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Thomas J. West Music

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Great Performances

Performances that inspire and impress. Enjoy.

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  • O Magnum Mysterium - University of Utah ...
    by ★ Owner on January 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM
    5402 Views - 0 Comments

    The University of Utah Singers perform "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen live in concert on December 12th & 13th 2008. Dr. Brady Allred was formerly at Duquesne University and served as guest condutor for one of my students attending the PMEA District 8 Chorus Festival. He is quite easily the most effective and skilled choral director I've ever seen.

  • 2008 Elementary School Championship: Mam...
    by ★ Owner on September 3, 2009 at 7:02 AM
    3310 Views - 0 Comments

    From the Japan Wind Orchestra and Ensemble Competition in 2008, this is Mama Elementary performing "Ikaruga." Part of the Championship 2008.

    The cultural differences here are the reason for this astounding display of mastery. I recently listened to a NYC radio program about how the Chinese language is by its nature much more tonal, lending to children developing their sense of pitch naturally. This, coupled with the fact that China, Japan, and other Eastern cultures begin training students who show aptitude in music, althetics, or science from the age of 3 onwards, shows how a performance like this from children so young is possible.

  • Bobby McFerrin - My Favorite Things
    by ★ Owner on August 11, 2009 at 5:44 PM
    2261 Views - 0 Comments

    This quite simply is the result of an incredible natural ability coupled with a rich body of knowledge in all styles and forms of music. Superb!

  • Great Performances #5: Glass Harp
    by anonymous on September 20, 2008 at 6:54 PM
    2555 Views - 0 Comments

    Nearly everyone has been annoyed at some formal occasion by someone at a nearby table running their wet fingertip around the rim of a crystal wine glass, producing that pure tone accompanied by a small squeak. Here is one gentleman who has taken the act of wine glass playing to a level of artistry. Playing the glasses in this fashion is a great example of how the brain can be trained to perform completely different rhythmic actions with the left and right sides of the body. He even rewets his right hand in a bowl while the left hand is playing! If you've ever tried to produced a sound on a wine glass yourself, you know how tricky it can be to get the glass to speak at all, let alone instantly and with short duration. There are several other good glass harp videos on YouTube that are worth watching as well. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances #4: Van Cliburn Plays...
    by anonymous on August 30, 2008 at 2:55 PM
    3115 Views - 1 Comment

    Here is one of many great recordings to be found online of piano master Van Cliburn performing a portion of Frederic Chopin's masterpiece Polonaise in Ab from his Opus 53. If you don't recognize this music initially, wait for the reprise of the main theme and the thuderous finale. A few technical things to note here: notice the seemingly flawless transition from both hands playing the descending bassline in octaves to only the left hand performing the same thing. Also, note that with his flawless techical execution comes an ability to truly emote and draw forth the intended emotional content of the piece. Van Cliburn, as any great pianist, accomplishes this through complete and utter mastery of every fine motor skill required to execute the music physically and still have enough processing left over to be able to be expressive. As with any accomplished pianist, the piece is memorized in the course of perfecting it. Enjoy the work of one of the greatest concert pianists of all time.

  • Great Performances #3: Gene Krupa and Bu...
    by ★ Owner on July 23, 2008 at 5:54 AM
    3536 Views - 0 Comments

    Here are two jazz drumming legends on the same stage. Gene Krupa was most well-known as the set player for the Benny Goodman orchestra. Buddy Rich is considered by many to be the world's greatest (and notorious) drummer. I have heard stories from two fellas that toured with Rich for a short time about his amazing ability matched with a "fiery" temper (meaning if you played too many wrong notes, he'd fire you from his band on the spot). Appearing here on the Sammy Davis Show, both men demonstrate mastery of their instrument. Pay attention not only to Krupa's technique, but how his skill is so well-practiced that he has room left over in his mental faculties to show expression on his face as he improvises a performance. With Buddy, just sit back and be amazed by the speed, power, and accuracy. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances #2: The U.S. Marine S...
    by ★ Owner on July 23, 2008 at 5:52 AM
    3548 Views - 0 Comments

    You couldn't ask for a much better example of the power of the human mind than the U.S. Marine Silent Drill Platoon. Even though they don't perform "music" per se, they are a great example of an ensemble of people who have learned a skill, rehearsed the skill, and operate as a combined whole that takes on its own life as a performance organism. There are no conductors or external reinforcements of the pulse. The marines march into the performance venue in perfect unison, perform for ten minutes, and march out again. Their precision is so flawless that there is no sense of individuality among any of the men. I had the good fortune to see them perform live back in 1997 at a drum corps show. I followed them out of the stadium gate to see what they did after the performance. A short distance outside the gate, their sargeant called a halt, gave a few other basic commands, and then gave the dismissal. The marines pivoted on their heel in the traditional about face, and it was like watching ice melt or glass shatter. Suddenly the living organism was gone and replaced by 24 individuals. You can literally feel the combination of their intent when you watch them. This performance group is another great example of the power of the mind to build neural connections with such attention and focus that time seems to melt around them. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances #1: Victor Borge - Hu...
    by ★ Owner on July 23, 2008 at 5:49 AM
    3062 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."

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