Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barton Frank

Barton Frank, well-known musician, professor, and educator, passed away peacefully on March 10, 2011. He was born October 5, 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Anne and Adam Frank. His talent for music and the cello was recognized early, and he studied with the world-famous cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky which was the start of a successful and varied music career. He graduated early, at age 19, with honors from the Curtis Institute of Music and became the youngest principal cellist of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. Barton continued his career with tours throughout Canada, Mexico, and the United States, both in orchestras and as a soloist. He was principal cellist of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra where he met cellist Maureen O'Carroll who became his wife and the mother of their three children. The strong drive to teach brought him to Washington State University in 1965 where he was professor of low strings and conductor of the orchestra. He was recruited to be a member of the music faculty at Western Washington University and accepted the position in the fall of 1969. After retiring he continued teaching private lessons, coaching chamber music groups, and guest conducting. In recent years he returned to solo performing and captured local audiences with his imaginative recitals and fine musicianship. In addition to music, he loved painting, cooking, photography, and collecting and restoring vintage string instruments. Barton was a passionate man dedicated to his art and will be remembered for his sense of humor, generosity, and compassion. Barton is survived by his children, Adrienne, Leora, and Eamon, four grandchildren, dear friend Sharon Ashley and a multitude of students and great friends. A memorial service will be held Friday, March 25th at 3:00 PM at Lairmont Manor, 405 Fieldston Road, Bellingham. Memorials may be made in Barton Frank's name to the Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Attn DEV office.

Published in Bellingham Herald on March 22, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Handel's Messiah

A while back in the "Listening Like Maniac" post I promised more on Handel's Messiah.  It's concert weekend, so I thought this a good time to write.
"Handel is famous for employing word painting—the musical technique of having the melody mimic the literal meaning of its lyrics—in many of his works." (Wikipedia) The example given in that article is from the tenor aria "Every Valley".  Some of the lyrics are "...every mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain," where the music follows suit.  The mountains have steep and jagged lines the hills are a rounded line, the word "low" comes on a low note, the "crooked" kind of zig-zags between notes and most of "plain" is a more plain note.  You can hear this in the You Tube link and see this if you go to the Wikipedia article.

Another example is "All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray".  Can you hear the going astray, everyone turning to his own way?

In addition to such distinct word painting the music also often reflects the general text in such things as "His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light" where the music is light and skipping, or the heavier, slow, sad "He was Despised and Rejected".

"The People That Walked in Darkness", which I referred to in my earlier post is also one of these.  What happens when you walk in darkness?  You may wander about this way and that trying to find your way.  Handel has also made the ground quite uneven and dangerous here. However, at the words "...have seen a great light", suddenly the way is smoother and brighter.

So come on out tonight or tomorrow afternoon to see if Handel manages to trip me, no, no, don't watch for that!  Just come and enjoy the performance!