Frank Ticheli and Me

Yup, that’s me next to Frank Ticheli. For those of you who don’t know, he’s a renowned American composer and a favorite of mine. I was lucky enough to attend his concerts with Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble, Symphonic and Concert Bands. Great composer, conductor, and a great guy, too.

Les Miserables (2012)

When people ask me if Les Miserables is a musical, I tell them no. Instead, I call it an experience. It’s an experience to be loved, to be lived, and to be sung. And sing I did, as I walked out of the theaters after watching the new movie by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

Top-notch ensemble cast, legendary producer, innovative director, unparalleled music. What more could you ask for? It was every bit worth the wait and more. The favorite tunes were all there, and they even added some new bits and pieces here and there. Including, if I might spoil it, a brand new piece written just for the movie (Suddenly).

I’m no film critic, so I won’t do such a thing as to give a score or a rating. But the movie truly moved me. Although there were moments that I wish the singing was done better or differently, those moments paled in comparison to the grandeur of the experience as a whole.

Please, go see it this holiday season. Do yourself this favor: you won’t regret it.

Inspiration for Us All

Unfortunately for those of you who don’t have Facebook won’t be able to view this, but here is a post that I made on Eric Whitacre’s wall a while back.

Exciting stuff! Although strangely enough, having my own piece called “gorgeous” by my hero wasn’t the most moving experience I took away. Rather, it was all the comments from other musicians who I’ve never met, yet loved my piece. Their kind words are what push me to keep composing.

Les Miserables

Or, if you prefer,

Personally I’m more drawn to the 25th anniversary, mostly because I am more familiar with the cast: Lea Salonga, Ramin Karimloo, etc. But whatever your preference is, if you’re a Les Mis fan (who isn’t?), you’re probably just as excited as I am for the new ensemble cast movie that’s coming out Christmas day. As if Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman weren’t exciting enough, the movie’s directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and produced by Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera). And little known to many, Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, makes an appearance in the movie as the priest.

Needless to say, I am super psyched for the movie.

Oh, and a great side effect of preparing for the release of the Les Mis movie during this time of year: instead of christmas carols, Les Mis music is stuck in my head 24/7. So much better.

Old Wine in New Bottles

Here it is, in full glory. I went to watch the movie at its midnight release with friends, and while the fun factor and the good movie factor pulled me to go, it was really the music that made me forego my sleep to watch this. As with the previous films, Howard Shore did not disappoint. If you had been able to see my face when the movie started off with the Hobbits’ theme, you would’ve thought I was a five year old.

Knowing and understanding the symbolism hidden within the musical themes, it mad the movie just that much more rich. For example, the fact that the clarinet, not the flute, now held the Hobbits’ theme, said much about the change of character between Frodo and Bilbo. However, despite the abundance of original music, there was only one new theme that stood out: the Dwarves’ theme. Even if you know nothing about music, you’ll notice it during the film. Trust me. The other recognizable themes, however, such as the beloved Hobbits’ theme and the Ring’s theme, were reused.

Another interesting thing of note: the first few measures of the soundtrack are akin to Beethoven’s works in that the theme switches back and forth from major to minor and back again (pun intended). It’s fitting for the movie, and I bet Howard Shore’s inspiration included Beethoven.

I plan to go watch it again in theaters before the movie stops showing, and maybe that time I’ll simply sit down, close my eyes, and fully enjoy the magical creation of Howard Shore.

Virtual Choir 4

It’s here! And it’s going to be bigger than ever, which is why Eric now needs a Kickstarter to fund it all. Please consider supporting this innovative musical project and help push the boundaries of music making. Encourage all your musician friends to join as well.

For those of you who don’t know about Virtual Choir, click the link above and check out Eric’s video.

Airtap

These are the kinds of videos that I watch to take breaks from hours and hours of college essay writing. And by “take breaks” I actually mean “completely distract myself.” No worries though, the work will get done in the end. For those of you unlike me who don’t have to worry about college applications, please enjoy this fantastic musical performance to the fullest.

The Fun That Is Pep Band

I walked into the band room last night for the last Pep Band game of the season, and was greeted with this from my band director:

“Hi Joon! Do you want to conduct a bit today?”
I must have looked quite ridiculous at that moment, a half-eaten bacon cheeseburger in one hand and decorative caution tape in the other, complete with a slowly but surely appearing grin on my face. Conducting? How could I say no?
Turns out that our trumpet section was quite thin last night, and it was enough of a problem that our band director decided to play trumpet instead. Whatever the circumstances, I was just grateful for the opportunity. And what an opportunity it was! I stumbled over some things like cutoffs, but I think it was a good learning experience. I noticed quite a few differences as I conducted: for one, I could hear the whole band from where I was standing. That’s usually not the case when I’m standing in the saxophone section during a normal Pep Band game. Also, the tempo that I set seemed to feel slower to many others. Maybe that could be attributed to a bit of nervousness (I was so scared I would mess up during the Star Spangled Banner), but nonetheless an important thing to keep in mind. Oh, and I learned that your arms start hurting after conducting fast tempo songs for two hours (conducting “a bit” turned into the whole time). I can’t imagine how our band director does this every game.
Unfortunately, it was the last home football game of the season, making it our last Pep Band game as well. When our band director asked all the Seniors to pose for pictures at the end of the night, I suddenly realized how much I’d miss Pep Band. And I’m not just saying that as a “last game” thing; I genuinely am going to miss four years of rocking-out, crazy-hard, voice-losing, caution-taped fun.
Well, we still have the parade at the end of the year. Go Pep Band!

Floppy Drive Music

As kind of a follow-up to my previous post, here’s a classic song recreated by using the sounds of eight floppy drives. Seems like floppy discs are actually quite useful in creating music, as this isn’t the first time I’ve seen them make songs. For Battlefield players, here’s some more floppy music:

And some Pirates:

And some Star Wars…
And Peer Gynt.