Classical Music: Random Acts in the Streets and in the Stores!

A new trend is emerging in performance around the world – random acts of classical music. Maybe you’ve heard of flash mobs, where hundreds of people suddenly appear in a public place to perform a random and pointless act for a few brief minutes, and then dissipate. This idea is catching on in the musical world, as witnessed by mini “flash concerts” in Philadelphia, Northern England, and Italy, among others.

NPR notes, “Over the past year, an increasing number of classical musicians have been launching into unannounced performances in marketplaces and transit hubs — and videos of these impromptu concerts have reached a wide audience on the internet.”

Here’s the YouTube video of the opera group in the Reading Terminal Market:

What’s the point of this? Musicians may find enjoyment in surprising people in public places, but it probably goes deeper than that. By performing in a place where people don’t expect it – like the Philadelphia market – they are bringing their music to people who normally wouldn’t hear it. And maybe by doing that, they can spark an interest that some listeners may pursue later. Most of the time these “flash concerts” don’t involve any profit – music for the sake of music!

You can read the full NPR article here, which has videos of the flash performances in England and Italy.

Spotlight on Christopher O’Riley

Photo by Wendy Lynch

So often on this blog we highlight the accomplishments of our young musicians, but today we’re turning the spotlight on our very own host, Christopher O’Riley.

As an acclaimed pianist, Christopher doesn’t just host From the Top. He does concerts around the country and is a Distinguished Visiting Artist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge from 2010 to 2013.

Currently, Christopher is in Baton Rouge for a recital as part of his LSU residency, but he’ll be back in Ohio to open the new season of Cuyahoga Community College’s Classical Piano Recital Series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3. This event is held at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland and tickets are $10-15, available by calling 216-987-4444.

Take a second and check out this great article that discusses a concert he did last week in the Signature Series at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio. Christopher may be well known for his arrangements of popular pop and rock songs, but for this concert he performed Bach’s English Suite No. 6 in D minor and Stravinsky’s “Apollon Musagete,” among other works.

The video interview with Christopher below was produced by Cool Cleveland, and talks about the young musicians on From the Top.

Our fall radio tour takes us to Baton Rouge for a broadcast taping on Tuesday, November 2 at the Union Theater. More information is available here. Hope to see you there!

Links We Like: Musicians Can Hear Better

This NPR story features studies that prove how musician’s brains are better at isolating sounds in noisy environments. Find out how music training can change your brain!

Ever wonder where your violin came from?

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Co.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times

Check out this great article we found in the New York Times about the booming instrument industry in China. Violin, viola, cello, and bass production in the small town of Donggaocun, just outside Beijing, is actually serving as a serious form of economic development for the area.

Read the article here.

CEO Addresses National Gathering of Music Teachers

Music in Education Week Rally in Washington

Music Education Week Rally in Washington

On Monday, From the Top co-founder and co-CEO Gerald Slavet addressed music teachers from across the country who had all convened in Washington for MENC’s Music Education Week. Jerry spoke about the importance of music education and thanked the educators for their role in the artistic and creative development of our nation’s children.  “Without invested music teachers like all of you, none of this is possible [From the Top]. And we take very seriously our responsibility to support your work, and create resources that can help you stimulate an interest in the arts in your students.”

from left to right: MENC Executive Director John Mahlmann, MENC President Barbara Geer, and From the Top Co-CEO Gerald Slavet

from left to right: MENC Executive Director John Mahlmann, MENC President Barbara Geer, and From the Top Co-CEO Gerald Slavet

In addition to describing From the Top’s peer leadership and in-school programs, Jerry announced that From the Top is working on creating a Teacher’s Kit with media from our television and radio show along with classroom activities to help more teachers ignite interest  in classical music in their students. The kit will be available on our web site beginning this fall.

Read more about MENC’s Music in Education Rally.

After the Great Flood: Iowa Makes Music

Last June, From the Top Tour Producer David Balsom was preparing to visit Cedar Rapids, Iowa to plan out a yearlong residency program with Orchestra Iowa when he received a frantic email from the symphony’s executive director. “The email said flood waters are coming, we’re evacuating, don’t come.”

“I thought it was most likely the end of the project,” said Balsom, referring to the Iowa Makes Music program piloted by From the Top this year. Over the course of the past nine-months this residency has integrated broadcast tapings of the NPR show with educational outreach programs, curriculum development and peer leadership trainings for teens to generate increased enthusiasm and participation in classical music throughout the state of Iowa.

Yet in June 2008 the likelihood that this ambitious program would get off the ground was grim.
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From the Top Heads to El Paso to Celebrate $1 Million in Scholarships

From the Top on El Paso's KTSM/NBC Channel 9.

From the Top on El Paso's KTSM/NBC Channel 9.

This Saturday, From the Top’s taping at the El Paso Summer Music Festival will celebrate our partnership with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which has supported $1 million in scholarships to young musicians with financial need. The broadcast taping will feature five new Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award recipients, and will include updates from some past Young Artists about where this scholarship has taken them. The episode will air nationally the week of October 19 on our partner stations.

From the Top’s partnership with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has been one of the most transformative in our organization’s short history. Since 2005, we have awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to exceptional young musicians, who despite financial barriers, strive to attain excellence in music and other areas of their lives. In addition to providing young artists with an opportunity to perform on From the Top’s national broadcasts, the $10,000 award helps to offset the often-prohibitively expensive costs of studying classical music at a high level. Award recipients have used the scholarship for lessons, tuition at music camps, colleges, and conservatories, and to purchase new instruments. Continue reading

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