Classical

Texas Public Radio Classical Music blog and other stories.

A music festival at the University of the Incarnate Word kicks off this weekend and the four-day two weekend event has plenty of variety. 

The Organ As Orchestra

Jul 23, 2017
Nathan Cone / TPR

How do you take Tchaikovsky's “1812 Overture,” one of the biggest pieces of classical music ever written, and boil it down to one instrument? If that instrument is the organ, you’re a leg up, according to Tom Dooling, music director at First Presbyterian Church in downtown San Antonio.

“Because it’s such a tonally diverse instrument, you can replicate [the orchestra] in the organ,” Dooling says.

Pointing in the direction of organist Dr. Jae Ha, he adds, “the Tchaikovsky is one of many others he’s done, including the Beethoven 5.”

Mark Campbell is one of the most prolific and celebrated librettists in contemporary American opera. But, as he recently told an audience at the Guggenheim Museum, not everyone thought his latest project was a good idea.

So what do you do if you're a recently crowned head of state and you're already facing opposition — even from within your own family? One answer is optics. Make a big, public splash; throw a lavish party with A-list musical entertainment. That's just what happened in London — 300 years ago Monday.

To the uninitiated, it's the French horn — though that's a bit of a misnomer. To its players and students, it's simply a horn, an instrument that has featured in orchestras for centuries.

The horn's sound is easily recognizable thanks to the prominent role it's played in some of the most epic classical songs and movie themes. But it's still an uncommon instrument, and not the easiest one to build community around. To that end, dozens of horn players head into the woods in the White Mountains every summer to celebrate and learn more about their instrument.

Pages