Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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Happy Holidays from Music Kitchen - Food for the Soul
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What Is It All For?  Read Hear (pun intended)
(Photos by Gregory Routt)
67th Performance
Mendelssohn C minor Piano Trio:
“Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Wayne Smith, cello; David Berry, piano
December 4th, 2013
Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
For today’s Music Kitchen it was great to be back at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.  This time I had a chance to see it from a new perspective: prior to their serving hours, as the volunteers were organizing and preparing for their guests.  Even at 10am, the line of people waiting to enter was fairly lengthy and beginning to wrap around the building.  As the first guests in line arrived, the large nave had a bit of morning stillness which was the perfect environment to begin our enigmatic Mendelssohn C minor trio.  That stillness quickly gave way to the bustle that is Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, feeding up to 1400 meals in two hours.  For this concert the director of the program created a special seating area in front of us, so that guests finishing their meal and wanting to focus on the music up close could do so. 
Many of the listeners were instantly intrigued.  One gentleman replied with excitement as I made the rounds to each table to inform them that there would be a concert.  “A concert?!” he said, eyes instantly shining more brightly than a moment before.
We had a wonderful program for today.  I was very pleased to be able to present my Ritz Chamber Players colleagues performing the Mendelssohn C minor trio which we had just performed on tour in Jacksonville Florida and Edgerton, Wisconsin.  Within the context of those engagements, we had the opportunity to perform the piece numerous times, so our musical lines had an easy rapport with one another and were heightened in their expression.  I love to allow Music Kitchen audiences to benefit from the rehearsal hours of prior performances.  One of my favorite aspects of the Mendelssohn Trio is his setting of a traditional Christian hymn tune that Mendelssohn incorporates into the last movement, known in many churches as “The Doxology”: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”.  As in the concert hall, I introduced it to the audience here by playing the complete melody as most people know it.  It is striking how each time I demonstrate this melody, my lines on the violin are accompanied by the faint yet unmistakable wisp in the air of humming along, like incense which seems to come from everywhere at once.  In the trio the melody is presented in the last movement, and Mendelssohn uses only the part of the melody which states the words: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”  It occurs in stately perfection, first in muted tones, then finally in full emphatic voice, modulated to a higher key.  I love talking to audiences about both the Christian and Jewish musical influences in this work and did so today as well.  The audience applauded enthusiastically after each movement, even when it seemed that some had not been really paying attention.  During the first movement, I heard a spirited “Play it brother!” exclaimed from someone nearby.  And at the conclusion of the piece, which shortly follows the declamatory musical statement of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” the audience responded with a rousing ovation.  When I asked if anyone wanted to pose for a group photo, several came forward.  A woman in that group was eager to ask me a question which, judging by the seriousness of her expression, was of deep personal significance to her.  I leaned in closer and she said, “Do you know the Hatikvah?”  Fortunately I have played the Israeli National Anthem many times on stage, but asked her to remind me of the first lines.  I began to play along.  She sang the somber strains along with me as I played and was so consumed it seemed that nothing else in the world mattered.  I too was drawn into the heartfelt yet understated passion of her singing.  When the anthem was over, she thanked me sincerely and proceeded to walk away with a new sense of contentedness.  Her name and accent were Spanish, but I asked if she was from Israel.  Unexpectedly, she retreated once again into herself and her response was barely a murmur.  It reminded me powerfully how music can go places that words cannot.
Following are the comments from the listeners:
Excellent…We need more music like this. 
Table 10 – Radford F.

I liked that classical music, but above all the passion and personality of de Artist.
Beautiful Relaxing Music- Thank U
I like a lot your music. I think it’s the best sound that anybody enjoy life
Elselente (excellent)
Very good – I enjoyed the Mendelson!  I like all the strings – you all are a great band!  Thank you!
Steven R.
Bond for Diversity
They’re great
Table 10 – N.C.
You guys did an AWESOME JOB!!
Great work.  Keep up the good work…
Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen Concerts!
Happy Holidays,
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, President/Founder/Violinist

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