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”

Eine Kleine Nacht Musik for Easy Piano

Anne Ku arranges Mozart’s famous Eine Kleine Nacht Musik for easy piano for four different levels, for solo or ensemble playing.

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.

Continue reading “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik for Easy Piano”

Piano music for Veterans Day

Besides the obvious patriotic songs, what music is appropriate in recognition of Veterans Day on November 11th?

No sooner than giving a concert for Halloween, I was ready to research music for Veterans Day.

University of Hawaii Maui College’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) will recognize this important day on Wednesday November 12th, 2014, with open house from 10 AM to 2 PM. My piano class will be playing music to suit the occasion. [More information at UHMC Music Blog.]

Continue reading “Piano music for Veterans Day”

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”

Reasons for attending a classical concert

My reasons for attending a classical music concert have changed over time. On Maui, it has become a social outing, to meet others with the same interests.

The reasons I attend concerts have changed over time. Initially I went out of curiosity. Several factors made it possible in London: I lived near a music college, and I was between jobs. I was looking for inspiration and direction.

Eventually, as a composition student, I went to concerts to learn the repertoire. As a chamber musician, I attended to observe best examples of performance.

Continue reading “Reasons for attending a classical concert”

Classical guitar lessons in your home in Newton, Massachusetts

Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers offers private guitar lessons in the comfort and convenience of your own home, in Newton, Massachusetts.

Breaking news!!

Classical guitarist Robert Bekkers is offering private guitar lessons in the comfort of your home in Newton, MA (ranked 4th out of 100 best places to live in the USA).  He brings a wealth of experience from years of teaching pupils aged 3 to 80, in Dutch, English, and German. Here is a chance to study under a sought-after and versatile musician.

Currently Mr Bekkers teaches at the prestigious South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA, lauded for the continuum model of artistic education and recognized as a national model for success.

When not teaching, Mr Bekkers gives concerts as a soloist and chamber musician, most recently appearing at the anual Boston Guitar Festival. He specializes in custom-tailoring music for guitar solo or guitar and other instruments for any occasion. At time of writing, he is preparing for his own arrangement of music requested for a wedding for flute and guitar, July 13th.

Prior to moving to Boston to pursue his doctorate in musical arts (DMA) at the New England Conservatory, Mr Bekkers toured as a guitar soloist across the USA for three weeks, and earlier with his piano and guitar duo for 5.5 weeks coast to coast, and sojourned on the island of Maui in Hawaii for the 3-month winter season 2010-2011. Before relocating to the USA where he is now based, he taught all genres of guitar, performed actively as classical guitarist, arranged music for guitar and other instruments, and transcribed music for flamenco guitar. Needless to say, he is a prolific musician catering his music to the needs of his audiences and pupils.

Robert Bekkers, classical guitar teacher, tel: (832) 231 5518 Newton, MA
Robert Bekkers, classical guitar teacher, tel: (832) 231 5518 Newton, MA

For more information about Robert Bekkers, visit his website at

For more information about Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo, visit

Classic FM London in Maui

With internet radio, I can listen to practically any station in the world anywhere.

This morning I’m listening to one of my favourite stations — Classic FM. It’s the station that accompanied those years I lived in London, educated me the composers and their works that laid the foundation for my interest in classical music. I had Classic FM Radio on all the time — first as background music and then as a necessity to my daily life.

Later when I studied music history in Utrecht, Netherlands, I learned to appreciate how accessible the radio programmers made the music to the audience.

Today I am in my home in Maui — a sunny day like any other. The outdoor washing machine is on. I am indecisive about going swimming. The day is young. I switch on to Classic FM at 10 am HST: David Mellor’s special edition of St Patrick’s Day tribute. It ended with an orchestral arrangement of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”

Thereafter John Suchet presented Beethoven: The Man Revealed. His perspective was from that of Beethoven in love. Each time he fell in love, he wrote a piece. The stories behind the Moonlight Sonata, the Appassionata Sonata, and Fur Elise are simply fascinating.

Listening to Classic FM London in Hawaii makes me realise that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.

I find myself doing my filing and my chores as background to active listening of Classic FM from London.

Art music in Maui: a critical mass of audience for sustainability

Art for art’s sake only may be sustainable in a big city like New York, London, or Amsterdam. But on Maui, where there are plenty of other things to do outdoors, to sit down and watch a concert indoors without coughing or speaking for 2 hours seems a sacrifice if you’re only here for a week.

But if you live on Maui, it’s another story.

Continue reading “Art music in Maui: a critical mass of audience for sustainability”

Boston: the mecca of brain candy and classical music

The brain candy of classical music is available in abundance in Boston, the highest concentration of institutions of advanced education.

I wrote on my Facebook that I was visiting Boston for classical music and brain candy. I timed my arrival so I could attend Robert’s solo guitar concert at the New England Conservatory. Little did I realize that Boston had the highest concentration of colleges and universities — and with that, brain candy.

My graduate school classmate Kathryn, who specialized in corporate governance after running several restaurants, coined the term “brain candy.” Our brains need topics to chew on. It’s more fun to share candies than chew alone.

Before Robert’s solo guitar recital began, I recognized someone from a distance. It was the composer Tom Peterson whose piano sonata I had played, recorded, and blogged about. I had last seen him in Phoenix in early November 2010. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona. What was he doing in Boston?

Before Phoenix, Robert and I had invited him to dinner in London where he was finishing his masters degree at the Royal College of Music. Before London, we had met, for the first time, in Cortona, Italy, in July 2007.

As it turned out Tom was in Boston to see the Celtics game that same evening. He had seen the announcement of Robert’s guitar concert on Facebook. He decided to surprise us. Actually he was in this part of the world for another reason — the premiere of a commissioned piano solo piece for the Fisher Prize in New Haven, Connecticut.

Tom, his tuba-player friend, Robert, and I convened at Uno Grill and Bar Restaurant after the recital. We chewed on music for brain candy. When we parted our ways, Robert and I went to yet another concert that day — a string quartet in Jordan Hall.

I don’t think I have had such an in-depth discussion of classical music, composition, and performance since last summer in Utrecht, Netherlands, where we made brain candy out of music.

I have forgotten what it’s like to travel via mass public transit and eavesdrop. In the Netherlands, I could not, but here in Boston I could. On the “T” which is also the oldest metro system in America, I overhear conversations among students, teachers, business people, and tourists. Sometimes I get the urge to join them. Maybe that’s how I’d get more brain candy!

Kiri Te Kanawa in Hawaii

Reflecting on the concert of Dame Kiri on 1st October 2011 in Maui, Anne Ku reminisces the pure unamplified sound of classical music she misses. The population of Maui is simply too small to attract the big stars on a regular basis. What else is there?

For those of you that are curious what Dame Kiri sang in her one-off concert in Maui on 1st October 2011, read this review of the same programme in Honolulu two nights earlier. I didn’t recognise any of the pieces listed except the English songs and the encore of Puccini’s O Mio Babino Caro.

The first thing she did when she got on stage was to address us and praise the hall. Clad in her full and long purple dress, Dame Kiri charmed the audience first by saying  “How lucky you are to have Castle Theatre.” We were indeed privileged to have such a world-class concert hall, fully air-conditioned with a 1,200 seating capacity. She mentioned the professionalism. Indeed the Steinway concert grand was professionally moved and tuned.

But how sad for Maui that stars like Dame Kiri are few and very far between.

In the run up to her concert at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, I learned that the population of Maui was around 150,000. Despite millions of visitors, Maui permanent residents number half of Utrecht, Netherlands — where I had been living since 2006. It’s also half of the London Borough of Ealing. One question lurks: “can such a small population attract international stars to perform here?”

Elton John did. His two concerts were also sold out in advance. I sat across the road on the Maui College campus to hear him last February.

Can we tap the millions of tourists to support a unique genre like classical music or even operatic music?

There are too many other activities that tourists would do — for free. The weather. The beach. The surf. The ocean. The mountains. Tourists have already paid dearly in $$ and time to get here. At $75, Dame Kiri was more expensive than hanging out on the beach.

Conclusion: there are too many competing activities to attract visitors while the permanent population of Maui is too small to attract the big stars.

What about classical musicians that are not famous? Can they draw an audience?

This past April, I turned pages for the opening concert of the annual Maui Classical Music Festival. It was well-attended by ticket holders. In its 30th year, the festival continues to draw a full house in various locations. But it’s just one week per year!

What does it take to have high quality classical music on this island? It is so rare that one attendee of the Dame Kiri concert in Maui asked me, “Does she have a microphone?”

I am aching to write about the pure sound of classical music, unfiltered and unamplified. Or I should say the RARE sound of such pure music. I would have to fly to Honolulu to get it live.