As I was writing my previous post, I was remembering my absolute favorite NYC subway musical experience: a young teenage boy doing fantastic drumming--I think it was at the Lincoln Center stop--on a white bucket.
And I just found a bucket-drumming video (different drummer) from director taikieatssushi, who made the beatboxing flute and cello . Fantastic!
Turns out there are loads of bucket drumming videos on YouTube.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
As I was writing my previous post, I was remembering my absolute favorite NYC subway musical experience: a young teenage boy doing fantastic drumming--I think it was at the Lincoln Center stop--on a white bucket.
One of the delights of visiting New York City is the music one encounters from time to time. I've heard fabulous stuff in there. I wish I'd encountered beatboxing flute player Greg Pattillo with Eric Stephenson on cello, filmed here at the Union Square subway in NYC. This is way cool, with great camera work:
Here's Eric's bio from the The Project site:
An exceptionally versatile cellist, Eric Stephenson’s style ranges from classical to jazz to rock and folk. He is currently a member of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra in Memphis, Tennessee and the Colorado Music Festival. Eric served as Principal Cellist of the Canton Symphony Orchestra from 2002-2006 and was a regular substitute for the Cleveland Orchestra.
As a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, he served as Assistant Principal Cello of the Aspen Festival Orchestra from 1999-2004. He has appeared as a soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra and the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Eric earned his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees with Honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a recipient of the Ellis A. Feiman Award in Cello while a student of Stephen Geber.
Monday, August 25, 2008
A Naples Daily News profile of 13-year-old cellist Jared Blajian. “I think it’s something I was meant to do” he says, “because ever since I first heard the cello I wanted to play it.”
The cello is Jared’s lifeblood, his release. If he has a stressful day at school, he’ll come home and, within a half hour, he let it all out in through the vision of master composers.
. . .
Jared practices almost three hours a day, every day. He sits in the study and plays, barefoot, in a T-shirt and shorts with brown hair falling lazily across his forehead. He methodically works his way through at work, tilting his head slightly toward the strings as if he’s listening to words no one else can hear. Hours later he emerges from the room to grab a bite to eat or to watch a video of an orchestra performing. Then he returns to the study.
When Ben Sollee's elementary school band teacher first put the bow to the cello in his third-grade classroom, she struck the wrong note. But it was still the right chord for Sollee."She played all the different instruments for us, and she was a violinist and didn't necessarily know how to play the cello," Sollee recalled, laughing. "She went to bow the low string, and it made an awful noise -- which I loved. And I was like, 'I'm playin' that!'"
". . . if you have to decide between a really terrific European cellist and a really good American cellist, you lean to American"
Visas are harder and harder to get since 9/11, which is helpful for American soloists, at least in Phoenix, although the IRS is creating headaches of its own affecting the cause of the Americans:
The entire Arizona Republic article is here.
"But with all the visa malarkey, and trying to get guest artists into the country with enough confidence to include them in our season brochure - well, we are looking at more American artists," Christie says.
Even the IRS gets into the act, says Maryellen Gleason Phoenix Symphony president.
"There is a new rule about federal withholding tax," she says. "It's not a deal killer, but if you have to decide between a really terrific European cellist and a really good American cellist, you lean to American, which is good for the American, but it's another step for our bookkeeping department, and we have only so much time.
"We canceled a guest conductor for next season for the exchange rate. We're looking at a Chinese conductor instead of a European one."
On the other hand, American orchestras touring Europe can be paid in euros, and the currency conversion imbalance can help them make up for a loss in corporate sponsorship. A poor economy has left several orchestras with empty pockets that corporate donations used to fill.
Life carting a cello around has never been simple.
Via Animation Blog, Jean-François Laguionie's beautiful 1965 animation, La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste (The Maid and the Cellist). The score is excerpts from the Lalo Cello Concerto, with beautiful, old-school playing (anyone recognize this recording?).
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Eric Shumsky has written a tribute to the legendary cellist and teacher Orlando Cole (Wikipedia article and ICS interview), who turned 100 this past Saturday. I heard Cole give a masterclass and speak on a panel 4 or 5 years ago at a Cello Congress; he was sharp and articulate.
Is cello playing and teaching good for longevity? Greenhouse is in his nineties and giving masterclasses internationally. Starker is in his eighties and still teaching nearly full time at IU.
I hope so. The way the stock market has been going, I may need to keep teaching until I'm 80 or 90 myself!
Strings magazine has a new profile of Matthew Barley, including this photo by Viktoria Mullova (well, I'm assuming it's that Viktoria Mullova).
I'm a Barley fan myself. He's a great role model for young musicians in a "post-classical" era. His career is diverse, he has numerous self-initiated projects, and one of the best websites in the business. As a matter of fact, I think his site and Mullova's are an excellent contrast. His is eye-catching and interactive and not having seen it for a while, my reaction was "wow!" When I saw Mullova's, I thought, "well, that's nice."
He's also into improvisation.
I was sorry to see on his website that he's been having problems with his left shoulder and had to cancel a number of performances. He's scheduled to start performing again in September.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I'm suffering from IWS: Internet Withdrawl Syndrome. I'm staying in a guest apartment at a retirement/disability facility where a good friend libes. No wireless! Ack!
Posted by Eric Edberg at 10:31 AM
Friday, August 15, 2008
On an Overgrown Path, a beautifully-writen blog new to me, has a great story about Pablo Casals, and doesn't shy away from mentioning the views of Casals's detractors. It's mostly cellists who read my blog, so I don't need to highlight all that made Casals such a great cellist and cello revolutionary (for his time). I did find this Stravinsky quote so wonderfully bitchy that I''ll post it here:
His sometimes reactionary views left Casals an easy target, and after watching a television programme programme about him, Stravinsky remarked: "That was an interesting programme. In one scene the cellist and a sort of Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály, are seen together with their great-granddaughters, at least that's what one supposes until one learns tat they are their wives. And what were the two racy octogenarians talking about? Well, they were saying that the trouble with me is that I must always be doing the latest thing. But who are they to talk, when they have been doing the same old thing for at least eighty years! Señor Casals also offered us an interesting insight into his philosophy - for example playing Bach in the style of Brahms."It's a subject for another post, and will be part of my improvisation book whenever I get it done, but that last sentence speaks to what I think was a really damaging idea, or nexis of ideas. forcefully promoted by Stravinsky and picked up by others. Implicit in the remark is the notion that there is (correct) Brahms style, that one can know it, and that there is also a correct Bach style, and one can know it, too, and that all works should be played exactly as the composer wrote them and in their style.
Casals made music in his ow voice, in his own style, and did so with the greatest of love and respect for the composers and music he loved. The 20th-century modernist movement, of which Stravinsky was such an important part, was obsessed with the fantasy that musical works, including pieces written before 1900, could somehow stand on their own, were in essence fixed and permanent, and that the personality and voice of performers should, in effect, be obliterated or at least avoided.
This caused much frustration, since a piece is inevitably reborn and to some degree or another transformed with each performance. When you write a piece for other people to play, you write a piece for other people to play. They are going to play it like themselves. More later.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 10:31 AM
A "weird concert alert" about an upcoming Rasputina radio gig in Albany.
The story also has a link to a MySpace fan page for Maston Jones, a group with two cellist/vocalists. The page describes the group in the past tense, so I don't know if they are still together. Probably not; a quick search didn't turn up any recent links.
Middle-aged rant: I find most MySpace pages visually confusing. I don't know if it's an aging-boomer thing, or that they are just visually confusing. Dark blue links against a darkish gray background? I couldn't read them even with my glasses on.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Erin Snedecor of Crofton, Maryland.
And who knows? Maybe she'll be famous in the future.
I like what her friends say about her:
Annapolis High senior, Erin Snedecor, 17, of Crofton, says she likes the cello because it speaks another language.
"You play music composed by other people, but you put your own voice to it," said Erin, whose friends joke that her instrument has become an extension of her body because she never puts it down.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 11:00 PM
Famous former cellist #1 is Walter Mondale.
No. 2: Olympian Lolo Jones, who played the cello all through high school. This Chicago Tribune piece tells her inspiring story.
But which is more terrifying? An Olympic meet or playing a cello recital?
As if we have to ask.
Giving a cello recital? Terrified?
Relax, it's natural. Turns out it's even worse than giving a Presdential acceptance speech at a national political convention, at least according to Walter Mondale. He's probably the only living person to have done both.
"I guess you could say I was anxious,'' he said [referring to his speech].Mondale says one issue was, "I was no good on the cello.''
But not terrified. For example, giving that huge speech wasn't nearly so terrifying as playing a cello recital when he was growing up in Ceylon, Minn.
Hah! I know plenty of cellists who are at least, well, somewhat good on the cello (and some who are really good) and it seems we all get terrified from time to time, no matter how well other people may tell us we play.
(For the younger ones amongst us, Mondale was Jimmy Carter's Vice President and the 1984 Democratic candidate for President.)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Andrew Sullivan posts a daily "view from your window" pic sent to him by a reader, a feature I, along with many others, enjoy. So here's a pic "from my practice room." This is the deck of the house of quasi-relatives in Cold Spring, New York, overlooking the Hudson River. Yes, it was a wonderful place to practice!
If you find yourself playing cello in a beautiful place, send it to me and I'll be happy to post it.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I thought my beloved former teacher, Bernard Greenhouse, now in his nineties, longer performed in public. But he will be participating in a benefit concert on August 23 on Cape Cod, near his home. Mr. G gives masterclasses all over the word, of course. I'd love to hear him play again, with that incredible Strad of his. If I didn't have to work on August 23 (the opening of new-student orientation at DePauw), I'd find a way to get there.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I don't need to embark on a major fund-raising campaign to gain access to the former Kronos cellist Joan Jenenraud's new looped-based album Strange Toys, which I came across through this review (". . . listening to this darn CD is keeping me from getting my work done. Damn you, Joan Jeanrenaud.").
As a matter of fact, I downloaded it from Amazon while writing this post. And youn can listen tom a number of tracks on Joan's MySpace page.
I love looped-based improvisation. And the way that improvs can grow into pieces, as is evidently the case with many of the tracks on this album.
Wow! This is the back of a 1717 (mostly) Strad cello, being sold by the estate of Amarylis Fleming through Tarisio.
Acorrding to the Tarisio page, the back and sides are original, while the top and scroll are the work of José Contreras. I'm infatuated. I want it.
The New York Sun says the estimate is estimate of $1.75 million to $2.3 million. I'm definitely going to start buying lottery tickets (grin).
(And what a beautiful photo. I've learned how difficult it is to take a good, glare-free photo of an instrument.)
Friday, August 08, 2008
August 15 , 2008
St James Catholic Church
117 Hudson Ave.
Chatham, New York 12037
Columbia Chamber Players
Robin Becker, dance
Eric Edberg, cello
Lincoln Mayorga, piano
Akal Dev Sharonne, flute
I'm really excited about this gig! I haven't played with Lincoln before, and from the information on his website, it looks like it will be a wonderful experience. He and I will play the Schubert "Arpeggione" sonata, and I'll also perform the first Bach Cello Suite, with Robin dancing in some of the movements. Robin will also be dancing to a solo piano improvisation by Lincoln, who will play a Chopin set as well, and a multi-track quasi-improvised piece with me, which we call "Autumn." Akal Dev--who has one of the most beautiful flute tones I've ever heard--will perform Michael Harrison's "Oh, Beloved," and she and I will play a Teleman sonata and an arrangement of the Ibert Entr'acte.
I'll be using the Luis and Clark carbon fiber cello, since it is the instrument I have hooked up with a Realist pickup mic.
Two rave reviews of Amit Peled playing the Prokofiev Sonata in Seattle, here and here. The other performers on the concert get rather short shrift. Was the Prokofiev that spectacular, or is it something about the star-quality, personality-driven aspect of classical music coverage?
My friends at CelloChat have introducd me to medici.tv, which has an astounding array of classical-music videos, some downloadable for a fee, others available free, for a limited time at least. It was post about this Alisa Weilerstein rectial that brought me to the site, which I found a bit confusing to navigate at first. I'm still learning my way around, and while I see Flash sites are the new thing, I still prefer html sites.
Weilerstein has an unconventional bow hand, which she makes work just fine. When Robert Mann was my quartet coach at Juilliard about 100 years ago, he told us something like, "Any competent vilin teacher will tell you it is physically impossible to play the violin the way I do. But I know exactly what I want to hear and I make it happen."
There are a lot of terrific players with unorthodox techniques. Both Rostropovich and Yo-Yo Ma spring to mind, in different ways and to varying degrees. To me, this underscores the fundamental principle that the essential element in making music is knowing what you want to hear. The more exact, the better. When that's in place, the body finds a way. Or as a colleagues years ago told me Rostroovich told him, "When imagination is clear, hand can do impossible things"
I love the freshness and very alive music making in this Weilerstein video and look forward to exporing the site.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Fascinating NPR World Café interview with cellist/singer Ben Sollee. When I try to sing and play, it usually gets all "chuffed up." So I'm in awe of guys like this. (David Darling is terrific at it too, in a completely different style.)
Electric News: "His interest in music started in Secondary 1 when he found the cello a 'sexy' instrument to master."
I agree the cello is sexy. But trying to master it seems more masochistic than sexy. Unless you're into S and M, I suppose. If I ever master it, I'll let you know if it's sexy.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 9:30 AM
"Takapuna's Claudia Price is chuffed to be playing the cello in her home suburb, in Auckland Philharmonia's Tea and Symphony concert series," writes The Auklander.
Chuffed? Had to look it up. Now I'll try using it in a sentence: "The audience at last night's beautifully-played Greencastle Summer Classical Music Festival concert, with Indianapolis Symphony musicians Jayna Park and Ingrid Fsher-Bellman and pianist Eugenio Urrutia-Borlando, left feeling quite chuffed."
And I really am quite chuffed to have learned the word.
The English-to-American Dictionary (you'll have to scroll down) cautions not to confuse the adjective "chuffed" with the verb "chuff," (or the noun or swear word). Or you may be in a chuffing mess, should you be in the US and anyone knows what the heck you'e talking about.
On the other hand, I look forward to being in the car with the kids; sooner or later the opportunity will arise to ask, "Who chuffed?"
Posted by Eric Edberg at 9:08 AM
It's too late for another article about how "the Portland Cello Project brings classical instrumentation to the masses." Judging by a slew of collaborations with high-profile Portland musicians, a recent sold-out show at the Doug Fir, and this week's release of a full-length record, it's already been brought.
"It's funny being interviewed now," the Portland Cello Project (PCP)'s Doug Jenkins tells me, "because we used to get asked, 'Why the cello?' Now everyone wants to know, 'What's the business plan?'"
In the great big field of contemporary classical music, Portland Cello Project stands stalks above the rest.Way to go, PCP!
So it’s great to announce that their self-titled debut disc is a totally excellent mix of everything from Beethoven to (gulp) Britney Spears (I think Doug Jenkins’ arrangement of Spears’ “Toxic” might yet become legendary), and the Project kicks off the disc’s national distribution with a Friday night gig at the Aladdin Theater (3017 SE Milwaukie) with a boat-load of friends and collaborators like 3 Leg Torso, Loch Lomond and Laura Gibson.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Autumn Hiscock has been looking for a 7/8 cello, and in a moment of serendipity has been lent a beautiful, albeit currently decapitated, unlabeled old German cello which is not quite 7/8 but close enough. She had recently tried some cellos in a shop. "I tested the two 7/8s and as I noted before they were lovely and balanced, smooth, and very easy to play in the higher positions. I would be happy to own either of them. But I didn't fall in love with them enough to rent one." (emphasis added) That's the key to choosing an instrument--you have to fall in love with it.
And how did Autumn's beautiful "mystery cello" get decapitated?
Here's another story on the mountain-climbing "Extreme Cellists, who also have a blog, and I couldn't help but think that with all that climbing, one of their cellos is at risk of decapitation, if it hasn't hapened already. I hadn't noticed in the articles I posted Thursday, but they raise money for charity with their climb. And they sound quite nice in this video:
And finally, KateR (aka "pooplord") has a nice post about traveling with a cello on the D.C. metro: " . . . apparently on a weekend train, it's a conversation starter. Not even necessarily for conversations with ME so much as everyone else's individual conversations." Worth reading.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Hey, did someone discover another Haydn cello concerto and not tell me about it?
In an interesting article about the summer festival lives of St. Louis Symphony players, Post-Dispatch critic Sarah Bryan Miller tells us about Bjorn Ranheim's experiences as principal cellist of the Colorado Music Festival.
The festival performed the nine Beethoven symphonies, plus Beethoven's Violin Concerto, in just eight days. Ranheim played all of the cello solos, while preparing Haydn's B major Cello Concerto.B major? Maybe Bjorn's just playing the D major concerto up a third. Or the C major concerto down a second. (Wow--that would be a challenge now that I think about it.)
What would life be without typos?
I knew Bjorn slightly when he was a student at the Interlochen Arts Camp and I was teaching there (he was working with Pamela Frame). He was a wonderful, dedicated, and hard-working kid, and it's great to see he's grown up and landed a great job. Or two great jobs, actually, one in Mississippi and one in Colorado. (And could anyone possibly look more Scandinavian?)
Posted by Eric Edberg at 9:31 AM
Is classical-music stagecraft inherently gimmicky? This reviewer seems to think so:
Next came R. Murray Schafer's 1981 String Quartet no. 3. Schafer is one of the most distinguished quartet writers of our time, though one of the quirkiest as well. The majority of his quartets have gimmicks of one sort or another. The Third, for example, begins with the cello alone on the stage, soon to be joined by the other three instruments, each doing its own thing without much regard for the others.But on the other hand, maybe this sort of thing is better understood as "post-classical" than "classical."
There's an element of theater in any live performance. It's definitely there in a standard formal classical concert, with the dress of the performers, the placement of musicians on the stage, the lighting, the entrances and bows, etc. And the gyrations of the players, or the conspicuous absence of body movement . . . there's always a theatrical element. The standard concert ritual is so familiar that we become blind to it. Some pieces, some performers, purposely challenge the standard ritual by embracing the theatrical element more overtly.
Yo-Yo Ma talks to the Boston Globe's Jeremy Eichler about his Montagnana.
Alban Gerhadt (who has a terrific website) remembers being told by his quartet coach to "Go home and take a shower!" after a not-so-hot quartet concert in his student days. He goes on to make some very insightful comments on developing (or not) interpretive ideas.
I had a very interesting discussion with the students in front of my dressing room; we talked about interpretations and me being annoyed with realizing that most young players don’t manage to come up with anything on their own but just being far too heavily influenced by the known recordings. . . . told them that I don’t listen to recordings at all anymore, and very rarely to other cellists, just because I don’t have much chance to hear them - yes, I love going to concerts, but very rarely I have the chance to hear a fellow cellist. And one student asked me if I thought that I wasn’t being a bit closed-minded. She believed I should listen to other cellists to know what is going on, to maybe get inspired, new ideas etc. She had a very good point, I thought, and actually whenever I heard somebody, I took something from it, either how to do or how not to do it. But at the end of the day you can learn that from any performer, and for a cellist I think it is m ore inspiring to listen to singers, or, at the end of the day, just a great musician, never mind the instrument. And to listen to the great musician not to copy what he is doing, but to understand what and why he is doing it - which I find easier with music I am not playing.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 8:58 AM
Sunday, August 03, 2008
I didn't know how well off I am.
I've always thought that Greencastle, aside from everything that goes on at DePauw, must be about the most boring place in the world. In recent years, it's seemed that more and more of DePauw's faculty have been choosing to live in Indianapolis or Bloomington. (I tried it for a while myself, but with children in Greencastle, it just didn't work.) With gas prices rising, perhaps that will change, and maybe property values in Greencastle will go up. Somehow the cheap-mortgage housing price bubble never hit us, but on the other hand, we had no bubble to burst.
But there's exciting news about Greencastle! As the Terre-Haute Star points out, we are only the 14th-dullest college town among those in which the 368 "top universities" listed in the latest Princeton Review are located. Wow---there are 13 other towns with good colleges where non-academic life might be even duller.
The Star's headline-writer and the author of the article seem to be of different minds on whether Greencastle or Terre Haute is duller. "The Haute may be a boring college town, but we’re slightly less dull than Greencastle," the headline proudly states, but the article says, "Also, we’re only slightly more dull than Greencastle, the 14th-ranked home of DePauw University." From the body of the article, it seems that the headline writer engaged in a bit of wishful thinking, but hey, that's hometown pride for you. (Thanks to University Diaries, one of the few blogs I read daily, for the Star link; for some reason DePauw didn't post the good news that we're only the 14th dullest college town on it's home page.)
The truth is, though, that as small towns go, Greencastle is a terrific place. During the academic year, there are more events at DePauw than any person could ever attend. And in the summer, there's a concert in the park every Tuesday evening, a classical concert in a church every Wednesday evening, and very enjoyable productions at the Putnam County Playhouse. And if you like to walk, there is nowhere better than DePauw's Nature Park, which is open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 1:16 PM
Of course, it already was mine.
But producer Mike Null is a new convert. "Cello is my new favorite instrument," he writes after his recent work with the wonderful and versatile cellist, Kristen Miller.
There are audio clips from Kristen's albums on the music page of her site. Hmm . . .on my Christmas list. (Which means I'll probably buy an album today, oh me of little sales resistance.)
Now, not to knock classical musicians, I myself grew up classically trained… but when I’ve dealt with many trained string players in the past, there is generally a lack of flexibility. It’s not their fault, they are bred from a young age to be reading machines and are often not required to do anything but. So, if you ask them to improvise, or to change the way they play something, or to just play something “out” or weird, they give you a blank stare that reads “can not compute”.
[That's spot-on in my opinion and experience, and why I'm committed to getting everyone to do as much improv as possible in music school.--EE]
Kristin is more than your average classical player. Not only does she have the technique and intonation of a first chair cellist, she also has the intuition and the ear of a jazz musician. She’s the kind of player you can let loose on a track. With little direction, she played some of the most beautifully articulated lines on par with any professional recording. In addition, she was able to turn right around and play noise. She created sounds that sounded like she was channeling Jimi Hendrix himself and it was all done with utmost taste and sensitivity to the song.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Except it's not by me.
Henrik Edberg writes the increasingly popular Positivity Blog, well-worth checking out if, like me, you are into self-improvement/personal responsibility/personal transformation ideas.
He is almost certainly no blood relation, since my great-grandfather was assigned the name "Edberg" by the Swedish army in the late 19th century, and soon thereafter emigrated to the U.S., but I would be happy to appoint Henrick an honorary relative. Who says you can't choose your relatives? LGBT people (like me, I have no idea about Henrik) have been creating families of choice for years, especially when biological families are unaccepting/unaffirming. And it's not just LGBT people; there are plenty of straight people who treat me as family, and vice-versa.
So there. He's now "cousin Henrik," like it or not. (My father declared the tennis great Stefan Edberg "cousin Stefan" when he first became famous, and we used to joke about contacting "cousin Stefan" about investing in a Strad, which he would then lend to cousin Eric.)
"Cousin" Henrick's blog is great. He's even found great sayings from Mozart to riff on.
I have been a fan of self-improvement literature since my teens, and it's great to see someone (especially an Edberg, even if I don't actually know him yet) working to inspire and empower people, and doing well with a blog. Judging from the ads, he must be making some decent money from it, too. Way to go.
Posted by Eric Edberg at 9:39 AM
Just discovered the Portland Cello Project, via largehearted boy, a legal free music download blog (which I also just discovered).
What a great example of a "post-classical" approach to music making, marketing, highly eclectic, multi-genre programming, alternative venues, etc. And, reading the member bios, some great examples of dual-career musicians: doing something else you also love for much of your living, and playing music professionally.
Largehearted boy Portland Cello Project links
Portland Cello Project MySpace page