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Thomas J. West Music

Live webcam private music lessons, music education articles, compositions, clinician services, reviews

Great Performances

Performances that inspire and impress. Enjoy.

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  • Great Performances - New Hot 5 Plays Jaz...
    by ★ Owner on September 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM
    3066 Views - 0 Comments


    The Hot 5 is a dixieland quintet of faculty and alumni from Bringham Young University that performs classic New Orleans-style jazz. This video of the group playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" for a group of cows in rural France is making the rounds on Facebook right now and is quite charming.

    This is the best jazz you've ever herd. It's incredibly mooving.

  • Great Performances #1: Victor Borge - Hu...
    by ★ Owner on July 23, 2008 at 5:49 AM
    3058 Views - 1 Comment

    This is the first of a series of videos, mostly from YouTube, of great performances. I use these videos to highlight aspects of musical mastery and music learning for the benefit of my readers. Today's video is one act from an entire two-hour show by the late Victor Borge (You can buy a copy of this entire concert here. It is a great show for anyone that loves classical music and laughing at the same time). His blend of comedic slapstick, witty use of the English language (and secondary one for him), and his masterful piano playing is evident in this routine. I suggest you watch it twice - once for sheer enjoyment, and then again with attention to the technical detail and precision required to not only play the music in time synchronized with two people, but the choreographed movements in and around eachother's bodies that had to have initially taken hours and hours of rehearsal to map the neural connections necessary to make it all "seem so easy."

  • Great Performances - Jonathan Conducts B...
    by ★ Owner on October 29, 2010 at 10:13 PM
    3045 Views - 0 Comments

    This video is hot right now - making the rounds on Facebook. And there's a very good reason - this three-year-old's musical instincts as he conducts the fourth movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony are uncanny. There are adults who study for years to anticipate the score and achieve the level of expression that this young man achieves. He does remind us, however, that he is only three when he gets an itchy nose, shouts out "This is my FAVORITE PART!" just after the 3 minute mark, and his grand finale complete with giggles when he loses grip on his baton. Sheer joy in music, and uncanny musicianship at the same time. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances - Bernstein Conducts ...
    by ★ Owner on April 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM
    3042 Views - 0 Comments


    Music PLN member Brandt Schneider shared this video today. There are so many things about this that are just simply superlative: Mahler's mastery of composition, Bernstein's embodiment of the music, the excellent performance quality of all involved, and more. I particularly was struck by the way the ascending motif at the 3:00 mark skillfully melts into the woodwinds as the piece takes it's last deep breath before the final chords of The Ressurection Symphony. I am also quite fond of Mahler's Ninth for completely different reasons.

  • Great Performances - Fred Omega Pye's Ma...
    by ★ Owner on November 19, 2010 at 8:06 AM
    3039 Views - 0 Comments

    In my days at Penn State, a very unique alumni of my chapter of Phi Mu Alpha lived in State College and visited chapter functions on a semi-regular basis. His name is Fred Omega Pye (which I always thought was the perfect name for someone who is a member of a fraternity with greek letters). I had never seen Fred perform, but stories of his prowess with anything that spins (batons, sabers, rifles, and the drum major's mace) were lefendary. Fred is now the color guard coordinator for the UMass Minutemen Marching Band, one of the premiere college bands in the country. The recent loss of iconic director George N. Parks has brought the band a bit more attention than usual. In the midst of it all, Fred recently posted this video from 2009 of his mace salute. I appreciate the opportunity to finally see FOP do his stuff. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances - The Kings Firecrack...
    by ★ Owner on June 25, 2010 at 10:07 PM
    3025 Views - 0 Comments

    The Firecrackers are a performance jump rope team made up of talented 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio. They practice 2 hours a day 5 to 6 times a week. And you thought your high school marching band was disciplined!

    Check out their website at

  • The Genius of Eric Whitacre: YouTube Vir...
    by ★ Owner on March 23, 2010 at 10:20 PM
    2853 Views - 0 Comments

    Eric Whitacre is the Golden Child of modern composition. As this video demonstrates, he is still managing to innovate in an era when we've all "been there, heard that." This piece was performed by hundreds of performers from 12 different countries. Each person uploaded themselves singing a voice part to You Tube, and Whitacre's producer mixed them. You can even subscribe on YouTube or follow them on Facebook to find out when the next piece will be premiered. Guess who's joining the next one? :-)

  • Great Performances - Contrabassoon Audit...
    by ★ Owner on April 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM
    2788 Views - 0 Comments

    Contrabassoon, self painted by Mezzofortist

    For any of us who have ever given an instrumental audition for a band or orchestra, or for those who have had to sit on an election committe or adjudicators panel and listen to performer after performer for hours, I give you a memorable contrabassoon orchestral audition. The clacking keys, the gasping for breath, and the gutteral vibrations of the big horn blend sublimely with some of your favorite orchestral excerpts, including "Also Sprach Zarathustra", the march from Beethoven 9, "Petrushka", Holst's "The Planets", some Ravel, and ending with "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (during which I swear there is a snicker). I guarantee you've never heard those excerpts quite like this. I also love the auditioner's classic audition lines: "Can I have another go?" and "Should I call you?"

  • Great Performances - Stjpan Hauser and L...
    by ★ Owner on January 28, 2011 at 9:05 AM
    2787 Views - 0 Comments

    Here's a great example of what I have decided to call "New Folk Music". Two performers, who have obviously mastered their instrument, stepping outside of what is typically accepted as the style of music performed on that instrument, and doing their version of an immensely popular song that has stood the test of time (at least the past 25 years or so, which in the modern music world is significant).

    They obviously have a film crew of some kind helping to put this together, as evidenced by the boom cam shots, and it has been very professionally mixed and edited, but looks can be deceiving, especially in the digital age.

    "New Folk Music" is generational in nature. Popular music has to a large degree become the emotional voice of a generation. We can all go back in time and appreciate music from earlier generations, and the more enduring music from those bygone decades is worth experiencing, but we all tend to identify with the kind of music that was popular in our youth. It's time for music teachers to ask themselves, "Which music is enduring the test of time, and which current popular music will join the songs in longevity?"

    We've been in a mass media mode of music consumption for over 100 years now, so the patterns aren't too hard to figure out.

    If you like these guys, make sure you also check out Apocolyptica.

  • Great Performances - Cambridge Singers P...
    by ★ Owner on June 10, 2011 at 10:32 AM
    2785 Views - 0 Comments

    This video was passed on to me today by one of my fellow chamber singers from my undergraduate days. The polyphony and harmony of 16th century vocal music is exquisite, and this piece is a prime example. The Cambridge Singers is a mixed-voice ensemble, but music such as this was often sung with all-male groups with two counter tenor parts. I used to be able to hit those high G's with ease - I can still get there, but only on a good day, and it's not nearly as pretty as it used to be.

  • Great Performances - Capitol Sax Quartet...
    by ★ Owner on September 11, 2011 at 1:01 PM
    2780 Views - 0 Comments

    I have a rather large number of incoming saxophonists to my school this year, so I was looking for a YouTube video to post on their class Moodle page. This one is smokin' hot! It was recorded live at Yamaha's Artist Service Center in New York City on October 8, 2005. The performers are the Capitol Quartet. It's a great demonstration of the various common sizes of saxophone, plus for those of us who know be bop, there's a nice little quote in the middle you may recognize.

  • Great Performances - John Eidsvoog Plays...
    by ★ Owner on December 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM
    2765 Views - 0 Comments

    This video was making the rounds today amongst my band director and musician contemporaries on Facebook today. This is so inventive and cool! Leroy Anderson was a master of the pop orchestra number, and this treatment of "Sleigh Ride" is not only rhythmically engaging but harmonically interesting.

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