Posts Tagged ‘Peter Askim’

2nd Annual Student Oboe & Clarinet Recital

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

(from R) Camille and Jeanette take a bow

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For the second year in a row, Camille and Shen have hosted their classical music recitals together.

Their Idyllwild Arts senior recital, featuring oboe and clarinet, was held on Tuesday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall.

Each gave a lively performance and were happy and breathless afterwards. At one point, Camille thought she was going to pass out, but didn’t.

Camille and Shen are friends, fellow orchestra members and complement each other well, like Bogie and Bacall.

Shen hails from China, while Camille was born in Los Angeles to Chinese parents. Shen is gregarious and short with dimples, while Camille is aloof, brainy, and leggy.

They even share the same last name.
“Liu is a pretty common name in China, like Smith is in the U.S.,” said Camille.

Shen lost the toss, so Camille would play first at their recital. Going first is always better because oftentimes a majority of the audience leaves to socialize or study before their 10 p.m. curfew.

“I know that most of them will stay because Shen is really popular,” said Camille beforehand.

(from R) Shen with Nelms

This year, Shen won the Idyllwild Arts Concerto Competition, which meant he got to perform as a soloist along with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra.

Shen was also a prefect, or student advisor, during the year. In the fall, he will attend Juilliard School of Music in New York. Lake, a jazz bass player and Idyllwild Arts senior will join him.

Not to be outdone, Camille got more than 2200 score on her SATs, and will be going to Northwestern University in Evanston in the fall.

Camille will continue her musical studies, but is looking forward to Northwestern’s academic challenge.

Last year, during their junior recitals, both only had to play only :30 minutes each, but as seniors, they had to play :45 minutes each.

“I think mine went over 10 minutes, so Shen got cheated a little bit,” admitted Camille.

For her first number, Camille played J.S. Bach’s “Sonata in G Minor BMV 1020” with Jeanette Louise Yaryan on piano. It sounded like a mellow piece. At times, Camille’s oboe sounded more like a flute. But then the Allego gave way to fast fingers, and Camille gave a sigh of relief at its end.

“Concerto in C Major, K 314” by W. A. Mozart showed off Camille’s ability to play long notes. Benny Kleinerman accompanied her on piano.

For her third selection, Camille was reunited with bassoon player, Felix, and Nelm McKelvain on piano. Just weeks before, the three had played Francis Poulenc’s “Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon” at Felix’s Junior Recital.

“I’m helping her because she helped me,” said Felix as he headed for the dressing room.

It was the same piece, but somehow it sounded differently that night.

(from L) Brian Cohen talks with Camille's dad afterwards while her mom and Peter Askim listen in

“I think Nelms started out faster this time,” said Felix later.

The Presto, Adante and Rondo parts of that song reminded me of a flirtation or courtship. Like songbirds calling out to each other between the trees.

All three looked at each other for timing cues and sounded like they really enjoyed the piece. Nelms was smiling most of the time from behind the piano.

The recital ended with Camille Saint-Saens’ “Sonata in D Major, Op. 166.”

Even though her oboe teacher, Francisco Castillo from Redlands was not in the audience, he was there in spirit. Just the day before, Camille had a lesson with him  She’ll see him again before the fall.

“I don’t know how to say good-bye,” Camille said. “He’s been my teacher since I was ten.”

Music Director Peter Askim and Headmaster Brian Cohen spoke to Camille’s parents afterwards, and Peter and Music Department Head Ryan Zwahlen congratulated Camille.

“She did a great job,” said Ryan, who also plays the oboe.  “Everything she played was difficult. She’s really come a long way.”

Needless to say, not everyone in the audience left after intermission. In fact, a few more people came after the break to see Shen. It was a full house for both.

Camille was all smiles afterwards

Shen started out strong with a short and lively piece by Henri Rabaud, “Solo de Concours.” It showcased his ability to go up and down the scales on his clarinet with rapid accuracy.

Unlike Camille, Shen didn’t change piano players, but kept with Nelms McKelvain the whole time. Their next piece, “Sonatina” by Malcolm Arnold, showed the complexities of both instruments. At times, the music sounded frenetic.

Shen’s next piece, “Fantasia da Concerto ‘La Traiata’ by D. Verdi by Donato Lovreglio, was Peter Askim’s favorite.

“I really liked how you played the opera,” Peter told Shen afterwards. “It showed a lot of colors.”

From the look of things, it was a difficult piece to do because Shen was breathing heavy afterwards.

After that piece, Shen mixed it up with “Sonata” by Francis Proulenc. The audience, made up of mostly music students and staff members, whooped it up after that piece was finished.

George Gershwin’s “Preludes for Clarinet and Piano Accompaniment,” arranged by James Cohn, was an interesting end to Shen’s recital. It seemed more ragtime than classical.

“No Gershwin’s music is in the classical realm,” defended Camille afterwards.

The best part is that Shen looked like he was having a ball playing it. Maybe because it was his last high school recital, and he was savoring every moment.

(from L) Shen poses with Ryan

Shen, too, will find it difficult to say good-bye to his teacher, Yehuda Gilead, from USC, who has been more of a mentor than a clarinet teacher. Yehuda wasn’t there at the concert, but Shen went to LA the next day with the disk in hand to discuss the performance with him.

In the audience was YiLing, an Idyllwild Arts music alum, who now attends Boston Conservatory, and was on summer break.

“He did a great job,” YiLing said, as they posed for pictures afterwards.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

‘Taking Five’ With So Percussion in Idyllwild

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

So Percussion in Idyllwild (from L) Jason, Adam and Eric.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Every So often, you get lucky.

This particular Saturday afternoon, April 29, at 3:15 p.m., band members from the New Music group, So Percussion, were sitting on the steps outside of the IAF Theatre in Idyllwild.

They were “taking five” while the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and music director Peter Askim were working with guitar legend, Richard Thompson, inside the theater.

It was like finding The Rolling Stones at Starbucks.

Jason Treuting, Josh Quillen, Eric Beach and Adam Sliwinski, were just hours away from the free New Music Concert with the student orchestra, featuring World Premiers of music by Richard Thompson, Chin Yi and Peter Askim, and Jason’s West Coast Premier of “Oblique Music.”

They were hanging out with Jason’s 15-month-old-daughter who had the same bright eyes.

“She likes it when we play,” Jason said. “But it’s hard to tell if she has any musical abilities yet.”

The group of Yale graduates, based out of Brooklyn, are causing a rage in the classical music world.

“The range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its manergerie is astonishing and entrancing,” claimes Billboard Magazine.

You can look on their web site for more accolades from the New York Times, the Village Voice, and even The Financial Times. We’re lucky that Peter Askim has brought this group to the attention of Idyllwild and folks on the West Coast.

According to their web site, So Percussion plays compositions by John Cage and Steven Reich, as well as their own works.

Jason with his 15-month-old-daughter

John Cage and Steven Reich are two pillars of percussion chamber music. Many of their once radical ideas are now widely accepted as part of America’s experimental classical music tradition. So Percussion has been playing their from the beginning, which also inspires their own original music.

Jason explained how New Music is different from modern music.

“After our concerts, I often talk to people who think that New Music is the same as Pop music,” Jason said. “They listen to Mariah Carey or Lady Gaga and believe it’s the same New Music that we’re playing. It’s not based out of classical music, and that’s a big difference.”

Jason said that he sometimes conducts a Q & A session after their concerts, and asks people what they think of their New Music.

“We ask them if there was anything they heard that they didn’t like,” Jason said. “And there’s this long pause. And then we say, ‘C’mon, there was probably something in the concert that you didn’t like.”

He said that once he gets audience members to admit there’s stuff that they didn’t like about So Percussion’s New Music, then they have a starting point.

(from L) Josh, Jason's daughter and grandma outside Bowman in Idyllwild

“With the onset of Social Media, we are becoming more attuned to our preferences, and don’t venture out of our safety zone,” Jason said. “It’s OK that you don’t like all New Music. You don’t have to like all of it, but the fact that people are open to new experiences is important.”

Sometimes, he said, the classical music fans feel like they have to love New Music or not.

“But it’s OK if they don’t love everything that they hear,” Jason said. “It would be kind of a bummer if all we listened to was things that we really like.”

He said that their repeat performances are always better accepted.

The same thing went with the members of the Idyllwild Ars Student Orchestra.
“At first, it was a little hard to get them to open up,” Jason said. “They hadn’t had much exposure to New Music. But Peter Askim is generating a lot of positive energy about New Music and it’s catching on.”

Jason said they played a little bit before the All School meeting on Friday afternoon, and that helped the orchestra to open up a bit.

“They’re a good group of kids, and I think we cracked the shell a bit,” Jason added. “Afterwards, we were talking and hanging out and it helped break down barriers.”

At the All School concert, So Percussion used a lot of tactile instruments, such as pipes, tin cans and flower pots.

“A lot of people associate us with the popular percussion groups, Stomp and Blue Man Group.” Jason said. “We wanted the orchestra students to see that we’re having fun and that we’re regular musicians just like them.”

Rong, a cello player, said the energy of their practice sessions changed when So Percussion came into town on Thursday night.

“Their energy was so great!” Rong exclaimed. “It was unbelievable!”

Also on the dock Sunday is guitar legend, Richard Thompson. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the student orchestra will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday for their second concert on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

Advance general admission tickets range from $10 to $20. Prices will be slightly higher at the door. Peter Askim hoped that the concert would be “sold out,” since it’s a fundraiser for the Willam M. Lowman Concert Hall on campus.

“Peter said that we made the LA Times,” Rong said before her orthodontist appointment Thursday. “The paper is saying that people should come see our concert. That’s kind of a big deal.”

The Barnsdall Theatre is a new venue for the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and their New Music guests.

“The theater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” stated Adam. “I’ve always liked him as an architect, and I took my first girlfriend to Falling Water in Pennsylvania.”

Jason said that So Percussion has set up a concert two years from now.

“We’ll be playing the music of David Lang,” he said.

Setting up a gig two years out is nothing unusual, he said.

“My wife is also a musician, and we’re always talking about dates years into the future,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get a perspective on the here and now.”

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra will be playing at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 at the Barnsdall Theatre, located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets, visit It’s My Set at www.itsmyseat.com.

And to listen to selections from So Percussion, visit www.sopercussion.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Richard Thompson’s ‘Interviews with Ghosts’

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Guitar legend Richard Thompson with string students during "Cabaret of Souls" last year Courtesy photo

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s hard to tell how long singer-songwriter-guitar legend Richard Thompson has been obsessed with ghosts.

Perhaps it started long ago, but it just hit Idyllwild Arts’ radar in November of last year with his “Cabaret of Souls” tour, which began at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“Cabaret of Souls” is a talent show set in the Underworld (think of it as “American Idol” in Hell).  It’s part theater, part rock opera, featuring the talents of Richard Thompson, Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), Richard’s wife, Judith Owen, Deborah Dobkin, Pete Zorn and strings students  from the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, conducted by Peter Askim.

X-O, a cellist from China, was one of the students who performed “Cabaret of Souls” with Richard Thompson. She and the 11 other students had to wear campy outfits and learn about 30 new songs.

“But it was easy music,” X-O said, shrugging it off.

Stephanie, a violinist from Korea, said that it’s music that she’s never played before.

Stephanie said the music was old fashioned, but fun

“Peter said that it was kind of old-fashioned,” she said. “But I liked it.”

Dorie, a violin player from Bulgaria, had to wear a lacy outfit and a green wig.

“They painted our faces to look like ghosts,” Dorie said. “They wanted us to wear gloves, but it didn’t fit with our string instruments.”

According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, “Richard Thompson has been called the finest rock songwriter after Bob Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.”

“Last year, we helped Richard Thompson out, so this year, he’s helping us out,” said Camille, an oboe player talking about the upcoming New Music Concerts held in Idyllwild and Hollywood.

The Hollywood concert is a fundraiser for the new William M. Lowman Concert Hall, and pre-event tickets (from $10 to $20) are now on sale on the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

According to a recent promotional video, Richard said that “Interviews with Ghosts” is a short song cycle or song suite of three chamber orchestra pieces.

“It’s based on supposed transcriptions from ghosts talking to each other,” Richard said. “Depending upon if you think they exist or even talk to each other.”

Then Richard said he adapted these ghost transcripts a little bit, adding rhymes and worked with the orchestra. For the past several weeks, classical music students have been playing Richard’s New Music pieces. He will be singing and playing guitar along with the student orchestra.
Jo, a bass player, said it sounds a lot like Rock n’ Roll.

Will “Interviews with Ghosts” be like talking to Jacob Marley from “A Christmas Carol,” where he complains about the chain, the cold and the loneliness of walking through doors? Will there be a message in Richard’s piece about transforming our miserly ways? Will there be jokes about God, the devil and not being able to take our cash with us?

Time Out has called Richard Thompson’s performances, “Riveting, enlightening, witty, moving, provocative and entertaining – strongly recommended.”

Will the students have to dress up for "Interviews with Ghosts?"

Expect nothing less than fabulous with Richard Thompson’s “Interviews with Ghosts.” If anything, you’ll get the rare opportunity to hear one of the Top 20 best guitar players of all time play with our student orchestra on April 28 in Idyllwild and on April 29 in Hollywood.

Besides Richard Thompson, Chen Yi will be performing “Tone Poem,” a piece commissioned by the student orchestra and three composers from So Orchestra will be performing individual works, including “Oblique Music” by Jason Tretuing, “Credo in US” by John Cage and “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich.

Also on the docket is Peter’s brand-new piece, “Elsewhere.”

The first New Music Concert will be Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sunday, April 29 fundraiser concert will be held at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, or contact www.itsmyseat.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Redlands Concert Reunites Oboe Teacher & Student

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

(from L) Nelms McKelvain, Liang Wang, Carolyn Beck and Sara Andon. Photo Peter Askim.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For most music students, saying good-bye to a beloved teacher is painful, and starting over with another can be scary.

“I’ve had the same oboe teacher since I was 10 years old,” exclaimed Camille, who is graduating from Idyllwild Arts this year.

She was talking about Francisco Castillo, principal oboist for the Redlands Symphony. He’s the same oboe instructor as the popular Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic.

Francisco was Liang’s first oboe instructor in the U.S. Last Saturday, April 14, Liang came for Francisco’s World Premier of his recent composition, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn & Orchestra.”

“There’s Francisco, the big guy,” exclaimed Shen, a clarinet player from Idyllwild Arts, who attended the concert with music director Peter Askim and five other students, including Henry, Yoana, Elena, Suriah and Cynthia.

Francisco remained in touch with Liang, who graduated from Idyllwild Arts and the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia. In January, Liang visited Idyllwild Arts, taught Master Classes and played with the student orchestra (see blog post, “NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud,” dated Dec. 9, 2011).

“Liang has brought such prestige to our instrument,” Camille said.

Dr. Nelms McKelvain, piano instructor at Idyllwild Arts, drove down from Idyllwild to see Liang in concert.

“Liang was my advisee when he was here,” said Nelms. “I’d go a long way to see him.”

For the Saturday night concert, the students sat in the balcony in the Redlands Memorial Chapel, yet had a full view of the stage. Some of those around them had binoculars so they could see the performer’s faces.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts Supporters: Henry, Shen, Elena, Yoana, Cynthia, Suriah, Carolyn, Sara, William & Peter

After the Redlands Symphony warmed up with “Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Liang played “Oboe Concerto,” by Richard Strauss.

“Liang’s phrasing is so unique,” said Peter Askim, afterwards. “He phrases like a singer — so natural and pure. He never plays anything the same way twice. It’s like he’s discovering the piece for the first time – every time.””

During the first two songs, Co Boi Nguyen, the assistant conductor, led the orchestra. According to the program notes, Co Boi is an assistant professor of music at the University of Redlands School of Music, and she usually conducts at least one program during the regular symphony season.

After intermission, conductor Jon Robertson took over for the World Premier of Francisco’s work, “Rhapsody for Oboe, English Horn and Orchestra.” Liang and Francisco took the stage to great applause. Liang was playing his oboe, while Francisco had a much longer oboe with a lower sound, which is the English horn.

The two played well together, like father and son, carefully not upstaging each other. The piece was lively, and even frenetic at times, but was well liked by the audience. Both Liang and Francisco received a large bouquet of flowers afterwards.

According to the program, Francisco said his rhapsody came about in a funny way. While he was talking with Liang about what pieces he would play with the Redlands Symphony, Liang suggested that they play something together.

(from L) Carolyn, Francisco, Liang, Sara and Peter. Photo Peter Askim.

“I jokingly said that I didn’t want to play an Albinoni or Vivaldi concerto, and would prefer something more interesting and new,” Francisco recalled.

“Well, then, write something yourself!” Liang replied.

For inspiration, Francisco listened to oboe concertos by Mozart, Strauss, Pasculli and Piazzola. He also listened to favorite composers, Bach, Villa-Lobos, Charles Ives and Louis Armstrong, among others. In the end, Francisco turned to his oboe, English horn and computer to make something uniquely his own.

“As you listen, you will find some of my favorite musical ideas, including Polyrhythm, Latin folk melodies, simple harmonies, virtuosic, demanding, yet sustained lyrical passages, silly moments are at the same time dramatic and tense,” Francisco wrote in the program.

“However, if you are looking for a form, you won’t find it,” Francisco added.

“I really liked Francisco’s piece,” said Shen. “It wasn’t boring like the Hayden piece” (“Symphony No. 104 London” ended the evening.)

Camille, who was away at college auditions on Sunday, had heard a rehearsal of Francisco’s piece.

“It’s New Music, and it had a very Latin feel to it,” Camille said.

After the Redlands concert, the students and Peter went to the stage to meet and congratulate the performers.

(from L) Yoana and Elena, students from Bulgaria, enjoy a pre-concert dinner. Photo Peter Askim.

According to Peter, several principals from the Redlands Symphony have also taught music at Idyllwild Arts, including Todor Pelev, associate concertmaster/violin; Gail Cruz, violin; Carolyn Beck, principal bassoon; Sara Andon, principal flute; David Scott, principal trumpet and William Schlitt, principal timpani.

Francisco, who dedicated his rhapsody to Liang Wang, conductor Jon Robertson and the Redlands Symphony, was all smiles afterwards.

“This was the first time it was played before a live audience,” Francisco said. “It’s a good feeling.”

In other news, get your tickets now for the New Music Concerts featuring new works by Richard Thompson, Chen Yi and Peter Askim with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra on Saturday, April 28 at the IAF Theatre (free) on campus, and on Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Angeles. Pre-concert general admission tickets for the Sunday show are $10 to $20 and are available on the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org. Click on ‘Academy,’ then ‘Music’ and ‘New Music Concert.’

For more information, see Idyllwild Me blog post, “New Music: Dramatic Shift for Students” dated April 9.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


 

 

 

New Music: Dramatic Shift for Students

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Orchestra students (file photo) have mixed feelings about New Music

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Students from the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra will take a dramatic shift from their classical music repertoire to New Music for their next concerts on April 28-29. Some of them like New Music because it’s so different, while others don’t like it as much.

“We don’t just listen to songs written by dead people,” chided Peter Askim, music director and composer-in-residence at Idyllwild Arts (see New Music post on Idyllwild Me dated May 7, 2010).

He’s used to their resistance.

“When I told Peter that I didn’t like New Music, he said that it was because I didn’t understand it,” said Rong, a cello player.

“I like it because it tells a story,” said Meng, a double bass player, from Beijing, who also plays the cello and piano. “But it can be hard to play sometimes.”

Meng, a double bass player, says New Music tells a story

Mostly because there’s no CDs they can listen to, and it’s not posted on You Tube.

Rong said that this next concert is particularly hard for the three percussionists. Dixin, a violin player, agreed.

“They have to play so many instruments,” Dixin said. “It’s really amazing!”

For the New Music concerts each year, Peter also helps promote the new works by emerging and established composers. Richard Thompson, voted among the Top 20 best guitarists by Rolling Stone magazine, will be performing “Interviews with Ghosts” on his guitar.

Also Chen Yi will be performing “Tone Poem,” a piece commissioned by the student orchestra and the Richard P. Wilson Fund for New Music.

Three composers from So Orchestra will be performing individual works, including “Oblique Music” by Jason Tretuing, “Credo in US” by John Cage and “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich.

Also on the docket is Peter’s brand-new piece, “Elsewhere.”

Dixin said Peter Askim's "Elsewhere" is kind of quiet and slow

“It’s kind of quiet and slow,” explained Dixin. “But I like it.”

Andrew Leeson, a staff member in Creative Writing, has called Peter “The Master of the Dramatic Pause.” (See “Askim’s New Music Revealed” on  Idyllwild Me posted Nov. 11, 2011).

Jo, another bass player, said that the New Music they’re performing with Richard Thompson sound more like Rock n’ Roll.

“He was knighted, you know,” she said.

Many in Idyllwild may remember Thompson’s “Cabaret of Souls” that was performed with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra last year.

The New Music concerts will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the IAF Theatre on campus and on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. in The Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood. The Idyllwild concert is free and open to the public, while the LA concert is a fundraiser and Pre-sale tickets range from $1o to $20, and a little more on the show day.

For tickets, visit www.bgttix.com or call (323) 644-6272. For Pre-Sale tickets and more details on the New Music concert, visit www.idyllwildarts.org. There are several videos of Richard Thompson singing and playing his guitar, including one from 1952.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Liang Wang, principal oboist for the NY Philharmonic, is an Idyllwild Arts alum. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

One of Idyllwild Arts’ own came back last week not only to perform, but to spread good cheer. Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic, is living proof that an Idyllwild Arts high school education is key to acceptance in top schools that can eventually lead to a promising career.

At age 26, Liang is the youngest principal oboist in the history of the New York Philharmonic. He’s kept that slot since 2006, and you can bet he didn’t get it on his good looks alone. After four years of studying oboe at Idyllwild Arts, Liang was accepted to the coveted Curtis Institute of Music, where he won fellowships, grants and awards. Later on, he played for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and worked his way up to the NY Philharmonic post.

“Liang gets to tell the other oboists what to do, and he’s much younger than all of them!” exclaimed Howard, a sophomore violist from Taiwan now studying at Idyllwild Arts.

Liang spoke to the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra after a rehearsal last week. He was candid about his time at the academy, including some mistakes he made (such as getting caught after curfew in the girls’ dorm). Most importantly, Liang offered the students some good advice.

“He said that he doesn’t get nervous onstage because he won some competitions, so he’s earned the right to be there,” said Tiffany, a senior who plays cello. “He looks so relaxed.”

Some of Liang’s achievements included a fellowship position at the Aspen Music Festival. He also was a second prize winner at the 2003 Fernard Gillet International Oboe Competition and a prizewinner at the 2002 Tilden Prize Competition.

Tiffany also said that besides thinking positively, Liang advised them to come to all of their performances prepared. And that means hours of practice.

“When you know your work, you’ll be confident in your playing,” Liang told them.

During his Dec. 3 and 4 concerts at Idyllwild Arts Academy, Liang performed Mozart’s “Concerto Oboe in C Major, K 314 (25d).” Advance press in the Idyllwild Town Crier, the Press-Enterprise, and the Idyllwild Herald, brought large crowds during both performances. The Sunday, Dec. 4 afternoon concert was standing room only.

(from L) Camille (with Mariya, an IA alum) was enthusiastic about Liang Wang's master class and the importance he's brought to the oboe.

The oboe concerto was lively, and Liang played most of the time, even to the point of flush in his cheeks. According to the program notes, the Mozart Oboe Concerto in C was composed in the summer of 1977, but the manuscript was lost until 1920. It had a striking resemblance to a flute concerto of Mozart’s. Finally published in 1948, it remains the least-known of Mozart’s entire concerto output.

The notes stated that the Oboe Concerto was rather French in style with cheerful outer movements.

In fact, Liang looked rather French and lively onstage, lifting his oboe like a horn to give the audience its full sound. He was also keen on taking cues from Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ music director. No prima dona he! You could tell that he knew that the fine performance was a group effort.

“I’m in love with him!” exclaimed Camille, an oboist and senior at Idyllwild Arts. “He brought such notoriety to our instrument!”

Camille was among those who got to attend Liang’s master class that weekend. She said that Liang gave her lots of good input about her playing, which comes at the perfect time when she’s applying to colleges.

He even agreed to give Camille a lesson when she visits the Manhattan School of Music over winter break. He is currently on the faculty there.

Ryan Zwahlen, head of the Music Department at Idyllwild Arts who also plays the oboe, was instrumental in securing Liang’s performance at the school.

“He gets great reviews on his sound and control,” Ryan said. “Having him perform with our students will show them what hard work could get them in the future. It’s also a great recruitment thing for the school helping us to raise our profile.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 9, 2011 @ 11:57

 

Askim’s New Music Composition Revealed

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Viola Master Class with Ms. Kozasa. (from L) Sirayah, Alex, Ayane Kozasa, Kathy and Howard

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday, Nov. 8th afternoon concert at Stephens Recital Hall was limited to just a select few. Among those in attendance were student composers, poets, and musicians, along with a few teachers. What they were about to hear was a New Music composition by Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ award-winning music director and composer-in-residence. Not only were they going to hear a brand-new piece, but also the viola player was a winner.

“This viola piece called, ‘Inner Voices,’ was written for the Primrose International Viola Competition in Austin last year, but the winner is here tonight to play it for us,” said Peter Askim, and then introduced Ayane Kozasa, a senior music student at Curtis Institute of  Music in Philadelphia.

“There were viola players from all over the country playing this piece, which was a required piece,” Peter explained. “Everyone had to learn it at the same amount of time, and Ayane won the prize for the best performance. And in a minute, you’ll see why.”

Peter handed out a few scores of “Inner Voices” for those who wanted to follow along, as Ms. Kozasa walked to the front of the room. She was a pretty woman in a black shift dress, and boots that matched the snow outside. Her hair was cut short, perhaps so that it wouldn’t interfere with her instrument.

Looking around, I learned quickly the best way to listen to New Music compositions, was to close your eyes. To my right, Peter had his eyes closed and was leaning forward slightly. To my left, Andrew Leeson, an Creative Writing instructor, also closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. Across the room, Idyllwild Arts Headmaster Brian Cohen (who also plays the viola) had his eyes closed.

Ms. Kozasa shows Alex how to dance while playing his piece as Brian Cohen looks on.

I wasn’t sure why these guys were closing their eyes when there was a pretty coed onstage, but I guessed it was “all about the music” at this point.

From a past experience of listening to a New Music Concert at the Los Angeles Philharmonic last year, I knew that it wasn’t going to be like any standard music. It’s as if the composers crumpled it up and threw it out the window.

(from R) Peter Askim introduces Aane Kozasa to headmaster Brian Cohen

When the conductor started the New Music Concert at the LA Phil, I thought all of the musicians were still warming up. The piece had an unsettled, frenetic feeling about it.

“When are they going to start playing?” I asked the student next to me in the balcony. “Shh, they’re playing,” was my answer.

Now, sitting in Stephens Recital Hall listening to Peter’s  “Inner Voices,” I knew to expect the unexpected.

I breathed in slowly, resisting the urge to close my eyes and decided to focus on the young woman’s viola and bow.

What came out of her instrument was frenetic, and intense. Like someone running through the snow, but at a very fast pace. Maybe the person was running from the police? Who knows? But he was definitely running for his life.

Then I realized that it wasn’t likely an urban setting, but perhaps in Idyllwild. I imagined a person running through the forest. Since there aren’t any bears in these parts, perhaps the person was running from himself?

Then, after the intense part ended, the mood changed, and everything slowed down dramatically. Again, I thought of nature, and how everything seems calm after a rainstorm.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kozasa was putting on a nice performance for the audience who still had their eyes open. She moved across the stage, often times arching her bow as if it were a spear. Then she’d play the queer high notes with such delicacy that her bow barely touched the strings.

During “Inner Voices,” there were many long pauses, in which I was tempted to clap before it was over. Yet, I resisted, and succommed to the tension of the piece, which ended with more of a light “pop” than a razor-sharp dramatic ending. That was rather nice.

“That’s amazing world-class playing,” Peter said, as he stood, clapping for Ms. Kozasa.

“Peter is the master of negative space,” Andrew exclaimed.

When Peter heard that comment repeated later on, he laughed.

Ms. Kozasa works with Howard on his piece

Ms. Kozasa said that it wasn’t a difficult piece to play, once she broke it down into sections.

Peter asked her to explain to the audience how she would approach playing a new piece such as this one.

“Well, I’d look at the bigger sections at first,” she said. “And then try and figure out the character of each part. It’s harder when its free form.”

Peter said that oftentimes, the students think about the fingerings and trying to get the rhythm right, but they have a hard time finding out the meaning of the piece.

Ms. Kozasa said that she tries to find out what the composer is trying to say within the fingerings of the piece. Whenever possible, she also researches other music from the same composer to help with the meaning.

Afterward, Peter said that he finished “Inner Voices” about this time last year, but it had nothing to do with nature or the weather in Idyllwild.

“I finished it in the winter, but started it in the summer,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the seasons.”

So much for my interpretation of a man running through the snow.

For the next hour, Ms. Kozasa held a Master Class in which sh worked with four viola players, including Howard, Alex, Kathy and Syriah. Each played a short piece for her, in which she gave input and suggestions. More often than not, Ms. Kozasa suggested the students become more physical and aggressive in their performances.

Ms. Kozasa makes suggestions to Kathy

For example, when Alex played a slow, Bach piece, Ms. Kozasa stated that it was a dance, and suggested that Alex take a few dance steps.

What?! Dance while he was playing? I tried to imagine what was going through that young man’s head!

“This piece is really about dances back then,” she said. “And the third step is really suspended in mid-air. Try and step while you play. Here, let me show you.”

And then she played the same song, but exaggerated the steps to an unknown dance as she moved across the stage.

Alex, likely eager to please, played the piece again, and moved as best he could to the ancient dance.

“That’s beautiful,” she exclaimed as he finished. “It feels more like a dance in which your whole body is moving to the music. Now, try and put character into each step. Don’t be afraid of making a huge dip.”

After all of the students had played, Peter and Ms. Kozasa stuck around at Stephens to record the piece. He said to look for it soon on iTunes.

For more information and to see a video of Ms. Kozasa at the June 5th Primrose Competition, visit www.peteraskim.com.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Nov 11, 2011 @ 1:28

 

 

 

 

Soloist & Student Orchestra Handle Mishap with Grace

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Peter Askim's violin soloist showed grace under pressure Saturday night. (Photo from another event. Courtesy Idyllwild Arts).

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Broken strings. You can bet that world-class violin soloists playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony have broken their violin strings onstage before.

However, that must’ve been cold comfort for Ally, the 16-year-old sophomore, during her first solo with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra (IAO) Saturday night, Oct. 15.

Halfway through her 20-minute piece, Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 61, Ally’s violin strings broke. Immediately she said, “Sorry,” and stopped playing.

“I knew that she was in trouble,” said Xiofan, better know as Sa-Sa, the principal violin player. “There’s no way she could fix it.”

Sa-Sa offered his violin to Ally, and she continued playing the rest of the piece without incident.

“You barely noticed that anything was wrong,” said Alex, a voice major from New Zealand who attended the concert Saturday night. “There was a natural pause. But afterwards, I think she sounded better on Sa-Sa’s violin.”

Ally's strings broke halfway through the Beethoven piece Sat. night (File photo).

But that left Sa-Sa without a violin. As first chair and concertmaster, you can bet that the orchestra needed him to keep playing as much as they needed the soloist.

Without prompting, Lin Ma, another student violinist, offered Sa-Sa his violin, and the music continued.

“I think that’s the natural order of things,” said one Idyllwild Arts student whose sister plays violin with a professional orchestra. “The concertmaster offers the soloist his instrument, and the violin next in line offers the concertmaster his and it goes down the line. They did the right thing.”

What Peter Askim, music director and conductor, was thinking, no one knows but him. Yet, Peter addressed the mishap with humor by using an analogy before the Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16, concert began.

“Most of the students in the orchestra are brand new to Idyllwild Arts,” Peter explained. “Like a new sports car, we took it out for a ride yesterday and tested its meddle. After shifting a few gears, we’ll sound even better today.”

There was laughter coming from audience members who knew about the mishap, while others didn’t know why Peter was talking about sports cars.

“I checked Ally’s violin before she went onstage today,” Sa-Sa said. “Everything was just fine.”

You can bet that Ally’s heart was racing a bit faster as she neared the part in the music where her strings had broken.

“Sa-Sa was the hero Saturday night,” Alex exclaimed. “When he came onstage after the break, everyone clapped especially hard for him.”

Shen was the clarinet soloist

Sa-Sa said that he didn’t notice.

But a 10-second mishap is not the entire concert, and a lost shoe is not the game. I once saw a star shooter during a UCLA basketball lose his shoe, and scramble to recover it without stopping play.

It happens to the best of them.

For her second concert solo on Sunday afternoon, Ally showed incredible grace and composure. Perhaps only her mother would know how nervous she was. Only once during a rest did Ally inspect her violin strings, and hold the instrument up to her ear.

Mr. and Mrs. Yang came all the way from Dalian, on the coast of China, to her their daughter play. (Their uncle is a pilot so they can fly free). During the concert, both were busy recording Ally’s performance on their cameras.

Not only did Ally maintain her composure, she played the Beethoven concerto as if it wasn’t difficult at all. At times, it sounded as if two violins were playing simultaneously. And there were parts where Ally’s fingers were moving so fast, it looked as if they weren’t moving at all.

That’s the beauty of young talent, and she’s only going to get better with each experience.

“You did a great job today, honey, and yesterday too,” said one woman to Ally after the concert Sunday.

Ally thanked her and smiled. The hard part was over.

For his clarinet solo, Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 5, Shen appeared serious, but also played with grace and a loud, clear sound. For fans like me, it seemed like eternity before he got to play. Yet when Shen was in the spotlight, he took his time. Yahuda, his teacher, would have been proud.

According to the program, Crusell wrote most of his concertos so that he’d have something to play. And this clarinet concerto was one of the best works – both melodic and emotionally inventive.

On Sunday, both Ally’s and Shen’s solos were perfectly executed. During their encore bows, both received standing ovations from the audience. New headmaster Brian Cohen, who plays the violin, was first on his feet applauding loudly. Peter Askim also appeared pleased, giving Shen a hearty hug, and holding Ally’s hand as they bowed together.

As someone once said, “It’s not about the mistakes you make, but how you recover.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 17, 2011 @ 12:56

 

 

 

 

 

Clarinet and Violin Solos in Weekend Concert

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Shen will play a clarinet solo with the student orchestra Sat. and Sun.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This weekend, two music students will perform as soloists along with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra (IAO) during their first concert of the year. Both soloists come from China, yet grew up on opposite ends of the country.

Manje, better known as “Ally” is a sophomore violinist, yet exudes an older maturity. She will be playing Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin & Orchestra in D Major, Op. 61. The entire orchestra piece will last about 20 minutes.

“I’ve never played that long onstage before,” Alley exclaimed.

Yet, the teenager has performed many times last year with the IAO, and at different events, such as the one at Palm Springs High School, as part of a yearly outreach. Idyllwild Arts students sing, dance, and play classical and jazz numbers. The event  is hosted by the Steinway Society and Dr. Nelms McKelvain, who also teaches piano at Idyllwild Arts.

Ally was excited that her mother was coming from China to see this concert. Mrs. Yang will be among many parents attending the “Parents Weekend” events on campus this weekend.

Ally will play with the orchestra in a piece that lasts 20 minutes

Shen, the other soloist, is a clarinet player. He is very busy these days. First of all, he’s a prefect, or student leader, and has regular dorm duties. Secondly, he’s a senior, so he must submit his college applications soon and prepare for his upcoming auditions in Jan./Feb.

Last year, Shen was thinking of giving up the clarinet and studying psychology instead. However, Yahuda, his clarinet teacher from USC and Colburn, would hear none of it. He insisted that Shen continue his clarinet studies, even during the summer at Idyllwild Arts.

Those two weeks were the longest for Shen.

“It was weird being on campus and not knowing anyone,” he said.

Yet the experience of working with Yahuda in an intense program was worth it.

“I might even got better,” Shen quipped.

Just yesterday, Shen was performing with seven other Idyllwild Arts students at the Palm Springs High School.–the same one Ally had performed at last year.

Show poster

Shen played a clarinet solo by Massaje, and was accompanied by Nelms on piano. Even though there was music on the stand, Shen didn’t look at it once. He said that every time that he appears before a large audience is a good experience.

“Maybe I won’t be so nervous when I play with our orchestra this weekend,” Shen said.

For his piece, Shen will be playing Crusell’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 5. His mother from San Diego will be there, but not his teacher.

“Yahuda’s busy and Idyllwild is a long way from LA,” Shen said.

Besides the Beethoven and Crusell piece, the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra will be playing Haydn’s Symphony in E Flat Major, Hob. 1:99.

Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, this concert is free and open to the public. The Saturday, Oct. 15 show will be held at 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.. For more information, contact Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2200, or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 12, 2011 @ 20:17

 

New Music Tonight, then Redcat Saturday

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Music Director Peter Askim's viola concerto will be showcased tonight

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight, in celebration of the school’s 25th Anniversary, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra will showcase New Music by several contemporary composers. However, some compositions are only a few weeks old.

“I need to finish my orchestra piece,” Peter Askim, music director and composer-in-residence had said during Spring Break in March.

His new viola concerto was specially created for Roger Myers, a notable violist and chair of the strings department at the University of Texas at Austin. Myers is regarded as one of the foremost performers and teachers of his time. He will be performing the piece for the first time tonight.

Chris, a classical viola student at Idyllwild Arts, will be paying special attention to Myers performance from his orchestra seat. Chris took a master class with Myers earlier in the year, and plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin because of him.

“He’s an awesome teacher and performer,” Chris said. “I can’t wait to hear him perform with us.”

When asked what they think of Peter’s new viola concerto, some string students say that it’s difficult to play. But then again, all of Peter’s pieces have been known to be difficult.

For the orchestra students, New Music is a great diversion from their classical repertoire. In preparation for a piece, some students go to the library or purchase the song online.  That way, they can listen to the music  in the quiet of their practice room. However, for these New Music pieces, there is no record, CD or track to refer to, and it can be a little nerve wracking.

“We don’t just listen to songs written by dead people,” Peter chided students before a New Age concert they attended at the LA Philharmonic last year.

Besides Peter Askim, the works of three other contemporary composers will be featured at the New Music orchestra concert tonight. They include: Rufus Reid, Pierre Jalbert and Jan Radzynski.

“Spanning traditions and crossing genres, the program is a microcosm of the world of Contemporary American Music, and a celebration of the diversity of cultures and styles that Idyllwild Arts represents,” states copy on Peter Askim’s web site.

The program includes the World Premiere of a new orchestral work by renowned jazz bassist Rufus Reid. “A recipient of a Guggenheim Award, Reid’s new work blends and blurs the boundaries of jazz and classical orchestral music,” Peter’s web site states.

“Recipient of the Rome Prize, the BBC Masterprize, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Stoeger Award and a 2010 American Academy of Arts and Letters award, composer Pierre Jalbert’s astonishingly beautiful music is at once immediately accessible and refreshingly new.

“A native of Poland and former resident of Israel, Jan Radzynski writes music that transcends borders, cultures and time itself. His new work for violin and orchestra is intellectually probing, cross-cultural and deeply moving.”

There will be two chances to listen to the New Music Concert this weekend. It will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Saturday, April 7, at the IAF Theater on campus. The concert is free and open to the public. Then at 4 p.m. on Mother’s Day, Sunday, April 8, the group will perform at REDCAT at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. General admission ($25) or student tickets ($10) are available at REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd Street in Los Angeles or by visiting www.redcat.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: May 7, 2011 @ 12:21