Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New MUSIC Year!

Start your 2006 off right with my favorite living Polish composer, Krzysztof Penderecki.


Here's my interview with him.
[real audio files]
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This interview is (c) 2004- John Clare/PanufnikProductions - Interview may not be used in any form without the permission of the author.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The year in review

Some highlights of 2005...
January
Complete outline of Outreach activities for KCNV. Interview with WQXR.

February
Attend my first AMPPR conference. Interview with WFMT.

March
First “Harmony@Home” concert for Las Vegas Chamber Music Society (LVCMS). 25th Anniversary of Nevada Public Radio. Play Handel’s Judas Maccabeus for Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society. Attend the Las Vegas Philharmonic Gala at the Venetian.

April
Complete season two of 20/20 Hearing™. Vacation in Wichita. Turn 35 years old. Opening of Wynn Las Vegas.

May
Las Vegas’ 100th Birthday. Several interviews with WITF. Arrange trio for Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art opening at the Bellagio for the LVCMS.

June
Attend opening of Casa Fuente at Forum Shops – playing is Arturo Sandoval, also Andy Garcia; after party at Pure. Plays lots of Vivaldi concerti for the LVCMS fundraiser. Move to Central PA. Start at WITF.

July
Start blogging again! Attend Market Square Concerts with Fry Street Quartet. Produce my first ArtBeat. Increase number of cds for new releases with contacts from record companies.

August
See friends from Germany in NYC. Go to my first YorkFest.

September
Attend Gretna Music for the first time. Receive call from ASCAP – win Deems Taylor Award for 20/20 Hearing™.

October
Hear Concertante for the first time – amazing music made with great taste. Discover great waterin' hole, Zembies in downtown H'burg.

November
Move my folks from Wichita to Omaha. Play world premiere of Dick Strawser’s Nocturne for violin and piano. Hear Hilary Hahn recital in Philadelphia – same day meet Jennifer Higdon in person. Birth of Laura Alexandra Perry. Hear world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto with Colin Curry in Philadelphia.

December
See eighth blackbird live on their 10th anniversary. Accept Deems Taylor Award, NYC. Receive Top Flight Award from WITF for playing violin at volunteer brunch. Record several interviews for Composing Thoughts; my first episode airs 12/31 with Chris Theofanidis.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Saying Goodbye 2005

Here is, sadly, a list of composers who passed away this year.

Clinton Carpenter, 84, American composer (finished Mahler's 10th Symphony)
Donald Martino, 74, American composer.
Soong Fu-Yuan, Chinese-American composer
Gardner Read, 92, American classical composer.
Stephen L. Mosko, 58, American composer.
Ann Wyeth McCoy, 90, American painter and composer.
Rick Rhodes, 54, American film composer and music supervisor, winner of six Emmy Awards.
Georges Arvanitas, 74, French-born Greek jazz pianist and composer.
Alfred Reed, 84, prominent American composer of concert band music.
Jeronimas Kacinskas, 98, Lithuanian-born classical composer and conductor.
Luc Ferrari, 76, French musique concrète composer.
Arnold Cooke, 98, British composer.
Al Carmines, 69, reverend, composer, singer and actor.
Noel Nicola, 58, Cuban composer, co-founder modern Trova music.
Lyle Murphy, 96, Hollywood composer (Three Stooges Show).
Nick Perito, 81, composer and arranger.
Joe Harnell, 80, Grammy-winning jazz composer.
David Diamond, 89, American composer.
George Rochberg, 86, American composer.
Richard Lewine, 94, Broadway composer and TV producer.
Michalis Genitsaris, 86, Greek rebetiko singer and composer.
Robert Farnon, 87, Grammy Award winning arranger, composer.
Alexander Brott, 90, Canadian composer, conductor and violinist.
Tony Croatto, 65, Italian-Puerto Rican composer-singer.
Grant Johannesen, 83, American classical pianist and composer.
Rigo Tovar, 58, popular Mexican singer and composer.
Norberto "Pappo" Napolitano, 54, Argentine blues and rock n' roll guitarist and composer.
Helmut Eder, 88, Austrian composer.
David Hönigsberg, 45, composer and conductor.
Franco Mannino, 80, prolific Italian film and classical composer.
Dick Gallagher, 49, Off-Broadway composer.
Alfred Hause, 84, German composer and conductor.
Miriam Hyde, 91, Australian composer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Audio post #5

I'm quite excited to be working on a New Music show called Composing Thoughts on WITF. In the past, I have produced a show in Las Vegas, called 20/20 Hearing (there's a link to it on the right side of this page - and several other cools ones too!) I wanted to share an example of 20/20 Hearing from a very talented composer, Gunther Schuller.
Real Audio file

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

'Clarely Classical' Awards 2005

My very own online music awards.
Musician of the year: Hilary Hahn. Her recital performance was outstanding, and we have Spohr and Paganini to look forward to this year – definitely go get her Mozart Sonatas album.

Pianist of the year: Helene Grimaud. If her debut album stunned you, wait til you hear her Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Perhaps her most thoughtful and gentle interpretations.

Violinist of the year: Pamela Frank. For her charming reading of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Violin Concerto now out on Naxos.

Singer of the year: Ian Bostridge. His latest Britten disc will take you by storm.

Young artist of the year: A tie! eighth blackbird and Concertante. Both of these groups will astound you – go see them if you have a chance.

Conductor of the year: Gerard Schwarz. Champion of American composers and of my all time favorite, Andzrej Panufnik.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sir Andzrej Panufnik. A remarkable life and composer (even if he passed away in 1991).

Personal highlights of 2005
Proudest moment: Accepting the Deems Taylor Award for 20/20 Hearing™.

Runner-up proudest moment: Successful fundraiser for the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society (also a Las Vegas swansong for me) of Vivaldi Concerti with friends including Teller (of Penn & Teller) conducting.

Another very proud moment: Getting my folks settled in Omaha from Wichita.

Most affecting moment: Farewell dinners with many friends in Las Vegas.

Most unfortunate moment: Receiving call from GM at Nevada Public Radio the night before my final day saying I would not be on-air the last day. Give me a break! It not only reassured me that I had made the right decision but that they were a corporate nightmare.

Biggest sigh of relief moment: Accepting Host/Music Programmer position at WITF in Harrisburg at the end of the in-person interview.

Memorable though questionable moment: Leading a tour of Nevada Public Radio of my peers and introducing the music of violinist Rebecca Ramsey. I adore her and her compositions but wasn't sure what Public Radio Land would think. They dug her and the tour!

Personality of the year: Dan Welcher. Funny composer who always can make me laugh, and engage in thoughtful discussions.

Family of the year: Yenchko family. From their constant friendship, to the splendid gatherings these guys have made Central PA home.

Woman of the year: Rachael Ray.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Audio post #4

As I juggle duties, hobbies, and am wondering how a.d.d./serial-monogramist I really am, I thought I'd share a compostion I wrote for violin senza voce. It is my Carmen (Electra) Fantasy.
[hey, she's a woman named for two operas, think about it!]
Real Audio file

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wonder where? why?

You should remember the following Norse fable the next time you sneak a peck under the mistletoe: Frigga, goddess of love and beauty, wanted to make the world safe for her son, Balder.
Everything on earth promised to do him no harm except the one plant Frigga overlooked, mistletoe. Loki, an evil spirit, made an arrow from the mistletoe's wood and killed Balder. Frigga's tears became the plant's white berries and revived her son.
In her gratitude, Frigga promised to kiss anyone who passed under the mistletoe, just as we do today.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Audio post #3

Last year in December I was proud to be a part of the first ever presentation of the complete Bartok String Quartets in Las Vegas. It was made available by my friend Teller (the shorter, quieter half of Penn & Teller.) Before the occasion I talked with Diane Chaplin, the cellist of the Colorado Quartet. Here's the interview we did. Enjoy!
Real Audio file

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Audio post

Please enjoy this little joke from an interview I did with Philip Glass. He was a real gentleman and is an amazing person!
Real Audio file

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's popping up everywhere

Ok, not EVERYwhere, but you know...it is a busy time of year, and this is good for a post!

Four jobs you've had in your life: Violin teacher, Cigar salesman, Radio host, Music critic
Four movies you could [do] watch over and over: Empire Strikes Back, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Crash
Four places you've lived: Las Vegas, Dallas, Alexandria, Wichita
Four TV shows you love to watch: Gilmore Girls, Thirty Minute Meals, Simpsons, Alias
Four places you've been on vacation: NYC, LA, Omaha, Austin
Four websites you visit daily: NewMusicBox, ArtsJournal, CNN, GetFuzzy
Four of your favorite foods: Bacon-wrapped Scallops, Burger & Fries, Curry in a Hurry, London Broil
Four places you'd rather be: Beach, Bedroom, On a podium conducting, On stage with Anne-Sophie Mutter

Monday, December 19, 2005

News release

From the ASCAP website:
38TH ANNUAL ASCAP DEEMS TAYLOR AWARDS PRESENTEDAT NYC RECEPTION ON DECEMBER 15
New York, December 15, 2005
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers presented the 38th Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music this evening. The winning writers and publishers were honored at a special reception held at The Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
Over the years, tens of thousands of dollars have been distributed in cash prizes to winning authors, journalists and broadcast producers and personalities. The event featured performances by Broadway/cabaret vocalist KT Sullivan, composer/pianist Tania Leon, pianist Trudy Chan, and the Jazz Museum in Harlem Quartet, led by Loren Schoenberg. All the music related to the winning books and articles.
The ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award honored two radio programs: 20/20 Hearing, produced and hosted by John Clare, and Classical Discoveries, produced and hosted by Marvin Rosen.
Cited in the Television Broadcast category was No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. The documentary film directed by Martin Scorsese, was produced by: Martin Scorsese (Sikelia Productions), Producer; Susan Lacy (American Masters), Producer; Jeff Rosen (Grey Water Park Productions), Producer; Nigel Sinclair (Spitfire Pictures), Producer; Anthony Wall (BBC), Producer; Paul G. Allen & Jody Patton (Vulcan Productions), Executive Producers, and edited by David Tedeschi.
The ASCAP Deems Taylor Internet Award honored the contemporary classical music portal, Sequenza21 (http://www.sequenza21.com/), edited by Jerry Bowles.
More: http://www.ascap.com/press/2005/121505_deems_taylor.html

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Eatery

The Las Vegas Weekly (and others) have called me a "bon vivant" of sorts, so it was fun to slip in here and grab some soup and salad - and it wasn't far away from my hotel.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Proverbial

"Nothing is as real as a dream.
Because the dream is within you,
no one can take it away."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another proverb

"Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow wood.
Only today the fire shines brightly."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Proverb from my roots

"May you have warmth in your igloo,

oil in your lamp,

and peace in your heart."


- Inuit proverb

Monday, December 12, 2005

Warner Bros and Sister 4tet

Caught a wonderful performance of the Jupiter Chamber Players in NYC today.
Alessio Bax, piano was joined by violinist Xiao Dong Wang and my friend Wendy Warner, cello in Suk and Rachmaninoff trios.

As you can see I'm still mastering my new camera!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Composer Tour

or
Dead Composers in NYC 2005!


So while walking around on my most recent trip to New York City I noticed two signs (in different parts of town) but was glad I not only stopped but also had my camera handy.
From west 57th street:


And from the village on 11th Street:



Many moons ago I remember seeing New York residences of Bartok and Copland but it was sweet just to bump into these unexpectedly.

Preview - Inside and Out

Here's where this year's Deems Taylor Awards are being presented.



And a view from the second floor, looking over Columbus Circle and Central Park.


Rose Hall is actually on the fifth floor. More pictures after Thursday!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Quotable

"Music gets its eternal beauty from an ideal balance of emotion and intellect."
- Sir Andrzej Panufnik

Living in perfect Panufnik musical moments

People often look baffled when I reply "Panufnik" when they ask me who is my favorite composer. Depending on the situation, I explain quickly or more in depth, that Andrzej Panufnik is not only my favorite but one of the most talented composers of the 20th Century.

Let's hear some of the last movement of Panufnik's Violin Concerto. This excerpt shows the symetry of Panufnik - the orchestra slows down as the solo violin plays the melody and then returns, speeding up. (listen first to the melody, then go back and listen for the "clicks" (col legno - literally with the wood of the bow) as they slow down, the solo part continues, then the clicks come back in, speeding up.)
MP4 file
A perfect polacca.

Next is the Hommage a Chopin, in his arrangement for Flute and strings. We begin with the second movement and a funny half step passage (which is hidden by them in different octaves - highly original!) and the return of the melody (a folk tune near the village where Chopin was born.)
MP4 file
Original and very thoughtful.

Next the third movement is very quiet and sparse. First the flute takes the melody, then takes on the accompaniment. We'll hear the last phrase of the melody and then the first phrase of the accompaniment.
MP4 file
Lyric and linear.

Finally, Panufnik's brillant Concerto Festivo - written for the London Symphony. This is one of my all time favorite works. You are getting just a sample here, I encourage you to seek out the entire piece (score and recording!)
MP4 file
Brassy and classy!

After the fanfare and joyous music comes a much softer section. This is the most sublime music I know. The strings are linked with percussion to the woodwinds. The effect builds and grows.
MP4 file
Drifting and uplifting.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Amazing Maze of Mays

Enjoy some musical moments from my friend and mentor, Walter Mays.

We begin with his Rhapsody for Bassoon:
Here is a version for Bassoon and piano
MP4 file

Here is the same passage with Bassoon and chamber orchestra
MP4 file
Haunting and mysterious!

Next, the award winning Dreamcatcher, for wind ensemble.
A passage from the end, almost Debussy-ian.
MP4 file
Impressionistic and dreamy.

Finally, two passages from the horn and piano piece, Dialogues.
First an excellent passage of quarter tones.
MP4 file

Finally, a finale that is stunning.
MP4 file
Dramatic and cinematic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Quotable

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go
to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
(Soon to be celebrated in January 2006 for his 250th birthday)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Living "Fiddle Faddle" in a moment

Close to my heart is the violin, and so we will visit lots of concerti for my instrument. Here are four examples to check out and cherish. I get excited just writing about them and preparing this. So much for getting anything else done tonight, I'm going to go listen to all of these now!
I hope you too, will look these up.

Felix Mendelssohn wrote a concerto that became a standard in the Romantic repertory, for violinists and composers. Listen to this passage with Yehudi Menuhin and you'll hear why!
MP4 file








Double stops, octaves and schmalz.

Johannes Brahms one up'd ol' Felix. This return to the orchestra at the end of the cadenza is charmingly played by Itzhak Perlman.
MP4 file











Ah, trills and thrills.

Bela Bartok wrote a violin concerto (1938) and had it published. What he didn't tell anyone is that he wrote another one before that (1908) and gave it to the woman, Stefi Geyer, he was in love with, who did not return his love. She kept the score and told no one about it. It was discovered in her belongings after her death. This passage with David Oistrakh happens after a huge moment with the orchestra.
MP4 file










Long, lost and lush!

The best for last? Well for today, Beethoven's Violin Concerto is the granddaddy of romantic concerti and is the GOLD standard. Viktoria Mullova certainly has a lot to say about it in her latest version - in this first movement passage leading up to a wild tutti.
MP4 file












Vivacious Viktoria creates tension up to a joyous outcome.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Living (a lifetime) in a moment 2

Today we have three examples from two pieces.
First, Dawn Upshaw singin' Canteloube - Songs of the Auvergne - Begere
MP4 file
Brillant orchestration and charming singing. Makes me smile every time.

Second, listen especially to the keyboard in Astor Piazzolla's Milonga in re.
MP4 file
Fun, sexy rhythm. For a "sad song" south of the border, this packs lots of passion to say the least.

And another section of the Milonga in re, this time, the violin has the fun part!
MP4 file
Gidon Kremer brings alot to this. And it is a blast to play it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Living (a lifetime) in a moment

Music is powerful. It is special. And music is always something that I want to share. The beauty of music, as I was reminded from listening recently to an interview I had done with a composer (Eric Ewazen) in live performance, is that the music changes each time. Despite that there are specific written (in concrete? not to be confused with music concrete) notes, musicians interpret them in many ways.

I also have a strong belief and feeling that the moments and memories we cherish can be found in music. From the cheesiness from "Star Trek: Insurrection" (where the lovely alien stops time with Jean-Luc) to an anecdote told to me by a teacher where an old composer/conductor held a particular chord in a performance of a symphony because "he thought it was so beautiful" that he would "never hear it or experience it again", I too, sincerely believe that you can "live" in a moment of music.

So from time to time, I'm going to share with you my ideas of perfect musical moments - and hope you'll embrace them and live with them as I do.
I have three examples today that touch my heart.

The first is from Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, second movement.
MP4 file
These chords (and the 2 phrases before this) are the essence of romance and sexiness to me.

The other two selections are of chamber music, two string quartets that I hold in very high regard. We'll start (and we will return to other passages in the future!) with Witold Lutoslawski's String Quartet from 1965.
MP4 file
This is a silly section for a serious piece of music.
(we WILL return to it in the future!)

And finally, for today, Harbor Music by Austin-based NY composer Dan Welcher. It is the second string quartet that Dan wrote.
MP4 file
This melodic section speaks well of Dan, and of his gentle soul.
(another 4tet that we will return to, wait til you hear the harbor bells and seagulls!)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Concert Talk














I'm entertaining before the Brass and Organ Spectacular this evening for Gretna Music.
It should be good fun, with audio clips from composers and some musical insights.
The concert features the American Brass Quintet











and organist Timothy Brumfield.










The concert is in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center at Elizabethtown College at 7:30 pm. Concert Talk is one hour before at 6:30 pm.
See you there!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holiday Selection


Enjoy this from the Las Vegas Brass Band - I recorded them last year:
Baby it's cold outside, Frank Loesser, arranged by Tom Wright; conducted by Chuck Jackson. It features Pete Cooper & Kellie Paul singing, and Tom Wright, trumpet.
Real Audio file (3:51)


Here's an mp3 file as well.

Lyrics by Bing Crosby

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

C'mon baby

I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no - Ooh baby, it's cold outside
This welcome has been - I'm lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm -- Look out the window at that storm
My sister will be suspicious - Man, your lips look so delicious
My brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Gosh your lips look delicious
Well maybe just a half a drink more - Never such a blizzard before

I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - Your eyes are like starlight now
But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay - Get over that old out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

Baby it's cold outside

Brr its cold….
It's cold out there

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Zounds

Our finale at the Whitaker Center:
Cajun Song
Paul Zavinsky, guitar; John Clare, violin
[miking isn't ideal]

Also, revised audio for DT Awards:
2020 Hearing - Peter Schickele
Theme and talking about Pentangle

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Some classical etiquette and tips - from attire to ovations

It’s not a sin to go to a classical concert, but there are some major sins you can commit … Let me rephrase that: Some faux pas can happen that might embarrass you and annoy your fellow audience members. So I’m here to prevent those from ever happening, which is the best approach, because I swear that if one more person talks during a concert, I’m going to go Berlioz on them!
No, "Berlioz" is not an Inuit swear word, but a 19th century composer who often expressed himself at concerts. It wasn’t uncommon for Berlioz to stand up on a chair and yell at the performers. (And worse yet, he was a critic for newspapers in Paris—so his temper would end up in writing too!)
But honestly, if you’re enjoying the performance (and there are many to attend, as you can see by this year’s guide), please share it with your concert companion at intermission or between complete pieces. Nothing is more disrespectful or annoying than to talk (even whispering can be distracting) while the music is playing.
Here’s an interesting fact, though: It was often common to talk during the overture and even ballet music in concerts many centuries ago. Performances were much longer than they are today and could include a symphony, a solo performance, maybe the girlfriend of the conductor would sing a song, and in some cases, a nonmusical act would happen on stage.
One thing that didn’t happen back in the golden age of concerts: cellphones. Please, I know they can be necessary, but when you walk into the building where the concert is taking place, please turn off your phone. Same with digital watches (the alarm does not harmonize with any music, unless it’s a John Cage concert), beepers and any electronics that potentially make you a member of the ensemble.
As for applauding/cheering/clapping/making that "whoop whoop" noise, it’s not too awful to clap between movements, but nowadays it’s preferred to wait until the very end of a piece. I know what you’re thinking, Why? When the Hershey Bears score, I cheer wildly and I don’t wait for the end of a period. Again, it’s just one of those classical etiquette rules.
Looking back again to the past, audiences did give their "barbaric yalp" whenever they heard something they like, and often the performers would respond by playing that movement again! So don’t feel too bad if you clap after a movement; it means you liked it and you are being a bit authentic.
But one small aside: Think about the performance before you give a standing ovation. Did it really make you get up, or are you just wanting to stretch? In all my concert-going days, maybe 10 concerts in about 3,000 have really been so extraordinary. Yet, almost every performance I attend lately ends with a standing O.
So, what should you wear to a concert? Something comfortable. I’ve been wearing tuxes, tails and suits since I was rather young, performing. And I like ties and suits, but they’re just hard to wear here in the summer. Don’t think just because the concertmaster looks like the maitre d’ you just saw at dinner that you need to be dressed up. Then again, if you look spiffy, maybe the harpist might notice you from on stage. My advice is to wear something clean, not wear too much perfume and you’ll fit right in!
Wondering what apertif or icy beverage goes during or after a concert? The Waltz King would have enjoyed champagne, Brahms a good cigar, and pick any Russian composer for a vodka martini. (I might go for all three!) Moderation of course is the key. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss an encore or an autograph chance at the end of the concert.
Stick to these simple standards and you’ll be the angel of the audience, and the perfect patron of the performers, too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Powerful Premiere

Saturday night was an excellent evening*. Friends and I went to Philadelphia, an easy trip with good discussion, then a yummy Italian dinner. I was able to exchange our extra ticket for a performance in January with Leila Josefowicz playing John Adams' Violin Concerto (also with Shostakovich final symphony!)
Whilst they walked around the Kimmel Center, I caught an after dinner cigar - one of the latest stoogies from CAO. We caught the pre-concert talk, with Jennifer Higdon and the timpanist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Don Liuzzi. Also attending the talk was composer Christopher Theofanidis. (He was amazed and amused we spotted him.) A good discussion followed, and I was glad to hear curious listeners ask the composer questions. An usher towards the end, thanked Jennifer for her excellent piece, stating he usually does NOT like modern music, but her piece was definitely riveting (and humorous as we all thought he was going to say "Times up, you must leave for the concert...) A quick hello to Jennifer (she was pleased to see us!) and we were off to our seats. The third tier is an excellent view, and sound was lovely. At least on the end we could lean over to be able to peer over the balcony handrail - although also being on the end means everyone else passes by. (Also it was cool that a lady sat right next to me - who had bought our extra ticket - I had placed my coat there thinking the seat would probably be empty - I do think she moved for the Beethoven on the second half as it was empty for Eroica [honest, I wore deodorant!] or perhaps left.)
Then Maestro Eschenbach and Colin Currie came out, said a few words, so did Jennifer. The piece started. Higdon's Percussion Concerto is of an amazing high quality and beautiful. Her sounds are original and in a word perfect. (Afterwards I was discussing that ability, who I believe is also in the music of Augusta Read Thomas) to be not only intellectually satisfying but emotionally moving - in equal parts. Working within the past framework but making it your own. They are both gifted composers, who I think will be played centuries from now.
The concerto is 25 minutes long (I'm told that, it certainly didn't seem that!) and is in one movement. There were 3 stations of solo percussion (mallets, miscellaneous percussion, and drums) that Colin went to and fro - sometimes having to cross in front of the very skinny Eschenbach (Higdon mentioned in the concert talk advising Colin not to get hit with the baton) - but mostly was in the mallet area (a request of the soloist who really likes Marimba).
As for the orchestra parts, it was again, just right. Most striking (so to speak) was the percussion section, who were a great compliment and addition to the solo part. This is quite genius I believe, and for one rehearsal (again, the concert talk was VERY informative!) and one performance (the very first was Friday evening, this was the second "birth" in the words of Eschenbach - calling Higdon the mother...best possible meaning of course) I was astounded by the concerto. I actually really want to hear it again and hope it is recorded in the near future. Dallas and Indianapolis audiences will be treated to it soon, and the Philadelphia Orchestra is touring with it in the next few weeks to DC and NYC. If you are in these areas or are going to travel there, definitely catch it.
A standing ovation was definitely in order - I rarely say that or take part in standing o's - they are overused to a point of not meaning anything! but it was nice to see two curtain calls for Currie and Higdon.
At intermission we congratulated Jennifer again, and will see her in NYC for an eighth blackbird performance this next month.
The other work on the program Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Unfortunately the cut offs of the first two chords were butchered by the strings. (BTW, I counted, the famous 100 strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra are now 86.) This did not bode well for me - I take Beethoven as the Shakespeare of music - one that is revered and of all time - the master. I expected great, great, great things from the Philadelphia Orchestra - they had just astounded me with the premiere minutes before. Now, that being said, everyone has off nights, maybe rehearsal was spent only on Jennifer's piece, etc etc. And there were gorgeous, moving portions of the Beethoven. But the trio of the Scherzo was shaggy - the horns were off by miles! The finale is charming and funny - gets me everytime. So, I love Beethoven, especially with a great orchestra - and look forward to more performances with them - hopefully more "on" than "off." At least they shone in the new work (who knows, maybe they were off there too - I'd never heard it before!) - I would have been furious had they coldly presented the Higdon and then played their hearts out of Beethoven.
All in all, one of the most enjoyable nights I've had in classical music. And I can't express enough how wonderful it is to be at a world premiere of such high quality.

*Note: You may also read about this event from the delightful and knowledgeable Dr. Dick Strawser.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Music selections

First, from 20/20 Hearing, and the aforementioned 90 second clip for the upcoming Deems Taylor Awards ceremony.
Here is part of Peter Schickele's episode, speaking about Pentangle:
MP4 file of the example.
Peter's whole show is a hoot, but I thought this was representative of 20/20 Hearing in general.

Secondly, here are some more songs from my recent foray into folk music with Paul Zavinsky...mind you usually folk music is Bartok or Haydn to me. So this was a start and is from the live performance, no fancy schmancy mixing here...just what the stage guys gave us. (I'm happy they did record it and we can tweak things later...it gives you a flavor. [hey that rhymes!])

MP4 file of "What more can I do?"
MP4 file of "Mr. Ditty Wah Ditty"
MP4 file of "Distant Thunder"
MP4 file of "Pancho & Lefty"

Contact me if you can't play the Mp4...I can arrange for a Real Audio file or cd.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yearning - A book review of Deems Taylor - a Biography by Pegolotti

After I had heard about this year's awards, I started looking more into Deems Taylor. I also contacted lots of friends and teachers about receiving the award. One of my mentors (from NPR), Andy Trudeau mentioned the recent Taylor biography when he responded to my email- in fact he had recently been traveling near Edna St Vincent Millay's home in New York - and said how much he had enjoyed the bio - that I should look it up. As much as I respect Andy for his radio work and writing, I put it on my short list (I had already started a book, so I ordered it). Andy taught me lots about writing! (not usually shown very well here in the blog - my apologies!)
Besides buying Deems Taylor - a Biography by James Pegolotti, I also grabbed copies of Taylor's own Of Music and Men and Music to My Ears. (I'll report on those after getting through them!)















Starting off, I sorta approached reading about Taylor as an assignment - find out more about this gentleman - and it turned out I was very moved reading about him...and I could relate in many ways...my curiosity turned to passion. (Obsession?!) I couldn't put the book down.
"Smeed" would have been very proud to have read James Pegolotti's biography. In reading it, one does not only wish to have hung out with Taylor, but to hear his music as well. Just since reading this biography, I've come out of it feeling (and my imagination does run wild sometimes!) that I did know Deems (despite being born four years after his death!)
Indeed, Taylor was a huge figure of the 20th Century and this book really does him justice. I hope that it will help others (like myself) to elevate him in his place in history...and even more importantly, hopefully conductors and musicians will perform and record more of his music. I can definitely recommend the Seattle Symphony's recording of Through the Looking Glass suite.















And also the Fanfare for Russia that Taylor wrote in World War Two (part of the same commission that brought about Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man!)
Since 2006 will be the 40th Anniversary of Taylor's death, maybe some opera companies can revive his operas, or orchestras program his music - since we're a society that has to link programming to dates...






The bottom line here is, take a listen(!) and do check out writings by, and about Deems Taylor.

Friday, November 25, 2005

CD Gift choices for kids (of all ages)

(Compiled for WITF & Central PA Magazine)
Classical Music Choices for Children by John Clare
[including brand new and not-so-new releases on compact disc]

1. Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons"
Janine Jansen & Friends - just released in the US - a violinist to watch!
Decca


2. "Classical Graffiti"
The Planets - group of young people playing new interpretations of classical works (including electric guitar)
EMI Classics


3. "Essential Mozart"
Various Performers - a great 2 cd set of the basics!
Decca #468517


4. "Bach: Well Tempered Clavier, Book I"
David Korevaar, piano - one of my favorite recordings of all time
Msr Classics #82198


5. "Anthem" - amazing mix of cello music
Matt Haimovitz, cello
Oxingale Records


6. "American Music Sampler"- A $1.98 Sampler with 16 tracks including Barber’s Adagio, a Sousa March and Phillip Glass
Naxos #8559118


7. "Children’s Games"
Narnia & Dolly Suite – real gem is the Pied Piper by Walter Mourant
Various Performers - ASV label


8. Stephen Barlow - "The Rainbow Bear"
Prokofiev - "Peter & the Wolf"
Narrated by Joanna Lumley - She's Absolutely fabulous as a narrator - it's a new release
English Northern Philharmonia - New on ASV


9. Dan Welcher - NY composer in Texas - very original and fun
Harbor Music, Cavani Quartet
Gasparo Records #314


10. "East Meets East"
Nigel Kennedy with Kroke - out for a while but the charm never ends!
EMI Classics

Thankful

Things I am thankful for...in no order whatsoever!
A lovely work environment
My parents
Latest photos of Anne-Sophie Mutter (and her fashion sense!)
Racheal Ray (and her recipes!)
Cuban cigars
Manhattan
The Susquehanna River
All of my friends
Music of Panufnik
Hilary Hahn's perfect and moving playing
Talent, humor and wit of Penn & Teller (especially Teller)
Special features on DVDs

Well, that's a good start!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Entertainment choices

So I'm seriously contemplating what to watch this weekend. Last night I started my trek of all the Star Wars movies, so far I'm in the middle of Episode 2, since I had to work today. I had thought since I was going to see and hear the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Percussion concerto in Philly that I couldn't get through all of the Star Wars movies, and was going to settle on the LOTR trilogy...and of course, thanks to Spike TV they have a Bond Marathon all weekend.
So what is an Eskimo bachelor to do?
I decided last night to go ahead and start the Star Wars, and I've wathed a bit of Bond today. Maybe I'll do the LOTR over Christmas?

Updates

So I just ordered a multi-purpose video recorder/camera/mp3 player - I'm really pumped. (I also ordered a cool trenchcoat - only related that they are both from Overstock.com)
It should arrive shortly and I can practice before the awards ceremony this next month. So keep an eye out, I'll do my best to post more pictures. (Like I need incentive to be more visual...sheesh!)
I also got a letter telling more about the awards evening, this as I've sent out my new logo

and a 90 second audio clip (to be posted soon!) of 20/20 Hearing (Imagine deciding over 52 episodes - each 2 hours long - for a 90 second clip!!!) to ASCAP for the presentations.
It seems I have to arrive early to get my medal, then to a section to wait for the presentations...then to a party! Woohoo!
They stipulate 30 seconds for acceptance speeches. This will be another topic in the not too distant future.

Also nice hearing back from folks with invites and whether or not they can make it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Cigar Shoppe

Friday evening I gave a cigar to a gentleman at the American Legion (it's a cigar smoker sorta thing, you give folks a cigar to try - kinda a share and share alike mentality.) He recommended a store in LeMoyne to me - gave me a lighter from there in fact.
Well yesterday was long at work and I decided to reward myself and go check it out. I printed out a map, and was on my way (I looked them up online too for their hours just in case.)
I was not disappointed. It's a huge selection of cigars in not a lot of space. There are leather chairs, a plasma tv and nice folks. Several people were in and out, seemed friendly enough to me. I shopped, buying several brands of cigars for the first time (hard for me to do after smoking them for eight years - but luckily there are new blends and brands out there!), and picked up a nice one for me (a Padron Anniversario) to enjoy there.
I had great hangouts in Wichita, Dallas and Las Vegas to smoke. Many close friendships developed that I am very thankful for (Turkeyday is tomorrow after all!) and I hope this will be such a place too, it certainly has potential.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Opening number

This is from our performance at the Whitaker Center Saturday night...the song is called Louise. Excuse the feedback, it goes away!
Performing is guitarist and vocalist Paul Zavinsky and moi.
Louise - MP4 file (much quicker to download)

or

Louise - .Wav file (larger file!)

Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Encores

Update about Hilary's concert in Philadelphia. I failed to mention her two encores, in addition to her stunning program.
First was the Prokofiev/Heifetz March from Love of the Three Oranges. Then the Albeniz/Kreisler Tango.
And btw, the entire recital was played by Hilary from memory. The ENTIRE recital. Sonatas. Solo pieces. Encores. Everything.
She is indeed one of THE best violinists alive today. in the world.

Shared - Passing along

What's sad about this, I may know some of the people who thought these up...darn violists!
(Just kidding!)


Top-Ten Bad Dissertation Titles List

1. Uncertainty in Music: A Definitive Survey

2. The Catalan Influence on the French Augmented Sixth Chord in the Music of Engelbert Humperdinck

3. The Voicing of the Final Chord in Music of the Classical Period

4. A Syncategorematically Recursive Hedra-Lattice of Poly-PC Postponement: A Theory of Atonal Silence

5. Heinrich Schenker: Threat or Menace?

6. Prolonging the Agony: A Schenkerian Approach to Muzak in the Dentist's Office

7. “Where Are All My Favorite Notes?” A Statistical Tabulation of Every Pitch-Class in the Serial Music of Webern

8. A Violist Walked into a Barline: Rhythm and Meter in the Structure of Viola Jokes

9.Three Times a Lady: Triple Counterpoint in the Music of Britney Spears

10. The Whole Step: Our Misunderstood Friend

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Firsts

This weekend many firsts occurred. I've already mentioned the Hershey performance that Paul and I did...Last night, we played our first concert at Whitaker Center (Underground Stage) to a sold out crowd - we were the opening act for Steve Forbert. They loved us. It was cool. When they gave us a five minute warning to rap up, I couldn't believe it - it seemed like we have just got on stage - when in fact 25 minutes had slipped by. Paul is musical and funny. Good stage presence. We did a few of his originals, Townes van Zandt, and Pachelbel's Canon. Yes, that piece. Guitar and violin. And how did they take it? A standing o. Really! More on the evils of Pachelbel in a future post. But back to our firsts.

It was also the first time I went to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia...I heard Hilary Hahn play a recital with Natalie Zhu. I'd always seen her in concerti and encores, never a recital...it was superhuman. Amazing. I actually thought she would float down from the top of Verizon Hall, and then play. She remains to do everything right in her playing - technique, musicality, fashion, the list goes on and on. The rep paid homage to past great violinists/composers: Enescu, Ysaye, and Milstein; then two sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven. It was a recital that you would imagine as just right, but that no one in their right mind could play. Hahn played it with panache and courage - absolutely perfect. I hate to overuse that word, but it is most fitting.

Also finally met Jennifer Higdon in person (going this next Saturday to hear the premiere of her Percussion Concerto there!) She had a piece in the recital hall there...in fact she told she's having 6 premieres in 2 weeks. Yowser! It was so nice to meet face to face, I respect her music so much and after a lovely radio interview, I knew her, but there is something about actually meeting the person. She is as charming in person as she was in our interview. Curtis and Philadelphia are so lucky to have her. And I'm glad to be so close to all of these things.

Finally it was a first to really hang out and get to know Stu and Julia (who had joined me and Ellen for the concert.) They are a sweet couple and we had a blast in Philly, from waiting in line to meet Hilary afterwards to dinner at Warsaw Cafe - they even drove back with me instead of catching the later train. (Their "first" besides they aforementioned Verizon Hall/Kimmel Center was hearing Combustible Edison - one of my fave lounge/swinger bands.)

And in celebration of all of this, it's my 100th post. Woohoo. Here's to the next 100!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thank you! You've been great!

So I've played Hershey now...at least the American Legion club/bar/lounge. Mondo fun. It was a dress rehearsal for this evening when Paul Zavinsky and I open for Steve Forbert at the Whitatker Center in Harrisburg.
I am a classical violinist (I cringe at the phrase "classically trained" so I won't be saying THAT) who enjoys all music - especially "alternative" music - I dig that old Seattle sound. My main love though, is classical music - modern Polish composers like Andzrej Panufnik, Witold Lutoslawski, and Krzysztof Penderecki are my absolute favorites.
But I do know the old Joe Venuti recordings (and stories!) I love Grappelli, Ponty, and those sorts of guys...heck, even Perlman and Kennedy have made jazz recordings.
So it is a blast to play some Folk, Blues and Jazzy tunes with guitar.
Improv is vastly different though than composing. First of all there is an audience! Secondly, I'm not dreaming up or imagining the chords. Thirdly, my ear is a bit more accepting of "non chord tones"(?) than perhaps your average folkie.
Within the "typical" or perhaps accepted is the word, oh heck, traditional parameters though, I think I'll manage - and did so last night...there were many high fives - even a harmonica player chimed in - and several folks sang with us...It is very cool to have a whole joint singing along!
Among preparation, besides rehearsing with the guitarist, I listened to some recordings (alot to Short Trip Home - a great album of Edgar Meyer, Josh Bell, Mike Marshall and Sam Bush) to be inspired by, and it's a such total joy. I'm still feeling my way around, and I figure things and songs will not only improve but become even more fun.
It's odd, I love to laugh, drink, smoke a cigar and be laid back (hey, I'm a classical announcer!) but in the "classical" world that I'm used to, it's hard not to look down at the stand and chord changes, instead of just letting go. While I consider myself that easy-go-lucky musician (and compared to a air traffic controller, I'm sure I am!) this is a new trait I'm learning: being focused yet relaxed and loose - musically glib!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stravinsky SNAFU/Bungling Brilliance

It's always good to double check things. My folks taught me that and I try to be prepared in any situation. So it wasn't completely disasterous when I found that 15 minutes before my talk on Stravinsky and Shostakovich that my 3 compact discs of the 16 musical examples (seen in the previous post!) were evidently .WMA files instead of .WAV files, and would NOT play on my cd boombox. D'oh.
Luckily there were a few cds of Shostakovich I had in my bag. I momentarily freaked out...thinking what am I gonna do? My last talk (very successful from the response) on the Mighty Russian Five was comprised of two cds of examples I found (24 pieces.)
Plus, I believe you should hear music, I'm nothing if not a demonstrative teacher, violinist, broadcaster...
So, I'm glad I had looked at my notes (written and musical!) well and asked forgiveness if I talked a little more than I planned. I also sang a bit (D-S-C-H motive: d, e-flat, c, b) and even if I had the CD example of Shostakovich's 8th Quartet I still would have knock 3 times very hard on the podium - the KGB knocks at the door. (I ended up singing the quartet mimicking that too!) [Luckily noone asked me to sing late Stravinsky!]
No one threw rotten vegatables, slept or put me in the gulag...in fact several folks came up afterwards (there were 40 in the audience, +/-3) and talked about a few items and congratulated me. Also the folks who invited me to speak in the first place (originally I had agreed for one talk, not two) said they would let me know the next country in their focus - they will want more music talks.
It's hard to narrow these broad topics down, and to know what to share with people. That said, it is also incredibly fun.

Afterwards I was quite close to the new Giant megastore, so I picked up a few grocery items (my fridge & I are quite happy to have a good stock of Diet Coke in it again - its even the cute Christmas Bears boxes!) - so now I can say I've been. Rumor has it that Wegman's Market is coming to the area, which would be cool...I've been to the original in Rochester and I tell you they rock!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Music Examples

These are the examples I plan on using this evening for my talk:

Introduction
Shostakovich String 4tet #8

name that tune - violin concerto!
Shostakovich Violin concerto #1 scherzo
Stravinsky violin concerto - toccata
Prokofiev violin concerto #1 - scherzo - vivace
Nikolai Rakov Violin Concerto #1 - finale allegro molto vivace (1944)

three periods
Stravinsky Rite of spring
Stravinsky Pulcinella (sinfonia overture)
Stravinsky Variations - aldous huxley in memoriam

examples
Shostakovich Sym #1 opus 10 - allegro
Shostakovich Sym #7 "Leningrad" opus 60 - allegretto
Shostakovich Sym #15 opus 141 - allegretto

film music
Shostakovich Romance from "The Gadfly"
Stravinsky Four norwegian moods - wedding dance
Prokofiev alexander nevsky - song of alexander nevsky

trouble?
Shostakovich Sym #4 opus 43 - allegretto poco moderato - presto - tempo 1
Shostakovich Sym #9 opus 70 - finale allegretto
modernism
Nikolai Roslavetz - prelude for piano

If time, a look at the Shostakovich Symphony Number Ten that the Harrisburg Symphony is doing - you can see/hear it live!
Influence?
Carl Nielsen Symphony No 5 - first movement - tempo guisto (snare drum)
Shostakovich Sym #10 Delos recording of James DePreist Helsinki Symphony

Events

Tonight I'm giving my second talk on Russian Music - as part of the Friends of Frederickson Library series on Russia. The focus is on Stravinsky and Shostakovich. I'll throw in a few others for comparison, but the "Mighty Two" will be the major composers.
Stravinsky has been in my mind lately, discussions with friends, some plans and dreams I've been having. A good sign I hope!
Shostakovich's 100th birthday would have been in 2006, get ready for cake next September!
Didn't get to go the the Blogger's meetup Tuesday, I had a rehearsal that went longer (and very well thank goodness) than I thought it would...we had scheduled it after I had RSVP'd yes. Maybe this next month!

[insider info: closer to that 100th blog milepost!]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Performances (both playing and hearing)

I'm a bit excited about this weekend.
Hilary Hahn is playing in Philadelphia - she is probably the most talented violinist who I've seen whenever possible - from the first time we met in Wichita (Barber concerto and an interview at KMUW) to Dallas and a charming Beethoven Concerto, 3 years in a row at Las Vegas (Korngold, 3 Bach concerti and Paganini No. 1) and three interviews (we didn't get her to Penn and Teller although Teller saw her play Paganini that afternoon) and twice in LA (playing Brahms concerto.)
A friend pointed out that when she is playing alone (such as her encores of Bach) that it is Hahn Solo.


Hahn Solo with wookie!
(photo adjusted brilliantly by guru Disco Stu Kennedy)

Also this weekend I'm playing a folk music gig at the Whitaker Center with Paul Zavinsky. He's a fun person and it's laid back. We're doing everything from Route 66 to a Matteis Chaccone. Guitar, violin and vocals (no I'm not singing, so its safe!) - cool combination. While I truly play "classical" music, and have studied it extensively from a young age, I love all types of music and am glad to "expand my chamber music experience" to folk also. Maybe we can learn some Edgar Meyer stuff, that'd be fun...GRASSICAL!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Feeling music

I was recently a bit stressed to premiere a work. By that I should clarify (or in my case CLARE-ify): I was overjoyed to be playing a brand new piece and excited to do so...but unlike playing Bach, Mozart or any other piece of music, this was for the very first time, and other than what was on the page, no specific references.
It was a small time frame, and nothing to refer to, no other recordings, and the first time I had played this composer's music (and I was to play this WITH the composer!)
Now, I consider myself a friend of the composer, and have seen one other of his works, for violin and chamber ensemble (I hope to weasel in on some performance of that maybe!) I went through and read the piece. Then I checked pitches. The rhythm was very hard. (Truth be told I should have taken a metronome to it - something I WILL do before my next performance of it.)
When we finally got to rehearse it, things were a bit rough - we started towards the end of the piece, the recap if you will (where the melody or theme returns - think endcredits or titles of a movie) and then went on to work it out. After some rough passages, the composer looked at me and wisely (and gently) said, "Let's not worry about the exact notes and rhythm - make music out of it."
Indeed I had been VERY worried about hitting pitches (and the rhythms combined with large jumps in notes) with the composer right there...I mean he actually hadn't heard me play before - and though we're friends, I do take some pride in my playing.
After his advice, things went much more smoothly.
It's a lovely piece and I hope you get to hear some day.

At the world premiere, it was a loud luncheon and a few folks may have heard different passages...it was introduced about 30 minutes before we played it. There's a sad tinge of irony that a piece written for the occasion was not heard. The composer and I know however, that it is a good piece and we made honest music.

One other small factor was that the composer hasn't performed piano in public in 16 years. I had taken the summer off, while moving and having a repair made on my fiddle - and am feeling much better musically. The composer played some charming Scarlatti, Beethoven, Chopin, and Schumann.
Also appreciated was a sign that he posted, "Don't shoot the piano player!" The oboist and I who were also playing Saturday morning wondered where our signs were...but luckily no volunteers or other staff members were packin' heat.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Manhattan views

So I couldn't get over the 8 story ad for AeonFlux with Charlize Theron...it was on the side of Madison Square Garden as I left the train.
Also notable, the amazing weather, ads for some bank (seen along side the stops on the train trip) with orchestra musicians (not so great an ad that I got the business name but I did notice the cello players!), the "open faced" lasagna at Cafe Fiorello (since the Ligeti concert I rushed to Columbia to see was sold out!), and the six inch tall cheesecake (complete with strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce) also at Cafe Fiorello.
The best was catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in five years, although we'd talked and emailed, it was like no time had gone by.
Also, the weekend started off with a world premiere performance of a Nocturne by Dick Strawser, the Music Director at WITF. While it was a noisy room, it went well, and is a well crafted piece - I'll put it on my recital in the spring. Also very fun that morning to play Bach with the News Director and oboist Scott Gilbert.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wochende

Off to NYC this weekend (this afternoon!...a whirlwind trip, and my first in a long time on Amtrack (although I'll be using them alot through the end of the year!)
This morning I'll play violin with friends, I'm actually learning a new folk tune right now- which is another post this next week about a folk gig.
Shopping goals in NYC include some stuff for my folks, a digital camera and some berets (I manage to lose more berets than, well, I just leave them whereever I go!) I hope there are some cool street vendors. Oh and I'm catching an all Ligeti concert tonight.
Gonna go grab some coffee and my violin - warm up on both fronts. :)

[blog insider info: I'm almost to my 100th post!]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Arrival / RSVP

The invitation to the Deems Taylor Award ceremony on December 15th arrived in the mail yesterday. It's a lovely green circular invite from ASCAP to be held at the Rose Room at the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. (There are some more details at 20/20 Hearing dot org)
If you would like to attend, contact me and I'll send you information about it, and how to RSVP.

Had a good rehearsal yesterday afternoon of a world premiere to take place tomorrow morning. With the cold weather, it's lovely to have a warm nocturne to play!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Some things don't change

As my hair is at a good long length, it usually inspires new folks meeting me, to ask if I'm native American. Yes is the answer.
I don't mind getting the question, and depending on the circumstances and time, I may go into a story that I am a "card carrying Eskimo" (Inuit is the politically correct term, but it is my Canadian friends that take it as a slur, not the "American Eskimo" - and no I'm not referring to the cute dog breed either!)

Yes, I have an identification card from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that states I am 3/8 Eskimo. My mother is the daughter of 1) a full blooded Eskimo and 2) a half Irish/Eskimo parents...somehow they determine that I'm then 3/8...so that's the backstory.

Now I often tell about my B.I.A. card, and it's usefulness. You'd think I'd say something about medical care, maybe some sort of casino ownership, et al. Not me.
Since I received it, gosh, back in 1992, I usually go to the grocery store, grab some Eskimo pies in the freezer section, then go to the checkout and find the prettiest clerk. I ask, "Do I get these for free? You see I'm an Eskimo!" And I show her the card.
I have yet to actually get free Eskimo pies. And to tell the truth, yet to impress said cute clerk with a date. But I still try (and there are quite a few Giant/Fox/Weis markets to check out, so to speak!)

Sad but true. And not only do I tell the story in polite company, I blog it too!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Another notch

Just finished Arnold Steinhardt's lovely book, Individisible by Four. Charming, well written and inspirational, just like his and the Guarneri Quartet's playing.
While I'm bummed it took me so long to finally getting around to reading it, I'm glad I did. It's much different than Blum's book ON the quartet (which is another good read) but this was just right for me.
Now I can focus on getting the Deems Taylor bio read.
And practice and compose for the violin.
Yum!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Touching base

On the reading front (books that is, not the town, Reading - which btw, I wish I could attend their next concert of the Orchestra, they're playing Barber Violin Concerto and Brahms' First Symphony!) I'm almost finished with the Guarneri 4tet book by Steinhardt and am up to 1922 in the Deems Taylor bio. Excellent stuff!
On the music front, practice is going well, read through Dick's new Nocturne that we're premiering Saturday - very good music. Also Bach is going well, nothing like it for good practice, so many things to work on, it's good. Fingers feel right.
Found an amazing sale at Burlington's and bought too many shirts and sweaters - another good thing really. Also restocked the pantry/freezer now that I'm back with a trip to CostCo last night. Yum.
Still getting back into the swing of things after being out of town. Good trip and all in all, very good. Travel picks up quite a bit starting this weekend.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Drivin'

Funniest personalized license plate I passed (or passed me - hey its a 1989 Dodge Van!) was:
GOOGLE (it was from Washington State.) very interesting and I thought funny.

Just a reminder, the caption contest goes through Monday - there are some good entries I can tell ya that - but have you got yours in? email the caption(s) for the pictures below (see the Contest blog) to panufnikproductions (at) hotmail dot com
Good luck!

More on the trip, etc in the next day or two. I'm back.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Contest

Hey! Why not "name the caption*" with the pictures from Mt. Gretna below?
First prize will include two compact discs and be published on this blog and on ClassicallyHip dot com.
Second prize will include one compact disc and be published on this blog.
Third prize will include an a sampler compact disc. (and published here too.)
Ok, get crackin'! Contest closes Monday November 7th! You can email your entry to: panufnikproductions "at" hotmail dot com.
Winners will be announced Tuesday November 8th here.
*(may include one or more captions per photo...and may use any or all photos.)
*(judges' ruling is final.)
*(no cash value for awards - what's two cds? $30? and shipping? come on! it's a little contest, not the lottery or the van cliburn competition - hey wait that gives ME an idea for a caption!)
GOOD LUCK!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Monday Happy Halloween

Hope your weekend was lovely...it certainly was in Central PA.
I saw two movies this weekend, Wallace & Gromit's Curse of the WereRabbit - quite cute and on the high level that they usually are. I also saw the new Legend of Zorro movie (and am still in love with Catherine Zeta Jones!) - and have to say what a great suprise and great casting choice of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Governor of California...it was almost believable! hahahahaha
I also gave a talk on Russian Music at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, PA. It was originally scheduled for the 6th of November, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, they asked me to move up a week. While it was more intense to prepare, it went quite well. I'll be posting information that I shared on ClassicallyHip dot com - as well as my next talk (about Stravinsky and Shostakovich) there as well! It was pretty cool that at least 50 folks were there...especially since it was such a pretty day outside yesterday!
Today is filled with getting ready to go to Kansas - I should be back Saturday or Sunday...

Thought I'd share some images from this last September that just arrived...it was mentioned in a previous post about MtGretna - charming folks and good music - in fact I'll be giving a preconcert talk for their winter series on December 2nd with the American Brass Quintet - keep an eye out here for more information.
Anyway, we (WITF) helped celebrate their (Music at Gretna) 30th anniversary and myself, Dr. Dick Strawser and Cary Burkett (my classical onair colleagues at WITF) were part of an intermission quiz...here's the photos (click on the photo for an enlargement.)






I'll not probably post for a bit while I'm away, but will be back a.s.a.p.!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Music & Memories*

*obviously since music is linked with memories in the title I am NOT referring to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

I've always been one to believe that music is powerful, and affects the mind. I mention it often to friends, coworkers, and complete strangers, because its true! Hearing a work can evoke the time you heard it, or a particular performance can bring about feelings. I was recently impressed when a violinist soloist I hadn't heard for 20 years, told me the piece that he played. I had certainly remembered seeing him and being impressed, and my violin teacher at the time, Nancy Luttrell gushing about his playing too. But I was so impressed when he said he played the Bruch g minor concerto. (He recently played the Weiniawski First Concerto and was equally dazzling!)
This morning I listened to Henryk Gorecki's Third Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and had three distinct memories come flooding to mind:
The last time I listened to it intensely was with two very beautiful women in Dallas. There was wine, after a great dinner, and discussion.
A second memory of conducting the second movement at the WSU Contemporary Music Festival. It was a real joy and not had I talked the mezzo into singing it and gathering the orchestra together, but the blessing of my conducting teacher came quite high - we were pretty good friends at that time.
Also another memory came from the chords, of an old professor who made a big impression on me: Myra Merriman, who talked of listening to the Gorecki in a country home, with wine and friends. I told her it was like Richard Strauss in slow motion, dripping notes like a sauterne in a crystal glass.
Great memories just from listening to a disc.
I recommend taking a trip down memory lane, or attending a performance and create some new memories. (Just not Andrew Lloyd Webber, please!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Great combo

I've always been a Letterman fan, not really a Leno fan. My admiration for Rachael Ray is highly evident, so last night when I accidentally turned on the TV and found out she was going to be on Letterman, I was so pumped!
Luckily, it is the "Big Show Highlight" - but I doubt it will be on for more than today...here's the link: Letterman's official site
No doubt, it will be a good rerun (the main guest was Uma Thurman - hello!) so I'm sure they will have it on in the future. The top ten was ways to cheer up Dubya.
FYI, friends, I did tape it if you want to see it, just ask me...and on the sony it looks lovely.
: )

Tamayo Talk

Mixing Styles

WITF radio: John Clare - Music Programmer/Host

ET: Ernesto Tamayo - The Cuban Guitarist

Cuban guitarist Ernesto Tamayo has released his third album "The Cuban Guitarist," and it was the program he played at the Fulton Opera House, Lancaster, PA , on September 30th of 2005. The first concert of his tour "The Cuban Guitarist".

WITF: Ernesto, congratulations on your new recording "The Cuban Guitarist". I see that you have on this album Cuban music, as well as classical composers, and your own compositions. It is a mix of styles, tell us about that.

ET: Usually, classical musicians today release CDs with programs that feature one composer or one style of music (myself included), which brings a lot of satisfaction to the artists and some classical music fans because we see it as a serious project. Sometimes, mixing styles in an extreme way could be a double ache soar, but the general audience wants to listen to a variety of music. So I have advocated many different styles of music, from popular to classical, since I was a boy. This recording is a magnificent opportunity to compile a unique selection of works, featuring popular and exotic Cuban tunes, as well as pieces from the baroque and romantic repertory of the classical guitar.

WITF: The recording begins with three Cubans tunes, "Cachita", "La Batea", and "Y Tu que has hecho," talk to us about these selections:

ET: Well, Cachita is a wonderful piece originally arranged by Cuban guitarist Vicente Gonzales Rubiera (Guyun). I never found the original score of this arrangement so I end up rearranging the piece again based in what I remember. On this piece I combined jazz progressions, as well as percussive sounds that brings the flavor of our wonderful culture a live. "La Batea" which is the next piece is my arrangement of a theme my mother used to sign while doing laundry back in Cuba. This version is for two guitars and I play both of them on the recording. "Y tu que has hecho", what a piece, again, jazz progression, beautiful melody throughout which I could say it sounds exotic to me, even though the lyrics of this song talk about a conversation between a tree and a young woman.

WITF: Why Bach? Why the First Cello Suite? Why you didn't play the whole thing?

ET: Bach is my favorite composer. My first recording was a complete Bach CD, that is how much I love the men. I connect with him very easily. His music is unique and directed to the human spirit. The First Cello Suite is a gorges piece. I learned this piece when I was eleven years old. I always wanted to play it again. I did two presentations in New York back in February before my car accident, where I shared the stage with Cuban songwriter Juan-Carlos Formell. It was a very informal presentation. I was playing for a while and I needed to play a little be more and the First Cello Suite came to my mind. I played only three movements, and the audience love the combination of these movements with the rest of the program. The idea for the recording and the Bach selection was born that evening in New York.

WITF: You just mentioned a car accident, what happened?

ET: The car accident was an interest event. I took sometime off so I became an instrument-rated pilot. I have played the guitar since I was a five-year-old boy. After my thirty's birthday I wanted to do something different for a while. The day of the accident was weird. I was kind of elevated, and very spiritual. After rolling over for about four times and realizing that nothing happened to me that day, not even an scratch I noted that I was during a re-invention period, and that the period was over. So I came back to the studio, recorded this project, and my life as a guitarist came back to normal. I still flight my airplane, and I will do it all my life, but not as much now.

WITF: Let's talk about "The Havana Suite" and "Five Inspirations". They are the two world premiere recordings on your CD. I didn't know you could write music!

ET: "The Havana Suite" is a group of pieces that Aldo Rodriguez wrote back
in Cuba around 1980. Actually, they are part of a guitar method he wrote also for his students. His brother Antonio Rodriguez (Biki) was my teacher and introduced these pieces and the whole method to me while I was a boy. These pieces are simple and beautiful. During the recording process I recorded about fifteen of Aldo's pieces. My friend Blair and John who were involved with me on this project helped me to choose and organized them in one big piece. I thought about a name, and I contacted Antonio Rodriguez
(Biki) who is living in Mexico. After Biki's approval, I came back to the studio one day, opened the microphones and I started recording melodies, and chords on top of what I already recorded. We were all having fun, enjoying ourselves, and that is how "The Havana Suite" was accomplished. In regard to "Five Inspirations", I have to say that I don't consider myself a composer even though I studied composition in Cuba with Leo Brouwer and Carlos Fariñas. I am a musician that sometimes I get inspired by love, nature, friends, and other aspects of life. It is for me another way of communicating something from the inside.

WITF: How challenging was it recording the Tárrega pieces? I love the Recuerdos de la Alhambra, but not only is it difficult, there are many other recordings, what is new on your recording?

ET: Well, Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a demanding piece. Even though we have today the technology available to edit, to mix, to create effects, and so on, I wanted for this piece, and for the whole recording a different approach. I practiced this piece a lot before the recording session. I know how to practice well, and that is a plus for what I wanted to accomplished, but I end up recording this piece many times because I didn't want my engineers to edit the work. What is new on this recording? Well, the guitar sounds a little closer than other recordings I have heard of this particular piece, natural guitar reverb, so it is easy to understand the tremolo and the continuo bass throughout the piece, and the final contribution is my feelings for this piece, which I love dearly.

WITF: I understand that you have created your own company - that it is distributing and producing your recordings, as well as the concerts. Tell us more about that.

ET: Yes, the music industry has changed a lot within the last few years. I had a contract with a record label a few years ago that went out of business, and today companies in business don't really work so well in behalf to the artist. In addition I came from Cuba a few years ago and my father always wanted a business in Cuba. He was not able to accomplish that because of Castro's regime, so here was my opportunity. I got inspired by my father to create my own business. We are a team of four people who are best friends, love to work together, and enjoy a good coffee. It does not get better than that I think.

WITF: Ernesto, thank you so very much...

ET: Thank you for your time John, and I hope to get together soon.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Taking it slow

Listened again to a newly remastered and now re-released version of Brahms' and Sibelius' Violin Concerti with Ginette Neveu.

It's so musical. The tempos of the Sibelius are really slow compared to any recent recording...I was stunned to hear the opening dee-daw-dee-daw A's - I mean it's been ten years since I went through a "Neveu" phase. But it was a real joy to hear it. Everything made sense, and fit well. It didn't need to be a break neck speed to be exciting or musical. It was good, honest music making. You don't always get that.

Had to share

This is just too funny. I'm starting to read Dilbert online with my other comics...