Johns Creek’s Angelica Hale in ‘AGT’ finals: ‘she’s almost freakishly talented’



AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Results 5” Episode 1222 — Pictured: Angelica Hale — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

This was posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Angelica Hale of Johns Creek is a pixie sweet 10-year-old girl who is super excited about her new baby sister Abigail, who is all of three weeks old.

She is also in the running this week to win $1 million on the most popular summer TV show, “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, thanks to a soaring voice that is almost unworldly coming from such a tiny package.

“She’s almost freakishly talented,” said her piano teacher Warren Woodruff of Buckhead, who describes himself as a musicologist and fantasy author. “The joy she has that you see on the television, I see it every week. It’s so real. It’s not staged.”

Angelica did not get her vocal gifts from her parents James and Eva.

“We definitely did not have to push her,” James said. “This is her passion. If she didn’t enjoy doing this, then she wouldn’t be where she is today.”

He said at age two, she became obsessed with the Lady Antebellum song “Need You Now,” though he had to modify some of the lyrics about drinking to suit her.

Two years later, she almost died. At age four, Angelica got double pneumonia and her kidneys shut down. She had to be on dialysis for 18 months before her mom was matched and donated her kidney to save her daughter.

Woodruff said that near-death experience has shaped her appreciation for life in general. “She can really teach the adult generation a thing or two,” he said. “To her, life is precious. She grasps things people take for granted. I have never met anyone like her before. She’s warm, adorable and funny as heck.”

James, her father, frequently reminds her not to let the fame and attention get to her head, that he tries to keep her grounded. “She wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth,” he said. “She’s had to earn everything she’s got today.”

Indeed, she has performed all over the country, singing the National Anthem at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, the U.S. Open before Roger Federer in New York City and the third Atlanta Braves game this year at SunTrust Park.

Woodruff said Angelica sees musical powers as transferable. “She can use the power that she knows music has to bring inspiration to other people,” he said. “She really has a mission with her music, not just something she does to show off.”

Indeed, her song pick last week to get her in the finals was indicative of that: David Guetta‘s “Without You.” (She said she listened more to the “Glee” version.)

“The song has such a great message,” Angelica said in an interview Friday from Los Angeles. “I couldn’t do this without America. It was dedicated to everyone who voted for me. It had such amazing notes. I loved it!”

Woodruff considered her last performance her best to date. “She knew how to keep the cohesiveness of the entire piece from first note to last note,” he said. “She turned it into a narrative. She doesn’t just do the big diva stuff. Every note means something to her.”



So far, Angelica has sung four times on “America’s Got Talent,” receiving raves almost across the board. During her first audition taped earlier this year, the audience immediately reacted positively with the first few notes of her heartfelt Audra Day’s “Rise Up” and before the chorus, the crowd had risen to its feet en masse.

Angelica was in tears by the end as judge Howie Mandel said, “OMG!” Fellow judge Simon Cowell said: “You’re tiny. Your voice is huge. We may be looking at a star in the future.”



During round two, her self-assured take on Alicia Keys‘ “Girl on Fire” inspired guest judge Chris Hardwick to give her the “Golden Buzzer,” guaranteeing her a spot in the live rounds.

In the quarterfinal round, she crooned Zedd’s “Clarity” with real clarity and cruised into the top 22. Now she’s in the final 10 and she said she’s ready for the spotlight on Tuesday.

“It’s amazing just to be here,” she said. “No matter what, win or lose, I’m still a winner.”

If Angelica pockets the top prize money, she plans to donate some to Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for children’s hospitals and related medical research.  (They helped save her life six years ago.) And she’d love to see Paris.

“I want to make songs and create albums and that’d be super awesome!” she added.

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5 Cartoons That Had Some Serious Fun With Classical Music



Remember those Warner Bros. and MGM classics featuring characters like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Tom and Jerry. And what’s the one thing that threads a lot of these toons together? The music. Specifically, music you might hear on any given evening at a major concert hall in the country.

So what’s up with the preponderance of classical music in these animated film shorts? That’s just the question Houston Public Media’s Dacia Clay and director of the National Orchestral Institute and Festival Richard Scerbo investigated in an episode of HPM’s Classical Classroom. In short, here are three factors that made these pieces ripe for these cartoons:

During the 1930s and 1940s, a lot of the practices from the days of silent film organ scoring found their way into cartoon scene.

Using this music was economical. For some studios, like Disney, these recordings were royalty free. For others, like Warner Bros., the studio actually had the artists or arrangers on the roster, so they could also profit off of the use of their recordings.

Having “serious” music in a violently silly context made the joke that much better.

Be sure to listen to the full episode. But before that, check out these examples to remind yourself how much music enhanced those cartoons.

“Music Land” (1935)

Can a cartoon be “enhanced” by music if that’s really what its all about? This Silly Symphonies short from Disney is about a young forbidden love between a violin* from the Land of Classical and a saxophone from the Isle of Jazz. Their interactions drive the two nations to war, but then they step back and chill out after they learn to respect all kinds of music. Classical pieces of note include Beethoven’s Eroica and “Flight of the Valkyries” from the second opera in Wagner's’ Der Ring des Nibelungen.



“Rabbit of Seville” (1950)

In which Bugs Bunny escapes the obsessed Elmer Fudd by escaping into a production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at (presumably) the Hollywood Bowl. Obligatory antics ensue, and this cartoon goes all in on a creatively animated scalp massage.




Rabbit Of Seville from Wet The Face on Vimeo.


“Rhapsody In Rivets” (1941)

Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is used as the soundtrack for the construction of a skyscraper. In a display of peak romantic old-timey aesthetic, a foreman “directs” the construction workers, as the Rhapsody provides many a musical cue. As Scerbo pointed out, Rivets is a prime example of studio composers creatively rearranging these tunes to match the action on screen. This short was directed by Friz Freleng, who also used the Liszt piece in a follow-up cartoon, Rhapsody Rabbit.


Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 

Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 “A Corny Concerto” (1943)

Fantasia is “serious.” “A Corny Concerto” is not. It’s a parody of the Disney favorite, featuring music by Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1) and Strauss (Tales from the Vienna Woods and The Blue Danube). And a few Bugs Bunny hunting escapes, too.

 



“Pink, Plunk, Plink” (1966)

This one is a bit outside of the classical-cartoon heyday, but still hits the sweet spot of finding a humor in subverting a well-known piece while poking fun at the perceived stiffness of classical politics. The work in question? Beethoven’s Fifth. The Pink Panther strolls onto the stage and, after multiple attempts, replaces the conductor to lead the ensemble in the performance of Henry Mancini’s iconic theme.





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Debussy Play Debussy: A Vintage Recording from 1913

The selection is "La soirée dans Grenade" ("Grenada in the evening"), from Debussy's 1903 trio of compositions titled Estampes, or "Prints." Debussy was inspired by the Symbolist poets and Impressionist painters who strove to go beyond the surface of a subject to evoke the feeling it gave off.


A century ago, the great French composer Claude Debussy sat down at a contraption called a Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and recorded a series of performances for posterity.  The machine was designed to encode the nuances of a pianist's playing, including pedaling and dynamics, onto piano rolls for later reproduction, like the one above.

Debussy recorded 14 pieces onto six rolls in Paris on or before November 1, 1913. According to Debussy enthusiast Steve Bryson's Web site, the composer was delighted with the reproduction quality, saying in a letter to Edwin Welte: "It is impossible to attain a greater perfection of reproduction than that of the Welte apparatus. I am happy to assure you in these lines of my astonishment and admiration of what I heard. I am, Dear Sir, Yours Faithfully, Claude Debussy."

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Rhapsody In Blue: Gershwin At His Greatest



On June 23rd, 1959, Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony took their places at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y. and made a landmark recording of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.'

Rhapsody In Blue, the first "serious" composition by George Gershwin (1898-1937), is likely to remain his most popular work in any form, more for its prodigious melodic richness rather than for any deeper expressiveness or structural brilliance. 

 In the hands of another composer, Rhapsody In Blue could easily have turned into a disjointed exercise in symphonically dressed up jazz rhythms, melodic figures and quasi-improvisatory instrumental licks. Instead, Gershwin's uncanny sense of timing, and a gift for memorable melody unparalleled in the 20th century, turned the Rhapsody into an embodiment of the Jazz Age's upbeat lyricism and dance-driven vitality. The roaring Twenties had a soul, and this was it. 

The piece was composed in considerable haste, for a concert on February 12th, 1924, organized by jazz bandleader Paul Whiteman. It took place at New York's Aeolian Hall, billed as an "Experiment In Modern Music." The piece was scored for jazz band by Whiteman's arranger, the multitalented Ferde Grofé, and Gershwin himself played the piano solo — though at the time of the premiere he had not yet written it out. Grofé also scored the work's orchestral version.

Listen to the entire Rhaspsody in Blue

The Composer and his Muse: Franz Schubert and Therese Grob


Therese Grob was the first love of the composer Franz Schubert.




Nothing stokes the fire of adolescence and the enormous physical and psychological changes that occur during the teenage years quite like the teenage girl and/or boy next door. Franz Schubert spent his formative years in Lichtental, the ninth district in Vienna, and the girl next door was Therese Grob. She was 18 and Schubert only a year older. Her parents owned a small silk factory not far from the Schubert household, and young Franz was a frequent visitor to the house. Therese was described by one of the first Schubert biographers as “by no means a beauty, but well-built, rather plump and with a fresh, childlike round face and a lovely soprano voice.” There can be no doubt that Schubert was infatuated with Therese, and the composer’s friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner recalled a conversation in which Schubert had said, “I loved someone very dearly and she loved me too. For three years she hoped I would marry her; but I could not find a position which would have provided for us both.”

Therese  had a beautiful soprano voice. Schubert’s first complete Mass setting was composed entirely with Therese in mind, and she sang the soprano solo at the premiere of the Mass in F, D. 105 at the Lichtental parish church, while Schubert conducted the performance.





In addition, Schubert compiled 17 songs at various times during 1816, which subsequently became known as the “Therese Grob Album.” The term “album” is somewhat misleading, as the collection does not describe the chronological order of composition. Therese later told Schubert’s first biographer, that “Süsse, heilige Natur,” (An die Natur), which appears as the third song in the collection, was the first song she ever saw.





Three of the songs were expressly written for Therese, as no other manuscript copies exist. The remaining 14 are copies that Schubert made for Therese; however, he also made copies for his other friends.

Therese later suggested that she had no idea that Schubert was in love with her, and she married the master baker Johann Bergmann at the Lichtental church in 1820. Schubert also composed music for Therese’s brother Heinrich, two years his junior. Heinrich was a talented pianist and violinist, and the violin sonatas op. 137, published posthumously, were almost certainly composed for Heinrich Grob.








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Dr. Warren Woodruff & Angelica Hale featured on ATl & Co.'s Proud Parent Show!

Dr. Warren Woodruff with a performance from singing America's Got Talent sensation 9-year-old Angelica Hale on Proud Parent with Christine Pullara Newton!

Angelica sang "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music to the piano accompaniment by Dr. Warren Woodruff.




Performance produced and directed by Lynn Stallings Of the Atlanta Workshop Players and Dr. Warren Woodruff, inspired by Dr. Fuddle and The Gold Baton.


Maria Callas, The Divine Voice Of Classical Music

Maria Callas: vocal chameleon, gossip-column staple and influential opera icon.
Weston/Getty Images

No opera star has shone brighter in the public consciousness of the last half-century than soprano Maria Callas. Born in New York in 1923 to a couple of struggling immigrants who had just arrived from Greece a few months before her birth, Callas — who throughout her life bore an undeniable feeling for music, a pronounced taste for luxury, and an iron will — climbed to the pinnacle of international fame.

Much of that notoriety had nothing to do with her artistic life. Her long affair with the world's then-wealthiest man, Aristotle Onassis — and his eventual marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy instead of to her — guaranteed that she was a gossip-column staple. Her epic battles with other singers and opera impresarios made for prime publicity fodder, too, and included a feud with the Metropolitan Opera's then-general manager, Rudolf Bing, that left her barred from the Met, and an episode in which she was served a lawsuit backstage in Chicago that became the catalyst for an iconic photo of a furious Callas.



But all of that was surface noise. Long after the newspaper headlines have faded away, her art remains. None of the high-society chatter, nor her high fashion sense, nor the contours of her deeply unhappy personal life, nor her mercurial personality was what made Callas La Divina, "The Divine One." Onstage, she possessed one of the greatest voices of all time. She was an indelible presence whose artistry made her the icon and envy of performers across many genres. (From its inception, "Turning the Tables" — a readdressing of the pop music canon — was not meant to include classical musicians. But such an accounting is long overdue in its own right, particularly considering the extent to which female classical artists are still so routinely denigrated, slighted, dismissed or rendered invisible.)

Vocally, Callas was a chameleon. At the beginning of her career, her richly textured voice was deemed right for weighty, dark-hued Wagner, but she could also dispatch fizzy, frilly roulades in Rossini's Barber of Seville, and take her listeners to the stratosphere in Verdi's Aida.


Although she never sang the role on stage, her recordings as the coy, sexually irrepressible lead in Bizet's Carmen set a standard — as she also did in another, far different signature role when she played the tormented high priestess and mother of two in Bellini's Norma.




Her dedication to the bel canto operas of composers like Bellini and Donizetti also paved a career path way for singers, including the likes of Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne, to excel in that formerly neglected repertoire. A nickname like "The Divine One" might imply that Callas possessed a voice that was ethereal and sweet, perhaps more like that of a choirboy than of a grown woman, and certainly a technically perfect one. That was not Callas at all. What made Maria Callas La Divina is how she fought, every step of the way.


"Mine is a big destiny," she once told an interviewer. Her divinity was like that of a classical Greek goddess: rife with insecurities, trauma, jealousy and outsized aspirations. And like the deities of myth, she didn't always win her battles. Callas' performances were a high-wire act: Either she thrilled audiences or exasperated them, with little middle ground. She was no stranger to hearing boos, or to having vegetables thrown at her. And she stood on even less sure technical terrain as her voice declined fast and early — while she was still in her forties — before her untimely death at age 53.

But the ultimate goal of Callas' performances was not obtaining plush vocal perfection or a simpering prettiness: it was glory. That singular voice was a penetrating, ferocious weapon that she wielded to extract maximum emotional truth from the roles she played, no matter what the cost. She shaped words and lines with great care, lending dramatic form and heft to even the silliest operatic frippery. She expected her audience to listen with as much intelligence and focus as she put out. Callas was a compelling, magnetic, fiery, impassioned presence — and she gave her characters immortality.

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