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The Next Mozart?

According to an article by 60 Minutes on CBSNews.com, twelve year old Jay Greenberg is a “prodigy on the level of the greatest [compositional] prodigies in history . . . the likes of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Saint-Saens” (Sam Zyman, composer and teacher at Juilliard). At the age of twelve, Jay has already written five full-length symphonies, by ten he started attending Juilliard on a full scholarship, at age eleven he began studying music theory alongside third-year college students, and by fourteen he expects to finish high school. His ability is apparently innate, for neither of his parents are musicians and say that Jay began expressing a fascination with musical instruments as early as two years of age.

While everyone agrees that Jay has an impressive gift, composer and Juilliard professor Sam Adler makes a valid point, that, like Beethoven, only with constant questioning and searching, with maturity, will Jay become truly great. To hear the music in your head is a wonderful talent, but it takes work and study to effectively bring it about on the page for the rest of the masses to take part in and appreciate.

It will indeed be fascinating to watch the development of this young composer, and to see where his music will take us.

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Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is coming soon, and what to get for your favorite violinist at home? According to a discussion board on Violinist.com, items on the violinist’s wish list might include:

– a metronome (very important for the growing musician — Parents, get one for your child!! I prefer the electronic ones, for their adjustable volume and compact shapes and sizes. But others prefer the old-fashioned mechanical ones for their long-standing reliability.)

– Violin-related artwork and knick-knacks (i.e. paintings, bookmarks, home-decor, keychains, etc.)

– Mozart chocolates (hmm . . . sound good!)

– Music gift certificates, sheet music, and CDs.

– Accessories, such as rosin, orchestral and practice mutes, tuning mechanisms, music stands, music stand light, pencil holder, a set of spare strings, shoulder rests (purchase some of these with caution and with recommendations from your teacher.)

– Gift certificate for a bow rehair, and a professional massage or spa treatment (two of my personal favorites!)

Just some ideas to get you started. Why not check out Woodwind Brasswind or Quinn Violins for these or similar gift ideas? And explore the many discussions on Violinist.com, ask questions, seek answers, and discover the secret, wacky lives of violinists all over the world.

Merry Christmas!

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Composer’s Showcase

On the evening of December 21st, I will be participating in a small concert put together by my mentor and friend, Kay Pech. The concert will feature new compositions and old favorites. For my part, I will be playing second fiddle with Ms. Pech on her unique composition for two violins, entitled “Overcast and Occasional Light Rain”, which creatively utilizes the instruments’ harmonics and pizzicato. My own featured composition will be “Contemplation”, a soothing fusion of two older pieces of mine: “The Dove” (for string trio) and “The Music Box” (for solo piano). I may also be invited to perform Anna’s Theme and Pope’s thrilling Variation on the Theme, from “The Red Violin Caprices” by John Corigliano (based on his score for the movie, “The Red Violin”). Come join us for this intimate event of music and creativity! Feel free to email me for more information.

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Student Recital Success!

Last evening at Quaker Gardens, my students and I performed for the elderly community. The recital was a big hit! Everyone there offered their compliments about how talented and prepared each one of my students were. The music selections were charming, featuring solos from Bach to traditional fiddle tunes, and the venue (and its audience) were lovely. Special thanks to Jo Ribnick for inviting us and handling the details of the event, Sharon Wright for her generosity and invaluable talent as coach and accompanist, and the parents for their support of their children’s endeavors, which is so important for success in any realm. Good job, everyone!

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Upcoming Concerts at Cal Poly

Come join me for these fun, end-of-the-qurater concerts at Cal Poly, Pomona!

– Nov. 18, 8pm: The MIDI Band (a majorly hip and happenin’ group!) will be performing a set of eclectic arrangements, utilizing MIDI technology and electric instruments. I will be among the musicians featured, playing on my electric violin. Included in our set will be my arrangement of the Petra tune “Breathe In”, and my brand new GarageBand hit, “Vortex Warped”.
– Nov. 30, Noon: The second half of the String Ensemble’s journey through American movie music, including the “John Williams Medley”, “Festival at Newport”, and the “John Barry Medley”.
– Dec. 2, 8pm: Joined by cellist Michelle Collar, violinist Valerie Boogaard, and organist/pianist Janet Noll, I will be accompanying the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers during Telemann’s “Laudate Jehovam”, one of their featured pieces for the evening.
– Dec. 3, 8pm: I will have the pleasure of joining the Guitar Ensemble for one of their featured pieces, “Sonata in E Minor” by Corelli.

Enjoy Music, Enjoy Life!

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Re-mixing the Mix

Well, I have recently encountered my first experience with GarageBand, a software application chock-full of various and loop-able tracks, which can be layered and mixed to create a tune. I admit I was more than skeptical about the prospect of “composing” with the aid of such software. However, the minute I started playing around with GarageBand, I began enjoying myself in the puzzle-like mixing and matching. To quote James, I, too, felt like a kid again!

As the “composer” I felt limited in the fact that I could not modulate to other keys or alter the meter in the middle of my piece. However, I did find that by layering a certain track with one harmonic implication over that of another one, the result was a tantalizing harmonic effect. The restrictions I was forced to work with actually encouraged my creativity, and my creation, “Vortex Warped” is one of which I am very proud. I’ve always wanted to do my own Dance Mix! Don’t forget to check out a few of my other pieces.

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The Composer’s Cranium

The composer of interest here is none other than the famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria has in its possession what is thought to be the skull of W.A. Mozart. The artifact has been kept from public view for over 100 years, due to the uncertainty of its origins. However, the Foundation has recently agreed to make the skull available for DNA testing. Archaelogists have opened a grave in Salzburg and exhumed the bodies of what may be the young composer’s father, Leopold Mozart, and other relatives. Experts plan on comparing what genetic material remains with those of the skull in question. Click here to see the full article.

If the skull is confirmed as that of our young musical genius, I wonder what things we can learn from the speciman? Or perhaps only the fascination of holding the 300 year old skull of such a celebrity will be enough.

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Recital Rehearsals

Don’t forget! Our first rehearsal with Ms. Sharon is this Saturday, November 6. Please refer to your info letter for your scheduled rehearsal time.

If you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am extremely proud of all of you, and I look forward to hearing you this Saturday!

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Cal Poly String Ensemble Travels Thru Time!

On October 26th, at noon in the music building 24, room 105, at Cal Poly, Pomona, the String Ensemble will be offering a unique and educational performance experience for free. We have broken up into seperate quartets, quintets, and sextets to perform arrangements of favorite American movie themes. Lecturer and instructor Kay Pech has organized an exhilarating quarter this Fall, focusing our studies on these various themes, beginning with the 1920’s and ending with present times. This coming Tuesday will be the first of our two concerts this quarter; here we will feature, specifically, American music from the ’20’s to the ’50’s. Each group will also announce their selected pieces and offer a short historic note on each.

Please join us for this event, and enjoy the history of American movie music, highly regarded around the world!