Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Piano Balloon Art

Probably not a good idea if you have cats . . .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Is it Just Me?

Yesterday, I was rehearsing the Handel aria, "V'adore Pupille" with a singer, and every time my eye fell across the word 'faville' -

I would instantly think of Farmville*

*Note: the song isn't about agriculture.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best College Application Letter EVER

A random online discovery that made me giggle . . . .


    I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
    I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.  Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
    I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
    I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
    I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college.

Thought for the Day

If the music is being performed wrong – and noone [else] in the room cares . . . 

Is it still wrong?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Music Directing Resources

The American Theatre Wing is a great resource on information about working in each specific discipline of theatre. I gathered together some interviews that addressed different aspects of music directing:

SDCF Masters of the Stage
Working with Dance Arrangers - 2010
Broadway choreographers and dance arrangers discuss the role of the dance arranger.

Career Guides 
The Musical Director - 2001
Ted Chapin interviews Paul Gemignani, who has received a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement for his career as musical director for over 35 Broadway musicals.

In The Wings
Interview with Music Director Carmel Dean - 2010
Carmel Dean has worked closely with William Finn and Tom Kitt.
Interview with Orchestrator Christopher Jahnke - 2010
Christopher studied with William Brohn, orchestrator for Miss Saigon and Wicked, and worked closely with David Bryan on Memphis.
Interview with Sound Designer Robert Kaplowitz - 2010
Robert is a Tony Award winning sound designer
Interview with Voice Teacher Linda Benanti - 2010

Downstage Center
Interview with John McDaniel - 2004
John was the Music Director for Brooklyn The Musical

Its fascinating stuff, check it out!!

Article Repost: Holding the banner high . . .

Holding the banner high ... and passing it on: Margo Garrett, professional accompanist. written by Jody Graves

My favorite quote is when Margo Garrett addresses the importance of educating pianists to have multiple skill sets: 
" . . . it is more precarious than ever to venture into the artistic life as a livelihood, let alone a career. I really try to get them to . . .  prepare for vocal and instrumental repertory, opera, oratorio and some organ or harpsichord and fortepiano. I want them to be as broadly educated as possible because we never know where our opportunities are going to arise. The student who thinks he/she is going to spend their life teaching chamber music and perform with their own trio, may in fact get an opportunity from an opera house, and if they don't have the skills to respond in a variety of ways the career becomes limited. I am an advocate for broadly based education because it increases the likelihood of success"

Yes.  and Yes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Article Repost: Didn't Get That Role? Don't Blame the Piano Player

One by one,the little girls were escorted into a room at Ripley-Grier Studios, an audition and rehearsal space just over the border from the theater district. Stephen Kopel, casting director for "The People in the Picture," a Broadway musical scheduled to open in April, made the introductions: "This is Eddie. He's going to play for you."
"Where would you like me to start?" Eddie Rabin asked kindly, looking at each aspirant's sheet music. "What's the tempo?"
"Can you sing it a little louder and maybe face the table, don't face me," he suggested to one would-be star who was among the half-dozen young performers to croon "Castle on a Cloud" from "Les Miserables." "I'll play it again in maybe a different key."
"Do I look familiar to you?" he asked Alexa Niziak, a fetching 9-year-old with blond braids. "I think I've played for you before."
Really, Mr. Rabin has played for everybody. Lucie Arnaz, Kristin Chenoweth, Tovah Feldshuh, Heather Headley, Donna Murphy (star of "The People in the Picture"), Alice Ripley—and that's just for starters. He's one of the most sought-after audition pianists in the business, sometimes working as many as seven sessions a week—some lasting as long as nine hours—for theater, movie and cruise-ship casting directors. And he somehow manages to pull a rich sound out of the beat-up Steinway uprights and bland Yamahas that are so frequently his portion.

Modern Music Fable #1: The Talented Shepherd

The Talented Shepherd

A fair maiden disliked seeing the village shepherd’s skinny frame, ragged clothing and lumpy skin, and avoided him whenever possible. Then one day, she walked by his house and heard music of such beauty she was enchanted. She followed the music only to discover the shepherd, hunched at a piano and eliciting gorgeous sounds with confident strength, showing a mastery and skill that struck her to her core. From then on, no longer was he beneath her attention - she fairly threw herself at him, finding herself oddly attracted to what she had first spurned.

Talent is sexy.

5 Stages of Performance Denial

The 5 Stages of Performance Denial

When confronted with a no-win performance situation, pianists often undergo five discrete mental stages*:
  • Denial – “I can do this”;  “Anyone can learn a Brahms sonata in one week”
  • Pleading - “I can beg someone to sub”; "Who else can do this instead of me?"
  • Bribery – “I can pay outrageous amounts for someone to sub"; "I will give my life savings if..."
  • Coercion – “I can blackmail someone into subbing”; “I know you’re the one who never gave Prof X’s Schubert score back”
  • Acceptance - “Public humiliation is imminent”; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." 

Seriously freaked performers skip the stages and simply practice for 18 hours a day.  Be smart.  Just Say No.  

*The humiliation avoidance process is highly personal. Steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor do all pianists experience all steps (although they usually experience at least two). Those working through the stages possibly should consider several hours of caffeine-fueled rehearsals or support groups.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Haikus #3

Tenors get the girls
When they’re on-stage; Baritones
Get the girls backstage

Special thanks to Brevard '06 alum, Emily, Julia, Kyra and Robert