremony observed by their families, but since they were far away,they chose to celebrate it with the Musica Viva family. Theperformers were also in a jovial mood since, during one of theintermissions, pianist Grace Cho stated that the performance wasindeed enjoyable.
An analysis of the musical performance shows that the two musicianswere trying to communicate with their audience. They communicatedthrough the dynamics in the sound level and the tempo of theirperformances. For instance, in the first piece they performed, theychanged their sound level changed from high pitch to low while theirtempo varied from fast to moderate as well. The performers wereemphasizing the mood of happiness and trying to be dramatic in thesense that people are always happy when they give back to thesociety. The dramatic expression could be seen from the way the twoperformers were moving their hands when they changed the tempo andthe sound level of their performances. The arm movement of thepianists changed the tempo, and their facial expression showedhappiness as per the rhythm of the piece they were playing.
Music has different characteristics such as melody, harmony, rhythm,timbre, and form. The most interesting characteristic of music thatcould be observed from the performances of pianists AlejandroHernandez-Valdez and Grace Cho is timbre. Timbre allows one to definethe texture and the density of a piece being performed by eitherfocusing on the instrumental or orchestral. In the case of ourconcert, the instrumental timbre applies since the two pianists wereplaying one musical instrument. Despite using a common instrument,the performers managed to create new, different sounds such as thoseproduced by two different instruments. It was interesting to watchthe two plays the one piano that was on the stage since it wascontrary to the audience expectation. The advert that Musica Vivaplaced concerning the fundraising concert indicated that there wouldbe two instruments and four hands, which implies that each performerwas expected to be playing their piano. Another interestingcharacteristic of the music was harmony. The distance between onenote and another gave one a sense of stability and relaxation. Themajor intervals made the audience associate with the joyful and happymood that the performers were sharing through the music. The harmonyportrayed in the performance reflected a good moment of the pieces.The only poor moment of the pieces was in the second piece that thepianists performed. They ended the piece by changing the tempo andthe sound as though they were continuing with the performance leavingthe audience uncertain of whether the piece had indeed ended.
Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Grace Cho performed the works ofPoulenc, Gershwin, and Rachmaninoff. A brief historical background ofthe composers indicates that Poulenc was born in 1899 in France andhis passion for music began at an early age where his pianist mothertaught him to play. He managed to take formal piano lessons that sawhim become a renowned composer of his time. Gershwin was born in 1891in New York who dropped out of school and eventually became aprofessional piano player. He was known to be a composer of jazz,opera music and other popular songs. Rachmaninoff was born in 1873 inRussia whose musical talent was discovered by his cousin. His destinywas to become an army officer but his fate changed when his familyexperienced a financial loss, and he thus pursued piano studies thatsaw him become one of the famous pianists and composers of his time(Hoffman & National Public Radio U.S., 2005).
Although most of these artists were born during the Romantic Era,their pieces were written during the twentieth century. Pianists andmusic composers at this period were committed to exploring differentways of expressing themselves through music. Hence, composers usedmusical instruments such as the piano to produce new music. However,Rachmaninoff decided to remain to his traditional music formregarding the harmony and the melody used in his compositions. Theobjective of Poulenc when writing his music was to humor andentertain the audience while Rachmaninoff aimed at ensuring that heexpressed his tradition since there were many changes occurring inthe twentieth century. Gershwin objective when writing his piece wasto capture the attention of the audience and broaden theirimagination. One can easily hear evidence of the composer’s placein the historical pendulum regarding the form of music. During theearly twentieth century, most of the composer’s place wasinfluenced by the late Romantic period. Hence, most of the composer’swork at the time reflected historical pendulums such as nationalismand stuck to traditionalism such as Rachmaninoff.
Attending the Musica Viva concert was worth the time. Live musicmotivates one to continue with their practice with the hope that oneday they shall have the opportunity to perform before a powerfulaudience. The concert inspired me to continue with my music studiesbecause I could envision myself being a powerful performer just likeAlejandro Hernandez-Valdez. I learned that live concerts allow theperformer to communicate with his audience, and one could clearlyunderstand the message that Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Grace Chowere sending across to us. The music that they played was able toreveal the emotions of the audience. The concert gave me new ideasabout music and performance such as the experience of being taughtmusic in class is different from the live experience. One is morerelaxed when listening to live music than in class when one is tensedthat the teacher may think they are doing it wrong. Concerts provideone with a memorable experience and expose one to different musicalexperiences that are characterized by diverse cultures. Thus, I wouldnot allow myself to miss the amazing musical feeling when given anopportunity.
Hoffman, M., & National Public Radio (U.S.). (2005). The NPRclassical music companion: An essential guide for enlightenedlistening.
Musica Viva, (2015). About Us. Retrieved fromhttp://musicaviva.org/about-us/on November 24, 2015.