Monday, April 28, 2014

Class Piano/Collaborative Pianist Position at the University of Arkansas

In addition to the previous position mentioned at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, here is another listing for their Fayetteville campus:
Description: The University of Arkansas Department of Music is seeking a nine-month, non-tenure track Instructor of Class Piano to teach class piano courses for music and non-music majors with secondary duties as a collaborative pianist. Candidates currently in temporary or non-tenured positions will be considered. Starting date is August 18, 2014.
A Master’s degree in CP is the minimum requirement, DMA preferred. Full information on the position can be found here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Collaborative Pianists and Professionalism: A Passionate Rant

And in this crazy life, you are my everything.
alonefortherideily / cc
Earlier today, Vancouver-based pianist Karen Lee-Morlang posted this wonderful, perceptive rant on Facebook:
Dear fellow collaborative pianist:

You are a very good piano player. I hear it, and often enjoy listening to you play so well. You also seem to like it that everyone around you acknowledges that you are good. That's fine. You deserve recognition for your hard-earned skill! Unfortunately, you have also decided that everyone around you must also await for your presence with bated breath...including showing up regularly to festivals and performances 15 minutes late (or more), making your singers or instrumentalists fret, worry and be even more nervous. You finally arrive, and state imperiously, "didn't you all receive my text messages", as if, planning on being late while you're playing for other clients, makes it OK that you over-booked and are late for the performance itself, and have kept the adjudicators, performers and other collaborative pianists waiting. Other people, who have respectfully, arrived on time (or even, gasp, 10-15 or 30 minutes early). Sometimes, because your schedule is so much more important, you make sure that your performer gets to be shuffled to the beginning of the section in spite of the printed order, just so that you can leave immediately after playing. You have regularly cancelled last minute in order to take a better, more prestigious or higher paying gig....and your colleagues are getting calls and emails from stressed out performers to help pick up the pieces. What can I say? I think it's awesome that us pianists are apparently so valuable that for some reason people still put up with your behavior. However, you do set up the expectation (with some less experienced parents, young musicians and even teachers) that it is the norm for collaborative pianists to behave like this. I have worked 10+ years to assure them that it's NOT, and then usually pass on a nice long list of pianists that I personally can recommend as RELIABLE, RESPECTFUL and great at their jobs. Sadly you're not on this list. I hope that you one day you will finally grow up and remember why we're called COLLABORATIVE PIANISTS.

Sincerely yours,

Karen LM (a pianist who truly loves collaborating)
Well said, Karen! One of the tricky things about maintaining professionalism in the musical world is that regardless of what your abilities or status might be in the field, everybody judges you based on the same criteria. That's a critical and sometimes tough thing to learn at any age, whether you're just beginning in the field or a seasoned veteran.

Karen also wanted me to mention this:
Every client that you decide to take on matters, from the youngest to oldest, and deserves have a good experience too.

Let us keep that in mind as we head into the conclusion of the concert season and academic year.

Some Best Practices for Hiring Accompanists

madandon / cc

Meri's Musical Musings has a very informative post on how to choose an accompanist for your performance, audition, exam, or competition, with best practices for both parents and teachers:
Respect the accompanist’s fee and DON’T BARGAIN WITH THEM; remember, they need to factor in the time you gave them to learn the music (which in one case my husband got was literally the night before, only had an hour to rehearse the music just before the audition, as the candidate’s previous accompanist proved to be inadequate), the time it takes to travel to the rehearsal and performance locations (especially if they are different), the accompanist’s experience, and if the performance and rehearsal locations are easily accessible by public transit or not.
This is useful advice for teachers hiring a pianist for their entire studio:
Another thing if you are a teacher when you have a number of students working with the same accompanist: collect the money from each student or parent first, instead of asking each student or parent to pay the accompanist directly, which you then give the money collected from each student to the accompanist on the day of the first rehearsal. Otherwise, you run the risk of the students not showing up, or forgetting to pay the accompanist, or the students running into the next session if they show up late, or losing a bunch of cash or cheques.
What else would you recommend as better ways for performers, parents or teachers to hire a pianist?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Cortazâr Trio Plays the 1st Movt. of Smetana's Piano Trio

Here's some energetic playing from a young and promising piano trio based in Bogota. The Cortazâr Trio are:

Liz Valentina Muñoz, Violìn
Jorge Vèlez Ortiz, Cello
Daniel Aguire Ortega, Piano

Friday, April 25, 2014

Staff Accompanist Position: Boston University

The School of Music at Boston University has a staff accompanist opening for the upcoming academic year. About the duties and super-powers required:
Support the academic functions of the School of Music by coaching and providing musical accompaniment for School of Music performance students (mainly focusing on string students) for recitals, auditions, lessons, competitions and instrumental examinations.

Required Skills

B.A./B.S., Masters Degree preferred, versatile ability at piano, ability to sight read and improvise music when necessary, knowledge of and experience with standard repertoire for violin, viola, cello and string bass, ability to interpolate, improvise and enhance the accompaniment when necessary, ability to learn technically challenging works quickly, including avante garde music, dependability in following the musician as he/she may vary music., technical and musical dependability in lesson, performance, and audition situations, demonstrate ease and dependability in communication with students and teachers (in person and via phone, voice mail, email, and text message), ability to work effectively with a wide range of student levels and a variety of faculty teaching styles, professional, positive presence in all lesson, performance, audition, and competition settings and five to eight years of experience. This is a nine month position for the academic year (September through May) with a reasonable assurance of rehire each year based on job performance.
Full job listing here.

Vienna Nocturne: Mozart's World as Viewed by Anna Storace, the First Susanna

If you're looking for some interesting creative nonfiction to read in the next while, I highly recommend Vivien Shotwell's Vienna Nocturne, a novel written from the point of view of Anna Storace, the English singer who created the role of Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

I've always wondered how a young English soprano ended up in Vienna singing in an otherwise (mostly) all-Italian cast. Much of the second half of the novel covers Storace's and Mozart's lives in Vienna, and although the extent of their relationship is somewhat speculative, Shotwell brings to life many figures of the time, including Venanzio Rauzzini (Storace's teacher in London), Francesco Benucci (the first Figaro), Antonio Salieri, Lorenzo da Ponte, Stephen Storace (whose piano works might be familiar to some pianists), Aloysia Weber, Costanze Weber, and of course Mozart.

The way that Shotwell brings to life the musical world of late 18th-century Vienna provides some of my favorite writing of the novel. On Anna's first experience of Mozart playing the pianoforte:
Anna had seen many virtuosi play. Wolfgang Mozart surpassed them all. He exhaled, and so many breathing notes unfurled from his unhesitating hands. He played as she had always wished to sing--how she imagined she might sing if she were not so excitable and striving, but selfless and assured, bound to music alone. His expression hardly altered. He looked as if he were listening to a soothing prophecy about the flicity of his children. His eyes, relaxed and open, took in the room and yet looked atnothing. The smile on his lips was scarcely there--a smile for himself, alone, because he felt no need to parade his emotions for their benefit. He would not distract them from his music, nor undermine the balance of its perfection with aping or sighs. He looked as noble and quiet as a physician tending to miraculously reviving child, and no one seemed to take more pleasure in his art, for all his equanimity of expression, than he himself.
On the rehearsal process of The Marriage of Figaro:
The company had divided into factions over the new Mozart opera. On one side, resenting it, were Stefano Mandini, his wife, Maria, and Luisa Laschi. The Bussanis swayed with the winds but were usually found over by the Mandini-Laschi borer, leaving only Anna and Michael Kelly solidly championing the opera. Benucci refused to ally himself one way or the other.

The root of the problem came down to matters of laziness and pride, and a reluctance to do anything unfamiliar. Mozart, try as he might to compose in an Italian style, was Austrian, and this bothered some of them. His opera was exceptional in its length and difficulty. They were used to singing dry recitative, as easy and natural to them as speech, easy duets and trios, and simple arias. But Mozart put everythin together so that one musical number ran into the next without rest. He did not only require them to sing duets or quartets: he required sextets. Performing one of these elaborate ensembles was like baking a new dish for a king, on pain of death, when none of the proper ingredients were at hand and everyone had only fragments of the recipe. Everything must be memorized and perfectly timed.
I particularly enjoyed how Vivien Shotwell's experience as a singer (she's the real thing and from Nova Scotia, no less) informed the narrative of the novel. Vienna Nocturne deeply immerses us in the experience of what it might have been like for an English singer to become successful in Italy in the 1780's, move to Vienna as a member of Joseph II's resident operatic ensemble, and create one of the leading roles in what would become the most famous opera of the 18th century.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chamber Music Connection: Promoting the Role of Chamber Music in a Musician's Development

One of the biggest challenges with developing musicians has always been how to create opportunities for learning chamber music. The Chamber Music Connection is a non-profit that looks to fill that void:
The Chamber Music Connection (CMC), located in Worthington, Ohio, provides an environment where student musicians (age 7 to 70) realize their potential and flourish. Studying and performing with local and nationally acclaimed musicians, while connecting with peers in small ensembles, the musicians who come to CMC grow both musically and personally. Leadership, responsibility, and cooperation are learned small ensembles where each person must play a different musical part. Students are grouped together based on many factors: age, musical ability, and their potential to learn from (and teach) each other. They must collaborate to achieve their musical goals. Musical mentors, including local pedagogues, members of the Columbus and New Albany Symphonies, university music professors from Denison, CIM, and Baldwin Wallace, and visiting chamber music artists performing at the Southern Theatre, coach the student groups in learning to play together and creatively discover their own musical ideas. CMC is a place where people, music, and life connect.

What an amazing mandate! Some young musicians from the CMC program playing intermediate-level piano quintets:

You can check out the Chamber Music Connection calendar here.

Christiane Karg and Malcolm Martineau Perform Richard Strauss' Ständchen

As Gerald Moore famously remarked, Strauss' Ständchen is considerably easier to play in the original key of F# major than in transposed keys (the F major middle key is fiendishly difficult). Here are Christiane Karg and Malcolm Martineau performing the song (in the original key) for their recent Strauss recording on Berlin Classics.

Keyboard-Operated Harp in Brussels

I'm not sure if this instrument in the Brussels Musical Instruments Museum is plucked or struck, but what a conversation piece it must be. If you know anything more about this wonderful and unique instrument, leave some info in the comments.

Update: It's a Dietz harp-piano! Thanks for the info, Yee-Ning.

Brussels- Musical Instruments Museum
xian_kath / flickr

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free CD Giveaway: Schubert's Winterreise with Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch

Update: Congratulations of Yusuf Nasrullah, who has just won the CD!

Of all the great song cycles, Schubert’s Winterreise is the one that has the greatest capacity for repeated listenings, with its bittersweet emotions, unanswered questions, and downward trajectory of the protagonist. There is no doubt that something unimaginably profound happens in the final song, but as to what that might be and where it leads after the end of the cycle is left up to the listener.

Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch’s new recording on Sony Classical is sure to fascinate for a long time to come. Helmut Deutsch’s pianistic colors are bolder in scope than what you’ll find in many recordings and strongly driven by poetical details. Kaufmann’s use of Wilhelm Müller’s text brings to life the psychological narrative, and the degree of specificity of poetic imagery (and artistic risks!) give an excellent account of the cycle.

To commemorate the relase of this memorable recording, Sony Music have graciously offered to give away a copy of the Kaufmann/Deutsch Winterreise to one lucky Collaborative Piano Blog reader.

A huge thanks goes to Sony Classical for sponsoring this latest Collaborative Piano Blog giveaway.  So here we go...

Competition Rules and Regulations

1. Send an email to collaborativepiano [at] gmail dot com with a) "Winterreise CD Draw" in the subject line and b) a link to your favorite Collaborative Piano Blog article about art song in the body of the article. Not just any article, but it has to be a link to an article about art song.

2. Only one entry per person and per email address will be accepted.

3. The deadline for entries is Sunday, April 27th at 10pm EDT. After that I'll randomly draw one entry from the pool of accepted responses and announce the winner on the morning of Monday, April 28th.

4. After that, I'll email the winner of the CD and send it to them at my expense. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, after which I'll pick another winner.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Job Opening for Music Instructor, Hutchinson Community College

Northwest of Wichita, Kansas lies the city of Hutchinson, whose community college has an opening in piano. Here are the duties:
Essential Functions

1. Teach music related courses including class piano, individual piano lessons (for music majors), recreational piano, aural skills, music appreciation, etc.
2. Assignments may include occasional evening courses and teaching via alternative delivery systems, such as online, and/or ITV.
3. Provide piano accompaniment for student recitals, faculty recitals, and vocal ensembles including vocal jazz.
4. Coordinate student recitals and other activities such as concerts (on- or off-campus), touring possibilities, clinics, festivals, workshops and/or master classes.
5. Recruit students for music and other fine arts programs and make scholarship awards within published deadlines.
6. Foster positive professional relationships with area high school music program directors/faculty and with community members who support HCC music programs.
7. Maintain donor database for the purpose of raising scholarship funds. Communicate with donors regularly and develop the donor base for music programs.
8. Maintain records and files as requested by the department chairperson.
9. Collaborate with other faculty in the department on classes, concerts, trips, workshops, recruiting, clinics, and performances.
10. Collaborate each school year with the theatre program on a musical. Duties may include music direction, providing musicians, rehearsing with the cast during the rehearsal process, and playing during rehearsals.
11. Maintain skills in teaching methods and course development as recommended by HCC.
12. Serve actively on campus committees.
13. Arrive on time for work and successfully complete the responsibilities of the position.


14. May advise prospective and current students in appropriate curricula.
15. May recommend upgrades for music technology and development of curriculum and/or online/hybrid delivery formats.
16. Perform other responsibilities as assigned by the appropriate Department Chairperson and/or the Vice-President of Academic Affairs.

You can find the full listing here.

Job Opening: Associate or Professor of Music in Piano, Chowan University

Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina is looking for a new piano faculty member. Here's what the job entails:
The Department of Music of Chowan University, a member of NASM, seeks candidates for an appointment at the Associate Professor or Professor level beginning August 2014. The successful candidate must have an earned doctorate in music and be eligible for a tenure-track appointment. The exceptional candidate may also be considered for department Chair.

Responsibilities include teaching applied piano, piano pedagogy, class piano, music history, music appreciation and/or music theory. Additional responsibilities include student advising and committee work. Responsibilities of the Chair include implementing the mission of the department, maintaining accreditation, administering the academic program, and recruiting majors. Candidates must be committed to undergraduate teaching, advising, and the mission of a Christian university. Chowan University is a graduate, coeducational, residential, church-related university located on a beautiful campus in northeastern North Carolina in the historic town of Murfreesboro.

For more information, you can find the complete job listing here. The position will remain open until filled.

4 Things To Know Before Buying a Used Steinway

Just over a year ago, I made a huge decision and bought a 1928 Steinway M. Finding the right combination of model, vintage, and quality was a huge challenge for me, and I was fortunate to have bought a first-rate instrument. Today's guest post is written by the folks over at Park Avenue Pianos, a specialty seller of high-quality Steinway grands in New York, who talk about what you should be looking for before buying a Steinway grand. You can find Park Avenue Pianos at 230 Central Park South in New York City, just a short walk from Lincoln Center. 

Buying a used Steinway piano is a big and exciting undertaking. A great Steinway is sure become the centerpiece of your piano playing life but it’s also a pretty big investment. Here are four things that you need to know before picking out your very own used Steinway.

1. Always check the serial number and age of the piano. You always want to determine the age of a Steinway to try to infer what type of life it has had since it left the factory. Different eras of Steinway production imply different things. For example, Steinway’s Golden Age was between about 1900 and 1955, and Golden Age Steinways are highly sought after. Identifying and aging a Steinway iseasy with this serial number age chart. Simply find the serial number on the cast-iron plate between the pins, and the number there should correspond to a year on the chart.

2. Learn the different types of used Steinways on the market. Each Steinway piano leaves the factory a technically perfect piano - what happens next is anyone's guess. There a few different categories of used Steinways on the market, and each suggests a different life the piano has had since leaving the factory. The trick is to get to know the different varieties of used Steinways out there. Steinways built with in the last few decades which have had regular maintenance are a great investment. They will most likely not require any repair work in the medium-term future. On the other side of the coin, restoring a Steinway in non-working condition is a big undertaking. It seems obvious but should always try to gauge your investment properly. Get as much information about the piano as possible, learn about any repairs it has had, any repairs it might night need, and if it’s had routine maintenance throughout its life.

3. Know what a soundboard is, and ask about it! The soundboard is the heart and soul of any piano. This is the piece of wood above which the string vibrate, the resonance of the wood amplifies the string’s vibration as well as adding its distinct tone. Steinway fabricated their own soundboards from close-grain Sitka Spruce. This is what gives Steinways their unique sound. When purchasing a used Steinway you want to make sure that the soundboard is in good condition or has been refurbished well. Remember that the soundboard is what gives a piano a lot of its auditory character.

4. Steinway pianos are a financially sound investment. As the cost of factory new Steinway pianos increases, so do the prices of used Steinways at a much higher rate than inflation. For example, a Model B Steinway built in 1985 now sells for over twice the original price. A Model B built in 1960 sells for over nine times the original price. Steinways have always been a sound and potentially profitable place to invest your money. The craftsmanship and integrity of Steinway & Sons insures that the pianos will continue to retain their value for a long time to come.

Photo of the Day: Another Piano Cat

I WILL learn to piano. I WILL.What is it about musical cats that makes them so cute? This photo's original title on Imgur is "I WILL learn to piano. I WILL".

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bach's Erbarme Dich....Sung in Arabic

There's something about seeing a theorbo in the middle of a large ensemble that is totally badass. Fadia el-Hage joins the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble with oboist Bart Schneemann in a unique performance of J.S. Bach's Erbarme Dich from the St. Matthew Passion with the text sung in Arabic. Those chickens that you can see in the close-ups of Fadia are in fact part of a video installation (phew!).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor III w/the Amernet String Quartet feat. Ron Regev, piano

Some tight, jubliant playing from these guys. Joining pianist Ron Regev in this Jerusalem performance last October are the Amernet String Quartet: violinists Misha Vitenson and Marcia Littley, Michael Klotz on viola, and Jason Calloway on cello. I've played with Mike Klotz many times at Eastman and the Bowdoin Festival and it's great to see him in such fine musical company.

Song and Wine Episode 10: Michael Kelly in Conversation with Michael Brofman

Was I ever glad to discover this: the Brooklyn Art Song Society has their own video series entitled Song and Wine.  Their 10th episode features a conversation between Artistic Director Michael Brofman and baritone Michael Kelly about Winterreise, Dichterliebe, and related matters.

What could be cooler than discussing art song over fine wine?

Job Opening - Assistant Professor Collaborative Artist at the University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a collaborative piano opening at the Assistant Professor level. Some info about the position:

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock invites applications for the 9 month tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Music - Collaborative Artist (R97227) with an expected start date of August 2014. The successful candidate will perform with faculty, students and guest artists - both instrumentalists and singers. Responsibilities will also include coaching student singers and managing staff accompanists for student lessons and departmental rehearsals, teaching courses based on qualifications, and participating fully in the non-curricular work of the vocal area, Music Department and university at large. The candidate will be a full member of the vocal area.

Expertise in vocal repertoire and a high knowledge of accompanied instrumental repertoire are essential, as is expertise in vocal and instrumental chamber music. Advanced knowledge of Italian, German, French and English Lyric Diction will be essential to the position; knowledge of Spanish and/or Slavic languages is desired.

The full position is listed here, with an application due date of April 28.

Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody for 8 1933

The release of the entire (85,000+) British Pathé archive on YouTube a few days ago contains countless buried media treasures, much of it still undiscovered. Here's an 8-piano arrangement of Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody captured on film in 1933:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are Collaborative Pianists the DJs of Classical Music?

Lost Vegas / cc
Lately I've been wondering about ways that we introduce and frame performers and their work, on the radio, on podcasts, on blogs, and on other platforms.

As a blogger, I have several options that I can run in the title when I feature a video. For the purposes of argument, I'll use this glorious live recording of Robert Koenig and Elmar Oliveira playing the final movement of John Corigliano's Violin Sonata.

Option 1: Traditional

The Final Movement of John Corliglian's Violin Sonata Played by Violinist Elmar Oliveira and Pianist Robert Koenig

That's a mouthful. With a long title like that, it's easy to lose an audience right off the bat, just by announcing the correct track details. They might never click on such a link given the length of information. It doesn't jump out.

Option 2: Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Robert Koenig feat. Elmar Oliveira

This title style is disruptive (with the pianist listed first) and highly EDM-influenced.

Option 3: Also Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Elmar Oliveira feat. Robert Koenig

This version, also using EDM nomenclature, is also disruptive in suggesting that the pianist is in some way "featured".

Option 4: Also Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Elmar Oliveira/Robert Koenig

The two names side-by-side might work the best. How to title classical music tracks remains a tricky issue and I still haven't come up with a clear solution.

While we're on the subject of electronic dance music - DJs in EDM often function as accompanists in classical music, creating backing tracks for solo singers and archiving, curating, and spinning tracks for shows that feature solo artists. In classical music there is perhaps a similar correlation with collaborative pianists, who because of multiple projects, often have many, many more concert appearances than the soloists that they work with.

Perhaps collaborative pianists are the DJs of classical music. They are the busiest performers. They are the overlooked curators and archivists of the tradition.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the musical culture was as interested in the performing projects of the collaborative pianists as in the solo artists themselves?

At any rate, the music needs to be introduced in such a way that it will come alive in new and interesting ways. We ignore this at our peril.

Bob and Elmar play so amazingly well together. Here's their video:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meme of the Day - The Performing Engagements Guarantee

Musicians: this is just a quick public service announcement regarding accepting gigs. Many of us (including myself) learned these lessons the hard way. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Job Opening: Director of Collaborative Piano, Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University is looking for someone to direct collaborative piano activities for their College of Visual and Performing Arts. About the position:

The Director of Collaborative Piano for the College of Performing and Visual Arts will organize and oversee staff and student accompanists for the college as well as accompany in one or more of the departments.

  1. Organizing and overseeing staff and student accompanists in meeting the needs of an active and thriving performing arts programs. 
  2. Accompany in a variety of areas that may include: opera, choir, musical theater, dance classes, and applied vocal and instrumental lessons, including performances, competitions, auditions, etc. 
  3. Work with faculty, staff, and student accompanists in the department of theatre arts and dance and the department of music.

The full job listing can be found here. The first review of applications will start May 5, 2014. 

Staff Accompanist Opening: Western Illinois University

Western Illinois University is looking for a Staff Accompanist for the 2014-15 academic year. Here's a quick look at the job's details:
APPOINTMENT: August 21, 2014
RESPONSIBILITIES: Assignment will include a balance of vocal and instrumental accompanying including Bachelor and Master level students in recitals, juries, convocations, seminars, lessons, and rehearsals. The assignment may also include accompanying vocal organizations and/or serving as pianist for the Wind Ensemble or Orchestra, and other duties as assigned.
RANK & SALARY: Faculty Assistant. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Western Illinois University offers a competitive benefits package including domestic partner benefits. For full benefit information visit: Requirements: REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelors degree required. Successful experience as a collaborative pianist with a substantial and significant repertoire required. Excellent sight reading and the ability to quickly learn new repertoire expected.
PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: Masters or Doctorate in Accompanying or Piano preferred.

You can find the full job listing here. Deadline is April 22.

Debussy's Quatre Chansons de Jeunesse w/Anna Sohn and Hui-Won Lee

Sometimes it feels like the winter will never end. It's April 15, I just had my lawn aerated, put down seed and fertilizer in the front yard a few days ago, and I woke up to snow yet again. After a speedy commute on the Go Train listening to one of my favorite podcasts, I taught my vocal lit class at the Royal Conservatory, where one of the students in my class did a presentation on Debussy's Quatre Chansons de Jeunesse.

The recording from YouTube that she played created a stir, and we all enjoyed it for its imagination, humor, and quality of playing and singing. I love the joy of discovery that you can find on YouTube, with a new and fascinating recording just around the corner. Here is soprano Anna Sohn with pianist Hui-Won Lee - if anybody knows anything about Hui-Won Lee, please leave I comment. I couldn't find anything else on the internet about this fine pianist.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Free Headphones Giveaway: Sol Republic Relays In-Ear Headphones

Update: Congratulations to Casey Baker, who has just won the headphones! Casey's favorite CPB post is How To Be Creative. A huge thanks goes to Sol Republic for offering to run the promotion!

For many years I've been something of a headphone junkie, and I've had countless hours of use from the mid-size AKG, Sennheiser, and Grado phones I use at home. I was glad to hear from the indie headphone startup Sol Republic about giving away a pair of their new Relays in-ear headphones.

My initial reaction was that the marketing of the Relays as an on-the-go pair of phones for sport and urban use might not be the right fit with CPB readers, many of whom are serious musicians who make their living working in the trenches of the classical music and music education industries.

So when SR sent me a pair of Relays to try out before running the promotion, I was more than glad to take them for a test run, playing some a variety of things and testing them against my trusty Grado SR80's.

The first thing I noticed about the Relays is that they need to be fitted all the way into the ear in order for the bass response and stereo imaging to snap into focus. Fortunately, there are four different sizes of ear-tips for every type of ear (the one I used were the second largest). There was definitely a discernible bass boost in these phones, but it didn't at all seem unnatural in the way that one often finds with some brands of phones.

What I particularly liked about the Relays was the lively, musical way that both stereo imaging and musical details were audible, especially the detail that I could hear in music with a fair amount of layering. The musicality of keyboard, strings, and voices came out very cleanly and in an immediate way, with slightly more clarity than my trusty SR80's.

In fact, I liked these phones so much that I would question SR's emphasis on marketing these phones solely for sports and urban use since they work so well for critical listening. My initial misgivings were unfounded, since I found the depth of detail ideal for the kind of listening that professionals need to be doing, and if you can take them on the road with you, so much the better.

Enough with my thoughts - let's get down to business, as SR has graciously offered to give away one free pair of Relays to a lucky Collaborative Piano Blog reader.

Here we go...

Competition Rules and Regulations

1. Send an email to collaborativepiano [at] gmail dot com with a) "Sol Republic Relays Draw" in the subject line and b) a link to your favorite Collaborative Piano Blog article in the body of the article.

2. Only one entry per person and per email address will be accepted.

3. The deadline for entries is Saturday, April 19th at 10pm EDT. After that I'll randomly draw one entry from the pool of accepted responses and announce the winner on the morning of Sunday, April 20th.

4. After that, I will put the winner in touch with the rep from Sol Republic - they will send you the headphones directly (not me).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Musical Culture is Quickly Becoming a Culture of Headphones

A few years ago, I had a lovely pair of full-size speakers that had a solid stereo image, crisp highs, deep bass, and filled a room with sound. When we moved into our new house, there was no longer any place for them so I gave them away.

Let's face it - the way we listen to music is changing very quickly. Music as a live activity is becoming increasingly challenging to promote, at the same time that the traditional speaker setup in home audio systems is in danger of becoming obsolete. Why?


This infographic from Sol Republic shows the sheer scale of the change, especially among millennials (people who became adults around 2000). The musical culture is becoming increasingly a headphone-oriented culture, and we as creative artists ignore this fact at our risk. What's more, people's use of music is becoming a private activity integrated into everyday tasks such as waking up in the morning, working out, or commuting.

The Collaborative Piano Blog community is known for their commitment to music, its creation, re-creation, and enjoyment. Music is our livelihood and our passion.

That's why I'm totally honored that headphone manufacturer Sol Republic approached me regarding a headphone promotion and giveaway for the CPB community. Stay tuned, as details on the promotion will be posted tomorrow morning...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Madama Butterfly In Under Three Minutes

Opera 5's latest irreverent synopsis looks at Puccini's masterpiece:

Opera 5 have a show coming up: Reynaldo Hahn's L’île du rêve and Jacques Offenbach's Ba-ta-clan on May 1-3 at the Theatre de Alliance Française in Toronto.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Weekend Links

Maker Faire 2008
Keyboard-driven vehicle
Here are some links from around the web that are worth a read:
Finally (via Slipped Disc), a short film about spending a gentlemanly afternoon with Arthur Rubinstein as he rehearses with Heifetz and Piatigorsky:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Beatriz Boizan Plays the Ernesto Lecuona Malaguena

Beatriz Boizan is quickly becoming an electrifying interpreter of the Spanish repertoire. Here is Beatriz's most recent YouTube video (she's wearing a Rosemarie Umetsu gown!) - a live performance of Ernesto Lecuona's Malaguena from his Andalucia Suite.

Two Tenors Talk About Jackie Evancho, Amira Willighagen, and the Child Singer Phenomenon

These guys are brilliant! Toronto-based tenors Chris Mayell and Isaiah Bell talk about the ridiculous nature of how the child prodigy script is more captivating than watching those who actually work at their art for many years:

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Music Class Resources Board on Pinterest

Handy charts, composition activities, clip art, rhythm games, Easter music math, and more - you can find it all on Kim Maloney's Music Class Resources page board on Pinterest. 

I'm not on it that much, but if Pinterest is your thing, you can follow me here

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Help the Silver Creek Organization for the Performing Arts Create a Documentary About Making Music After High School

There needs to be way more information available to high school students about music-making as a lifelong endeavor. It's just too much of a loss to our musical life if 90% of high school musicians never pick up an instrument again when they finish school, regardless if they want to be a professional or not. A Kickstarter campaign led by Paul Trapkus of Silver Creek High School aims to create a documentary that will educate people on ways to make music after graduation:
An enormous amount of individual work goes into the study of music, and teachers work tirelessly to encourage a lifelong learning of music in their students. Yet researchers and music educators estimate that only 10-20% of students are actually continuing their musical studies after high school. Many students quit simply because they aren't aware of the many ways to continue.

This documentary seeks to reveal those ways of continuing musical study after high school by following college students and adults who have done so. In addition to traditional ensembles, we will explore other examples of avocational music-making, such as jam sessions, a cappella groups, chamber music, and laptop orchestras. We intend to show that it is possible and even profoundly enjoyable to stay involved with music without necessarily majoring in it or making a career out of it. We will also examine the skewed value that our society places on music and how that impacts students' decisions about their futures.

We expect to finish the documentary and begin distribution by September. Your contribution will help us impact as many people as possible, especially high school students and teachers.

Here's their promotional video:

Best of luck to Paul Trapkus and his amazing group of students! With just over a week to go, they're just over halfway to their funding goal but still need a fair number of sponsors if their project is to go ahead.

An Australian Guide to Careers in Music

The Music Council of Australia's Music Career Wiki is an excellent resource for discovering the many options available in the music field, even if you don't happen to be living Down Under. The Performance category is quite large, and has sections for musical directorsballet pianists, repetiteurs, and accompanists.

On the repetiteur skillset:
Repetiteurs need a broad range of performance and musicianship skills. They need good piano technique, excellent sight-reading skills, and to be quick learners. They have to be able to follow a beat, accompany singers (including conducted music), transpose music at sight, understand conventions of scoring, reduce orchestral music to a keyboard part at sight, reduce accompaniments and orchestral reductions further, and reduce vocal lines, ensembles, and chorus parts. They have to be able to cue singers and prompt in rehearsals and performances. Facility with foreign languages, especially the languages most commonly used in the standard opera repertoire (Italian, German, French and Slavic languages) is essential. This includes understanding the nuances of meaning and pronunciation necessary for correct interpretation of the repertoire. When accompanying, they need to be able to play and sing simultaneously, sing parts that are missing, and play the piano as if simulating the orchestra, including interacting the way an orchestra would with a singer. For the baroque repertoire they need skills as a continuo player, to be able to interpret figured bass in a stylistically appropriate way (particularly in recitative), and proficient harpsichord technique. Conducting technique is also essential, as are a strong knowledge of the repertoire and its performance practice and a love of imparting artistic knowledge.

Repetiteurs need teaching skills for the coaching, training and direction aspects of the job. They also need good interpersonal and communication skills, an even temper and patience, and the ability to stay calm in crises.

The outlook for accompanists:
The prospects for an accompanist in Australia are quite good, because there is a marked shortage of very good practitioners. There is a certain attitude among good solo pianists that it is demeaning to be an accompanist, but in actual fact very few concert pianists have the high levels of sight-reading and other performance skills needed to be successful in this field. Apart from the top professional level, working with instrumental and vocal soloists, there are literally hundreds of opportunities accompanying students doing exams, as well as choirs and theatre groups. Some tertiary music institutions also employ accompanists to play for students having lessons. Possible career pathways include specialising in vocal accompaniment, leading to the job of repetiteur in an opera or dance company. Accompanists, particularly repetiteurs, often become conductors because of their abilities in directing musicians and experiencing and interpreting vast amounts of repertoire.

Awesome job, Australians! Why can't North Americans get together and create a wiki as useful as this?

A World-Famous Pianist Sits Down to Perform. What He Does Next Will Amaze You.

I was browsing YouTube the other day when I chanced upon this unforgettable performance by David Tudor:

In the 60-odd years since John Cage's 4'33" was (cough) written, the controversy has abated somewhat, although it remains a difficult and risky work to perform. What I always notice is that the beauty of 4'33" lies in its stillness, something that is too often forgotten in the conception of music as a marketable product.

Music comes out of stillness and silence.

Silence is the origin of music, its ground of being.

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone!