Yesterday, I was invited by Mrs. Barbara Clover of Holy Savior Menard High School to speak to her Fine Arts Survey classes about classical music. Since graduation a year ago, I have wanted to give a lecture about classical music to high school students – encourage them to explore classical music as I have – and, yesterday was finally my chance. I am happy to report the Fine Arts students were both welcoming of me and glad to hear what I had to say.
My discussion revolved around seven great composers including J. S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and John Adams. I would argue that the first six have been the most influential composers in history, while Adams – my example of a living composer – is certainly proving himself to be a tremendous force and recognizable name among contemporary classical music. The kids hung-on when I explained the difference between tonality and atonality (in the very simplest of terms)! And, several students even started jamming when I played Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries!
After I had covered my topic, Mrs. Clover asked me to talk about my own compositions. Again, the students were receptive – and some seemed to enjoy my compositions even more than what I had played by the seven greats. Both my Contrapunctus for three cellos and Study for cello and player piano seemed to be big hits with the kids – despite the counterpoint and modality of the first piece and the chromaticism of the second.
While I have done much arts promotion over the last year, it is great that I am starting to get back into discussing music on its own terms a bit more lately. As I continue to write MusicCentral blogs and program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, I have recently expanded into directing my own chamber music series Abendmusik Alexandria and now I have even begun giving school lectures. Over the next week, I will also be making a few media appearances on the local television stations to talk about the Abendmusik series!
Before I close, I do want to mention a few of the local music happenings of the next week. Tomorrow night, the Alexandria Zoo will host the band Bonerama for the first night of Les Fest. Bonerama is described as a “New Orleans brass funk rock band” – honestly, I’m not sure exactly what that description implies, but I have tickets and will let you know what I think in my next blog. Should be a fun night, regardless! Friday night, St. James Episcopal brings the vocal group Transit to Alexandria; their concert will be at Coughlin-Saunders and admission is free. Then Saturday evening the Rapides Symphony Orchestra welcomes the Shreveport Opera back to Alexandria for the orchestra’s annual Pops on the River; this will also be a free concert. Finally, on Thursday, October 2, the second installment of Abendmusik Alexandria will feature cellist Paul Christopher and pianist Elena Bogaczová for Folk-Tale and Fauré; both Christopher and Bogaczová are professors at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches in addition to being excellent musicians.
Lots of options for music lovers over the next week. Make sure to catch as many as you can – that’s my plan!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a music historian and composer. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college – where he completed an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” He has followed classical music around the world, attending the BachFest Leipzig in Germany, Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival, and many concerts across Louisiana and Texas. Resident in Alexandria, Jackson works with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana as Series Director of the Abendmusik Alexandria chamber music series. He also writes the program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra. As his day job, Jackson serves as Operations Manager of TicketCentral.