Many people would probably balk at a total 8-hour round trip to see a 2.5-hour concert. This weekend, however, I did just that when I made the trek to Oklahoma City to see one of my favorite musical groups, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as they brought their annual tour through. My friend Robyn had gotten us tickets back in November as an early Christmas present and Sunday, I undertook the voyage on U.S. Hwy 83 to get there.
I’ve been a fan of the group for a long time now and was made an even bigger fan when I saw them in Wichita when I was in high school, so the chance to see them again this time around was an opportunity I was not going to pass up. And ultimately, I’m extremely glad I didn’t.
For those who haven’t heard of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the group is based out of Tampa, Fla. and are known for their very elaborate concerts, which include a string section, special lighting effects, laser shows and very elaborate pyrotechnics, all while merging classical music with rock music, to an awesome result. They’ve sold millions of albums and have toured all around the world.
The first thing I’ve got to give praise to from Sunday’s show is the vocal performances, because every single person who stepped on that stage oozed talent and just overall put on great performances. The narrator for the first part of the show, Phillip Brandon, had a very nice narrating voice and like the gentleman who was at the show I went to back in high school, I feel like he could have read the phone book and it would have sounded incredible. Another vocal performance I particularly enjoyed came from the gentleman who sang my two favorite TSO songs, “An Angel Came Down” and “An Angel Returned” – I unfortunately didn’t catch his name during the show when all the group members were being introduced, so I don’t know who he was, but he had a fantastic, deep singing voice and I’ve already watched the video I took of his rendition of “An Angel Returned” a ridiculous amount of times because I liked his performance so much.
The Christmas season is upon the world now and that means an (almost) onslaught of Christmas music being blasted in local stores and out of cars driving in traffic. Like many people, I’ve been searching for some Christmas music to listen to in order to help get in the holiday spirit and recently, I came across Lea Michele’s new Christmas album “Christmas in the City” on YouTube. Having been a fan of hers during her time on “Glee,” I knew I’d probably be in for a good time jamming out to her renditions of some of my favorite Christmas songs.
But ultimately, my expectations ended up being blown completely out of the water – in a good way, of course.
First off, a ton of praise has to be given to Michele’s vocals because they are absolutely outstanding. She has a great, clear soprano tone and she can also belt it with the best of them – sometimes within the same song on this album. I also love how she doesn’t strain herself or try too hard to reach the notes in the songs and lets her natural abilities shine through. Overall, her voice is perfect for all the Christmas songs featured on this CD and she sounds great on every single song, making it an overall very enjoyable album to listen to for this Christmas season. I would say my favorite vocal moment from Michele comes at the end of “O Holy Night” because the high notes she reaches sound absolutely beautiful, so much so that I almost cried just because of that song’s ending. I also really enjoyed her duet with Cynthia Erivo on “Angels We Have Heard On High,” their voices harmonized so well together and it just sounded absolutely amazing. And since that’s one of my overall favorite Christmas songs, I was very happy to hear such a great rendition of it.
The past couple weeks have been a little long for me with everything I’ve had to take care of, so this weekend I decided to take a couple hours away from my apartment and go to the movies, ultimately deciding to see “Frozen 2.” I’ve been a fan of the original since seeing it with my mom and younger sister shortly after it was released – the music was fun and catchy, the animation was stunning and the vocal performances were great. So when I heard the official confirmation that a sequel would happen, I was excited.
The sequel takes place a few years after the events of the original and the story follows our favorite Arendelle residents Queen Elsa, her sister Princess Anna, and their friends Kristoff, Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer, who embark on a journey beyond their kingdom to discover the origin of Elsa's magical powers and the source of a mysterious voice who has been calling out to her.
Much like the original, the animation in “Frozen 2” is absolutely stunning. The colors are extremely bright and vibrant, which is great since much of the film is set around the autumn season, and the scenes throughout the movie where Elsa is using her powers are gorgeously drawn and are total eye candy. Animation-wise, I would say my favorite parts of the movie were Elsa’s two big songs “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself,” because they are both just so well done and the level of skill it took to put together those particular scenes deserves recognition. The scenes that take place in the enchanted forest our heroes travel to are also very well drawn and just pop on screen.