Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ain't Opera Grand?

(or a VERY scary Halloween posting! Trick? or Treat? You decide!)

It seems I will make my operatic stage debut in Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona next spring with Gretna Music. Details to come, but for now, mark Saturday, February 10th down in your calendars.

Here's a little more about the opera: (from here)
La serva padrona (The Servant as Mistress) played an important part in the operatic quarrels in Paris between supporters of the traditional French opera of Lully and Rameau and those who supported the simpler more modern art of Italy, exemplified in Pergolesi's opera, when it was staged in Paris, not for the first time, in 1752. The disagreement, the so-called Querelle des Bouffons (Quarrel of the Actors) continued for the next two years, with Rousseau a keen supporter of the Italian against the French. Pergolesi's opera is modest in its proportions, both vocally and instrumentally. As an intermezzo its two parts were intended for performance between the acts of a more serious work. It makes use of three of the stock characters of the Italian commedia dell'arte.

Guess which of the three characters I am going to be:
1) Uberto, an elderly gentleman, Bass voice
2) Serpina, his servant, soprano voice
3) Vespone, another servant, silent role

If you guessed #3 Vespone, give yourself a pat on the back and 10 points!

Maybe this will lead to me appearing in a future production of Strauss' Die Fledermaus as the jailer Frosch in Act Three!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Enjoy a special treat this Halloween - 8 hours of spooky stories from the PRX archive available for a limited time as a continuous stream of mp3s in a pop-up flash player. Grab a bowl of popcorn and turn off the lights; you may want to grab a wooden stake and a couple of silver bullets.
The player will remain up until noon on Wednesday November 1st .

Click here for a fright:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

From Friday

Here's Paul Z playing "Blackbird" at Eckel's Drug Store in Mechanicsburg.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Open House

at the PA Academy of Music, last Tuesday evening. It's a great resource for the midstate! Don't hesitate to contact them if you have a young one that is interested in music!
Kim Kelly demonstrating the Bassoon (above)
violinist Michael Jamanis conducting the string orchestra.

Pictures by John Clare

Coming up

Don't miss alot of tunes and alot of fun tomorrow night in Mechanicsburg, PA. Paul Zavinsky and I are playing at Eckel's Drug Store from 8 to 10pm. Have some coffee or ice cream and maybe even do some dancing!
Eckel's is where some scenes from Girl, Interrupted were filmed back in 1999. No word yet if Angelina or Wynona can make it or not.

As for Saturday, there are a lot of things going on in Central PA. I'll be giving a pre-concert talk at Gretna Music before the Boston Brass play. The talk is at 6:30pm and the concert at 7:30pm. You can also sign up and have dinner beforehand!

In Harrisburg that evening as well is the second concert of the season with Concertante. They'll play Beethoven, Bruckner and Mendelssohn. Should be a great show - tell 'em John sent you!

- - - - - -
In putting the "ewww" in news, have you heard about Rick Soule? Las Vegas readers will no doubt recognize the name, and flautists may as well. So sad.

Cinema Pair-o-dice-o

I saw The Illusionist this weekend - quite awesome - it was in a little arts theater in Philly, very charming and quite comfortable, and not a bad walk from Center City even!
I also recently watched a dvd of Lucky # Slevin and despite the gore, enjoyed the writing and the acting.
So, you think you're a fan of films? Take a look at the poet and obsessive collector Adam's collection online: http://adamsmanymovies.blogspot.com/
He also has a ton of movie posters and soundtracks...

Monday, October 23, 2006

5 Things about the Curtis Symphony Orchestra

And soloist Hilary Hahn, Sunday night at the Kimmel Center:
1. The concert was spectacular with a charming rendition of the Star Spangle Banner - why can't other orchestras bring something this original and thoughtful out, instead of the same old bland version?
2. Overheard at intermission: "Oh I just love this so much more than the Symphony." I knew what they meant (in many ways - but she meant compared to the Philadelphia Orchestra), but I also thought, okay this is a stereotypical program of overture, concerto (with superstar) and symphony - what is so different about that?!
3. *Hilary Hahn was gorgeous in a gold dress and maroon lace.* (Sorry, had to parody the typical classical reviewers and say what she wore!) Seriously, her playing was just like every other performance I've heard her in: perfect. This time, the Curtis Orchestra allowed her lots of freedom and never covered her playing, despite big brass and percussion in the orchestration. From the excitement of her double stops and the brilliance of the high passages, the Britten Concerto made the program well worth the trip to Philly (you could actually get $5 tickets - so I won't say it was well worth the ticket, rather it was a bargain!)
4. Otto Werner Muller kept the pace with the Prokofiev (Symphony #5) and began the second movement almost attaca, maybe a second in between letting the reverberation settle and then onwards! For an eighty-year-old, he kept the students and audience in firm control. I was also reminded how much I adore Prokofiev's writing for the violin, there are passages of this very high harmonies that are similiar to the Romeo & Juliet music in the 3rd movement. The Curtis Orchestra's first violins were excellent.
5. The cynic in me asked what benefits does H.H. signing autographs and selling cds after every performance - in some ways, okay, most ways, it's great...part of me says is this just marketing? I mean does it really impact if people come to a concert? I hope it does - and kudos for her to wait around after performances to do that. Also, how mondo cool for her to play part of an Ysaye sonata (second movement of #2, with a quote of Dies Irae!) as an encore!


I so enjoyed eating out, as much as I DO love to cook, this weekend in Philadelphia. I took in everything from philly cheesesteaks to filet mignon. (I know we need some of Copland's Hoedown from Rodeo playing, you know the "Beef, it's what's for dinner!" music playing in the background.)

Five Things about Jennifer Koh's recital

On the first Fresh Ink 2006-2007 concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia:
1. There were 5 pieces on the modern program, 2 of them having 5 movements!
2. Delightful talkback or "artist chat" afterwards with the performers and composer Jennifer Higdon. Sweet question from a youngster about how long does Jenny Koh practice (depends but roughly 3 hours a day.)
3. This concert was recorded by WRTI and will hopefully be available for streaming - I'll keep an eye out - if you see something about it, let me know - it deserves another hearing...go see Jennifer in concert and keep an eye out next year for a cd of it!
4. I think Jennifer Higdon's String Poetic is just awesome and was played with great aplomb. I might have had the piano on the short stick for the entire concert, and I might be tempted to rearrange the piece, switching the third and fourth movements so that the contrasts are heard between the lyrical and quick movements. Nonetheless, Higdon writes beautifully for the violin and piano, letting each shine. There is also a great amount of joy, depth and passion to String Poetic - I expect every violinist worth their salt (rosin, hahaha) will be adding it to their repertoire.
5. Koh spoke briefly on stage between pieces and was entirely off the cuff, at least it didn't seem part of a schtick - she made honest music and certainly let her playing speak for itself: top notch!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday update

Quick post from the ING Cafe in Philadelphia...awesome concert last night at the Kimmel Center in their "Fresh Ink" series with violinist Jennifer Koh. The world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's String Poetic was just one of the highlights. Koh is a wonderful artist, and if she plays in your neck of the woods, go hear her. She plays her Strad with grace and taste, and more often than not, it's a modern work. :)
Audiences in Philly still amaze me with their bad manners; needless to say, I have my "SHHHHHHH! Please be quiet" sign in my suitcoat pocket for this evening's concert of the Curtis (or "Girdle" - ask me about it) Orchestra with Hilary Hahn.

Great brunch this morning at Rouge, include dark chocolate ship pancakes, coffee and sage sausage. I was tempted by the open faced scrapple sandwich - maybe another time.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Check out a new and informative blog from the musicians of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra: http://orpheusnyc.blogspot.com/
They're one of my favorite groups and if you get a chance to hear them live, check it out, you won't regret it!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


So after I moved in the end of August, I ordered a DVR from comcast. It's easy to use and I soon set up 'series' recordings for Gilmore Girls and Law & Order Criminal Intent. Now I can have the shows saved and easily breeze through the commercials.
In fact, in that first month, I was amused to be able to set up series recordings and laugh at Match Game, and soon got bored, changing now to Sabrina reruns with the ever so charming Melissa Joan Hart.
The other show I adore and watch live is 30 minute meals with Rachael Ray. It's a nice way to spend an hour. This morning though, while catching up reading, I saw in the New Yorker that Nigella Lawson has a new Food Network show - yeay! I've missed the first episode, and will be in Philadelphia this weekend, but with the convenience of the DVR, I'll now not miss another!
So you can now see Nigella again on Food Network, Sundays at 1pm (eastern) on her new show, Nigella Feasts!

Annual Campaign

Tim Lambert, myself and Damon "Beau" Boughamer at the Premier Circle Dinner for WITF - we were the greeters.
How can you become a Premier Circle member? Join us at WITF.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Currently listening

Now playing in my ipod, and in the cd players at work and home:
The new Hilary Hahn concerti disc of Paganini and Spohr

Sting's new Dowland disc

John Adams' latest from Nonesuch

Check them out, they are all amazing!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Congratulations to this year's Deems Taylor Award winners in radio...
The ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award honors two programs this year. They are The Bob Edwards Show (Bob Edwards, host; Ed McNulty, producer; and Tish Valva, executive producer), which is produced at XM Satellite Radio; and World Cafe (David Dye, host and producer; Kimberly Junod, producer and Bruce Warren, executive producer), which originates from WXPN in Philadelphia and is nationally syndicated.
Read more about it on the ASCAP site: http://www.ascap.com/press/2006/101606_deems_taylor.html

Seen in Union Square

I smiled when I saw this on sale this weekend from a booth in Union Square in NYC, offered in a variety of t-shirts: You can order it here: http://www.westwindworld.com/

Sunday, October 15, 2006

5 Things about the Juilliard Concert

Here's a new "deal" (feature) for this blog...instead of reviews (okay, ocassionally I'll wax poetic!) I thought I'd share five things that come about or around concerts that I attend (and believe me there are tons of concerts coming up this season!)
So here goes for the Juilliard String Quartet at the Whitaker Center on Sunday October 15th, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Market Square Concerts and the quartet's 60th Anniversary! The program was Mozart's Dissonant Quartet, Bartok's 3rd Quartet and Schubert's Death and the Maiden.
1. The Schubert really stood out, kudos to violinist Joel Smirnoff who especially played well. The Bartok was well crafted - too bad they didn't do the whole Bartok cycle here.
2. According to the program, Bartok was born in 1811 - whoops! That should be 1881.
3. Talking and coughing were very annoying throughout the first half...I know its the cold season, but it seemed everyone waited for quiet passages to unwrap cough drops and of course during dramatic pauses were the only time someone had to sneeze. As for talking, don't people realize concert halls are designed for sound and therefore whispering is just as annoying as talking out loud? Guess I need to get my "SHHHHH!" sign out for my suit pocket...
4. Overheard in the lobby, "Ugh, that Bartok! Awful music - beautifully played." Ugh, audience members!
5. Talking with the quartet afterwards, it seems the construction at Lincoln Center/Juilliard is creating quite a bit of noise AND will demolish the room the Juilliard Quartet has rehearsed many of their 60 years.


I'm writing a short entry at Kudo Beans, a great coffee shop on the lower east side (3rd street at 1st Avenue-tell 'em John sent you).
Last night's NY Philharmonic concert did not disappoint, and violinist Gil Shaham continues to prove he is the world's greatest living violinist. Mozart's 2nd Concerto and Stravinsky's Concerto were played with much thought and virtuosity. Shaham continues to astound, bringing new insights to pieces that warrant such attention, especially the Stravinsky. I think we all wanted more with Gil, but after the two concerti (separated by intermission) despite the standing ovation and all the curtain calls he didn't give us an encore (and that's okay.)
The Philharmonic honored Leonard Bernstein on the anniversary of his death (October 14th, 1990) with a crisp reading of his Candide Overture (it wasn't advertised previously and I hadn't looked at my program, so it was a great surprise! I had wondered before the concert why the trombone player and picolo player were practicing Candide, thinking, oh they must be playing it soon, hahahaha, little did I know!) They also did it without a conductor!
Seeing conductor David Robertson was another joy, he is truly on the leading edge of American maestros. Impeccable taste and good music making came through the entire evening. I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy the Linz Symphony, but it was a delight - what had sold me was Gil Shaham playing two awesome concerti on the program, but the rest of the program really sparkled. It was certainly interesting to see the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto with one on a part - it captured the essence of Stravinsky! Kudos to Robertson for pairing it down to the essentials. (He also kept it moving along nicely with nary a moment between movements.)
Okay, off to Penn station to get back to Hburg to hear the Juilliard String Quartet. What a life I lead!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Opening Evening

Saturday was a easy one: return from Manhattan after a yummy and healthy breakfast on the upper west side (an organic yogurt and granola parfait) on the train. Then some clothes shopping and dinner in Harrisburg (the specials were amazing at Cafe Fresco.)
I came back for the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra concert - and overall I'm glad I did. They played Beethoven's Leonore Overture #3 in good style. Sure there were soem opening night jitters from teh horn section, but overall it was a good reading.
Next was William (Billy) Joel's Symphonic Fantasties for Piano and Orchestra (dubbed his Piano Concerto by many) with soloist Jeffery Biegel. I hadn't heard his playing before, at least not live, and he was quite impressive. The piece however, was not for me at all; in fact, I'd just as soon hear Joel's pop melodies than the arrangements from his classical attempts. But the performance was good if the form and melodies are not. Orchestration attempted some tributes to Brahms and Rachmaninoff, but to compare the work to either composer would be an insult to both Brahms and Rachmaninoff. It is what it is, and just not my cup of tea. I was quite glad that Biegel played an encore, another chance to hear him play. (Afterwards I was at a loss what to say to him, other than I enjoyed his playing - I often don't lack words but in this incident I did...)
The second half was an old friend, Dvorak's Eighth Symphony. I can't tell you how many times I've played or heard this work - enough times to lose count over and over! Saturday night's reading was fresh and full of energy. I shared with Stuart Malina that I heard new things and I did, especially in the inner movements. I left the evening feeling uplifted and satisfied - a great start to the HSO season - kudos!
(you can read my friend Dick's blog about the evening here, and my friend Stuart's impressions here.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Before the Symphony

In front of the Forum in Harrisburg before hearing Beethoven, Billy Joel and Dvorak.
Self portrait of John Clare with a Dominican cigar.

Front o Forum

Taken after dinner at Cafe Fresco and enjoying a cigar.
Picture of the Forum, downtown Harrisburg by John Clare.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fantastic Philharmonic

Usually it takes a premiere or something a bit unusual for me to go to a concert based on the programming alone. Sure, I'll go see my favorite violinist play more "normal" repertory just to see and hear them, or take in a concert when I'm giving the pre-concert discussion. But Friday night's concert of the New York Philharmonic was based on the first work on their program: Maurice Ravel's Le Enfant et les Sortileges. Okay, a bit unusual but older. But what a gem! I actually spent most a semester studying the work in a private lessons with a mentor of mine at Wichita State. To say I know every inch of that score would not be inacurrate. And I absolutely adore it. So having a chance to hear it live, and to have Lorin Maazel lead it - whose recording I adored as well!!! - was to say I would go to this concert - a special trip just to do so. The second half was Saint Saens Organ Symphony...which I almost missed - but decided to stay.
As you can see below, I did have fun before and after, having a yummy dinner. I also had a scotch before the program, hey I wasn't going to be driving!
The stellar cast, was just that - each shining well with the parts ocassionally graced with some bit of staging or acting - the cats were into the sensual aspects of their aria - I'll leave it at that. Maazel was at his heighth of his music powers and a great dose of charm too.
The second half (I was there, why not?) was the Symphony No. 3 which I'd heard last in Las Vegas with my friend Paul Hesselinck perform with the LV Phil. Suffice to say, the NY Philharmonic was having fun in the work which hadn't been programmed since 1990 according to the program. And I might add that the brass section gave a convincing performance that clearly makes them the finest brass section on earth - really!
Can you tell I liked this concert? It was just marvy!

Fantastic Fanfare

Over at the New York City Ballet, a brass ensemble playing for the crowds at Lincoln Center.
Photo by John Clare, with a video clip coming soon!

Before the Phil

At Lincoln Center before hearing Ravel and Saint-Saens.
Photo by John Clare, pictured with a Honduran cigar.


Not feeling well Friday, I took the day off, but felt a little better after arriving in Manhattan. Picture taken by John Clare on the upperwest side, before ordering a Chicken "Pop" Pie at PopOvers. Yum-o!

Friday, October 06, 2006


"Good concerts make me jealous, bad concerts bore me." - Paul Boray in Humoresque

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Composer and Commission

I'm so excited! This spring I'm planning a violin recital. Yes, of music I adore - all modern pieces. In fact, one work is being written by a friend and colleague: Dick Strawser. Today he posted some musical examples (actually he's posted quite a bit about the process of the work so far! take a look at some of the early posts) and I've finally had a moment to exclaim, so here goes.

We played a movement last fall for WITF's Volunteer Appreciation luncheon, a nocturne. I enjoyed it alot and am looking forward to these next pieces.

Take a look at his post here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Be sure to check out my posting over on Composing Thoughts for Reich's 70th Birthday, it has links to the full interview with Steve Reich!

Great resource now available, NATIVE AMERICAN NEWS!
Follow this link to Native Voice One.

News about Anne-Sophie Mutter!
From MusicalAmerica:
Anne-Sophie Mutter Eyes Retirement
By Frank CadenheadMusicalAmerica.com
October 2, 2006
PARIS – Mega-star Anne-Sophie Mutter announced yesterday that she is quitting the stage. “Yes, yes, I said it. It is my plan to stop when I reach my 45th birthday,” the German-born violin virtuoso declared Sunday evening in an interview with the French-German television channel Arte. Only 43 on June 29, that would mean that her performing career ends in a little more than 20 months. “Nevertheless, it is not the precise date which counts,” she added, giving herself some leeway, “but rather a certain period of time at the end of which I will leave the scene before, behind my back, people dream of my retirement.”The televised segment of her “Mozart Project” with the Salzburg Camerata showed her stunning virtuosity and trademark intensity very much intact, of course. But it’s worth noting that Mutter has been a top-ranking, Grammy-winning soloist now for 30 years, now, despite her relative youth. Additionally, she has had her share of personal difficulties. Her first husband, Detlef Wunderlich, whom she married in 1989, died of cancer in 1995. She had two children by that marriage, Arabella (1990) and Richard (1994). In 2002 she married conductor Sir Andre Previn, 31 years her senior. A divorce was quietly announced last month. Discovered by Herbert von Karajan when she was only 13, Mutter began immediately to appear with the world’s top orchestras and in major recital series, making her American debut with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic in 1980. She has been awarded major honors from countries around the world and her vast repertory of recordings have routinely won top prizes. Asked what she would do after retiring she remarked: “Good Question. Music will be irreplaceable. It is life that will give me the answer. I did not plan to meet Karajan so early. My children are a gift of God. I had not planned to lose my husband after six years of marriage or live as a widow... I plan some small sonatas and the rest will come. I will try to remain faithful to my artistic ideals. We will see.”

I'm in awe of my coworkers doing such a great job on the school shooting that took place yesterday: WITF News site

Monday, October 02, 2006

Do, a deer...

Pardon the Sound of Music quote! Couldn't resist...Saturday after coming home from the grocery store (my only outing!) I spotted three young deer. I had previously seen them at the end of my street, but this time all three were in my yard as I came home. I didn't get pictures of all three, and it's hard to see them easily, but here goes.

Yes Deer

Deer goes the neighborhood

Oh deer

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Citing references

So, today I read a posting by Pliable at On an Overgrown Path...and seeing the title, I knew he'd list Steve Reich - who turns 70 on Tuesday.
However, hear Steve Reich himself on teachers and Milhaud here. [MP3 file] (from an interview in December 2004)
I love Milhaud's music, but that doesn't say anything of his teaching or what he was like as a person...

Hear more from Steve on my post, Celebrating Steve.