Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Monday Happy Halloween

Hope your weekend was 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 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 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'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'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...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Las Vegas

Heard late Friday from my friends attending the EMA Awards that I did not receive either Radio Manager of the Year or Best Radio Show. Win some, lose some. It was nice to be in the finals.
I had sent the following note to my friends if I had won:
"John wishes he could be here this evening…but he’s tied up with business in Pennsylvania...he said, he’s very honored...and to quote one of his favorites, Frank Sinatra:
“When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year”
It was a very good year for radio awards...tonight’s EMA(s) [plural if I won manager of the year] and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award!
“The Best is yet to come”
Thank you!!!"

I think I'll reference ol' Blue Eyes in December.

Catching up

Slowly but surely the dusting is settling, and I not only have time to blog but some other things!
I'm currently reading two books, Indivisible by Four - Arnold Steinhart's charming book about the Guarneri Quartet; and James Pegolotti's fascinating Deems Taylor: A Biography. Three guesses why I'm reading the second...
I also have been polishing Massenet's Thais Meditation, Gershwin's Summertime, and scales/arpeggios. Great to get in shape...I've actually unpacked some more music, and getting my violin studio room in shape. I will be getting a new (to me) couch and love seat soon.
I listened to Emma Johnson's new Mozart disc (had to get it in England, not released for some STUPID reason in the states...) and it is up to her normal AMAZING standards. It's like an old high school friend and I would say, I'd listen to her play Come to Jesus in whole notes.
Also had a chance to sit down and listen to some more of Roxanna Panufnik's music, the disc Angels Sing. I've been familiar with some of her music, but this really "struck a chord" so to speak. And it was a cool rainy day, perhaps a small factor of why it just sounded perfect to me. Her father's music is among the most cherished I have ever heard, but I have to say Roxanna has not fallen far from the tree so to speak.
I went to the Lion's Club pancake feed yesterday morning, and then shopping in downtown. Picked up a great violin cloth (it's a great big scarf with leopard print!) and some Central PA meats! Scrapel, sweet and regular Lebanon Bologna are now awaiting for me to cook, make sandwiches, et al.
So I grilled some burgers and chicken, having remembered to buy some charcoal lighter fluid...and I read Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine that just arrived in the mail.
It's wonderful, if a bit clunky in its design. The best thing is a pullout section with 7 recipes for the week, and get this, a shopping list to take to the grocery store. "Yum-o!" Of course there are a ton more recipes (with pictures!) in it, I'm just pleased as punch with that idea of having a handy guide with the list, recipes, etc. Here is the companion website,
So there you have it, for this weekend anyway.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wayback machine

Lots of positive comments on my tie that I wore today...was happy to think, and really it's the truth, that "I went to the Judge Harry T. Stone school of fashion." Thankfully everyone who I told that recognized the Night Court reference and that it was somehow appropriate.

My Andy Rooney Impression

Have you ever noticed words? I mean, how words can become popular. You see them and read (I hope!) all over the place...but some words are more popular than others. And I am referring to the written word, as opposed to popular catch phrases - that's a whole other topic.

In the late 80s, it was synergy. I even know composers who used it in their titles!

n. pl. syn·er·gies
The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect.

Then in the 90s, we had paradigm. You couldn't open the New Yorker or hear a newscast that didn't use paradigm in their analysis or report.
One that serves as a pattern or model.
A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.
A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

These days, the popular word is ebullient.
Zestfully enthusiastic.
Boiling or seeming to boil; bubbling.

Here's an interesting link: Most Used Words

And, every link you'd ever want about grammar and words: Grammar Resource

And you thought this was a blog site just about sexy violinists!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Quatre Les Noces et Requiem (c) (tm)

[note the title above is just something funny I thought of this morning. "Four Weddings and a Funeral Mass" is the translation...get it? Stravinsky? anyone? Buehler? Buehler?]

Anyway, just finishing up listening to the Mozart violin concerti set out with Anne-Sophie Mutter. (I couldn't wait for it to come out in the States and ordered it on In upcoming posts I'll tell about my other purchases, after I've had a chance to spin them. And I may make an update on this post.
Anne-Sophie Mutter is a powerhouse, and shows not only amazing technique and phrasing, a glow to her playing. That's not always the case with the London Philharmonic. Case in point, 4 minutes into the Turkish Concerto, the oboes crash into the work with the grace of a lumbering elephant. Their next entrance isn't any better. Ugh!
Do you know that old recording of Erica Morini playing the Mozart 5th concerto with Szell in Vienna (its not an Austrian Orchestra, rather a French one.) In the slow introduction, when the violin enters, the french horns get lost. They aren't even of the funniest live performances ever recorded. [Salzburg festival 1959]
Also, there's a great session tape of the Prades Orchestra and Casals playing Schubert's Fifth Symphony, where the back of the first violins come in two measures early at the recap...mind you, it was a session tape and not a final polished product, but a great flub nonetheless.

Back to the new Mutter, I'm pleased as punch, especially with her playing. The balance of the orchestra and recording itself, is lessthan stellar.
With all the negativity surrounding Mutter, see Norman Lebrecht's latest poison penn: "Anne-Sophie Mutter - The fiddler who should be banned" - Lebrecht is furious at Anne-Sophie - and while he could have a point at her salary, she does give back with her foundation...and her music making is downright glorious. She's an artist who champions new works and harkens the masterpieces with finese...those Beethoven Sonatas a few years back were delightful, and I for one am looking forward to hearing Mozart this year.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


v. test·i·fied, test·i·fy·ing, test·i·fies
v. intr.
To make a declaration of truth or fact under oath; submit testimony: witnesses testifying before a grand jury.
To express or declare a strong belief, especially to make a declaration of faith.
To make a statement based on personal knowledge in support of an asserted fact; bear witness: the exhilaration of weightlessness, to which many astronauts have testified.
To serve as evidence: wreckage that testifies to the ferocity of the storm.

I'm interested in reading, and to that end, in also reading testimonials on Friendster, Hi5, insert-networking/dating/whatever-internet-site here that people write for their friends/colleagues.
I also enjoy reading blogs and articles that say this concert/artist/cd is the next big thing.

This morning talking with a friend, and we were laughing about the early days on the internet and what site would have on them, their appearance, etc. (I'm sure "blogs" are going to be a very 00 sort of thing, just like the electronica of the early 80s (hum axel f theme here) is now so dated.)

The thing with "testimonials" online with Friendster is that you get to approve whether it is seen or not. (this means you also may offend your testimonial friend by NOT accepting it) This rarely seems the case though, as I see lots of "shout out"s and really, uhm, that I wouldn't want "stated based on personal knowledge in support of an asserted fact..."
But that's just me.

Back to blogs and articles...Audio or commercial testimony-wise, I do like them (and it's a personal thing, as for the above paragraphs.) I thcan they cna be powerful and persuading. Have you ever made a decision for personal or professional business based on someone's opinion, suggestion? Really that's a testimony.
A good result from a good suggestion, you'll put more stock into what that person says. A recommendation that leads to a bad result will effect future recommendations, or taken "with a grain of salt."

I guess it boils down to trust in one's words or reputation. I don't mind saying that I believe Gil Shaham and Hilary Hahn to be the world's best living violinists. I've seen them play live and interviewed them, heard recordings and based my opinion. I'll gladly testify that. Therefore I say, go to that concert or get that recording.

I'll also testify that you should support WITF. Yes, make a pledge and support public radio, tv and everything that WITF does. The staff is some of the brightest and sweetest people I've worked with in my career. They inspire me and set the bar high for quality. Do it today!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Perhaps of some use?

Found this lovely site for Luigi Nono:
Luigi Nono

And I received this hilarious email today:
Ye Olde Doctoral Music Exam

1. Explain the difference between sforza, sforzando, sforzata, and La Forza Del Destino. Be specific.

2. Redesign the traditional cup mouthpiece to permit greater endurance, a larger sound and effortless altissimo register. Explain why your design is better than contemporary models.

3. List Johann Sebastian Bach's male and female children. Include their dates of birth and death (if deceased), middle names (if any), last known address and Social Security numbers.

4. Name all of the composers who wrote a First Symphony and notate the opening theme of each of those symphonies.

5. What is the relationship and musical significance of the 10th and 11th bars of the aria "Soldaten, Soldaten" to the aria's final bars (1048-1063) in the Alban Berg opera "Wozzeck"?

6. Who conducted "Tannhauser" at the 1847 Bayreuth Festival? Was he right or left-handed?

7. How many members of that orchestra were Jewish? Name them. (A Trick Question).

8. Trace the development of the "Family Unity" theme in Richard Strauss's "Sinfonia Domestica". In which key(s) is it presented?

9. Describe in detail the formula for the varnish on violins made by Stradivari during the first third of his career. Explain how this varnish differs from the varnish used on his violas. What modern substances could be effectively substituted in duplicating this formula today?

10. What is the optimum acidity/alkalinity (expressed in pH) for soil in which cane for bassoon reeds may be grown? For bass clarinet reeds? For Alto clarinets? For Artie Shaw?

11. Name and describe the bones and muscles involved in forming a brass player's embouchure.

12. What are the advantages of using xylophone mallet heads made of:
a. Ebony? b. Teak? c. Philippine Mahogany? d. Stale marshmallows?

13. Argue both sides of the following statement: "The most important element in music is rhythm." Critique both arguments and decide which is correct, or more nearly correct. Compose a three-movement symphonic metamorphosis (not to exceed 1 hour in length) on a theme by Ned Rorem to support your decision.

14. Defend Mozart's use of the glass harmonica and explain why this instrument has lapsed into disfavor, especially among Latin bands and Punk Rock groups.

15. Give the "Slap-Back" time in seconds (to three decimal places) of each hall used by all major American and European orchestras. Defend your selection of each orchestra as a "major" orchestra and name each orchestra's past and present conductors.

16. In which of his symphonies did Franz Joseph Haydn use:
a. Clarinets b. Horns c. Bassoon d. Slide Whistle e. Theremin

17. Write out the first 25 bars of Stravinsky's "Circus Polka". Watch those key changes!

18. What is the Kochel number of Mozart's 4th Horn Concerto? Why didn't he write a fifth?

19. Develop a simple set of general rules that explain the harmonic and melodic progressions, voice leadings and rhythmic notation of the music of Bartok and The Macarena

20. Give the ratio between the bore and overall length of a Couesnon Contra-Bass trombone, Model G-571a, when the slide is in flat 4th position. If the position is used in conjunction with both thumb valves (F and D) to play the 7th note of the overtone series, what note will be sounded? Will it be sharp, flat, or in tune? If sharp or flat, by how many hundredths of a semitone?

21. Who invented the Ocarina? In what year? Why?

22. Explain the musical inconsistencies as to key, notation, accidentals, etc, found in the original score of Robert Schumann's Symphony #3.

23. Write a seven-voice motet in the style of Orlando di Lassus in invertible counterpoint. Ten Extra credits if the motet can also be performed backwards. Twenty Extra Credits if it sounds better that way.

24. Using materials commonly found in the kitchen, construct a 15 rank, 3-manual positiv organ (with pedals) and use it to perform two pieces by Oliver Messiaen.

25. Reconstruct the missing movements of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony.

26. Give the Russian, German, and Serbo-Croatian equivalents of the following Italian terms: Tuffato, Con Amore, Cadenza, Fugato, Garbonza, Mafioso, and Fuggedabowdit.

27. Explain why the jazz-influenced pieces written by Ravel, Stravinsky, Poulenc and Berstein didn't swing.

28. Now that Preservation Hall is under 8' of water, will real jazz continue to exist?

29. Because of the lack of electricity to power Rock Bands in the Coastal Regions of the Southern United States, will the local populations be the first in America to regain their hearing? Defend your position.

30. Rank the following items in order of importance as far as the long-term effects of their invention concerned the destruction of melodic music and explain why:
1. Bagpipes 2. Country/Western bands 3. the Amplified Guitar 4. Stephen Sondheim
5. Mantovani 6. Kenny G 7. Florence Foster Jenkins 8. Arnold Schoenberg 10. Darlene
Edwards 11. Jack Benny 12. The Monkees 13. Nancy Sinatra 14. William Shattner

Balancing act

It's funny...I can't juggle. Have you tried? I have friends who do it professionally, and I have never been able to.
I can rub my tummy and pat my head (or is it rub my head and pat my tummy? or is that good luck to pat my tummy? I do have the body of a god, unfortunately it's Buddha!) And I can
"try to tickle the human ears by the friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat"
as Ambrose Bierce says by playing the violin.

But I do juggle alot of activities, or I suppose these days you'd call it multi-tasking.

I've been spending time with my violin. I've taken breaks before from playing (insert string player joke here, hahahaha) but there is something very satisfying about getting into shape. I should also do the same health wise. A whole other can of worms there.

And so I'm trying to figure out some sort of order. I could just watch old episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. However, these are some of the tasks I'm trying to organize: (unfortunately in no particular order!)
transcribe composer interviews
learn violin part to Lark Ascending
design new personal webpage (John Clare, not classicallyhip)
iron clothes
fix recliner
listen to new music (panufnik, r panufnik, too many others to list!!!)
read deems taylor bio, 2 deems taylor books, guarneri 4tet book [i'm borrowing from a friend], pc magazines (why, oh why did I subscribe?!)
solidify all travel plans and make reservations
write ema awards speech
write dt award speech
fix bicycle
get several suits dry cleaned
organize closet and dresser
unpack music and set up music room

That's all of the top of my head. And good to write down. Ah, thank you blog!
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Two for Tuesday

Today there are two excellent releases of violinists Hilary Hahn and also of Janine Jansen. If you're near Seattle you can meet and greet Hilary at her cd release party (see her website Hilary Hahn dot com.) [See my previous post about Hilary's charming new Mozart Sonatas disc - and be sure to catch her live in concert!]

Also Decca releases the Four Seasons with Janine Jansen. Janine will be making her US debut later this season, and is one to watch, listen and adore. She brings real fire to these pieces...I've spent some time listening to them repeatedly as well as comparing them to my other favorites (Anne-Sophie Mutter's second recording with the Trondheim Soloists and Monica Hugget's original instruments recording, and even a few others - Fabio Biondi, Kennedy, Simon Standage and Joe Silverstein.) Janine's release is excellent.

Small aside, growing up I listened to Lorin Maazel's 4 Seasons recording every morning in Junior High School. Really. It was a ritual, putting on the LP and getting ready for school. Every day. I loved it, and practically wore out the LP. Needless to say I am not only a geek, but know these well. So, while there is ONLY the Four Seasons on this disc, it is well worth it. Janine is another violinist you should see as she is in the US (or wherever you are) - I'm gonna go to Cleveland in January to catch her.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Makes a difference

I saw an orchestral member smile during a performance. Not once, twice or three times...rather many times over the length of a concert. Sometimes it was at the conductor, at the concertmaster, or her stand partner. It was great to see, and makes a huge difference. The only disappointment was that few of her cohorts did the same. And that's true often of musicians.
I'm not saying you have to grin to make notes, or to express the phrase, that's a whole other technical matter. But to convey you're enjoying what you do? Absolutely! Too often performers look lackluster or nonchalant when it comes to performing or receiving applause...again, I'm not saying smiling while playing a Bruckner adagio is necessary (or appropriate) however, after a performance, or while making music, sure, it's alright to smile - enjoy yourself.
I made sure to catch the performer last night, and say what a pretty smile she had, and I was glad to see an orchestral performer smile. Sure there was a bit of flirting, but the message of smiling came through.
This does lead to all of us, you should smile as often as you can. There's the old line, "smile, it'll make people wonder what you're up to" - and I can always hear when a radio announcer is smiling. I try to smile on air and off air.
Pass it along.
: )

Saturday, October 08, 2005


So I'm still pinching myself (and encouraging young ladies to do the same) about this ASCAP stuff. Reading the official letter and press release, potentially Martin Scorcese, Bob Dylan and Richard Taruskin are also award winners and may be at the presentation in December. I'm sure you're familiar with the first two, but perhaps not Richard, who is a major talent. I've known his writings for quite a while and know how much my mentors have revered him as well. I always read him in the NY Times.

So far at my table will be friends Dan Welcher (who has won the Deems Taylor in 1999) and Daron Hagen - and appropriately they have both been featured on 20/20 Hearing. Not sure yet about my date, my South African ex-fiancee dancer turned real estate agent can't make it since her mom has picked that time to visit the US.

I'm not star struck, really. I got over that after interviewing Penderecki, and after becoming friends with Teller. Yes, the smaller, quieter half of Penn and Teller. He is a sweetheart. I recently wore a suit that happened to be the same one I wore when catching P&T one of my last nights in Las Vegas with Margaretha (the aforementioned SA dancer, pictured above) and found our ticket stubs in the breast pocket. It was great afterwards to hang with P&T - Emily was there, Penn's wife (who LOVED Margaretha, well, flipped over her?) as did everyone - but back to the story, they gave us their daughter Moxie Crimefighter Jillette's birth announcement - a koozie! Really! It was awesome to see this Hirshfeld cartoon of Penn & Teller as well as an Andy Warhol of them on the walls. We drank the MOST WONDERFUL ginger ale - non alcoholic, P&T don't drink - that was not only tasty, but spicy. I still remember that taste - it's almost like a great melody you can hum - need to ask Teller where they get it (seems to me he said something about getting it from Germany.)
I mention this also since this week I got the cd set of Bartok Quartets the Colorado Quartet played for the LVCMS and Teller. It sounds lovely and looks great.

For honesty sake, I do have to say, last week, I was a bit *star struck* when Rachael Ray added me to "friends" on Friendster. WOW. Holy Cow. We spend alot of time together in the living room and in the kitchen - of course, she is always on TV or in the cookbook. :) But what an inspiration - her energy and optimism is like a great symphony to me.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Great comeback

Stars came back. Wow. Heck of an evening of hockey last night. Poor Pens and Flyers. Not a great start, Pens didn't seem to have the stream to keep up with the Devils and the Flyers blew a big lead, doh.
I am glad to have Hockey back. I have no idea what this is going to do to my schedule, I'm ordering the game package...maybe I'll practice violin while watching the games, or get a laptop to do work with downstairs. I could break down and get a digital video recorder, but that doesn't help the whole time thing.
In fact, I've bought some dvds recently and have so many to get through, plus some new cds I'm dying to listen to without distractions that I'm way behind. And things are only getting busier!
Ah, life's rich pageant. (or LRP as my friend Cindy would say.)

Two huge things this week are settling in: a close friend's wife had their first child - I'm so pumped! and a violinist in Las Vegas took her own life - tragic. I've been mellow about both while thinking about the two internally. buh. snuh.

Lots more on many fronts, I'll report later. (A small preview - the Bartok CDS - like I need more to listen to! from last year's LVCMS concert with the Colorado Quartet are finished and mailed out - I've already heard from one P&T fan who I met that weekend about how much she likes it. Teller is such a brilliant sweet human.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Seen but not heard

The time is here!

The puck drops tonight! Dallas plays the Kings this evening at 8:30pm eastern.
Looking forward! Philly plays the Rangers at 7pm and Pittsburg plays the Devils at 7:30.
Welcome back NHL!

Old friend

I spent time with an old friend last night. It had been a few months since we had seen each other. It was great to hear her voice. There were some health problems so she couldn't come out with me from Las Vegas. Everything is taken care of now, and she's at home. First we went out on the back porch and made some noise, I think the neighbors might have been annoyed, but after a quick dinner, I think was when they would have been upset with us.
I am, of course, talking about my violin.
: )
I was a bit pensive all day yesterday waiting for the UPS shipment to arrive. When it did, the box looked like crap. I was so worried! I knew my friend (always be good to string repair folks and accompanists, ALWAYS!) had done a good job fixing the crack and had made it safe to travel from Las Vegas to Harrisburg, but the receptionist said "oh yeah, they just DROPPED it there."
It's fine. Better than fine. Sounds lovely. Now I need to get to work on it.
I played through some Tchaikovsky, Panufnik, Massenet, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff (gosh I love to flirt with the vocalise!) and then ate a quick bite.
I pulled out some new music I bought over the summer, the Lark Ascending and the Red Violin Caprices. I hope Vaughan-Williams will forgive me. I love it, but I need practice.
So some arpeggios and scales kept me company the rest of the evening, g major, minor and d major/minor...didn't do any bowing exercises, just notes. The right hand will warm up later - never been a problem, I'm concerned about getting my left hand better. I did pull out a David Diamond piece that I will play soon. Learned it years back and while unpacking ran across the Canticle again. Charming sweet piece that should be played more often!
So, here's to old friends.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It has started

Well, the celebrations have begun. Last night friends suprised me with champagne. We spent some time listening to 20/20 Hearing(tm) appropriately, but worked in watching some of Kanye West on SNL that I had taped and viewing digital pictures on my tv.
This is something I totally recommend - well, besides drinking champagne - it was so much fun seeing pictures from the digital camera on a Sony 61" TV.
Good music, good friends, some champagne...ah.

Previously awarded

Some past winners...
American Routes * Nick Spitzer * Producer & Host
MBK Productions * Public Radio International

host/producer Steve Robinson * WFMT Radio & WFMT Radio Network

host/co-Executive producer Terry Gross and co-Executive Producer Danny Miller * Fresh Air * WHYY Radio, Philadelphia

Michael Barone, Host & Producer * Pipedreams * Minnesota Public Radio

WFUV Radio, New York City Folk * Rita Houston, Music Director
Swing Time and The Big Broadcast * Rich Conaty, Host


Executive Producer: Jon Solins * Producer: Joel Gordon Associate Producer: Matthew Packwood

WKCR FM, Columbia University Traditions in Swing
Producer/Host: Phil Schaap

National Public Radio * Performance Today
Martin Goldsmith *Don Lee * Benjamin Roe
Sony Classical Film & Video * Marsalis on Music

From the ASCAP website

Monday, October 03, 2005


I'm so taken with Molly Sheridan's writing and ideas.
For example:
"Geeky boys might fantasize about building a robotic prom date, but now composers who can't get no satisfaction from an ensemble might go the same route. See Kurt Coble's Partially Artificial Musicians."
(how did she knw about prom?! hmm, more thought should go into that perfect violinist I've been dreaming of building...FrankenMutter? HilaryHorror? LeilaJoseozombie?)
"Clearly, some creativity is needed, and quickly. Sure, we're a minority up against stereotypes, so maybe we need to gather a group of composers and performers and start cultural dialogue on par with this Swedish library. Who better to make the case than us? There's no time to waste, unless you're perfectly comfortable leaving your neighbors alone in their houses with nothing but endless recasts of Law & Order and CSI lighting their faces."

Check out NewMusicBox dot org - you'll be glad you did.

Too Tolerant? Too Many!

Kyle Gann has recently posed an excellent question (I adore his writing, musically and literally - in the word sense) on (in?) his blog,
"I suggested that maybe the reason composers our age hadn’t gotten enough attention was that we showed too much respect for our elders, and hadn’t presented ourselves as individuals worthy of attention ourselves."

I have a dorky but simple answer: There are so many more composers these days.
I mean from all sorts of views, it's really hard to keep up. And modern music is my passion. The wetter the ink, or newer the piece, I want to hear it.
But keeping up with all of the works and people is incredibly hard to do so. And its also harder for composers to make a "splash," in the media, with publishers (or getting their self published works out), and in general.
There are so many composers and do you spend time getting your masterpiece out there or write another?

So many composers, so little time!

Heart sing

Have you seen this?
John Adams' "Doctor Atomic" debuts in San Francisco. "In a risky stroke Peter Sellars assembled a libretto from interviews with the project participants, history books, conversation transcripts, declassified documents and poetry. His cut-and-paste job has produced a libretto of heightened emotional resonance and surprising dramatic continuity. With Mr. Adams's haunting score, what results is a complex, searching and painfully honest if somewhat problematic opera." The New York Times 10/03/05

What a wonderful thing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hungry plump man?

If you have met me or seen a picture of me, you can't miss I'm overweight. (Isn't it wonderful that wearing a suit can make a fat man look good?)
Yes, I enjoy food, passionately. I usually spend an hour in the evening with Rachael Ray, learning new recipes and sighing heavily as I watch that wonderful sweet and energetic chef on the Food Network.
Yet I hunger for more than just food. My appetite for new music is perhaps larger than my tummy. (hard to believe I know!) And not unlike food, I have a wide taste for music...I do have my favorites, I could talk your ear off about Sir Andrzej Panufnik - make your eyes glaze over with Penderecki references - and bankrupt you with text messages of Lutoslawski. Don't even get me started about Walter Mays, a dear friend and amazing composer, I wouldn't shut up for hours.
Minimalism? You bet!
Aleatory? Yummy!
Post modern sounds? Serve it up!
And just like my occasional fast food meal, I'll even delve into a Howard Jones or other pop tune. (hey! I grew up in the 80s! Who can't hum the axel f theme?)
But I do want quality. Always. In food, let's see that grade a beef.
And I'm always listening for form, interpretation, creativity, etc. High Quality in my High Fidelity.
I've had hard lessons in relationships, listening, career...We all do. Learning lessons from them is so important. One of mine is quality. (moderation however has not been one learned yet!)
So you'll usually see me with the most beautiful woman, eating the most tasty treat, smoking the great cigar. Why not? Life is short...Quality not quantity of life.
I'm hungry, for excellence. Pretty much in whatever I do.

And why pray tell, am I blogging about this?
I've receiving the Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP this year for a radio show I thought of, created, produced, was me, with my favorite composers. Please don't take that as arrogance or boasting. I actually wish I had a staff for 20/20 Hearing, and could sit back and spend even more time with each of those episodes. (there were 26 weekly episodes each season, that repeated - making 52 weeks in the year - and a total of 2 seasons for 52 shows - 104 hours of music & interviews.)
I'm still hungry for new music and have some new concepts for shows. There will be some changes...but it feels good to know folks appreciate it. (I've often joked about my favorite sound - applause!)

I've been contacting the composers involved over the 2 seasons of 20/20 Hearing - to say thanks, the message tells about the award, but starts with "Thank you! Great composers make for great shows!"

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Breakfast & the Arts (not the A&E show)

What a wonderful Saturday morning. As I didn't hit the sack until about 3 this morning, I slept in. Ahead, I have planned some yard work, got to mow the backyard, the squirrels are making tunnels in the grass, hahahaha. Not really, but it so nice outside, I really will get to it.
There's a chipmunk out on the front porch, I usually see him out back along the rock wall but today he's out front, unless there's more of them than I think, which there probably are! Short and cute.
So I made a honkin' full pot of coffee, put some biscuits in the oven and have the mixings for an omelette prepared. Food and caffeine after a night of wine, cigars and great music is just the right thing.
Yes, last night Ernesto Tamayo (the Cuban Guitarist) played at the Fulton Opera Theater (what a gorgeous place!) and I emcee'd the event. It was one of the great shows I've seen - less formal that a recital, but nothing less than amazing in music taste or technique. The guy always impresses me, with a cool, charming demeanor and playing like a monster - and a way that makes it looks easy. Do catch him in concert if you get a chance, or pick up his new cd. Mondo music and charm all in one.
So we went out afterwards, and drank - smoked cigars - ate, celebrated a friend's birthday and my Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP.
Yes, I'm burying the lead because 1) it's still hard to believe I got the call yesterday and 2) I'm going to mention it in the future - the letter from them will arrive this week.
I received a call yesterday from Jim Steinblatt at the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers. He passed along the groovy cool news, I have won the
2005 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for my show 20/20 Hearing™.

The Deems Taylor Awards program recognizes books, articles, broadcasts and websites on the subject of music, selected for their excellence. I’ll receive the award at a ceremony at Lincoln Center in December.

The show's website is here: 20/20 Hearing dot org/

20/20 Hearing™ was a two hour radio show celebrating Contemporary Classical Music.
Each week, we explored a composer, a style or contemporary performers.
Host John Clare talked with the most up-to-date musicians, discussed the most recent work of composers, and perhaps in the scope of an episode, “broadens your hearing, and maybe your musical horizon!”

Since debuting in October 2003, 20/20 Hearing™ has featured music and interviews with 15 Pulitzer Prize winning composers, 13 composers of The American Academy of Arts and Letters (plus two Foreign Honorary Members), and 10 complete episodes featuring Women Composers (plus partial shows of two additional Women Composers).

20/20 Hearing™ won the 2004 Electronic Media Award for Best Radio Show in the Las Vegas Market, and is again a finalist for Best Radio Show in this year's awards,
to be announced on October 21st, 2005.