Double Brass Choir- Gabrieli and More
August 31st, 2011
Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
Trumpets: Shawn Edmonds, Hugo Moreno, Adam Burton, Warren Wernick
Horns: Mary Ziegler Roberts, Kyra Sims
Trombones: Burt Mason, Daniel Hall
Tubas: Ben Vokits, Ibanda Ruhumbika
Scheidt - Canzona Bergamasca; Bach - Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3
Gabrieli - Canzon Primi Toni a 10; Gabrieli - Sonata Pian e Forte
Bernstein - Selections from West Side Story (Maria and Tonight)
Kamen – Quintet; Pollack - That's a Plenty
Today, in a Music Kitchen first, the grand arches of Holy Apostles Church resounded with the magnificent sounds of brass instruments- not just one quintet, but double brass quintet! Drawing from my childhood memories of a beloved record I checked out from the library of the Antiphonal works of Gabrieli, played by the brass sections of Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia, plus fond memories of a trip years ago to San Marco Cathedral in Venice where those same works were played in Gabrieli's time, I have dreamed of offering those gorgeous pieces to Music Kitchen audiences. And the setting at Holy Apostles was ideal for this debut- tall and cavernous in size. The ensemble, presenting themselves under the moniker of Metro Brass, played a beautifully diverse program of Gabrieli to Bach to Bernstein. They began as a single quintet, already filling the room with warm, finely tuned lines and ending the first part of the program with Bach Air on the G String. As I floated around the room, listening myself from various vantage points, a gentleman beckoned me over with a question, "What is that round instrument called?". "French horn," I told him, following with the story of how that instrument came into being as a hunting signal, which is why the bell faces behind, alerting the hunting company that water fowl or some such game had been spotted. "Wow, he said looking captivated, "I just love it, love it!" The group received easy cheers and applause at the end of each piece, though it is not the sustained cheers that more often come in response to string repertoire. I believe Brass is sometimes a more familiar fixture in most people's lives than string instruments, but the repertoire is not written in such a way as to make listeners wear their hearts on their sleeves quite as much. Still, listeners today greatly appreciated this performance. In fact, one man came over to me and began speaking with such seriousness of tone that I was concerned he would voice a complaint. But here's what he did say with slow deliberate pacing of each word, "I-can't-tell-you enough-what-a-gift-this-was. I mean...," he looked up and gestured as if to say that he was at a loss for words. He concluded by simply saying, "God bless you for doing this. This was just incredible." when I asked a table of diners if they were enjoying the music, another gentleman smiled and said, "You always bring such beautiful music here- Thank you."
There was beautiful brass playing all around, clean soaring trumpets, full and round plus warm, nimble lower brass- but my favorites from the program were the double quintets of Gabrieli and the modern Kamen quintet. After the musicians of the second quintet were finished and standing to the side listening to their colleagues, an older woman seated at a nearby table stood to get their attention. In addition to her verbal praise she added all of the "sign language" of her approval, she gave them a thumbs up, blown kisses, arms wide open followed by a prayerful crossing gesture as she thanked them for their performance. A younger woman nearby, dressed in a business suit concurred in her own more formal, academic demeanor reminding me yet again that there is no prerequisite for homelessness- "Yes, this was a most wonderful performance indeed."
Following are the notes from the listeners:
Welcome Music Kitchen
God Bless You!
The orchestra is fantastic
Also TODAY the food is GREAT
I enjoy the music
It was very good
Please come again
Todo estuvo muy bien
Gracias y Dios Te bendiga! (Everything was very good. Thank you and God bless you!)
I love the horns
From George with friends
Thank you for your beautiful music 08/31/2011
Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen Concerts!
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, President and Founder
52nd Performance - Ravel String Quartet in F major
Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Fatima Aaziza violin, Kyle Armbrust, viola – Stephen Fang, cello
This evening's Music Kitchen performance was special in so many ways. Firstly, we had the largest audience yet at Turning Point, completely filling the intimate room- 23 listeners plus the string quartet. Our audience was comprised of clients both from this shelter, for those up to age 26, as well as the younger ones 16-18 from the other partner shelter nearby. Plus, I had a surprise to share with the clients at the end of our performance. This time many familiar faces had disappeared, having moved on with their lives, replaced by this new group of inquisitive and eager as well as shy listeners. One young woman I did recognize right away and fondly from previous concerts, though another young man I hadn't recognized enthusiastically told me that he had been at a Music Kitchen concert before. The music chosen for tonight was a long time favorite of mine, the Ravel String Quartet, performed by a wonderful group of players, some of my favorite colleagues from the New Jersey Symphony. The quartet of Ravel is a marvel in both stunning lyricism and sizzle and shimmer, and this group performed with sensitivity and with tons of interaction. I always worry a bit about how brand new listeners will respond, especially the younger ones, but they all were soon drawn into the drama of the work. We finished the first movement and I asked for questions. "Yes," a young woman asked, "I'd like to know what's the story behind this piece? What was the composer feeling and what is the background of his writing it?" Kyle jumped right in with exactly the kind of answer the young woman was looking for, about how Ravel wrote the work to submit to the prestigious Prix de Rome but was rejected no fewer than 3 times, creating a scandal. But Ravel later became revered in the wake of the public shaming. Now the listeners were intrigued on a different level and were really with us. Then we talked about all the many influences that go into classical music of this period, jazz, of course, but also from the International Exhibition in Paris in 1889, Asian music like the Javanese Gamelan. That was one of the big influences for the composition of the next movement. One man had his hand up with a question, "Don't you have any American music?"
"Not tonight, just French,” I said. “You can think of this as the International Exhibition of 2011- we're going to expose you to some things that maybe you've never heard before." They laughed, but I heard a tiny voice say, "I have." Of course, I recognized it- "Yes, Kaya, I know, you've sung Bach in Carnegie Hall!" And it turns out she was far from the only one with a history of music in their past or a burning desire for it in their future. "Is it possible for me to take violin lessons?" one asked. "I may be able to help you with that," I replied. "Where can I hear more music like this?" The quartet members offered to make their comp tickets available for the New Jersey Symphony, of course. I also added, "You live in New York City! You can hear great music in so many places!" But suddenly I was conscious of the deficit of places where classical music is free or at least accessible to economically disadvantaged audiences. I began listing free series that I knew, particularly ones which become available in warm weather- Bryant Park, for one, Lincoln Center ‘Out of Doors’, as another. But as soon as we listed one, the listeners kept listing more and more. I wasn't familiar with all of their places listed but it was more important that they were excited to go out and explore their options. But the truth is, and the reason that I do this is that, really- this music is not accessible enough to people in their circumstances.
One woman asked if we have played in other places, “like Georgia or Alabama.” I told them I like to quote my friend and colleague, Amadi when people ask about my travels- I started playing when I was 9 because I fell in love with the music. ‘But if someone had told me because of that, this instrument would take me all over the world, I wouldn't have believed it.’ I told them I've been fortunate to travel to places like Japan, Europe, even to the White House to meet President Obama. I showed the photo I recently received and they were amazed. But I went back to the young woman's question. She is a singer and was not sure how to handle a warm reception here, a cooler reception there. I hoped to encourage her by saying that people around you will always change, but if you stay true to your own voice you will always come out on top.
Tonight there were so many wonderful people, wonderful questions and interactions and great music. But there was more- it was time to reveal the surprise. I reminded the listeners that my mission with Music Kitchen is about music, and that a wonderful woman I recently met only on the phone so loves what I'm doing that she wanted to offer what she does through her own organization. "She makes Teddy Bears by hand and when she heard I was coming here tonight, she wanted each one of you to have one." There was an instant chorus of "Awww!!" And as I read the precious note that comes attached to each hand-made bear about being a good friend to whomever needs it, the chorus grew louder! "Awwwwww!!!!" To think - I wasn't sure how young people at this age would respond! A staff member brought in the first box of 12. There were 24 in all and when I asked who would like one, I expected some to begin to leave if they weren't interested. Not a single person left their chair, but rather sat there hopeful that what I was saying was true. As I opened the box, the room was abuzz with joy - I began putting the tags on and handing out the bears. They were cuddled immediately by each person. One young woman, upon learning that the name of the organization was "Penny Bear," instantly said, "Mine is French- It's Pennée." it was truly wonderful to be able to bring so much joy, not only with the music but with a hand-made gift from someone who cares enough to share it so generously. The clients were all very moved. "It's so nice of her to do this!" One woman asked, “Can I make a little blanket for Penny? (the kind woman who makes these bears)” “She did this nice thing for me and I want to do something nice for her in return!” Thankfully, each person in the room received a bear, even the teenage boys each wanted one.
When everyone had received a bear, many hugged me before leaving the room. I wondered if the boys really felt good about receiving a Teddy Bear. Her reply was insightful, “They’ll love them. They may have a tough exterior, but they’re all just little boys inside.” By the time I was preparing to go, ‘Kaya’, the one who wished to make a blanket for Penny, had already returned from her room with her own hand-made knitted hat for the bear. She posed the bear in its tam lovingly on her lap. Another 25 year old woman who kept mentioning the Kips School to me finally revealed that she was one of their original graduates and had played in the orchestra once upon a time in 7th grade. “Oh, Mr. Levin would be so mad to know I was here in this place…It’s so important what you’re doing, exposing people our age to music they might never have been exposed to…They’re probably gonna appreciate this day for the rest of their lives because they didn’t ever have somebody who care enough to show this new type of music to them.”
Following are notes from the listeners:
I always wanted to learn how to play the violin. I feel like the performance was a gift from God to remind me of the things I like, and to stay focused. I am completely inspired. Thank you.
PS- great Performance! S.G.
I really enjoyed it. I just wish it lasted longer. Also a CD full of the music would be great.
Penny, I greatly appreciate your gift. The teddy bear will give me comfort through hard times. I think people like you who show concern for others are the most special gifts granted. Thank you so much. A.W.
Thank you so much for the beautiful Lyrics and flow of notes to one’s ear. I am so blessed to finally take a break from the thunder in life to hear the birds chirp. Thank you so much for my little darling Penny She is such a cutiepie! God bless you and yours
Thank you J
Music is Adventure
A wonderful hearing
Music is expressions of our feelings
Music is the expression of our souls.
Feelings of my heart
Music from the heart.
Hello my name is Ms. G.P
I wanted to say thanks and much love to Penny for the bear. It’s adorable.
To Kelly, thank you for everything. Tonight was amazing I really enjoyed it all, especially the second movement. Yours truly, L.
Slipping out drop, drop. You move me like a puppet and her master. If I belong to anything I’m glad it is this. You have a way of taking my troubles. My poison and turning it into medicine. What kind of man can be still when you play? M.M.
I want to marvel at something.
I want to let my body speak for me.
Being swept up like a child on the floor
I don’t need saving, but still want to be held. I want to be enraptured by the worlds ruin. I want to get lost in the madness that is adventure. I want to steal a piece of excitement for myself. Save it in my jewelry box and pull it out in my years of despair.
Just would like to thank the violinists for their performance. And the maker of the Penny Bear.
Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, President/Founder/Violinist