Monday, June 11, 2012

Family Fun Day with the MPO

Every two months or so, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra showcases a weekend of performances called Family Fun Day. There are usually three concerts -- one on Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday afternoon. This one-hour performance is tailored for families, and young children including pre-schoolers can attend. It is a good opportunity to expose children to music as it allows them to experience first-hand the orchestra and classical music.

Yesterday, ACE attended the MPO's latest offering which featured two composers who lived around the same period in the 19th centry, Tchaikovsky, a Russian, and Smetana, a Czechkoslovakian.

The guest conductor was Nicolae Moldoveanu, from Transylvania (the land of vampires, he joked), who had a thick accent which made it a bit difficult for C to catch what he was saying. It was also a bit difficult for us adults to catch his jokes while he interpreted and explained the musical structure of the two compositions the orchestra was performing. Nevertheless, it was an educational experience for me as well, learning the interpretation of the various sections of the pieces, the stories behind the music so to speak. After a short explanation, the conductor would make the orchestra play that particular part he had talked about, and he went on from one part of the piece to another till the end. Then finally, the orchestra played the entire piece for us to enjoy.

The Tchaikovsky piece was the 1812 Overture, while Smetana's was his well-known and popular Vltava.

While Wikipedia may not be the best source at times for information, it is usually a convenient one. You can learn about the 1812 Overture here, the musical structure section is similar to what the conductor described. And here's a sample of the piece I found in YouTube.

Meanwhile, this excerpt from Wikipedia is similar to what the conductor explained about Vltava: The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the VyŇ°ehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).

Listen to the piece and see if you can pick out from the music the various scenes described above.

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