Friday, March 24, 2017

Farewell Talisker Players

Some sad news from Toronto - Musical Toronto reports that Talisker Players will be ceasing operations at the end of the concert season. For 17 seasons, Talisker Players has been a leading proponent of vocal chamber music, and has commissioned 30 works since 1999. From the Musical Toronto article:
“With an organization like this, they do have a lifespan… and eventually you feel as though you’ve done what you’ve wanted to do,” said Talisker Players Artistic Director Mary McGeer in a phone interview. “The close of our season in May 2017 seems like the right moment to move on, to explore new horizons, and to embrace new projects.” 
McGeer clarified that the decision was not related to any financial difficulty, and the Talisker Players were proud to end operations with “an unbroken record of balanced budgets.”

A few videos that show the kind of material that Talisker excels at: a magnificently bearded Doug MacNaughton is joined by James McLennan in Flanders & Swann's The Hippopotamus Song:




Tenor James McLennan, clarinetist Peter Stoll, and pianist Peter Longworth perform Leslie Uyeda's Radishes, with words by Lorna Crozier:


Talisker's final show will be A Mixture of Madness on May 16 and 17 at Trinity St. Paul's Centre at 427 Bloor Street West.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Should You Be Dressing Down?

In many of the schools of music that I've visited in the last while, there's a lot of dressing down going on. Has anyone else noticed this?

Tyler Cowan (of the highly influential Marginal Revolution) writes in Business Insider about the practice of marking status through countersignaling:
Countersignaling is when you go out of your way to show you don’t need to go out of your way. The boss doesn’t have to wear a tie or even dress up. 
If he did, that would suggest he had something to prove, which would be a negative rather than a positive impression 
The next step is that the vice presidents also don’t have to dress up, and soon enough most of the company doesn’t have to dress up.
This is all very groovy, but what do you do if you're a recent graduate working in the music profession and you want to get ahead? It's not so simple. Tyler continues:
If you’re 24 years old and looking to get ahead, it can be tougher.   
There isn’t such a simple way to visually demonstrate you are determined to join the ranks of the upwardly mobile. Looking smart on “casual Friday” may get you a better date, but the boss will not sit up and take notice. In other words, a culture of the casual is a culture of people who already have achieved something and who already can prove it. It is a culture of the static and the settled, the opposite of Tocqueville’s restless Americans....
...The young and ambitious really can set themselves apart from the slackers, even if doing so looks conformist and stifling when multiplied and observed on a larger scale. Societies of upward mobility, when based on large and growing business enterprises, look and feel somewhat oppressive. Much as many of us might not want to admit it, the casual and the egalitarian are closer to enemies than to allies.
But I suppose it never hurts to slightly overdress for a professional occasion, even if it marks you as being one of the over-ambitious ones.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

John Adams' Chamber Symphony

Inspired by both Arnold Schönberg and the chaos of kids running around at a birthday party, the John Adams Chamber Symphony is a tremendously fun work to listen to and play. Here's Grup Mixtour at the Palau de la Música de Valencia in September 2014:




The difficulty of the solo parts is matched only by the difficulty of the ensemble work. I had the pleasure to play this work in Vancouver several years back with John Adams conducting.



Monday, March 20, 2017

The Origin of the Term "Collaborative Pianist" Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Some recently unearthed information casts some doubt on the commonly held assertion that Samuel Sanders coined the term "collaborative pianist".

Here's a comment from Aine Mulvey, who has unearthed scholarly work of Hamilton Harty, who used the term "collaborator" all the way back in1930:
Hi, I'm an Irish Ph.D. student, currently researching Hamilton Harty, who was a leading accompanist in London in the early 1900s. He disliked the term 'accompanist' and wrote a paper on 'The Art of Pianoforte Accompaniment' in 1930, in which he argued that 'collaborator' would be a more accurate term. I think it may be the first use of the term... I was curious, as it hasn't really caught on over here although I've heard it used in conservatories in the States and in Italy. I was doing some internet research to see if there was an earlier mention of the term or if Harty coined it. I think he pre-dates Samuel Sanders?
What about the first mention in the New York Times? A quick search on the Times site reveals that the first NYT mention is from none other than Joseph Horowitz in a 1978 review and is in relation to not Samuel Sanders, but Albert Lotto:
The program also included the Debussy sonata and Brahms's Trio in B (Op. 8). Albert Lotto was the strong, richly collaborative pianist in the Beethoven and Brahms works, and Carol Stcin Amado was the capable violinist.
It seems to me that Joseph Horowitz's words are in regards to how well Albert Lotto played in the ensemble rather than what he did for a living. But might Samuel Sanders have come across this article and might Joseph Horowitz's wording of this review have influenced Sanders' eventual desire to rebrand the accompanying profession a year or two later?




Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Casement Fund Song Series Presents Mortality Mansions

If you're in the NYC area on March 30, consider checking out Herschel Garfein's new song cycle Mortality Mansions, with texts by former United States poet laureate Donald Hall. Performers are pianist Dimitri Dover and tenor Michael Slattery. The program starts at 7pm at the James Room in Barnard Hall.

More about the program:

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford and National Book Award-winning poet Jean Valentine will read Donald Hall poems. Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine Dr. Rita Charon will join the artists in reflections on poet Donald Hall’s guiding themes of love, sexuality and bereavement in old age, and trace the unprecedented adoption of Mr. Hall’s work into the curricula of medical schools across the country. Mr. Hall himself will participate via remote video link from his farmhouse in New Hampshire.
Tickets are free, but you can book them here. Barnard Hall is located on Broadway just north of 116th  Street.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Philip Chiu Plays Ginastera....on a Mountain in BC

On top of a mountain in Revelstoke, BC, here's Philip Chiu playing the last movement of the Ginastera Piano Sonata Op. 1:




This video is part of the Noncerto classical music channel, and if you're interested in seeing more site-specific performances (such as a Mozart aria in a jacuzzi) you can find the complete playlist here If you haven't got a VR setup ready to go, you'll need the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or IE to view this one. The 360 effect didn't work for me on Safari, but as soon as I switched over to Chrome 56, it worked just fine.



New from Faber Piano Adventures

Those of you who teach Faber Piano Adventures might find some of these new publications and links useful:
  • You can find the Faber Piano Adventures complete catalog and desk reference here on PDF. Remember that with PDF files, you can search the entire document for specific text with Command-F on the Mac and Control-F on Windows.
  • Online downloads and support videos for their chord and scale books
  • New release: Hanon-Faber: The New Virtuoso Pianist, which revisits these well-known exercises from the viewpoint of contemporary piano pedagogical thought. Here's Randall on the thinking behind this new edition: