Monday, January 18, 2010

Dotzauer Series on hold...

Dotzauer vids are on hold for now due to some tendon issues I'm having ... and on that note, computer use is too!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Peter And The Wolf, Neil Gaiman, And Bold to Fall Withal and Gary Fagin

So last night (saturday), I went to a free performance of the Knickerbocker Orchestra ... the features were Peter & The Wolf, and "And Bold to Fall Withal" - a newly commissioned piece...

It was down in the World Financial Center, which would have been great, except this was the one weekend that the subway was all kinds of screwed up & it took a bit of extra finding (as did locating a seat) ... I was a bit surprised at how dismal that area of New York seemed ... really seemed like something out of a comic book (and perhaps it was, but if so, I've never read it)...

Anyway, so I got there at 6:45, (it started at 7) & discovered there were no seats left, so I had to sit on the stairs like many of the rest of the folks (which had a decent view). The downside to this was the sound. I *hate* the "back of the hall" sound ... I don't understand why it's so appealing to so many people who like classical music ... to me it's disconnecting & impersonal - especially when I can barely see the orchestra (who I know are all working hard & doing a great job, because I play one of these instruments!).

So 7:00 comes, the Orchestra starts with Tchaikovsky's Polonaise from Eugene Onegin - sounds exactly like the sort of stuff I played (and detested) in orchestra in college ... but then again, Tchaikovsky has never been my favorite composer. Either way, it was interesting to hear a piece in this style as an audience member (because I so rarely actually get to listen to any orchestral music, since I'm generally playing it) ... can't say it was my idea of exciting.

Next was Up and Down, Up and Down by Duke Ellington (orchestrated by Gary Fagin) ... this also failed to really capture my interest ... I think had I been able to hear it better, it might have caught it a bit more ... I'm really not turned on by a lot of jazz though ... especially when it becomes jazz for orchestra ... just not my thing ...

Then came the moment I had actually come for. Peter and the Wolf narrated by Neil Gaiman. Neil's banter with Gary Fagin when he first came on stage was incredibly hard to hear (because the mic was adjusted for Neil to be sitting), but it was interesting to discover that he and Gary Fagin were cousins.

Peter & The Wolf itself was interesting & you could clearly see its influence on film music ... looking at it historically, it's an incredibly significant and cool accomplishment. However, hearing it now, it felt a bit dated. It really would have worked great with some sort of animation (I was picturing a disney version ... and in fact they have done that!). Otherwise, it was occasionally hard to hear Neil Gaiman, but otherwise pretty cool. The other thing that would really have made this was a film crew & screen setup that could zoom in on instruments that had solos or melodies ... rock bands use them to great effect (Dream Theater is the #1 example) ... no reason an orchestra or a concert hall can't - it would do wonders for them... In general, this was a pretty cool experience ... Neil's narration was great

Afterwards, the concert actually got better! (talk about good programming order) ... the next piece was Charles Ives "The Unanswered Question" ... I studied it in music school, so it was great to get to hear a performance of it ... awesome piece - period. They did a great job with it.

Still, it got even better ... the next piece was the World Premier of "And Bold To Fall Withal - Henry Hudson in the New World". It was commissioned for the Orchestra & their conductor (Gary Fagin). Very cool piece ... I would love (and might actually even listen to) a recording of it ... the only weak spot was occasionally the lyrics (and this is something that classical music and musical theatre are plagued by) ... monologue is monologue and there's nothing that can fix it ... except maybe narration + monologue or dialogue ... either way, very cool piece, vocal part was awesome (I love the tenor range in general) & the orchestral part was very grand/Wagner-ish/awesome (I wish I had better words for it, but unfortunately, I don't, and I was not feeling too great at the time, so things didn't get stored so well...)

The final part of the concert was a Tchaikovsky waltz from Eugene Onegin (substantially better than the first piece!) ... the conductor invited the audience to dance & they did - it was quite awesome ... I think more groups ought to do this ...

In general, I liked the event ... am glad it was free though, not sure I would have paid money for it (because orchestra is generally not what makes my eyes light up, and my income is all kinds of very low right now) ... if there was a concerto or some amazingly cool piece, that might change my mind...

General Admission
Neat Venue (on the edge of the water)
Neil Gaiman
Lots of very different people
Lots of kids
New piece = awesome

FOH Engineer didn't have the sound loud enough
No Video Screens
The conductor's speeches in between felt more like lectures than genuinely connecting with audiences (something rock bands do real well)
I didn't have any friends to go with

Overall, cool event.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I just realized, I posted this on my LJ, but not here, so here are the musical ones:

1. To practice cello more than 3 hours a day whenever possible (it's after that 3rd hour that visible progress really starts to occur)
2. To practice piano an hour a day or more whenever possible
3. To release my very first cd (I've been working hard at this since september and have written 9. To give concerts with my own music and to start playing nursing homes and any other possible area in the community

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dotzauer #4

Youtube Link:
Grade: D
Comments: Tempo inconsistent, could be faster. RH & LH Articulation could be cleaner/more synchronized.

This is a fun etude, and unfortunately I spent not enough time on it (what else is new?). I really didn't account for New Years, but I didn't get started on this etude until Saturday or Sunday... needless to say, not enough time to prepare, and the video has me rushing in parts ... I did gain a lot from doing it though ... there's a lot of hidden techniques in this.

What do I mean by that? Well for one thing, this etude makes you switch between flat & curved fingers (b/c of the open strings and the broken 5ths) ... you also have to have thirds prepared, you have to be able to do staccato triplets at whatever given tempo you're doing, you have to be able to do triplet staccato string crossings fluidly, etc.

Every single piece of music we ever work on has something of this sort - technical aspects that aren't immediately observable on the surface. This is why we do technique - so when we encounter these hidden bits, we can automatically tackle them.

I tried to differentiate between on-string & off-string staccato this time (based on a comment I got on Dotzauer #3) ... I was starting to get it by then end ... I literally spent all my practice time today on this etude ...

In terms of memorization, I worked backwards about 3/4 of the way & then did the rest forwards - psychologically, this was a great way to approach it, because there's this feeling of relief that comes from working on the last quarter forward.

I've added a criteria to the rubric for tempo.

I'm so glad I don't have to make another one of these vids for a week!

F - Failed to memorize notes and bowings within one week.
D - Notes and bowings are memorized, and piece is performed completely through without any stops or wrong notes (multiple attempts are acceptable).
C - Notes and bowings are memorized, and piece is performed completely through without any stops or wrong notes (multiple attempts are acceptable). Correct Bow Distribution is present. Tempo is steady.
B - Notes and bowings are memorized, and piece is performed completely through without any stops or wrong notes (multiple attempts are acceptable). Correct Bow Distribution and Articulation & Dynamics are present. Tempo is stead.
A - Notes and bowings are memorized, and piece is performed completely through without any stops or wrong notes on First Try. Correct Bow Distribution and Articulation & Dynamics are present. Tempo is steady.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Uploaded Songs

Normally I use this blog to talk about the cello specifically, however recently I've been putting sometime into web presence and social networking and all that, so I wanted to share the following:

1. I've uploaded some original compositions to my website:
2. I've uploaded a track from the solo album that I've been working hard at writing onto myspace:
3. I've finally joined Reverb Nation & Twitter ... and apparently I can link all these things (which is just great, because i need to spend *less* time in front of my computer ... anyway, if you're on twitter, feel free to follow me at:

I think that's it for right now ... I'm hoping to be done writing this album in the next 2 weeks!!