Premiering new work for guitar orchestra: Beaser’s Chaconne

Premiering a new work is always a nerve-wracking experience, especially in front of the composer and an unknown public. I’m not sure who has the greater pressure, the composer or the performer, or in this case, the conductor.

On Sunday 18th March 2018, the Boston Festival Guitar Orchestra, made up of several regional guitar ensembles, including Boston Guitar Orchestra, gave the world premiere of Robert Beaser‘s Chaconne, a piece commissioned by the Boston Classical Guitar Society for the New England Guitar Ensemble Festival (NEGEF).

Continue reading “Premiering new work for guitar orchestra: Beaser’s Chaconne”


Fly Me to the Moon for Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday

Anne Ku arranged a version of the popular Sinatra song Fly Me to the Moon for easy piano with full fingering and chords — and free download of the 2-page sheet music.

2015 is a year many Sinatra lovers will celebrate with songs that he made famous. One of these is a favorite among my piano students. Each year, a new pianist will ask to play “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Continue reading “Fly Me to the Moon for Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday”

The flower of sanshin: san shin no hana 三線の花

A love song played over loud speakers at the 2015 annual Maui Okinawan Festival brought back memories of growing up on Okinawa.

At the annual Maui Okinawan Festival, I heard three youngsters announce the songs they would be dancing to. When one of them added “and this one is my favorite,” I took out my iPhone to record it and began my journey of discovering this famous song about the Okinawan instrument. Continue reading “The flower of sanshin: san shin no hana 三線の花”

Rose Concert 2015: Father’s Day, the Brain, Alzheimer’s Disease

Anne Ku connects the themes of rose, Father’s Day, the brain, and Alzheimer’s Disease to pay tribute and raise awareness at the Rose Concert 2015. She premieres Emre Aki’s “Little Angel” dedicated to his daughter.

Two years ago, I gave my first Rose Concert at Roselani Place, a home named after the rose in central Maui for elderly residents. When I ran out of songs about the rose, I ventured into songs about other flowers like jasmine, cherry blossoms, etc.

This time, on Friday June 19th, I also paid tribute to Father’s Day (Sunday June 21st) and National Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month. Call it a concert to celebrate the beautiful minds of Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, and Scott Joplin.

Continue reading “Rose Concert 2015: Father’s Day, the Brain, Alzheimer’s Disease”

Jason Mraz I Won’t Give Up for piano ensemble

Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” is a ballad suitable for arpeggio accompaniment, in the key of E major.

Unlike “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz‘s “I Won’t Give Up” is a ballad, requiring broken instead of block chords. Similar to “I’m Yours” the chord progressions repeat: A/E E | E | A/E E | A/E E | E | Bsus | B |

Continue reading “Jason Mraz I Won’t Give Up for piano ensemble”

Jason Mraz I’m Yours for piano ensemble

Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” is very suitable for piano ensemble. One group can play the melody. The other can play the reggae shuffle accompaniment. The same four-chord progression is repeated throughout, with a few interruptions of a fifth chord at predictable spots.

I discovered Jason Mraz one night watching “The X-Factor” and other talent contests on Youtube. His “I’m Yours” sounded very familiar, for the ukelele version that’s played in the Hawaiian Islands. Then I saw his face on the cover of the latest edition of “On Maui” magazine.

Continue reading “Jason Mraz I’m Yours for piano ensemble”

Makana plays my request

In my MUS107 “Music in World Cultures” cable TV class, I tell my students to consider many aspects of experiencing live music, not just the performer, the performance itself, the music (and lyrics), and the choice of instruments.

How you experience music has a lot to do with the space you’re in.

Continue reading “Makana plays my request”