One of my favorite classical works of all time, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons has been an inspiration for Uptown Violins for years. The Italian baroque composer wrote this masterpiece around 1716, and it still thrills audiences today. I still remember performing the fast section of the “Spring” with Sherèe in high school as dueling violins. The music also serves as a motif in my current literary work in progress.
A few years ago, Brittany arranged a stunning version of the “Winter” with a surprise contemporary twist halfway through, which we performed for our Alma Mater’s 50th anniversary concert. You can literally hear teeth chattering from the cold!
The Four Seasons of Music Camp has been a hit with students in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and this year it made its Texas debut. We began each day by reading part of the adorable children’s book The Story of the Orchestra in order to listen to excerpts from the four concertos. My own daughter loves the story, and it really helps her identify the different movements.
We decorated for a different season for each of the four days of camp, beginning with autum. Dressed in Halloween costumes, the students arrived ready to learn more about Vivaldi and other festive works, including the 1940s jazz hit “Autumn Leaves.” Originally written in French as “Les Feuilles Mortes” with lyrics by the famous poet Jacques Prevert, it was translated into English in 1947 by Johnny Mercer.
The second day, we celebrated Christmas in July. The students drank “cold cocoa” (chocolate milk with marshmallows) and played Christmas carols. (Who doesn’t love Christmas music at anytime of the year?) They also played the sweet, slow movement of “Winter.”
Learning the iconic “Spring” was the highlight of the third day. The programmatic music features chirping birds, a flowing stream, and a violent thunderstorm, followed by the return of the birds. Many of the students recognized the work and enjoyed having the chance to play it themselves. They also composed their own songs!
We concluded the week in summer attire, which was much needed in the Texas heat. The students played a cumulative musical rendition of the game Volcano Island, their favorite part of the week. In addition to Vivaldi’s “Summer,” we also studied Gershwin’s 1935 folk opera Porgy and Bess which highlights the classic ballad “Summertime,” celebrating “when the livin is easy.”
To conclude the camp the students gave a beautiful concert for their parents that featured music from all four seasons. For refreshments, they served sugar cookies they had decorated themselves with musical notation.
A few weeks ago, the entire Uptown Violins group enjoyed some “easy livin’ at our favorite vacation spot, Table Rock Lake. We cherish the moments we can all spend together. This month we have a Kansas reunion to celebrate the birthdays of three Uptown Violins next generation members. We certainly love summer!
Stay tuned for our upcoming events this fall!