The Kitten, Venti Dita and the Music!

It is  hard to imagine that there will be no more occasional sitting in front of the TV or enjoying the sounds of the garden in the evening with Beata and a glass of wine. Yes, I am going back to teaching this Monday.  I am sad about the passing of summer but am also exited about the new school year, especially that this year I will be teaching four classes of my favorite subject – music history. I am also looking forward to my upcoming recital and new CD of piano duos.

I did not do much of what I planned at all. I had no time for blogs, catching up with Facebook friends or extra trips to New York and the Amish County. My summer was devoted though to plenty of piano music and cats, two of my favorite subjects.

The Kitten!

On my last day of school we become  parents to a little, scroungy looking black kitten with white spots, who if would not be found by students in a Princeton University dumpster, would be crushed to death.

Pix day one

Now, after 3 months and dozens of sleepless nights, many broken flowerpots, chewed up hibiscus, 2 planters that became kitty litter boxes and dozens more emergency cleanups, our little kitten Pix, is taller and heavier than our biggest cat, Puszek. He provides us with joy and constant entertainment as well as a means for exercise for our other three other kitties that were sleeping over 20 hours a day.

Venti Dita!

Finally, after working for almost two years together with Jennifer, we came up with the name for our piano duo: Venti Dita. I think that this is a really cool, simple musical name – 20 fingers in Italian.

The biggest achievement and time-consuming activity this summer was the recording of our first duo CD devoted to contemporary music for piano 4 hands, at Purchase College, Purchase, NY.

When my wife commuted to work in Willow Grove in Pa. I always teased her that she picked the very early starting time of 5:30am to get good parking and to avoid traffic on the PA turnpike. The karma caught with me this summer when after my first trip to Purchase, I was almost late to our first recording session, despite the fact I left more than enough time.

Now it was her time for her to get back at me and remind me of the old times. After that first week I would leave home at 5am to pass the George Washington Bridge before it turned into a parking lot. My extra time would spent in a Diner having a hearty breakfast with Jennifer and yes, sipping good tea, especially since we would take only a short break for lunch that Beata packed for us in a small cooler so we would not waste time driving to another diner. Coming back home was also tied up to traffic patterns. Having dinner before leaving Westchester solved this problem and most times I had a smooth trip home.

I feel sorry for drivers that must put up with this kind of aggravation on the road every day. For last 15 years I take a train instead of drive to New York.

I am very lucky to live very close to my school as well as to WPRB, since the traffic around Princeton is not much better, especially now when NJDOT closed a few local roads, creating havoc for local drivers.

We had 3 recording sessions plus 3 sessions with our wonderful engineer, Andy Cardenas.  One recording session was extremely exhausting since we could  not use the air conditioner and the temperature outside soared to  98 degrees.

Yea!!!! We have a gold master and it sounds really great, but we still have many steps to take care before the CD can be released. Hopefully the recording will be out before the end of the year.  Cannot wait!!!

The Music!

Each year I devote much time in the summer to listen to music, but this summer I spent more time at the piano.

Besides hosting my both radio programs at WPRB, and yes, celebrating at the end of May the beginning of my 16th year on the air, I spent my summer preparing for the recording sessions as well as my upcoming piano recital devoted to contemporary music.

On the radio I presented a few special Early Music Editions, hosted a jazz program with music by classical composers inspired by jazz, and had a few guests such as the young Serbian composer-violinist Ana Milosavljević, Australian composer and conductor Sean O’Boye, Elliott Carter expert Joe Barron, and pianist Rosanne Vita Nahass who recently released a CD featuring the Concord, Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass.  by Charles Ives. Finally, I celebrated John Cage’s 100th Birthday with an unexpected 6-hour edition of “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde”.

My piano recital titled “Contemporary Piano Miniatures”, will be Sunday afternoon, September 23 at 3:00pm in Bristol Chapel at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and will include music from many countries. I will be joined in several works by my piano duo partner Jennifer Castellano, and will perform selections included on our upcoming CD.

And yes, this concert is FREE!!!!  So if you are around, please join me and if you are afraid of new music, here is your opportunity to try without risk. Princeton is a charming town in  early autumn.

If you listen to “Classical Discoveries” you will recognize the names of many composers. In addition, you will hear a complete performance of the work by my duo partner Jennifer I use as my opening theme.

I feel very lucky that I am in position as an educator, performer and radio host to expose new and unknown music to many.

Before I conclude, I would just like to remind you all that we must support our living composers today as they were supported by their contemporaries in earlier centuries.

If you want directions or more information please email me at Marvinarosen@gmail.com

If you are on Facebook and attend please sign the guest list at: https://www.facebook.com/events/438945242823380/

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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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