Monday, September 29, 2008

Denise Djokic, Again

The concert started in an unusual way, with applause for the banks who sponsor the concerts, not so much for sponsoring the concerts, as for simply not going belly up yet. We're grateful for small things. Well, I guess that is a big thing.

Cellist Denise Djokic was the soloist with the Cape Cod Symphony this weekend, playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rocco Theme for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33. An outstanding cellist (said to be one of the best classical musicians in Canada, or in the world, depending on whom you listen to) and an incredible piece of music, lots of variety for sure, and very demanding on the cellist. Yet, she was graceful and fluid, from grumbling low sounds to delicate high notes that you not think a cello capable of making.

I was glad to be able to see her. She was here, playing with the Simon Sinfonietta in February 2007, but I was unable to attend. It was nice of her to return. :-)

Here's a link to her playing Handel Halvorsen Passacaglia with Jasper Wood.

And another, part of a documentary done on her, called "Seven Days and Seven Nights."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rain, Cello, Piano, and Chopin, Twice

Yesterday morning, I drove, slowly, through the heavy rain, to Sandwich to play a couple of easy pieces with two pianists, both adult beginners, at their piano recital. All went well and the pianists all sounded great. I agreed to come back again for the next recital, and bring some other musicians. Pianists, at least at the early level, don't get to play with others that often, and they appreciated the opportunity to play with me. Makes me feel good too. :-)

Then, last night, I attended a cello/piano concert featuring Savely Schuster on cello and Sharon Mann on piano. They are both virtuoso musicians and played brilliantly, and I hate to even mention them in the same post as our little recital in the morning, but there were many similarities.

Both concerts were affected by the rain (turnout was light in the morning concert, and though the evening concert was sold out, many did not attend, for fear of torrential rains, which did not materialize). I did benefit from this by getting a great seat with an unobstructed view of the cellist, but was sorry so many people missed the big event. Both concerts very satisfying in their own way: great music, warm and friendly people, exceptional refreshments afterwards, and, both concerts included the same piece, Chopin's Nocturne in E Flat Major. Of course the piece from the morning concert was from a book called "Simply Chopin" and left out quite a few notes that were included in the evening version, but I enjoyed them both.

A great day, all in all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cello Thursday

I am now committed to 4 (or more) hours of cello-playing on Thursday. Orchestra rehearsal is 2 hours, maybe 2 hours 15 minutes in the evening. My lesson is 45 minutes at 10:30, and we have just added a "duet lesson" for a friend and me, in the hour before my lesson. Today, I also practiced in the afternoon.

I am still having a hard time finding time to practice on a regular basis, but, at least, I will be playing a lot. At least on Thursday.

I loved our first duo lesson today. Carol and I are basically on the same level and we have been friends for a few years, playing together in a coached cello quartet for a while. I dropped out for various reasons, but we like to play together on occasion. It has been on rare occasion because we are both so busy. This way, we know we will be working together every week. And maybe it will motivate me to practice more. We have a duo performance scheduled for Saturday, but the remnants of a hurricane threatens the performance, at an outdoor harvest festival, so that may not actually happen. There's another (indoor) performance next week though.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cellists for Obama

Barack Obama's favorite classical music, according to his Facebook page, is Bach's suites for solo cello.

Friday, September 19, 2008


We have spent all summer getting ready for orchestra season, after a series of three preliminary rehearsals this summer. There were endless e-mails over all sorts of things, publicity, music selection and distribution, negotiating with our conductor, fundraising events, etc. Finally, tonight, we had our first rehearsal. It was all worth it.

We have about 35 members--a great turnout; a few days ago we were expecting only 22. We have five cellists. I am sitting in the second chair, but only because the cellist who should be there preferred to sit farther back, and the other two cellists had already picked chairs in the back.

The first chair cellist is a friend, a professional flutist who also plays the cello. She was the one who got me interested in the cello in the first place, when she got some of her adult flute students together with adult student of a cello teacher and a violin teacher. I loved the sound of the flute and cello together and wanted to enhance our flute choir with a cello. (At the same time, my daughter independently decided she wanted to play the cello after we visited my sister and her family, and was intrigued with the cello one of her cousins was playing. So we, my daughter and I, started cello together.)

Our orchestra program for the fall is:

Handel, Overture to Agrappina
Vaughn Williams, Fantasia of Greensleeves
Tchaikovsky, Andante Cantabile
Telemann, Concerto in e minor
Bizet, Symphony in C

We worked on the Bizet tonight. This is a four-movement, 30-minute piece, and we only got through the first three movements in two hours. It sounded good to me though, and it not too difficult on the cello. The Greensleeves, which I haven't even tried yet, looks to be the most challenging, as most of it is in four flats, and there a lots of triple stops and some tenor clef. I will have to try it out this week, should I find the time to practice!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cello, Trumpet, and Piano

We went to see Tre Corda this afternoon, a jazz trio with Tim Ray on piano, Greg Hopkins on trumpet, and Eugene Friesen on cello. Not exactly your typical jazz instrumentation, and the music they play draws on African rhythms, especially with the cello, classical music, jazz classics, and a healthy dose of improvisation. All three instrumentals are virtuoso players, creative, innovative, whimsical, and full of vitality. Just the antidote for an overcast afternoon.

Here is a link to their CD Baby site where you can hear their music: Tre Corda. Most of the pieces sound a bit more mellow than they did in person though, where their sound filled the room and rattled the walls. In a good way, of course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cello and Piano

Last spring I met a piano teacher who specializes in teaching older adults. I was impressed. Some of her students had played when they were kids, but most of them had taken up the piano in retirement, had played for a year or two, or more, and sounded pretty good. I mentioned that I played the cello and had started as an older adult (though not quite in retirement). The teacher though it would be a great idea for some of the students to play duets with me at the next concert. I said sure, as I almost never turn down an invitation to play.

The concert is in two weeks, and we rehearsed today. The pieces are pretty easy for me (a "song" by Beethoven and "Amazing Grace") so I can concentrate on tone and intonation and sounding good, but I can tell they are a little more complicated for the pianists. Most had not played with others (except some piano duets) and were struggling a little to keep the tempo constant. It was great fun to rehearse with them, though, and to listen to their other pieces. A lot of them were serene, contemplative pieces, very relaxing. Just what I needed today, after yet another busy week.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Along about this time every year, I realize I didn't do enough "summer things" during the quickly fading summer. I'm always so busy working or involved in musical activities of one kind or another.

We did manage to get out on a sailboat over the weekend. And though it was a little misty, we enjoyed the serenity of Vineyard Sound. The quiet was intense, and, for me, was even more powerful than the other voices on the boat. (This was a "tourist boat," with about 20 adults and children on board. The parents were noisier than their kids, with their efforts to keep them safe and amused.)

Tonight we are going to a play in Dennis (the other end of the Cape), and my husband called the town to see if there would be a town band concert there tonight, as there has been on other Monday nights when we went to the theater. "Summer's over!" was the response. A little abrupt, I think!

Hopefully, we will still find time to go kayaking, biking along the rail trail, etc. At least I can always just take my work out on the deck and enjoy the weather there.

And my cello. I didn't practice every day in August, and didn't actually keep records after I started skipping days in the second half of the month. But it was a whole lot better than July. I will try again in September.