Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I normally don't link to another's blog entry without knowning the person, or writing a bit about the topic (usually classical music or NYC/Manhattan related topics) but I have to share this. He's done it again. Terry Teachout, who's opinion I respect and writing I adore, has just penned another entry that I can associate with completely. Check it out here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Twice as nice

It was a very relaxing weekend, and a delightful one, not filled with hurrying and scurrying; rather with friends.

Friday a great artist, came up from his home near DC and played guitar live in the studio, in addition to his interview about his forthcoming cd. It was great to catch up with Ernesto, and we were able to enjoy a cigar, have dinner and chat with friends.
{pictured: Ernesto and Johnny outside Friday}

Saturday, had a few more errands, but also brought the arrival of a close friend I hadn't seen in about five years. She came down from Rochester and again, it was relaxing and fun. We ended back at the restaurant I'd been to the night before - not a bad thing, Cafe Fresco has a diverse and varied menu. We also made it to Brownstone Cafe the next morning in Middletown, and a nice walk along Fort Hunter on the Susquehanna.
{pictured: Jann and John at dinner}

This remains to be busy with packing at home and lots of production for Composing Thoughts at work. Friday I'll interview Christopher Rouse.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Catchin' up

It's been a very busy week. Monday afternoon I caught some young composers at the PA Academy of Music in Lancaster - their concert is tomorrow at noon. You can hear my interviews with them and read more about it here on the Composing Thoughts blog.

Tuesday I spoke with Milton Babbitt (pictured here on the left) at Princeton in the morning, then I went to Manhattan and interviewed conductor and composer Jose Serebrier (pictured here on the right). Oh, and I wound up meeting a friend for steaks and drinks in the meat packing district and then heading over to our favorite Irish pub in the village. I took the 3am train to Philly and the 5am train back to Harrisburg.

You can hear a portion of the Serebrier interview on the Composing Thoughts blog here. Both Babbitt and Serebrier will be featured on future Composing Thoughts episodes on WITF.
[pictures by audio guru Casey Houtz]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Free Shostakovich! Free Tibet! Free kittens to good home!

Okay I went a little overboard on the title there, sorry.
I recently discovered Minnesota Public Radio's all things classical blog, Comparing Notes. Brian Newhouse has posted a stellar Shostakovich Cello Sonata as a free download...check it out, and tell 'em John sent ya! Oh, yeah, it's the husband/wife team of David Finckel and Wu Han, the co-directors of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society - performing at http://www.musicatmenlo.org/.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The nature of things

So I've been practicing violin all morning - scales and Vivaldi's Summer from the Four Seasons. I've had two cigars and a pot of coffee with a good breakfast of oatmeal. I'll do some grocery shopping later today, and probably should do some laundry/ironing.
But I wanted to share something that has happened now a few times while practicing out back on the porch: either bees and bugs fly around while playing the Vivaldi, or this morning a bluejay and then a cardinal have stopped by to harmonize with me and the concerto. I absolutely loved the cardinal singing along with the Cuckoo and the Goldfinch. It was really something.
Ah, inspiration - life imitating art, art imitating life.
It's a good morning.
Just chatted with a friend in Las Vegas who will be here in two weeks, and got a call from my folks who are doing quite well. My mom, who suffered a stroke a few years ago has been writing letters to me - I was so happy to get them - and I've now asked to write lots more. In fact, I've thought about blogging them for her - kinda dorky but oh so inspiring - for me at least. Hey, she's my mom.
Okay, back to a few more scales and then lunch - toodles!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Young American Composer

Have you read the latest entry on Dr. Dick's Blog about Jay Greenberg? Check it out.

Two years ago, I was interviewing composer Samuel Adler and asked him about teaching Jay. Listen to an excerpt. [mp3 file]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Such a soprano

Was bummed in many ways to read this article about Sylvia McNair, who is an outstanding musician and a beautiful soul (inside and outside.) Thoughts and good wishes go out to her for a speedy recovery.
Sylvia is a truly remarkable talent, having been a violinist before singing. I had a chance to interview her in Las Vegas, when she was there for a soiree recital. Listen in on part of our conversation [mp3 file] or [real media file]
I hope she'll be performing soon, perhaps in NYC...If so, I'll be there.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some travel plans

Going to make it out a few times to Las Vegas later this year and next!
First I'll visit to see a concert with Kirsten Agresta, who is finally playing a recital for the LVCMS. It'll be fun and a good time to escape central PA in November.

Next spring, I'll catch the season finale of the Las Vegas Youth Symphony with my friend Chuck Jackson. Again, a great time to catch Vegas before it gets too hot - and April is my birthday month!

Also, I wouldn't miss the farewell concert of my friend and mentor Hal Weller. He's a musical institiution in himself and I can't wait to see him with his orchestra. What will the Las Vegas Philharmonic do with out him? It'll be fun to see him in May - oh, and they'll be martinis, lots of martinis.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

new 'site and 'blog

Caught up with a good friend today for breakfast and then an interview. Part of his news was a new website and blog. Check 'em out, Stuart is a real talent. I can't wait to say one of these days, I knew him when...
Also, quite exciting that the content is going to grow and grow on his site, with planned podcasts and videos. Defintely one to watch!

Monday, August 07, 2006

'nother interview

but not just another interview really...John Corigliano was charming and engaging, hosting the interview in his upper west side apartment in NYC. Keep an ear out this fall for his episode of Composing Thoughts on WITF.
Thanks to Casey Houtz who recorded the interview and took our picture together. Casey was also enjoying ogling John Corigliano's Pulitzer, Grammys and Oscar awards.
We had an easy trip there and back, including a quick stop to Big Nicks for pizza - but passed (a first for me!) on Beard Papa's cream puffs.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Great weekend

So Saturday I went to Philadelphia with our engineer Andrew and interviewed Robert Moran. He was a wonderful interview with lots of stories and joined us for lunch afterwards at Monks. There we had good food, great desserts and even more fun conversation.

Today I played at Harris Street United Methodist Church and really enjoyed playing a Handel sonata with their music director Scott. It was arranged by a coworker (and all around good guy) Ted...here we are afterwards (and a bit of caffiene!)

Tomorrow I'm in NYC to talk with John Corigliano, who is one of my heroes and a leading composer of our (and all) time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

So how short is my hair

It's been a week, and if you haven't seen me lately, well, my locks are much shorter!
Tada, in the ol' WITF office in the Music Library...

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Quite sad to learn of the passing of Soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf today. She inspired me as a young man, and I always admired her voice. This evening while doing some chores I'll be listening to everything I have of hers on CD and LP.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Attention String Players

Next year, in a beautiful setting: Between the 8th and 15th April, 2007 the island of Malta will be hosting the International String Orchestra Festival.

This is a unique opportunity for talented string players from across the globe to meet in a stimulating and productive environment, attend master classes; lectures; workshops; orchestral training, and give concerts. A line up of professional artists such as Matthias Wollong (Violin), Yuko Inoue (Viola) and Mats Lidström (Violoncello) will be giving individual lectures and master classes.

There will be two daily public concerts as a showcase for students to perform solo works and chamber music. Warm spring evenings will leave ample time to explore the stunning beaches, sample local cuisine and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. During the week there will be a trip to the neighbouring island of Gozo for a concert performance. The Festival will culminate with a gala concert, featuring the string orchestra at The Manoel Theatre, one of Europe’s oldest Baroque concert venues.

The cost of participation is €435 (£300) which covers all tuition fees, accommodation for 7 nights bed and breakfast basis (twin room), and receptions. There are a limited number of bursaries available.
For further information about the Festival and to receive their brochure please contact them via email info@isofestival.com