2019-08-14T06:51:13-04:00

Classical music isn’t all big and loud

Classical music isn’t all big and loud

by STEPHEN P BROWN

 

Movie music is the “in-thing” for orchestras, and rightly so!

It’s awesome, emotional stuff with pictures already given to us that tell a story of emotions.

No wonder we love it so much!

It’s loud, it’s big, it’s luscious, it’s powerful, and we don’t have to use our imagination.

(It also earns those orchestras a lot of money – still not enough to pay for the event itself, but more than a masterworks concert.)

But not all live music needs to be so attention-grabbing.

Music, as the language of emotions, can be shared intimately, in a small environment.

Whether it be one person or a small group of persons, classical music can be effective at any size in any venue…

If we let it.

And we did just that tonight.

The Dunedin Music Society hosted a Chamber Music Showcase – a wonderful event in which performers who wanted to make peoples’ lives better by sharing the emotions they want to convey, did so through live music. Not as part of a big, powerful, usually loud group, but intimately, between friends.

It was like having dinner in someone’s home as opposed to meeting them at a restaurant.

Lovely stuff.

Well done, all! So proud of you. I enjoyed sharing the moment with you and continue to encourage you, and others, to keep performing just like that.


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-08-06T14:17:57-04:00

Combining Music and Health

Combining Music and Health

by STEPHEN P BROWN

 

Music, being the language of emotions, has a ton of scientifically proven associations with our well being.

Indeed, there is a whole new industry called “Music Therapy” that sprang from the extensive research of benefits.

But this story is different.

My passion is live music, and like most people, my good health is becoming increasingly important.

So how do I stay fit while pursuing an otherwise rather sedentary life as a performer?

I need a big, bold goal.

So I chose one.

A triathlon.

Yup!

Swimming, Cycling and Running, in Pinellas County, on September 7.

And I’d love for you to keep me accountable – help me actually go through with this, and help me contribute to the music and health charities close to my heart.

Read the whole story here:

https://spb.buzz/spbtryatri

Wish me well!

#spbtryatri

 

Raising funds for music and health charities

#spbtryatri


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-07-30T10:23:52-04:00

Which “Lord of the Rings” version?

Which “Lord of the Rings” version?

by STEPHEN P. BROWN

 

There are many more representations of J.R.R. Tolkein’s stories about Hobbits than Peter Jackson’s movies with music by Howard Shore.

In 1988, the World Premiere of an original composition by Johan De Meij took place.

It is his first symphony for concert band.

And it includes five movements representing some of the characters and places featured in The Lord of the Rings, so that’s what he called it.

I am so thrilled and excited to be performing this work with the dedicated and hard-working Performers of the Dunedin Concert Band later this year. Rehearsals begin very soon, and people are SO EXCITED there is even one Performer who will be driving from Gainesville every week, just to play this particular piece with this particular group.

Music in our community is strong, vibrant, and continues to grow the cultural prowess of our corner of the world.

It is so exciting to have a part to play in it.

 

Lord of the Rings Symphony by Johan De Meij (not the Peter Jackson movie music by Howard Shore!)

“Lord of the Rings Symphony” by Johan De Meij
(not the Peter Jackson movie music by Howard Shore!)

 


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-07-10T11:09:33-04:00

What is “Jabberationing?”

Jabberationing.

It’s a term I made up to describe what happens every week on my podcast.

Classic Jabber

Conversations about Classical Music.

We have been covering topics that range from Nurturing to Self-Respect to Authenticity to society’s obsessions with youth orchestras and allegedly aging audiences.

Check it out!

http://classicjabber.com

Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown talking classical music on Classic Jabber

 

 


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-07-10T11:10:23-04:00

“Tapestry Tampa Bay” performed live

Feedback from my performance of an original composition Tapestry Tampa Bay

(Watch the whole piece in the video below…)

I conducted my composition “Tapestry Tampa Bay” for a new audience in Safety Harbor, Florida.

Tapestry Tampa Bay by Stephen P Brown

It is a piece for chamber ensemble in six movements, each describing a scene or an aspect of Tampa Bay that struck me as unique or unusual – just new experiences for a newcomer to the area.

  1. Beaches & Boats
  2. Skyway Bridge
  3. Grouper
  4. Downtown
  5. Churches & Arts
  6. Back for More

Feedback was amazing and very positive – see below – with requests to orchestrate some of the movements, as well as over 26,000 views of the 2012 World Premiere video.

“Brilliant composition. Those of you that missed this concert, you missed out on a great night of beautiful and entertaining music.” -Barb E.

Tapestry Tampa Bay: simply amazing.” -Hamby

“Absolutely inspiring.” -Bill

“I’ll be Back for More!” -Mary

“Excellent. Can’t wait for the CD.” -Carlos

“Stephen is fearless in a new adventure, ready for a new challenge with a quiet confidence.” -Dale

“I love the stories, and then the music plays them out.” -Vanessa

“Totally refreshing and enjoyable. Please do it again.” -Ron

“What a wonderful surprise. I hope a tour comes out of this.” -Jill

Check out the video of Tapestry Tampa Bay on YouTube, and remember to LIKE it! (Give it a thumbs up). Also add your comments, similar to those above, to the video site:

 


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-06-28T15:12:43-04:00

How to steal an Oscar

In 1986, the music for movies such as The Mission, Hoosiers, and even Aliens were all up for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards.

Composition giants Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and Ennio Morricone could have won an Oscar that year.

But none of them did.

 

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards Oscar

Instead, Mozart concerto soloist turned pop musician Herbie Hancock took home the little gold statue for his music for Round Midnight.

How did he accomplish such a coup?

He was helped by the fact that the movie starred not just good actors, but fourteen actual real-life music personalities as well, including Bobby McFerrin. Scott Meyers calls the movie score “sublime” as it helps conjure images and smells of the Paris jazz scene in the 1950s. And helped, no doubt, by the subtext of American racism which was a far more aggressive topic in the 1980s than hungry beings from another planet, a solo man’s journey into the jungle, or the love interest of a disgraced basketball coach (I happen to really like Hoosiers!)

On Rotten Tomatoes, the Film4 Music staff suggested Hancock penned “One of the best jazz films ever made, this succeeds by melding French sensibilities about atmosphere with American sensibilities about the music.” Maybe it’s just me, but that just seems like waffle.

You see, one of the problems is that not only did some of the best music ever written not be recognized by the industry decision-makers, but that much of the music that won the Award for Original Score that year, was not actually original music – it was arranged!

“It had a very good arrangement by Herbie Hancock, but it used existing pieces. So there could be no comparison with The Mission. There was a theft!” said Morricone in an interview with The Guardian after not winning the award for Original Score.

Using tunes from as far back as 1930 and as recent as Stevie Wonder’s music, Round Midnight’s arrangements really were quite fabulous. But removing those, there is actually only 11 minutes and 18 seconds of truly original music.

“And they are good.” says Jonathan Broxton of Movie Music UK. “Bérangère’s Nightmare is a funk-inflected, nervous-sounding piece featuring agitated double bass thrums, edgy trilling pianos, anxious snare drum riffs, and an insistent pulsating electric guitar which appears to have more in common with the 1960s jazz people like Lalo Schifrin wrote. Still Time has a sentimental, rhapsodic piano solo at its core, and features Dexter Gordon’s own poignant soprano saxophone solos filling the air between the tickled ivories. Chan’s Song (Never Said) is soft and gentle, almost soothing, with an undercurrent of romance in the lilting pianos, and a touch of the French New Wave in Bobby McFerrin’s unmistakable vocal stylings.”

And that, apparently, is all that is needed to win an Oscar.

Not two hours of never-before heard melodies floating over expansive harmonies, or crunchy chords requiring thousands of handwritten bars bringing gross action to life (it was the early 1980s, remember?!), or the magic of a simple tune played on an oboe now considered the 23rd best film score ever and selected as the theme for the Winter Olympics in 2002.

Well, eleven and a half minutes of original music mixed in with a bunch of familiar pop songs played by a cast of actual famous musicians of a clearly identifiable socially sensitive ancestry.

As James Horner said, “In all the films I work on, there’s always that “What is the heart of the film?”, and I try and nail that.”

Turns out that for Herbie Hancock, he only needed eleven minutes of original music to accomplish that and win the most coveted award for composers these days.


Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-06-18T15:48:31-04:00

Surprise Father’s Day

Father’s Day is almost a holiday in the USA.

And what a lovely surprise we had at the Dunedin Concert Band’s performance!

Several families attended our Patriotic concert, and we were almost out of room again.

This was the first time we hosted a performance on Father’s Day, and it seemed to work very well.

 

Dunedin Concert Band

 

Audience members told us they liked our arrangement of When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and were impressed with the group’s dynamics (playing loud and soft).

Phew! That’s something we work VERY hard at 🙂

Unlike most groups in the area, we do NOT take a break now.

Next, we host some sight-reading workshops for anyone to join in with, and have a couple of chamber music concerts coming up.

All while I coordinate the performance recordings of seven piano compositions I wrote over the past few years…

Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-06-18T15:36:22-04:00

United We Stand

United We Stand

The Dunedin Concert Band’s next performance for 2019 features a tune about “no matter what comes our way or what we have to face, united we stand.”

(Like 9/11. Like collapsing mines or floods or mass shootings.)

The piece ties into a patriotic themed concert exploring some of the emotions those on the Mayflower must have gone through.

In fact, one piece is dedicated to the Mayflower’s actually crossing and landing!

Well, perhaps this music can teach us more about living with each other in these socially turbulent times.

For this concert I will be conducting 65+ enthusiastic performers – it is well worth experiencing!

See you Sunday at 3pm, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Clearwater.  Details here.

Dunedin Concert Band - Summer Concert

 

Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

2019-06-05T10:49:57-04:00

“If music be the food of love…”

What was it Shakespeare is credited as writing?

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

From Twelfth Night, right?

Well, most musicians – amateur and professional – kind of think the two go together.

Music + Food = Love.

Again, I forgot to take a picture during rehearsal of the Dunedin Concert Band’s upcoming performance “United We Stand” on June 16. Details here. It’s because I get so distracted!

No,

I am so FOCUSED!

That I forget the online niceties that give us impersonal content to share. I’d much rather you attend my concerts than watch them online, and it’s the same with just about everything… let’s meet up.

That said, I did manage to snap a photo AFTER our rehearsal.

Yes, this is normal for a Tuesday night at 9:30pm.

Anywhere in the world.

OK, to be honest, in the UK we usually just go for drinks and have less of a food jamboree, but the post-music-making social time together is the same.

Performers with the Dunedin Concert Band after a rehearsal

 

Stephen P Brown is a Conductor of orchestra, choirs, concert bands and musicals, as well as a composer. He is the General Director of the Dunedin Music Society, Head Spark Plug of the Concert University, and a Professional Artist Grantee of Creative Pinellas. You can find his concert schedule here, a sample of his compositions here, and listen to his podcast Classic Jabber here.

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