Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And the trumpet shall

Sound? Well in this part of the Silly Concert 1989, March 31st, April Fool's Eve...Perry Holbrook did manage to get the trumpet to sound...take a peek.

(about a four minute video file, enjoy.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Concert organizer

I've often been called somewhat of an instigator of classical music...see the quotes on the right hand side of this page? When I wasn't serenading a young lady with my violin, singing Happy Birthday to Bach or just hanging out in the east lobby of the practice rooms of Duerksen Fine Arts Center(D.F.A.C.), I was getting folks together to play music.


Since my days at Derby Senior High School, I had my nose in scores and my head in the clouds. (Insert Debussy Nocturne (Nauge) here, hahaha.)
In college I formed I Virtousi di Wichita State, the Contemporary Music Festival, the Wichita Chamber Orchestra and many, many pickup groups that gigged around town. Later I founded the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society, which I will visit in February with Pianist Thomas Leander.
But the first "big" event that came along at WSU was the "Silly Concert" - March 31st, 1989. (April Fool's Eve) We charged a quarter ($0.25) admission and raised enough money to buy 2 cds for the WSU Music Library. (Another concert garnered another three compact discs that fall.) [I'm amazed you can see it on the library records!]
I'm going to share some of the video that was made from this concert.

Let's start with the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria. Played on the Saw.
Walter Mays and Dean Roush perform.
(Hosted by Google video.)

It's about a three minute video, enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Get out the vote

Good morning! Wanted to share this online poll with you: http://www.reviewjournal.com/bestoflv/ballot06.html
for the "Best of Las Vegas" from the LVRJ.
You need to fill in at least five categories to have it counted...let the voting begin! I'll visit in SinCity in February for a Las Vegas Chamber Music Society event and to see friends.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Travelling is on again for me. This Saturday and then the next Sunday (Superbowl Sunday) I'll be in New York City...ah, Manhattan.
[I'll see old friends from WSU on 1/28 and hear/meet Joan Tower on 2/5]

Also this next month I return to Las Vegas for a LONG weekend of seeing friends and music. Thomas Leander and his lovely wife Susanna are performing. I'll also catch Penn & Teller (pancakes or waffles? I'll let Teller decide) and get into crazy conversations with my musician friends. Oh and cocktails at Tangerine and the IceHouse. And food at the Palms.

Speaking of food, Rachael Ray recipes are going well. I'm never in a rush and don't do them in 30 minutes, and that's ok. They taste great!

Excitement and good news that a friend is completing (after 2 years) a symphony. Reminds me that I have compositions to finish and to plan a violin recital this year.

Didn't win powerball, oh well. I love my job anyway.

Last night I filled in for Listener Requests (Whad'ya want? by the Michael Feldmanian/Strawserian alt title) and had fun. A bit of exercise physically (running back and forth to the library to control room) and mental (figuring out the exact piece they might want, and getting the timings to come out ok for network news and billboards.) Several folks complimented, always appreciated.

Martina is out of the Aussie Open, then Clijsters was injured - almost wished it had happened in the Quarterfinals so Martina mighta had another chance. Oh well. Just happy she's playing again. I'll catch her at the US Open this fall (if she enters) - I've talked about that for a while and this is just the excuse I need to go to Ashe Stadium!

Advising a friend about cigars for his upcoming bundle of joy in May. Hard work indeed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Where to find me in the future...

Wow! The Philadelphia Orchestra is accepting subscriptions to their 2006-2007 season.
And let me tell you it is amazing. I imagine I'll go to the following concerts:

October 2006
The Philadelphia Orchestra Peter Oundjian, conductor Dawn Upshaw, soprano
KERNIS Color Wheel
DUTILLEUX "San Francisco Night"
DUTILLEUX Three Sonnets of Jean Cassou
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2

November 2006
The Philadelphia Orchestra Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Leonidas Kavakos, violin Marisol Montalvo, soprano
BERG Violin Concerto
MAHLER Symphony No. 4

January 2007
The Philadelphia Orchestra Christoph Eschenbach, conductor David Kim, violin Juliette Kang, violin Kimberly Fisher, violin Paul Roby, violin
VIVALDI Concerto for Four Violins
SCHOENBERG Chamber Symphony No. 1
VIVALDI The Four Seasons

January 18, 2007
The Philadelphia Orchestra Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9

February 24, 2007
The Philadelphia Orchestra Roger Norrington, conductor Dietrich Henschel, baritone
BACH Orchestral Suite No. 3
BACH Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug"
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation")

April 12, 2007
The Philadelphia Orchestra Andrey Boreyko, conductor Piotr Anderszewski, piano STRAVINSKY Symphony in Three Movements
SZYMANOWSKI Symphony No. 4, for piano and orchestra
HAYDN Symphony No. 60 ("Il distratto")
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin

April 19, 2007
The Philadelphia Orchestra Donald Runnicles, conductor
ADAMS Harmonielehre

New pieces by Oliver Knussen and John Harbison (Double Bass Concerto)
Performances with Janine Jansen (Debuting with Mendelssohn)
Julia Fischer (Beethoven), my favorite up and comers!
Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg playing Bach and Assad Concerti (October)
Valery Gergiev (February 2007)
Gil Shaham playing Stravinsky Concerto

Lots to look forward to this next season!!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The week ahead

Saturday I had a blast at the Cornerstone Coffeehouse! Lots of friends (thank you!) came by and we met some new folks as well...Paul was in great form and we had fun jammin'. I think we both thought the blues sounded very good - and a little unusual for violin. But cool.
Earlier that day I took my Rachael Ray shopping list to Giant and am going to make 7 new recipes this week - yummo!

Also I enjoyed seeing the Steelers win. Yeehah!

I couldn't stay up for the Hingis match though...I taped it at the 3:30am Eastern start time and will watch it this afternoon when I get home...gotta stay away from any tennis news until then! But I'm so happy she is back in the tennis world...been an interesting Australian Open this year - I think she could win it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Some random and not so randomness

Last night something hit me while practicing on both the electric and acoustic violins. Yes, I should practice more, hahaha. Really, the revelation may strike you as plain or obvious, but classical works don't sound or feel right to me on the electric violin. (Does she (the electric violin) need a name?) Folk, jazz and "rock" licks and rhythms are bompin' on the electric though. I'm getting used to it more and more, and time will tell. Rachmaninoff's Vocalise though doesn't have the same gush on the electric as the acoustic - especially on the g string. Maybe with some effects? Hmmm. John Barry themes of James Bond sound great on the electric. And bassy, minimal rhythms are spot on.

Speaking of playing, Paul Zavinsky and I are jamming at Cornerstone Coffeeshop in Camp Hill Saturday evening, 8 to 10ish. Stop on by!

I've been playing alot of Mozart cds lately. Everyone has. So this morning I had to get something different in my head. I listened to Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles.
Then to Messiaen's Illuminations of the Beyond.
Ah...I feel much better.

Ok, I saw this posted on the ArtsJournal website:
Consolidating At Cooperstown The upstate New York-based Glimmerglass Opera will lose its artistic director this year when Paul Kellogg steps down from the position. Rather than replace him, the company has announced that general director Michael MacLeod will assume the duties of artistic director as well. "While MacLeod has no experience with an opera company, Glimmerglass emphasized in a press release that he had worked with such leading singers as Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Rodney Gilfrey, and Bryn Terfel while leading the City of London Festival" PlaybillArts 01/18/06
Embezzlement Alleged At Charlotte Opera Company Opera Carolina says that its former finance director embezzled nearly $50,000 from the company over the course of the 2004-05 season. Mary Lopes, who resigned from her position with the company last fall, is also accused of using a company credit card for personal expenses. "After an interim finance director took over last fall... the company discovered in mid-December that 'the financial records were in disarray.'" Charlotte Observer 01/18/06
And immediately thought, okay it'll be easier to embezzle at Cooperstown!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Voice of this Century - chance to hear for 2 weeks...

For the next week, maybe two, you can hear one of the most amazing mezzo sopranos ever, Joyce DiDonato. You'll be transported to Venice via a lunchtime concert at Wigmore Hall.
Link to the BBC (concert was Monday, January 16th, 2006)

Joyce DiDonato

The crazy thing about Joyce, who made her Metropolitan Opera debut this last fall, is that she went to Wichita State. We were in classes/performances together and indeed then and now, she is a wonderful star and great human being.

Joyce's most recent Handel recording

A few years back, I was a producer at NPR...another classmate from WSU was the principal second violin of the Richmond Symphony and Joyce was the mezzo for Handel's Messiah with the Richmond Symphony, George Manahan conducting. I came down and stayed with my friend for the weekend and crashed on her couch. Joyce had no idea I was coming. I popped into th dress rehearsal and suprised the h*ll out of Joyce. That night we partied in an old house in Richmond of one of the symphony board members, each of us not believing how well we were doing and at our young ages (this was in December 1996.) We drank champagne and wine til the wee hours.

Joyce's first solo disc

This year, while I won the Deems Taylor Award, Joyce debuted at the Met, and our friend Sara had her first photography show. I didn't get to make it to the Met (Sara did!) but will catch Joyce soon with the Philharmonic...the New York Philharmonic. We've stayed in touch and its just too fun to know a dear sweet talented person like her. Cheers to you dearie!
Joyce's debut solo cd is out this month and I'm looking forward to doing a radio interview with her...we've talked about it for three years now...as she's recorded Mozart, Machover, Adamo, Daugherty, Vivaldi, Handel, Berlioz, and Rossini, we're finally getting around to it! Keep an eye and ear out, I'll be sure to post the audio when it happens.

Just a reminder, its only up for a little while so listen to it while you can!!! Link to the BBC and Joyce in recital.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mo' Mozart

This month is the 250th Anniversary of Mozart's Birth! (January 27th to be exact.)

Recently three violinists (Hilary Hahn, Rachel Podger and Andrew Manze) have released compact discs of his sonatas (and a fourth major [babe] violinist ((Anne-Sophie Mutter)) is due to release a disc later in 2006) in celebration.
Luckily, there is a common sonata between each of these compact discs, but not all three artists play the exact same repertoire (you'll see! it just sounds confusing*) and I thought it would be great to compare the performances.
(*and as you can hear, even have more fun - if that's possible - and combine those tracks! see the very bottom of this entry...)

I would like to suggest that these are my opinions and not that of any organization that I am employed by, or associated with, or represent.

Furthermore, I would encourage you to make your own opinion about these recordings, I am merely presenting the files for comparison. Feel free to contact me for further thoughts or your thoughts.

Thank you!

Let's start with Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr. It's a Harmonia Mundi compact disc with KV 377, 380, 403 & 376.

Listen to a section of the Sonata in F major, K 376, first movement, Allegro. [mp2 file]
And then compare that same section, the Allegro, with Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu. It's a DG compact disc with KV 301, 304, 376 & 526. [mp2 file]

The first thing I noticed was the intonation. Quite a difference in period and modern performance. Also, there is a large sound difference in the fortepiano and hearing a piano.
Next I thought about tempo, they're quite different. But not stereotypical that the "historically informed" version is quicker...

Let's hear some of the Andante from the next movement of K. 376. We start again with Manze/Egarr. [mp2 file]
And the same passage, Andante from K. 376, with Hahn/Zhu. [mp2 file]
Again, quite different.

Finally, part of the Rondeau from K. 376, first with Manze/Egarr. [mp2 file]
And the same passage, Rondeau from K. 376, with Hahn/Zhu. [mp2 file]

Now we'll compare Hahn/Zhu with Rachel Podger and Gary Cooper in Mozart's Sonata in G major, K 301.

We begin with the first movement, Allegro con spirito played by Hahn & Zhu. [mp2file]

Now the same section of the first movement, Allegro con spirito played by Podger & Cooper. It's a Channel Classics CD with KV 303, 7, 301, 30 &481. [mp2file]

Then Hahn & Zhu play part of the second movement, Allegro. [mp2file]

The same section with Podger & Cooper of the second movement, Allegro. [mp2file]

John recomposing or decomposing?

A Mozart autograph score from this site.

For fun, I mixed the first thirty seconds of the Allegro (the second movement) of Mozart's K301 with all the performers (Podger, Hahn, Cooper and Zhu) playing together. This soundfile is (c) 2006 by PanufnikProductions.

For even more fun (and dissonance!), I mixed the first minute of the Rondeau from Mozart's K376 with all the performers (Manze, Hahn, Egarr and Zhu) playing together. This soundfile is (c) 2006 by PanufnikProductions.

Caricature from here.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The numbers

Ala Terry Teachout:
Mozart lived 13,097 days and spent 3,720 of them - more than 10 of his not quite 36 years - traveling to more than 200 European cities.
(from MSNBC)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Afraid of today? Triskaidekaphobia!

Arnold Schoenberg - who developed the 12 tone system; was born on September 13th,1874; died on Friday July 13th, 1951; his opera “Moses and Aron” – it’s not spelled Aaron because the number of letters would add up to 13 with the extra “a”; he once refused to rent a house because it had the number 13; and feared turning 76, because its digits add up to thirteen.
On his last day on earth, he reportedly stayed in bed preparing for what he thought as his death day. After begging her husband to wake up and "quit his nonsense," his skeptical wife was shocked to find that her husband in fact had died that day he had long feared, as he uttered the word "harmony" and died. His time of death was 11:47 p.m., 13 minutes until midnight. It was his 76th year…amazing that the father of 12 tone technique suffered from triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number thirteen).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cigar Quotes

"The cigar numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images."
George Sand

"A good Cuban cigar closes the door to the vulgarities of the world."
Franz Liszt

"By the cigars they smoke, and the composers they love, ye shall know the texture of men's souls."
John Galsworthy

"The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana cigar."
Evelyn Waugh

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Recognized while relaxing

After my interview Friday morning with George Crumb, I grabbed lunch and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I had driven by the place several times, but it was my first visit there. Going reminded me of great trips with my family as a kid. I remember going to St. Louis and seeing paintings and armor, in Alaska with everything from stuffed Polar Bears to Inuit art and later going with my folks to the Eisenhower Memorial and the Truman Library.

But as for my trip, I got my map and decided that dawdling and meandering around, whereever I liked was the best plan of attack. Besides, I didn't need to be anywhere until 8 o'clock that night for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz (another post!)

I went to the center, looking at a large sculpture of Diana - sexy and breathtaking. Then I noticed across the ceiling a wonderful mobile. There it was in the great stairway, originally installed at the Guggenheim Museum. Reading about the history of the Calder family, the fountain in front of the Philadelphia museum is by Calder's father and another famous sculture downtown is by his father's father. It made me think of another artistic family from the city of brotherly love, painter Joe Teller and his famous son, Teller. It also made me think of a former lover, who adored Calder and Mondrian - which I thought of her again seeing several prime paintings of Modrian in the modern wing. But I digress.

Anyway, amidst the amazing paintings, I found myself wondering freely and taken in completely - relaxing and soaking up the works. It was great time spent for myself. I was drawn early on to the impressionists and a lovely room with a fountain. The sound of water was very relaxing. I spied Van Gogh's Sunflowers and knew, growing up in Kansas - the Sunflower state!, that I wanted to lose myself in this work.

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

So I walked around the circular room slowly and waited for the sunflowers to be last. I'm not sure how long I spent in front of it...but while I looking (appreciating?) the Van Gogh, I heard "John." No, the painting didn't speak to me, well it did speak to my soul, but it was a couple from Camp Hill visiting that afternoon that exclaimed, "It is John Clare!" [at this point the young Art Keeper (policeperson, security gal, what are they called?) eyed me as, who is John Clare?]

They were in Philly for the day, as they explained their son, home from college in NYC, dropped them at the rail station and they were making a day of it. They had caught both my lectures on Russian Music for the Friends of Frederickson Library's cultural series, and came up and talked to me afterwards. They also expressed their pleasure in my radio programming. We talked about the art and music, and they recommended other museums to catch both in Philly and around Harrisburg. It was really sweet. Indeed it is a small world.

I wouldn't have imagined being recognized in Philadelphia, maybe at a station sponsored event, or perhaps at a classical concert - but to be wrapped up in a picture on a Friday afternoon (luckily I had the blessing of being off that day, I wasn't playing hookey from work!) and being spotted was a suprise.

John enjoying a cigar in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Living Legend

I talked with the fascinating composer George Crumb on Friday. He's a sweet, creative man.

George at his desk.

With George in his studio.

Amidst plants.

Out of doors.

I'll be producing the interview for Composing Thoughts on WITF. Look for it in April.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

E town

Well, it's here!
I bought an electric violin on Ebay...played on it tonight for the first time. I really didn't think it would be that different, although I have to admit of never having played a totally electric violin before.
But there are several things that will take a while to get used to...mostly bow arm stuff, which I have to say is tricky.
Pressure seems to be a much larger factor than I'm used to on my fiddle. That may sound funny, but it's much more sensitive than my normal violin. Also the strings are at a little different angle, my guess is that it's a goofy bridge, or at least seems so to me. So even touching another string is noticed greatly - of course I'm wearing headphones at the moment. It may change when I get an amp this weekend! But there seem to be some adjustments and practicing in store.
A coworker suggests I get a pink tie to match - I told her I'd think about it...I actually own a few pink ties, but something radical may be instore.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Thinking back...

While I was updating my website and backing up files, I ran across some pictures that took me down memory lane.
Shortly after moving to Las Vegas in September 2001, I discovered a fun place to hang out and meet people - the Venus Lounge (and Tiki Bar)

The music was usually live (or amazing djs), the waitresses were very beautiful and the martinis cold (I often had the espresso martini). They were cigar friendly (as most of Las Vegas is) and ultra hip. There was a leopard print carpet, b&w photos of old Vegas and even an Elvis poster in Japanese!
I got to know the staff and would often meet friends for a drink and cool sounds. I heard Lounge Against the Machine there for the first time. Richard Cheese and his cats (Bobbie Brie, playing keys...) were a hoot.

There would occasionally be some burlesque, and who knows who you would run into...it's also where I saw Art Vargas (mondo cool singer) and hung out there with him and his chicks; and one night met a leader of a local jazz/blues group who also grew up in Kansas - I even knew his piano teacher from Wichita State.
Later in 2002, the Venus Lounge changed and now unfortunately doesn't exist - there's a different club in its place at the Venetian.

But I remember the Venus Lounge well. I even have some memorabilia if you need a drink to be stirred or a monkey to hang on your glass.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Around all fifty...

A talk with cellist Matt Haimovitz on his first tour across the US with Anthem.

Part 1 [real audio file]
Part 2 [real audio file]

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Here's an improvisation of mine, called "loneliness."

Real Audio file

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In In In In Inter Inter Inter Interview

A talk with Philip Glass, from a few years ago.

Part One [real audio file]

Part Two [real audio file]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Of singing and Purcell

A lovely chat with a lovely soprano, Sylvia McNair. She was in Las Vegas for a recital.
Real Audio file

Monday, January 02, 2006

Get me to the Church on time

While Charlotte has been in the news lately, this interview goes back a few years, and was when she was still singing classical music.
Hear my interview with Charlotte Church before her Las Vegas appearance at the Aladdin.

Real Audio file

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bond-ing in the New Year

Another way to celebrate - spend about 15 minutes - listen to the lovely ladies of Bond.
Here's my interview with this stunning string quartet from November 2004 - Real Audio File