KICK UP THE JAMS!
May 06, 2013, 03:48 PM posted by Maria Choban
Pull up a chair and get comfortable. I took 14 pages in notes at last night's ClassicalRevolutionPDX Chamber Jam and I'm gonna use every last thought on those 14 pages.
My initial overview is one of delightful surprise: How did we manage to take a revolution so young and morph it in 6 short years from a mission to play mostly 18th and 19th century dead name-brand composers in alternative venues TO an ecstatic movement of playing and listening to mostly new (though not necessarily recent) compositions from 20th and 21st century composers - the music of our time (and still in alternative venues)?
The answer isn't as difficult to ascertain as Greg Sandow or any Ph.D thesis might spin it out to be. All you have to do in Portland is look around and almost immediately you see that this city's scene is driven by composers - from Cascadia Composers organization, one of the largest and most vital chapters of the National Composers USA organization, to FearNoMusic and their penchant for grooming youngsters in this risky art form with their Young Composers Project to Third Angle and their New Ideas in Music Competition to old guard institutions like Portland Piano International uniquely programming annually one of their summer festival concerts to focus entirely on music written by Cascadia Composers for little urchins' hands (get 'em hooked early!) to ClassicalRevolutionPDX who's chamber loving musician/performers include a healthy population of composers, many who have joined ranks with Cascadia. Oddly, this doesn't seem to be turning us into the isolationist "locals only!" the Portland locavore food market has engendered. The inclusivity of enfolding the larger world, evident in Cascadia even where composers seem to join from everywhere including outside of Oregon, played out last night where New Yorker Philip Glass was played for the "Luddites in the audience" (not my line, though I wish it were but I heard it come out of one of my favorite mouths last night and I thought it was SO indicative of this emerging scene - that Glass is venerable but nearly passe). The shot at Glass was not because he wasn't local, but because he wasn't fresh - something/someone we had NOT yet heard. And there was a LOT on this program most of us had not yet heard.
Catherine Lee with her baroque oboe d'amore performed with recorded whale sounds Social Sounds from Whales at Night by Emily DooLittle. Even though it was written in 2007, this throwback to soundscapes should have sounded dated to my ears but the trio ensemble - Lee, recording and the WayPost-as-instrument (the clinking ice and back kitchen sounds) made the hearkening to soundscapes up to date because of the David Byrne like addition of the surrounding environment as integral instrument. It moved me in a way that felt like we were all community rather than me listening to a cool performance in an us vs. them environment like a dead silent prim and proper concert hall.
William Duckworth died last year, an East-Coast composer whose music is not yet as well known as Glass'. I was delighted to see a young pianist (we'll call him Mitchell) walk up to the piano with a Duckworth score. Who Knew??? Mitchell played 2 of Duckworth's Preludes for piano (#7 and #1). Have I yet mentioned that the level of committed moving playing from those intent on selling compositions and composers has escalated at least 10 fold since I made my first visit 4 or 5 years ago? I love that sight-reading sprees still happen, chaotic, with teary-eyed choking laughter, butchering stuff like Schumann scores (when I'm involved because I'm a lousy reader). I feel honored that amateurs feel safe enough to drag their high school instruments out of the closet and tentatively play their first performance in maybe 20 years to an audience as supportive as we are. But I feel especially proud that those who are here to perform and sell a piece (or composer) have kicked their level of performance up a tire or two! Mitchell with the incredible sax player Patrick kicked off the entire jam last night and the bar was set high. No wonder the performers following were focused with intent to kill.
Let me list the composers played last night, in performance order:
1. "2 french guys from the 40's or 50's" - (sez Patrick the sax player)
2. William Grant Still
3. Philip Glass
4. Irwin Schulhoff
5. Edvard Grieg
6. Franz Schubert Impromptu (transcribed for clarinet and 3 strings).
7. Emily DooLittle
8. Kurt Weill
9. William Duckworth
10. Francisco Tarrega
I don't know about you, but I rarely see programs this diverse, interesting and well sold by the performers.
Did I mind that 2 of the composers were guys long dead? - Grieg and Schubert? Not at all, it underscored the continuity of the genre. I particularly loved that the very enthusiastic amateur pianist who played Grieg's "To Spring" also transcribed the Schubert. In a very funny exchange with the audience he remarked:
Schubert Transcriber: "Sheesh! there are a LOT of wind players here tonight and NO strings! I need 3 string players!!!"
Audience member: timidly waving his hand in the air - "I play violin."
ST: "Okay, let me be more specific - I need 1 viola and 2 celli!"
Audience loses it and giggles for several minutes before ST announces the debut of "one-fourth" of his transcription, bravely sitting down to play all 3 string parts on piano with the clarinet player sight-reading the actual transcribed clarinet part.
Did I mind that the ubiquitous Glass appeared one more time to represent up to the minute newly written classical music with a style dating back to the 80's? Not a bit. It ain't necessarily about up to the minute. It ain't about locavore. It's about continuing to write music and giving composers a reason to do so because we're continuing to scout for new music and the duo who played Glass also introduced us to the first movement of a flute and piano Sonata with wild jazz influences juxtaposed with Impressionist harmonies. It was not up to the minute but it was new to us, written by Irwin Schulhoff who was snuffed in a German concentration camp.
What about Kurt Weill? Haven't we heard enough of him too?
Only if you're around my age or older and you remember about 15 years back when you couldn't turn around without bumping into a production of 3 Penny Opera which you now equate with Weill.
Singer Flora Sussely and pianist Dan Gaynor teamed up to perform Nanna's Lied and How Much Longer? . . . . the unknown Weill. It's difficult to describe the magic of a duo who works seamlessly together, a gifted actress whose voice is the stuff opera stars are made of, a pianist who doesn't accompany so much as swims in the same current, abetting the actress with his tone, dynamics, rubato, texture. As I said to them afterward, it wasn't so much a pleasure as it was a thrill - scary, spine-tingling, transporting. What I want is for this duo to do an entire concert of Weill. This Duo!
The don graciously waited until all got their turn on stage, allowing their flash to blind us before closing the show with his acoustic guitar and 2 songs by Tarrega; tender, soothing, a historical reminder of from where we came.
I'll spare you 3 pages of notes I can't seem to make fit thematically, but I will announce that CRPDX is hosting the Universe-Wide ClassicalRevolution conference with performances featuring NEW compositions from LIVING composers and a good old fashioned chamber jam right here in Portland on June 22 and 23.
. . . . . because we're not just taking over the world, we've set our sights MUCH higher.
Boredom is the devil's playground and the devil wants her due
In a conversation yesterday I got castigated for calling for a broader mainstream audience in classical music. The one castigating said I was actually describing monster truck rally participants and those who listen to Alan Jackson.
What he thought I meant was simply a larger in numbers audience which was diverse in all the correct ways.
My friend also subscribes to a new philosophy that there is no one potent sound that will capture and enrapture the numbers of listeners once created by the monolithic giants like CBS records or MTV because we have become such a world of DIY niche producers thanks to the internet and its ability to turn us all into record producers via publicly accessible venues like YouTube.
If there is no one Mainstream sound how come something which is supposed to be niche like African-American Hip-Hop artist, Drake's Started From the Bottom Now We're Here, released in early February is still on BillBoard's top 10? An updated anthem in the spirit of Public Enemy, this man cracked Mainstream like Michael Jackson did when Walter Yetnikoff went to bat for him because Yetnikoff's nose outweighed bullshit anti-black bigotry. Or when David Geffen maneuvered Guns 'N Roses into a 3am MTV time slot because his nose outweighed bullshit white-trash bigotry and we all know what those noses did for the history of rock&roll.
Enter classical music.
What we DON'T have in classical music is Mainstream. Or Yetnikoff or Geffen. What we DO have are a bunch of niche groups who mistakenly think they deserve audiences larger than what they attract. And by niche I mean groups resurrecting historical movements. In non-classical we call these cover bands and relegate them to niche venues like birthday party entertainment, country fairs and corner bars.
I am not in the business of niche. I have my own lunatic fringe loves and occasionally I bring them out and share them with others. I am in the business of solving this puzzle of Mainstream: standing up for it (my next door neighbor LOVES Alan Jackson and potato guns and also LOVES the polystylistic Preludes of Mikis Theodorakis - proving that something which ought to be niche when you see it on paper is actually Mainstream, something I've always felt with the Theodorakis Preludes), scouting music for it (Brent Weaver's Caminos never fails to elicit a spontaneous ebullient response every time we perform it - written in 2013 btw!), growing and developing it (thank you ClassicalRevolution for doing your part!).
Gotta get back to work, the demons have taken over hell.
SCENES YOU'LL NEVER SEE IN A DISNEY MOVIE
April 20, 2013, 11:24 AM posted by Maria Choban
Taking advantage of what little blue sky mole hill I could delusionally blow up into a mountain of summer, I bolted outdoors for a walk this morning. Passing a man walking 3 dogs, I sidled by him and his fur children at the entrance into the woods. The calm earthy damp smell, the dark green canopy against a silver sky (more calm), the comfort of meeting happy but not frenetic dogs out for a nature walk with their owner . . . . . . all this was shattered when 2 squirrels came racing toward me, one chasing the other hellbent for revenge! There was nothing playful about this chase. Running up the middle of the path, centerline as in Mad Max 1, headed for me, the chaser was using language I haven't heard - not in a Tarantino movie or a Spike Lee movie or even out of my own filthy mouth. Obviously the girlfriend squirrel was already dead, killed by her jealous and outraged boyfriend squirrel who was now about to commit some serious medieval on now former best squirrel friend's ass. I quickly studied my options: 1. Turn around and run the other way, chased by two squirrels 2. same as 1.
Luckily they veered off the path and up one of the trees. I did not stop to watch the impending atrocity - especially since it might have included me.
I did not warn the man with 3 dogs about the killer squirrels, figuring that at least the one big Lab and German Shepherd would create the necessary ruckus while the little terrier went in for the kill. I heard the ruckus, I heard the man try to call off his dogs, I kept walking.
It's a small world. I met them one more time as I was starting my return trip home. All of them intact, healthy and happy - man and dogs. I did not ask about the squirrels.
WINSLOW WRITES: Jon Kimura Parker - Joy Under Fire
April 18, 2013, 01:13 PM posted by Maria Choban
below is Jeff Winslow's review of Jon Kimura Parker and then some!
Is there a pianist touring today who radiates as much joy as Jon Kimura Parker does when he takes the stage? Though he may be about to enter the valley of pianistic disaster, he always lumbers out of the wings at full speed and flashes the audience a high-wattage smile before setting about the task at hand. Only he knows what's going on inside, of course, but instantly we are rooting for him.
Last week he brought his bounding energy to Portland in two concerts, including a solo appearance, on the Friends of Chamber Music series. The program was one of those lazy strolls in the park favored by pianists with such abilities - a few lightweights like Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Parker's own solo transcription of that epic century-old masterpiece, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But he was afraid he wouldn't get enough of a workout, so he warmed up with a Prokofiev piano sonata, the third one. Not that he needed to warm up. From the first note we were yanked into a maelstrom of pounding chords and swirling triplets. There was a little shiver as a mysterious chromatic passage led into a contrasting lyrical bit, and a few dark dramatic pauses, but for the most part we were thrust forward inexorably from beginning to end.
Before touching a note of that deceptively innocent bassoon solo that begins The Rite, Parker filled us in on some of the history of his transcription. Ever since he discovered the originally published transcription as a very young student, he's been layering in more and more of the orchestral complexity, trying to bring it from a utilitarian dance accompaniment to something approaching the power of the full work, at least when in his hands. It does seem to be a work in progress. Mostly I was so charged up by it that it was all I could do to keep from jumping up and banging on all the heads around me like some kind of hairy drum kit. But there are also still a few moments of head scratching, not pounding, and although I think this is the third version I've heard him play, he still is not quite master of the double - no, triple - handfuls of brutality he has laid out for himself in the final climax of the sacrificial dance. (I bought the CD in hopes of experiencing the magic of the recording studio.) Don't get me wrong, though - the electricity never let up for a moment. He emerged from the valley bloodied but unbowed, and we loved him all the more for it. He got a huge ovation.
His energy carried the day in the Mussorgsky also, even though he admitted he hated the "Bydlo" movement in his entertaining remarks beforehand. In particular, there are a few big transitions where I've heard other pianists try dramatic pauses which fell totally flat. (For example, the lead-in to the final Great Gate of Kiev.) Parker powered forward at all times, letting the drama develop naturally from the new material at each point, and he succeeded brilliantly. He almost powered even through the very first transition, into The Gnome, and I wished he had in fact done so. As for Bydlo, I found his interpretation problematic. Mussorgsky had a gift for pictorial description, so I can understand how a pianist might be tempted to focus on the separate steps of the trudging oxen in this evocation of an oxcart on the move. But the descriptions of the time also refer to the cart's distinctive, enormous wheels, and I have always imagined a more legato treatment, suggesting their slow inexorable roll.
But wait, isn't something missing in all this? Not once have I mentioned singing lines, poetic languor, gradations of pianissimo, things like that. Parker did give us a lyrical Rachmaninov prelude for an encore. (His Rachmaninov on the program, the formidable - and formidably performed - #5 from the first book, does have a lyrical B section, but though it sang, there was no languor in it!) He can certainly do all that, but it doesn't seem like his heart is quite in it the same way. The most lyrical of the Pictures, The Old Castle, seemed infused with desire rather than poetically plaintive, rarely dropping to a true pianissimo. He is always pushing ahead, whether noisily or quietly. It's his way, and the audience loved it.
I was much reminded of our own beloved Alitisa, especially since a few days before, I'd had the pleasure of hearing Yevgeny Sudbin's poetry in his program of Scarlatti, Chopin, Debussy, and Scriabin. For all of his sensitive nuance and my considerable pleasure, it seemed the one thing lacking in Sudbin's armory was the kind of pianistic explosion that people who have heard Maria play know well. Jon Kimura Parker may be a bit impatient with the poetry, but he has the power, no question. The power is what excited me so much when I heard him play Brahms's great chamber masterpiece, the F minor quintet, with the Tokyo Quartet in the intervening days. I'll just let my e-mail to Maria afterwards speak for itself:
"In contrast to Mr. Sudbin on Sunday, Jon Kimura Parker DOES have Maria style explosions in his armory. Well, OK, hardly anybody really has that but he certainly knew how to explode at the right times. They also knew JUST when to take a little time, apply a little extra force, in all that craziness - the scherzo in the Brahms did in fact achieve nirvana. Flawless and irresistible at the same time. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and start pounding on everything and everybody around me as if it was all a giant drum kit. (Why does JKP keep inspiring me to get a drum kit??) The ONLY disappointment was that they didn't take some of that energy and transform it into intensity in the slow movement, and in the slow introduction and interludes of the finale. It's like they were so keyed up that they couldn't hold the tempo back enough to do that; they fell back on "expert", "polished" presentation. I wanted them to wallow in it dammit!!! To risk oblivion. And yet, at the tempos they did use (in the slower parts), it was always full of life and impeccably balanced, phrased, you name it.
Don't know either of the quartets (Mozart K 499 and Kodaly #2) but I was totally absorbed from beginning to end. One thing that was different for me, I was sitting in the very center of the fourth row instead of 2/3 of the way back or more as usual. I totally loved that intimacy, the detail was incredible, and at the same time it didn't seem like there could possibly be enough sound to reach to the back of the hall. A near-field effect of some kind. There was plenty of sound for me though. I amused myself during the Mozart watching and listening how the first violinist matched his bow position relative to the bridge to various moods and textures. Sometimes I expected to hear bridge effects he was so close, but it never happened. There is a fair amount of richness in this Mozart, it's far more than mere courtly entertainment. In the Kodaly I was so charmed by all the harmonic and rhythmic exoticism, not to mention driving little motives in the fast parts, that I forgot to watch for such things.
In all three pieces I felt that the composers poured their full hearts and minds into them, that without straying into abstruseness they were showing off their best chops. The program was wonderfully balanced and intense that way."
LINES - "Comin' From a Place They Call The Spanish Moon"
April 17, 2013, 09:44 AM posted by Maria Choban
Thinking that daylight savings time might mean a slow start, I was surprised to find I snagged the last good parking spot across the street from the dive which turns classical music nerds, geeks and dorks like us into mythic "hookers and hustlers who fill up the room; this is the place they call The Spanish Moon".
This is the place they call The Waypost and the first Sunday of the month is Classical Revolution PDX Chamber Jam and it is JAMMED! Jammed with a demographic I've never even allowed myself to dream of at a classical music happening - thanks to the nose of our founding fearless leader, the crazy Kaiser and the abilities of don Corbellioni to expand that population: pervasively young, a combination of Hollywood hip, backwoods NW nature child, Portland erudite with just a touch of irony (evidenced by the black rimmed eye-glasses). The don laconically introduced the evening, announcing "Welcome. No Shusshing! You can talk. You can have a drink. You can go to the bathroom We're all adults here." And SaxQuatch took the stage starting the evening with saxophone quartet arrangements of West Side Story tunes. "Down the street I heard such a sorrowful tune, coming from a place they call The Spanish Moon".
I heard the mezzo next to me lovingly sing Maria when the tune came up, I Feel Pretty, and 2 more I don't remember. BUT, I was the only one who recognized Officer Krupke and could sing most of the words and the flipped off ending ("Gee officer Krupke, Krup You!"). "Whiskey and bad cocaine, poison'll get you just the same".
The whiskey got me.
No matter. I was completely if temporarily overcome by the perfect combination of The Waypost's terrific Chicken Pot Pie, carefully prepared and beautifully rendered pieces, sight-reading sprees - true chamber jams, amateurs playing sprightly Hayden and heartfelt Schubert and LOTS of brand new music written recently by living composers. And by recently, I mean within the last 2 or 3 years! "I stood by the door while a dark eyed girl sang and played the guitar."
The lovely blond mezzo sang Gounod's Ave Maria while a composer who's new woodwind quintet was played earlier accompanied her on the guitar. Her riotous disclaimer - "While I am singing Ave Maria I am a Jew and I am drunk" - was quiply answered by someone in the audience with "Oy Vey Maria!"
Some of my favorite regulars performed: I always look forward to hearing the alto saxophonist - who played a Bach Aria tonight. His musicality, his control of decrescendos (getting softer) and sense of line (like Patrick Stewart reading a sentence) always make me put down my drink and listen.
Some new surprises for me as well: The string quartet String Theory played the first movement of Bartok's 2nd quartet. They introduced themselves saying "We have a FaceBook page, so if you want to know when our concerts are - if we ever do one - or if you want to avoid them . . . . " And while I laughed my ass of along with the rest of the audience, I'm pretty sure none of us were prepared for the top notch performance they gave following that very funny self-deprecating intro. Obviously in love with the piece, the quartet pulled off the Debussy-ish augmented chord harmonies as though they were a pipe organ - with homogeneous sound and phrasing and rising and falling dynamics. The reverie was cracked only when a tub of dirty silverware slipped out of someone's hands back in the kitchen and the clatter shattered the impressionist palette. String Theory gamely played on 2 or 3 more notes to a rest (a silence in the piece) and probably thinking the silence was due to the silverware mishap, a voice from the kitchen intoned "Sorry". Laughter erupted. Once composure was restored the first violinist directed the group to start at "number eleven". "Well I pawned my watch and sold my ring just to hear that girl sing."
BUT, I was glad I stayed til the very end to hear don Corbellioni's arrangement of Game of Thrones for string quartet and drum. Lyrics were handed out to the audience and we sang loudly and lustily, the don leading us from his position at the drum. I include the lyrics here, exactly as the don penned them:
Game of, f@!kin' game of, f@!kin' thrones, Game of, f@!kin' game of, f@!kin' thrones.
Game of, f@!kin' game of, f@!kin' thrones, Game of, f@!kin' game of, f@!kin' thrones.
(. . . .sing higher if thou darest) Game of, f@!kin' game of, f@!kin' thrones, Game of, f@!kin' game of THRONES.
"And if that don't kill you soon, the women will down at The Spanish Moon".
The music might make you swoon and the crowds might take your breath away - literally, but no one's gonna kill you at The Waypost. HOWEVER, in a brilliant move to situationally franchise this monthly happening in neighborhoods all over Portland 2 more CRPDX Jams have been added!
CRPDX String Jam happens at Eugenio's, Tuesday April 16 at 7pm.
CRPDX Baby Grand Piano Jam - ALL AGES! at Elevated Coffee Company, Sunday April 21, 3pm.
And of course, the grandaddy of them all, The Waypost - first Sunday of every month, 7pm.
April 04, 2013, 12:22 PM posted by Maria Choban
I attended a memorial service last week. One of my blog readers approached me at the cemetery, introduced himself and warned me that we were going to get into it at the wake following. I smiled, replying "looking forward to it" feeling the saliva accumulate in my mouth. It must be Spring! Fresh meat and blood! And, indeed, at the gathering afterward he found me and launched into my plebeian penchant for music that moves a general audience. His view is that reintroducing tonality was a mistake (post-modernists). My view is that 20 people in the audience per a-tonal (I prefer Bernstein's "anti-tonal") music concert is not enough to carry a genre through history.
Another friend insists on equal temperament and buttresses his believes lawyerly (because this is how he was trained) with articulate arguments that don't move me. Yes, I love that the baroque music crowd has finally seated into something fun for them, but frankly, it's still niche and historic (though I'm NOT saying it's not important). "Evil Temperament" as he likes to call it, is here and now so be here now. . . . . if you want to grow an audience already attuned to the stuff.
I have a thing for Alan Hovhannes. Not his "Mysterious Mountain" sound, but his truly mixed additive metered, modal, "misty mountain stomps"!
What do the above 3 have in common?
They are part of the lunatic fringe.
I love the lunatic fringe. I think it's necessary to every genre, movement, form, whatever. HOWEVER, it must not be mistaken for the General Audience sound. (well, it can be mistaken, but then you'll have 20 people in the audience while you wonder why the rest of them NOT there are so stupid or why they choose to remain unedified about the sounds You, the lunatic fringe, adore.).
And while I'd Love to live in a world where the General Audience adored Alan Hovhannes and could see through to the sentimentality and schlock of traditional Argentine Tango music. . . . . . . . I don't.
I cannot program programs of Hovhannes and ban Pugliese. Not if I want to grow a healthy General Audience.
I'm playing in a concert of all Brent Weaver compositions tomorrow. Here is a man with an IQ so high he cannot make eye contact and he can barely hold a conversation of small-talk. His output is truly General Audience and in one of his very rare angry outbursts articulated this at last night's dress rehearsal: "It takes WAY more energy and brains to write SMART, General Audience, accessible music than it takes to write just smart music."
March 19, 2013, 09:05 AM posted by Maria Choban
The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.
This does not need to go in quotes because Mark Twain never said it.
DeadCanDance too, which was proved last Sunday at 2 ebullient concerts heralding the living composers, played by some of us recreating Easter and resurrection, moved to dance through our performances. My god, if the Christ figure had what we've had. . . . . . some of us since last November, and he got over it in 3 days, he flippin' DESERVES an entire cult!
I resist and resent fetishizing the dead and the past. I love the here and the now. The first concert on St. Patrick's Day was presented by Cascadia Composers. In morphing from music concerts that seemingly played only to the inside droogies, yesterday's was a stunning revelation of composers who can and will write for the general audience. One of my favorite mouths was there, the former henchman turned don at Classical Revolution PDX. The don is a composer too and he never tires of exhorting "Make it pretty, dammit!" (there's a silent "or else. . . . " that I'm sure got him the job of Executive Director at CRPDX). He was all smiles after the show, wanting to track down a specific piece about frogs scored for sax quartet and drums: "Frogs at Dusk (and other sounds of the swamp)" by Paul Safar. It was one of my favorites too. . . . . along with about 6 others. I got to play an oboe, bassoon, piano trio written by Ted Clifford who loves Steely Dan - and that showed in the third movement. What an infectious piece, almost randomly row-ish pitch sequences, but layered in consonant thirds/sixths resting on a funk rhythm base with hooks galore! Another song, "Alone on the Prairie" by Jeff Winslow, was as heart achingly poignant and lovely as Sarah Mclachlan's "Angel", meandering into new harmonic territories, always finding its way back to the simple Prairie Major harmony.
What I especially loved was the mommy who brought her young child. New Audience!
The second concert was "Modern Metal". Just the title got me there. The fact that it was a concert on ancient instruments (the Javanese Orchestra of instruments called The Gamelan) was further corroboration that if even the ancient traditions had room for 2 living composers (one of them was actually performing with the group!) then maybe, just maybe classical music could get its act together and fete the living for . . . . . oh . . . . . . . let's start with one month: March. I also adored seeing so many young kids in the audience. Smartly, it was held on a college campus and free to the college students. What a great way to build a new audience! Including 2 pieces by a native, Javanese Gamelan master who LOVES rock and roll and it shows, was a pretty neat trick too. Definitely, Aloysius Suwardi's pieces were my favorites by a long shot. The driving rhythms, the ability to actually go to triple forte, the excitement that lifts me out of that tropical torpor, it was here in his pieces, that I had another perspective on the same theme: We are living in 2013 on the west coast of these United States. We are not living in yesterday's Java (or even in today's Java) nor are we living in the Austria or Germany of 1800s. I so got into being able to rock on at both concerts because they totally understood the power of Now.
February 28, 2013, 08:44 AM posted by Maria Choban
Rehearsal last night began with the lament that we need West Coast Conservatories. This lament followed the statement that 114 conductors applied for a position in a community orchestra!
Don't you find this heartbreaking? I do.
Once upon a time I used to tell wide-eyed enthusiastic students "You can be anything you want to be!" and they'd go marching off to music school or a conservatory. Now I live with the guilt that they're probably Starbucks baristas still paying off those music school loans.
Today I tell those same music loving students "You can do whatever you want in life, just be sure you have a reasonable chance at covering the overhead of life" because I believe few things are as empowering as being able to take care of oneself. (as a strictly personal aside - I have found that taking care of myself AND another was probably the single most empowering lesson in my life, although I still have nightmares of ending up as a bag lady).
My students take their music keyboards to college - INSIST on it! Those same students even warn me now that they are NOT going to major or minor in music. And yet, (because so many keep in touch with me) they're telling me all about the music they listen to, are involved with, etc.
Which leads me to my second observation.
Why are the audition processes so dinosaur-ish in music schools? When was the last time I ever played a straight major or minor scale in a piece I'm performing??? or a major or minor arpeggio???? When was the last time I took a sequence of Baroque, Classical, Romantic, ONE 20th century work to a stage???????????
WHAT THE HELL????????!!!!!!!?????????
My students are composing in mixed additive meters (not just looping repeating additive meter sequences). I'm consistently playing pieces with fast pitch sequences that are rows or mixed modes or just plain random. I have to use my head to parse the sequence, NOT rely on an antediluvian kinetic pattern (AND I was a star pupil, rigorously taught by one of the most strict and acclaimed European-style teachers (Nellie Tholen), btw, lest you think I'm feeling like an outsider in this whole syllabus bullshit!).
It's a Brave New World out there. I do wish the music schools would get with the program and facilitate playing these new games, giving these wide eyed students some REAL chops and skills should they stubbornly and against my advice decide to become players in that world.