Waltz by John Carollo

Anne Ku met composer John Carollo in Cortona, Italy in 2006 and in Honolulu in 2011. Carollo’s Waltz written in 1986 evokes Satie and Debussy. Listen to a recording from the Netherlands.

John Carollo, composer, and Anne Ku, blogger, Honolulu, 3 April 2011
John Carollo, composer, and Anne Ku, blogger, Honolulu, 3 April 2011

On Sunday 3rd April 2011, while sightreading 81 short piano pieces entitled “80th Birthday Jingles” by the Honolulu-based composer John Carollo, I came across an old work of his from 1986. John, whom I first met in Cortona, Italy in July 2006, walked out of his kitchen and came towards me.

“I haven’t heard that in awhile.” He seemed caught off guard. Later, I learned that he had forgotten about this piece.

It was tonal music from his pre-serial days.

“Play it again,” he mused.

John had written this Satie-like waltz for his friend Bill whose surprise birthday party I had attended two nights earlier in a million dollar home in Hanepepe Loop. On Sunday in a penthouse in central Honolulu, we were just eating the leftovers from that executive chef-catered dinner when my playing of his Waltz evoked even earlier memories of his journey as a composer.

I liked it so much that I took it to Utrecht, Netherlands and recorded it on my grand piano on 4th August 2011.

Waltz by John Carollo, interpreted by Anne Ku (mp3)

Waltz by John Carollo
Waltz by John Carollo

Just yesterday afternoon I found the three of John’s CDs: the award-winning Ampersand, Starry Night for String Orchestra, and Transcendence in the Age of War. Now that I have time in Maui, I will listen to his works, although I have already heard one performed in my house on 1st July 2011. Pianist Nathanael May played his Prelude as the last piece of a set of five by the composers Antheil, Chopin, Gershwin, and Debussy as the opening to a house concert. (Programme 2-page PDF) It was well chosen before John Cage’s dream-like “In a Landscape.”

Immediately after I left Honolulu, John began composing a 9-movement work for my piano guitar duo. While we have not yet had time to rehearse the piece, I have already requested John to extend the second movement which is so addictive!

Born in Torino, Italy, John Carollo was brought to the U.S. by his adoptive parents.  John took piano lessons and began composing his first piano works while at San Diego State University where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Psychology.  Shortly thereafter, John moved to Honolulu, began a full-time mental health career for the State of Hawaii and started private composition lessons with Dr. Robert Wehrman. So great was his passion for composing that he quit his day job to compose full-time. Since then his works have been performed in Italy, Netherlands, and elsewhere. Website: http://www.johncarollocomposer.com

In Maui, what next?

A week after Anne Ku arrived in Maui, for the fourth time in her life, she is taking stock and taking it easy. There is much to do.

My fellow blogger Susan introduced the idea of placeholder blog posts to manage her readers’ expectations. Here’s a to-do list for myself and a preview of what is to come.

The last 2.5 months in Holland have been spent on house concerts, duo performances, video and audio recordings, piano sightreading sessions in Utrecht and Den Haag, yoga, hosting & entertaining visitors, dinner invitations, and getting the Monument House rented out so that I can be free of worry in Maui while Robert pursues his graduate diploma with full force and focus in Boston. There is still some outstanding to follow up, such as uploading pianist Nathanael May‘s programme to the Monument House Concert Series website and blogging / uploading of the home recordings of piano duets and piano solos.

On Saturday 13th August 2011, I left the Netherlands by way of a 5-hour layover in Chicago where I met the conductor and composer Kim Diehnelt. We had corresponded briefly via Facebook. I performed her Impromptu for solo piano and liked it. I will write something about my recording of it in an upcoming blog.

Next stop was overnight in San Francisco Airport where I met two composers who had submitted duets to my Call for Scores. I had earlier blogged about Loren Jones’ The Secret Door but had not yet met him in person. I will also write about Phil Freihofner and two other composers whose duets I’ve recorded with Utrecht-based Spanish pianist Carol Ruiz Gandia.

It has been a week since I arrived on Maui. The tropical climate agrees with me: no hayfever, no long sleeves, no jackets or gloves or socks. This Pacific island reminds me of my childhood in Asia. Without the need to prepare and anticipate for uncertain weather, I have more time at my disposal. I am free to go indoors and out without having to consider what to wear. And definitely I prefer papaya, pineapple, mango, and guava to apples and bananas.

I have much to write (blogs, abstracts for upcoming conferences, courses, etc) and read (Julia Cameron’s “The Vein of Gold” and Angela Beeching’s “Beyond Talent,” to name a few). Most importantly, I want to quickly get settled and equipped so that my life can continue as smoothly as before.

I am literally on the other side of the world from where I was a week ago. Whether I turn east or west, Holland is on the other side. So are my friends.

Ladies Night in Utrecht: seafood dinner with rose wine. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Ladies Night in Utrecht, 4 August 2011: seafood dinner with rose wine. Photo: Susan Raddatz

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. 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

Glass works on water at the Monument House Utrecht

Music after concerts at the Monument House in Utrecht by pianist Brendan Kinsella and art exhibition of Liz Miller.

After the thirty black chairs have been folded and removed from the ground floor, the Monument House is once again spacious and full of potential. Two days after the last concert of 2nd July 2011, I asked Brendan Kinsella to play something on the piano so I could capture that feeling of peace and freedom. That afternoon before he left for the Hague, we were sightreading the multi-hand piano duets I had collected — and thus the sheet music scattered on the floor. Earlier that morning, pianist Nathanael May, who gave the previous concert on 1st July, had left for Milan, Italy to open the annual contemporary music festival he founded in 2005 and still directs.

Continue reading “Glass works on water at the Monument House Utrecht”

Concert poster speaks a thousand words

Compare text to image to get people to come to a concert — a colour poster is needed to summarise all relevant information at a glance!

In my vain attempt to describe the upcoming house concerts we are organising for pianists Nathanael May and Brendan Kinsella, I completely underestimated the power of a single page image that says it all.

Here are the various e-mails and texts I sent out. Compare these words to a single image which speaks a thousand words. Thanks, Thera for asking yesterday, “Do you have a poster or something I can include in my invitations?” I persuaded Robert Bekkers to drop everything, stop practising, stop arranging music, and create a colourful image that contains all the information at a glance.

Summer greetings!

Robert and I have returned from our coast-to-coast concert tour & sabbatical in the USA for just a few months before we travel again in August. In our adventures through 9 states in 7 months, we learned much about American philanthropy and fundraising and successful approaches to house concerts. We would like to try them here, in our home, in welcoming two American pianists who are traveling to Italy for a festival, using the opportunity to fundraise for Robert’s graduate studies with Eliot Fisk in the Fall.

What is so very special about house concerts for art music (see 14-page PDF of my paper on this subject) is not just the live music in an intimate setting but also the community-building, networking, sharing of great food and conversation. We commit to organising 2 concerts from our home each year to revive that special 19th century European salon tradition.

Hope you will join us for these festivities of the first weekend of July 2011, each of them completely different except for the organic wine tasting, raffle, and silent auction.

Friday 1st July 2011 7:30 pm doors open for 8:15 pm
Body of Your Dreams Concert by Nathanael May, founder and artistic director of the Soundscape Contemporary Music Festival in Italy, since 2005. Optional Andalucian dinner at 6 pm.

Saturday 2nd July 2011 7:30 pm doors open for 8:15 pm
Kinsella Concert from Beethoven to Rzewski by Brendan Kinsella. Optional Vietnamese dinner at 6 pm.

The concerts of 1st and 2nd July are 12 euros (prepaid) – including a glass of wine. Optional dinners at 6 pm are 18 euros (prepaid, reservations).

We will have a raffle draw (lotterij) for prizes such as CDs, Monument House Glass Mugs, sportsclub passes, and more.

Please feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested. We are also accepting donations of items or services for the Silent Auction of value over 150 euros each.

Hope to see you & catch up!

Warmest regards,


Body of Your Dreams Concert Weekend at the Monument House, Utrecht
Body of Your Dreams Concert Weekend at the Monument House, Utrecht

Question is – how do I reduce the 1 page PDF to a file size below 1.7MB — perhaps to a manageable 300 kB?

Breaking news! Here is the reduced one page PDF with links (just 340 kB).

Next wish: if only I have a budget to print these posters in colour and the manpower to put them up at various locations in Utrecht! We will never say no to sponsorship!

Afternoon Tea Trio and Duets

The final day of the July house concert festival at the Monument House Utrecht, Netherlands is dedicated to exploring the future for classical musicians. Egyptian dinner for those who stay (reservations required) to discuss.

Also known as Trio Afternoon Tea and Piano Duets

subtitled: Musicians Open Day

What do we want to do after hosting two consecutive concerts from our home? Chill out.

I want to hear the brand new trio of French horn, concert harp, and soprano — an unusual combination.

Trio Afternoon Tea: Emile Kaper, Kitty de Geus, Maria Pozdynakova
Trio Afternoon Tea: Emile Kaper, Kitty de Geus, Maria Pozdynakova

I want to play and hear the new multi-hand piano duets that did not get performed in San Francisco.

But most of all, I’d like to get the two pianists Nathanael May and Brendan Kinsella to share their views on the future for professional classically-trained musicians and conduct a career workshop. To lure musicians to participate in the discussions on topics close to their hearts, I am inviting a professional photographer and videographer to make press photographs and videos. I am inviting Chef Hany to once again provide an Egyptian feast for all. We will have workshops on how to launch a concert tour, writing professional biographies, and advanced networking skills.

Like the two previous events in this weekend of house concerts at the Monument House, there will be organic wine tasting, raffle draw, and silent auction. What’s different is that the performances are FREE to the public. The dinner is again 18 euros (but including a glass of organic wine).

Musicians get a discount of 10 euros if they recruit 1 dinner guest; 5 euros if they recruit 2 dinner guests; and a free dinner if they recruit 3 dinner guests. Otherwise, they pay 15 euros (not including wine, which is 2 euros per glass). In other words, musicians (performer, composer, conductor, teacher) pay nothing if they get 3 guests to reserve/pay dinners, 5 euros if 2 guests, 10 euros if 1 guest.

Discussion panels topics:

  • future of classical musicians’ career (given budget cuts), i.e. how to survive as a musician after budget cuts
  • work life balance: how to have a career in music and have a family
  • concert touring: how to do this, costs and benefits, contacts
  • house concerts: variety of approaches, audience development
  • music for a cause: fundraising, publicity, and the new revenue model
  • what do you need to have a career in music? website? photographs? social media networking?

To reserve, visit the High Note Live website.

The concert itself is FREE — or rather, by donations only — similar to the Glass Vase Concert of 2011 concept.

"Blue and White Vases"  24x36 acrylic on hard board by Rob Judkins (2011)
"Blue and White Vases" 24x36 acrylic on hard board by Rob Judkins (2011)

Body of Your Dreams Concert

The Body of Your Dreams Concert by American pianist Nathanael May takes place on Friday 1st July 2011 at the Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands. Organic wine will be served. Limited seating by reservation only through High Note Live.

Acryllic by Rob Judkins
"Rings" 24"x48" acrylic on board by Rob Judkins (2009)

Everyone wants to have the body of your dreams. It requires conscious regular exercise and attention to a balanced diet. Without concerted effort, the body of your dreams remains in your dreams.

Dutch composer  Jacob ter Veldhuis (affectionately known in the USA as Jacob TV) wrote a piano solo work in which the pianist needs to listen to a click track tape of his remixed American television advertisement of a slimming weight-loss belt. The so-named “Body of Your Dreams” for piano and boom box has made its way into the concert repertoire of a new generation of pianists, further made popular by the body-builder pianist Andrew Russo.

The tape, CD, and now video broadcasts: “It’s one of the ea­siest ways ever to get your bo­dy in the sha­pe you want it. It helps to to­ne and tigh­ten your up­per abs, lo­wer abs, arms and legs with no sweat at all!. It’s one of the simplest, smal­lest and most com­for­ta­ble to­ning de­vi­ces ever. You can use it whi­le wat­ching te­le­vi­si­on, do­ing the dis­hes, mo­wing the lawn.”

In short, Jacob TV’s “Body of Your Dreams” is a clever take on the American finesse in marketing and obsession with fitness.

When American pianist  Nathanael May told me he had included “Body of Your Dreams” in his programme for the house concert we are organising for him on Friday 1st July 2011, I just had to give the concert this name. I met Nathanael in 2003 when he invited me to give a sightreading workshop in North Cyprus. Since then, he has invited our duo to Italy where he founded an annual festival of contemporary music, first in Cortona and now in its third location in the alps. The Soundscape Contemporary Music Festival has now expanded to offer scholarships for composers and performers each year.

The concert will take place in the Monument House, in the multi-cultural neighbourhood of Lombok in Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, and also known as the creative capital and home of the oldest Dutch university.

Along with the theme of “Body of Your Dreams,” we have booked Eveline Scheren to provide tasting of organic wines she has carefully selected from Italy, Spain, France, and Chile. I met Eveline at a Rotary club meeting, before she started her own business of introducing organic wines to the Netherlands.

Each ticket will be entered into a raffle draw after the concert for prizes such as CDs, the limited edition of Monument House Glass Beer Mugs, and more. There will be also be a Silent Auction (to be linked to a blog yet to be posted) to raise funding for an artist-in-residence fellowship. Besides items from the Monument House, we are happy to receive donations for this cause.

** Breaking news: We are pleased to have Chef Alberto, who was born in a small village in Cordoba, to cater for a pre-concert dinner at 6 pm. He will be serving canapes, tapas, and a main course from the traditional Andalucian cuisine at 6 pm. This optional dinner before the concert can be reserved by indicating it in your email.

For more information and to reserve a seat, visit High Note Live, a web-based concert management and audience development website I am testing for use outside of the USA. Thus all $$ are actually in Euros for this concert.

This is the first of several concerts at the Monument House featuring music of American pianists and composers. The next one is on 2nd July 2011. [Watch this space.]

Friday 1st July 2011

6:00 pm: doors open – Traditional Andalucian dinner (optional) **

7:30 pm: doors open

organic wine tasting, view of silent auction items & bidding

 New! Panel discussions

New! Robert Bekkers, guitar, support act

8:15 pm concert starts (no intermission)

9:30 pm raffle draw (prizes include CDs, Monument House beer mug, and more)

9:45 pm silent auction results

The above painting by Rob Judkins, my classmate from Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, comes from his private collection. I will display more of his work in forthcoming posts of this Concertblog.

Parking until 9 pm is euro 2.29 per hour. But I expect most people will cycle or walk along the canal.