N.B. Papers should be typed double-spaced, using a font no larger than 12 pt. size. The example below is single-spaced for web purposes only. The length of the sample music paper #2 below is 4.5 pages, double-spaced, approximately 1,270 words. See the guidelines for music papers for specific details on how to complete the assignment successfully.
Music Paper #2
On Thursday November
7, I attended a concert featuring Nmon Ford, baritone, and Trudy Kincade, piano,
in Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. The concert started at 8:00 p.m. The concert
hall was at about three-fourths capacity.
The performance opened with Maurice Ravel's Don Quichotte a Dulcinee, a group of three songs: Chanson Romanesque, Chanson épique, Chanson a boire. The next piece Mr. Ford sang was Pace non trovo, by Franz Liszt from his work Tre sonnetti di Petrarcha. The next few pieces were a collection of German lieder by Franz Schubert. All three dealt with Greek mythology and were sung in German. The last work before intermission was Nemico della patria, an aria by Umberto Giordano. After a short intermission Mr. Ford and Mrs. Kincade resumed the concert with a selection of cabaret songs, then an aria by Jules Massenet, and wrapped up the concert with a group of traditional spirituals.
The first piece, Don Quichotte a Dulcinee, set the mood for the evening. Mr. Ford sang this work in French, which was very impressive. The translations were printed in the program in order to help the audience follow along. Researching Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), I discovered that this was his last finished work, and that it had been commissioned for a film, but because Ravel worked so slowly the works werent included in the film. Many things, such as Nature, folk songs, and classical legends, inspired Ravel and it shows in these pieces. The drinking song, Chanson a boire had a fast tempo, and the lyrics portrayed a bawdy mood, while Chanson Romanesque and Chanson épique seemed like ballads, with a calmer tempos and a more lyrical sound.
Maurice Ravel was born and raised in France, and received his professional musical training at the famous Paris Conservatoire. He was a talented pianist as well as a composer. Like his contemporary, Debussy, Ravel was classified as a French Impressionist composer. Ravel composed a wide variety of pieces, including solo piano music, orchestral music, songs, and the ballet Daphnis and Chloe.
Nemico della patria by Umberto Giordano was a moving piece. Mr. Ford was really able to make this song emotionally expressive despite the fact that it was in Italian, a foreign language for most of the audience. This piece is an aria from the opera Andrea Chenier and the title translates to Enemy of the Country. The opera takes place during the French Revolution and tells the story of a servant Carlo Gerard who becomes one of the leaders of the revolution, and his friend Andrea Chenier, a poet. Gerard is forced to condemn his friend to death, and the aria tells of the turmoil he goes through. Mr. Ford really pushed the limits of our ears in the concert hall with this piece. Even though he did not use a microphone to amplify his voice, the forte dynamics sounded tremendously loud at times.
The decision to place the set titled "Cabaret Songs" after the intermission was interesting. The first half of the concert ended with such a powerfully dramatic song. The "Cabaret Songs," by contemporary American composer William Bolcom, were contrastingly much lighter, and offered a pleasant mood change for the audience. The first song, Amor, seemed to be a favorite of Mr. Ford. He danced around the stage flirtatiously while singing, and his gestures helped emphasize the humor in the song. Another of these songs he seemed to really enjoy was George, the last song in the set. Mr. Ford actually used a prop for this song. He stole a scarf from Mrs. Kincade, and draped it around his neck as he sang.
Vision fugitive was the last aria Mr. Ford sang before moving on to the set of spirituals. From the opera Herodiade by Jules Massenet, Vision fugitive is a song about King Herod. Mr. Ford's deep baritone voice portrayed the character convincingly. The story behind the song is that King Herod takes a potion so that he may see Salome. The opera is from the Late Romantic period, (1850-1900). One characteristic of this period that is evident in this opera is the exploration of psychological and emotional ideas. King Herod is in love with Salome, his stepdaughter. His wife is also his step-sister-in-law, and his step-niece, creating some wrenching family conflicts. The musical aspects of Late Romanticism dealt with the uniqueness of the individual, and composers of this era sought freedom from the strict musical rules of earlier periods. They experimented with new instruments, and with getting new sounds out of existing instruments.
Like Ravel, Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was a French composer who also received his professional training at the Paris Conservatoire. However, Massenet specialized in composing vocal music, including more than 10 operas, several of which became famous. His music sounds more Romantic than Impressionistic. Massenet's father was an ironmonger; it was from his mother that he received his first piano lessons. His mother was considered to be a very talented amateur pianist.
The last few pieces on the program were traditional Negro spirituals. These were religious songs that had been created by slaves in the South, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. As an African-American artist, Mr. Ford was particularly moving during these pieces. In these songs, the emphasis shifted away from acting out a story as a character, and instead focused on the sound of his voice and the message of strength and comfort in the lyrics. This was ceremonial music performed in a concert setting.
Mr. Ford really seemed to enjoy himself as he was singing. During the Chanson a boire, which is French for Drinking Song, he stumbled around as he sang, leaned on the piano as if for support, and added in hiccups as if he were drunk. I didn't expect him to move around the stage as he sang. I was expecting him to act like a person playing an instrument, just sitting static on the stage. I was quite wrong in expecting this. The movement on stage was really helpful in conveying the emotion of the songs, and especially the spirituals. It also helped show when Mr. Ford was having fun on stage. During the "Cabaret Songs," like Amor and George, Mr. Ford was all over the stage.
Mr. Ford also made a lot of eye contact with the audience. At an orchestral concert the performers dont really have that luxury I suppose, but it really helped intensify the emotion when he was singing Nemico della patria. Looking into Mr. Fords eyes was like looking into the eyes of Gerard and seeing the pain he would have gone through signing the order to have Chenier put to death.
I was impressed that the songs were sung in their native languages. It wouldnt have been as impressive except that, Mr. Ford performed the entire program from memory, and there were three different foreign languages sung: French, Italian, and German, in addition to the songs in English. I tried reading along with the French as best I could, and it seems to me that the songs just lose some of their emotional value when translated. Its amazing how the voice can convey emotion even when we are unfamiliar with the language.
I really enjoyed the concert, which was surprising to me. I didnt think Id enjoy going to hear somebody sing songs that for the most part, I hadnt heard of. Before he had finished the first song though, I knew it was going to be a good concert. Mr. Ford is a talented singer, and I hope I get the chance to hear him again sometime. If anything, this concert strengthened my belief that it is good to be open to new experiences.