Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Perhaps, an orchestra

I met with a group of about ten musicians, and a potential coach/conductor/director, last night, all interested in starting a community chamber orchestra. The group seems pretty evenly balanced for a fairly randomly called together group: 3 cellists, 3 violinists, a violist, an oboe player, and a flute/clarinet player, and there are a few other interested people who couldn't make this meeting, as well as numerous people we can invite once we do a few basic things like find some appropriate sheet music and a place to rehearse.

We plan to meet to play in July, and, in the meantime, we'll look for music, etc. Please let me know if you have any ideas for Baroque/Classical/Folk music for strings and woodwinds!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

French Folk Song with 25-26-27 cellists

Here's my ProShow slideshow in Youtube format, which considerably reduces the quality of the photos, but is easy to post on a blog. I do like this program, except for the posting-to-a-blog issues!

You'll notice I call this video 27 cellists. That is the total number present. There were 26 (25 students and our teacher) playing this, plus our guest workshop leader, who did not actually play in this segment. The photos are in random order, more or less. I'll work on that aspect later!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cello workshop slideshow

I'm experimenting with creating slideshows of musical events. This is a first effort using Animoto, which completely automates the process. It is very quick and easy, though you do not get much control over the final project. The process is supposed to coordinate the music and the photos, but I think the photos are whizzing by a little too quickly for the speed of the music. This is the 30-second free version. For $3 per video (or $30/year), you can make them longer, but I just wanted to try the free version for now.

This was our recent cello workshop with Eugene Friesen. A parent provided the audio. The photographs are by Teri Stanley. 1/26th of the music is by me. And my story on the event is here.

British Shorthair kittens dancing

I saw this on Cute Overload, and just had to share these musical kittens.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another cello outing

I took my cello down to Woods Hole for the cello workshop with Eugene Friesen yesterday. There were about 27 cellists, students of my teacher ranging in age from about 5 to 60-ish, arranged in a circle in the rustic community hall. We played our three pieces for Eugene (all went well), and he gave us a rhythm workshop, featuring a 4 against 3 rhythm.

Eugene is one of my very favorite cellists, and we are lucky to have this annual workhop with him. In the past we have done various types of improvisation and rhythms. He does a great job keeping all ages and cello levels interested and learning.

Later, in the restaurant next door, we attended Eugene's "Cello Nova" concert, featuring pianist Tim Ray and guitarist Freddie Bryant, all amazing musicians. The music was outstanding, blending classical, improvisational jazz, and Brazilian, Colombian, and Venezuelan rhythms and melodies.

And I recognized a version of the little rhythm we had learned that afternoon. :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Day at the Beach, almost

I drove by the water on the way home from my cello lesson today, and, of course, my cello wanted to get some air too, having been cooped up in the house for far too long. Maybe it is almost spring.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


This is for Marisa-- I couldn't find a cello rendition of "To a Wild Rose" for you, but I like this one better than all the piano versions. (We are playing it a little faster.) Guess you'll have to put your rendition online.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Far Cry

My friend Carol pointed out an interesting article in the Boston Globe today about a young, professional, unconducted string chamber orchestra called A Far Cry. Here's the link: "No Conductors Need Apply".

Also on that page is a link to a audiovisual slide show on the orchestra, and from there you can find two youtube links:

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings (4th movement)
Corelli, Concerto Grosso, Op. 6/9 in F

and another one, with a flute soloist: Quantz Flute Concerto in D

Of course, these are all professionally trained young musicians, but I do like this concept of all the players being collectively responsible for the repertoire and the performance, not primarily the conductor. The violinists and the violists stand during performances, and they move in an independent, yet coordinated, way to the music. And they sound wonderful. They are not actually making any money yet, but hopefully that will come.

They also have a web site and a blog.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

22 Cellos

Once a year, my cello teacher gathers her students all together for a workshop with Eugene Friesen, a contemporary improvisational cellist, who plays Bach as readily as Brazilian jazz, transforms himself, with masks, into a squirrel sneaking into the house to play the cello, or Casals playing Bach, and imitates the sounds of a humback whale. While he's in town, he will play at a coffeehouse and entertain at one of the elementary schools, as well as join us for an hour-long workshop.

Eugene is coming next week, so 22 cellists of varying ages and sizes got together tonight (in a rustic community hall near the water) to practice three pieces that we will be playing for him: French Folk Song (of course), To a Wild Rose, and a Happy Birthday variation my teacher commissioned for her cello's 100th birthday. It was fun; it's always glorious when so many cellists play together!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Time for practicing

I've been having a hard time finding time to practice the last couple of weeks. I know it's best to practice every day, even if only for 20 minutes, than to skip a day, or three, and try to make it up in a marathon practice session, but it has been hard finding even those 20 minutes.

Yesterday, I managed an hour and a half, but was so tired in the beginning (from lack of practicing) that it took 20 minutes just to warm up.

We have been playing Haydn's London Trios in our quartet though, so I have played through them several times, if imperfectly. How does a quartet play a trio, you might ask? Well, one night, the flutist was not able to come, so we were, in fact, a trio; and the second night, tonight, the violist played the cello part (which he had transposed for viola) with me, which seems to work fine. But, a little practicing would help me a lot.

I had asked the violist to transpose the part because I wanted, sometimes, to play flute and have him take the cello part, but, you know, as hard as it is to play the cello, it's harder not to.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My other blog

Notes on the Arts, my newspaper blog, is finally public. You can get there via the Enterprise Entertainment page (scroll down until you see it on the left-hand side) or directly.

You'll see that there will be some overlap between the blogs. I wrote about van Gogh on both, and will put my review online after it appears in the paper. The purpose of the newspaper blog is to keep a record of certain of my writings (now they scroll off into the archives after a couple of weeks), add some addition content and additional types of content (like links to information sources, audio/video files, etc.) that one can't put in a newspaper, and facilitate communication. I'll figure this out as I go.

Things are getting busy, artswise, as spring feebly wends its way to our peninsula, and there are many plays, concerts, art shows, etc. It is sometimes hard to choose which to attend, and that is a lovely pickle to be in.