Posts Tagged ‘student concerts’

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.

 

 

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.

Scat! to the Student Jazz Concert Tuesday

Monday, December 12th, 2011

(from L) Lake, Ashi and Alejandro, from another event. Lake is among the jazz musicians who will play on Tuesday night.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Scat!

That might be something you’d shout at an annoying cat. But we’re talking about cool cats here. Like Louis Armstrong, Marshall Hawkins and Casey Abrams, to name a few.

Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was credited with the invention of “scat.” That’s when a singer uses nonsensical syllables to sing improvised lines of a jazz tune.

Idyllwild Arts grad Casey Abrams brought scat to America’s living rooms during Season 10 of “American Idol” last year. Most were amused when Casey would play his bass and scat, as if he was speaking a new language.

But Casey learned how to scat from the scat master, Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

Scat is not just something to say to an annoying cat.

“Marshall is the best scatter around,” all the jazz students would say.

Marshall didn’t stop with Casey. He’s also teaching the singers of the new Jazz Chorus how to scat too.

This Tuesday night, Dec. 13, you will hear them scat and play their hearts out. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Elijah, a pianist from Hamburg, Germany, is among the nine members of the new Jazz Chorus. But he admits that he can’t scat.

“I’m not really a good scatter, but I can sing good enough to blend into the background,” Elijah said last weekend. “Some of the others are really good at scatting. You should hear them!”

Elijah mentioned the names of the five or six songs the new Jazz Chorus will be singing on Tuesday night, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

He said the songs have jazz and blues roots with a “Manhattan Transfer” sound. As a teenager, Elijah is too young to remember the 70s band, Manhattan Transfer, which was known for their four-part harmonies and hit single, “Operator.” But he must’ve heard their memorable harmonies to borrow from them.

Elijah said that Tuesday’s jazz concert is not just about the Jazz Chorus, but also include features the two jazz combos, and the entire Idyllwild Arts Jazz Orchestra.

Casey Abrams (center) helped bring scat into American living rooms during the last season of "American Idol."

“We’ve been practicing since Parents Weekend, at the beginning of the school year,” Elijah said. “We’re ready!”

The Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild. The concert is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat!

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:48

 

 

 

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