March 7, 2016
Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Families
with Karen Dreyfus,vla; Kelly Hall-Tompkins,vln; and harpist Alison Bjorkedal
Today’s Music Kitchen noontime concert was another exciting chapter in expanding audiences and celebrating the partnerships which have made it possible for these concerts to come all the way to the Pacific Coast. Thanks again to Glenn Dicterow and Karen Dreyfus for their passionate involvement and Jeanette Rowe Director of LAHSA and Victor Hinderliter, Director of the shelter for helping to make it happen.
Back for the second time in the lovely, and polished venue that is the Good Shepherd Shelter for Women and Families, we had an even larger audience than the first concert here last December (2014). And even though there has been complete turnover and an entirely new group of clients were present, there seemed to be a quiet and studied anticipation which built on our last performance there. This time we varied the program by adding harp to the mix. Alison and I began with two short pieces, first, the Piazzolla “History of the Tango” first movement. I thought it was a fresh place to start and the delighted expressions on many of the ladies’ faces confirmed this. One woman loved the work but was concerned for the safety of the harpist’s hands for having to knock percussively on the sound board. The music reminded one woman of the Tango scene in the film “Scent of a Woman.” With Hollywood as an ever present backdrop in Los Angeles, it quickly became a bit of a theme of the afternoon. The next piece was a beautiful little piece called “The Sweetest Memories” by British harpist/composer John Marson. Even though it was written in recent decades, it sounds to me very reminiscent of 40’s era classic Hollywood film. The ladies eagerly agreed. One said, “I can just picture Fred Astaire dancing!” “For me it’s Gene Kelly,” I said.
I then introduced Karen Dreyfus and she played with Alison a work not typically played on harp, but it added a mature moment of beauty and gravitas to the afternoon- the Schubert Arpeggione Sonata. Karen’s thoughtful phrasing and chiseled lines captivated the audience and Alison on harp lent a more full-flowered gracefulness than in typically heard with piano.
I had forgotten to tell a bit about myself, so I said a brief word about my career and mentioned being soloist for Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. Even here on the other side of the country, 3,000 miles from Broadway, that caused quite a ripple of excitement in the room!
From there I introduced Glenn and, in addition to speaking of his tenure at the New York Philharmonic, I told the ladies that even if you’d never been to New York to hear him, you’ve probably heard him play. I listed many of the films which feature Glenn as soloist: Aladdin, The Untouchables, Beauty and the Beast, Altered States, and so on. We played again our beloved Dvorak Terzetto, a now all bowed string ensemble to conclude today’s program. Lead by Glenn’s full-bodied voluptuous tone the audience was drawn in and soothed. That is just exactly what one woman said, “This was just so beautiful and so very calming and soothing. I’ve never heard music like this before.” Another woman happily declared that this was her first experience hearing this kind of music live and that now she wishes to seek it out more. When we concluded the piece, we opened up the floor for questions and there were many across many topics. At one point Glenn picked up my theme about Dvorak advocating for African-American and Native American musical themes and asked me to play the Going Home theme from the 9th Symphony. He then joined in with the chordal accompaniment and it was an impromptu poignant moment of peace in the room. I then played the theme from the “American Quartet,” which also stems from a spiritual. One of the administrators spoke of a brother who, like me, also went to Eastman and spoke of his difficulty in assimilating to the changes- the cold climate, the expenses but she was so heartened to see me and the artists to see what a musical career could become. Another spoke passionately about the opportunity for students to keep students involved in music programs and to keep public schools offering them. I told the audience of how at age 11, Glenn was already playing the Tchaikovsky violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Ohhh,” many of them gasped in unison. Glenn spoke of having a family of musicians who helped him to be a quick study as a child. But he lamented that even though he grew up with wonderful public music programs in the aftermath of World War 2 scarcity, that public funding today cannot seem to keep music programs available and thriving.
Another woman asked us about breathing and what purpose does it serve. I told her that it is the life force and rhythm that underlies the creation of all music and can be used functionally to help us signal each other or it is the energy which carries the music through each of us. Afterwards as always, we took a group photo. An as always, there were many people who wished to speak with us, capture autographs and continue to share the depth of their feeling. One woman spoke ardently about how more people just need to hear classical music. “All they listen to is rap and R&B- and now I like some of that too! But they just need to hear this music! I listen to the classical station all the time!” I said perhaps she could be our promoter, and she laughed with a twinkle in her eye. It was a lovely afternoon. In a Music Kitchen first, we will continue with another concert this evening at Bell Shelter.
Following are the notes from the listeners:
Truly an uplift to my heart and it was really in God’s timing. Kelly: your bravery reminds me of Misty Copeland, you are a TRUE PIONEER thank you for breaking down walls and opening doors of inspirations for ….!
“The Sweetest Memories” took me back to childhood as in the m…….. where the… critic was taken back to his childhood when his mother would prepare the R…. for him. The last piece reminds me of a game of cat and mouse. Lynda M.
Thank you for the delectable treat! The music was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for bringing it to our center. J.
It was very nice for you all to come out and share your love of music and talents and time with us. The music you played was so beautiful and very much enjoyed.
God bless you and continue to allow to prosper in all you do! Thanks for the tunes!
All music is good for the sould. All music is sould music. Thank you for your time.
Good music. I would like to come to a place one day.
“Sweetest memories” is the music that makes me cry. It did its part in the process.
The Hollywood film score writers could take lessons from Schubert on creating mood music.
I have never seen the depth of respect that musicians have for each other in any other profession.
Outstanding evocation of emotion and memories of other exposures to this quality of music: Strauss, Chopin, Dvorak
Feel emotion of musicians. Great and very moving. The fact that such great musicians are able to prove this concert Thank you!
“Sweetest Memories” could have been a Gershwin Standard Surprised by how many pieces I’ve heard before yet don’t recall titles
The concert: Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins
-Beautiful music to mind, body, and soul
-a more in-depth appreciation with my eyes closed
-also an appreciation of the talent and hard work displayed while playing
Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen Concerts!
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, President and Founder