Halloween at the Symphony!

~posted by Holly Algreen, KMFA’s Director of Individual Giving

On Sunday, October 23rd, I had the opportunity to attend the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Children’s Concert at the Long Center. With a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow, we made our way to the Long Center on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We had Snow White, Pinkalicious and Yoda with us, and once we arrived we saw lots of princesses, Tinker Bells, ninjas, and ghosts in attendance.

The concert started out with Marco Perella as the Master of Ceremonies (dressed in a clown costume of course) by greeting everyone and explaining each section of the orchestra with guest conductor Irwin Wagner. As he announced each section they would play something familiar. The kids seem to love hearing the wind section, but the percussion section received the greatest applause. Then we heard The Smurfs March and enjoyed life-sized Smurfs dancing on stage! As the show went on we heard the ET theme-song and were amazed by skeletons and spiders coming down from the ceiling. All the kids screamed and laughed in surprise. Before the main event, “Peter and the Wolf,” we enjoyed a sing along of “My Pumpkin Lives Right Here in Austin,” which all three kids have been singing for days since. It’s now become a theme song in our home. And then we enjoyed a narrative, with music and pictures on the big screen of Peter and the Wolf.

The Concert was a wonderful introduction for kids to the symphony. They loved all the costumes, the spooky decorations throughout the Long Center and of course the music. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween with music and fun for kids! I highly recommend this annual treat for any family with kids!

In memory of Nockey Willet

Today’s programming on KMFA is dedicated to the memory of Nockey Willet, our very first Chief Engineer who was instrumental in creating and launching this all-classical radio station for Austin back in 1967. Nockey was instrumental in forming and launching *all* of Austin’s public broadcasting stations.

It was Nockey who decided that the first piece of music to be played when KMFA took to the airwaves would be the William Tell overture, because Nockey wanted to pay tribute to the “Father of radio,” Lee DeForest, who played the overture during a historic 1907 transmission.

Today this station is a specific tribute to the legacy of this wonderful man. Thank you, Nockey. Your legacy lives on here at KMFA.

A Festival of Organ Concertos

Posted by Sara Hessel, KMFA Music Director

Organist Keith Womer couldn’t have given his recent concert a more fitting title than “A Festival of Organ Concertos.” The whole thing felt like a celebration — not only of the sonorous pairing of organ and strings, but also of St. Austin’s lovely neo-Baroque pipe organ! The concert was in fact in honor of the 10th anniversary of the dedication and installation of the Laukhuff-Bier Organ at St. Austin’s, an instrument built in the style of an 18th century south German organ.

Keith Womer on the St. Austin's organ

Keith and his gallant band of string players from La Follia Austin Baroque treated us to music by Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, and Handel, along with the famous Adagio for Organ and Strings by Tomaso Albinoni Remo Giazotto.

Hey, wait a minute…

Yes, it’s true! As Keith told us in his entertaining and informative remarks, that famous Adagio was in fact composed by the musicologist responsible for cataloging Albinoni’s works, Remo Giazotto. At first, Giazotto claimed it was a newly rediscovered work by Albinoni. But as time went on, the truth emerged: it was an original work by Giazotto, based on a scant 2-3 measure bass line by Albinoni.

Another musical illusion shattered! But regardless of who wrote it, it sounded magnificent in that space. Concertmaster Go Yamamoto’s solo work was especially moving—the plaintive solo violin contrasted beautifully with the measured intensity of the organ.

The neo-Baroque organ at St. Austin's church

The program concluded with Handel’s beloved F Major Organ Concerto, subtitled “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.” This was definitely the high pointof the evening—the organ absolutely sparkled! In Handel’s time, an organist was expected to improvise parts of a work like this, and being the talented instrumentalist he is, Keith did ol’ George proud with his effervescent performance.

If you get the chance, please go hear the lovely Laukhuff-Bier Organ at St. Austin’s! You can see a list of upcoming events here: http://www.staustin.org/

For more information about future performances by Keith Womer and La Follia Austin Baroque, please visit their website: www.lafollia.org.