Star Trek Musical Instruments

Spock Lyre

Image courtesy of realart.blogspot.com

50 years ago today, the first episode of Star Trek aired. Of course, it has become a classic with fans worldwide and numerous sequels and spinoffs. While alien worlds and beings, futuristic technology, timeless themes like love and conflict, and social commentary were at the center of episodes from Star Trek The Original Series to Star Trek The Next Generation and beyond, music also periodically made its appearance.

Ressikan Flute

Image courtesy of memory-alpha.wikia.com

Spock was often seen playing the Vulcan lute (pictured above), especially in episodes like “Charlie X”, “The Way To Eden”, and “Amok Time”. It was a 12-stringed instrument played on Vulcan and tuned on a diatonic scale. It was known for its soothing sound. Uhura was also able to play it and sang while playing during “The Conscience of the King”.

On Star Trek The Next Generation, Jean-Luc Picard played a Ressikan flute. He considered it one of his most prized possessions. He acquired it in an episode that dealt with the village of Ressik on the extinct plent of Kataan. He had been implanted with the memories of a man through a probe from the planet and among those memories was the ability to play the flute.

Other notable instruments and their players are listed below:

Violin: Data on Star Trek TNG
Cello: O’Brien on Star Trek TNG
Harpsichord: The Squire of Gothos (Star Trek TOS)
Clarinet: Harry Kim on Star Trek Voyager
Trombone: Riker on Star Trek TNG
Bagpipes: Scotty in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Piano: Sisko on Star Trek DS9, Spock in one episode of Star Trek TOS (“Requiem For Methuselah”)

 

Finlandia: The Secret Protest Piece

Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland – courtesy of Fodors


Finlandia, one of Sibelius’ most famous compositions, is often referred to as a tone poem. A tone poem is a piece of orchestral music with only one movement that evokes a poem, story, painting, or other non-musical source. In the case of Finlandia, it was one of seven pieces that served as an accompaniment to a tableau that depicted episodes from Finnish history. It premiered July 2, 1900 in Helsinki.

But it was much more than just a historical tribute. It was secretly a protest against censorship from the Russian Empire. Prior to 1917, the Grand Duchy of Finland belonged to the Russian Empire. Most of the piece features rousing music that is meant to evoke the national struggle of the Finnish people. After that, a serene melody can be heard. Named the Finlandia Hymn, this section is Sibelius’ own creation that was arranged later for solo performance. The hymn has become one of Finland’s most important national songs with words written for is in 1941.

To avoid Russian censorship while protesting it, Finlandia was performed under alternative names. Some of these include Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring and A Scandinavian Choral March.

Finlandia can be heard prominently in the film score for Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

It will also be performed by the Parker Symphony Orchestra on October 29. Purchase tickets here.

 

10 Facts About Dvorak That You May Not Know

 

Dvorak Portrait You may know Antonín Dvořák as the composer of the much-loved and often-played Symphony No.9 ‘From the New World’ (aka the New World Symphony), but there is more to the man than just his most famous work. Although his time in America is well-known thanks to the aforementioned symphony, he was actually born in a small village north of Prague and was very passionate about his homeland and its music, infusing the sounds in pieces like his Slavonic Dances.

Here are 10 others things you may not know about Dvořák.

1. He Apprenticed As a Butcher: Dvořák was the oldest of 14 children (8 who survived infancy). His father was a zither player, an innkeeper, and also a butcher. A young Antonin not only joined his father in the local band, but also in his business as an apprentice butcher. At the age of 13, he was inducted into the Butcher’s Guild of Zlonice.

2. His Grandmother Had a Pet Name For Him: Dvořák’s grandmother called him, “my little toothy” because he apparently had good teeth.

3. His First Compositions Went Unnoticed: Dvořák’s first compositions received no critical reception and no public performance. In fact, it wasn’t until Johannes Brahms’ efforts to boost his career that any of his music began to attract interest. It is said that Dvořák was so critical of himself that he burned his early works.

4. Sheet Music For The First Slavonic Dances Sold Out: In 1874, Brahms sat on a jury to award financial support to talented composers in need. It is then that he encountered Dvořák and was “visibly overcome” by his “mastery and talent”. Brahms recommended that his publisher, Simrock, publish a set of Slavonic Dances for piano duet. The sheet music for the 8 dances sold out in one day.

5. Dvořák Loved Trains: The composer was known to spend hours at the Franz Josef railway station in Prague, watching trains. He knew the timetable by heart and even asked his students to describe train journeys they had made. Later, when he visited America, he also took up pigeon raising and watching steamboats.

6. He Stole Pencils: In an effort to help calm Czech speakers in Austria who were upset over the banning of their language, Dvořák was appointed a member of the Austrian Senate. He came the first day in 1901, accepted the honor, stole all of the pencils at his desk because they were perfect for composing, and never showed up again.

7. He Was An Early Riser: Dvořák and his wife got up very early in the morning. When they stayed in Cambridge with composer and organist Charles Villiers Stanford, the host was surprised to find couple sitting under a tree in the garden at 6 AM.

8. A Ship Is Named For Dvořák: In 1943, an American Liberty ship in the U.S. Navy was named the USNS Antonín Dvořák in the composer’s honor.

9. There Is A Mural In His Honor In Iowa: Dvořák spent a few weeks living in Spillville, IA. It was a town of mostly Czech speaking immigrants at the time. It is there that he wrote his “American” String Quartet. Today, a mural is there in his honor.

10. He Is The Second Czech Composer To Achieve Worldwide Recognition: Dvořák is not the only Czech composer of note. Bedřich Smetana, of Má vlast and its The Moldau movement fame, first established a nationalist example during the 1848 Prague uprising.

 

Be sure to join us for Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Other Romantic Selections at the PACE Center in Parker, CO on Saturday October 29 at 7:30 PM to hear Dvořák’s most famous symphony.

 

Parker Symphony Orchestra Announces 2016-2017 Season

Wide shot of Parker Symphony Orchestra

PARKER, CO (August 1, 2016) – The Parker Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2016-2017 season presented by Parker Arts. The first concert in the fall is titled “Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Other Romantic Selections” and will be held on Oct. 29 at 7:30 PM at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker.

The program includes Dvorak’s much-loved Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” better known as the New World Symphony. Along with this audience favorite, the orchestra will perform Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite” and Sibelius’ “Finlandia” – both of which feature familiar melodies.

Tickets are available now at the PACE Center online box office (https://parkerarts.ticketforce.com/), by phone at 303-805-6800 or in person at the PACE Center. Ticket prices range from $22-$27 per ticket.

The Parker Symphony typically plays four programs per year. The fall concert opens the season on October 29. There are 3 performances of the holiday concert “A Classic Parker Holiday with the Parker Chorale” on December 2, 3, and 4. On Februray 25, the PSO will present a themed performance titled “Celebrating Black Composers Throughout the Centuries”. Finally, the orchestra will take audiences on a journey with “Notes from Nature – A Journey of Sights and Sounds” on May 5.

The mission of the PSO is to perform orchestral music that will educate, entertain, and inspire the people of Parker, Colorado and the surrounding communities. Under the direction of René Knetsch, the community orchestra includes amateur musicians and music professionals such as private and classroom music teachers. They frequently invite professional guest musicians to join them for key parts and concerto performances and often collaborate with local high school musicians, community choirs, and children’s choirs and orchestras. They also present outreach performances for the elderly.

For additional information about the Parker Symphony Orchestra, visit them online at parkersymphony.org.

 

Why Community Orchestras Are Important

Parker Symphony Orchestra - Parker, CO Local Community Orchestra

Many major cities, including Denver, have a thriving music scene that includes a symphony orchestra. In fact, there are over 1,800 orchestras in the US alone. However, only about 20% have professional musicians (source: League of American Orchestras). The other 80% are volunteer, or community, orchestras made up of musicians who gladly donate their time and efforts to entertain, educate, and inspire their local community.

Even though many of us live near one of the professional organizations, we probably live even closer to a community orchestra that performs great music right in our backyard. If you haven’t checked yours out, especially if you are in the Parker area and haven’t heard the Parker Symphony Orchestra yet, here are 8 reasons why you really should attend a concert and support or even join your local community orchestra.

 

1. Community Orchestra Concerts Are a Great Value

There’s nothing quite like the experience of getting all dressed up to see the Symphony downtown in the big city. But there’s also nothing quite like the ticket prices either. If you would like to experience live classical music performances on a regular basis but can’t afford to do so at the big venues, community orchestra concerts are for you. Single concert tickets or even season tickets are quite reasonable and you hear many of the same works including famous symphonies like Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” and pop culture favorites like the Music of John Williams.

 

2. Community Orchestra Concerts Are Wonderful for New and Young Fans

So you don’t have a tuxedo or evening gown or you don’t know much about classical music? Maybe you want to introduce your kids to the genre? Community orchestra concerts are a great place to hear wonderful music that you may or may not be familiar with and tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere. While people still dress nicely, most of tuxedos, if not all, are worn by the male performers in the orchestra. The music is often very listenable and the audience is full of people of all ages and music knowledge levels. Community orchestras also sometimes offer children’s concerts to introduce very young kids to classical music and the various musical instruments.

 

3. A Local Symphony Orchestra Is Good for Business.

Businesses that want to attract capable and smart employees often choose a location based on local cultural opportunities. The thought is that an area with lots of cultural events is likely to attract a diverse, dynamic, intelligent, and talented group of people. A community orchestra not only provides residents a way enjoy the arts locally, but it also offers an opportunity for local musicians to perform.

 

4. Community Orchestras Support Emerging and Local Musicians

From youth choirs to local soloists to upcoming virtuosos, you can often hear the newest and brightest talent perform with community orchestras. Many are very supportive of the local schools, sometimes inviting students to play with the organization either as part of a section or as a soloist. Community orchestras are more than just groups of local performers – they are really ambassadors for music in the area.

 

5. Volunteer Orchestras Offer the Chance for Non-Professionals to Play

Volunteer orchestras certainly have their fair-share of musicians who are professionals in other groups, music teachers, and more. But if your day job isn’t in music, that doesn’t mean you can’t still play your instrument. If you’ve got the talent, a community orchestra may have a place for you too. In fact, the Parker Symphony Orchestra is always looking for good, local musicians to join us. Playing music has been shown to have long-term positive effects on the brain as outlined in this Ted-Ed Video.

 

6. Community Orchestras Have Members Who Can Connect You

Need a musician for your next event? Are you looking for a music teacher? Chances are an orchestra member can help or connect you with people who can. Getting to know the members of your local orchestra can connect you to the greater music scene in your area. You can get recommendations about music, classes, other events, instruments, repair shops, and more.

 

7. Local Orchestras Can Help Celebrate Holidays, Events, and Milestones

Music is an essential part of almost every event. While live bands are often the go-to for entertainment, local orchestras, too, can help celebrate the moment. A community orchestra can provide the perfect backdrop for a city anniversary celebration, a night under the stars, and more. Orchestral holiday music, like that at the Parker Symphony Orchestra holiday concerts, is a family-friendly way to ring in the season.

 

8. Support for a Volunteer Orchestra Is Often Tax Deductible

Many community orchestras are actually non-profits, relying solely on public and private support. For example, the Parker Symphony is a registered 501(c)3 organization so all donations are tax-deductible. Giving to a local symphony is a wonderful way to give back to your local community and help keep the music playing.

 

Classical Music Composer Friends

 

Friendship comes in many forms. When it comes to your circle of friends, you may include everything from acquaintances to BFF’s. Or you may prefer something more intimate and keep your group limited to people you’ve known for years. Either way, friends play an important role in life.

The same is also true for classical music composers. In fact, some of the most famous composers, like Mozart and Haydn, were actually very close friends who inspired and challenged each other to reach new musical heights. Since today, June 8, is National Best Friend Day, we’re going to profile just a few of these classical music composer friendships.

Mozart and Haydn

Classical Music Composer Friends Haydn and Mozart

Though he was far younger than Haydn, Mozart’s relationship with Haydn was one of mutual respect. They most likely first met in 1781 when Mozart moved to Vienna. Haydn was already a famous composer and Mozart’s reputation was on the rise. It is not well-documented, but they appear to have been friends that enjoyed each other’s company and work. Some music suggests that Haydn may have been somewhat of a mentor to Mozart. Haydn freely praised Mozart, once saying, “I have often been flattered by my friends with having some genius, but he was much my superior.” Mozart was documented as speaking very highly of Haydn. Mozart even wrote a series of string quartets dedicated to Haydn.

Haydn was distraught over Mozart’s death. He wrote, “for some time I was quite beside myself over his death, and could not believe that Providence should so quickly have called away an irreplaceable man into the next world.” Haydn also wrote to Constanze Mozart, the widow, offering musical instruction to her son when he reached the appropriate age, and later followed through on his offer.

Mahler and Strauss

Classical Music Composer Friends Mahler and Strauss

Both Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss were great conductors and composers during the 1890’s and 1900’s. Though Mahler once said, “Strauss and I come from different sides of a mountain. One day we shall meet,” they met in 1887 and remained friends until Mahler’s untimely death. Mahler conducted many of Strauss’ works and Strauss was a supported of Mahler’s music, conducting several of his symphonies. They challenged each other musically and despite personality differences (Strauss was cool and collected while Mahler was self-centered and neurotic), they enjoyed spending time together. According to Mahler’s wife, “They enjoyed talking to one another as they were never of one mind.”

It is said that upon Mahler’s death, Strauss was so devastated that he could barely speak. He considered Mahler a good friend and worthy adversary.

Holst and Vaughan Williams

Classical Music Composer Friends Holst and Vaughan Williams

Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams are two of the best-known English composers and were lifelong friends. They met in 1895 just after Holst celebrated his 21st birthday. They served as each other’s chief critics. They would play their latest compositions to each other while still in the works to hear valuable feedback. They also enjoyed talking about a variety of subjects. Vaughan Williams once said they discussed, “every subject under the sun from the lowest note of the double bassoon to the philosophy of Jude the Obscure.”

At Holst’s funeral in 1934, Vaughan Williams conducted music by Holst and himself.

Brahms and Dvořák

Classical Music Composer Friends Brahms and Dvorak

The friendship between Brahms and Dvořák is actually quite an unlikely one. Brahms was not known as particularly encouraging of young and new talent. A couple of composers even became obsessed with his lack of appreciation for their work. In 1874, however, he reluctantly sat on a jury to award financial support to talented composers in need. He encountered a submission from an obscure Czech composer including two symphonies, several overtures, and a song cycle. He was reportedly “visibly overcome” by the “mastery and talent” of the individual who we would learn was Dvořák. He arranged for Dvořák’s work to be given to his own publisher, Simrock, who accepted it and even commissioned what became one of Dvořák’s most popular works, the Slavonic Dances.

Through the years, Dvořák never forgot that he owed a great deal to Brahms’ interest. He regularly kept in contact with Brahms, even dedicating his String Quartet no. 9 in D minor to him. Brahms not only served as Dvořák’s mentor, offering advice and support, but also even served as Dvořák’s copy editor and proofreader while Dvořák traveled to America. Dvořák said it was hard to understand why Brahms would “take on the very tedious job of proofreading. I don’t believe there is another musician of his stature in the whole world who would do such a thing.”

Copland and Bernstein

Classical Music Composer Friends Copland and Bernstein

While Holst and Vaughan Williams were well-known in England, there was also a musical friendship of two greats in America – that of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. The two met in November 1937 on Copland’s birthday and remained friends for almost half a century. Copland was already an established composer. Bernstein recalled many years later in an article that he “was crazy about” Copland’s Piano Variations and when he was introduced to him at a dance recital in New York, he “almost fell out of the balcony”.

Copland was extremely influential on Bernstein’s career. He often offered constructive criticism for Bernstein’s music and even helped him get started in conducting studies, writing him letters of recommendation and guiding him to Curtis Institute. Copland, however, was less enthusiastic about Bernstein’s music than his role as a conductor and Bernstein was sharply critical about Copland’s music (particular his Third Symphony). Still, their friendship remained overwhelmingly positive. The two spent many summers together at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, and Copland’s rhythmic freshness and recognizable American style can be seen in some of Bernstein’s work.

 

The Story of Our Timpani

 

Parker Symphony Orchestra TimpaniIf you’ve attended one of our recent performances, you may have noticed our brand new timpani in all its gleaming glory and our Principal Timpanist, Teag Solberg, beaming behind it. What you may not know is that it has quite the story behind it as well.

In early 2013, a proposal was made to the Parker Symphony Board of Directors. It was time to invest in a set of professional level timpani for the orchestra. The timpani the orchestra owned were middle school grade drums which were inadequate for an orchestra moving forward musically and improving with every season. The Board agreed and began to work on several programs to raise the funds necessary for the purchase.

By the fall of 2014, approval for ordering two of the four timpani was given. Plans were put in place to have the timpani built and ready for the 2015/2016 season opening concert. The board then approved the purchase of the third timpani in early spring of 2015. When added to the order, however, the manufacturer informed us that by adding the third timpani, it would delay the delivery by a couple of months.

Unfortunately, bad news came in July, 2015. The manufacturer announced they were going out of business, our order was canceled, and the deposits would be returned. The disappointment was vast and deep! Not to be deterred, our Principal Timpanist set out to find another equally impressive professional set of timpani.

In August, with recommendations from Bill Hill and Steve Hearn of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and with the help of a contact with a percussion dealer in Pennsylvania, the right drums were found – Adams Dresden Classic Professional Timpani (made in Holland). Time was of the essence at this point because the window of availability for this set of timpani was very small; everything had to line up just right. We were very fortunate to get these timpani! They arrived in early October, just in time for the 2015/2016 season opening concert on October 24th.

Special thanks needs to be given to all those who worked diligently behind the scenes to make the funding, approval, and purchase of this amazing set of timpani possible. The comments about the beauty and sound of these timpani have been completely positive since they’ve arrived and have performed with the symphony. You will see and hear this set on stage at all the Parker Symphony concerts for many years to come.

Teag with the Parker Symphony Orchestra Timpani

 

What Is A Symphony?

Parker Symphony Orchestra

Even if you’re not a classical music fan, you’ve probably heard a symphony or two. You may not know the names or composers, but symphonies have been featured in everything from commercials to cartoons and they are a staple in classical music.

The Symphony Defined

There are two ways to define symphony. One definition refers to a symphony orchestra, a group of musicians who perform symphonies among other works. If a friend says, “I went to the symphony last night,” they mean they went to hear an orchestra.

A symphony is also a musical work, and a great one at that. It has multiple parts called movements separated by a brief pause. The audience does not applaud between movements. One basic format is a brisk and lively first movement followed by a slow and lyrical second movement, a dancing third movement, and a virtuosic finale. There are many variations on this, however. The form has been around for more than 300 years, but it has evolved greatly over the centuries. While symphonies in the 1700’s held to a more standardized format, those of the 1800’s and beyond began to include non-traditional elements like soloists and choruses. They can also vary in the number movements. Many symphonies have 4 movements. Some have 3.

The Symphony Today

What does all of this mean for you, the listener? It means that symphonies offer something for everyone. They have a variety of tempos and styles that naturally keep you engaged. In just one piece, you can be whipped into a frenzy by a robust motif, whisked away by a lyrical melody, and inspired and amazed by a grand theme. Symphonies are actually a journey. Like a book with chapters or a play with acts, the symphony takes you through very different parts that all combine to create a satisfying whole.

Symphonies are also incredibly listenable. They offer a way to escape the everyday. They evoke images and inspire emotions. They reveal the depths of the composers’ musical thinking without telling you what to think. They give you the freedom the feel and think whatever you want based on what you are hearing.

Examples Of Great Symphonies

Since the 18th century, many composers, certainly most of the famous names, have written at least one symphony. Beethoven, Schubert, and Dvorak wrote 9. Haydn wrote no fewer than 107. Below is a list of some well-known and beloved works.

Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 (‘From The New World’)

Beethoven – Symphony No. 5

Mozart – Symphony No. 25

Mendelssohn – Symphony No. 4 (‘Italian’)

Brahms – Symphony No. 4

Beethoven – Symphony No. 9 (‘Choral’)

Franck – Symphony in D Minor

Saint Saëns – Symphony No. 3 (‘Organ’)

Haydn – Symphony No. 94 (‘Surprise’)

Schubert – Symphony No. 8 (‘Unfinished’)

Top 6 Surprising Benefits Of Classical Music

Listening to Music

Type “classical music to” or “classical music for” into Google and you’ll see that many people already know that classical music is great for studying, falling asleep, and listening to at work. However, recent studies conducted in several countries also reveal that it is the best music genre to listen to if you want to fight various health conditions and promote mental and physical well-being. Check out these 6 surprising benefits of listening to classical music.

It can lower your blood pressure: A study out of the University of San Diego had participants perform a challenging 3 minute arithmetic task. Afterwards, they were randomly assigned to listen to one of several styles of music (classical, pop or jazz) or silence. The group that listened to classical music had significant lower post-task blood pressure levels than not only the group who listened to nothing, but also the other music genres.

Classical music can help manage pain: Music therapy has been around since the 1800s, but recent studies show that the varied pitch, melody, and rhythm in classical music can stimulate responses that relieve pain, including emotional pain. In fact, some post-anesthesia units play classical music to improve comfort and reduce pain. The music helps the person focus on the sounds rather than the physical pain. A study out of the Journal for Advanced Nursing also showed music can relieve chronic pain.

It can lead to enhanced mental alertness and memory: A study from Northumbria University asked participants to complete a series of tasks while listening to either music or silence. The group who listened to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” (particularly “Spring”) were able to respond to their tasks faster and more accurately than the group who completed tasks in silence.

Classical music fans are more creative and at ease with themselves: An Edinburgh University study looked at over 36,000 music fans around the world. They found that classical music fans (and heavy metal listeners) were more creative and more at ease with themselves than fans of other music genres.

It may improve sleep quality: A Dutch study concluded that classical music, particularly harp, piano, and orchestral music, can moderately improve relaxation and sleep quality in adults. A Hungarian team also showed that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before bed helped students between 19 and 28, who struggled with sleep issues, fall asleep.

It enhances communication: A study from Southern Methodist University showed that people were more comfortable disclosing personal experiences when listening to classical music in the background. They concluded that the music promoted cognitive expression and an overall relaxed state of mind.

Want to experience the benefits of classical music yourself, but are not sure where to start? Check out these very listenable pieces below: