Thursday, November 29, 2007

November News from Tapestry

Tapestry New Opera Works issued a press release yesterday detailing some recent company successes and plans for the future. Some of the items on the release:
  • A $66,000 surplus for the 2006-07 fiscal year
  • The official announcement of the Tapestry New Works Company and its members. You can view the roster here.
  • The February production of Opera To Go 2008 will be presented in association with the Harbourfront Centre's World Stage 2008 Festival.
  • The June production of Sanctuary Song will be presented as part of Luminato 2008.
We're currently in workshop for Opera To Go and it's going to be AWESOME. Tickets go on sale January 2nd through the Harbourfront Centre box office.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 Governor General's Literary Awards Announced

The 2007 Governor General's Literary Awards were announced today. Among the winners was playwright Colleen Murphy, whose The December Man won the English award for drama. Colleen had previously written the libretto for The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksana G., a one-act opera (music by Aaron Gervais) featured in Tapestry New Opera Works' Opera To Go 2006. Congratulations Colleen!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wendy Sings in Verdi Requiem this Saturday at the Chan Centre in Vancouver

Wendy Hatala Foley (my better half) will be the mezzo-soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem on Saturday, December 1st at the Chan Centre in Vancouver. Here is the full cast for Saturday's performance at the University of British Columbia:

Amy LaFroy, soprano
Wendy Hatala Foley, mezzo-soprano
Matthew Stephanson, tenor
Gary Relyea, bass
The Choirs: University Singers, UBC Choral Union, Vancouver Bach Choir
UBC Symphony Orchestra (including offstage brass ensemble)
Bruce Pullan, conductor

Tickets are $25/18/15

Press release from the University of British Columbia School of Music

(Image by Ivan Hunter)

Roger Vignoles Master Class Tonight in Toronto

The renowned collaborative pianist Roger Vignoles will be giving a masterclass at 7:30pm tonight at 90 Wellesley Street West, hosted by the University of Toronto. Free admission.

Press release from University of Toronto arts and culture listings

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Degree Program Additions

The University of Miami and Weber State University have been added to the list of Degree Programs in Piano Pedagogy. Thanks to everyone for continually commenting with info on more schools to add to the degree program lists for piano pedagogy and collaborative piano studies.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Teresa Berganza Sings de Falla's Polo w/Gerald Moore on YouTube

Gerald Moore hardly breaks a sweat in this 1960 film of Polo from de Falla's Siete canciones populaires españolas with soprano Teresa Berganza. One of the harder songs of the set, the second verse features some tricky repeated note passages. Take a look at how Moore's high hand position allows him to execute those passages with ease.


Readers' Poll: What Are Your Main Areas of Activity?

The latest poll is up, with the following question:

What are your main areas of activity?

You can choose between solo playing, vocal collaboration, instrumental collaboration, chamber music, choral accompanying, orchestral playing, teaching, and administration.

Select all answers that apply. The poll is viewable from all pages on the site and closes Saturday, December 1 at 10pm.

What Repertoire is Needed for Collaborative Piano Graduate Auditions?

Here are some quick links to repertoire lists for collaborative piano auditions at a few schools:

New England Conservatory

A few selections keep on showing up on many of these lists, specifically the Beethoven violin and cello sonatas and the Brahms violin, cello, and clarinet sonatas. The song lists differ more widely, but usually include German (Schubert, Schumann, or Brahms) and French (Faure or Debussy).

What do you think should be required for auditions for programs in collaborative piano? Should the requirements be comprehensive, as in the Eastman and CIM rep lists, or should they be simpler?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Core Repertoire: The Sequence for Learning Violin Concertos

A collaborative pianist who specializes in working with young violinists has emailed me with a sequence in which violin students traditionally learn the concertos, in this person's experience:

1. Bach a minor
2. Haydn
3. Mozart 3, 4, or 5
4. Bruch
5. Lalo
6. Barber, Saint-Saens 3, Mendelssohn, or Wieniawski 2
7. Sibelius or Tchaikovsky

That order mostly jives with my experience, although the studios I've played for usually start with either Spohr or one of the Mozarts. I would also add the Shostakovich after Sibelius and Tchaikovsky, although I object to giving that concerto to most teenagers (which more violin teachers seem to be doing these days) because of its extreme technical and artistic demands.

Any violin concertos you would add to the early or latter stages of the list?

Emerging Arts Professional Website

Earlier this evening I stumbled across a Facebook group for Emerging Arts Professionals, a relatively new network in Canada that connects young professionals in the arts with mentors and the profession at large. In addition to various professional development events across Canada, they also have a blog featuring guest writers, a podcast, and a list of arts resources across the internet. Stay tuned for upcoming events from this new and exciting organization.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Toronto Arts Council Shopping Guide

The Toronto Arts Council has just released a holiday shopping guide that highlights the offerings of many Toronto-area artists, galleries, performing organizations, and authors. Take a look if you want to give that special someone a gift that in turn supports the arts community this holiday season.

Collaborative Pianists Needed for COC Outreach

Today I received the following Call for Artist-Educators from the Education and Outreach Department of the Canadian Opera Company, posted below.

Call for Artist-Educators

Are you interested in being part of the Canadian Opera Company Education
and Outreach Department’s roster of artist-educators who lead our innovative
multi-disciplinary programs?

Our programs aim to be creative, inclusive, participatory, developmental and fun. The joy of opera is that it encompasses many art forms and so we are currently seeking artist-educators from a number of different disciplines.

The successful workshops and programs run by the COC take place both in school and community settings, as well as the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Artist-educators work on a contract basis and should be open to working flexible hours (days, evenings, and some weekends inclusive). We are looking for artist-educators to deliver our Education and Outreach programs with the following areas of expertise:

  • Voice
  • Collaborative piano
  • Composition
  • Design
  • Drama
  • Movement

We would like to encourage artist-educators from all backgrounds and diverse
cultural influences to consider joining us to help young people explore ideas on
musical storytelling.


  • Dedication to working with young people
  • Passion for opera
  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Organization, attention to detail
  • Openness to collaborate with other artists

Skill Requirements:

  • Proven experience of working with groups of young people ages 5-18
  • Professional experience in your art form
  • Experience working in a community arts setting or a school environment
  • Flexibility to tailor workshops to different groups

For further information on all of the COC Education and Outreach programs
please visit

To apply, please send a full resume and letter of interest (with two
references) to
Canadian Opera
227 Front Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1E8
Email: dianaw [at]
coc dot ca

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Core Repertoire: The Violin Concertos

This is the start of a new series I'll be writing over the new few weeks months that highlights the core repertoire of what a collaborative pianist should know if they want to make a living as a player or teacher in the field.

I'll be starting with the violin concertos, and what better place to find a great rep list but the Wikipedia article on the subject. Although many pianists would be perfectly happy playing only sonatas, working with young violinists often means playing concerto reductions, and pianists that are willing and able to play them are often in high demand. Below (with my comments added) are the violin concertos that are played again and again:

Violin Concertos Nos. 3, 4, 5 (Piano / Violin) - sheet music at Violin Concertos Nos. 3, 4, 5 (Piano / Violin) For Violin and Piano Reduction. By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. String. 104 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (50485871) The last three concertos are the ones most frequently played by violinists and this Schirmer edition is one of the more playable reductions. The passage in thirds at the violinist's entrance in the 5th Concerto is one of the trickier passages in the concertos but one that must be learned to a high level in order to prepare the violinist for what they can expect with a real orchestra.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 - Violin/Piano - sheet music at
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 - Violin/Piano Set of performance parts. By Ludwig van Beethoven. (Violin). String Solo. 40 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (50253650) Not the most difficult concerto in the world and sight-readable by most pianists. Listen to a recording with orchestra to add even more color to the orchestral reduction.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Concerto In E Minor For Violin, Opus 64 - sheet music at
Concerto In E Minor For Violin, Opus 64 By Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), edited by Henry Schradieck. Set of performance parts (includes separate pull-out violin part) for violin and piano accompaniment. Schirmer Library, volume 235. E Minor. 28 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (HL.50253670) If you work with violinists you'll be playing this concerto again and again. Listen carefully to the orchestra in order to re-create the finesse of the Mendelssohnian orchestra without the heaviness that some of the eighth-note writing might seem to imply.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 - Piano / Violin - sheet music at
Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 - Piano / Violin By Edouard Lalo (1823-1892), edited by Leopold Lichtenberg. Set of performance parts (includes separate pull out violin part) for violin and piano. Schirmer Vol.1236. 71 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (HL.50258210) This concerto also gets played a lot by late-intermediate violin students. Listen to recordings with orchestra in order to bring out the lightness, color, and Spanish flair in the reduction.
See more info...

Violin Concerto No.2 - sheet music at Violin Concerto No.2 By Henri Wieniawski. Edited by Morteau. For violin, piano. Op.22(d). Published by C.F. Peters. (P03296) Not the most difficult concerto reduction nor the most interesting, but a necessary part of the repertoire since it is usually one of the first concertos that young violinists learn to play.
See more info...

Violin Concerto No.5 - sheet music at Violin Concerto No.5 By Henri Vieuxtemps. Edited by Arbos. For violin, piano. Op.37(a). Published by C.F. Peters. (P03323) Another concerto on the menu for developing violinists.
See more info...

Violin Concerto - sheet music at Violin Concerto By Max Bruch. Edited by Stross, Soldan. For violin, piano. Op.26(g). Published by C.F. Peters. (P04590) You'll need to get the tremolos working well in the opening to this very popular concerto. Have fun with the tutti near the end of the first movement.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Concerto in D, Op. 77 (Piano / Violin) - sheet music at
Concerto in D, Op. 77 (Piano / Violin) Violin and Piano. By Johannes Brahms. (Violin). String Solo. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (50336920) One of the great violin concertos of all time. Requires a lot of work, especially in the tuttis, but repays the time spent with the fine reduction in this edition.
See more info...

Violin Concerto No. 3 in b Minor, Op. 61 - sheet music at Violin Concerto No. 3 in b Minor, Op. 61 For Violin and Orchestra - Piano Reduction. By Camille Saint-Saens. Edited by P. Jost. Violin. Pages: Score = VI and 45 * Vl Part = 19. Urtext edition (Paper-bound). Published by G. Henle. (51480712) Frequently played by young violinists, the development and coda in the first movement will require a lot of rehearsal to put together. Again, listen to recordings to fill out the reduction.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Violin Concerto, Op. 35 - Violin/Piano - sheet music at
Violin Concerto, Op. 35 - Violin/Piano Set of performance parts. By Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. (Violin). String Solo. 52 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (50258130) The king of the violin concertos and one of the most popular, as this concerto is de rigeur for aspiring soloists. What gives many pianists headaches are the quick changes of hand position just before the violin's entrance. Some reworking is needed in the tuttis in order to make them pianistic.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 - sheet music at
Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 By Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), edited by Alexandre Gretchaninoff, Fransescatti. Instrumental solo book for violin and piano accompaniment. Composed 1904-05. 51 pages. Published by International Music Co. (IM.529) Another concerto that will get you a huge amount of milage when learned. This is in many ways a symphonic work with violin obbligato, so spend plenty of time listening to the orchestra so you can recreate the luminescent colors of Sibelius' orchestra at the piano. Not a bad piano reduction, the International edition is the one I recommend to pianists.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Tzigane Concerto For Violin And Orchestra - Piano Reduction - sheet music at
Tzigane Concerto For Violin And Orchestra - Piano Reduction By Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Set of performance parts (includes separate violin pull out part) for violin and piano. 25 pages. Published by Durand. (HL.50561654) This great one-movement work isn't really a concerto per se, but forms an integral part of the concerto repertoire. Ravel was a superb orchestrator, and this marvelous reduction by the composer captures the same colors but from a pianistic viewpoint. In the infamous repeated-note tutti, be sure to have efficient fingerings so you can work it up to a blistering tempo.
See more info...

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19 By Sergei Prokofiev. (Study Score). Boosey and Hawkes Scores and Books. 115 pages. Published by Boosey & Hawkes. (48009204) The tremolos that open and close the first movement will need a loving touch to come close to the effervescent textures that Prokofiev writes for the strings. The second movement is a doozie, so spend some time perfecting the many technical challenges. A great reduction for learning about the Russian orchestral sound.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Violin Concerto No. 1 - Violin/Piano - sheet music at
Violin Concerto No. 1 - Violin/Piano By Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). Set of performance parts (includes separate pull-out violin part) for violin and piano. A Minor. 76 pages. Published by Sikorski. (HL.50489636) Put simply, one of the most moving violin concertos and the most technically demanding for the violinist. Playing this concerto plumbs the depths of sound in the Russian orchestra that are incredibly satisfying to play in the reduction. Spend a lot of time learning the 2nd and 4th movements, and make sure the violinist knows the tuttis as well as his/her own part.
See more info...

Violin Concerto By Alban Berg. Arranged by Douglas Jarman. For violin and piano. Set of parts. Published by Universal Edition. (UE010903) Although this work is one of the pinnacles of the twelve-tone style, it is not necessary to know the details of Berg's row manipulations to play this work well. Rather, listen for the varieties of tonal color that make their way into Berg's accurate and eloquent reduction.
See more info...

Look inside this title
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Piano/Violin) - sheet music at
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Piano/Violin) By Samuel Barber (1910-1981). Violin solo single for violin solo and piano accompaniment. 34 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc. (HL.50337010) One of the great American violin concertos. The tuttis in the first and second movements are some of the emotional high points of the concerto and benefit from a full and opulent sound. The last movement will need plenty of rehearsal with the violinist.
See more info...

Recital Mmmastery

Joshua Nemith has written another great article, this time on the three M's of recital preparation and getting your music mastered, memorized, and moving (the earlier the better). I especially like the discussion of the difference between mastery (which is attainable) and perfection (which is unattainable, but a worthwhile ideal).

Monday, November 19, 2007

The 2008 Aria Frequency List

For several years running, Wolf Trap Opera artistic director Kim Witman has been religiously keeping track of exactly which arias singers audition with while on the audition tour, and then adds them up to determine to determine what the most popular arias were.

This year's Aria Frequency List makes for some fascinating reading, although there don't seem to be many surprises for the most popular choices. Here are the favorites for each voice type:


Ach ich fühl's
Deh vieni

Mezzo Soprano

Smanie implacabili
Sein wir wieder gut
Va! laisse couler mes larmes


Dies Bildnis
Il mio tesoro
O wie ängstlich
Una furtiva lagrima


Hai già vinta la causa
Billy in the Darbies
E fra quest'ansie (Silvio)
Mein Sehnen (Pierrot's Tanzlied)
Papageno's suicide aria


Se vuol ballare
Hear me O Lord
I'm a lonely man Susannah
Madamina (Catalogue aria)
Vecchia zimarra

Most of all, the list makes for some interesting reading for possible aria suggestions. When choosing arias for auditions, singers should of course realize that the optimal choices have more to do with one's vocal suitability towards certain roles than with trying to go either with or against the grain regarding choice of popular arias. Once Kim releases the cast list for the 2008 season, it would be very interesting to know which arias the winning singers auditioned with.

Facebook Group Lists Toronto Operatic Events

One of the drawbacks of traditional media such as newspapers is that not all of a city's event listings actually get advertised, but only those of the major companies that have the connections to warrant giving them print space. The Opera in Toronto Facebook group created and lovingly maintained by Ziv Kenet goes much farther in its attempt to chronicle all the operatic events in Toronto, including productions by smaller companies such as Opera by Request, Amphion Opera, Opera Lirica Italiana, and Brampton Lyric Opera. If you're an opera lover in Toronto and need to grok the entire scene, this is the Facebook group where you can find comprehensive listings.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Call for Nominations - 2008 Sandra Tulloch Award for Innovation in the Arts

A few days ago I received this message from Jason van Eyk at the Canadian Music Centre:

Theatre Ontario is issuing a call for nominations for the 2008 Sandra Tulloch Award for Innovation in the Arts. The Sandra Tulloch Award for Innovation in the Arts is presented annually to an individual or collective who has demonstrated leadership over a long career, and a passionate commitment to deepening the scope and broadening the appearance of the arts in Ontario through innovative and practical approaches.

· Nominations must be made by two individuals;
· Candidates may be working or have worked in any discipline of the arts in Ontario, whether professional or amateur;
· Candidates must have made a significant, demonstrable contribution to the growth and well being of the arts in Ontario;
· Candidates must have demonstrated a selfless and energetic commitment to the above;
· Candidates must have exhibited a deep involvement in the creation and/or dissemination of art in Ontario;
· Collective initiatives are eligible.
When submitting your nomination, please provide specific examples of the above criteria as they relate to your nominee. The deadline is December 17, 2007.

This award is open to arts professionals and collectives who have worked in Ontario and have made significant initiatives there. On the Theatre Ontario site, you can find more information on nomination criteria and download the nomination form.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tapestry New Opera Works Launches Facebook Group

Tapestry New Opera Works has just launched a Facebook group, which will chronicle the many activities of the company as well as those of its studio ensemble (of which I am a member). Worth a peek is an essay by mezzo-soprano Jessica Lloyd about Tapestry's process of how the partnerships get from the Composer/Librettist laboratory to Opera To Go. An excerpt:

Believing that collaboration is the key ingredient at the heart of opera creation, each year we mount the Composer-Librettist Laboratory. This 10-day intensive workshop allows four writers and four composers to discover how to access the best of each other’s creative energies by creating 5-minute operatic scenes over a 48-hour period. The scenes are rehearsed by a skilled set of singing actors and répétiteurs, and performed in recital for the teams. The results are discussed, the partners switch and the cycle begins again. By the end of the Laboratory, we have accumulated 16 5-minute mini-operas, from which we pick up to 12 to share with our audience in a programme called Opera Briefs. Produced with lighting and minimal props, in our home venue, the Ernest Balmer Studio, Opera Briefs has been sold out two years in a row. We also take the “briefs” to free venues like the Word on the Street and Nuit Blanche.

The next step in our process is to invite the creative artists to write a 15-minute opera. The teams are self-selecting but the judging of these submissions is much more rigorous. We choose up to six projects that we develop into an evening called Opera to Go. This format allows the artists to experience a more detailed dramaturgy and workshop schedule, utilizing the members of the New Work Studio Company, under Resident Director Tom Diamond. Further, they are brought into production meetings to learn the complexities and financial scale of producing opera. This intensive programme has proven to be a critical step in developing the creative artists’ capacity for embarking on larger works. This year’s production at Harbourfront’s Enwave Theatre includes an epic creation saga with large-scale puppets and the premiere of a Bravo!FACT film. There will be 8 performances with post-performance audience discussions to further the dialogue with the creative artists. Opera to Go has been so important to the artists’ growth of their operatic “muscle”, paralleled by a significant increase in our audience base, that we have decided to make the programme an annual event. We are enjoying a large growth in our audience generally, but in particular, programmes like Opera Briefs and Opera to Go appeal to a much younger demographic.

This group is open to all Facebook members. Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Terry Riley's In C In Toronto Next Wednesday--Come and Play

If you want to experience some genuine 1960's early minimalist grokking and groovage, come to the Faculty of Music's lobby at the University of Toronto at noon on November 21 for a performance of Terry Riley's In C, presented by the Ernest MacMillan Chainsaw Gang and open to all, including performers that wish to participate. This far out event is BYOS (bring your own stand).

Facebook event listing
Download the score from

Thursday, November 15, 2007

RCM Community School Open House December 1

The RCM Community School in Toronto will be holding its 3rd annual open house on Saturday, December 1 from 10:30am to 12pm. From a press release sent out earlier today:

This is a fun family event where our students can make crafts, holiday greeting cards and purchase baked goodies from our bake sale. The proceeds from the bake sale and any donations we receive benefit The RCM Community School Bursary Fund which subsidizes music classes or lessons for students who couldn’t otherwise afford them. At noon, there will be a Centre Stage Concert featuring performances by RCM students.

Admission to the open house is free.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blogging, Parenthood, and....a DMA in Collaborative Piano

An article by Katie Dean in today's Madison Capital-Times highlights some blogging moms in Madison, Wisconsin. And who might be featured in the article but a collaborative pianist, Susan Gaeddert of Madtown Mama:

She said the blog helped with the transition of becoming a stay at home mom for the first time.

"It's a huge adjustment. I was used to being around other musicians and other adults," said Gaeddert, who is working toward her doctorate in collaborative piano [at the University of Wisconsin-Madison]. "It's a way of being in touch with the adult world -- even if it's just cyberspace."

I've been reading Madtown Mama for a while and have found it a great combination of the momosphere, knitosphere, and CP-osphere.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pandora Launches Classical Music Service (US only, for now)

Pandora has just announced the launching of a classical music version of their Music Genome Project. From a press release issued today:

Pandora today announced the addition of classical music to its personalized radio service. Pandora has spent several years expanding the Music Genome into the classical realm. The collection now includes tens of thousands of recordings by more than 500 composers spanning the major historical periods of classical music: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern and Contemporary.

Classical music fans have been woefully under-served when it comes to mainstream radio. With this launch, Pandora hopes to contribute to the growing resurgence of classical music by providing a powerful new way to enjoy and explore this rich repertoire. The service offers an extensive collection of music that can be tailored to an individual’s personal taste, regardless of one’s knowledge of classical music.

“We think classical music enthusiasts will be delighted by the ability to explore any and all parts of the classical music universe in ways that have never before been possible”, said Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora. “At the same time, we hope to make classical music more accessible and relevant to everyone.”

Going to the Pandora site to check out this new service, I was redirected here and saw the following message:

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for most listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

And further down on the page:

We will be notifying listeners as licensing agreements are established in individual countries. If you would like to be notified by email when Pandora is available in your country, please enter your email address below. The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere.

I'm glad that Pandora sent me the press release, wish them all the best with Pandora Classical, and would really like to review the service. It probably goes without saying that the service will increase in popularity and relevancy once it is available in more than one country, but I suppose I'll have to wait until Pandora is once more available in Canada.

Update 11/14/07:

Canada's copyright laws are to blame for the situation of Pandora being blocked north of the border, and has been the case since May, in a report from the Pandora blog.

I'm of two minds on this issue. While I'm disappointed that many governments are blocking the broadcasting of signals into their jurisdiction and demanding high royalties, I'm also aware of the need to make sure musicians are paid for their work that is broadcast on the airwaves.

And I know about this first hand. The broadcast recording of Abigail Richardson's dissolve that I made a few years ago with percussionist Ryan Scott and harpist Sanya Eng was played several times on CBC Radio 2, all with fair compensation, but when it was broadcast dozens of times on various European Broadcasting Union stations, we weren't paid anything in royalties.

One can only hope that online broadcasters such as Pandora can work with governments to create royalty models that support both the musicians and songwriters along with the companies that broadcast their work.

The Daniel Libeskind Piano

I gotta get one of these--architect Daniel Libeskind is designing a unique piano for Schimmel, one of which may end up in the Royal Ontario Museum's Crystal Court.

Link to Globe and Mail article and cool pic

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Houston Grand Opera's The Refuge

Charles Ward in the Houston Chronicle writes about The Refuge, a new oratorio that premiered in Houston on November 10. Written by librettist Leah Lax and composer Christopher Theofanidis, The Refuge chronicles the stories of immigrants from various communities to the Houston area. Kudos to the Houston Grand Opera for commissioning, developing, and premiering a new oratorio that takes the immigrant experience as its central subject matter at a time when public policy in the United States seems increasingly unfavorable to those who have recently arrived.

A View from the Other Side of the Audition Table

Joshua Winograde has just written a fantastic guest post on the Wolf Trap Opera blog about some of the thinking that goes into casting in that company. Whereas most companies cast from repertoire to personnel, Wolf Trap reverses the process and starts with finding the season's artists before finalizing rep. Joshua also shares some ideas on how to prepare for auditions in a scene where more singers are rejected than accepted for programs and productions:

rather than worrying about the RESULTS – i.e. Did they like me? Did I sound great? Will I get a role? – you should think only about the small things: excellent language, good breathing and vocal technique, connection to the text, having something to say, presenting yourself professionally, etc. Those things are very much IN your control, and I bet you’d be surprised at how much faster the RESULTS roll in.

I see what Joshua is getting at. Rather than adopting a top/down approach (as espoused by Steven Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) where you set your goals (ie. get hired) and create expectations before moving to the smaller things, more can be accomplished by first working on next actions for specific skills (ie. create subtext for aria, fix diction, become familiar with piano reductions) to get to a higher level (similar to the Getting Things Done approach of David Allen).

My take? Very rarely do singers fix every skill, then audition, and then get hired. My observation is that singers that have something genuine to offer, whether it be beauty of voice, acting skill, physique, believability, or being a great colleague, are hired in spite of their shortcomings, and then move onwards and upwards to improve in conjunction with their work. On the other hand, many singers find it frustrating that they sing and act at an extremely high level and simply never get work.

As well, I know very few successful singers that didn't initially have high aspirations in the profession. Whether you start with the goal or work up to it after fixing individual skill sets, there's nothing wrong with a strong ambition to get results if it means you'll work harder to achieve an even higher level of performance.

Lest We Forget

It was as if time herself
were a dry fountain, where the urn fills only
with pale ashes; where broken tablets
of illegible laws cobble the ground;
where church and court alike are built of bones,
a filigreed white lattice-work of chalk
through which the white sun casts
a black lattice of shadows, widows' weeds;
where a small wind picks through debris,
an indigent in search of scraps; where,
in the desert of our god-drenched origins
the armies grow again, human beetles in
their masks, vague hatred with its poison
gas, the air itself a deadly trench
to these benighted boys, condemned
to fall again into the ranks
of what repeats...

from Operations: Desert Shield, Desert Storm by Eleanor Wilner

Saturday, November 10, 2007

David Ogborn's Transatlantic Transient Tour

One of the highlights of the 2006 running of the Tapestry New Opera Works Composer/Librettist Laboratory was David Ogborn's unconventional Laszer vs. Stryker, in which a metal/electronica-flavored soundtrack highlighted the work's opening fight scene. Ogborn will be composing two operas for next February's Opera To Go: Peace of my Heart (with librettist David Carley) and The Translator (with Leanna Brodie), both of which begin their musical workshop process a week from now.

You can catch David in performance this November in case you happen to live in one of the cities of his Transatlantic Transient tour, which opened in Belfast last night at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, continues in Amsterdam's Karnatic Lab on November 13, theaterkapell in Berlin on November 14, Hamilton's James Street North on November 30, and wraps up in Toronto on December 2 at Tapestry New Opera Works' Ernest Balmer Studio.


On the programme are new remixes and diffusions of 3 soundscape pieces composed by Ogborn in 2005, the year of his last trans-Atlantic sojourn: via Sammartini (based on recordings from Milan), Rio della croce (based on recordings from the island of Giudecca in Venice) and Second Nature (with recordings from Toronto's Tommy Thompson Park). On the menu at every stop of the Transatlantic Transient tour are selections from the Street Songs, flexible improvisatory works for live instrumentalists and electronics, each one a sonic reflection of the international protests against the invasion of Iraq.

In Hamilton and Toronto, Mueller-Heaslip will perform the fifth Street Song as well as In Memoriam STS-107, memorializing the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in early 2003. Mueller-Heaslip will also inject Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag's stunning Josef-Attila Fragments for solo voice and selections from R. Murray Schafer's Princess of the Stars...Rounding out the programme is a series of live electronic improvisations on a physically distorted (missing the D string and the high E string) but electronically-augmented (via microphones and a laptop) classical guitar – a preview of some of the material Ogborn will be performing in the Opera On The Rocks project, a full-length ambient opera premiering January 6-7 2008 in Toronto.
If you want to catch the Toronto show, you should probably grab your tickets ahead of time through David's PayPal link, as the event may sell out (which has been the case with all Tapestry events so far this season).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The CPB Turns 2

Raise your glasses to the Collaborative Piano Blog, which turns two today. Thanks to everyone that has supported me, visited this site, commented, and linked here in the last couple of years. And a special thanks to Bart Collins of The Well-Tempered Blog and Kim Witman of Wolf Trap Opera, who were the very first to post links in this direction in November 2005.

I've had a great time writing for the last two years and getting to know many of you. I have no intention of stopping and look forward to year three...

Britten-Pears Programs at Aldeburgh for 2008-09

The Britten-Pears Program at the Aldeburgh Festival has announced their 2008-09 lineup of courses. Here are some of the programs that might be of interest to CPB readers:
  • New Music New Media, May 4-13. Featuring Ian Dearden and Sheppard, course directors, and Jonathan Harvey, composer and guest teacher.
  • Schubert Lieder, July 6-13. This is a duo course for singers and pianists taught by baritone Christian Gerhaher.
  • Italian Opera Arias, July 23-30. A masterclass for singers and repetiteurs featuring renowned baritone Sherrill Milnes that will be covering arias from Rossini to Puccini with a focus on Verdi.
Be sure to check out the Aldeburgh site for a complete listing of programs, as well as their online application form, which also lists audition venues in London, New York, and Amsterdam. The Canadian auditions will be held in Toronto on December 6 and 7.

Bathroom Divas Alumni: Elaine Brown in Our Divas Do Christmas

Those of you in the St. John's area who watched the Gemini-award-winning season 2 of Bathroom Divas will be glad to know that Elaine Brown will be performing in The Divas Do Christmas, a holiday revue running from November 27 through December 2 at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.

For more information on who's performing and how to get tickets, check the Town Cryer event listing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NPR Launches Multimedia Music Site

A few days ago I mentioned a mysterious email that showed only today's date and a partial screenshot of a new NPR music site.

This morning NPR rolled out its new NPR Music beta, in collaboration with member stations WGBH (Boston), KEXP/KPLU (Seattle), KUT (Austin), WBGO (Newark), WDUQ (Pittsburgh), WFUV/WNYC (New York), WGUC (Cincinnati), WKSU/Folk Alley (Kent, Ohio), WXPN (Philadelphia), and American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio.

The site features separate sections on Rock/Pop/Folk, Classical, Jazz & Blues, World, and Urban music, as well as separate pages where you can discover songs, get concert info, watch studio sessions, read interviews and profiles, as well as news, reviews, and blogs. There is also a huge selection of artists (actually artists and composers) that you can browse.

Kudos to NPR and the 12 member stations for creating an online presence that can generate interest in what they have to offer, as well as highlight artists who appear on their programs. I hope that they regularly add to the array of features and content available on the site, remembering that with internet radio, their target audience is potentially much larger than those who listen to local FM signals.

Sequenza21's take on NPR Music
Another review of NPR Music on Read/WriteWeb

Compare NPR Music with other public radio sites:

CBC Radio
, with links to Radio 1, 2, and 3
BBC Radio, with links to Radio 1 through 5
ABC Radio (Australia)
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (English)
Public Radio of Armenia (English)

NATSAA Dealine is November 16

If you're a singer and interested in competing in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Auditions this season, you have until November 16th to send in your application. The following email is from NATSAA Vice-President Donald Simonson:

Dear Colleagues:

The NATSAA Registration Deadline of November 16th is fast approaching. If you or one (or more) of your students are planning to register and compete in the 2008 NATSAA Competition you have only two weeks to complete your application. The application process has been streamlined and is now on-line for the very first time. You need only click on the link below to begin your application.

Follow the links to view guidelines, repertoire requirements, checkout preliminary and regional competition sites and dates, and to submit your application. Please remember that you must complete the application process at the web site AND submit payment in order for your application to be complete. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Donald Simonson, NATSAA Vice President

Note to singers: with the large amount of rep required for NATSAA, be sure to secure an awesome pianist if you want to sound your best in each round of this tough but rewarding competition.

October 2007 Clavier Magazine Features the Collaborative Arts

If you're interested in the any of the disciplines associated with collaborative piano, you'll definitely want to check out the October 2007 issue of Clavier. Among the articles in this issue:

Masters of Chamber Music: An Interview with Jean Barr and David Lutz by Leonne Lewis.

The Joy of Playing With Others by Philip Amalong.

Beethoven's Chamber Folksong Transcriptions: Music from the British Isles by Anthony Olson and Eva Peng.

Samuel Sanders: A Name to Remember by Margo Garrett.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interview with Jean Barr (my teacher at Eastman), and the Philip Amalong article is an excellent article for those considering or starting out in collaborative piano, with lots of information on what to expect in graduate programs, auditions, and the profession in general. Margo Garrett's article has a wonderful quote to describe Samuel Sander's disdain of the a-word:

I remember how he dislike the term accompanist to describe his career. He would say the word made it sound like he was the one who traveled with and carried the suitcases.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fauré Passed Away 83 Years Ago Today

Today is the 83rd anniversary of Gabriel Fauré's death on November 4, 1924. Thanks to Jessica Duchen for pointing this out, as well as posting a awesome clip of the G minor Piano Quartet with pianist Pascal Devoyon & co.

Wikipedia article on Fauré
Biography from the Classical Music Pages
Another good biography from the BBC site

Although most people only get acquainted with Fauré's early songs, the time that encompasses his earliest (Le papillon et la fleur of 1861) and his last songs (L'horizon chimérique of 1922) spans over 60 years.

Here is a video of Régine Crespin and pianist Christian Ivaldi in a 1964 performance of the 1894 song Soir.

Huge List of Pianist Interviews...from 1915

I was alerted recently to an online reprint of Harriette Brower's 1915 book "Piano Mastery - Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers", taken from interviews she gave while checkin' out the London, Berlin, Paris, and New York piano pedagogy scenes. There's lots of really interesting information here, some from well-known pianists, and some from forgotten ones. Below are a few some interesting quotes from the book.

Mark Hambourg on practice:

In regard to practice I do not think it wise for the aspiring pianist to spend such a great amount of time at the piano. Four hours of concentrated work daily seems to me sufficient. Of course it is the quality of practice that counts. The old saying, 'Practice makes perfect,' does not mean constant repetition merely, but constant thinking and listening. I advise students to stop after playing a passage several times, and think over what the notes mean. This pause will rest ears and hands; in a few moments work can be resumed with fresh vigor.

Ethel Leginska on teaching:

In teaching the piano, as you know, every pupil is different; each has his or her own peculiar hand, and a different degree of intelligence. So each pupil must be treated differently. This is really an advantage to the teacher; for it would be very monotonous if all pupils were alike.

(Thanks, Andrea!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Live Opera Streaming Listings with Operacast

Want to hear a full-length live opera but can't get out to Rome this weekend? Operacast has some excellent listings of worldwide broadcasts of live opera all around the world. In case you're not familiar with the ways of streaming audio, there's even an Internet Radio for Simpletons page to get you started.

But the best feature by far is the fact that the listings are for Greenwich Mean Time, cutting down on the difficulties of constantly calculating time zones. What a great way to organize your listening time, especially when you'll have to choose between Herodiade in Rome, Alexander's Feast in Wellington, Aida at the Met, The Rake's Progress in Stockholm, and The Barber of Seville in San Francisco.

(Thanks, Gerrit!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Madame K

Gwendolyn Koldofsky, one of the most important pioneers in the field of collaborative piano and creator of the first piano accomanying degree program, was born on this day in 1906 and would be 101 if she were alive today. From the article about her in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada:

Gwendolyn Koldofsky (b Williams). Accompanist, voice coach, b Bowmanville, Ont, 1 Nov 1906. She studied piano in Toronto with Viggo Kihl, in London with Tobias Matthay and (accompanying) Harold Craxton, and in Paris with Marguerite Hasselmans. She married the violinist Adolph Koldofsky in 1943 and lived in Toronto until 1944. After spending a year in Vancouver she settled in 1945 in Los Angeles, where she was engaged to teach accompanying - a position created for her - at the School of Music of the University of Southern California, which she held until her retirement in 1990.
I wonder if there are any musicians around that still remember her from the years she freelanced (if that's what it was called back then) in Toronto and Vancouver. I only studied with Madame K for one summer at the Academy of the West in 1989, but was very grateful to have been given the chance to work with her even for only six weeks.

Here's another great bio of Koldofsky from a notice for a benefit recital to be held tonight at USC featuring Alan Smith, Kevin Fitz-Gerald and others. About the annual recital:

After the early death of her husband, Gwendolyn Koldofsky established this annual benefit recital in his memory at USC, the proceeds of which would go to support the accompanying program she had founded. The Koldofsky Benefit Recital has featured some of the world's musical luminaries, many of them graduates and/or faculty members of the USC Thornton School of Music. After her death in 1998, the event was renamed "The Gwendolyn and Adolph Koldofsky Memorial Benefit Recital" to honor both musicians.

31 Days to Better Practicing: The Complete Series

Just over a month ago, I began the onerous task of writing an article a day on how to improve one's practice time on any instrument (although I couldn't help being a little piano-centric), as well as listing some ways to open one's mind to new concepts, methods, and music. Throughout the month, I have taken great encouragement from those that have left comments or emailed me, and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for giving me such useful feedback, specifically Rhona-Mae, Ben, Hugh, Robert, Paul R, s@bd, Becky, Melodie, Valerie, gottagopractice, Mat, Andrea, Robin, and Graham. I hope to meet all of you sometime (MTNA?) and get to know you in real life as well as in the blogosphere and Facebook.

Here are links to the entire series of articles:

Day 1: Build a Regular practice Schedule Part 1
Day 2: Build a Regular Practice Schedule Part 2
Day 3: Warming Up
Day 4: Goal Setting Part 1: Short Term Goals
Day 5: Goal Setting Part 2: Medium Term Goals
Day 6: Goal Setting Part 3: Long Term Goals
Day 7: Practice Links
Day 8: First Steps--Getting New Repertoire on its Feet
Day 9: Slow Practicing
Day 10: 5 Reasons to Memorize Music
Day 11: Find Your Repertoire
Day 12: Take Your Performance for a Test Drive...Every Day
Day 13: Naturally7 in the Paris Metro
Day 14: More Practice Links
Day 15: Making Endings Work
Day 16: 5 Things to Remember About Fingerings
Day 17: Interludes: Some Thoughts on Teaching and Learning
Day 18: More Practice Links
Day 19: Build Sight Reading Into Your Practice Session
Day 20: Silent Practicing
Day 21: Work Backwards
Day 22: Non-Structured Practice Time
Day 23: Record Yourself
Day 24: Add to Your Skills By Learning Theory
Day 25: 5 Ways to Add Length to Your Practice Session
Day 26: More Practice Links
Day 27: Run the Program
Day 28: Developing an Artistic Sensibility
Day 29: Add Collaboration To Your Activities
Day 30: Taking Stock of Your Accomplishments
Day 31: Find Your Muse, Find Your Process

Look inside this title
The Piano Student's Guide to Effective Practicing - sheet music at
The Piano Student's Guide to Effective Practicing By Nancy O'neill Breth. Educational Piano Library. Book only. 6 pages. Published by Hal Leonard. (296450)
See more info...

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