Saturday, January 3, 2015

Countdown to First Concert of 2015. Debra Saylor - January 11th at 4 PM.

Solo Piano Concert, "Piano at Twilight" Sunday January 11th at 4 PM.

The Music at Messiah Classical Concert series extends Happy New Year blessings to all followers and friends,  and look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming January 11th  at 4 PM concert which features the extraordinary talent of pianist Debra Saylor.

Debra will be interviewed live on classical radio station WLRH this coming Friday, January 9th at 11:00 a.m. by regular morning host Ginny Kennedy.  WLRH can be found at FM/HD 89.3 or by listening online at  

Saylor, a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for amateurs in 2000, took third place for her awe-inspiring performance of Debussy's Claire de Lune. Fellow Van Cliburn competitor Carl Tait described her semi-final performance in this entry from his March 2001 blog post as follows.

"The most memorable pianist of the entire competition made her first appearance at 4:15 that afternoon. Steve Cumming introduced Debra Saylor without fanfare, in much the same genially professional way he introduced all of us. We saw the long white cane first. There was a collective gasp. Debra Saylor was blind. Shea made her way to the piano bench with surprising speed and adjusted it quickly with well-practiced motions. She spread her arms widely across the keyboard several times to judge both height and proximity. My mind was awash in conflicting emotions. This was remarkable, brave, commendable - but would it be any good?

Debra began with Schubert's familiar Moment Musical in F minor. It was good. Very good. I was smiling within seconds. The performance had a cheerful Viennese lilt and real charm. Next came Debussy's Clair de lune, for which no one was prepared, or could have been prepared. Debussy's overplayed work, mutilated by several generations of piano students over the past century, glowed to new life in Debra's hands. Her tone was warm and deep, her legato singing, her phrasing impeccable, her pianissimos infinitely shaded. Anyone who claims not to have been in tears by the end is probably lying. It was one of those revelatory performances in which one feels the composer's ideas fusing with the artistry of a gifted pianist."

Titled "Piano at Twilight" attendees can expect Saylor's artistry on the piano to fill Messiah Lutheran' Church's recently expanded sancturay with piano works written by the world's finest composers.  It is sure to inspire and move audiences of all ages.  Oh and be warned, Debussy's Claire de Lune is on the program so you might want to grab a few tissues before you arrive!

Here's a wonderful performance by Debra from a later Van Cliburn competition.   We truly are blessed to have this wonderful musician perform a concert with the Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Debra Saylor performs "Piano at Twilight" for January 11th 2015 Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series

Give the Gift of Music and mark January 11th on your 2015 Calender.  

On Sunday, January 11th, Music at Messiah presents pianist Debra Saylor, an award winner at the Van Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. The full-length concert from will feature her winning interpretation of Debussy's "Clair de Lune" along with works by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. The concert is open to the public and will begin at 4:00 pm at Messiah Lutheran Church 
on Route 72 in Madison.

Give a gift of music for Christmas.   Series sponsorships begin at the $25 dollar level and come with a single line dedication of your choosing.  Donating with a dedication is a wonderful way to honor and recognize your loved ones!  The Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series is a self supporting series focused on presenting quality live and free classical concert performances to our community.  The date for having sponsor forms and advertising artwork in is January 4th. 2015.   Forms are available at the Welcome Center desk of Messiah Lutheran Church.

We also offer advertising rates for any area businesses starting at $25.00.  Contact us today for more information, details. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A "Barefoot Abbey" and the Brilliant Spanish Composer Thomas Luis de Victoria.

Music at Messiah's Classical Concert next concert will be Saturday evening, November 1st starting at 7:30 pm.  It will feature Huntsville Collegium Musicum's performance of Thomas Luis de Victoria's Officium Defunctorm.  

Researching Victoria's "Requiem" for relevant visuals for the poster and program artwork was an interesting journey.
The spanish composer was born in 1548, and evidence suggests he grew up a choir boy in the Cathedral in Avila. The Catholic Counter- Reformation that nearly paralled his years provide a historical backdrop for this young Catholic man with outstanding musical gifts. So promising were his talents that Philip II provided him a grant to travel to Italy in 1567. 

Victoria lived in Italy for the next twenty years; he canted, attended seminary, taught at the German College and was very well respected, holding a number of succeedingly impressive posts as a chapelmaster and organist.   By 1587 Victoria desired to return to Spain, and once again, Philip II responded, posting him to be the personal Chaplain of the Dowager Empress Maria.

The music itself is a funeral mass written for Empress MarĂ­a's death in 1603. She lived in retirement with her daughter Princess Margarita at the royal monestary The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the "Monastery of Barefoot Royals." Upon entry to the convent, these well heeled women would donate their dowry to the convent and vow to go shoeless. (Could it be expensive women's shoes have always been horribly uncomfortable?) The convent was tremendously well off and the Monastery allowed Victoria to produce gloriously rich and spiritual compositions until his death in 1611.

The Counter Reformation fueled  a revived spritualism in Catholic religious arts, and this is also evidenced by Victoria's contemporary, El Greco, whose Crucificion also appears on the poster artwork.  The intensity and palette of tones are emotional, and one cannot listen to Victoria's Requiem without feeling that same sense of spiritual awakening that is ever present in El Greco's work.

If you are intrigued by this, you'll really enjoy this Sacred Music program on Victoria produced recently by BBC on Victoria's music, featuring the choral group "The Sixteen." It's lengthy, but well worth an extended listening.  I hope this article, as well as the video pique your curiousity and compel you to attend the November 1st presentation of Victoria's Officium Defunctorium.

  - Meredith Kilby, for the Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series

Friday, September 26, 2014

Huntsville Collegium Musicum to Perform Saturday November 1st, 7:30 pm

Preparations underway for our next Music at Messiah concert.

Please mark you calendars for Saturday evening, November 1st, 2014 at 7:30 PM

We are pleased to announce Huntsville Collegium Musicum will be performing Thomas Luis de Victoria's 1605 Officium Defunctorium commonly known as his "Requiem Mass."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Solar Winds "A European Tour" Concert Tomorrow at 4 PM

Solar Winds: Woodwind Quintet Concert this Sunday

Final preparations have been made for the first concert of the second season of Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series.

Sunday's concert features 'Solar Winds', a woodwind quintet comprised of five musicians from the US Army Materiel Command Band at Redstone Arsenal.

The quintet rehearsed Friday afternoon at Messiah Lutheran Church the pieces they will be presenting Sunday, September 21st. They familiarized themselves with the stage and the captivating acoustics of the sanctuary when filled with rich, beautiful sound.  Here's a sneak peek, an excerpt from the Rondo of Beethoven's Op 71.   

The Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series is delighted to feature this talented ensemble.  Oboeist Staff Seargeant Katherine Beyer leads the 'Solar Winds' quintet, and remarked that playing the Concert Series is a terrific opportunity for them to rehearse and perform classical music that's a bit outside of the typical military band repertoire.
SSG Beyer has only recently moved to the Huntsville area and gave high praise for the Madison/Huntsville area having an abundant offerings to enjoy great music.

We sincerely hope that you take this Sunday's opportunity to enjoy great music performed beautifully in a space so suited for small chamber ensembles such as 'Solar Winds'

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Solar Winds:Woodwind Quintet to perform September 21

The Solar Winds Woodwind Quintet will be performing on Sunday, September 21st at Messiah Lutheran Church in Madison, AL.  The free concert starts at 4 pm. 

The Woodwind Quintet is comprised of five members of the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band at Redstone Arsenal.  Namely, Oboe: SFC Megan Newman, Flute: SPC Robert Lambert, Clarinet: SPC Eric Flores-Ortiz, Horn: SPC Stephan Fahrlander, Bassoon: SSG Kathryn Beyer.

The full length concert is titled, "A European Tour," and will include works by Beethoven, Ibert, Stamitz, and others.   An intermission and reception following the concert is planned.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 27th Concert Preview - The Distinctive Music of Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992) was a twentieth century composer who combined the elements of traditional tango, jazz and classical music to create a distinctive style that is unmistakable.  

We will get a fair sampling of his beautiful music at the Toot and Twang concert on April 27 when Phil Weaver and Rosa Richardson play two pieces from Piazzolla’s Histoire de Tango, originally written for flute and guitar, and then Libertango arranged for flute and guitar.  As Phil Weaver indicates in his notes for the program, the selections will nicely demonstrate Piazzolla’s energetic and percussive rhythms as well as his emotional and sometimes haunting melodies.

You will not want to miss the concert! It is this Sunday, April 27th at 4:00 p.m. at Messiah Lutheran Church in Madison, AL  The concert is free and a light reception will follow.

Piazzolla was born in Argentina, but then moved at the age of 4 with his Italian immigrant parents to Greenwich Village in New York.  His father bought him a bandoneon that he found in a pawn shop, and Astor began playing a wide range of music inspired by the many recordings that this father played for him.  The bandoneon, Piazzolla’s signature instrument for his entire life, is similar to an accordion.  It was  invented in Germany in the 1800’s by Heinrich Band to serve as a compact organ for religious music in small churches.  German and Italian sailors found it especially convenient to take on board ship, and it migrated with them to South America, where it became an essential part of Argentinian tango ensembles.   
Here is a beautiful video recording of Piazzolla performing the bandoneon in a live 1986 performance in Utrecht. 

Astor’s love for traditional tango and classical music developed rapidly.  He composed his first tango at 11, then started classical piano lessons at 12 in New York with Hungarian Pianist Bela Wilda, a student of Rachmaninoff.  His skill on the bandoneon was recognized by tango composer Carlos Gardel who invited 13 year old Astor to joint him on tour.  Fortunately his father did not grant him permission to leave home, since Gardel and his group were killed in a plane crash soon afterwards.  Piazzolla later joked that if his father had not been so wise, he would be playing harp, instead of the bandoneon. 

Piazzola lived in New York and Italy with his family until at 17 when he moved to Buenos Aires where he made a living playing bandoneon in tango orchestras.  At this time he met Artur Rubenstein who encouraged him to study with the Argentinian composer Ginastera.  Piazzolla continued to perform and arrange for tango orchestras through the 1940’s and early 1950’s, when he decided to give up tango and began studying Stravinsky, Bartok and Ravel.  It was over the next few years that Piazzolla began to develop a distinct style of his own.  In 1953 he won the Savitsky composition award in Buenos Aires after a performance of his work for bandoneon and orchestra, an unusual work that led to fighting in the audience.  The award included a grant to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who immediately realized his talent and encouraged him to never leave the tango.

Back in Argentina Piazzola continued to compose by working with small groups, quintets and octets, and composing essentially instrumental tangos that combined traditional elements of the tango with jazz and chamber music.  This he called the Nuevo Tango.  It continued to be too avante guarde for Argentina, but became more widely appreciated in Europe and North America.

Over the next 30 years he traveled with a number of small groups that he organized and conducted to showcase his music, including Conjunto 9, the first Quintet (1960), Conjunto Electronico, and the second Quintet (1978).  Many recordings were made during this time, including the famous recording with his Quintet at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 1984 and the New York Central Park concert in 1987 with vibraphonist Gary Burton.  The Utrect video from 1986 is with the Nuevo Tango Quintet, including some beautiful playing by violinist Fernando Suarez Paz, first violinist for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. 

Piazzolla wrote on the order of 3000 pieces.  His music has been embraced by a large number of musicians, ranging from jazz artists such as Al Dimeola to classical performers including Gidon Kremer.  The impeccable technique of Kremer and his friends in his “Hommage a Piazzolla” CD is a real treat. 

When a six-year old girl was once asked “How do you like this music?”  she responded “This music comes from angels”.  Who could ask for more?

“Anything that interrupts music, I hate.”  - Astor Piazzolla between songs at the Central Park Concert.  

--- Submitted by John Shriver for Music at Messiah Classical Concert Series