Winter’s Breath

A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful snowy Sunday morning, I stumbled on a wonderful video posted in Facebook.  The author was  Sean O’Boyle, the Australian composer, living in New York. The soundtrack for the video was his own composition titled “Winter’s Breath”.

I wonder if he was thinking about the music while taking this video or the idea of pairing both came later?

Some of you might remember Sean as a composer of the “Concerto for Didgeridoo and Orchestra”, a work that I have presented several times on my program.

The pictures of those snowy scenes in New York combined with music gave me the idea to do a whole program of works devoted to winter, a season that never really came to us this year on the east coast, at least not yet.

As I am going through piles of CD’s of music depicting musically ice, snow, and the cold, I am imagining wonderful winter scenery and hope that some of you will be able to join and share with me this special voyage to the Winter Wonderland, just days before March and the real spring season begins.

Yes, winter is coming to Classical Discoveries this Wednesday from 5:30am till 1:00pm. Get out your warm gloves, scarfs, boots and get ready to be chilled and frozen on  WPRB 103.3FM or on-line at http://www.wprb.com/listen.php

If you miss the broadcast you will be able to listen on your computer for 2 weeks after the mp3 files are posted on my Classical Discoveries website.

The weather is so different from last year, when I remember driving to WPRB for my 24 Hour Hovhaness Marathon in a blizzard. A two-minute drive turned into a 40-minute struggle. I live close and could have actually walked to the station, but since I needed supplies for 24-hours of survival, I needed to go by car.

My evening’s special guest could not get a taxi for a 2-mile drive from his hotel to the studio.  That is how bad it was. After that, we had snow almost every Monday or Tuesday. I was actually very happy when spring arrived.

This season, after the late October snow we had only a few days of light snow, and can already see spring flowers popping up in my garden. I bet that many people with extreme weather this year would like to exchange places with us here in the Northeast.

March, as always, will be devoted to women composers, so this is my last chance to celebrate winter.  In addition, on Feb.29, to celebrate Alan Hovhaness’s 101st birthday, I will broadcast a live concert of his chamber music taped on January 8, 2012 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. If you are on Facebook, you can join the Event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/238468462904193/.  I will also present some selections from a just released CD of his choral works as performed by Gloriae Dei Cantores.

Enjoy the last few weeks of winter, or at least listen this Wednesday on WPRB.

The Voice From The Kelp

If you tune in this week to Classical Discoveries you might hear coming through the airwaves from the WPRB studio “a voice from the Kelp.”

 

 

If you are a music blog fanatic you will be familiar with this blog, and if you are not, I urge you to explore it at: Notes From The Kelp

This wonderful blog has a mixture of music and nature, two my favorite subjects, and is the creation of composer and nature lover Alex Shapiro, who is visiting the East Coast.

 

She will be my guest  for two and half hours this Wednesday morning, in the WPRB studio from 9:30 until 12:00 eastern time.

There is no question that Alex’s music has very strong connections to nature and her home surroundings.

Just listen to her music and enjoy at the same time the wonderful pictures posted on her blog.

I feel almost envious, and as much I love civilization, I would love to live closer to nature and watch closely wonderful creatures like Alex’s little foxes, elks, whales and other critters.

I get excited when I see a pellegrino hawk, blue jays, chickadees and little bunny rabbits, and in the summer, wonderful little hummingbirds in our garden.

 Alex's fox

I hope that you will be able to listen to my conversation with Alex. We will talk about all those things close to her, and listen to her wonderful music this Wednesday morning between 9:30 and 12:00 eastern time on WPRB 103.3FM Princeton NJ. and all over the world on line at: http://www.wprb.com/listen.php

 

If you have different plans for that day you will be able now to listen to archive files for 2 weeks after their posting at: MP3 ARCHIVES PAGE

Alex Shapiro – Vista

Alex Shapiro – Deep

More piano and me

I finally updated the Event Page on my website with my current affairs and both of the upcoming piano workshops are there.

Just a reminder, the first workshop will be presented on Monday, February 6, 2012 at 10:30am till 12:30pm in Princeton.

Also here is some exciting news about Tuesday’s workshop. Montgomery Media publisher of many papers in South Eastern Pennsylvania presented a story about our upcoming workshop in Willow Grove.  The story is by Joe Barron.

I hope that this story might entice some of you in the area to come and hear how new music sounds. You can go and read the story by following this link:  Montgomery News, or you can just read Joe’s story below.

Piano recital at Jacobs Music hopes to bring avant-garde to the fore

By Joe Barron
jbarron@montgomerynews.com

Marvin Rosen remembers the day he first heard the music of the composer Jennifer Castellano. It was April 18, 2010, at a piano recital given in New York City by Max Lifschitz, the contemporary music specialist.

“Basically, I was very impressed with her music without knowing much about her,” Rosen recalled Sunday, speaking by telephone from his home in Princeton, N.J.

An email correspondence ensued. Castellano sent Rosen CDs of her music, which he played on his radio program, “Classical Discoveries,” broadcast Wednesday mornings on WPRB Princeton, 103.3 FM. Eventually, Rosen asked to speak with Castellano on the phone.

“She called me the first time, I was floored,” Rosen said. “I mean, if you told me she was hearing-impaired, you could have knocked me over with a feather.”

Castellano, 30, is not only hearing-impaired, she is also legally blind; yet she and Rosen perform regularly as a piano duo. Together, they will conduct a music workshop and recital at Jacobs Music, Willow Grove, Feb. 7.

“The audience is mostly going to be teaching professionals,” Castellano said in a phone interview Sunday. “My mission is to show people that, you know, music can be taught to everybody, and there’s no limits to who can participate in music and who can study it.”

Disabilities are nothing in new in the arts, of course. The greatest composer in history was deaf, and Beethoven did not have access to the gadgetry that allows Castellano to talk on the phone or pick up cues from her conductor when she plays in the bell choir at her church in Hawthorne, N.Y.

Nevertheless, she remembers a distinct, uneasy vibe in the room when she auditioned for the music department at Manhattanville College in the 1990s. In addition to proving she could play the piano, she had to reassure the faculty that she would not need too much special accommodation. The final bit of resistance broke down when, one day in class, a professor asked who among the students had perfect pitch, and Castellano raised her hand.

“I don’t think they saw that coming,” she said. “You don’t have to have good hearing to have perfect pitch. You just have to have a good memory. I think it can be taught.”

Castellano’s greatest handicap, however, is one she shares with every composer alive today: The classical music world prefers composers who are safely dead. It’s usually after the composer dies that people start taking an interest,” she said. “It takes awhile. I don’t know how exactly that works.”

Rosen has tried to correct the imbalance in his weekly radio broadcast, which he has dedicated to unfamiliar repertoire, particularly that of living composers. He once devoted a morning to Castellano’s work, interviewing her on the air. For a young composer, it was like dying and going to heaven — or maybe, in classical terms, to just dying.

“It’s not easy to get any opportunities like that,” Castellano said. “There are not many radio shows that play current stuff, and if they do, it’s very hard to be included. … You can’t put a price on that. It’s a great thing if you’re a living composer.”

As a thank-you for the attention and encouragement, Castellano composed the “theme” for the avant-garde edition of Rosen’s radio show, taking his spoken introduction — “Welcome to another edition of ‘Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde’” — and subjecting it to a series of electronic mutations.

“It’s all based on my radio voice,” Rosen said. “She took samples, and then she started dissecting them. … I’ll probably share that at the workshop.”

It will be an appropriate choice, because, like “Classical Discoveries,” the workshop is of a piece with Rosen’s mission to promote the work of living composers. The program will include music from around the world, all of it written in the 21st century. His hope, he said, is that teachers who attend will take some of the music back to their students.

“Any style goes this day and age. There is something for everybody,” he said. “Students have a very exciting time when they say, ‘Oh, gosh, this thing was written when I was 5.’”

If you go:
Pianists Marvin Rosen & Jennifer Castellano will conduct a music recital & workshop at Jacobs Music, 1135 N. Easton Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090,
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m. – noon. The program is being presented for the Bucks County Association of Piano Teachers. General public is invited.
Admission: $10; free to members of Music Teachers National Association chapters in the Philadelphia area.

Info: marvinarosen@gmail.com.

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