Mus 202 music appreciation



Concert Report Assignment


Your Concert Report should be on a performance of music in the European-American-art music (“Classical music”) tradition.  It is suggested that you get approval of your concert choice in advance; inappropriate concert choices will lower your grade by 10-20%.  The report should be between 3-4 typed, double-spaced, pages. You may attend an additional concert and write an additional concert report for extra credit in attendance.  Attach tickets stubs or programs to your report.


CONCERT REPORT DUE last regular class meeting




Write the first draft of your report as soon as possible after the concert so your impressions remain fresh, but don’t write during the concert.  Use the program to remind yourself of what you heard when you write your report.  Use the program as a way to helping yourself use correct terminology.  Do not use the program notes as a substitute for your own thinking and personal reactions; do not cram your report full of historical tidbits about the piece.  Comment on matters of historical background only if they directly influence your personal experience of the music.  Read Why So Serious?, by Alex Ross in the New Yorker magazine, 8 Sep 2008, before you go to a classical music concert.  It is about the evolution of classical music concert audience behavior.


Concert Report Format

Introduction (10% in length and value)


Briefly identify the concert.  Who performed?  What pieces were performed?  Where was it performed?  Briefly describe the performance space, physical surroundings, and the appearance of the performers.


Objective Description of the Music (30% in length and value)

Describe instrumentation, dynamics, texture, rhythm and tempo, form & relationships between movements, principles of design in the compositions, etc. –– Note extremes or what is most striking.  How do these elements work together?


Subjective Reactions to the Music (50% in length and value)


Did you like individual pieces?  Did you have emotional reactions to any particular piece?  Why did you react the way you did?  Was it in the composition or the performance or both?  What held your attention?  Did your mood change in the course of the concert?  Was the concert full of variety or was it all more or less the same?  Could the performance be better?  How?  Could the selection of compositions performed have been more to your taste?  Was this a familiar or a new experience?  Was there a theatrical dimension to the performance?  How does your concert going experience compare to those discussed in the Alex Ross “Why So Serious?” article?


Conclusion (10% in value)

Did you like or dislike the experience overall? 




Concert review suggestions


1.  Begin with a clear topic sentence and an introductory paragraph that tells me what you are going to tell me.


2.  After giving a general sense of your impressions in the introductory paragraph, give details and specific examples.  Which of the two following examples is more interesting to read?


In 1985, I attended a performance of the Mozart Requiem by a community chorus and orchestra in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  I enjoyed watching the singers as they sang.  It was a memorable performance.




In 1985, I attended a performance of the Mozart Requiem by a community chorus and orchestra in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Part of why I remember that performance to this day is the vivid facial expressions that I could see on some members of the chorus.  One older gentleman in particular was striking to watch.  I believe he had some sort of medical problem, because his face was in constant motion with small spasmodic twitches.  Whatever the feeling was in the music, it was amplified in his facial gestures.  He looked terrified and terrifying as he sang the Dies irae.  More peaceful, even joyous emotions seemed to fight through the spasms to register in his face when the music called forth those feelings of joy and peace.  Other faces in the chorus reflected happy satisfaction at the pleasure in singing Mozart.


Always try to be specific as possible.  One could write, "the performance was exciting," but is that entirely true?  Surely some parts of the performance were more exciting than others and some were not exciting at all.  Which is the more interesting phrase, "a bird in a tree" or "a robin in a willow"?  Details give life and energy to writing.


3.  While details are good, don't just list only a bunch of details.  The reader will not know what they mean.  Don't just tell me "redwood, alder, oak, pine, sycamore"  – tell me "FOREST!"


4.  If you have heard the piece before, especially on a recording, you may wish to compare the performance with the one with which you are familiar.  Were some of the tempos faster or slower?  Were some sounds more distinct or more blended?  Is the balance within the parts of the orchestra, chorus and soloists different?  Were rhythms more or less precise?  Besides just listing differences that you noticed, tell me what those differences mean to you.  It was better because it was slower or it was less interesting because it was slower or louder or softer . . .


 MUS202 music appreciation

David Meckler

Rev. Feb 2009

Cañada College