Review: Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele

Daniel Ward’s 30-page “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele” for ukulele players reminds me of the Hanon exercises I played every day as a budding piano player. That’s how I built my technique, after playing the scales and arpeggios in the key I was assigned, I’d play one piece from Hanon for the entire week. This sort of repetitive finger exercise gets you into a trance. However, I daresay, Ward’s music is a lot more interesting and pleasing to the ear than Hanon’s.

Continue reading “Review: Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele”

James Bond Theme for ukulele

Sir Roger Moore, who played 007 in seven James Bond movies, has died. The instant I heard the unfortunate news I also heard the James Bond Theme in my head. Continue reading “James Bond Theme for ukulele”

Spatial music: movement and sound in Nicolaikerk

Years ago, as a composition student, I was asked to write music to make use of the huge space in St Nicolas Church in Utrecht. Pressed for time, I adapted a piece for baroque recorders and baroque violin. Only at the premiere did I see the greater possibilities of space and movement.

Continue reading “Spatial music: movement and sound in Nicolaikerk”

Palladio by Karl Jenkins arranged for piano

Anne Ku arranged a piano solo version of Karl Jenkin’s Palladio – made popular by Escala.

Have you ever become so obsessed with a tune that the only remedy is to play it on your instrument? When I watched the following clip, I knew I had heard the music before — in London, but not for guitars. Continue reading “Palladio by Karl Jenkins arranged for piano”

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”

Gerald Schwertberger (1941 – 2014)

Austrian composer Gerald Schwertberger was a prolific composer who passed away on February 8, 2014.

Gerald Schwertberger was one of the earliest 20th/21st century composers we discovered — who had composed for piano and guitar. Robert and I performed his works at our debut concert in London in 2002. The works were easy, fun, and full of humor.

I’ve never been to Vienna. I’ve never met Gerald.

Continue reading “Gerald Schwertberger (1941 – 2014)”

How to find free sheet music

What is the secret to finding free sheet music online?

My piano students are all excited that they get to play a piece of their choice for their final recital. I said, “I will show you how to find free sheet music. I believe that we can always tailor a piece to your level of playing. This means you can literally play anything you want!”

Just over 10 years ago, an editor of an online magazine that I wrote for asked me,”Is it true that you can find free sheet music online?”

Nowadays, that’s an understatement.

Not only can you find sheet music easily online, you can also download them for free.

What’s the secret?

There are pianists eager to figure out how to play music they want to play, and if they also want to share, that’s the bonus.

There are youtube tutorials of how to play a piece, step by step.

There are file share sites where you offer your version of a particular music score, in exchange for music you want.

I participated in such a site. It was literally seconds before I got the score I wanted.

The secret is how to formulate the keywords to find the sheet music you want.

There are also avid music lovers who scan music they bought or got from the library or elsewhere.

There’s also the famous IMSLP project. I tell my students: there’s a world-wide phenomenon of scanning and sharing sheet music of works of composers who have been dead for seventy years, for after that period, they and their relatives and heirs lose the copyright.

Sheet music will soon be ubiquitous.

…. but only for those that can read music notation.

And that’s where I come in.

I teach people how to read music!

Birds of a Feather by Chip Michael

Musicians that don’t live together can still play together. Check out the symphony by Chip Michael.

Birds of a Feather by Chip Michael

How do you get musicians to play a symphony when they don’t live together?

Ask composer Chip Michael.

Allan Segall, composer, pianist, and playwright

Amsterdam-based American composer Allan Segall goes beyond music to write his first play in Estonia. Anne Ku recaps their friendship.

How do performers meet composers and commission works from them?

I met Allan Segall during the intermission of a concert in Amsterdam in spring of 2004. The encounter left such an impression on me that I wrote an entry in my online journal. A few months later, I invited him to my Steinway welcome party in Bussum. He introduced a simple but sticky solo piano piece that I played and recorded for the event. As with most if not all compositions, Intermezzo comes with a story. I would love to include it in my solo piano project but I would need the score in electronic form.

Allan was intrigued by our piano guitar duo. He said that he enjoyed writing for “neglected ensembles.” By that, he probably meant rare combinations. We invited him to the premiere of the first piano guitar duo written for us. Afterwards, he declared that he would write a duo piece for us.

Allan’s output was a work that required several years of practice to get it right. I’m still not entirely sure that we got it right. “When J.S. Bach, Igor Stravinsky, and the Who met” is a terrifically difficult but exciting piece. It’s like time travel, with Bach counterpoint, Stravinsky harmony, and echoes of Tommy the rock musical. I daresay it’s the first time that the guitar is louder than the piano. We premiered it in Cortona, Italy in 2006. The USA premiere was on Maui in 2007. We finally released the CD of that Maui concert earlier this year. You can hear a short sample on CDBABY.

Cortona Contemporary Music Festival 2006: Anne Ku, Allan Segall, Robert Bekkers
Cortona Contemporary Music Festival 2006: Anne Ku, Allan Segall, Robert Bekkers

Once allowed to flourish, creative people have no boundaries. Allan Segall has now expanded his powers of creation beyond music. He wrote the play “Detox the Dummy” which premiered in Estonia recently. I remember when he was working on it. Our friendship nearly suffered during the period he was going through “detox.”

Watch the TV video below for an interview (in English) with Allan Segall. Don’t let the unsubtitled Estonian language deter you from seeing clips of the play.

Detox the Dummy