Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HBD Joh. Brahms

Brahms's birthday came and went. 179. And doesn't look a day over 150. The first modernist composer (thanks, Peter Burkholder!); the founder of our musical feast. It seems that everyone who has played piano trios has had that early-relationship infatuation - playing the first movement in particular over and over again till the wee small hours. Honestly, piano trios don't get much better! We have talked about a series of concerts playing all the duo sonatas (another genre that doesn't get much better than this...) Audiences don't seem to get tired of this stuff, and nor do performers. So thanks Joh. Brahms and we'll raise a program or two to you this coming year.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Road trip

So we’re finishing up a road trip – Corinne is riding shotgun, with not one but two small yellow note-pads, one for creating lists of lists of things that we are going to do next; the other with questions and agenda items from before. Our new PA, Cecile, has given us a list of questions about things we like, feel, hope for the group etc with which she is going to magically create a design strategy, for the website, other publicity materials etc etc.
We have just played (this morning) at the Southern Chapter conference of the College Music Society, held at UCF in Orlando. We played 2 movements of the Schoenfield Café-Music at the end of the performance session this morning. And were gratified that the audience had swollen from the 14 who were there at the beginning of the session. The conference was combined with Music Theory Southeast, and many of the presentations were by theorists – some of which we heard, and which were, well, over our heads a little… But heard some good things, met some interesting people, including a lady whose thing is Tangos – she is going to send us several of her arrangements, and we are looking forward to that.
Corinne had agreed to play on a composers’ concert last night, and liked the piece (by Jonathan McNair) – unfortunately the pianist she had rehearsed with took ill that afternoon, so she ended up playing with a very talented student from Miami, who learned it on the spot.
We are going to enjoy these road-trips it seems – we have pretty complementary personalities, and still all get on very well (oh the horror stories one hears!) We discovered the joys of Applebees dessert shooters – a smallish portion that give you a taste – in this case, of chocolate mousse, strawberry cheesecake, and key lime pie – have a taste, pass it on, that kind of thing. We went to a Mexican restaurant that was recommended to Greg by a guy at a bar…. Anyway, it was ok – we did enjoy the tableside guacamole. And lots of sorting out the problems of the world, new ideas for the trio etc!
Lots to do when we get back – not least, beginning to bullet-proof the new pieces we will play in NYC – Takemitsu and Zwilich. And of course lots of little absences from one and another of us, to keep the scheduling interesting 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Therapy without the co-pay!

Say it isn’t so – February?

Big discovery of the day? Learning new music, or 20th century pieces we don’t know, is like couples’ therapy – or maybe triples’ therapy I suppose one should say. We are working our way through the very beautiful Between Tides, aka piano trio from 1986 of Toru Takemitsu, that quixotic epigrammist; two weeks ago we took part in the biennial New Music Festival at FSU, playing a piece by Alan Anderson; and have started on Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s trio. Anyhoo – the process of learning these things together, rather than each learning and then combining (as we do with 18th or 19th century works, for instance) has been the best thing we have done in terms of forming the group. Turns out that we find very different priorities – all about communicating and feeling each other, rather than having our 3 (sometimes disparate) ideas about how it should go. What we have done recently of more traditional stuff has felt quite different. It’s like those couples’ exercises where you just practice communicating – mirroring, for instance, where Person 1 says what s/he feels and Person 2 does not react, but just listens, repeats it back (to check that they got the message, and to allow P 1 to feel that s/he has really been heard), and then maybe verbalizes how s/he imagines that must be from the other Person’s point of view. Surprisingly powerful and effective by the way. But I digress – in the trio this also has been developing skills we didn’t even know we lacked. Really can’t speak highly enough of how much it helps the level of communication, listening, showing and responding to what is most important (rather than the distracting “ideas” one gets when the notes aren’t so concentration-consuming!)

We are starting our second attempt at personal assistant – the first left town, which we knew would happen, but then realized that actually he wouldn’t have time to put into our needs… So her first priority is the long-overdue web page! We do have an email list to start with (sign up! - triosolis@gmail.com), but obviously need SO much more!!

We played a concert in Jacksonville, trying out part of our NYC program; repeated it in Tallahassee the following weekend – discovered that Babajanian actually would be a good closer! Many of the folk in Tally (who are more forthcoming with their opinions…) liked that one a lot. So we will start in NYC with Ghost, finish with Baba, and put Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (http://www.presser.com/Composers/info.cfm?Name=ELLENTAAFFEZWILICH) and Takemitsu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C5%8Dru_Takemitsu) in between – something for everybody! More later about these choices.

Our next project, equipped with these superb intrapersonal skill will be Paul Schoenfield Café-music at a Faculty Showcase concert (or Faculty Show-off as one of my Chinese students called it) preceding an audition day at FSU, then again at the CMS conference in Orlando -- Sat 11.15 (http://www.music.org/pdf/conf/reg/so/2009schedule.pdf) Fun fun, and a reward for the hours of therapy we’ve been in!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our heroes’ progress so far:
1. Meeting with Anne Midgette and Greg Sandow
2. Facebook fan page!!
3. Email account for the group, with online calendar we can use for availabity etc.
4. Meeting with ourselves
5. Sending proposals to CMS (College Music Society) for performances – state, national and international.
6. Rehearsing!!
7. Beginning to investigate live-streaming
8. Meeting with our new PA, Chase.
9. Turkey time

1. We had a great meeting several weeks ago with Anne Midgette and Greg Sandow to discuss next May’s Weill Hall recital. Anne worked for the NY Times for years (now chief classical music critic at the Washington Post), Greg is a composer, columnist etc. And they were both terrific people for us to get a little time with. Our starting point was “How To Get a Review In NYC” – knowing at the outset that it is almost impossible to! But we had wondered about interesting repertoire, inviting famouser-than-us guests to appear on a piece etc.
The response came: you can’t. See Greg’s beautifully put memoir of it -- http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/2008/10/how_to_promote_a_concert_aka_m.html
But we came up with all kinds of interesting ideas, which we are picking away at – as we guessed, the time issue is hard one, amid other music, family and life commitments!

2. Started a facebook fan page – not very developed yet, but getting there. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Trio-Solis/32743914027

3. Set up gmail account (TrioSolis@gmail.com) for group use, and to allow us all to access an online calendar showing group things, and also when each of us is out of town or otherwise unavailable, to help in planning.

4. We have met several times, discussing: rep; strategies for getting ourselves on various maps; rehearsal schedules – up until the break, and going into next school semester – when we will have weekly rehearsals programmed into our schedules; we decided to hire an assistant – the terrific Chase Cobb who is finishing up a Masters degree in Arts Admin here at FSU;

We have actually rehearsed a couple of times!!! Partly to try out pieces – we are still not 100% certain of our rep for Weill hall. But having read it through, are happy to confirm the vivid and exciting trio by Arno Babadjanian.

5. We submitted this to perform at the international College Music Society conference in Croatia next June/July, and were accepted for that. Unfortunately we are no longer available at that time – but good to know they wanted us! Have not heard back from the Florida conference yet, and are in the process of applying for the National conference in Portland next fall

6. Well, reading through at least. The Baba[spellcheck is not so keen on the full name..], Beethoven Ghost , which will tie in with the trio by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich [spell check loves that one too] who has ongoing ties with FSU. We are looking at other works too – some New Zealand pieces for the connection to Read, and for the CMS conference that will focus on Pacific Rim music.

7. So it turns out that Weill Hall has all the set up for livestreaming – investigation by our Asociate Dean responsible for the concert came up with a price tag of $12k for the equipment; and almost $20k using their techs to run it, which apparently would be required. So that’s not happening! At least not like that – more later on other options we are looking at.

8. Yesterday we had our first group (and billable J) meeting with Chase, who is going to help us out administratively . At this point we are going to try 3-4 hours per week – there is much to do, first and foremost setting up a web-page we don’t cringe over… will keep you posted. Came up with a bunch of other ideas for the group – including the question of playing for troops, somehow – Read liked the idea of playing in a flak jacket; Corinne had a very worried look on her face, and eventually said ”I just keep seeing these two little faces..” – her adorable young sons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Day World

Another blog, huh. Something that has now and again crossed the mind of this hard-working, underpaid pianist and professor – but would I have the, well, sense of self, shall we say, let alone the devotion and time to mine the recesses of my mind to find anything of interest to anyone…?

Well, existential angst aside, the time is now, as they say. After many years of hoping, longing and yearning, I am part of an ongoing piano trio. Pianists are a lonely bunch, of course – all those hours alone at a keyboard, hammering deep thoughts out into the ether. And while the trio rep is not quite the Schatzkammer available to string quartets, there is an awful lot of good stuff out there. And despite the wonderful previous occasions playing these – in music school, summer festivals, pick-up gigs here or there – still, the dream of a group who lived together with these pieces, working together in a range of situations – who knows, maybe even having some of those soap-opera scenas the quartets get to write about….

Well so far, there has been: a long and exhausting search for a name; a concert, learned, and performed at a wonderful local retirement community the night before one of us left for foreign parts; and a benefit concert for the local NPR classical music station (WFSQ) scheduled 2 nights after one of our members returned from foreign parts…in the end we were given a boon from on-high when the threat of a tropical storm (this is Florida, after all) caused said benefit to be delayed by a couple of weeks. We got to rehearse!!

But coming up, we have several concerts in several states, a Weill Hall concert in May (and who doesn’t love that Big Apple), a Beethoven Triple in the Gewandhaus no less – and who knows what else. The days are early.

So here it is – the inauguration of The Trio blog. The life and times of mid-life musicians embarking on a new and exciting project. The Three Musicteers. Or just a really good time for us and our friends. Time, as they say, will tell. In the meantime, wish us well