Category Archives: Musicians of Note
Viola Judy and I have received our chamber music assignment for BSO Academy: Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. We’ll be playing with Ivan Stefanovic, the Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Orchestra. Joining us will be our friend Deborah on bass (she played in our quintet last year) and a new cellist we have yet to meet. Ivan will be playing the First Violin part with us.
The good news is that the Mozart piece is delightfully familiar (a sample below), and is really not all that difficult to learn. Playing it well, on the other hand, is another issue! Considering Ivan typically plays Second Violin parts — the part I’ve drawn — I better get this one nailed!
It is, as we used to say in the newsroom, a “significant” anniversary. It ends with a zero.
The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has brought out all kinds of somber reflections on the day, remembrances of lives lost, and a lot of huffing and puffing about how “safe” America is these days.
While there’s been some of that on NPR, there’s also been some thought given to artistic expressions around the events of that September day, and their website is exploring 9/11 in the context of a lot of musical genres. Under the classical tab, they’ve been interviewing composers who have written music in tribute to 9/11, including such notables as John Corigliano and Ned Rorem.
I don’t know if Krzysztof Penderecki’s extremely moving Piano Concerto “Resurrection” will make the NPR list. Penderecki had been commissioned to write his first piano concerto for Carnegie Hall, and was working on it when the towers came down. It became a sound poem of the day, with echos of the fire truck sirens and the horror, captured in music.
Last year, Chuck and I heard the Nashville Symphony Orchestra perform the work with Penderecki himself holding the baton and Barry Douglas at the keyboard. Penderecki and Douglas have been working collaboratively to perfect the work, which is now in its third and final form. They recorded the work with the Polish Symphony Orchestra over the winter. The recording is supposed to be available on Naxos, but I have not been able to locate it. But Chuck did find this on YouTube. The quality is good — and it’s worth plugging headphones into your computer to get the full effect.
Another big summer event for string players in just around the corner. Interlochen in Northern Michigan hosts the annual Adult Chamber Music Camp next month, for a full week of playing in small groups. For those who can’t do the whole week, there’s also a String Chamber Orchestra Weekend. While I’m pining to go, my schedule this year – with Baltimore and all – just can’t spare the time.
Meanwhile, how does a professional violin player spend her summer? Rebecca Nichols, the coach of our chamber group at the BSO Academy and a first violin player with the Baltimore Symphony, is spending her summer on a sailboat with her husband, sailing up the East Coast to Maine. You can read about her experiences and see some great pictures on a blog she’s writing: Becky’s Sailing Adventure. And, just because she’s sailing (or battling seasickness) doesn’t mean that she stops practicing. She isn’t taking her best violin on the trip, but she is playing as they go!
I took my first stab at conducting this afternoon, did ok on preparing the group for the downbeat and release. However once I was finished conducting part of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony in 2/4 time there was a nice pile of firewood for the meeting room.
It’s still an informative class and former Wayne State professor Joe Labuta does a good job of teaching. Joeis also director of the Saline, Michigan New Horizons Band. It’s just another chance to put a face and meet some of the legends of Detroit’s music history as well as some of the best band teachers around the country.
Some of the music we have been playing is starting to come together. The saxophone ensemble has been working on Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll”, a great version of “Jeri co” and an “Amazing Grace” arrangement that gives each individual in the group a chance at the lead.
The Intermediate Band has been supplemented the last couple of nights by members of the Advanced Band, which has helped a lot. I’m finding myself keeping up with the “more experienced” players. I even held my own with a solo on a version of the Shaker Dance. The Tango (La Comparsita) is coming along nicely the St. Louis Blues. I’m not sure what part I’ll end up with since I’ve played both first and second, I ended up doing the sax solo during the sectional. We are also starting to get a feel for Sousa’s Northern Pines March.
Another full day of music, more tired lips, the night’s finale, 1812 Overture, running thr0ugh my head, the good news is we all finished at the same time.
It’s finally starting to seem like spring in Michigan, despite another snowstorm this week. (No snow at 6am, 3 inches on the ground by 10am, but only a few patches here and there by dinnertime …)
This time of renewal has also seen a lot of musical activity. Continue reading
Spent a lovely 90 minutes at the Steinway Piano Gallery on Saturday, listening to a young pianist (and humorist) by the name of Julian Gargiulo. Born in Italy, Julian trained at the Moscow Conservatory and at the Peabody Institute. He now lives in New York, touring the country with a unique blend of piano virtuosity, his own compositions, and a little stand-up humor. Continue reading
The statistics show many of you coming to the blog arrive as the result of a search for Steve Richko, the very talented jazz pianist who passed away unexpectedly last fall. Thanks to Tim Hoy and Cliff Monear at the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit, Steve’s final performance has been captured on film. This concert, featuring Steve, Cliff, and Tad Weed, took place just a few days before Steve’s death. Continue reading