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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prince George's County High School Musicians Shine in Concert with the Philharmonic, Saturday February 15, 2014

            On February 15, 2014, the Prince George's Philharmonic offered up yet another musical evening. The brilliant performance by the orchestra and its Prince George's County student collaborators was artfully set off by the moonlit snowy landscapes that glittered in the cold of the night outside.   The Philharmonic offers so much to the community; its "side-by-side" concerts which include a dozen or more of the best student musicians in the County, is but one of the many exciting reasons to attend.

            The evening's performance consisted of musical works by two German composers, Brahms and Humperdinck, and two Russian composers, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. The pairing of the two Germanic composers with the two Russians offered the audience an opportunity to hear the difference between the two 19th-century compositional styles.  In the capable hands of Maestro Charles Ellis, Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, and Humperdinck’s suite from his opera, Hansel and Gretel, permitted the audience to hear the solid grandeur and rich, sometimes even lush, musical textures of German Romanticism.  In contrast, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme and Rimsky-Korsakov's suite from his opera, Le Coq 'd'Or, brilliantly highlighted the dance of instrumental colors built on a musical framework that allowed "light" to filter in amongst the layers of sound - a filigree of timbres and textures.

            The Prince George's Philharmonic began its February concert with music by Brahms in a collaborative performance with some of the best musicians in the County high schools. Each year the Philharmonic invites student musicians to perform a piece together with the regular members of the orchestra. The Academic Overture of Brahms was written to commemorate his receiving of an honorary in music however late in life. The use of college drinking songs as a source of thematic material perhaps went unnoticed by the parents in the audience.

            The students, listed below, fit right in with their orchestral collaborators. The enlarged orchestra enhanced the lush layers of music that reached out and wrapped the listeners in the warmth of Germanic Romanticism. Right at the beginning of the overture, there was the briefest hint of entrance attacks that were not on target, but almost immediately this passed and the Brahms marched on to a rousing and grand finale. The string section with its student partners produced a rich, chocolately sound appropriate for the holiday just past. The percussion and brass sections kept the quick and lively pace moving, enticing the listener to conduct from his seat enthusiastically. The woodwinds provided the tonal filling between the musical layers that hold the composition together thereby creating a memorable performance of which the students and Prince George's  County should be proud.

Kayla Carlyle - Suitland High School 
Tesiya Franklin – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
 Victor Baules - Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Camille Jones  - Bowie High School

David Dogan – Oxon Hill High School

Vijay Golla – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Perry Gordon – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Justin Hosten – Bowie High School
Cecilia Staggers – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Rosetta Irons – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Anthony Thornton – Suitland High School
Bree Johnson – Oxon Hill High School

Stephan Gardner – Bowie High School
Andrew Skinner – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Ucee Nwachul - Suitland High School


Jan Knutson – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Janae DuBois - Suitland High School
Justine Josey - Oxon Hill High School
Josiahh Herrerz – Oxon Hill High School
Krysta Hyppolite - Bowie High School

Wesley Collins-Arms – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Gene Alestock - Northwestern High School

Xavier Eubanks – Suitland High School

Matthew Spooner -  Eleanor Roosevelt High School

            The second composition on the program was Tchaikovsky's  Variations on a Rococo Theme, in effect a concerto for solo cello. Michael Mermagen, an associate professor of cello and chamber music at The Catholic University of America, demonstrated his mastery of the instrument, his love of the music, and his artistic understanding of the seemingly sometimes simple but always complex composition that is Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. The Philharmonic was a perfect partner for the evening's partnership, for it always provided a musical framework in which the guest artist could soar. A curious phenomenon of time distortion that can arise when a performance is at the highest level appeared for me in the penultimate variation and stretched into the beginning of the final variation. 

            After the break, the orchestra settled in to a performance of the famous music from the opera, Hansel and Gretel. The well-known prayer for 14 angels again played with my sense of time as I began to be transported into musical realms - losing all track of time. But, when the angels should have appeared at the beginning of the third section of the Humperdinck suite, something went amiss in the strings. The rich, creamy texture that I’ve come to expect in this concert season abruptly disappeared, and the, shall we say, old strings, reappeared, replete with intonation and occasional missed attacks. I should be quick to note that in general this was not immediately apparent to the greater number of the audience who were distinctly moved by the performance as a whole.

            The final suite by the great Russian composer and naval captain, Rimsky-Korsakov, demonstrated Maestro Ellis’ ability to bring out the textures, timbres and colors of the individual sections and instruments in the orchestra while at the same time keeping the whole of the composition together. The eerie "Orientalism" and exotic sounds of a mythical east shimmered throughout the performance. The performance of the Golden Cockerel suite demonstrated once again Mr. Ellis’ artistic mastery and his productive partnership with the masterfully musical members of the orchestra.  Rimsky-Korsakov’s impact on symphonic orchestration shone forth in this late Romantic composition. One could hear the lessons learned from Rimsky-Korsakov by 20th-century film score composers. By the final section of the Rimsky-Korsakov suite the intonation and attack challenges had been subsumed by the power of late compositional Romanticism.

            All I can say is you should've been here; you should've heard the student performance; you should be making plans to attend the next concert in March.  An all-Mozart affair, it will be performed at Suitland High School at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, and again at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 23.   Mr. Ellis, the Philharmonic, and the Suitland High School Chorus will be joined by four alumni soloists in a performance of Mozart's Requiem. And, as a bonus, the concert will start with Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A Major.



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