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Music TBT: “Personal Echo”

It’s time for my Music TBT, where I randomly choose a work from my repertoire and reminisce about its beginnings!

Today’s TBT Selection is…

Personal Echo

(Purchase the sheet music and official recording)


With the instrument’s sound run through a timed digital delay effect, the soloist is able to create a “canon with herself.” Combining a haunting folk-style melody with virtuosic effects, this work is a flourish of stirring harmony and dogged rhythmic control.

I have a lot of fond memories with this piece. This little gem was written way back in 2003, during my first year at Cal Poly Pomona, after transferring from a life of scattered community colleges and performance touring.

The music department was starting up the MIDI Ensemble that year. The company they had ordered all their equipment from had thrown in a free Fender electric violin as part of the bulk purchase, and one of the teachers asked me if I’d like to play it with the group. How could I turn that down?! And so my relationship with the electric violin (and increasing its strings/range) began that year.

For our first concert, the instructor wanted each of us to show off what our instruments could do alone, to showcase the capabilities we had with the electronics. Because mine was the only non-MIDI instrument, I decided to show off what I could do in conjunction with digital delay. And, honestly, I didn’t want to just improvise something out of the blue on stage, so I took time to organize my thoughts and composed this work. I debuted it at that first MIDI Ensemble concert, and “Personal Echo” has been performed numerous times ever since, by both myself and others! Every time, it is a favorite of the listeners and performers – I love how it tends to entrance those in attendance, every time…

I even added a cool vibraphone part once to accompany this piece for the String Theory Quartet album release, “abstract,” which you can check out here on Spotify. And, of course, the original version can be heard here on Spotify, too, or purchased at various retailers found on my Discography page. 🙂

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Welcome to the Family

Introducing my new and upgraded quality viola — Minerva! (Named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and art; tip of the hat to Miguel!)

I visited the Los Angeles Violin Shop  and became acquainted with Danny Oh and Dan Hooper. I LOVED chatting with them: they’re down to earth guys, who will tell it straight, and who clearly have a knowledgable passion for strings!!! And they want to share that passion with others, too! 🙂 That’s what I LOVE about them and their shop!

So, I finally had a brilliant idea, because my Old-Man-Violin Tommy, the violin I had growing up with (playing on it since I was 13 years old through undergrad college), had been just sitting around in my closet for the most part of his retirement since I’d upgraded to my truly Beloved Flora. Now, Tommy had gotten some air being loaned out to a couple of students here and there over the years, but nobody was ready to claim him for their own… So back in the closet he went… He’s got a lot going for him, and I tried selling him to shops, but nobody was buying in this economy…

After moving out here to Valencia, I finally had an Ah-Ha moment, and set about investigating the possibility of trading in Tommy (with case and bow) along with my cheapy viola (with case and two bows) – to get an upgrade in a good-quality, performable viola, something I wouldn’t be embarrassed or wracked with pain playing for gigs…

Danny worked out a fabulous deal for me, and took Tommy and the cheap viola under his wing. I’m so happy that Tommy will be getting a new lease on life! AND, I’m so happy to welcome the Beautiful Minerva into my Fiddle Family!! She is truly a delight to play!

In fact, on Sunday, July 14th, at 2pm, I’ll be participating in an educational performance at the Sam Maloof Museum with local violin maker Jim Brown, and I’ll get to present a host of short works on all three of my “Babies” — I’ll be playing the Corelli Allegro (mvt. 3 from his Violin Sonata No. 1), the Thais Meditation, and my own charming work “Oppression” on Flora; and I’ll be accompanying Jim Brown’s voice on the aria  Vecchia zimarra from Puccini’s La Boheme on the new viola Minerva; and I’ll even get to whip out “Personal Echo” on Aisling and my new delay pedal! :mrgreen: It promises to be a really fun and informative show!

In the meantime, here are a few photos of the new Minerva! Welcome home! 🙂