Saturday, April 28, 2007


I start vacation today, so expect few updates over the next week. See you when I'm back on May 6th.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some good news

About my friend Joyce! Congrats!!!! Two timer, you ;)

So long

It was sad to hear about the passing of Mstislav Rostropovich. I know a student of his, and many cellists, who regarded him highly. You might, or might not, remember I met him about a year ago, and inquired about an interview. You can read about that encounter here.
There are many links on the web for his music and videos. I'll play his recording of the Miaskovsky Concerto this afternoon on WITF. You can listen live here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coming up

What are you doing this weekend?

Come on out to WITF and see the new digs!

Five Things about Maria Bachmann

I heard the delightful recital (entitled the Red Violin, in reference to her latest cd) by Maria Bachmann and Jon Klibonoff Wednesday night at Merkin Hall in NYC.
1. The program began with Ravel's Violin Sonata - lesser violinists might end with this work - Maria began with it and not only played it from memory but with the flair of a world premiere - like she was making it up and creating the music right then and there. Few pianists could keep up with such tempos and do so with such amazing ensemble - Jon Klibonoff was more than a match, truly a musical partner/creator.
2. I've never been a fan of Copland's violin pieces, the Ukelele Serenade and Nocturne - I've read through them myself, and heard numerous recordings. That is, until last February when I heard Maria and Jon play them...suddenly, the pieces came to life and made sense. That usually doesn't happen to me, I get it or don't right off. So it was a delight to hear these Copland gems in concert.
3. John Corigliano was at the recital last night (seen left - on stage making remarks) and was delighted in hearing the "world premiere" of his Red Violin Chaconne for Violin and Piano. He joked that he was such a conservationist that he recycled the work from the orchestral version and also into the first movement of his violin concerto. I can't imagine playing the chaconne in front of the composer, for the first time, or recording it and then premiering it as Maria did. She again was playing from memory, and certainly showed no signs of nerves - only the gregariousness of her fiddle. I joked with Corigliano afterwards that Maria is such a shy player and oh so delicate. After hearing this in concert, I really put Klibonoff on a whole other level of musicians - he was stunning.
4. After intermission, Maria's friend and composer extraordinare Paul Moravec (seen right, on stage making remarks and joking about his age) had three pieces, written for or arranged for Maria. Paul has a unassuming manner, and a real flair of capturing Maria's energy in his works. He also wrote "Evermore" for Maria and her husband Josh - a real gorgeous work that is on the album (see below) - a must hear. Paul also told a great anecdote about the Ariel Fantasy, which became the first movement of his Tempest Fantasy that took the 2004 Pulitzer Prize...he (Paul) is Prospero to Maria's Ariel - how poetic. [You can hear Maria talk about Paul's music in an interview on Composing Thoughts here.]
5. The recital ended with George Enescu's 3rd Violin Sonata. It's not on the Red Violin cd but "fits the energy and music" of the disc as Maria stated from the stage. It also was performed from memory and with the outstanding panache that Maria brings to her music making. Lucy Miller from her program notes aptly says that while it is a violin sonata, the piano certainly has as many notes and is as virtuosic. Hear hear! Maria and Jon followed it with a short Gershwin selection (arranged by Jon) as an encore.
You can find the cd here, and definitely plan to hear her if you can: with Trio Soloisti, the Lark Quartet or in recital, you'll be glad you did!
Seen afterwards: the producer of the Red Violin Adam Abeshouse, Paul Moravec, and John Corigliano at Merkin Recital Hall.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Five Things about Songs: Innocence and Experience

I caught a vocal recital of young singers with the composers accompanying their own songs Tuesday night at Christ and St. Stephen's Church in NYC.
1. The night began with three well-crafted songs written in 2001 from Tom Cipullo, one of the organizers of the evening. Soprano Leilah Dione's voice filled the space well, if a little formal. A nice start nonetheless.
2. Next up were Larkin Songs by Daron Hagen and baritone David McFerrin. I know these from the Arsis recording and a friendship with Daron since meeting him in Las Vegas a few years ago. It was a delightful performance capturing the poetry and humor.
3. Perhaps the most stunning performance of the singers was soprano Vira Slywotzky. She brought depth, humor and amazing color to the songs of Yehudi Wyner, himself a real delight. Wyner spoke about the pieces, and was downright inviting in his performance - it suddenly felt like a parlor with friends rather than a recital. Especially charming and hilarious was Florida Express, written in 1993 for Robert Levin.
4. After intermission we were treated to David Del Tredici's Miss Enez Sez, with two selections: The Happy Child and Good News! Nilda is back. Soprano Erin Heisel performed from memory and showed off her coloratura and also something you don't always get: playing the tambourine. Her drama was most excellent, and Del Tredici was fleet fingered to say the least.
5. The recital ended with the godfather of modern American Song, Ned Rorem. He was joined by Emily Albrink who is as beautiful as her voice is warm. (I know it's hard to tell from the fuzzy picture, left, but she's gorgeous.) They gave a set of six songs from the 1940s and 1950s - before Rorem was born as he joked before playing! The performance was moving, seeing the young and old together as well as a balance of musicality, interpretation and taste.

What a night! I'll definitely keep an eye out for more "Friends & Enemies of New Music" events and concerts. I'm so glad Daron told me about it!

PS- It was pretty wild to be at a recital with four Pulitzer Prize winning composers! Besides Wyner, Del Tredici and Rorem, Aaron Jay Kernis was across the aisle from me.

Waiting for the tunnel

I had such a long wait to get through the Lincoln tunnel Tuesday night that I took some pictures, including this view of Manhattan.


Congratulations to Andrew Constantine, who is the new conductor of the Reading Symphony Orchestra!
Constantine succeeds Maestro Sidney Rothstein, who retired last year after 30 years of inspired leadership of the orchestra. During his tenure, Rothstein conducted more than 200 performances, helped establish RSO’s reputation as a first-class regional orchestra, and introduced the audience to a broad spectrum of repertoire.
The appointment of Andrew Constantine concludes an intensive three-year process, as the Search Committee, chaired by Penny Proserpi, evaluated more than 275 applicants from several dozen states and eight or more foreign countries. Eight finalists performed as guest conductors during the 2006-2007 RSO season.
“Maestro Constantine emerged as the best of an outstanding group of candidates,” Proserpi said. “The Committee created a profile at the beginning of the search in May of 2004. It identified all of the attributes, both musical and off the podium, that we felt would raise the quality of the Symphony to an even higher level of excellence. Those talents include artistic, administrative, and community leadership skills. Throughout this season, the Committee sought the input of its musicians, audiences and leaders in both the arts and business community to help evaluate each conductor. Constantine best met all of these criteria.”
Asked to comment on his appointment, Andrew Constantine replied, “I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity of working and establishing a relationship with the Reading Symphony Orchestra. It was exciting to find, at our first rehearsal, that here was an orchestra of real skill and terrific musicality, which possessed both the willingness and the capacity to help me shape my ideas. When added to a support and management team that is also both enterprising and forward thinking it proved a pretty irresistible combination for me.
Together we will meet the exciting challenges that are ahead of us and continue the great and lengthy tradition of the Reading Symphony to perform music which is both entertaining, engaging and thought provoking.”
The Reading Symphony Orchestra, the 12th oldest symphony in the United States, has been giving concerts in Reading since 1913 and consists of 81 professional musicians

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Five Things about the Guarneri Quartet

The Guarneri played a stunning program last night at Susquehanna University.
1. It wasn't well attended, which broke my heart, but was appreciated by those who came.
2. The late Mozart quartet they opened with fit them musically and poetically: the Guarneri has always been in my mind's eye the "stereotypical" quartet, and one to measure others by. The music fit on all of those levels, and they to Mozart's charm and grace.
3. The Janacek first quartet is dramatic and fiery. It's also a wonderful mirror image form: slow-fast-fast-slow. Again, the quartet spoke well for the composer and I can't imagine finer music making than their performance last night.
4. The Ravel quartet is such an old standby that it was great to hear it live (again! I saw them play it in Wichita back in 1990) with the Guarneris. That said, it is hard to see musical idols age. Some things, while they were stunning, are not what they once were.
5. It was nice to speak with the guys afterwards, and to chat: about upcoming performances, the summer, baseball, booksignings and new music. Half the group was heading to BJs afterwards, where I ate with a friend before the concert, so I could actually recommend a few menu items and beers!

Stellar music making all in all with the quartet, a true musical institution that you should hear sooner than later.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Short Story

From my friend Dick, who was talking this weekend about Wagner & love for the Harrisburg Symphony concerts:

>>> For good luck she [Kirsten Flagstad] adopted another ritual before the performance: Either her accompanist, Edwin McArthur, or her husband would blow cigarsmoke--which she loved--in her face. <<<
His source


In reference to my AAUW program...check out the sidebar for some new dates of my performances and concerttalks!

From: Elizabeth Packer
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 5:00 PM
To: Mary Kratzer; Kathy Silks
Cc: Colleen Willard-Holt
Subject: 12 April Program [sls]

Dear Mary, dear Kathy,

Thank you for bringing such an interesting program to our Branch. John Clare certainly can hold our attention. His program was over too soon, I could have listened to him more, and his violin. Since both of you recommended him highly, I did go last fall to one of his presentations at the Mechanicsburg Library. It was a different program, also excellent.

I hope that next year, with your help, we can have another good selection of programs.

Best regards,


Party like it's...

2007...or your 37th birthday.
So things have been busy. Not only did I turn 37 on the 11th, but I'm taking a week off and am trying to get everything ready...add the many concerts, interviews, programming, and life in general and you get one eskimo that can barely keep up, more or less blog. So here goes...starting more recently.
The Harrisburg Symphony played a wonderful concert Sunday afternoon. Henry Fogel, president of the A.S.O.L., was on hand and gave ringing endorsements for the group and Stuart Malina. Here here! or Hear here!
[photo of the talkback with Fogel, the new english horn player, the new assistant principal violist, and Malina.]

Saturday night I went the premiere of the End of Winter by Chris Whittaker at the York Symphony. This 21 year old is one to watch (and listen!) Also on the program was Zuill Bailey, who I had met years ago in Las Vegas and had seen again on the east coast. Nice to see him and as the title of this blog entry notes, party.

Thursday I interviewed maestro Donald Runnicles , seen right. Hear our interview in two parts, both are mp3s and run about 7 minutes each: [part1] [part2]
I heard the Philadelphia Orchestra with Runnicles in a wonderful program: Messiaen Hymne; Bruch Violin Concerto #1 with Janine Jansen; and John Adams' Harmonielehre. Janine was stunning and remains in my estimation one of the great players of our time. Hear an interview of mine with her here.

I wound up doing my taxes on Tuesday night, April 17th about 11pm, and had server problems - luckily it went through. Small federal refund and small state due...

The previous weekend had goofy weather. So Saturday, before the deluge, I went to Princeton and interviewed David Little - watch for his upcoming episode on Composing Thoughts. Then I interviewed Lisa Bielawa in NYC, her episode is this week - be sure and catch it!
Then (still Saturday the 14th, really) I went down to Philadelphia and had dinner and drinks with friends from Las Vegas. Bob and Jory are dear to my heart and it was awesome to see them. [Pictured left at Farmicia]

Friday the 13th was uneventful - no bad luck that is- although we we fundraising at WITF. My friend and cohort in music Paul took me out for my birthday. We'll be playing alot over the summer - check us out Memorial Day weekend at ArtsFest and at Cornerstone Coffeehouse!

Thursday the 12th I had the pleasure of interviewing and hearing cellist Elinor Frey (pictured together on the right). She premiered a piece written for her by Steven Stucky called Dialoghi (or Dialogues); and also played Seven Butterflies by Kaija Saariaho. It'll be on Composing Thoughts in May - keep an eye and ear out! I also gave a talk that night to the A.A.U.W. in Camp Hill and then had a delightful dinner with Elinor at Mangia Qui (the second night in a row for me!) [see below]

Wednesday the 11th was the beginning of the end - just kidding! I had dinner and drinks with my good friends Bob and Sue (who I had just house sat for) at Mangia Qui, one of their, and one of mine, favorites in Harrsiburg.

We then went to the Whitaker Center and heard Quartetto Gelato (QG for short) in concert, which I introduced as emcee. (picture of the unique and nice setup from the stage on the right)

Afterwards I had a drink with Elinor (pictured left) the cellist of QG, and her colleagues arrived for more drinks and cigars. We talked music into the wee hours! What a birthday! Now you know what I've been up to rather than blogging!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


So I've been impressed and a little overwhelmed by the American Symphony Orchestra League's new email bulletins. They are chock full of information, and I never knew how much I wanted to attend their events and activities.

The latest one though had me laughing.

Putting a violist in front of Congress for a testimonial just makes me laugh. Really. Nothing personal about the violist that they have picked, it's the instrument, and the words, testify. Call it "Classical Junior High Humor" - the equivalent of fart jokes.

Think about it...

Imagine a distinguished senator from New York asking about the practice habits of violists.

Or the schtick one could lambast a senator from Massachusetts when he saw Cynthia Phelps (above, left) or her stand partner Rebecca Young (right). [Grant you that IS the sexiest and most musical pairing I know of in any orchestra!]

So while arts funding is quite serious and I think the A.S.O.L. and the Americans for the Arts are doing a bang up job, it was ripe for me to have a giggle. And we all need that now and then!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Links, nicht rechts

Just kidding, nothing about left here. Nor right really.

However, amidst the crappy news around, this is a bit of hope: Classical music healing.

There are some great posts up at Composing Thoughts about the Pulitzers and the start of FIVE WEEKS of world premieres in Central PA! Check it out. And, of course, tune in Sunday nights at 7pm (available online to listen as well!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good blur

It's been a week that has past by quite quickly, no doubt aided by my 37th birthday. Thanks for all of the wishes and gifts, ranging from cards, dinners, drinks, hats, and even some new music!

I started this post on Friday afternoon and got taken out...and now the weekend has been a blur too. More on it all really soon. Pictures too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The latest Danse Macabre is now out, see it here. While it focuses on poetry, my friend Adam managed to include me with a fun reworking of a composer interview I did - enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just in

It's official!

Read the article here:

Make your voice heard now and vote in another radio poll...Vote for your favorites now at WITF's 89.5 Classix! (Might I suggest to write in Jennifer Higdon, Augusta Read Thomas, Walter Mays, Joan Tower, Steven Stucky or Paul Moravec?)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Talent quest

How was your easter? Mine was good thanks.
I spent the weekend dog-and-house-sitting for friends on a trip in the Carribbean. It was a blast. The springer spaniels were great and gave me a "dog fix" I needed.
I also produced a friend's entry for the Public Radio Talent Quest and enjoyed her company. I had a chance to chat with my parents, and with another high school friend who we hadn't touched base in a year or so.
This week will be busy as Quartetto Gelato visits the midstate, I turn 37, give a talk for the AAUW, and go to NYC over the weekend.

I've also posted my latest interview with Arnold Steinhardt here (and you might remember our discussion last year in Lancaster), and this week's composer on Composing Thoughts is John Harbison - there's some good extras here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Another view

You can read a NY Times review of the McMillen concert here.
And you can see me with Peter Schickele here after our interview, and a picture with Eric Ewazen here. (Thanks Andrew G for taking them!)
More soon - have a great Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Five Things about Blair McMillen

I caught a recital at the Italian Academy at Columbia University (officially the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America) last night in NYC. The program was part of the "Music for a New Century" - Works composed since 2000, with pianist Blair McMillen.
1. I thought I might see one or two of the composers at the concert - after all, Blair is the pianist for the DaCapo Players, so I wondered. As I was out front enjoying a cigarillo, Joan Tower showed up with friends, and we chatted. Later, inside, Derek Bermel sat behind me and we chatted - he pointed out Anthony Tommasini and Fred Hersh to me.
2. The program showed no intermission, and really didn't need one - the five pieces were diverse but not terribly long. Blair took some time in between, which was just right. The order was delightful too: Steven Stucky, Barbara White, The new Goldberg variations (including the original aria and 4 new variations by Stanley Walden, Fred Hersh, Mischa Zupko, and Derek Bermel), Marco Stroppa and Joan Tower.
3. Listening to piano works by composers you know is certainly interesting, especially when it is their chamber music or orchestral scores you are familiar. I have new respect for many of them now - hmmm, maybe new insight is a better word, I still respect them.
4. This program is one of the finest treats I've had, and it was free. While the 50 or 60 people in the audience were appreciative and didn't make it less appealing, I'm a little suprised that it wasn't better attended. Why is that?
5. Blair included two encores, "In the rain" by Barbara White, again from her "Reliquary" and "Sexy" from Kyle Gann's "Private Dances" - both short and sweet. It was a fitting end to a rockin' recital.
The next concert is May 2nd, 2007 with Kathleen Supove and Jennifer Choi. Email Rick Whitaker or call him at 212 854 1623 for free tickets (and tell him John Clare sent you!)

Last 24...

So, in the last 24 hours, I've interviewed two composers in NYC (Peter Schickele and Eric Ewazen); had a great lunch at a vietnamese place; stayed for $80(!!!!!) overnight; ate at one of my fave italian places (joe g's on 56th); saw blair mcmillen tear up the keyboard at columbia (for free!) and there were 4 of the composers on the program in attendance. Oh, and I brought back a dozen & a half bagels for my coworkers.
I love my life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Would it help?

Would it help if we ran away faster?*
This story just struck me funny...go figure. Imagine if Amtrak had such speedy trains, what my travel would be like between Harrisburg, Philly, DC and NYC?!

*Thank you Monty Python!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Five Things about Alarm Will Sound

I heard the "farewell" concert at Dickinson College of the ensemble in residence, Alarm Will Sound (AWS) Saturday night at Rubendall Hall.
1. The evening was stellar, from precise and moving performances to educational activities where the students were playing alongside the performers (in a new work nonetheless!) to a killer reception afterwards.
2. Michael Gordon has a far better sense of rhythm than I do. So does Benedict Mason. In fact, AWS does in general! Some great funky stuff - catch them when they come to your town - and buy their cds.
3. The premieres the whole evening were superb, and the program itself was so well crafted. I enjoyed "Plays Well With Others" by Robert Pound - who led his work with panache and sparkle.
4. John Orfe's Chamber Symphony was particularly good, and his knowledge of his colleagues shows in the writing (he's the pianist in AWS). Of course, his company and friendship with Ezra Ladermann and John Adams doesn't hurt I'm sure. The work has a Mahlerian feel with 21st century good taste - that is to say, it is a serious and virtuosic work which I long to hear again.
5. The encore was from their Aphex Twin cd, conceived at Rubendall Hall a few years ago. It was delightful, but I would have also had them encore even more - I almost shouted "Da Capo!" at the end of Animals and the Origins of Dance. (The musicians all leave the stage, where pre-recorded sounds are heard along with off stage playing! pictured left.)

I'm looking forward to hearing AWS again live and on future cds!
[You can hear and see interviews with Robert Pound and John Orfe here.]
BTW, my friends joined me: Zach, Bob and Sue - we had great seats!
I also had the great pleasure to finally meet Mel and Matt:
Read Melissa's blog here. Turns out she knew a player from high school and I knew the cellist who was subbing previously...small world!

Friends Focus

It's been a wacky week, and Friday was a delight...I attended a cocktail party and then art opening at the Mantis Collective in Harrisburg.
Below are some scenes from the relaxing and fun event.