Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In performance

Paul Zavinsky and I have a lot of fun, not only at WITF where we work, but when we play gigs...Join us this Friday night, the 31st of March in Annville at 8pm.

Singing and dancing 3/17/06 in Hershey, PA

Come out and hear us live, and get a sample of our playing here, Soundboard.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Helping out

From friends of the Audubon Quartet:

Dear friends and supporters,

The Audubon Quartet’s six year legal fight finally came to an end on February 3, 2006, with a settlement, agreed to by all the parties, that brings all court actions to an end. However, that settlement was very painful: Akemi Takayama had to make a $40,000 payment in order to remove the threat of continued litigations, including one that aimed at confiscating her (actually, her mother’s) violin and Doris Lederer and Tom Shaw have been forced to start over financially in the fourth decade of their careers. To meet the provisions of the settlement, Doris and Tom had to give up their home, a substantial portion of their retirement accounts, and an additional sum equal to the appraised value of their bows and instruments, a net loss of approximately $460,000. To raise this much money, Doris and Tom had to sell their instruments (about which, see more details below).’ In addition, all three still owe large sums to their lawyers.

The court of world opinion is with these three members of the Audubon Quartet. Many hundreds of letters and emails from all over the world have offered sympathy for their cause in the legal battle and in support of the assets they hold most dear their precious instruments and the reputation of the Quartet. Their instruments were bought by Dan Braden, a fair minded businessman who has signed a contract allowing them to have the use of the bows and instruments for ten years no matter who owns the instruments and offering them a short-term opportunity to buy them back (singly or all together) at a reasonable price. The instruments are now safely beyond any court action, but Tom and Doris are destitute and have no hope of regaining ownership of their instruments without outside help.

Many people have expressed a desire to help when it appeared likely that the court would order the instruments turned over to a trustee for sale. The time has come: your help is needed now. The Audubon Quartet Rescue Fund is a trust fund required to use all the donations it receives to buy back the instruments and return them to Tom and Doris and to pay for necessary expenses incurred in the processes. Counting all known and anticipated expenses, the total amount needed is between $215,000 and $225,000. This is a staggering amount to raise, especially since the U.S. Tax Code will not allow contributors to count their gifts as a charitable gift for the purposes of income, estate, or gift taxes. Nonetheless, with your help, we hope to return the instruments to their rightful owners, thereby ending this horrific saga on as good a note as possible. Since the trust fund can use the money contributed only to buy back the instruments and to pay reasonable expenses, you are assured that your donation will help to put the Audubon Quartet back on its feet and to return Doris’s and Tom’s precious bows and instruments to them. We appeal to you to give, and give as generously as you can, to the Audubon Quartet Rescue Fund.

Please send your checks to The Audubon Quartet Rescue Fund, c/o Richard Burian, 1002 Eheart St., Blacksburg, VA 24060. If you prefer to use PayPal, you may do so by going to www.enditnow.org (which contains additional information for those who are interested); using the ‘donate’ button, asking to deposit your funds to the Audubon Quartet Rescue Fund trust account via the PayPal donation system that you will find at www.enditnow.org .

Thank you for your help!

Richard Burian and Wallace Easter

P.S. Please share this appeal with others whom you believe might wish to contribute to this cause.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The charm of Antonin

Some of my all time favorite music is by the Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak. This weekend you can hear all 16 of the Slavonic Dances, Opus 46 and 72 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. Performing are the duo, Veri & Jamanis in the final of their series, the "Art of the Piano Duo", March 26th, Sunday afternoon at 3pm in the Binns Room (and there's Ice Cream to boot, as it's a Sundae Series - how cool is that?!) Timing is everything, and sometimes it just helps knowing someone...Dvorak entered 15 pieces, including his Symphony No. 3, for the 1874 Austrian National Prize. He not only won and received a generous cash amount but even more importantly, he made a very good connection: Johannes Brahms – who helped judge the Austrian competition. With Brahms’ admiration and support, he put Dvorak in touch with his own publisher, Simrock. Simrock commissioned the popular first set of Slavonic Dances in 1878.
The dances show off the performers, but also they show Dvorak's Czech nationalist style - which was to become his most distinctive characteristic. These incredibly robust pieces, notable for sudden mood switches from exuberant dance tunes to dark and melancholy melodies, were played not only in the musical centers of Europe, but also in the United States (where Dvorak would head to later in his career.)

There's more about Dvorak here.
Hear some of the Slavonic dances here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


From my first visit and appointment with a doctor in 15 years:
"Well, if it hasn't killed you now 15 years later, it'll be okay."
(Doctor replying to my not bringing medical records to the office.)
"You'll be in Naughty Nurses dot com."
(Office staffer to nurse waiting on hold about another patient taking photos.)
(I offered the suggestion maybe they were blogging about their visit - then made sure I didn't get out my digital camera/mp3 player!)

I like them and look forward to the physical. (Really!)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mystery (another joke)

I can't believe how many people have been directed to the Musical dog joke...so I thought I'd share another joke.

This is a detective story...
Pay Close Attention!!! Three elderly ladies are excited about seeing their first baseball game.

They smuggle a bottle of Jack Daniels into the ball park. The game is real exciting and they are enjoying themselves immensely...mixing the Jack Daniel's with soft drinks. Soon they realize that the bottle is almost gone and the game has a lot of innings to go.
Based on the given information, what inning is it and how many players are on base?


Answer: It's the bottom of the fifth and the bags are loaded!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Concert programs

Happy Birthday Bach!
Thanks for all of your amazing music...on a quite different note:
I recently read about a concert in Colorado with Bartok's Viola Concerto and Berlioz' Harold in Italy. What a hard to listen to program, and ALL viola to boot. It led to a discussion with a friend about the worst programs you could think of...write your suggestions in an email (john dot clare (at) yahoo dot com) or leave a comment on this post, I'd love to hear your suggestions!
Here goes a few awful suggestions:
Program "a"
Strauss Death and Transfiguration
Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of Death
Penderecki Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima
Schoenberg Survivor from Warsaw
(I appreciate all of these pieces but...)

Program "b"
Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending
Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 3 Pastorale
Beethoven Romance No. 1
Beethoven Symphony No. 6 Pastoral
(Can you imagine how long this concert would be, and SEEM?!)

Program "c"
Beethoven Wellington's Victory
Busoni Piano Concerto
Nanes Symphony No. 1 Atlantis-the sunken city
(ok, the Nanes is a cheap shot...)

Program "d"
Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata (orch. Weingartner)
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 6 (arrangement of Violin Concerto)
Beethoven String Quartet Opus 135 (orch. Mitropoulos)
(great works in odd arrangements...)

I'm not picking on Beethoven, but you can see the infinite possibilities! Share yours in a comment or email (john dot clare (at) yahoo dot com). April Fool's day is not far away!!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

"Tower"ing work of patriotism/charm

Saturday evening brought Joan Tower to York, PA for her Made in America. We met up earlier for lunch and some good discussion, then again later at the York Symphony Orchestra concert.

Joan and John

Made in America fit between Mendelssohn's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Overture and Vaughan-Williams' lengthy Sea Symphony (No.1). M.i.A. stood out as Joan pointed out in her witty remarks beforehand that Mendelssohn (she teased later that perhaps "that punk" was appropriate) wrote his piece at the age of 17, and that Vaughan-Williams penned his at the age of 36-37, and her's was written at 65! (She also joked that neither of the other composers could make it tonight.) The audience warmed to Joan and was quite attentive - later I heard an uncommon amount of post-concert discussion about her, her piece and her comments - all very positive from my "eavesdropping." I wrote a note for Joan (she's asking three people at each performance to write something for her as part of a scrapbook) and will share the very last part of what I wrote in it: As for tonight's performance, not a cloud in the auditorium...it shone between the Mendelssohn and Vaughan-Williams; but I suspect and know that it would shine on any program.

Conductor Robert Hart Baker and Joan Tower

M.i.A. is a brilliant work, capitalizing on the tune, America the Beautiful. It allows for great lyrical lines and for thoughtful harmony, all within a framework as an "easier" orchestral work - it's being done by 65 orchestras in all fifty states. There are wonderful passages for each section and even some solos for the concertmaster. M.i.A. is also good for the audiences coast to coast, allowing them to hear new sounds with a tune that they are familiar with, making it a bit more comfortable/palatible for many audiences (and the musicians too) who may not be typically open to a modern (new?) orchestral piece.

I'm also very geniunely proud that Joan Tower was the composer selected for this unprecendented collaboration of orchestras. Typically a sort of corporate/business approach might be taken to the lowest common denominator or handled in a bungling screwed up manner...that's not the case, and Ford's Made in America should be honored with the high level of art that is going across our country right now. I hope to see further commissions along these lines, and wish them the success of this first (and hopefully not last) one!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ice Ice Baby

I'm an eskimo but this is a bit crazy...I'd be interested in hearing them! And on playing an ice violin.

Swedish Orchestra Plays Ice Instruments
March 15, 2006 3:21 p.m. EST
Ayinde O. Chase - All Headline News Staff Writer
Miami, FL (AHN) - A Swedish orchestra playing unusual instruments carved out of ice had to cut a short a performance when a flute began to melt.
Instrument maker Tim Linharts, has been able to transform frozen water into functioning flutes, violins, and a double bass out of ice.
The instruments were played for the first time at a concert in a gigantic igloo that was deemed a complete success aside from the early melting of the flute.
Linharts says, "Next time I will keep ten ice flutes at hand in case it happens again."
According to Linharts, the musicians will keep their instruments in the deep freeze and only take them out to practice or to perform.

(As reported here)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hear It Here

Paul Zavinsky and I have a lot of fun, not only at WITF where we work, but when we play gigs...There's one on St. Patrick's Day in Hershey, PA and at the end of March in Annville.
Come out and hear us live, and get a sample of our playing here, Soundboard.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The blarin' of the green

in Hershey, PA...St. Patrick's Day 2006...Paul (Mc)Zavinsky and friends playing jigs, reels, and favorites at the American Legion. A good time was had by all and all were had by the good time!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bis spater

Stu with the aftermath of our brunch
Sunday was a slow, rainy day. It was nice to see a good friend and now former co-worker off to new adventures. We met up at the Colonial Park Diner, which I'm amazed is open 24 hours a day! Stu is a great guy, and a kindred musical spirit - who has just that, an enthusiatic spirit that is uncommon among folks these days.
Stu Kennedy will be on WSHU in Fairfield. You can read about his new adventures here.
See you in NYC my friend!

We even recommended dishes to our neighbors!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Paul's Premiere

Saturday evening was a delight in Allentown. I went to a concert I'd been anxious to hear/attend at Muhlenburg University.

Outside the Baker Performing Arts Center

After a few wrong turns (I had given myself plenty of time to get there, thank goodness!) I found the Baker Center for the Arts. These pictures were taken while finishing up my cigar...also giving me time to run into Paul Moravec and meet his wife Wendy.

Kile Smith and Paul Moravec

Composer/Librarian/Radio host Kile Smith of Philadelphia (who joined me later in the hall with his daughter) did the pre-concert talk (a delightful interview really) beforehand, talking with Paul about music. Especially interesting were points made about Bach (physically connecting with a composer by playing their music - what a great notion - learn about Bach and thinking that by playing a fugue you are "in touch" or one with Bach (insert any composer name here); and also the idea of writing practical music, I think he said "community composer" or something close to that - that the music/composer is writing music to be used in "everyday" or practical situations...again a reference to Bach writing a cantata for use every Sunday...a lovely concept.)

Bert Lucarelli, Paul Moravec, Donald Spieth

Hearing the world premiere of Paul Moravec's Concerto for Oboe and Strings with the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, soloist Bert Lucarelli and conductor Donald Spieth was a real treat. The first movement is a well thought out and technical powerhouse - with excellent interplay between the soloist and the orchestra. Moravec uses harmonics and pizzicato quite well, and in perfect pairings really in contrast to the oboe. The second movement drips of melody and passion, allowing the oboe soloist grand gestures and highlights the orchestra quite well. The finale, combining elements from the previous two movements launches into a very "Moravecian" rhythm and exudes optimism with dazzling virtuosity and vigor. This work should not only be recorded, but played many times. I hope orchestras and oboists around the world embrace this work, it deserves to be heard and performed...Moravec has indeed succeeded again with this work.

The guys after the concert

The charming program continued with Copland's Appalachian Spring; Lucarelli came back with Wolf-Ferrari's Idillio-Concertino; and concluded with Schubert's Symphony No. 5.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Mozart Affect

Okay, you could call this a triple concerto, after all it is a mix of three different violinists playing the same passage...but I call it plain old fun.
Mozart Mess (mp2 file) of KV 216 opening

Mozart Mess #2 (mp2 file) of KV 219 finale

I'm preparing a comparision/review of these and couldn't resist mixing some of my examples together. Keep an eye out on the WITF New Releases blog for the real review.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Doggone it

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by ClassicallyHip Blog. Be sure to check out some our links/blogroll on the righthand side, and visit Classicallyhip.com as well!
And now our joke linked by many sites:

A guy and his Saint-Bernard walk into a bar. The guy says to the bartender, "This dog knows everything about music and can answer any question you have".
The bartender says, "You're nuts!" The guy says, "Go ahead -- ask him something".
So the bartender says to the dog, "OK, who is the greatest contrapuntal composer of the 17th century?"
The dog replies,"BACH". The bartender says, "Aw, c'mon he's just barking, he doesn't know anything".
The guy says, "Hey, go ahead, ask him something else".
The bartender tries again. "OK, who was the greatest composer of lieder of the late 19th century?" The dog replies, "Wolf". The bartender says, "This is ridiculous -- he's just barking. Get lost!"
The guy says, "No he's not -- go ahead, one more time, ask him a question". Disgustedly, the bartender tries again. "Who was the greatest German composer between the two world wars?"
The dog answers, "Orff". The bartender says, "That's it!" and proceeds to physically toss the guy and his dog out of the bar onto the sidewalk on their behinds.
The dog looks back at the guy and, from the street, tries once more: "Hindemith?"


Perhaps you'd like to hear some warm and compelling music, visit Music in a Moment! Or hear some insights into contemporary music at Composing Thoughts.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Astounding links...what's out there

I've been enjoying surfing quite a bit lately. Allow me to recommend my friend Derek Hale's newly revamped site (very nice sir); another college friend, Amy, will no doubt do some analytical work with me on Bach, but read her blog here.
Then there's this whole Google video thing, and my latest find is of Duke Ellington: Google Video.
I'm astounded what's out there.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nothing like it before

Well, it may seem that I'm visually focused lately (pun intended) but had to share this site for an upcoming movie...about a public radio show! Just amazing...
A Prairie Home Companion movie!
See the official website.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On the video side of things...Mahler!

Did you know you could see and hear Mahler's entire Symphony #2, the Resurrection Symphony? Thanks to the folks at UC Davis you can see it, download it and even link to it. Enjoy!
Google Video
And it's really not a bad performance, I maintain that Mahler wrote in even nuance making it far easier for orchestras than say a Beethoven or Brahms symphony...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Video ala google

I'm so digging the video hosting by Google. Can you believe over four hundred (yes, 400!) folks have watched a trumpet get smashed?! Or that over a hundred (yes, 100) folks have listened to Ave Maria on the saw?!
Well, let's see some more fun and funny classical videos from the 1989 Silly Concert (April Fool's Eve, March 31st, 1989) that I've uploaded.

Funeral March (a take on Liszt'z Hungarian Rhapsody) with 2 Double (that's double double, hehehe) Basses and piano.
Google Video

The Pink Pig (Russ Widener performing the Urtext version of his Pink pig - "stolen" by a Hollywood composer (Mancini?) in rare form!)
Google Video

Young John (was I ever this young or skinny?) takes a bow in between - of course the stage manager and organizer should get a bow! It's a Silly concert for goodness sake!
Google Video

Monday, March 06, 2006


It was a nice trip on Sunday to Wilmington, DE to see Awadagin Pratt and Zuill Bailey. WITF'ers were fun to hang with and really enjoyed the concert of Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Messiaen and Brahms.

And the Italian dinner afterwards was a blast, a prelude for Awadagin's birthday. I had a quick cigar in between dinner and dessert and gave a couple to the guys.

Looking forward to this June and the Next Generation Festival!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sir James

In an Interview with John Clare.
Here's my talk with Sir James Galway about his ongoing tour with Lady Jeanne Galway and the Polish Chamber Orchestra across the United States.

Part 1 (about 2 minutes)
MP3 file

Part 2 (about 6 minutes)
Mp3 file

Part 3 (about 2 minutes)
MP3 file

Friday, March 03, 2006

Another Busy Weekend!

Well, I've been very blessed to sleep 10 to 12 hours lately, recovering from my vacation in Las Vegas and travelling to Philadelphia Tuesday night to hear Gil Shaham. Thank goodness, because this weekend I don't stop! eighth blackbird and Lucy Shelton play Schoenberg and more in Gettysburg Saturday night.
I'll catch Awadagin Pratt and Zuill Bailey on Sunday in Delaware.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More music, less talk

What a wonderful day. I started my Tuesday speaking with Steven Stucky, a composer I respect and enjoy very much. (Yes, last year's Pulitzer Prize winner - wait til you hear the interview!)

Then I spoke with Karen Gomyo who is the next violin soloist with the Harrisburg Symphony on April 1st.

After work I drove to Philadelphia to hear Gil Shaham and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields at Kimmel Center.

It was fine, fine playing - and in fact the most authentic and idiomatic Mozart I've heard. More on that in a minute.

First though...I have to start a rant. You should not talk during a concert.
Let me reinterate. (or is that re-enter rant? hahaha)
It is highly rude to the musicians and to the performers to talk during a piece of music. Gosh, it's so rude it's not funny. If you have something to say to your friend, spouse, child, et al wait until the next movement or better yet, after the piece has finished to talk to them. It can wait, really.

Ok, back to Tuesday evening's performance. Lovely. Just right. Vital music making with gifted musicians. Gil sat as concertmaster for the Arensky. He left the stage, the wind players came in, they tuned and we were off for Mozart's "Turkish" Concerto (Number 5). Tempos were brisk, articulation was astounding and it seemed that the joy and humor of Mozart really shone. I've never heard such an original interpretation in my life of this. It felt like it was the way it should have been, what Mozart was really saying in the work. Accents came to life and had some "guffaw" to them. Gil was masterful in cuing players/parts, and the balance was just right. He remains the most gifted violinist alive. The second half brought Tchaikovsky with flair and joy. They encored a Mozart Divertimento.

I slipped back and got to say hi briefly (and loan Gil a sharpie for some other patrons/fans) - he went to school with my mentor David Perry. I hope Gil takes my offer to play in Las Vegas for the Chamber Music Society!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

I had dinner with Cheryl and her family Sunday before I flew out...yummy italian!

The Boumans.
Cheryl and John.