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”

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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”

Background music to Vinyasa Yoga

Background solo piano music to a yoga session in Maui led one practitioner on a trip down memory lane.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended my first yoga session since returning to Maui. The new instructor put on piano music as background to the 1.5 hour session. At first it was not intrusive, for I did not recognise any of the pieces. They seemed like improvisations or new age music that’s not familiar.

This sort of music was what I had been collecting as background music to play in hotels and social occasions: music that is unfamiliar and not intrusive.

After awhile, the music got repetitive. I could figure out the same pattern of chord progressions. Very tonal. Very predictable.

As I lay there on my back with one leg on one side and my arms on the other in a typical “twist” position, I listened to the music and started wondering who wrote these solo piano pieces. More questions arose.

Who played them?

Where did the yoga instructor get her music?

Would I recognise any piece?

Was it all piano music?

How did the instructor select these pieces? Was it a pre-compiled selection specifically destined for Vinyasa Yoga?

Just when I was about to give up trying to figure out the music, or more importantly, whether I could have played and recorded a selection of my own favourites, I heard a chord that I recognised.

It was Debussy’s Clair de Lune. A hesitant introduction to a scene in the movie “Twilight.” I forgot yoga. I started listening actively. This interpretation was different from mine. What’s next?

Erik Satie. Gnossiennes number 1.

While I was listening and hunting for the correct title – not Gymnopedies but Gnossiennes, I also thought of the composer’s background and life. I was no longer conscious of the yoga moves or the yoga positions but completely absorbed in the classical music world that I had left behind in the Netherlands.

Surprisingly, after Satie, came Brahms. It was one of his many intermezzos that took me through my brief stay this past summer in Holland.

After Brahms, I expected more romantic music but instead it regressed to an early Baroque piece. Perhaps it was Bach. Perhaps it was a reduced version of a work used in film music. I could not pin it down. But it reminded me of the piano solo transcription of the theme from one of his harpsichord concertos that was used in the movie “Hannah and Her Sisters.” I played and recorded it on my Steinway in Utrecht, Netherlands in early August 2011.

Anne Ku plays Bach’s theme from Harpsichord Concerto used in “Hannah and Her Sisters” (mp3)

When it ended, I came back from my trip down memory lane. What next?

Just two chords and I knew it was Chopin. It was a nocturne I had played before. It was not my favourite but it was definitely familiar. I had once aspired to record an entire CD of Chopin for my mother but I became too critical of myself.

The yoga session ended when the nocturne ended.

Remembering the Body of Your Dreams Concert on 1st July 2011

Anne Ku remembers the 1st July 2011 concert of Nathanael May the way she planned it and invites the guests to comment.

Rather than writing a review of the two back-to-back concerts on the first weekend of July 2011 at the Monument House, I would like to invite the guests to LEAVE A REPLY below with their comments. Already I’d like to thank Susan Raddatz for her photos and blog reviews.

What led me to organise solo concerts for two different artists on two consecutive evenings with two different caterers, plus fundraising activities, masterclass, panel discussion, and an opening act? Never at the Monument House, had we undertaken such variety besides the live music. Could it be a desire to reciprocate and replicate all that we learned on our 24-concert coast-to-coast tour of the USA since October 2010? Or simply a desire to share with audiences in the Netherlands?

There was the option to have the two American pianists to share a programme, each giving half a concert, and simply repeat it the next evening. Being a culture vulture, I wanted all of one artist, not twice of two halves. I mistakenly assumed that others could afford the time to indulge in two separate concerts on two consecutive evenings at the beginning of the summer holiday season.

There was no grand plan in organising these concerts. It was rather ad hoc and piecemeal, largely due to the fact that I was on the other side of the world when the planning began. In January 2011, I spoke to Nathanael May about his travel plans for Europe. For the first time since 2005 when he first launched his music festival in Italy, Utrecht was on his way.

Knowing how busy and popular organic wine tasting was, I booked Eveline Scheren immediately. Nathanael told me about Texas-based pianist Brendan Kinsella, who was a guest faculty at the same festival. I reserved 1st and 2nd July 2011 on my calendar. When I returned to the Netherlands on 28th May 2011, I started looking at the details of what Nathanael and Brendan were going to play. The one piece that stood out above others was Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis‘ “Body Of Your Dreams,” which I had first seen performed by Thomas Rosenkranz in Cortona, Italy in 2006.

By mid-June, with less than 3 weeks before the concerts, I considered adding a pre-concert dinner. Where would I get a chef? On Sunday 12th June 2011, just before my outdoor yoga event in the back garden, I attended a house concert of Carol Ruiz Gandia who mentioned that her friend had catered for more than 30 people not long ago. This was just what I needed to attract more people to come. Chef Alberto prepared an authentic Andalucian meal for 20 people on 1st July 2011.

Chef Alberto prepares a traditional meal from Andalucia, Spain. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Chef Alberto prepares a traditional meal from Andalucia, Spain. Photo: Susan Raddatz

As I wanted to try some of the fundraising techniques I learned in the USA, I decided to include a Raffle Draw, Silent Auction, and CD sales. Not everything translated culturally I soon discovered. Local merchants, unlike those in the USA, were not used to being asked to donate items for auction or raffle. I managed to get my fitness club on the other side of the canal, BodySports, to donate several summer passes (unlimited group lessons for 2 consecutive weeks) and Ton van den Ijssel, the bicycle shop behind our home, to donate several 100% T-shirts. The closest word in Dutch to “raffle” was “lotterij” or “lottery,” and the concept was strange in the context of a classical concert. Silent auction was even more foreign. Nonetheless, we did manage to encourage several risk-taking guests to put their bids for a barbecue dinner with us, guitar lesson, sightreading workshop, our 3-CDs produced in Maui, a set of speakers and amplifier, and Paul Richards “Fables, Forms, and Fears” CD (with Nathanael May’s Strung Out Trio).

Raffle table at the Monument House Utrecht. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Raffle table at the Monument House Utrecht. Photo: Susan Raddatz

Thankfully wine tasting was popular, and organic wine even more intriguing. By asking Ms Scheren to provide the wines, we hosts freed ourselves to attend to the artists and the guests. In the past when we purchased the wines ourselves and allowed the guests to pour their own, we risked certain guests drinking too much, staying too late, and causing problems with other guests. Verdict: wines should be served and not self-served.

Organic wine tasting from Biowijnclub.nl   Photo: Susan Raddatz
Organic wine tasting from Biowijnclub.nl Photo: Susan Raddatz

Quite late in the planning, I suddenly remembered that we had offered master class and workshop at two previous house concerts. Would anyone be interested in participating? The Dutch are fond of master classes, but the inclusion in the publicity was too late. Tom Rose, who recently launched his own blog for learning to play the piano as an adult, was the lucky recipient of the coaching of both pianists on 1st July 2011 from 5 to 6 pm. He played Haydn:  Sonata in F Hob XVI No. 23 1st and 2nd Movements and Martinu: Etude in F.  Last piece in Book 3 of Etudes and Polkas.

Masterclass: Tom Rose with Nathanael May and Brendan Kinsella. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Masterclass: Tom Rose with Nathanael May (left) and Brendan Kinsella. Photo: Susan Raddatz

The changing weather in the Netherlands was kind on 1st July 2011. We were able to hold the Andalucian dinner outdoors in the back garden. The highlight of Chef Alberto’s menu was the Pisto Cordobes acompanado con pan en aceite de la tierra: vegetables cooked for hours with tender loving care, resulting in irresistible mouth-watering heavenly goodness.

Traditional Andalucian dinner by Chef Alberto. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Traditional Andalucian dinner by Chef Alberto. Photo: Susan Raddatz

In the back of my mind, I wanted to hold a panel discussion, much like the one I facilitated at the house concert in San Francisco last November after a pre-concert dinner and sightreading workshop. Given the budget cuts in the arts and the negative impact of global recession, I was very much interested in the survival of classically trained musicians. Clearly our conservatory education had not prepared us for this. Could we learn from successful musical entrepreneurs? I invited Amsterdam-based mezzo soprano Carla Regina to talk about her foundation Voice Actually and pianist Nathanael May to talk about the contemporary music festival he founded in Italy. Both musicians went beyond the usual career path of performance to establish new vehicles that served others.

Panel discussion by Carla Regina and Nathanael May. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Panel discussion by Carla Regina and Nathanael May. Photo: Susan Raddatz

5 pm Master class

6 pm Doors open for pre-concert dinner

7 pm – 7:45 pm Panel discussion

8:15 pm Opening Act: Robert Bekkers, guitar

  • Andante Religioso from El CATHEDRAL, Preludio A. Barrios Mangore
  • Allegro from BWV 998 Prelude J.S. Bach
  • CAPPRICHO DIABOLICO M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco

8:40 pm Concert: Nathanael May, piano

Five Preludes
by George Antheil (1900-1959)
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
John Carollo (b.1954)

In a Landscape (1948) by John Cage (1912-1992)

Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental (1980) “for piano and tape” by Charles Dodge (b. 1942)

Intermission

Intermission. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Intermission. Photo: Susan Raddatz

Preludio (2011) by Ada Gentile (b. 1947)

Rain Tree Sketch II (1992) by Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)

The Body of Your Dreams (2004) for piano and boombox” by Jacob Ter Veldhuis (b. 1951)

Nathanael May selects the first raffle prize. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Nathanael May selects the first raffle prize. Photo: Susan Raddatz


Selected videos of Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo

Here is a new page on our Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo website of selected videos of our duo and trio performances in rehearsal, master class, and live in concert. http://www.pianoguitar.com/video/

Many years ago, my friend Stuart told me that we should make videos of our performances. Back in those days, few people had video cameras. The output from those cameras was not in a form we could easily use. Technology has exploded by leaps and bounds since then.

Today I can make a short video with my mobile telephone. It’s good enough for youtube and fast enough for blog readers. I use bluetooth technology to upload to youtube and embed it into a blog post. Simple. Fast.

Because it’s so simple and fast, we have now videos of solo guitar and solo piano performances in different settings, but still not enough of our duo performances. Why not? We need a third person to make the videos.

Here is a new page on our Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo website of selected videos of our duo and trio performances in rehearsal, master class, and live in concert. http://www.pianoguitar.com/video/

Bach’s Badinerie is one of our earliest videos, a home video from August 2007 that has received more than 2,000 viewings. We play a lot better and faster now. We should replace it with a new one. But we’ll need someone to video us playing it!

Quattro clavicembali e archi, Firenze

A memorial concert for a teacher who had passed away a few years ago. The concert was also dedicated to a harpsichord teacher who was retiring after 40 years. She played on her own harpsichord for the final piece: Brandenburg Concerto number 5 with violin, traverso, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

My mother and I took a nap after lunch so that we’d be ready for the evening concert. Afterwards I stopped by my landlady’s home for a chat. She wasn’t there but her son welcomed me in. “May I play your piano?” I asked. 

I got carried away sightreading Mozart and Chopin. We had twenty minutes to walk to the conservatory, a building which backed against the famous Galleria dell’Accademia. It should be fairly easy to get there from our palazzo apartment — through the Duomo Square going northwest.

For some unknown reason, I couldn’t find it. We walked. We stopped. I consulted the map. It was dark. My mom flagged down a passerby to enquire how to get to the Academy. 

“Galleria dell’Accademia?”

“Si.”

“Michelangelo David?”

“Si.”

I was panicking by the 9th ring of the church bell. It was 9 pm. We were nowhere near the state conservatory. I hate to be late. I was so set on getting to the concert on time that I had temporarily forgotten that we were on holiday.

Was it necessary to rush, panic and drag my mother to a concert that wasn’t advertised for tourists? That I had to check and double-check for the location and time? We had already seen one concert earlier in the day. Besides, it was Halloween. Everyone else was costumed up to party.

Recalling high school geometry, I steered us parallel and perpendicular to a familiar street. Through the glass doors, I saw well-dressed locals walking into the concert hall. We had arrived. I sprinted to the door and heard the musicians tuning in the background. We could still make it.

The ushers looked past me with concerned faces.

“Are you all right?”

Who were they talking to? I turned around.

To my horror, my mother was crouched on the ground. She had fallen.

She smiled apologetically as someone pulled her up. 

“Are you okay, mom? What happened?” 

She had missed a step just before the glass door. When I looked at her, I suddenly realised that she wasn’t 17 but 70. I wasn’t 21, but I behaved like a 12 year old totally disregarding my mother who tried to keep up my fast pace.

The concierge asked if she would like some water and led us upstairs. People were still arriving at 9:10 pm.

We peered into the hall. The view was even better than downstairs. Quickly we walked to the first row where, as if it was intended the entire time, two seats were freed up for us. 

What a view it was! But neither of us had brought our cameras. 

Four harpsichords sat side by side. [Two grand pianos sat idle against the walls.]

A programme of Bach with string quintet. A transcription of Vivaldi. BMV 1065. MBV 1063. My favourite BMV 1060.

A memorial concert for a teacher who had passed away a few years ago. The concert was also dedicated to a harpsichord teacher who was retiring after 40 years. She played on her own harpsichord for the final piece: Brandenburg Concerto number 5 with violin, traverso, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

As I type this, I’m multi-tasking to make sure we get to tonight’s free concert on time. A countertenor, flautist and organist will perform at San Maria de’Ricci at via Del Corso at 21:15.

Title translation: Four harpsichords and string quintet