Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Goodbye my friend. Jurgen and his wife were very charming to me, and a real asset to Nevada Public Radio. We had a great friendship and I will miss him. You can hear Jurgen and how he came to Nevada here on the KNPR website. (Real Audio file)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Seems like I've been much more reactionary than proactive in my blogging lately - I'll work on that!
In the meantime, here I am on Claremont avenue in NYC before interviewing Sebastian Currier(you might remember me interviewing the Claremont Trio, who take their name from this street!)
Then, some shots from the WITF/Reif Snyder Piano event:
(read about the sale at Dr. Dick's blog here)
In fact, here's Dr. Dick and Angela Grab in the atrium.
Photo from "the violinist's view" complete with my microphone, Friday night at the Allen Theater and MJs Coffeehouse:
That kicked off a whole weekend of music and playing, the next night was Cornerstone Coffeehouse (see the righthand side for more concerts/gigs) and then ArtsFest Sunday afternoon.
And finally, pictures from tonight in Baltimore, with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, violinist David Perry, and Pleyel. (Yeah, it went on a little long with the bad actor, Tim Marrone!)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Next NGF

Mark down Friday, June 15th to catch the Next Generation Festival at Millersville University. It's a free concert you won't want to miss.
More from the University...more from WITF...more about Awadagin Pratt. Hear interviews and read about last year's festival.


As much as I perform music, and present it on the radio, I get little time to actually sit down and concentrate, truly listen to a piece of music. I try to listen actively as it were each week, but sometimes it will be several weeks before I get a chance to live in a purely sonic world. Today, I did just that, lived in a sonic world, an ideal one.
I have no words for Helios Choros I by Augusta Read Thomas. She remains the foremost young composer in America. Thank you Gusty!

Still time

Take 2 minutes and go listen to Jann and her entry at the Public Radio Talent Quest...its a winner and you can help make sure it is in the top ten. Vote now. (requires an easy sign up, and its fun to boot!)


Nice to read about Frank Oteri getting props from ASCAP.
I didn't hear about the awards until the day before, otherwise I would have totally made it, lots of friends there. I was also bummed not to get to the AMC meeting and awards this year, but had work (fundraising nonetheless!) - next year for sure!

Heating up in LV

So, I hope you had a chance to catch a great concert earlier this month in Las Vegas, with the Chamber Music Society.

You can read about it here:
May 18, 2007
Vegas: Past, present and future
By Kristen Peterson <>
Chamber music
Almost four years ago Robert Stewart and John Clare decided our rapidly growing city could use a little chamber music.
The Las Vegas Philharmonic had a foothold, as did university groups, but there was no formal support for the delightful, democratic, conductorless ensembles that can really flavor a classical music scene.
With a tiny board and only 15 members, the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society has managed to present a few concerts a year, beginning with a solo recital by pianist Awadagin Pratt before an audience of 60 at the Guggenheim-Hermitage museum in 2004.
"We were trying to figure out how to fill the hole. There was no chamber music going on," Stewart, the group's president, says. Clare, the former classical program manager for KNPR, has moved to Pennsylvania.
Tonight's performance by the Ouroboros Piano Quartet from the University of Southern California ends this season. The group features violist Kaila Potts, a former student of the Las Vegas Academy of Performing and Visual Arts and winner of the Sphynx Competition.
The program includes Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Piano Quartet in E flat major and Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor.
Stewart says the group is planning its next season and will probably throw in a jazz quartet. To keep it going, he grovels for members before concerts.
"We're struggling, but we have a nice little history."
Details: 7 tonight, Summerlin Library Theatre, 1771 Inner Circle Drive.
Admission is free, 507-3863.
Kristen Peterson can be reached at 259-2317 or at

Friday, May 25, 2007

Two days, Four composers

Great to be in NYC last Friday and Monday...
Caught up with Daron Hagen (seen left with moi), Sebastian Currier, DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain) and Richard Danielpour.
They'll all be featured on Composing Thoughts.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Five Things about the Harrisburg Symphony

I attended the Harrisburg Symphony's season finale, Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Magnum Opus Saturday night at the Forum in Harrisburg. Wowsers, they know how to end a season!

1. The evening began with Dvorak's Scherzo Capriccioso. It's a perfect piece to open a concert, and while there wasn't stellar ensemble playing, it was very musical and the charm of Dvorak is unmistakable in the hearts of the HSO and Stuart Malina. In his comments beforehand, Malina mentioned its a nice mix of Dvorak from the Slavonic Dances with his scherzi in the symphonies but longer than any of those - I thought, yeah an odd animal created by Dvorak, before the odd animal by Scott McAllister! lol

2. The world premiere of Tarkus, a concerto for trombone and orchestra by Scott McAllister was next. Ostinato is king for this work - tight rhythms are masterfully orchestrated and blended into this virtuosic 20 minute ride, rarely giving the soloist a break, which is one of the strengths of the soloist Brent Phillips. Contrasts and extreme pitch ranges were well executed and a Panufnikian percussion part was quite "striking" (pun intended) in the timpani, which Brent acknowledged in the curtain calls. While the piece is inspired by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and certainly has downright warring Armadillo moments, you can't imagine the sincere beauty and simplicity in the piece. I hope it will be recorded or played frequently.

[Scott McAllister, Brent Phillips and Stuart Malina]

3. An encore with the entire orchestra (which tells you they not only felt confident about having the entire program under their fingers, which the HSO did, but that they were quite secure with a world premiere, bravo!) of Astor Piazzolla's Adios Nonino featured Brent again, with a dedication to his Grandfather and Father. It felt just right and was very fun, another toe tapper that made the first half even more balanced to the big second half. While it was musical, moving and a nice contrast, I wondered if they could have played Tarkus again instead. Seriously!

4. Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony rounded out the program and is a perfect see-you-next-season sorta piece. I've always loved the inner movements of this piece personally, and was blown away by Stuart's tempo for the scherzo - holy cow! They played fast, precise and had me on the edge of my seat. Tender playing from the orchestra and principal clarinetist Janine Thomas melted my heart in the adagio. Some friends of mine pooh pooh this work, "oh its noise" and "makes me ill." They don't get the over the top Russian romance that is Rachmaninoff, much like an ornate cigarette case or egg by Faberge, which is a perfect analogy to this ornate and fluffy symphony. I actually traveled from Dallas, TX to Raleigh, NC to meet a lover to hear this symphony along with Beethoven's Violin Concerto, a perfect romantic program, over Valentine's Day - only telling her to show up at the airport with a nice dress and clothes for a weekend. So I get the over the top romance, maybe it's a connection of the Inupiat eskimos traveling across the ice from Siberia seven generations ago that connects me? Small aside, Brent Phillips played the Rachmaninoff! He had an assistant that played in places and with the section in moments, but Brent is indeed a player among players. Small aside aside, Wendy Warner in the mid 1990s, sat in the cello section in Wichita when they played the Second Symphony there, because she loved the music, and even did so in the rehearsal, having played Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations and Saint-Saens' Allegro Appassionato in the first half.

5. I gave the pre-concert talk (which will be another post!) at 7pm and will give another today at 2pm, and had fun looking into these works more. My prep included not only going over scores, but interviewing Scott about his work, and putting together listening examples that complement parts of the Rachmaninoff. I always try to think what would I like to know before a concert, and when I go to hear other folks talk, listen to them, and to audience questions - another fascinating way to know audiences, to observe them listening to the music, and what questions they ask - which is pretty different wherever you live.

[myself, Scott and Brent, photo by the stunning Marty Malina]

Read Dr. Dick's view of this concert here. You can also hear Scott McAllister talk about his concerto on the Composing Thoughts site, and see the next season of the Harrisburg Symphony here - see you there!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Friday we completed our spring fundraiser at WITF, here are some pictures from answering phones and signs put up outside Radio Master Control:
Saturday night I played with Paul Zavinsky in Columbia for a really fun crowd.
Now, for the real reason, behind the blog title...last January I got an email about Composing Thoughts from a mother who listens with her son:
Good morning,
My son and I often listen to your program Composing Thoughts while eating dinner on Sunday nights. I learn a lot from what the composers say and from the items you play. I even tracked down the CD from one of them afterwards.
Your program also gave me an idea. First a little background. My son Matthew is multiply handicapped. He has attended a special ed class at the Camp Hill Middle School/High School for the last 6 years. He will graduate in June. During his time at Camp Hill Matthew has regularly attended band (Middle School) and Chorus (High School) rehearsals with his one-on-one aide. The music teachers and the students have welcomed him and responded well to his presence. Matthew always seems to enjoy music, so this is a good way to have him share experience with the regular students.
I wanted to do something to thank the music department at Camp Hill and also to celebrate Matthew's graduation. At first I thought about funding a scholarship to study music. But then I heard you talk about commissioning music on Composing Thoughts one night. I am going to commission a piece of music for the band and chorus to perform this spring. I have 2 young men who are recent graduates of composing programs who are interested. I've told them what my budget is and they are OK with that. I'm going to get with the Camp Hill music teachers and try to make a choice between the two next week. Then we will plan to have the piece ready for rehearsals for the regular May concert date. Usually around Mother's Day. Thank you for giving me this idea. Everyone I talk to thinks it is a great idea.
Would WITF have any interest in recording the world premiere performance of the new composition at the high school? Or possibly interviewing the young composer for Composing Thoughts while they are in town for the event? I'll keep you posted on the progress of this project. Please let me know if WITF is interested in being involved as noted above, or in any other way.
Thanks for a great program and for giving me this idea.
Susan Bianchi
Hershey, PA
Sunday was the concert, and Linda Do, Pete Aufiero, Andrew Gena and myself went and recorded the new piece, and interviewed Susan, Matthew’s teacher, the composer, and two of Matthew’s classmates. It will appear on the Composing Thoughts site soon, and will no doubt be used later by TV. We’ll also have the piece of music, Dreams by David Shover for chorus and two oboes on the site to see and hear.
It was simply stunning, touching and delightful. And it was on Mother’s Day.

Here’s the Patroit article:

Chorus sings 'Dreams' for a friend
Monday, May 14, 2007
Of The Patriot-News
Matthew Bianchi doesn't speak, but his movements said volumes yesterday.
The Derry Twp. man stood up, hummed and waved his arms as he heard "Dreams," which was composed for him by a faculty member at his school and sung to him by the Camp Hill Senior High School chorus.
He relaxed for the rest of the Camp Hill Middle School High School's Spring Choral Concert & Art Exhibit.
"Matthew likes music, everything from German hip-hop to reggae," said Susan Bianchi of Derry Twp., Matthew's mother. She said she commissioned the score to honor her son and thank the school for helping him.
Matthew Bianchi, 21, will graduate from the Capital Area Intermediate Unit Multi-Disabilities Support Class on June 6.
A rare congenital birth defect called agenesis of the corpus callosum has left his brain missing the part that connects the two cerebral hemispheres. That condition, and another neurological disorder called hypoplasia cerebellar vermis, has left him unable to speak or walk steadily.
Yet he's a strong force in the school's musical programs, said David Shover, the school's vocal music director.
"CAIU classes are in our building," Shover said. "Matthew loves music and comes to our rehearsals. When we sing, he is the audience, sometimes humming along, other times concentrating on the music. Music is Matthew's love, so it seems natural to share his love for music with others."
His mother said music has allowed her son to participate in some of the school's mainstream activities.
"Some people look at someone like Matt and ask 'what good is that person?'" she said. "Matthew teaches people about joy and acceptance. I'm proud of him. Since this is Matthew's last year at Camp Hill, I wanted to do something to thank the music department for accepting Matthew over the years."
She and Shover unsuccessfully sought the right composer outside the district. When they "couldn't find the right fit with the right music," Shover offered to compose the piece himself. When Susan Bianchi said she wanted music to accompany the poem "Dreams" by Langston Hughes, Shover wrote a serious piece to be accompanied by two oboes.
Junior Carrie Seefeldt and Molly Silverman, an eighth-grader, played the oboes yesterday as students sang the short but powerful song to Matthew Bianchi.
They looked at the man who taught them about gentleness as they sang "Hold fast to dreams. For if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."
Casey Brooks, a junior and CAIU volunteer, smiled.
"Matt is very lovable," she said. "Even though he can't talk, he understands everything you say to him. He's cute and has gorgeous brown eyes. He likes to flirt and smile a lot. He also loves music. Sometimes when I sing to him, he hums along and taps his feet to the music. I'll miss him when he graduates."
Matthew Dodd, Matthew Bianchi's CAIU teacher, hugged Matthew, saying that he and his five other students with multiple disabilities seem to love music.
"I don't know how much Matthew knew the song was for him," Dodd said. "But he sat for the whole performance, only standing up and moving during that song. That may have been his way of saying 'this is my song.' He knew his friends were singing to him."
Susan Bianchi said that after graduation, her son will go to Hope Springs Farm in East Hanover Twp. several days a week. At the 17-acre farm for people with disabilities, she said her son will help care for animals and plants and participate in indoor activities.
MARY KLAUS: 255-8113

Friday, May 11, 2007


I carry a note in my suit that says "Shhh!" because people love to talk during performances. (And I keep it around so I don't have to make further noise by asking someone NOT to talk during the music.)

Last month in NYC I asked in a very courteous manner a woman at intermission at Merkin Recital Hall if she would mind not chewing her gum so loudly, it was a distraction to the recital. She was quite offended (so was her husband) and they ended up leaving...while I felt slightly bad that they were going to miss the rest of the concert, I enjoyed it that much more by not having the smacking of gum sounding right behind me and could focus on the awesome performance of Maria Bachmann.

Glad I wasn't beat up!

Fun and friends

Been busy catching up after a vacation - which I'm happy to report my mom is out of the rehab/nursing home!

Tuesday much fun was had at Manga Qui...
And Wednesday was spent at Al Med playing with Paul Zavinsky!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Ala Terry Teachout's wonderful almanac entries:
When once asked if recordings could replace the concert experience,Klemperer replied, "Listening to a recording is like going to bed witha photograph of Marilyn Monroe."

Teachout has wonderful news about Sante Fe Opera here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Listen and vote

It will take a few moments to register, but the following two minutes is well worth it.
Please take two minutes, and vote for my friend Jann at Public Radio Talent Quest.
You'll be glad you did, and then be able to say, oh yeah, I voted for her in round one...and round two, and the finals, and woohoo!
Go ahead, you know you want to!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tunick busy

A new record in art...tops previous record by 11,000 about it here.

On the way home

Seen from a famous curve from train #44 "Pennsylvanian"

Another friend, another mom

Was sadden to learn of my friend Joyce's loss:

More from Omaha

While I was out

I spent my days visiting my mom

See here with therapist Holly and my dad.

Eating in Pittsburgh

This place struck me funny, not sure about the fare though.

Seen in Pittsburgh

The back of Heinz Hall, pretty cool!

In the players

on repeat is "lalala" from The Bird and The Bee on the ol' mp3 player...running on the dvd player is season two of "24"