For those who may not be very familiar with classical music, here is a quick introduction. Here's your chance to brush up a bit before attending PMF concerts!
Classical music is art-music to be performed in concert halls that originated in Europe around 300 years ago. It is sometimes thought of as "old music," but is in fact quite familiar to most people, as it is frequently encountered in daily life.
An orchestra is a large group of musicians with various instruments that come together to make music.
That's because rehearsals tend to take place in the morning. The final rehearsal just before a performance is called a "dress rehearsal" (because people tend to wear performance attire for this rehearsal). There is also a "sound check," used to test the hall's resonance for all of the different sounds.
An orchestra includes wind instruments such as trumpets and flutes, string instruments such as violins and cellos, and depending on the piece, percussion instruments such as drums and triangles, and keyboard instruments such as the piano.
Yes. One way to determine the type of a piece of classical music is its form. For example, a symphony is generally divided into 4 movements (a "movement" is a unit, not unlike a chapter in a book), and a concerto is comprised of an orchestra playing along with a solo instrument. There are of course many other forms that orchestral music can take, and of course there are various historical periods and many different composers. There are also other categories, such as "chamber music," which consists of much smaller groupings of instruments, "vocal music," which centers around singers, and "opera," which combines orchestral playing, singing, and acting into one form.
Generally, pieces performed in concert can range anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Chopin's "Prelude no. 7" doesn't even last a minute, and Wagner's opera cycle "The Ring of the Nibelung" takes days to perform!
For instance, an afternoon concert is referred to as a "matinée," and an evening concert as a "soirée." For example: "Wanna join me later for a soirée?"
"Opera" refers to the telling of a story through a combination of singing, music, and theater. The highlights of an opera are often the solo pieces for singers called "arias."
The conductor maximizes the performance of each instrument, ensuring that the piece comes together into a single unity. Thinking in terms of a restaurant, it's similar to the head chef, who makes the final adjustments to the dishes prepared by the cooks for a full-course meal, ensuring that each flavor is satisfying and just right. Of course the conductor also plays a vital role in the rehearsal process as well.
Baroque-era composer Jean-Baptiste Lully conducted by striking his long conducting staff on the floor to keep time. During a performance of his "Te Deum," he accidentally struck his foot, and subsequently died from gangrene as a result of the injury. Batons have since been the more popular choice.