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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 - Cee Lo Green Thank ...
    by ★ Owner on May 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM
    2269 Views - 0 Comments

    The moment I saw this video, I started posting it to my site before it had even finished. Cee Lo Green, host of the hit television show The Voice and singer of the massive hit single "Forget You" took that hit song and rewrote the words to use as a tribute to volunteer firefighters everywhere.

    I find it very interesting that Cee Lo Green catapulted himself into the limelight with a song about his teen angst that features explicit and suggestive lyrics, and now he is turning that attention in many ways into a way to spread the wealth emotionally and socially. The original song itself is incredibly addictive, and the "clean" version has been all over the radio. The original YouTube video with the explicit lyrics has over 54 million views as of this posting.

    Cee Lo Green's tribute to firefighters is part of an effort by the Duracell company entitled Power Those Who Protect Us. Yet another great cause to support.

  • Great Performances - Peter Hollens And T...
    by ★ Owner on May 7, 2011 at 7:07 PM
    3710 Views - 0 Comments

    In my spare time from music teaching, I am a music hobbyist as well. I love contemporary a cappella singing and have been singing with groups off and on for about 20 years.


    Peter Hollens of On The Rocks fame has been putting out some fantastic a cappella YouTube videos since last fall, and his latest collaboration with the Grammy-Award-winning Swingle Singers is purely breathtaking. Peter's arranger, also associated with OTR, is Tom Anderson, and Tom has simply outdone himself this time.


    This arrangement and performance reminds me very much of my favorite vocal group of all time: The Singers Unlimited. Gene Puerling was a genius. The harmonies in this arrangement are a tribute to the quiet innovation that Puerling brought to contemporary a cappella back in the 1970's.

  • Great Performances - Esperanza Spalding ...
    by ★ Owner on May 1, 2011 at 7:10 PM
    2208 Views - 0 Comments

    This video was posted in the Music Professional Learning Network by Dr. Joe Piasno tonight, and I had to share it. Esperanza Spalding was the "Who is that?" name at the Grammys this past year, and she is simply fantastic. A lot of people can't sing as well as she can. A lot of people can't play the bass guitar as well as she can. There's even fewer people who can do both at the same time. Definitely going to have to catch some tickets to her show when she comes through Philadelphia.

  • Great Performances - Mnozil Brass Spoof ...
    by ★ Owner on April 24, 2011 at 8:52 PM
    2449 Views - 0 Comments

    This is just a lot of fun. The Mnozil Brass, an Austrian brass band, give us some virtuosic playing all the while having some fun. Impressive rapid-fire key changes and double-tonguing work, and clever arranging, combined with some good showmanship. Be sure to search for more of their work on YouTube.

  • Great Performances - Kevin Olusola Beatb...
    by ★ Owner on April 18, 2011 at 9:28 PM
    2473 Views - 0 Comments

    I always admire instrumentalists who clearly demonstrate mastery of the technique of their instrument. Thousands of hours of repetition and skill building are necessary for even the most naturally gifted musician to be able to perform at this level of proficiency. Add to that Kevin Olusola's killer beatboxing to the mix, and suddenly an expressive piece of cello music takes on a whole new creative dimension. Classical purists would turn their noses up at this performance, but I find it to be innovative, expressive, and just downright cool.

  • Great Performances - The Hellcats Drum C...
    by ★ Owner on April 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM
    2136 Views - 0 Comments

    Precision, consistency, and pagentry. The Hellcats Drum and Bugle Corps is a ceremonial unit attached to the U.S. Marine Corps Band at West Point. Here, their drum line puts on an exhibition performance at the 2010 Drum Corps International World Championships. These men are carrying on a legacy in rudimental drumming that stretches all the way back to the founding of West Point in 1778. Learn more about the Hellcats here.

  • Great Performances - Chicago Symphony Or...
    by ★ Owner on April 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM
    2591 Views - 0 Comments

    My soul needed this today.



    Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations are one of the major works for symphony orchestra, and few movements of orchestral music are as moving, poignant, sensitive, and emotional as Nimrod. Music students need to be exposed to music of this level. It is simultaneously simple, yet has tremendous depth. Most students would dismiss it immediately as "slow and boring," but grow to love (or at least respect) it after spending time in ensemble with it.


  • Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2011 Conne...
    by ★ Owner on April 7, 2011 at 10:12 PM
    2029 Views - 0 Comments


    In the moment when the camera pulls back and we see all 2052 singers orbiting director and composer Eric Whitacre, we get a glimpse of something truly bigger than ourselves.

    Riding the success of the first installment of the Virtual Choir , Eric Whitacre and his team have created something truly breathtaking and important with the 2011 performance of "Sleep". The 2011 Virtual Choir video features 2052 performances of 'Sleep' from 1752 singers in 58 countries, individually recorded and uploaded to YouTube between September 2010 and January 2011. The true magic of this project is not in the performance of the music, however, but in the ability of the internet to bring together human beings from all over the globe with the common goal of creating art.

    One of the comments left on the YouTube page says it best: "This is what the Internet was made for. Not for giving people their 15 minutes of fame. Not to view videos of them acting idiotic, and not a way to spew hateful words. The Internet was made to bring us together and make us feel connected. It is because of this need to feel bonded to one another that something so beautiful like this could be made. I strongly hope that you will take the time to listen to this great accomplishment in music, and take comfort in knowing that you're not alone."

    Music connects human beings in ways that transcend any boundaries we create with our boarders, our languages, our customs, and our self-imposed conventions. Thank you very much, Mr. Whitacre and your co-creators, for showing us the potential we have for understanding one another in new and intimate ways thanks to the rapid progress of technology.

  • Great Performances - Stephen Colbert and...
    by ★ Owner on April 3, 2011 at 9:15 PM
    1990 Views - 0 Comments

    Note: this video has been removed from YouTube. You can see the official version here.

    By now, if you spend any length of time at all online, you have probably at least heard about the viral video "Friday" by middle-schooler-turned-pop-star Rebecca Black. Her video has spawned quite a wave of attention, both positive and negative. The song itself can at best be described as "catchy" and at worst as "a pathetic attempt at a real song". The lyrics are particularly poor, and Miss Black's vocal technique is quite "untrained". If you haven't seen it yet, watch the original.

    This song has over 82 million views as of this posting and has spawned several dozen parodies. Conan O'Brien created his own version called "Thursday," claiming Rebecca stole his idea. There's a Bob Dylan version, and on and on.

    In a totally unrelated story, Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report recently sold a painting of himself for $26,000 in an auction in New York [link]. In an effort to get more people to bid, Colbert claimed that fellow late night host Jimmy Fallon was going to match the final amount and that all proceeds were going to further childrens' art education. However, Fallon never actually agreed to such an arrangement.

    So, being a good sport, Fallon made Cobert a deal - if Jimmy could match the sale price of the painting, $26,000.00, on a Donors Choose campaign, Colbert agreed to come on the Fallon show and sing his own rendition of "Friday." The Donors Choose campaign raised over $65,000.00 and Colbert delivered on his promise below, with a special cameo appearance during the middle of the song.

    Colbert, self-admittedly "not a singer" does an admirable job of managing the rather simplistic melody of the song, and Jimmy Fallon's auto-tuned entrance is quite funny. The over-the-top "epic" pagentry of this performance is a great parody of the orignal song and a true satire of the ridiculousness that is often American pop culture.

    The original video of Friday sparked some interesting discussion on the Music Professional Learning Network as well. What are the implications of a video such as this for music education?

  • Great Performances - Bernstein Conducts ...
    by ★ Owner on April 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM
    3053 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 - Maynard Ferguson Cr...
    by ★ Owner on March 17, 2011 at 9:06 AM
    3468 Views - 0 Comments

    In honor of St. Patrick's Day 2011, here is the incomparable Maynard O'Ferguson! If you have been around jazz bands at all, you know the soaring high notes and big sound of Maynard Ferguson and his band. Here is his tranquil version of Danny Boy (as tranqil as Maynard gets, at least). One has to appreciate the artful application of his altissimo trumpet playing in this recording.

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

  • Great Performances - What Pi Sounds Like...
    by ★ Owner on March 11, 2011 at 2:35 PM
    1792 Views - 0 Comments


    This video has been circulating Facebook in anticipation of International Pi Day on March 14th (3/14). It does a great job of explaining the major scale and associated triads, then shows the performance of a piece of music incorporating those pitches and chords.

    This piece is reminiscent of New Age music composed based on the Fibonacci series, the golden mean, and the ancient solfeggio scale. I find sacred geometry and cymatics to be fascinating and look forward to a future time when I can explore those concepts even more in my own compositions. My piece for concert band, entitled Diamond Dance, was based on the golden mean.

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