Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Collaborative Piano Blog is 10 Years Old!

CPB circa 2006
10 years ago, I embarked on a journey of exploration, discovery, and long nights figuring out how to format sidebars in HTML. Since then, the blogging journey has introduced me to the wide variety of career options in collaborative piano, what it is and is not, its tough decisions, wide educational opportunities, and professional challenges.

And since starting the blog, I've found my own professional direction changing, from a mostly performance-oriented one to a busy schedule that attempts to combine a happy medium of performance, teaching, writing, and administration.

Hugh Sung of A Musical Life had a chance to interview me for his podcast a few weeks ago, and the depth of research that he did prior to the show's taping helped him to ask me some wise and pointed questions about my development over the last 20 years, including what my Vancouver experience meant to me and why I left it, why I started the Collaborative Piano Blog, the joys and disappointments of freelancing, why I moved into the piano pedagogy field, and how 2005 was a genuinely pivotal year for me. If you have a free hour and you're interested in an interesting take on my musical views, you can find the episode here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Daniel Gundlach Plays and Sings Janis Ian's Stars

Daniel Gundlach's recital with Lloyd Arriola last week at the Church of the Epiphany in NYC looks to be a fine indication of the route that the art song recital needs to take if it is to survive outside the conservatory setting: a program that freely uses rep from a wide variety of styles and genres for piano and voice, crafted with a clear trajectory. Here is Daniel playing and singing Janis Ian's Stars, which opened the program:

The full setlist:
Stars (Janis Ian)
Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren (Franz Schubert, Johann Mayrhofer)
Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) (Don McLean)
Mein schöner Stern (Robert Schumann, Friedrich Rückert)
Lost in the Stars (Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson)

La vie en rose (Louiguy, Edith Piaf)
Estrene de la rose (Georges Enescu, Clément Marot)
Roses (Janis Ian)
La rosa y el sauce (Carlos Guastavino, Francisco Silva y Valdés)
The Rose (Amanda McBroom)

Die junge Nonne (Franz Schubert, Jacob Nicolaus Craigher de Jachuletta)
Gocce di pioggia su di me (Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Umberto Scipione)
Es regnet (Kurt Weill)
Desperado (Glenn Frey, Don Henley)
Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg)

Rêve d’amour (Gabriel Fauré, Victor Hugo)
My Ship (Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin)
Nacht und Träume (Franz Schubert, Matthäus von Collin)
Dream with Me (Leonard Bernstein)
J'avais rêvé d’une autre vie (Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boulblil)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dudley Moore Plays and Sings Fauré and Schubert

I did not know that Dudley Moore had such a voice for the art song repertoire. On the program:

- Fauré's setting of Verlaine's "La nuit, c'est la nuit"
- Schubert's setting of Heine's "Die Flabbergast"

(YouTube link)

(Thanks Suzanne!)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Terrence Dawson on the Collaborative Arts and the Developing Musician

Vancouver-based pianist (and former colleague from my time on faculty at the University of British Columbia) Terence Dawson makes a brilliant case for the study of the collaborative arts in the education of every pianist in his essay Collaborative Arts and the Developing Musician in Sparks & Wiry Cries:
Let’s face it: Pianists are often told that the mere act of producing sound on a piano is “too easy”! It is certainly true that pianists do not have to be concerned with breathing or intonation. However, much effort is directed towards becoming physically involved with sound production. Pianists often include these aspects when discussing music. Technique study for pianists involves intense listening to enable a singing line that includes breaths in appropriate places. It includes hearing harmonies, voicing, and discriminatory listening for tone and timbre. We speak of linking notes with the fingers for the development of a seamless, supported legato. In short, we strive to hear our repertoire in a symphonic sense, borrowing generously from the language used by our fellow instrumentalists and singers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Help Support Oshawa Opera's Kickstarter Campaign To Fund Its Upcoming Fidelio Production

I really feel for singers entering the profession these days. The announcement that Ottawa's Opera Lyra is closing operations follows on the heels of Opera Hamilton's demise last year. There must be regional opera companies in Canada that can offer solid opportunities for emerging singers, pianists, orchestral musicians, and theatre professionals if the profession is to thrive survive.

So it is with much interest that I've been following the genesis and growth of Oshawa Opera, a startup company located in one of Toronto's eastern suburbs. Under the direction of Artistic Director Kristine Dandavino, Oshawa Opera is starting small, focusing at present on concert productions but with an eye on much larger things.

In order that Opera Oshawa can meet its costs, contribute to Oshawa's cultural life and grow enough to hopefully qualify for government funding soon, Kristine has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its November production of Fidelio. The goal of the campaign is $999 (already 30% funded at time of writing!), which will go a long way towards making the Fidelio production financially viable.

I had a chance to catch up with Kristine earlier today on Facebook, and she had the following to say about the project:
Producing opera can be expensive. But it does not have to be. At Oshawa Opera, we keep the concerts under 2 hours and we aim to create a welcoming environment for all audience members to experience the vocal arts. We continue to offer free admission to children under the age of 18, in order to support tomorrow's adults. I love seeing young children putting coins in the donation box and asking questions about the production. We need money to pay our musicians. 

In Canada, opera companies are dying. There are very few opportunities for singers to learn their craft outside of Universities or Pay-To-Sing programs. Our goal at Oshawa Opera will always be to pay the singers. If it means we never have an orchestra, so be it. The singers will always come first. Sets can wait. Paying for expensive advertising can wait. First and foremost, we want to be able to pay the singers for their dedication.
If you are able, please contribute to Oshawa Opera's Kickstarter so they can become a cornerstone of the regional opera scene that Ontario desperately needs!

Franz Liszt Was Born on This Day in 1811

"Franz Liszt by Herman Biow- 1843" by Herman Biow - pianoinstituut.nl. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.204 years ago today, Franz Liszt, one of the 19th century's greatest pianists, composers, and teachers was born in the village of Doborján in Hungary. Liszt studied with Beethoven's student Carl Czerny, went to Paris to seek his fortune and moulded his pianistic style and public image after that of the violinist Paganini, becoming not only one of the great pianists of the century, but remaking the public figure of the musician into that of the rock star.

Here is Georgina Sutton playing Liszt's Sonetto 104 del Petrarca:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's on Deck for the Rest of 2015

Haven't seen these Urtexts before? You're in for a treat...
As is often the case with working in the arts, it's either feast or famine. This year, I'm finding myself with the busiest year on record, with well over 50 students (mostly in Oakville, with a small number at the RCM), a busy examining and adjudicating schedule, continuing duties as Adjudicator Certification Program Specialist at The Royal Conservatory, and new duties as Vice President of the ORMTA Hamilton Halton Branch.

These are changing times in the arts and in music education, and no one has been able to nail down my thoughts on the way things are going more than Colin Thomson of the Modern Musician podcast when he interviewed me for Episode 39 in late August.

If you're in the Oakville area in the next week, you can see me in Meet the Pianist, a short lecture recital for the Oakville Symphony on Saturday, October 24 at 10 and 11am. Admission is free but by reservation, so be sure to call 905-844-6920 or email osochildrenconcert [at] gmail.com to reserve your seat in the Studio Theatre of the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts.

See those lovely Mozart Urtexts in the picture above? They're part of a set of new scores that Ron Sacks of Dover Publications recently sent to me for review. Yes, you can expect to see more product reviews in the near future, although with my busy schedule there might not be as many articles coming out as I would wish.

My free ebook 31 Days to Better Practicing has reached thousands of readers in the last few years, and will soon be both revised and have a new home! I'll announce more details in the next while, but fear not - it will always be offered as a free download.

Finally, the Collaborative Piano Blog's 10th birthday is coming up in November. I haven't got anything planned in the coming weeks, but if you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!