Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bucket Drumming in the Union Square subway

As I was writing my previous post, I was remembering my absolute favorite NYC subway musical experience: a young teenage boy doing fantastic drumming–I think it was at the Lincoln Center stop–on a white bucket.

And I just found a bucket-drumming video (different drummer) from director taikieatssushi, who made the beatboxing flute and cello . Fantastic!

Turns out there are loads of bucket drumming videos on YouTube.


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In the Union Square subway station

One of the delights of visiting New York City is the music one encounters from time to time. I’ve heard fabulous stuff in there. I wish I’d encountered beatboxing flute player Greg Pattillo with Eric Stephenson on cello, filmed here at the Union Square subway in NYC. This is way cool, with great camera work:

Here’s Eric’s bio from the The Project site:

An exceptionally versatile cellist, Eric Stephenson’s style ranges from classical to jazz to rock and folk. He is currently a member of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra in Memphis, Tennessee and the Colorado Music Festival. Eric served as Principal Cellist of the Canton Symphony Orchestra from 2002-2006 and was a regular substitute for the Cleveland Orchestra.

As a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, he served as Assistant Principal Cello of the Aspen Festival Orchestra from 1999-2004. He has appeared as a soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra and the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Eric earned his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees with Honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a recipient of the Ellis A. Feiman Award in Cello while a student of Stephen Geber.

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Filed under Eric Stephenson, Greg Pattillo, music in subways, YouTube

“. . . ever since I first heard the cello I wanted to play it.”

A Naples Daily News profile of 13-year-old cellist Jared Blajian. “I think it’s something I was meant to do” he says, “because ever since I first heard the cello I wanted to play it.”

The cello is Jared’s lifeblood, his release. If he has a stressful day at school, he’ll come home and, within a half hour, he let it all out in through the vision of master composers.
. . .
Jared practices almost three hours a day, every day. He sits in the study and plays, barefoot, in a T-shirt and shorts with brown hair falling lazily across his forehead. He methodically works his way through at work, tilting his head slightly toward the strings as if he’s listening to words no one else can hear. Hours later he emerges from the room to grab a bite to eat or to watch a video of an orchestra performing. Then he returns to the study.


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The awful noise that started a career

The Lousiville Courier-Journal has a great profile on cellist Ben Sollee (his website) who got off to an unusual start:

When Ben Sollee’s elementary school band teacher first put the bow to the cello in his third-grade classroom, she struck the wrong note. But it was still the right chord for Sollee.

“She played all the different instruments for us, and she was a violinist and didn’t necessarily know how to play the cello,” Sollee recalled, laughing. “She went to bow the low string, and it made an awful noise — which I loved. And I was like, ‘I’m playin’ that!'”

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". . . if you have to decide between a really terrific European cellist and a really good American cellist, you lean to American"

Visas are harder and harder to get since 9/11, which is helpful for American soloists, at least in Phoenix, although the IRS is creating headaches of its own affecting the cause of the Americans:

“But with all the visa malarkey, and trying to get guest artists into the country with enough confidence to include them in our season brochure – well, we are looking at more American artists,” Christie says.

Even the IRS gets into the act, says Maryellen Gleason Phoenix Symphony president.

“There is a new rule about federal withholding tax,” she says. “It’s not a deal killer, but if you have to decide between a really terrific European cellist and a really good American cellist, you lean to American, which is good for the American, but it’s another step for our bookkeeping department, and we have only so much time.

“We canceled a guest conductor for next season for the exchange rate. We’re looking at a Chinese conductor instead of a European one.”

On the other hand, American orchestras touring Europe can be paid in euros, and the currency conversion imbalance can help them make up for a loss in corporate sponsorship. A poor economy has left several orchestras with empty pockets that corporate donations used to fill.

The entire Arizona Republic article is here.

Life carting a cello around has never been simple.

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La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste/Lalo Cello Concerto

Via Animation Blog, Jean-François Laguionie‘s beautiful 1965 animation, La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste (The Maid and the Cellist). The score is excerpts from the Lalo Cello Concerto, with beautiful, old-school playing (anyone recognize this recording?).

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Filed under animation, La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste, Lalo

Orlando Cole Turns 100

Eric Shumsky has written a tribute to the legendary cellist and teacher Orlando Cole (Wikipedia article and ICS interview), who turned 100 this past Saturday. I heard Cole give a masterclass and speak on a panel 4 or 5 years ago at a Cello Congress; he was sharp and articulate.

Is cello playing and teaching good for longevity? Greenhouse is in his nineties and giving masterclasses internationally. Starker is in his eighties and still teaching nearly full time at IU.

I hope so. The way the stock market has been going, I may need to keep teaching until I’m 80 or 90 myself!

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Matthew Barley

Strings magazine has a new profile of Matthew Barley, including this photo by Viktoria Mullova (well, I’m assuming it’s that Viktoria Mullova).

I’m a Barley fan myself. He’s a great role model for young musicians in a “post-classical” era. His career is diverse, he has numerous self-initiated projects, and one of the best websites in the business. As a matter of fact, I think his site and Mullova’s are an excellent contrast. His is eye-catching and interactive and not having seen it for a while, my reaction was “wow!” When I saw Mullova’s, I thought, “well, that’s nice.”

He’s also into improvisation.

I was sorry to see on his website that he’s been having problems with his left shoulder and had to cancel a number of performances. He’s scheduled to start performing again in September.

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Amy Leung

I love this photo of Amy Leung, who has a Kennedy Center gig tonight.

Update:  Carl Banner, founder and director of Washington Musica Viva, likes her a lot, and says so on his blog.  He’s included audio files from a rehearsal of the Brahms clarinet trio.  

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I’m suffering from IWS: Internet Withdrawl Syndrome.  I’m staying in a guest apartment at a retirement/disability facility where a good friend libes.  No wireless!  Ack!

My friend does have a beautiful IMAC that I’m able to use for short periods of time.  But we’re busy with a lot of stuff, so there’s not much time for blogging.  And it’s interesting to observe myself wanting to web surf at night.  But I can’t do that in my room.
On the other hand, there’s cable TV in my room, with about 100 channels.  So even as I experience IWS, I’ve been experiencing CSRS: Channel Surfing Relpase Syndrome.  And having a great time with it.  I had cable turned off at my house as a way to avoid the problems of Channel Surfing Syndrome.  It helped a lot, AND it is fun to induldge in my guilty pleasure for a few nights.
More cello news soon!

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