...The harpsichord part involved standard classical techniques that any fellow student could play on the piano, but the performance required more than typical practice and rehearsal. The accompanist would need to follow unexpected variances in rhythm created by the non-traditional uses of the viola. Improvisation would accompany the sword fight...
"It's beautiful," I heard someone whisper as I performed one of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's songs for piano at The Trust Performing Arts Center. I had thought the same a few weeks earlier when I chose the piece. The opening and closing section features a gradually expanding melody whose phrasing I practice by singing, although high… Continue reading Valuing Homemade Music
Their careers are paradigms for my pursuits of contemporary and classical music in unexpected places and improvisation at the piano.
How does one play Johannes Brahms on the other side of Ben Folds? I asked myself this question as I considered a response to my piano student's first lesson on one of the Romantic composer's pieces.
This December, I performed within ten minutes of two of the most prestigious music schools in the United States: Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. Although I applied to both schools (for an undergraduate degree in piano at Eastman and for graduate study in composition at Peabody),… Continue reading On the Fringe of Conservatories
A decade ago, a friend at the Blair School of Music suggested I listen to some music by Steve Reich. Kronos Quartet's album, Steve Reich: Different Trains was the first recording of exclusively this composer's music in our library's CD collection that resonated with me. I had become fascinated with the tightness and camaraderie of… Continue reading Dessner Convergence
I would not call the event on February 2nd at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Manhattan an open rehearsal. There were no live instruments except an autobiographic violin solo, a sample melody on the piano, and a speaking part played by the composer. It was more of a conversation, an extension of a conversation… Continue reading Stirred by Spoken, not Sung
If I do not get to see The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess on Broadway, I will not be completely disappointed, thanks to John Schaefer. Today, I heard him live for the second time at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. (The first time was at the 30th anniversary celebration of New Sounds.) In this afternoon's… Continue reading Crossovers and Departures
In my music appreciation class, I remarked on a section of the movie Amadeus by saying that the stirrings before the French Revolution were something like Occupy Wall Street. It was an on-the-fly comparison for the sake of relevance in the context of lecturing about Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and the socioeconomic status of… Continue reading Figaro and the Filthy Rich/Hippies