Sunday, November 26, 2006

The week ahead

There's lots going on classically in the midstate this week. Don't miss out on these concerts - I'm certainly not!

Tuesday night, From the Top is in Mercersburg, PA for a radio taping. Host/pianist Christopher O'Riley is a hoot. Take a listen to talented young artists and see how radio is made!

Wednesday night, Market Square Concerts presents clarinetist David Schiffrin and pianist Andre Michel-Schub. World class artists in Harrisburg; Something on the program for everyone...

Friday night the Turtle Island String Quartet plays at HACC. They'll also play at the WITF studios on Friday afternoon! Keep an ear out...

Saturday night is the Waverly Consort at Gretna Music. A killer classical Christmas Experience. Also head back to hear 3 Trains Comin' at Suba that night!

And orchestra concerts as well as Nutcrackers are around the corner. I'm doing an ArtBeat about the Nutcracker on December 15th.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Movin' on up

This week has been busy with packing up the office and music library at WITF to move to the new PMC (Public Media Center) from our old office. Enjoy some pictures from the old to the new...more to come!

New Studio

New (empty) Library

Old Studio

A whole lot of London cds

Where's the tape?

Cary Packing

Friday, November 24, 2006

Al Med

Here are a few pics from Wednesday night.

The lighting wasn't very good so I had some fun with effects...I'll take more soon.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


So I joined my friend Paul Zavinsky at Al Mediterraneo last night in Hummelstown. While it was a small pre-holiday crowd, they loved us. Looks like I may join Paul there Wednesdays. I'll also post some pictures from last night as well.
Happy Turkey Day! If you want to hear me onair, tune in locally to 89.5FM or online here.
I'm on 12 to 3pm eastern. Besides some great American music, I have the Firebird by Stravinsky (get it? FIRE bird.) Also Reinhard Goebel (gobble gobble gobble!) with Musica Antiqua Koln.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful 2006

This year's list of people and things I'm appreciative and thankful for include:
my parents

my friends
my WITF FM coworkers

Andrzej Panufnik's music

my new apartment

playing the blues and other great tunes with Paul Z.

Amtrak routes from Harrisburg

Martina Hingis' comeback to tennis

Interviewing composers on a regular basis


Having a digital video recorder from Comcast

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oh a few more

Another aspect of time mismanagement comes for the internet...from checking email and arts news, I enjoy the links on the righthand side of this page.
Some recent favorites not listed are Henry Fogel's new blog over at ArtsJournal: On the Record
Check it out, the guy knows his stuff and is fascinating reading.
Also, if you "heart" NY, then be sure to keep up with the Big Apple by checking out The Gothamist. These folks are fun, informative and very up to date.
So besides the television wasting my time, there you go.


or "De-stressing, a guide by your eskimo friend, JC"

While a good portion of my life is taken up with classical music, friends and family...another portion is devoted to sleep, er I mean watching tv! Sadly, Gilmore Girls has been disappointing (even the NY Times wrote about the seemingly lackluster scripts). However, this season - the DVR definitely helps! - I've discovered some other shows that have kept my interest.

Since I no longer live vicariously through Lorelai and Luke's romance, I now have Ted and Robin to make the world right.

You see, Ted, Marshall and Barney are all friends now, Lily is funny and a little annoying, but I adore Robin played by the stunning

Cobie Smulders on How I Met Your Mother on CBS.

Defintely check out Barney's Blog and Swarley dot Com.

Then there is Shark on CBS. James Woods is hilarious, and Jeri Ryan, well, is the gorgeous Jeri Ryan - who was finally used in an episode as more than a recurring cameo last week. This is a pretty good ensemble cast.

And Ugly Betty. Of the new, hip shows, this is both, with a good cast, outrageous and funny scripts. Salma Hayek is the producer and also stars in it. Yowser. ABC has scored with this one.

ABC continues to please with Boston Legal, although after they cancelled Commander-In-Chief last year I was really mad. Oh well. I do recommend watching CiC on DVD, the two volume set is affordable and makes a great arc. Okay, I am mad again at ABC!

There have also been some older shows that I've been watching as well, now that I can have "series" recordings, like NewsRadio. What a hoot.
I really was bummed when they didn't renew Everwood - it would fit nicely on the CW....oh well, you can catch the reruns on ABC Family (who then air Gilmore Girls afterwards!) - because there is only one season (the first) on DVD. Hopefully this will be corrected in the future and the other seasons will make it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

5 Things about the Lark Quartet

The Lark Quartet played a smashing concert of new music Sunday night (with lots of composers present!) at Merkin Hall in NYC.

They premiered DBR's Fifth Quartet (in memory of Rosa Parks), and a new version of Paul Moravec's Atmosphera a Villa Aurelia.

1. Who knew Paul Moravec could get an audience to sing the 40s hit "I'll be seeing you..." the same night DBR got the audience to lay down a beat clapping their hands (handz) while discussing their pieces on stage (at different times mind you.)

2. Stanley Silverman's arrangements of Gershwin songs are as skillful as they are charming - so in the hands of the Lark Quartet, they were in a word, perfect.

Kathryn (the violist) and Paul

3. The Lark Quartet plays music like their lives depend on it. They throw everything into their music making, and it shows, both in their interpretation and in their technique. The quartet is amazing well balanced; often you find a quartet with a few sparkling members and a few less so - not with the Lark Quartet. They are all consumate musicians and they also just happen to all be drop dead gorgeous.

4. First violinist Maria Bachmann very aptly mentioned during the course of the evening how hard Paul Moravec's music is to play technically, yet the examples heard on the concert were a tad more mellow. You can sample a bit of here (his Ariel Fantasy for violin and piano). Bachmann knows, because she's premiered so many of his works - I thought it was sweet, sorta funny and very perseptive for her to mention it. (The two works by Moravec on the program were sublime and very well received. No one, not even the performers wanted to break the magic of the notes after the Atmosphera.)

5. DBR is the future of music. He blends classical with hip hop and good taste. His music is not only thoughtful but catchy. Kudos for the Lark Quartet in premiering AND recording this work.

[Klap UR Handz by the Lark Quartet is one of my top ten gifts for your holiday list this year. Read more.]

Author with the stunning Kathryn

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Lots of fun and caffeine as predicted last night at St. Thomas Roasters in Linglestown. Paul, Hank and I had some fun, playing some old favorites and playing new pieces together.
[slightly fuzzy picture of Hank by yours truly]
Off to NYC now...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ready for my closeup?

Caught Casino Royale yesterday afternoon, just after I got off the air. Stunning, truly the best Bond in a while - no stupid video game effects, and a certain grittiness true to Ian Fleming's writing. Daniel Craig was just right - who cares about an actor's hair color when they deliver lines and scenes with real talent?
I came home and nursed a cold that was trying to catch me - hahaha flu. Yeay fruit juices, tylenol and sleep!
This morning I also watched an amazing film, Elliott Carter: A Labyrinth of Time by Frank Scheffer. It not only is moving, and beautifully filmed, it allows you to get to know a stellar composer. Rent it or get your copy today and watch it - a couple of times. The world would be a better place if it got to know Elliott Carter and his music.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Top Ten Classical Albums - I

This season, give a loved one some great music. Here are my favorites from this last year to put under the tree!


10. Joyce DiDonato "Deepest Desire" (Eloquentia)
9. "Great Film Fantasties" Erich Kunzel Cincinnati Pops (Telarc)
8. Shostakovich Symphonies 1 & 14 Rattle Berlin PO Mattila Quasthoff (EMI) 7. Augusta Read Thomas Gathering Paradise NY Phil (New World)
6. Martha Argerich & Friends Lugano Festival 2005 (EMI)

Top Ten Classical Albums - Continued

5. Lark Quartet Klap Ur Handz (Endeavour Classics)4. John Adams My Father knew Charles Ives BBC SO (Nonesuch)3. Paul Moravec Time Gallery eighth blackbird (Naxos)2. Helene Grimaud Reflection (DG) and the number one classical album to give this year...
1. Joyce DiDonato Wigmore Recital (Wigmore)

Update for an interview

Swing over to WITF New Releases blog to see and hear my latest interview with composer and conductor John Rutter.
Enjoy and keep an eye for the John Rutter episode on Composing Thoughts!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Top Ten Violin Albums - I

For those fiddle players or music lovers on your Christmas list this are my recommendations for the 10 best cds released this year of Violinists.

Happy Holidays!

10. Merry - A Holiday Journey with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg & Friends. (NSS Music)
9. Leila Josefowitz plays Shostakovich (Concerto #1 and Sonata #1) (Warner Bros)
8. Julia Fischer plays Mozart Concerti (1,2 & 5) (PentaTone) 7. Tracy Silverman in John Adams' The Dharma At Big Sur. (Nonesuch)6. Portraits by violinist Jennifer Koh, playing Bartok, Szymanowski and Martinu. (Cedille)

Top Ten Violin Albums - Continued

5. Voice of the Violin - Joshua Bell with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (Sony)
4. Nicola Benedetti's Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (with MacMillan and Mozart) and the ASMF (DG)

3. Grazyna Bacewicz violin music with violinist Piotr Plawner and Pianist Ewa Kupiec. (Hanssler Classics)
2. Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the Mozart Violin Sonatas with Lambert Orkis. (DG) and the number one violin album for a gift
1. Hilary Hahn plays Paganini and Spohr. (DG)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blues 'n Beans

Come out and hear us play Saturday night in Linglestown at St. Thomas Roasters! Paul Zavinsky, Hank Imhof and yours truly will jam from 8 to 10pm. Dig some killer blues and sip some yummy caffeine!
Perhaps you remember hearing them in Hummelstown?
And reading about it here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Interview with Helene Grimaud

While looking through some of my past archived interviews, I saw this and thought I'd share it with you - recorded with Helene Grimaud in 2004. These are some clips of her just after she recorded Credo on the DG label.

Introduction [mp3]

Playing Part [mp3]

Playing the Choral Fantasy [mp3]

Inspirations [mp3]

Playing at Carnegie [mp3]

Thanks [mp3]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

5 Things about the York Symphony

I was the emcee for "From Russia with Love" Saturday with the York Symphony Orchestra.

1. The concert was well attended and the audience quite friendly.

2. Leonid Kuzmin played a wonderful Rachmaninoff Second Concerto and his encore, Liszt's transcription of Schubert's Serenade was spot on.

3. Robert Hart Baker switched the movements of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony - making the third movement march the finale movement - different to say the least.

4. All the violinists were very friendly to me, it was great making some connections with fellow fiddlers!

5. I met a radio board member I didn't know, and met Dominick Argento's brother, who really appreciated the Composing Thoughts show I did with him.

I'll definitely be back to the Strand Capitol Theater, to see Paula Poundstone and then the YSO again when they premiere Chris Whittaker's new work. You should catch it too!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Opera Commerce

Well, well, well. There's been talk this week about broken hearts, opera, and "selling out." Why not do all three? hahaha
Take a look at OperaModa's new calendar.
No I haven't ordered my copy - yet!

Poetic Justice?

I just read this story from Friday about Walmart:
Appliances join toys and electronics in Wal-Mart holiday price cuts

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Their sales were disappointing last month, but it's looking more and more like Wal-Mart is determined not to let that happen again.
The world's largest retailer is cutting prices on dozens of small appliances. Reductions of between seven and 17 percent are taking effect immediately on everything from coffee makers to microwaves.
This is Wal-Mart's third round of price slashing in time for the holiday season. It already lowered the tags on hundreds of toys and electronics.
Along with October's unsettling results, the company's outlook for this month is the weakest in a decade. Wal-Mart officials say they want to refocus on cutting prices and selling basic items, after going too far in stocking trendy things.

Could it be that the public is tired of Wal-Mart treating it's employees poorly? I'm sick about Wal-Mart's business practices - and hope they take a staggering decline to help change their policies. Ugh.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Emcee (M.C. Clare)

Yo York! Shout out to my orchestra peeps. Yeah, I'm a violin playa!

[pictured left: a well dressed John out on the town]

Uhm, okay, seriously. I'm Saturday night's emcee for the York Symphony Orchestra's "From Russia with Love" concert at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center. The performance is at 8pm and includes Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with soloist Leonid Kuzmin; Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain; and Tchaikovsky's Symphony #6 "Pathetique." Maestro Bob Baker will direct.

So come on out and have some fun - I'll be onstage, I hope you'll be in the audience.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dazzling Debut

I'm a bit tired this morning, and my heart can't take many more concerts like last night. Helene Grimaud is an artist of immense musicianship and beauty. Her music making is outstanding and I could have listened to even more Rachmaninoff (she gave some charming etude tableaux as encores!), Chopin, Brahms or Bach. So why can't my heart take more? I'm a sucker for talent and charm - I think I'll die if I experience something of this stellar level again from such a high calibur artist.
For the record, last night was the Helene's Carnegie Hall RECITAL debut.

Monday, November 06, 2006

5 Things about St. Luke's Concert

Carl Iba, Regina Barrett and the Ravel Trio played Haydn, Bruch, Martinu and Schubert Sunday afternoon in Schaefferstown, PA.

1. It's fascinating to see a musician use technology in live music! Dan from the Ravel Trio used an electronic score for the Haydn - I wish I could have asked him about it.

2. Double Bass transcriptions work so well, and it's nice to hear them played with such grace and musicality. (I think violists should steal Bass repertoire!)

3. The real gem for me was hearing the outstanding musicmaking between Carl Iba and Simon (SEE-moan) Maurer in the Martinu.

4. Hearing the Trout Quintet always makes me think of two pieces - Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata and Brahms' Second Symphony: Surely Schubert knew the Beethoven and surely Brahms knew the Trout...there are passages in each work that my ear always seems to perk up to certain passages.

5. Almost every audience member was a fan of Carl's; and they all let him know it - I've never seen so many well wishes and hugs for a performer after a concert. A real warm feeling on a chilly fall afternoon! Bravo!