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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!

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Pittsburgh Melody

Working with pianist Sharon Wright, my close friend and esteemed colleague, has always been a delight and inspiration. As mentioned in a previous article, she will be accompanying my students for their special recital this November. I was pleased and honored, however, when the kind folks at Quaker Gardens requested that I also contribute to the performance. Sharon has convinced me to perform, not only a short “darling nugget” by Shostakovich, but also one of my own compositions. Overall, my pieces tend to span an eclectic style-spectrum, and I’ve performed my few pieces for violin and piano many times for churches and private concerts. So, desiring something different, I have chosen a sweet, somewhat jazzy piece called “Pittsburgh Melody”, originally for flugelhorn and piano, which I will perform on my violin. At first, I was uncertain that a violin could capture the mood of the piece like the flugel, but, after trying it in rehearsal, it seems to have a unique character all its own. Sitting in the lower register of the instrument, there is a mellow sweetness and simplicity about it — not entirely unlike it with the flugelhorn, but perhaps gentler, more subtle.

I am very proud of “Pittsburgh Melody”. The melody was first conceived on one of my tour busses, as we were passing through that great city. I quickly jotted down those passing thoughts, then abandoned the idea until last year, when I began to tinker with an accompaniment, which manages to subtly change the harmonic flavor each time the melodic hook comes along. At that time, I had met James (who plays trumpet, flugel, and cornet), and I mentioned my desire to feature some brass-type instrument on the melody, something jazzy but mellow. He instantly suggested flugelhorn, and he was kind enough to debut the piece during one of our Performance Seminars at school.

Come to our recital in November and experience “Pittsburgh Melody”, played for the first time on the violin!

Update: For your listening pleasure, I have uploaded a small sample of Pittsburgh Melody.

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Fiddling Around

This coming Halloween the Presbyterian Church of Garden Grove will celebrate St. Andrew’s Day. For the eleven years or so that I attended the church before moving to the Rancho Cucamonga area, St. Andrew’s Day was a time to commemorate our congregation’s deep Scottish roots. Every year there has been bagpiping, traditional dancing, displaying of the family tartans, and (as of late) . . . fiddling! This year I have been asked to contribute my talent to this special morning service and perform a set of Scottish fiddle tunes. I love the freedom in Celtic fiddling, the rush of the rhythms and the haunting melodies, and I am eager to join in these festivities! All are welcome to participate: October 31st, 9:30 am.

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A Special Word of Thanks

Before I become even more fascinated and involved with this site than I already am, I want to be sure to publicly thank my companion, lover, and fiancé, James, for putting this all together for me. He makes my life vibrant, in every way, and I am ever so grateful for him. Thank you, James.

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Free “Romanze” at Noon . . .

Yes, that’s right. California Polytechnic University in Pomona is holding a free noon-hour concert on October 21, in the Music Department Recital Hall. Some of the department’s brightest students will be performing various works for the event, including me. I will be performing a “Romanze” by Dmitri Shostakovich, a beautiful lyric piece for solo violin and piano. Who knew Shostakovich wrote so accessibly?

I was curious about this work, so I did some browsing along the internet for information. It seems that Shostakovich, a Russian composer dating from 1906 to 1975, not only tested the bounds of harmony within his dynamic instrumental writing on his own “free time”, but he was also commissioned to write for the movies. In 1955, a movie called “Ovod” was released in Russia, and in 1956 it was released in the US under the title, “The Gadfly”, the movie for which Shostakovich composed the “Romance”, along with the rest of the soundtrack. “The Gadfly” was based on a Russian novel by the same name that was first published in 1897, which tale of love and tragedy received immediate acclaim, despite its setting of the 19th century Italian revolution. Alas, I have not read the work or seen the movie myself, but from the reviews I’ve read thus far, it seems to be a fascinating and gripping tale of a young Italian who, after adventures and struggle in South Africa, becomes “The Gadfly”, a heroic revolutionary; a sort of “Scarlet Pimpernel”, I suppose.

Well, that’s the backstory in a nutshell. From the musical perspective, Shostakovich’s “Romance” emotes a tender, victorian-like love and desire that is truly a joy to create from my heart, through my instrument.

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Eager Violin Students to Perform for Elderly

For the past three months or so, my students have been preparing for, what is for many of them, their first public student recital. To be held on the evening (6:45PM) of November 27 in Stanton, CA, they will be performing for the enjoyment of the Quaker Gardens Senior Living Center. The coordinator for the facility’s entertainment schedule approached me after I had performed for one of their Sunday morning chapel services, asking if I already had a student recital planned. After all, the elderly love children, and, as she told me, Quaker Gardens has never before hosted a concert for young violinists. Luckily, while I had the desire and a tentative date, I had not secured a location to hold the recital. My students range from ages 7 to, perhaps unmentionable, adulthood, and a wide range of musical styles and playing ability will be showcased. I look forward to my students’ experience with Ms. Sharon Wright, as she is to accompany them on the piano, and I look forward to the inspiration and fellowship which these children, teens, and adults are to garner from the evening’s festivities. Please join us for this fun-filled free evening!