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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 - Swingle Singers Pe...
    by ★ Owner on December 3, 2011 at 8:55 AM
    2203 Views - 0 Comments

    Close harmony singing is a personal joy of mine - one that I have been actively engaged in on and off for the past 20 years. Over the past three years, I have made a return to contemporary a cappella singing after a long haitus. Coming back to a cappella in the age of Social Media has brought me all sorts of new access to groups and fellow enthusiasts that I have never had before. I mean, seriously - I'm Facebook friends with people like Barry Carl from Rockapella and I'm talking to members of The Swingle Singers on Twitter.

     

    This is the Swingle Singers' latest music video. It is a charming and poignant setting of the classic Christmas carol "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". The introduction depicts a walk through a snowy field with the winter wind blowing - all done with the human voice. The setting itself arranged by group member Clare Wheeler features tight contemporary harmonies that are my favorite musical sounds. I am a huge fan of the legendary Singers Unlimited, and this arrangement definitely has the influence of Gene Puerling floating among its harmonic and phrasing choices.

  • Great Performances - Bach Cello Suite No...
    by ★ Owner on September 28, 2011 at 7:53 AM
    3500 Views - 0 Comments

    Everyone in modern Western culture has heard this music before. Bach's cello prelude in G major is consistently used in the background of television commercials and is often the first cello solo that young cellists the world over ask to learn how to play. It's execution and interpretation have been scrutinized by cellists for hundreds of years, and it is pretty much required learning if you consider yourself a cellist.


    This morning, one of my students sent me the link to this clip, which demonstrates beautifully the pervasiveness of Bach's music throughout our culture and transcendent of time. From the Spanish film Die Stille vor Bach (The Silence Before Bach), this scene depicts approximately twenty cellists all playing the prelude while riding a vacant subway car.


    The juxtaposition of this beautiful prelude with the commonality of the subway is a provocative artistic statement, implying that Bach's artistry permeates even the lowest of places. Director Pere Portabella lets the music speak for itself with simple camera work and an emphasis on how this prelude is performed by cellists the world over for the last three centuries.

  • Great Performances - New Hot 5 Plays Jaz...
    by ★ Owner on September 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM
    3072 Views - 0 Comments

    jazz-cows


    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 - Capitol Sax Quartet...
    by ★ Owner on September 11, 2011 at 1:01 PM
    2788 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 - Symphony of Science...
    by ★ Owner on September 6, 2011 at 1:14 PM
    2572 Views - 0 Comments

    symphony of science


    I have been a fan of Symphony of Science since discovering it two years ago. While music has always been the central focus of my life, I developed a strong interest in quantum theory, consciousness and the mind, cymatics, and spiritual geometry over the past five years. Symphony of Science is a marriage of the two. Producer John Boswell takes lectures given by some of our most prominent theoretical physicists, auto tunes them, and turns their words into an entire song complete with verses and a refrain.


    This most recent song, entitled "The Quantum World!" is perhaps his best work to date. These are the real mystical explorers of our age - trying to quantify the unquantifiable. The more we learn about quantum physics, the more we understand the interconnectedness of all things.

  • Great Performances - The Cadets Perform ...
    by ★ Owner on August 15, 2011 at 6:47 AM
    3872 Views - 0 Comments


    This past Saturday, The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps won their tenth world championship. Throughout this summer, the organization has made available for free their All-Access service, a great behind-the-scenes series of videos and recordings normally offered at a subscription rate. This video is from the parking lot of the new Meadowlands facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey.


    It's so fantastic to see and hear this video - not just because The Cadets performance is so precise and emotional, but the quality of the recording equipment and camera work helps to enhance the moment. There are other versions of this on YouTube, but this one will be one of the best. They also filmed a great version of their unofficial anthem, Ron Nelson's Rocky Point Holiday, at the same session.


    As an alumnus of the corps, I am proud that their 2011 program, Angels and Demons, beat out a highly competitive field to win this year. When I watched this video, my heart melted a little. I was a member of the 1993 incarnation of The Cadets of Bergen County, when On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss was used as the ballad in our 1st place show In the Spring at the Time When Kings Go Off to War, featuring the music of David Holsinger. I posted this video on Mr. Holsinger's Facebook wall on Saturday, thanking him and corps director George Hopkins for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something so special.

  • Great Performances - OK Go and Pilobolus...
    by ★ Owner on July 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM
    2297 Views - 0 Comments

    I have used OK Go as a Great Performances entry before because their one-take videos are so visually enrapturing. I find their music to be mostly forgettable, but that doesn't take away from the innovative things they do on film.


    Their newest venture is no exception. Teaming up with the dance troupe Pilobolus and the folks at Google, the video has its own dedicated website at http://allisnotlo.st which allows browsers using Google Chrome to interact with the video in HTML5. That's almost enough to make me want to download Chrome. ;-)


    Here is the less-cool-still-really-awesome YouTube version.

  • Great Performances - Rockapella Sings El...
    by ★ Owner on July 11, 2011 at 7:50 AM
    1994 Views - 0 Comments

    Ok, I admit: I've got contemporary a cappella on the brain right now. We just had a combined rehearsal of the two summer Project-Philly a cappella group last night, and we're in the final 3 days of Project-Philly's Kickstarter campaign (we only need $230! Please help if you can).


    Today's Kickstarter update featured a classic Rockapella arrangement sung by the current incarnation of Rockapella. While watching that video from their recent Japan tour, I saw this one on the sidebar. "Ellie My Love" is one of my favorite originals that Rockapella has put out. Scott Leonard wrote and sings lead on this track, and this performance is rather subdued than the album cut in terms of vocal pyrotechnics. This rendition puts an even sweeter touch on a touching ballad.


    As I become more involved as an a cappella singer in my spare time, both performing with live groups and in recording and mixing my own a cappella tracks, I appreciate all that much more the showmanship, skill, and microphone handling technique that Scott displays in this video.

  • Great Performances - Cambridge Singers P...
    by ★ Owner on June 10, 2011 at 10:32 AM
    2789 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 - Acoustix Sings Star...
    by ★ Owner on May 30, 2011 at 8:51 AM
    3102 Views - 0 Comments

    flag of America


    In honor of U.S. Memorial Day, I share with you today the official march of the United States of America: John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever." This iconic march is so well-known that many Americans recognize both the intro and first strain melody and the melody from the trio. It also contains the most popular piccolo solo of all time.


    This particular performance, however, is not the traditional military band rendition. This version is sung a cappella by one of the most accomplished barbershop quartets of all time, Acoustix. This track appears on their album Stars and Stripes - a collection of patriotic and popular American music. The lyrics sung are actually Sousa's original lyrics, altered slightly for this arrangement. Happy Memorial Day - may these colors never run.


    You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


  • Great Performances - Paul Simon Fan Perf...
    by ★ Owner on May 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM
    2260 Views - 0 Comments

    What would you do if one of your musical idols invited you to the stage to perform one of his songs? That is exactly what happened to Rayna Ford, a fan from Newfoundland who attended Paul Simon's performance in Toronto, Canada on May 7, 2011. Ford called out from the audience for Simon to play his song "Duncan" saying something to the effect that she had learned how to play guitar on that song. In a moment of pure spontaneity, Paul Simon called her to the stage, handed her a guitar, and let her perform the song herself. [source NPR]. What a fantastic, indelible life experience for Rayna, and what a moment of magnanimous music making for the Grammy-award-winning music icon.

  • Great Performances - Mariinsky Clarinet ...
    by ★ Owner on May 12, 2011 at 10:41 AM
    2211 Views - 0 Comments

    I have a tradition on Facebook of posting a YouTube video to my friends' walls on their birthday. Today, one of my friends from my days at Penn State got this video on his wall. He and I were both clarinetists and played together in practically every band on campus as well as both studying under clarinet professor Smith Toulson. Mr. Toulson also directed a clarinet choir made up of students from his studio. This piece was part of our repertoire. We didn't play it nearly this fast (or this cleanly). Great stuff - enjoy.


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