Review: classical guitar concert at UH Maui College

by Tyler Millard

The University of Hawaii Maui College hosted a classical guitar concert — as part of the 16th Annual Benjamin Verdery Maui Guitar Class. This event had three of the finest classical guitarists perform for our community: Ian O’Sullivan, Aaron Cardenas, and Christopher Mallett. The concert was held in the ‘Ike Le‘a Lecture Theatre in room 144 on UHMC campus, on Friday July 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm. Continue reading “Review: classical guitar concert at UH Maui College”

Producing an event without being there: classical guitar concert on Maui

Anne Ku reflects on the decisions and steps required to produce a concert, specifically, the first and second classical guitar concerts at Maui College.

It is entirely possible to make an event happen without being there. If we’re to deconstruct the steps to produce an event such as a classical guitar concert, we can see what it takes in the following phases. Continue reading “Producing an event without being there: classical guitar concert on Maui”

Piano Medley on Bach’s Prelude in C

Anne Ku’s Piano Medley on Bach’s Prelude in C from his Well-tempered Clavier is an example of floating different recognizable melodies on top of piano, suitable for voice or violin or flute with a keyboard instrument.

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?

Continue reading “Piano Medley on Bach’s Prelude in C”

Halloween Piano Concert: music from horror films

Halloween music can come from horror movies or those with ghosts, vampires, monsters, and other fantasy creatures. Anne Ku gives a piano concert to celebrate this occasion on Maui.

In the spirit of themed piano concerts, I decided to do one for Halloween, after my previous one for Earth Day in April 2014. Because Halloween is so popular in the USA, rather than run away and hide from trick-or-treaters as I usually do, I thought I’d face the music and celebrate with an audience that may appreciate a journey down memory lane.

The word Halloween originates from “All Hallows’ Even” or “the eve of All Hallows’ Day.”  All Hallows’ Day is simply another name for All Saints’ Day, the day the Catholics commemorate all the saints.

Continue reading “Halloween Piano Concert: music from horror films”

How to overcome stage fright

Some of my confident piano students admitted to “nerves” or “stage fright.”

This is not uncommon for first time performers.

Continue reading “How to overcome stage fright”

Concert etiquette for performers

When you google “concert etiquette” you get tips on how to behave as a member of the audience. This article is not about that. It’s about how performers should behave so that the audience will appreciate the performance.

I asked my piano students how they felt when the performing student didn’t bow or look at them when he/she got on stage and off/stage. They weren’t quite sure.

Continue reading “Concert etiquette for performers”

TEDxMaui 2013

I was introduced to TED.com a few years ago by a fellow Rotarian in the Netherlands. I’m convinced that it really is an idea worth spreading, and one that needs such a viral introduction at first. I probably would not have stumbled upon it had he not told me about it.

The value of videos on TED.com grows over time because it becomes a database of useful and inspiring presentations & performances all over the world, largely through TEDx. The way the presenters engage and empower the audience on topics that are timeless and yet timely is one reason why it will live on.

We performers have much to learn from its success.

TEDx are produced in different locations around the world. Maui started its own in 2012 with presenters somehow related to Maui or Hawaii.

On Sunday 13th January 2013, I attended the last 3 segments of the TEDxMaui 2013 production at the Castle Theatre of the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC).

I was most impressed by the ability of certain speakers to convey a knowledge or skill that I had originally considered complicated in a way that made me learn and see the beauty of its simplicity. The elder explorer who taught the audience how to navigate the Pacific Ocean by the stars gave us a taste of that extraordinary craft of ancient Polynesians. The Hawaiian musician Mahala made us chuckle and laugh while he showed us the secrets of the slack key guitar, in particular, his view that each of the 6 strings represented a different instrument.

The lights were not off as typical of most performances. They were ON — because the audience was just as important as the performer(s).

Audience engagement is more important now than ever before.

My burning question was this: why was TEDxMaui able to attract a full-house at the 1,200 seat Castle Theater but not Dame Kiri Te Kanawa?

Real-time crisis management of concert performers

Giving concert is all about real-time crisis management. There are many surprises: venue, instruments, acoustics, staff, audience, traffic.

Recently I found myself describing the busiest period of our duo’s life as that of real-time crisis management. Each concert was real-time. Each concert held surprises. We could never fully anticipate  what might go wrong. It took a lot of practice (giving concerts) to get good at dealing with the unexpected.

Continue reading “Real-time crisis management of concert performers”

Reasons for attending a concert in Maui

In Maui, where classical concerts are few and far between, the place to meet other classical music aficionados is at such events.

Today, Haydn’s The Creation is being performed at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC). The MACC is to Maui as the Concertgebouw is to Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall to New York.

The soloists, a large choir, and an orchestra were put together specifically for this grand work. It is happening right now —- as I type. Why am I not on stage or in the audience?

For someone as keen on music as I am, I should be at every such event at the MACC or elsewhere on Maui. To find myself writing this blog instead of attending this concert is baffling.

I had toyed with the thought of going there. I was asked to substitute as accompanist for a few sessions but my workload prevented a resounding “yes, I’d love to do it.” I next heard of it when several singers mentioned the performance. Eventually I brought up the subject in conversation.

It would be a simple $25 to secure a seat. I had asked my mother if she wanted to go. She wasn’t sure. Someone else invited me to go with her family. My initial yes changed to a no later in the week. The thought of going with others to an event was very appealing. I could even make a date of it with any number of other “single” music lovers.

Why this vacillation? Why not a definite commitment?

As this is the only concert in town —- the only remotely classical work on the island of Maui for a month, it seems obvious for all who appreciate classical music to attend it.

If I were hungry for classical music, I would go to this one-off event — Sunday 19th August 3:30 pm at the Castle Theatre at the MACC. As the theatre seats 1,200 people, there is little risk of selling out.

There I would meet other musicians, classical music connoisseurs, on stage or in the audience. It would be the world I belong to and the one I have been accustomed to.

There lies the rub.

I am not hungry enough for classical music to give up my Sunday afternoon. Now I am beginning to understand why it is so hard to get people to come to a concert. If it’s not a free concert, one weighs all these other activities that are equally or even more compelling. For me, sitting outside, typing on my iPad keyboard, with a cold glass of homemade iced tea is far more relaxing and worthwhile than sitting indoors among strangers in a cold, air-conditioned hall for 2 hours. How often during the week do I get to sit outside? None.

Free concert for freeloaders

We arrived at the public library at exactly 2 pm, just when the concert was to begin. It was an old habit from my conservatory days —- never arrive too early to have to wait, but arrive just before it’s to begin. In this case, we had been cycling through colorful neighborhoods visiting open studios of artists. It was a beautiful sunny day, and giving up 1.5 hours (from our open studio journey) to a concert seemed almost a waste.

Except it was free. That made it worthwhile. The open studios were free. We even had a free lunch provided by one of the artists. Had it not been written in our plan, we would have skipped the piano concert and spent the rest of the afternoon on our bicycles.

There were many leaflets on the table in the concert hall. We grabbed the single A5 sheet program and the library newsletter.

A black grand piano stood on wheels on stage. From the sign “Please do not play the piano” it would appear that the piano lived there. It was not rented or brought into this space for the occasion. As a pianist, it’s my second nature to locate venues that have resident pianos, especially grand pianos.

A man welcomed us to the concert and announced the name of the pianist. We clapped and watched a young lady try to open a heavy door from the side. Out of courtesy and respect for the young pianist, we clapped until she arrived at the piano bench and bowed.

While she played, I started to hear other sounds.

The shuffling of paper.

The opening of candy wraps.

The sucking and popping of candies.

The movement of chairs.

When the music got louder, the ladies behind us started to talk. “Is this Chopin?”

I got so annoyed that I decided we should move our seats during the intermission. We waited. Just before the second half, we made a dash for the front row. We were no longer sitting in front of the candy-slurping ladies.

The second half was several decibels louder than the first half. Whereas the first half was lyrical, the second half was deliberately fast, furious, and intense. The audience sensed it. This gave some the license to talk, move, and annoy us even further. The lady behind us began to open, squeeze, and close her old plastic bag. I cringed.

The Korean pianist was excellent. She played selections from Albeniz, Grieg, Chopin, Tann, and Beethoven effortlessly. She even gave an encore of Chopin’s famous Scherzo. I couldn’t wait to talk to her after the concert.

The audience? I gave the audience an F. I couldn’t wait to get away.

But how could I possibly complain? It was a free concert after all. The audience could do as they please. I daresay this was probably the main reason I chose to organize concerts in my own home. Such audiences are not welcome. I set the rules.

No shoes.

No leaflets.

No candy wraps.

No plastic bags.

And you have to pay for the privilege of attending a house concert.