Crowd funding Eureka! Orchestra

Could crowd-funding be THE way to ensure orchestra concerts happen?

Or more specifically, to get new orchestras started?

Established orchestras have a board of experienced and well-connected advisors, a reliable donation program, regular donors, a long mailing list, contracts with its members, and a lot of planning in advance. New orchestras have to prove themselves. Some do so with hot items such as up-and-coming young conductors and soloists.

Unitas Ensemble’s crowd-funding campaign exceeded its goal in less than two months before its debut concert on May 3rd.

Another new orchestra — the Eureka! Orchestra — is asking for less than half that amount in two weeks’ time. Besides works of Mahler and Beethoven, the orchestra will perform the well-loved Aranjuez Concerto of the blind composer Joaquin Rodrigo, without requiring amplification of the classical guitar. A representative of Rodrigo’s family said, “I am most happy to learn that the Concierto de Aranjuez will be performed in the frame of a title such as Heroism and Transcendence. Yes indeed, it is truth in the entire body of works by Joaquin Rodrigo.”

Below is the first movement performed by guitarist Robert Bekkers (for his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree) and conducted by Kristo Kondakcsi at the New England Conservatory a year ago.

I’m convinced that crowd-funding is THE way to go for new orchestras and new concerts.

  1. First, not everyone who donates is able to attend. This is their way of participating, through their donations and being kept abreast of the developments. They get mentioned and acknowledged in the program. They see their money going to a good cause.
  2. Second, starting a new orchestra is like starting a restaurant, according to Eureka’s conductor Mr Kristo Kondakcsi. Why would anyone want to do that?  Because it has a new chef? An orchestra is driven by its conductor. Because it offers new tastes? Orchestra-goers, like restaurant-goers, want new sounds.
  3. Third, new start-ups carry risks. And there are people who want to take that risk. They are willing to pay for the risk and even remove it so that new endeavors take root and happen. And there are people with the money who want to give to such ventures.
  4. Fourth, if we stick with the established, i.e. the orchestras that have name recognition and advance season tickets and programs, we stick with the known and the safe. How will we discover new orchestras? New conductors? New soloists? New works? Sometimes it’s exciting to bet on the unknown. And that’s what a successful crowd funding campaign offers.

Kristo Kondakcsi explains the importance of making the music relevant to the audience so that the orchestra can speak to many different kinds of audiences. He says, “The idea of Eureka for example is very moving, because the mission revolves around music as a platform for social thinking and social change; the idea that music exists as a currency for people to connect to and with each other, in the same way that money exists as a currency for people to incentivize progress and work together.”

I just wish I could be in Boston for their May 16th concert at St John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston!

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New orchestra in Boston: music of Latin America

Is it possible to start a new orchestra when older, established orchestras are struggling, consolidating, or disappearing?

Why not? The Maui Chamber Orchestra had its first season, generously supported by those residents that want to see classical music thrive on the island where once there was an established orchestra.

In Boston, where the incumbents of Boston Pops and Boston Philharmonic dominate, is there room for smaller and younger orchestras? 

The Unitas Ensemble is trying to do just that. Their crowd-funding campaign aims to raise enough for their debut concert in early May. Robert Bekkers, who co-founded the Monument House Concert Series in The Netherlands and a mariachi band in South Holland, will appear as a soloist.  The ensemble is full of other young entrepreneurs such as the cellist from Colombia who has actively performed in public spaces in Boston so people could hear what it sounds like. 

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Eine Kleine Nacht Musik for Easy Piano

Mozart’s “Little Night Music” was originally written for string ensemble, consisting of string quartet plus an optional bass. I played the quatre-mains version with my classmate Jeff Beaudry one summer at New College, Oxford for a talent contest. We won a bottle of champagne which we shared with the other team at our next bridge game.

There are many performances of the first movement on Youtube.

Meanwhile, the score is easily and freely downloadable from IMSLP. Click on the image to get the full scores in PDF.

Since the students in my morning piano class all managed to sightread the easy version in C major yesterday morning, I was tempted to arrange the original version in G as a transposition exercise. As students span many levels and I prefer a fuller sound, I adapted the famous opening for my two classes to try tomorrow.

The following are arranged for four easy pianos. Each is independent of each other. As we have 20 digital pianos and two grand pianos in our classroom, we can easily spread ourselves into the four different levels.

Level I is the easiest, using both hands to play the melody but reading both in the treble clef may be troublesome for some (excuse the pun).


Level II is slightly harder, with the bass line.

Level III includes the harmonic accompaniment of the second violin.

Level IV fills in the rest of the harmony, below.

Eine Kleine Nacht Musik for easy piano level 4

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So nice!

“Can you teach me to play this,” asked my friend Joan in a Facebook Message in mid-October.

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Piano Medley on Bach’s Prelude in C

A piece for performance needs to be long enough for the audience to digest. There is such thing as a minimum and optimal length for the listener. Easy piano pieces are often deemed too short. One strategy for beginning piano students to play a piece long enough to satisfy the ear is to combine what they know into a medley.

How does one arrange a medley?

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Extracts from Reviews: Morgenstern Trio

After the concert, I asked to be led to the back stage to meet the three musicians of the Morgenstern Trio from Germany. I remarked that the program was not one about “destiny” as the cellist indicated in his speech but one on “death.”  I added that it was refreshing to hear serious music — one that was unamplified. Here on Maui, I explained, we hear a lot of “happy” music that’s always amplified. We get a lot of background music, too.

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Review: Morgenstern Trio

The Germany-based Morgenstern Trio performed at the McCoy Theatre of the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on Friday October 24, 2014. As usual, it was the ONLY classical concert with a piano in it that I knew of, back in August 2014 when the 16-week semester began. As such, I urged my piano students to save the date. Every semester, I require my students to attend an approved concert and write a review. At the end of the term, I extract the best bits, edit, and post a blog here.

One review stood apart from the rest. It’s not a typical review by any means but one written by a student who writes daily and aspires to write fiction. I’ve received his permission to publish his review in its entirety.

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