Summer season seems to be music season in central Pennsylvania, a time when we can test new musical waters and maybe find something that floats our boat.
At live venues in State College and the surrounding areas, we have the chance to be exposed to a variety of genres, including classical, folk, Asian and blues — a veritable medley of melodies.
Most of us are used to listening to what we know we like or what we grew up with; our iPods are full of music that essentially all sounds the same, and our radios are set at the same station day after day. Experimenting with a new musical genre, however, can spark a new interest, or you might even feel a connection to it that you never could have imagined.
I’m no jazz lover, but attending the concert by jazz legends Dave Brubek and Ramsey Lewis last year gave me a new appreciation for the technical ability and creativity that go into those crazy syncopations and how the freedom of improvisations and phrasing offers a look into the individuality of any given artist. Sometimes, in addition to making you feel, music can make you think — and that’s a good thing.
Over the next couple of months, go out and try something new. You can approach it as a purely listening experience, giving nothing more to it than your own visceral reaction, or you can take it a step further and embrace the genre by learning about it — its history, its mechanics or the lives of its notable players.
Music at Penn’s Woods is performing two orchestral concerts and two chamber music concerts this month. If you don’t know much about classical music, spend a few minutes learning the difference between a concerto and a sonata or chamber music versus an orchestra or a little about the composers’ lives.
Most of the greats did not lead lives of great decadence; many had jobs giving music lessons or as traveling musicians and often started out studying other professions while still pursuing music.
For the rest of the month, the World Sounds at Noon series will offer music of China, classical music of India and South Korean music performed by local and professional musicians. World music is a term we generally use to refer to traditional music that’s indigenous to non-Western cultures; in other words, if we wouldn’t play it on American radio, it’s world music.
For those who like a little libation with their melodious tones, Seven Mountains Winery has music events throughout the summer, such as blues, jazz and classical. Again, take a little time to learn some background on what you’ll be hearing. Blues, for example, has had far-reaching effects, influencing the music of bands such as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
The Lemont Concert Series, held on the Village Green, has a summer program that includes bluegrass and folk music, and South Hills School of Business and Technology, Millbrook Marsh and Bellefonte’s Talleyrand Park are also host to summer music events.
There’s something guaranteed to get you out of your musical rut and widen your horizons. After all, music is the universal language.
Sherry Coven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.