29. November 2015 · Comments Off on Sunday Evening Music · Categories: Sunday Evening Music

Ola Gjeilo: Luminous Night of the Soul
Vlaams Radio Koor; Nicolas André, Conductor; Jolien De Gendt, Soprano; Ola Gjeilo, Piano; Brussels Philharmonic Soloists

Text by Charles Anthony Silvestri and St. John of the Cross

Note from the composer:
“Set to a new text by Charles Anthony Silvestri as well as a stanza from St. John of the Cross’ poem used in the predecessor to this piece, Luminous Night of the Soul is the sequel to Dark Night of the Soul, which was published in 2011. Both works are independent pieces that can be performed separately, but they are also conceived as two movements of the same work. Dark Night and Luminous Night are influenced by a wish to feature the piano more heavily in choral music, not just as generic, unassuming accompaniment, but as an equal partner to the choir, aided and supported by the string quartet. Though most of all, I just wanted to find ways to compose lush, warm, symphonic- sounding music, while still only scoring for five instruments, in addition to the choir.”

Long before music was sung by a choir,
Long before silver was shaped in the fire,
Long before poets inspired the heart,
You were the Spirit of all that is art.

You give the potter the feel of the clay;
You give the actor the right part to play;
You give the author a story to tell;
You are the prayer in the sound of a bell.

Praise to all lovers who feel your desire!
Praise to all music which soars to inspire!
Praise to the wonders of Thy artistry
Our Divine Spirit, all glory to Thee.

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
The Lover with his beloved, Transforming the beloved in her Lover.

29. November 2015 · Comments Off on Sunday Morning Music · Categories: Sunday Morning Music

Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night of the Soul
Central Washington University Chamber Choir; Gary Weidenaar, Director; Ola Gjeilo, Piano, Kairos String Quartet

Note from the composer and text:

“Dark Night of the Soul was written in 2010, and premiered that year by the Phoenix Chorale. The text, three stanzas from St. John of the Cross’ (1542-1592) magical poem Dark Night of the Soul, was suggested to me by the Executive Director of the Phoenix Chorale at the time, and I fell in love with its passionate spirituality right away”

One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

One of the things I wanted to do in this piece was to make the choir and piano fairly equal, as if in a dialogue; often the piano is accompanying the choir, but sometimes the choir is accompanying the piano (or violin) as well, with the choir kind of taking the role of a soft, but rich “string orchestra” texture. I just love the sound of voices humming chords, it creates a sound that can be so evocative and warm, especially when doubled by a string quartet. To me, that sound combination has a similar effect to a beautiful synth pad, only it feels more organic and alive.

25. November 2015 · Comments Off on How Cool Is This?! · Categories: Read Online

This isn’t band class or rehearsal. Instructor Joe Strohl is proving this silver baritone works. We’re in the instrument repair class at Bowie High School in Arlington. The horn, in keeping with the school mascot – the Volunteers – is a volunteer.

“It’s been around a long time,” says Strohl. “And honestly we’ve done quite a bit of repair. This is actually one of our demo horns that we get to do this sort of thing on.”

Strohl hands me a hammer. I whack it. Twice. Then again.

Honestly … an instrument repair class?! I love it!


23. November 2015 · Comments Off on “Knowing” the Music · Categories: Ramble

It’s so important to practice in such a way that you learn to “know” a piece rather than just manage to get through it. I tell my students that, should music blow off a stand when they are playing an audition, they should be able to continue playing. I don’t require memorization, but once one has worked long and hard (and well!) on a piece, it’s usually “in the fingers” and is memorized, whether we know it or not. I have orchestral solos memorized, even while we all are allowed to use our music. Spend enough time with something and it’s just THERE. Trust me.

Sometimes a student will say, “I used to know this, but I don’t know it any more.” I ask, “Why not?” “Because I haven’t played it for a month.” “Hmm … can you recite your alphabet for me, please?” That usually gets a look that implies he or she thinks I’m a bit nuts (of course I am!). The the alphabet is recited. Perfectly. With no hesitation. I smile and say, “When’s the last time you practiced that?!”

They get the idea.

Yesterday I forgot my music reading glasses. I opened up the glasses case and … oh dear! … they must have escaped and stayed home. Silly glasses. (Surely I wouldn’t have made a mistake and forgotten to put them in the case, right?!) Without those special glasses the music is blurry and it’s certainly not fun to go without them, but I had no choice. Everything was fine. I played my part.

I know my music. 🙂

When students are working on a solo that I’ve played, I sometimes just start to play it for them. I don’t need the music. It’s in my fingers. (The interesting thing is it’s also in my vocal muscle memory and I’ll start singing it on key as well. I love how our brains work with things like that.) The only time I start to fumble with notes is when I start to second guess what my fingers are doing. One needs to trust those “finger brains”. (Yes, I call them “finger brains”. Cute story: I was talking about finger brains to a new rather young student once and he looked at me very seriously and explained that we don’t NOT have brains in our fingers. I loved that!)

As I wrote above, I don’t require memorization, but I do require students know their music. It’s just how it works.

22. November 2015 · Comments Off on Sunday Evening Music · Categories: Sunday Evening Music

Palestrina: Sicut Cervus
Collegium Vocale Seoul; Sun-ah Kim, Conductor

22. November 2015 · Comments Off on Joseph Silverstein 1932-2015 · Categories: Losses

It has been announced today that American violinist, conductor and respected pedagogue Joseph Silverstein has passed away suddenly from a heart attack – aged 82.

Read more here.

22. November 2015 · Comments Off on Sunday Morning Music · Categories: Sunday Morning Music

Arvo Pärt: Alleluia Tropus
Ars Nova Copenhagen; Paul Hillier, Conductor

17. November 2015 · Comments Off on Seymour Lipkin 1927-2015 · Categories: Losses

Someone has just reported that Seymour Lipkin has died. Dan and I attended a Midsummer Mozart concert this last summer on which he soloed. I wondered about his health at that point, and of course knew that George was in ill health as well. I’m so grateful that we managed to get to that concert.

16. November 2015 · Comments Off on Practice! · Categories: Other People's Words, Practicing

… in the process of putting this speech together, it has forced me to really examine a few details about what has been particularly significant for me, as an individual, in this life that I have been having as a musician. And the results of this self-examination process getting ready for this speech, were interesting to me. Because for as much as I can stand here and claim to be a successful player, with Grammy awards and winning polls and now honorary degrees and all that stuff; one very fundamental thing has not changed, and I realized that it will never change, and that is this—that the main thing in my life, even as I stand here right now, right this second, is that I really need to go home and practice.

—Pat Metheny

This is from a speech he made from his 1996 commencement speech at Berklee College of Music


16. November 2015 · Comments Off on From Fort Worth Symphony Musicians · Categories: Videos