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”


Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute

James Horner’s sudden death rocked the film music industry. Fans of the Titanic theme have arranged it easy versions for piano solo and other instruments, too.

Alex (piano) and Jason (flute). N. Virginia, June 1999.

The sudden news of the fatal plane crash of James Horner is rippling through the music and film industries. James R. Horner was a prolific composer of music for film.

As I discover piano transcriptions (also known as piano covers) of his music online, I am reminded that I, too, was once an obsessive fan.

I listened to the love theme from the Titanic over and over again until I configured an arrangement for flute and piano for my friends’ young sons in Northern Virginia in June 1999. Continue reading “Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute”

Valentine’s Day Concert

Last summer, a soprano told me about some modern love songs she wanted to sing for Valentine’s Day. While we never managed to get together to try them out, the conversation got me thinking about doing my own concert on Valentine’s Day.

As a young teenager, I lived on Barbara Cartland historical romance novels and Harlequin romances. In reading books on the psychology of love, I tried to form a taxonomy of the different kinds of love and the various stages of love. Ultimately I looked forward to experiencing love as I journeyed to adulthood.

I learned over the years that one has to experience it to be able to express it. I play Chopin’s nocturnes and Brahms’ intermezzi differently now than as a young college student. Similarly what I had read in theory so many decades ago has now been put into practice though not intentionally.

We now know a lot more about the brain and its chemistry when it comes to experiencing romantic love. Music comes to life when put into context. The shared experience of listening to a particular love song becomes symbolic of that relationship. As I search through my collection of love songs for Valentine’s Day, I travel down a memory lane of music I love.

The elderly audience on Tuesday 14th February 2012 have their own memories. I cannot possibly evoke significant moments without knowing the love songs of their life stories.

After a Saturday afternoon of trying out different pieces from my collection in Maui (the rest is in the Netherlands), I’ve narrowed it down to the following list. Next, I need to order them according to mood and story line. The classical works and love arias from opera will set the mood. Towards the end, I will ask the audience to join in singing the more popular songs.

Salut D’amour op. 12: Elgar
Canon in D: Pachelbel (George Winston arrangement)
Thais Meditation**: Massenet
Omio Babbino Caro (Gianni Schicchi): Puccini
E Incevan le stelle (Tosca): Puccini
Annie’s Song**: John Denver
Song Bird**: Christine McVie
I Left My Heart in San Francisco: Douglas Cross & George Cory
Besame Mucho: Consuelo Velazquez & Sunny Skylar
Can You Feel the Love Tonight: Elton John
The Moon Represents My Heart (Chinese)**
Sukiyaki: Rokusuki Ei and Hachidai Nakamura
Can’t Help Falling in Love: George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore
What a Wonderful World : George David Weiss, Bob Thiele
What a Wonderful World** Iz version
Let It Be: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Aloha Means I Love You**: Robert L. Lukens, John Avery Noble

After putting this program together, I learned of the sudden death of Whitney Houston the same evening. As a tribute to her, I will include “I Will Always Love You” and “The Greatest Love of All.” This means removing a few pieces to ensure the concert lasts no longer than 1 hour — thus the asterisk ** marked here.

House concert invitation

Recently I received an e-mail of a beautiful invitation to a house concert, which I forwarded to a friend who lives in the same state in the USA as the venue. All important information for the recipient to make a decision are given: the day of the week, date, time, entrance fee, musicians, website, e-mail address, and phone number.

One of my most popular blog posts is “Concert announcement or invitation” in which I talk about the importance of writing an invitation that truly lures the reader to abandon all reservations and come to the concert.

Recently I received an e-mail of a beautiful invitation which I forwarded to a friend who lives in the same state in the USA as the venue. When I tried to download the invitation to share it with my blog readers, I discovered that it was made up of 20 different small images. Luckily there was a link to the website, and the sender was kind enough to send me a one page PDF at my request. I reduced the file and created a link to the website for use in this blog post.

Salon concert invitation
Salon concert invitation

An e-mail like this is hard to ignore. There is obviously a lot of thought that went into it.

At first I read “As summer slips into autumn” but then noticed that it’s the beginning of an Emily Dickinson poem, which I copy and paste below.

As Summer into Autumn slips
And yet we sooner say
“The Summer” than “the Autumn,” lest
We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront
The presence to concede
Of one however lovely, not
The one that we have loved —

So we evade the charge of Years
On one attempting shy
The Circumvention of the Shaft
Of Life’s Declivity.

The concert is part of a concert series in Tulsa, Oklahoma run by Margaret Sewell, whom I’ve yet to meet but has already helped me greatly in my ongoing research into “house concerts for art music” (15-page PDF). All important information for the recipient to make a decision are given: the day of the week, date, time, entrance fee, musicians, website, e-mail address, and phone number.

If I wanted more information, I could easily visit the website, e-mail, or pick up the phone and call.

Although there is no information about the programme, I gather from the concert series that it would be classical — i.e. art songs or opera arias, or both. I can click on the names of the performers from the webpage and find out more.

This invitation has inspired me to put a little more effort and time into creating invitations for our upcoming concerts in Amsterdam, Newton, Hampton, and San Francisco. So far, I have dropped a few sentences here and there to friends in the vicinity, created a Facebook events page, and considered creating a webpage. I will also try a new way of sending out invitations.

You may ask, “But why are you doing this if you’re just the performer? Surely that’s the responsibility of the concert producer!”


As the performer, I am not obliged to send out invitations. But I would like to see familiar faces in the audience and help the hosts get a full house.

Specifically for the concerts in the USA, our piano guitar duo is performing where we have contacts, friends, family, ex-colleagues, and hope to make new contacts and friends wherever we go.

Creating an invitation involves much more than sending e-mails. It helps to create a theme and a tagline, like this example shows. Give it atmosphere, like the image of autumn leaves. Give enough information to whet the appetite.

I certainly wish I could be in Oklahoma on 18th September 2010. But we give a concert in Amsterdam on 19th September. And it’s FREE to the public.