Amy Grant, Entertainment, and Worship

by Matthew Raley After the North State Symphony's show with Amy Grant in Redding last week, conductor Kyle Pickett button-holed me for a discussion. Grant had sung "El Shaddai" near the end of the show, getting predictably warm-hearted applause. And the predictability was at the core of Kyle's question. "Is that kind of response real... Continue Reading →

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A Performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto

by Matthew Raley Kyle Wiley Pickett, music director of the North State Symphony (NSS), has built large audiences while programming new music. The NSS has played pieces by regional composers such as CSU Chico's Russell Burnham and Simpson University’s Dan Pinkston, as well as Lowell Lieberman, who is nationally known. On November 10-11, the symphony... Continue Reading →

Vertigo: Herrmann’s Use of Forms

by Matthew Raley One of the visual abstractions we noticed in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo was his evocation of famous paintings. We saw that his shot of Madeleine floating in the Bay alludes to the painting of Ophelia by Millais, and that references like this give an unconscious emotional atmosphere to the film. Bernard Herrmann uses... Continue Reading →

Vertigo: Herrmann’s Abstract Score

by Matthew Raley I've given several examples of Alfred Hitchcock's abstract visuals in Vertigo (here and here). But Hitchcock also created a sound-world to match, and he found a collaborator in Bernard Herrmann. Together, they raised the score to the level of co-narrator with the camera. The term “Wagnerian” is often used to characterize Herrmann’s... Continue Reading →

New Series: Hitchcock’s and Herrmann’s Vertigo

by Matthew Raley This month, the British Film Institute's journal Sight and Sound announced the results of its poll of film critics, distributors, and academics asking, "What is the greatest film of all time?" For the last 50 years, the answer has been Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941). But this year, the 846 panel members... Continue Reading →

A Performance of My Piece, “Twelve-Bar”

by Matthew Raley Last January, violinist Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo premiered a trio I wrote for violin, flute, and cello as part of her senior recital at Sac State. She was joined by Kim Davis (flute) and Courtney Castaneda (cello). I am so grateful for their hard work on the piece, and for their fine playing. Click... Continue Reading →

A Performance of “Along the Field”

By Matthew Raley Each year, I have the privilege of performing with many excellent student musicians at Chico State. Michael Beale, a fine tenor who graduated last spring, is one of them. We performed the song cycle Along the Field by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) at Michael's senior recital a year ago. The... Continue Reading →

North State Symphony Premieres a New Work

by Matthew Raley Many orchestras might shun new music during hard economic times. Audiences are often nervous about hearing contemporary pieces, dreading the dissonance associated with the last century. So it's safer to offer proven concert fare: listeners will pay to hear what they know. Conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett and the North State Symphony have... Continue Reading →

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