So, Carmen and Brunnhilde go into a bar…

Cover of "Mozart - Don Giovanni / Hampson...

The last concert of the improv class was a hoot, as they all are. Our amazing bassoonist (she of the intergalactic extended techniques) was absent (off taking a professional audition), but we were helped out by Laura G. (viola, voice), and Jim S. (trumpet & 39 mutes). We started off with everyone scattered around the hall. Alone on stage, I started a rhythm with brushes on a djembe. Then everyone came in antiphonally on a Coplandesque-wide-open-spaces sounding improv in (ca.) F. After a while, they moved slowly to the stage, finishing the piece in their chairs in a semi-circle in the middle of the stage. Then everyone moved (one by one) to the piano, segueing into the next part of the piece: everyone experimenting with extended techniques in the open grand piano just behind the chairs. Interesting sounds! After a while, the pianist (Matt) took over on the piano (using the ivories this time), very sparse, soft. Everyone else drifted back to their chairs, and accompanied Matt’s solo with various small percussion instruments. Then everyone gradually switched back to their instruments and finished with the same Coplandy-sounding music that began the concert.

Improv piece #2 was entitled “Everyday Suite” – we took suggestions for movements on everyday things. The three movements were 1. Breakfast (brass alone) 2. Diapers (flute, viola, piano) and 3. Traffic (everyone). Great fun. (The concert was recorded; I may post the recordings of some of the pieces, so you may get to hear this and others).

#3: A deconstruction of the melody and rhythms of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”

#4: Do It Yourself Opera

Solo: Don Giovanni (trumpet), the Cad, sits alone in a bar recalling his amorous conquests. The bartender (piano) listens and comments.

Solo/Duet/Trio: Woman Scorned (flute), i.e. Donna Elvira sits alone at the far other end of the bar, lamenting the behavior of the Cad. She is joined by Violetta (viola). Bartender listens and comments. Later, Don Giovanni shows up and has to sweet talk them into liking him again.

Duet: Brunnhilde (tuba) and Carmen (horn) sing a duet: “Who Needs Men?”

Duet: Lucia di Coralville (viola) does a Mad Scene. The Phantom of the Opera (trumpet) interrupts and tries to talk her out of it.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Duet: The Queen of the Night (flute) and Sweeney Todd (horn) complain about how hard it is to raise kids today.

Ensemble finale: Everyone!

All in all, great fun.

I may post the recordings of some of these – stay tuned!