Monthly Archives: December 2011
Strings Music Festival has presented a holiday children’s concert since 1991. The first concert was held at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs and was called “Moguls to Mozart.” In 1994, Katherine Collier, our music director at the time, developed an educational story about Mozart. The performance was called “Mozart’s Magical Life in Music” and was later adapted for the internet, where teachers around the country used it as a classroom tool. You can find the complete presentation by clicking here.
For hit music, 2011 was the year of girl power. In the Billboard year end charts, seven of the Top 10 albums were from female artists and female artists took the majority of Grammy nominees in the categories record of the year, album of the year, and best solo pop performance, among others. From MTV to Billboard to Grammy nominees to our own office, here’s the consensus on the best ladies of 2011.
The most listened to song this year is “Rolling in the Deep” from 21. The song’s fierce lyrics give women all the power while the man is left burning in despair. “Someone Like You” also tells girls that once they’ve said goodbye to one man it’s time to move on and find another.
– Seven Grammy nominations, including record of the year, album of the year, and song of the year
– #1 on Billboard’s Top 10 Songs
– #1 on Billboard’s Top 10 Albums
– #1 on MTV’s Best Songs
As usual, Lady Gaga pushed the envelope with costumes and creativity in her new album. “Born This Way” certainly hits on girl power as well as power for all races, sexual orientations, religious groups, and economic backgrounds. The music video even shows a stripped Lady Gaga, uncharacteristically without costume, heavy makeup, done-up hair, or over-the-top accessories, showing that she too is accepting of her natural self.
– Three Grammy nominations: album of the year, best pop solo performance, and best pop vocal album
– #3 on Billboard’s Top 10 Albums
– #5 on MTV’s Best Songs
Rihanna hit the top of the charts with her feature in Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” But “We Found Love” from Talk That Talk also snuck its way into popularity. More hopeful than Adele, Rihanna sings to the ability to find love even in your weakest moments.
– Six Grammy nominations, including album of the year, song of the year, best pop vocal album
– #9 on Billboard’s Top 10 Albums
– #3 on MTV’s Best Songs
Nicki Minaj is an overnight sensation who exploded this year with her debut album Pink Friday and hit single “Super Bass.” Playful and flirty, Nicki Minaj explores the fun side of being a girl, batting eyelashes at boys across the bar, the fluttering heart of a new crush. But she knows she’s hot stuff, which means he better treat her right.
– Three Grammy nominations: best new artist, best rap performance, and best rap album
– #8 on Billboard’s Top 10 Songs
– #7 on Billboard’s Top 10 Albums
– #2 on MTV’s Best Songs
“Ken Greene – Always lucid information about music and composers, clearly spoken and concise.”
“Ken Greene’s commentary, which always added an extra dimension.”
“The knowledge and presentations by Ken Greene…always inspiring!”
“Ken Greene makes every piece so much more meaningful with his commentary. I love his sense of humor and funny anecdotes about composers. It cracks me up to think of Mozart throwing pages of manuscripts out the window before the ink was even dry. I think what Mozart could have done with a computer. Thanks Ken for making the composers into real people.”
Ken Greene has been the Strings Music Festival commentator since 1988. His witty notes and historical facts presented before classical pieces let the audience’s imagination roam while listening to the music. Thank you, Ken for your many years at Strings.
Last week I explored the newest holiday hits, but one classical work has been on the top of the holiday hit list since its premiere on December 18, 1892: The Nutcracker, composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
|The Miami String Quartet|
Most people admit there’s nothing like a little Christmas music to get into the holiday mood. Whether it’s the Christmas Classics by Bing Crosby, Mannheim Steamroller’s many arrangements, or traditional Christmas songs by your favorite orchestra, everyone has a guilty pleasure. And each year there’s more music to choose from. Pop artists love releasing holiday albums, and some of this year’s include Michael Bublé’s Christmas, Lady Gaga’s A Very Gaga Holiday, and don’t forget the Cast of Glee’s Christmas Album, Volume 2.
Perhaps the most popular Christmas album this year is Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe. It has already reached #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 and remains in the #3 spot this week. While some of my friends expressed concern that I had listened to the album on Spotify, I admit that I caught a little Bieber Fever. For the most part Bieber’s musical collaborations and mix of new songs with classics hit the holiday spot. But his slow tempos and relaxed jazzy sound brought me back to an older holiday album.
In 1998, NSYNC released Home for Christmas. This album reached the top of Billboard’s #1 Holiday Albums, and in the height of the boy band era, all my friends had it on repeat that Christmas. With two NSYNC albums released in the same year, everyone impatiently awaited the debut of No Strings Attached. In 2000, No Strings Attached became NYSNC’s most popular album, and it still holds the record for the most albums sold in one week.
Bieber’s boyish charm has certainly put him among the ranks of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, so perhaps Under the Mistletoe is more than just a cute holiday album. By stealing the spotlight this winter, he might just be setting up his next release to have the most sells ever, moving his career from a boy band frenzy to an established adult artist.
Whether it’s a great career move or just plain fun, I have to admit that I love the new holiday albums. What are your favorites to listen to during the holidays?
|Conductor Leonard Slatkin with the Strings Music Festival Orchestra|
|Leonard Slatkin, Stings Music Festival|
|Simon Boyar with students at the Strings Music Pavilion|
In the early part of November, the best music students of the region gathered together in Aspen as part of the Northwest Honor Band. This year, 13 Steamboat Springs High School students were represented as part of the 100-piece hand-picked band. High school band director Jim Knapp says the students he nominated “are all very committed and dedicated, and it showed in how they achieved: they all ranked very high in their sections.”
|The Strings Tent in 2007|
In case you missed it, we had 75 mph winds with gusts up to 123 mph in Steamboat Springs yesterday. Extreme weather is not uncommon up here in Northwest Colorado and some of our patron’s most unforgettable Strings memories involve the wind.
“The wind blowing through the old tent and everyone wondering if the tent was going.”
“Sheet music blowing on the Gallery deck.”
“Holding the music stands on windy nights at Storm Meadows.” -Ted G
“Clothespins holding the music.”
“On the deck at Storm Meadows and the wind blowing the music stands.”
It was always exciting with concerts outside dealing with music blowing away and tent sides flapping. Fortunately the new Pavilion decreases influences from the weather and we sustained no major damage in this most recent storm.