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Afterthoughts on Crossing Over

Howard and I had a great time mixing musical genres during our Crossing Over performance on June 17th. We mentioned a couple of resources and musical figures during the concert. This post will allow you to experience or explore those further if you desire. When we named this concert Crossing Over, we belatedly realised that the words “Crossing Over” can be interpreted as dying and passing on to the afterlife. We of course, were alluding to the term Crossover, which in music refers to an artist or composer who delves into a musical genre different than the one with which they are normally associated.

There was one point in the evening when the words “Crossing Over”, as in passing on, were entirely appropriate. It was when we performed Chopin’s Prelude No. 4, Op 28. Before performing it, we mentioned that we were playing it in memory of the great Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester – she had died just the day before on June 16. We also mentioned Benjamin Zander as an inspirational speaker about music and life and that he has a passionate, engaging, funny talk that can be seen on TED.com. The link between Maureen Forrester and Benjamin Zander is the Chopin Prelude we played. It is this prelude that Zander uses to illustrate his ideas and passion about music and life. Before he performs the piece, he invites each audience member to think of someone they love or treasure who has passed on. This is why I thought of Maureen Forrester before playing the Prelude.

I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to watch Benjamin Zander’s TED.com talk before listening to the two examples of Maureen Forrester that I have included here. It will alter your listening and experience of the music.

Benjamin Zander on music and passion

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. A leading interpreter of Mahler and Beethoven, Benjamin Zander is known for his charisma and unyielding energy — and for his brilliant pre-concert talks.

If you have never heard Maureen Forrester’s voice before here is your opportunity. I first discovered this great Canadian musical treasure in the 80s while attending music school at UBC. I was in the Music Library’s listening room playing through a listening list for my music history course. I put on this recording of Maureen Forrester singing Ombra mai fu from Handel’s Serse. I was stopped in my tracks by this ravishing voice. How fortunate that this very recording has been posted on YouTube so I can share it with you.

Maureen Forrester sings Handel’s Ombra mai fu

Her performance of Gustav Mahler’s Urlicht with another great Canadian legend conducting – Glenn Gould – is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Maureen Forrester & Glenn Gould performing Mahler’s Urlicht

To listen to some actual recordings of music from the Crossing Over concert visit my blog post Some Musical Moments from Crossing Over

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