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Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Play List is Coming

Hello Friends,

Thanks to all of you who have been listening to Radio Helios of late! Our listenership is WAY up! You will have all new music to listen to come Friday morning. My new software just arrived and I am now able to update the list from home! Huzzah!

There will be 25 new pieces for you to enjoy. See you tomorrow!


In Memory of Jo West

Dear friends,

I would like to say a couple of words in memory of Jo West, our beloved and dear friend, who left this world today to take her place amongst the angels.

Many will remember Jo for the many nights at Club West after the bars closed when we would all gather until the wee hours to keep the party going. We will never forget that J & B stood for Jo and her Boys! We'll never forget the honor that is was to be a regular at her table at Phases or Alexandre's or the Hideaway.

But what most of us don't know is that Jo's anonymous generosity made it possible for many of us in the arts community to shine. I won't be specific here because it would betray her trust. But it's enough to say that many a musician and actor in Dallas got his or her big break because of Jo's persistent and silent dedication to her friends and the artists in whom she believed.

We have lost one of the great spirits of the human race. Whether it was her love of books, her compassion for animals or her tireless crusade to give help to people whose lives were affected by HIV and AIDS, Jo West was a force of nature.

Ms. West.

She was one of the most genuine, selfless, loving and beautiful people I have ever known.

Some months ago when we all found out that she was very ill, I cried for two days straight. I cried for the impending loss of a dear friend. I cried for the loss that our community would suffer. And I cried because a great and important life would soon be over.

Now, that crying time is over. Jo fought valiantly. She faced her fate with bravery, humor and as always, dignity and grace.

She was, and is what we all should strive to be: generous to a fault, loving without condition, and as beautiful as the sunrise over the ocean.

She exemplified what we all should strive to be, and now I rejoice that she is at peace, and free from pain.

I love you Jo. I always have, and I always will. You taught me what it meant to be at one with the world and at peace with my own spirit and soul. You will never be forgotten. You are at rest with the angels, and I know that you will look down on all of us that you have left behind and protect us with the same love that you gave us while you were here.

The good news is that you now have the power of heaven behind you, and for that, we can all feel a good deal safer. Requiescant in pace. I and everyone who knew you loves you with all of our hearts....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Update

Dear readers,

With apologies for the long delay in posting, I wanted to let those of you who come here regularly that I am alive and well, just really busy at the moment. Here's a quick list of what's been happening.

As of last Friday, I am no longer at the radio. It's been a strange transition, but it has also been wonderful to have my evenings free!

Beginning this evening, The Helios Ensemble will be presenting a three day baroque festival at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Royal Lane between Preston and the Tollway at 8 pm. Tonight, internationally renowned harpsichordist Ketil Haugsand will be giving a solo harpsichord recital. Than on Saturday evening, there will be a program of vocal and instrumental chamber music. On Sunday, we present Membra Jesu Nostri of Buxtehude, a gorgeous work that you won't want to miss. All programs are at 8 pm. Tickets are $35 for the entire festival and $15 for individual concerts.

I hope you can come, and I will have more reviews and essays for you next week!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Rock Star Composes Some Spectacular Serious Music

Jon LORD (b. 1941)

Boom of the Tingling Strings (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra) (2002) [36:36]
Disguises, for string orchestra (2006) [35:38]

Nelson Goerner (piano)
Odense Symfoniorkester
Paul Mann

Recorded 11-15 December 2006 in the Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense.

EMI 3 90528 2 [72:14]

Once known as a bulwark of the staid and conservative classical music tradition, EMI Classics have moved out of their long-held mold in recent years to not only assemble one of the world’s most impressive stables of young artists, but into some adventuresome and fascinating repertoire choices. This disc of works by Jon Lord, known to many a rock fan as the co-founder of Deep Purple, is cause for rejoicing.

In an era when most composers can only manage to assemble collections of sound effects, it is refreshing indeed to hear music that is in many ways all things to all people. Jon Lord is obviously versed in his native land’s traditions, as there are ample slices of the serenely melodic English Pastoral School in these two works. And yet, he manages to intersperse elements of jazz, a goodly sprinkling of dissonance, and some jarring rhythmic gestures into two works that will hopefully become regular guests on the world’s concert stages. To his eternal credit, he avoids the episodic style of writing that is to these ears, the downfall of many a young composer’s work.

The piano concerto, based on a poem by D. H. Lawrence is highly programmatic. Lord makes every attempt to reflect the words of the 1918 poem Piano in his music. Thus he creates moments of tranquil beauty in which the orchestra is every bit as much the soloist as the pianist. Then there are more sonorous passages that are reminiscent of the busy and thundering textures of Rachmaninov. And, not to let go of his roots as a blues man, there are rollicking displays of technical prowess that make heavy demands on the soloist, and startle the listener out of a reverie or two. All of these devices live under a structural framework that is easy to follow, and belies the composer’s long experience as a popular song writer. There is much in this music to grab and hold onto.

Soloist and orchestra team up nicely here and it is especially gratifying to hear them stay out of each other’s way when the score calls for such behavior. Nelson Goerner knows how to turn an elegant phrase, and the pearly beauty he creates in his softer playing is most becoming. No slouch when it comes to hammering out a tune, he can pour on the sound when he needs to. The most impressive facet of his playing is his ability to keep all things in proportion and pull off a performance that leaves the listener anxious for what he’ll hear next.

Also on the program is the colorful Disguises; portraits in sound of some of the composer’s close friends, the entire work being dedicated to the late lamented Sir Malcolm Arnold. The work is a kaleidoscope of contrasts, each movement reflecting vividly the distinct personality of the person being portrayed. Stylistically the music runs in a steady progression from Vaughan Williams to Britten and even to Shostakovich, but in general tone, it is always lush and romantic. It is obvious that this rock star knows his classical literature, and has managed to assimilate his vast reference pool into a fresh and original voice of his own.

Disguises is given a first rate performance by the Odense orchestra, a band which I had heretofore not heard. They are a welcome addition to any listener’s options! How splendid it is to hear such well crafted music for a change. One can hope that EMI will take it upon themselves to give us more of Mr. Lord’s works in the very near future.