Thursday, November 4, 2010

Much Ado...

Haven't been blogging much lately; between life getting in the way and my natural need for a healthy amount of down-time, I haven't gotten much done by way of musicaloozings but no more excuses! Some updates about what I've been doing:

1. I have been posting reviews at Oregon Music News. That's been a good opportunity for me; it's got a wide readership and presents new challenges for me both from a writing and a technical blogging aspect. Haven't had anything up there in a while, but expect I will have more in the future.

2. Been doing some writing for the Hollywood Star--I should have a piece out in the November issue about LiveWire Radio, and one in December about Toastmasters International.

3. I wrote CD liner notes for a release by my friend Max Fuller, an excellent baroque cellist/gambist. It is his first CD, and is a recording of J.S. Bach's 3rd and 4th cello suites. I was honored Max asked me to do it; as much as I love Bach and respect Max's musicianship, this was a pleasurable undertaking.

4. I filled in for Brett Campbell doing the classical music calendar for the Willamette Week while he was on sabbatical for a month. I may have some more stuff there in the future as well.

5. Bach Cantata Choir Silent Auction! Always tons of work, and I could never accomplish it without the tireless efforts of my (much) better half, Kristin Sterling, and our partner in crime Judy Crockett. Loving the new wooden floors at Rose City Park Presbyterian church--what a live acoustic for the BCC concerts! If you haven't heard us sing in the new space yet, check us out again. I think you'll be amazed at the quality of sound the wooden floors allow us to generate.

6. Baroque Mandolin! I am playing my first mandolin recital on November 21st at Paramount Music on 60th and Stark with my teacher Jan De Weese, a man who plays more musical instruments than most people even know exist and who I feel very fortunate to study with. We are playing Bach's Invention no. 10, originally for clavier but transcribed for mandola and mandolin by Jan. I'm a little nervous, but have been practicing a lot and am excited by the way this is coming together.

So all of the above, plus a personal life (believe it or not,) a full-time job, and a college football season in which Oregon is the undisputed best team in the land and a clear favorite to play for the national championship (Go Ducks!), these have led me to neglect my little ol' blog for a while. Now a note on some things I haven't been doing:

1. I didn't get the National Endowment for the Arts Graduate Journalism Fellowship in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University. That was pretty disappointing; I know I'm qualified for it but the candidate pool was too deep (always feels great when you get a polite letter telling you in so many words that too many people who applied were better than you.) Still, I may apply for it next year, if I feel my pride can stand another such wound...As a side note, I also got rejected for an archaeological dig in Arizona that I applied for. Gotta take your lumps sometime I guess.

2. I gave up the viola da gamba. I started writing about it in the hubris of my excitement, but it really is a hard instrument, and I began to question my dedication almost as soon as I started taking lessons. Nothing to do with my teacher, a fine and knowledgeable musician named Douglas Laing, whom I would highly recommend (as well as Max Fuller; see no. 3 above) to anyone wanting to know more about this ancient, beautiful instrument. However, it's still tops on my 'I will learn this instrument one day' list. I had some readers from Australia and Hungary asking me for an update on my pursuit of the viol, so sad to disappoint them, but thrilled to know that readers as far afield as that follow my blog, to some degree or other.

I decided instead to focus my energies on the mandolin, an instrument for which I felt I had much greater facility, and just didn't seem quite as daunting (although Jan has had to spend a lot of time having me unlearn things I've been doing wrong in teaching myself over the years. Still working on that one.)

So there it is, in a nutshell. In addition to the mandolin recital I will be singing the annual BCC Christmas concert, this year featuring Parts 1-3 of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, works by Praetorius (including the famous Es ist ein Rose entsprungen), what may be the U.S. premier (we aren't quite sure) of a cantata by Sebastian Knupfer, and more. If you haven't heard the opening chorus for part 1 of the Xmas oratorio, Jauchzet Frolocket, come check it out in our new's as good as anything in the Messiah, but...Bach, not Handel.

There it is everyone, and thanks for following my (mis)adventures in music and writing.