June 16, 2014
Albert-George Schram is known at the Charlotte Symphony as the joyful white-haired conductor that makes seeing the orchestra play Pops concerts, ranging from Christmas music and Broadway to Motown, exciting. Elsewhere around the country, he's known for conducting Classical music. In a recent article in The Charlotte Observer, Larry Toppman covers this in "Charlotte Symphony's Albert-George Schram leads two lives."
Within the article, we learn 5 interesting facts about George:
1. He got bad early reviews from his piano teacher: "As a boy, my first instrument was tuba. I played cornet, euphonium, other wind instruments. And I'd ride my bike up to an old lady's house and sit among these big dark curtains to study piano. She told my father, 'You are really wasting your time.' "
2. He was a 20-year-old 12th-grader in Canada: "I was living in Alberta, and they wouldn't accept my Dutch high school degree. So I finished school while working on a farm with 12,000 chickens, collecting eggs and hammering fence posts into the ground."
3. After getting a bachelor's in music from the University of Calgary, he became music director of Stratusfaction, a 25-piece Canadian jazz ensemble that peaked with gigs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He played trombone and trumpet, sang, arranged and wrote musical charts.
4. Languages come quickly to him. He improved his English after settling in Canada by watching TV. His favorite program: "Stampede Wrestling," where Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie battled Abdullah the Butcher. Much later, he spent a month at a Spanish-language institute, so he could conduct in Bolivia and Argentina.
5. He watches the Grammy Awards. "I do it because I want to know what's happening now," he said. "If I don't think any of the music played today is good music, and millions of people take to it, then I have to start opening my ears wider." Read more
January 27, 2014
On Friday January 24, 2014 Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia gave a lecture at Christ the King Catholic High School in Huntersville. He spoke on sacred music and the differences of performing works (like the Bach Passion) in a cathedral or church versus a performance hall. He also discussed how the pieces were performed historically against how they are performed today. For the second half of the talk he spoke on the role of a conductor, had students watch video clips of famous conductors and then compare/contrast their varying styles. The students even convinced Roger to show a YouTube clip of him conducting!
Students were asked to write a blog entry on their response to the talk. Logan Thayer, a student at Christ the King Catholic High School had this to say:
"I learned a lot about musical perspective from Maestro Kalia's presentation. As a student in a Catholic School, I often heard about sacred and secular music as two separate entities, which may or may not have opposed each other. In his presentation, Mr. Kalia linked these two by his explanation of his own work and the collective work of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. I learned of the presence of previously sacred music in secular music halls, which came as a bit of a surprise. As sacred music had become more popular on a secular stage, many composers such as Bach and Mozart began to compose pieces intended for viewing by an audience rather than a church piece like Gregorian chant. Maestro Kalia then demonstrated the variety of techniques used by conductors to convert the individual talents of many diverse musicians into the creation of a beautiful production. He explained how conductors use different methods on stage, such as the use of hand movements, rhythm, and most importantly, trust. "A conductor must have the ultimate trust in his orchestra", he said. He described musical productions as the results of many months of work compacted into a show of a few hours. However, in those hours, the union of sacred and secular music remained strong."