Well, for me it’s been since my last opera on March 1, 2020. How ’bout you? I haven’t played with any colleagues since then. I’ve played with a few students, but even that has been rare, and we are now back to Zoom only, so no more of that for now. If things go as planned I’ll be back to work next week. Will it really happen? I do wonder, due to the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, I listen to a ton of music. Some of my friends said they haven’t been able to — that it makes them cry. I don’t react that way. Music still feeds my soul!

Maybe because people like this are just so darn good … and what a fabulous work!

Akropolis: Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott

From the YouTube Page:

0:00 I. Ghosts of Black Bottom
8:34 II. Hastings Street Blues
15:53 III. Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani (Spirits, Rest Peacefully)
20:24 IV. Paradise Theater Jump!

Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott can be heard alongside the original poetry of Detroiter Marsha Music on Akropolis’ 4th album, Ghost Light, here: https://akropolisquintet.org/ghostlight/

Homage to Paradise Valley was commissioned by Akropolis and Chamber Music America, made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2019).

About Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott:
The historical content of these notes by the composer is provided courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society (detroithistorical.org) where one can find a wealth of information on Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Poetry by Marsha Music—a lifelong resident of Detroit whose father, Joe Von Battle, was a record producer for Aretha Franklin and owned Joe’s Records, central to the Black Bottom community—was commissioned by Akropolis in 2020 to create poetry to accompany Jeff’s music.

Black Bottom was a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. In the early 20th century, African-American residents became concentrated here during the first wave of the Great Migration to northern industrial cities. Informal segregation operated in the city kept them in this area of older, less expensive housing. Black Bottom/Paradise Valley became known for its African-American residents’ significant contributions to American music, including Blues, Big Band, and Jazz, from the 1930s to 1950s. Black Bottom was eventually razed and redeveloped for various urban renewal projects, driving the residents out. By the 1960s the neighborhood ceased to exist.

Hastings Street ran north-south through Black Bottom and had been a center of Eastern European Jewish settlement before World War I, but by the 1950s, migration transformed the strip into one of Detroit’s major African-American communities of black-owned businesses, social institutions, and nightclubs.

From the Bantu language of Swahili, “Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani” (Spirits, Rest Peacefully) is a lullaby, my humble offering to the many souls who came before me and persevered through the middle passage, decades of slavery, disenfranchising laws, and inequality. I am who I am because of those who stood before me. May their spirits rest peacefully.

Orchestra Hall closed in 1939, but reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater. For 10 years it would then offer the best of African-American musicians from around the country. “Paradise Theater Jump!” is dedicated to the famed theater and harkens to the up-tempo style of “jump blues,” usually played by small groups and featuring saxophone or brass instruments.

This video was filmed in 2019 at Central Michigan University. The exclusive Web Premiere of this video was given during the summer of 2020 at Akropolis’ Club Paradise Virtual Soirée, which honored these neighborhoods and their cultural legacy. Read more here

03. August 2021 · 8 comments · Categories: CovidTimes, Oboe · Tags: , ,

Okay, okay, I thought I wasn’t going to post in August, but I did a little thing with a mask I ordered. It isn’t pleasant. It makes me want to cry, honestly. But if I have to use one, at least I own one now.

09. February 2021 · Comments Off on Teaching · Categories: CovidTimes, Teaching

I went completely to Zoom teaching on March 13, 2020, with a few students starting online lessons even before that. It was a rocky start, just as it was for all other music instructors who had yet to move to online teaching. I had actually done a few FaceTime lessons in the past, because I had a couple of students who went to boarding school, but it was so infrequent and we just ignored the sound issues. But moving to ALL online lessons issues (sound, frozen screens, glitches in time) became rather painful. At this point we’ve learned how to make things work, and I do believe Zoom has improved much at their end as well.

Sound is so much better. Most of us use headphones of some sort (I have only a few students who continue to resist that for some reason). I have to remind some to turn “original sound” back on, but most now remember that prior to the start of their lessons. Lighting can sometimes be an issue (back lighting is a no-no!), and I frequently have to ask students to move their devices in a way that allows me to see their heads AND then hands. (Again, a few STILL resist doing that and I can’t see the right hand at all … why they fight this is beyond me!)

BUT … here’s what I really wanted to write about … I’m so very grateful to the students who have stuck with me. I lost three, but everyone else has stayed, and I even gained two new students. This has been good for my heart, and of course good for my finances. While colleagues have gone on unemployment I’ve avoided that.

It’s also caused me to teach differently and to see and hear things in a new way. I think my teaching has improved because of it, believe it or not.

We are all living in difficult times, but when I think of the kids my heart hurts for them. I try, because of that, to keep things a bit lighter. I know I’m considered strict by many (a former adult student told a colleague “She’s good, but she’s very strict!” Not something that bothered me since I AM strict!), but for now I’m relaxing a bit. These students need to learn, and they need to work, but I also need to cut them some slack. So I do.

I have no clue when I will have students in my house again. I will only accept Covid-vaccinated students. I will only teach live and in person when I have also been vaccinated. Things are moving along, and some are now getting those vaccinations, but I’m not in an age group that is allowed the vaccine yet, so I am somewhat patiently waiting. I do wonder how it will feel to have someone other than Dan in this house with me. It’s been close to a year now with just the two of us.

08. February 2021 · Comments Off on And Finally … · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes

Yes, one more (But where is “video #1”?!):

Scot Hostetler on all instruments

Quarantine video #2
May 2020
Trio for Oboe, Horn, and Piano by Carl Reinecke (first movement)
This is just an experiment to see what the piece would sound like with English horn instead of French horn.

Just WOW …

Scot Hostetler on all instruments

Quarantine video #3
June 2020
Brahms Chorale Prelude #5 “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” op 122
Originally for organ, I play this on the oboe d’amore, English horn, and bassoon. I love this piece especially for the gorgeous last bar.

08. February 2021 · Comments Off on For Your Listening Enjoyment · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes, English horn

My friend and colleague, Pam Hakl, brought this to my attention. It’s wonderful!

From the YouTube page:
Quarantine video #4
Feb 2021
Just discovered this piece (“A Summer’s Tale” by Josef Suk) thanks to a recent Berlin Philharmonic broadcast! One of the biggest orchestral English horn parts, and it’s for TWO English horns! This is the complete third movement, subtitled “Blind Musicians”
Scott Hostetler

I was quite moved by this: these doctors, working on the front lines of this pandemic, making music … and sending us messages along the way. I hope you enjoy it as well. They KNOW. They’ve SEEN. They continue to work hard and fight this awful virus. They risk their lives to save others. I am grateful.

I must thank oboist Andrea Plesnarski for bringing this to my attention!

07. December 2020 · Comments Off on Opera San José’s THREE DECEMBERS · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes, Opera

I just finished watching “The Making of THREE DECEMBERS” and I must say even that is mighty impressive, so I’m pretty darn sure the video of the opera itself will be great.

You can purchase your ticket here.

26. November 2020 · Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving to Those in the USofA · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes

And happy day to everyone else! Every day is a day to give thanks.

The Promise of Living by Aaron Copland
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Virtual Choir with Ryan Jackson and Patrick Kreeger, Piano

22. November 2020 · Comments Off on Sunday Evening Music · Categories: Can't Stop the Music!, CovidTimes, Sunday Hymn Sing · Tags: , , ,

Greg Gilpin: For the Beauty of the Earth.
Virtual Choir including Grand Cities Children’s Choir and more; Greg Gilpin, Conductor