Labeques at the Roundhouse

Katia and Marielle Labeque have been playing duo piano for years, but in case you didn’t know that, here is Madonna to introduce you to the famous sister pianists.

Tune in here on Sunday 1/31 to hear the Labeque sisters play Stravinsky’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Satie’s Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire, Debussy’s En Blanc et Noire and Berio’s Memory, as part of Many Hands – a whole day of pianos culminating in an evening of up-to seven pianos with Rolf Hind and friends at the Roundhouse in London, the final concert in the Reverb Series.

Read an interview about the concert with Katia Labeque here.

Earl Wild

The great Earl Wild passed away on Saturday at age 94. I spent time over the weekend reading about him and listening to his performances and even watching him teach in this master class on Youtube, appropriate since he was the first pianist to stream a performance over the Internet in 1997. Best known for his performance of virtuosto showpieces and for his piano transcriptions, Mr. Wild performed up until his 90th birthday and coached pianists up until the week before he died.  He will be missed.

House Concerts

House concerts are all the buzz these days. They are a terrific way for musicians to bypass the gatekeepers and perform in an intimate setting for an enthusiastic and forgiving audience. There is a give and take between performer and audience that just doesn’t happen in the concert hall.

According to a recent article in SFgate

Most house concert aficionados speak about that bond between the musicmakers and music lovers in terms that verge on the spiritual.

Unlike clinky clubs and coffee joints, home concerts encourage audiences to create “the elegance of silence,” said Daniel Patrick, a partner in Marin’s Murphy Productions. “The place of presentation allows for that and encourages that behavior. You’re creating the moment.”

“The thing about a house concert is that it’s communal,” said popular songwriter, record producer and music teacher Caren Armstrong, 54, of Oakland. “Everybody brings something to make it happen.”

Although house concerts are usually associated with folk and jazz musicians, classical music is coming around to the idea of house concerts, much like the salons of Paris during the time of Chopin and Liszt. The NYT had his article last month about Steven and Judy Gluckstern whose house concerts have raised $1.5 million for Classical Action, a fund-raising program of the AIDS organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Glucksterns presented their house concerts in their beautiful Soho loft, which became known as Carnegie Hall South.

The chandelier, a cone of blue-green blown-glass spirals reaching almost to the floor, became a concern the night the soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and the mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick sang an aria from Bellini’s “Norma.”

On a smaller scale, The Music Studio has been host to two creative performances recently: this one in November, and then last weekend we played Rubberball Piano and Theremin, featuring music of Ives, Schubert and the rubber balls, of course.

Last week I was fortunate to receive a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Project Grant to fund a series of salon recitals at The Music Studio during 2010. Hopefully this is just the first step in a thriving self-sufficient musical series!

Byron Janis on Interpretation

Sometimes there are certain slurs or dynamic markings in piano music that just don’t feel right, no matter how you try to make them sound convincing. Here’s an article that just might put your mind at ease when you decide to tweak a piece to fit your own interpretation. According to Byron Janis

In 1960, I opened the cultural exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and brought Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata to play. Never having performed it before, I wanted to play it for the composer first. On arriving at his home, I found him tinkering with one of its passages and said, “Mr. Copland, I notice you are playing forte and you have marked it piano in the score.” He turned to me grinning mischievously and said, “Ah, but that was 10 years ago!”

Some 200 years earlier, Chopin would have made a similar remark. Only he would have said, “but that was 10 seconds ago!” Julius Seligmann, president of the Glasgow Society of Musicians, attended a recital where the composer played his new “Mazurka in B flat, Opus 7 no. 1” as an encore. According to Seligmann, it met with such great success that Chopin decided to play it again, this time with such a radically different interpretation—tempos, colors and phrasing had all been changed—that it sounded like an entirely different piece. The audience was amazed when it finally realized he was playing the very same mazurka, and it rewarded him with a prolonged, vociferous ovation. It seems he had facetiously decided to show why he had no need to republish a score—the magic of interpretation would do it for him. He would often say, “I never play the same way twice.”

Read more here.

Emerge Already in 2010

In preparation for several upcoming “salon” recitals at The Music Studio, I’ve been planning ways to get a the new generation of tech-savvy musicians involved and excited about attending. In other words, I want to take the “stuffiness” out of the words “classical music recital.”

The first “salon” is coming up in only two weeks and features a theremin player. We’ll be performing some Schubert arranged for theremin and piano and something a little more “out-of-the-box” called “rubberball piano.”  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? The Music Studio seats 25 comfortably, but we managed to squeeze in 50 at our last performance. Hopefully we’ll have a similar turnout this time.

Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about promotion. Social Networking through Facebook invites, Twitter, email lists… this is the way to go. But still, I have a nagging feeling that I’m going to have to start thinking about “branding” in 2010 and I probably should make it my New Years Resolution.

Luckily, I found Jade Simmons on Twitter and YouTube with her new series “Emerge Already” and I highly reccommend you to tune in. I first noticed Jade when I was glued to my computer in June watching the Van Cliburn podcast. She was a natural, knowledgeable and likeable host! Now she’s got a new project and I can’t wait to put her advice into action. Her tagline — You are the boss of your own Art.

Get the tweets here, the vids here, and the whole scoop here.