A musician enjoys others’ performances from the back of the orchestra.
Performed by the Pittsburgh Historical Musical Society and referring to the Civil War, we are still in the midst of war and celebrating Christmas today.
They played timely folk, classical and holiday music as would have been played in a Christmas concert during the Civil War, many of the musicians in period dress, as seen in the spectacular Victorian dress the multi-talented vocalist wore.
The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall houses the Capt. Thos. Espy Post 153 which in turn houses the reenactors of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves of the GAR who maintain the collection and meet and host events in the post and at ACFL&MH. One of the musicians read letters written at Christmas by members of the 9th Pennsylvania as they were on the battlefields of the Civil War. One thing that was important to them, to make them feel closer to home, was music. In this case it was a mix of Pittsburgh-themed music, songs of Stephen Foster, short classical pieces popular at the time and Christmas hymns.
The photo below shows the vocalist’s entire dress, and if not for a few wires dangling here and there it could be mistaken for another time.
Live music is more special than can be described, no matter the genre. Like seeing an original painting, watching musicians perform a program of music can’t be equaled in any recording.
And hearing it in the comfort of someone’s living room makes it all the better, with no real distance between the performers and the listeners. It’s really the way music was meant to be appreciated.
This was another concert of the “Living Room Chamber Music Project” in Pittsburgh, this time at a friend’s house. Feeling more comfortable in this venue I carried my Big Bag of Art Materials intending to sketch if I could, if the muse was with me and I wouldn’t distract or interrupt the musicians or the audience. And so she was with me while I produced three sketches and lots of ideas for paintings and possibly collaboration. I love to sketch musicians while they play, letting their performance and the music itself carry me along.
The group has two pianists, Billie Jo Miller and Jack Kurutz, who play at alternate times and act as page turners for each other and sometimes play piano four hands, and a violinist, Ashley Buckley, an oboeist, Lenny Young, and a vocalist who did not perform here tonight because she is in another performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire concert, but hearing Spiegel im Spiegel live had me spellbound.
Read about another concert by these musicians, and more about chamber music.
Just like that, we all truly gathered in someone’s living room to hear five fine musicians play classical chamber music last Friday night, performing works from Bach to Rodrigo and including several composers I hadn’t ever heard of but thoroughly enjoyed.
The name of the series is the “Living Room Chamber Music Project“. The origin of the term “chamber music” was literally music to be played in one’s chamber, a small group of musicians and a small group of listeners, acoustic, unamplified and nearly face to face, so we were hearing these pieces as they were intended to be heard. How enthralling to feel the piano’s base notes through the floorboards during the Sonata for Piano, four hands by Francis Poulenc as I also watched the two pianists cross over each others’ hands on the keyboard. And watching each musician’s technique, imagining the hours and years to develop that much skill, and the ranging emotions to express the piece they were playing. And the perfect stereo acoustics as the violin was on the left, the oboe on the right, the piano and vocalist in the center. I felt as if I was a part of the music instead of just an observer.
The hosts simply welcomed us into their lovingly restored and decorated row house on the South Side of Pittsburgh, music on the first floor, a spread of food on the second floor to rival the music in diversity.