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Opera, Jazz, and Hillsong United Concert

The Rise of Opera

The first opera appeared in Italy, in Florence at the turn of XVI – XVII centuries. It was composed by the members of a small company the admirers of ancient art. They entered the history of music as the Florentine Camerata (Italian “camerata” – company). They created half-melodious, half-reciting vocal tune intended for a solo performance with instrumental accompaniment. First Florentine operas were characterized by the dominance of the recitative, the lack of arias and ensembles, static nature of the action. The first classical plays were created by Claudio Monteverdi. He composed acutely stressful, dramatic recitative with sudden shifts of tempo and rhythm, and expressive pauses. Opera schools appeared in other Italian cities.

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Venetian opera increased contact with the folk art; Roman opera had mostly religious in nature with some comic elements; the latest Naples school adopted a new style of opera singing, bel canto. Bel canto style contributed to the flourishing of the typical aria, which was dominating on the opera stage for a long time. They also divided the recitative into accompanied (accompagnato) and dry (secco). Alessandro Scarlatti created new opera genre – the opera-seria. In my opinion, Scarlatti is the most compelling creator of opera as the role of opera-seria was extremely significant for the development of the opera as a musical genre. In contrast to the opera-seria in the 30ies years of the XVIII century, in Naples appeared comic opera-buffa. From Italy opera quickly spreads to other European countries, becoming by the mid-seventeenth century one of the most popular genres.

The Rise of Jazz

Jazz is a kind of musical art, which appeared in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a result of mixing of African and European musical cultures. African component of this blend was expressed in improvisation, rhythm, and repetition of the primary motive, European culture contributed the harmony of sound in the minor and major to its development. Jazz emerged in the United States, as a result of the importation of the African slaves who were trying to create their unique musical culture. It is known that jazz has spread around the world from the USA, and its classical direction was born in New Orleans, where on February 26, 1917 “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” produced the first jazz record. In the early 20th century, musical ensembles, which were performing original improvisations of blues, ragtime, and European songs, appeared. They played various instruments including trumpet, clarinet, trombone, banjo, tuba, double bass, drums, and piano.

Jazz has several unique features that distinguish it from other musical genres: rhythm, swing, the imitation of human speech, a kind of “dialog” between instruments; particular vocal tonally similar to the conversation. The music of this style has a large number of sub-genres, which to some extent are rather different from each other, for example swing, bebop, fusion, post-bop, cool, mainstream, hard bop, and stride. The names of prominent jazz masters are world-famous: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Those Goodman, Glen Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, and others. Jazz has become a significant part of the music industry, spreading all over the world. The popularity of jazz melodies led to the creation of a vast number of bands, as well as to the emergence of new trends in this genre of music. Today, there are more than 30 styles inspired by jazz. The most popular of them are blues, soul, ragtime, swing, jazz-rock, and symphonic jazz.

Concert Review

On August 6, 2015, I attended the concert of Australian worship band Hillsong United. It was an unforgettable experience of touching, sincere, and pure music. This Christian band was created by close friends as a part of the Youth Ministry of Hillsong Church, “Powerhouse Youth”, which was led by youth pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley. They played at the youth meetings their songs and covers for famous compositions. In the late 1990’s, the Powerhouse Ministry has grown and divided into two groups: Powerhouse (18-25 years), headed by Reuben Morgan, and Wildlife (12-17 years), who were trained by the music pastor Russell Fragar. In the summer of 1997 after participating in a youth summer camp, every month, they organized the so-called “United Nights”. In 1998, they recorded their first album “One”. Their first two albums were awarded the golden status in Australia. In 2007, they produced their first studio album “All of the Above”.

The group visited with tours several countries. Hillsong United gained their popularity with the release of the album “Zion” in 2013 due to the single “Oceans”. In 2014, they won five awards of GMA Dove Awards, including long-awaited awards in the two categories. The album “Empires”, (2015) has an incredible success among band sympathizers. In 2015, the film “Hillsong — Let Hope Rise” the story of the formation and development of this musical group will be released. Among the best songs of Hillsong United are “A Million Suns”, “Love Is War”, “Stay and Wait”, “King of Heaven”, “Hosanna”, “Heartbeats”, “Mercy Mercy”, “Prince Of Peace”, “Oceans”, “Relentless”, and others. Hillsong United band uses guitar, keys, percussion, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, programming, sampling, and drums in their performances.

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