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 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 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 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!

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


Things I am thankful 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
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?


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
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)


Louise - .Wav file (larger file!)


Monday, November 21, 2005


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


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 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 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 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 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:

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

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

Shostakovich Sym #4 opus 43 - allegretto poco moderato - presto - tempo 1
Shostakovich Sym #9 opus 70 - finale allegretto
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!
Carl Nielsen Symphony No 5 - first movement - tempo guisto (snare drum)
Shostakovich Sym #10 Delos recording of James DePreist Helsinki Symphony


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 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 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


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/ 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.

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


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


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!)