STAND BACK!

“STAND BACK!” the young man in a black uniform shouted at me.

Our first #celloeverywhere photos didn’t show any interaction with people. Of course, this is New York, and it’s not really surprising to anyone that there’s some guy playing an instrument on the street. Even a sleek and shiny carbon fiber cello.

But I really wanted to play for people.

We headed up to Central Park, and at Columbus Circle we noticed these counter-terrorism guys.

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They looked like they could use some Bach. Why not?

So I walked up and got a little too close and the guy on the right was quite assertive with me. “Stand back!” he shouted at me.

“No problem,” I was quick to reply as I very quickly moved away. “Can I play some music for you guys?”

“Sure.”

“Can I sit over here? I really do not want to invade your personal space.”

That was alright. As was taking photos. So I played the first three movements of the Bach G Major suite for them.

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They didn’t look over at me, but pretty clearly they had other things to be looking at or for. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t even a smile (I found one later in one of the other photos).

When I was done, the guy who had yelled at me asked Mr. Photographer if they could get a copy of the pictures. They did like it! So we gave him a flyer with the Twitter and Instagram hashtag, Facebook address, etc. (If you’ve found this, guys, thanks–it was fun to play for you. And thanks for doing your jobs.)

A man who was trying to sell people tour packages had been listening, too, walking over and smiling. (Another job I’m glad someone else is doing.) “What was that?” he asked. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major, I told him. I assumed he’d say he’d heard Yo-Yo Ma’s recording. Nope. “Sounded kind of like Vivaldi to me,” he said. We gave him a flyer.

“Sounded kind of like Vivaldi to me,” he said. We gave him a flyer.

This couple had listened for quite a while. They came over to thank me and we took a photo together. He’s visiting from Europe, she lives in D.C. “That was so beautiful,” they said. “It made our day.”

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Later on, the counter-terrorism guys were putting their gear into an SUV. There was banter going on, just like any group of people getting off work. It was clear how wonderfully ordinary and human they are. Fearsome and a bit (or a lot) afraid, doing their jobs and then blowing off a bit of steam. I almost asked if I could get a photo with them. But one was still holding his big gun, and I’d already gotten too close once.

 

 

 

 

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#celloeverywhere: from the Smoky Mountains to Indiana to New York

A couple of years ago the idea came to me: do a series of photos of me playing the cello. In all sorts of different locations. Like the Smoky Mountains:

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(This was actually quite a difficult spot to reach, which I’ll explain in another post.)

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Getting to this spot was an adventure, too. It’s easier said than done, but luckily I connected with a wonderful photographer, Jiawei Fang, who has joined me in this project. This would not work as selfies! We have set up the #celloeverywhere tag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We did a shoot at the DePauw Nature Park, which encompasses an old limestone quarry, just after Christmas.

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Now we are in New York as I attend the Chamber Music America conference and prepare for my concerts on January 15 and 19. Last night we went for a walk down Sixth Avenue, and discovered there are plenty of Christmas decorations still up. In front of one office building there was quite a pile of ornaments:

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And many lighted evergreens in front of another:

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This building also has an American flag suspended. We wanted a shot with the flag, and got it, but we also got the attention of a security guy, who politely told me I had to leave. No photos while seated, he said. (This made me wish I had a Blockstrap, which enables one to play standing up, with me.)

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So we went on our way, patriotic salute made. And there was Radio City Music Hall on the other side of the street.

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Mr. Photographer was working to get shots uncluttered by people, but there were plenty!

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Some friends on Facebook have asked for video. It was so cold that night that I can promise you should be glad you can’t hear me! My left fingers could hardly move.

We walked over to Fifth Avenue, where the Tiffany store was blasting Christmas music as fuller-than-full volume. I had fun trying to play along (there was a big crowd, some of whom took photos of me).

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And then we ended up in with a great shot of the Christmas tree behind me. We had to wait quite a while to get a shot without other folks in the background.

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More to come!

 

 

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New York, I’ll Be There Soon!

I’ve been in love with New York City for since my first visit when I was 16 or 17 years old.

Fortune smiled on me and I lived at 64th St. and Broadway while I attended Juilliard. And five years ago I spent five months on the Upper West Side while on sabbatical, exploring alternative venues, helping create and organize the first Bach in the Subways Day, and doing some unusual performances with the International Street Cannibals.

I’ll be back in New York from January 3-21, 2016, on a honeymoon (getting married tomorrow to my partner Nate), and doing a lot of playing.

On Friday, January 15, the fabulous pianist and composer Fernando Otero and I are playing music from our new album Dual.

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Eric Edberg and Fernando Otero. Photo (c) by Jiawei Fang

(click for a sample). It’s the first recording of arrangements for cello and piano of Fernando’s sensuous, exciting, and tender contemporary classical music, and I’m so excited about helping expand the cello repertoire in this way (published arrangements will be forthcoming). We are doing a release event at 7:30 PM at the Consulate General of Argentina. Contact me for more information and an invitation to this short free concert, which is also a showcase for the Association of Performers and Presenters (APAP) conference.

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Taka Kigawa and Eric Edberg at the Greencastle Summer Music Festival photo (c) by Bernard Gordillo.

Tuesday, January 19 brings a 7:30 PM recital at SpectrumNYC, one of the cool Greenwich Village venues where you can sit in a comfortable chair and sip a glass of wine, with my friend the amazing pianist Taka Kigawa. We met back in 2011 and have played a number of concerts in Indiana since then. We’ll be performing music by Bach, Debussy, Prokofiev, and Schnittke. Admission is $15 ($10 students and seniors) at the door. SpectrumNYC 121 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002.

And it’s also going to be Cello Everywhere month in NYC. “Cello Everywhere” is my new photo/video project of me playing the cello in as many visually interesting and unusual places as possible. Inspired by fellow cellists Matt Haimovitz and Yo-Yo Ma, each of whom do lots pop-up concerts as part of their musical lives, and Dale Henderson‘s Bach in the Subways project. I’ll be posting locations and times as we know them. And I’m definitely open to invitations to play at schools, assisted living facilities, and, well, everywhere. Here are a few pre-New York photos by Jiawei Fang; three on the campus of DePauw University, and one in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

 

 

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A New Strings Program in Greencastle

There’s nothing I’m more thankful for than the fact that there was a great strings program in my elementary school, and that my mother and Mrs. Sias, the strings teacher, conspired to get eleven-year-old me to “try” the cello. (“Try it! You’ll like it!” I did.)

The wonderful life I’ve had in music, and any difference I’ve made with music, is because of that strings program.

Now the DePauw University School of Music, where I teach, has started the Putnam County Youth String Program. This year, every fourth grader in Greencastle is getting a free violin and class instruction. It’s all being made possible by private donations, and we hope to expand well beyond the fourth grade and Greencastle in years to come.

 

Look at the infectious joy of these children:

 

I’m very happy to be able to “pay it forward” by being a financial supporter of this program, giving these children the opportunity to experience the difference that only music makes.

You can get in on the fun, too! Contact me (eedberg@depauw.edu) or Mark Rabideau, the director of DePauw’s 21st Century Musician Initiative at markrabideau@depauw.edu or 765-301-9274.

And if you’re an Indiana resident, the state will give you half your money back through a tax credit! The Greencastle Civic League has worked with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to make available special tax incentives. Mark or I can get you the appropriate paperwork.

 

 

Once again, you can contact me (eedberg@depauw.edu) or Mark Rabideau, the director of DePauw’s 21st Century Musician Initiative at  markrabideau@depauw.edu or 765-301-9274.

 

 

 

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Alan Hovhaness Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 255

I don’t know why this piece, which is both moving and mystical, is so rarely performed. I can’t find a recording of it anywhere! This performance is from the summer of 2015 at the Greeencastle Summer Music Festival. The pianist is my good friend John Kamfonas; we are working on an album with this work, the Suite for Cello and Piano, and the solo cello piece, Yakamochi.

Movement 1: Andante espressivo

Movement 2: Gracioso

Movement 3 Prayer (Andante Cantabile)

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Matt Haimovitz Tonight at Miller Theatre: Bach, Glass, Yun, and Woolf. Go If You Can!

In New York and love new music and the Bach Cello Suites?

Do whatever it takes to rearrange your life and go hear Matt Haimovitz, the amazingly inventive and entrepreneurial musician who concludes a four-day residency at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre at 7:00 PM tonight, performing new pieces by Philip Glass, Du Yun, and Luna Pearl Woolf, each an “overture” to the J.S. Bach First, Second, and Sixth Cello Suites (the Sixth performed on a five-string violoncello piccolo).

You’ll be glad you did.

I was in the audience for Thursday night’s program, a brilliantly played and deeply engaging presentation of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Suites, each preceded by a commissioned piece by Vijay Iyer, Roberto Sierra, and Mohammed Fairouz. I also attended all three popup performances at Brad’s Café, the Columbia University Bookstore, and even the Dodge Fitness Center. In each he played one of the overtures and a full Bach Suite, so I had the opportunity to hear everything
on tonight’s program.

Matt Haimovitz in Brad's Café at Columiba University. Photo by David Spelman

Matt Haimovitz in Brad’s Café at Columiba University. Photo by David Spelman

At Brad’s Café, an indoor/outdoor space at the School of Journalism, he sat against a wall as faculty and students had a cup of coffee, a sandwich, worked on laptops. I was struck by one of the finest cellists in the world quietly serenading us with Du Yun’s “The Veil of Veronica”and the Second Suite. A few of us listened closely, while for others it was background music. Two birds flew in, singly happily, as if to join in as both music-makers and listeners.

At the Bookstore, 15 or so people listened with rapt attention to Luna Pearl Woolf’s “Lili’uokalani,” written for the five-string cello on which Matt then played the Sixth Suite. A question and answer session followed, with as many questions for the composer as for her husband, the cellist.

Then at 5:00 PM, we gathered again in the gym. Matt had changed into workout clothes, and set up in the relative safety of a corner by a stairwell by treadmills and other equipment, and right next to the water fountains. It was just off the indoor running track, so joggers and runners would whiz by as he played the surprisingly lyrical and romantic Philip Glass Prelude and perhaps the best performance I’ve ever heard of the Bach G Major Suite. As he was waiting for the official start time, Matt played short bursts of the Bach Prelude as athletes ran past, just ten feet so from him and his Gofriller cello, which must be worth millions of dollars. The dance movements had a vitality and energy that may always be there when he plays this suite, but I imagine the enormous physical energy and motion in the space were something he was riding on as well.

I’ll be writing more about the entire experience soon. For now I’ll say that these four performances, in less than 24 hours, left me on an inspired high that has been looking forward to getting back to Indiana and my own cello–and to our cello students and me invading our own fitness center with Bach!

Matt Haimovitz in the Columbia University Dodge Fitness Center. Photo by Eric Edberg.

Matt Haimovitz in the Columbia University Dodge Fitness Center. Photo by Eric Edberg.

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NYC, Kullan, and Matt: Four Days, Seven Performances

Tomorrow morning I leave for my beloved second home, New York City, where I’ll be attending at least seven events before I return Sunday night: three plays and four concerts.

I’ll be staying with my daughter Kullan Edberg in Harlem, and seeing her Friday and Saturday evenings in Unhealthy, the new play by Darren Caulley, presented by the company she cofounded, the Batallion Theatre. There’s a show Thursday night, too, and tickets (all shows at 7:00 PM at the Kraine Theatre in the East Village) are here. We’ll also catch at least one Broadway matinee.

I’ll be spending a lot of time on Thursday and Friday experiencing the innovative artistry of the cellist Matt Haimovitz. Matt, the first solo classical musician I know of to regularly perform Bach (eventually with Hendrix and other covers as well) and other classical music in rock clubs, nightclubs, and bars, and one of the first to start his own very successful record label, is one of the quintessential 21st-century musicians.

Starting today (Wednesday 10/21), Matt’s doing a remarkable four days of performances at Columbia University. All six Bach Suites, each preceded by a new “overture” by a living composer (Vijay Iyer, Roberta Sierra, Mohammed Fairouz, Du Yun, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Philip Glass). Two evening concerts at Miller Theatre, and (this is where it’s really exciting for me) six free informal concerts around the campus (an overture and an entire Bach Suite at each), in locations including the bookstore, a dining hall, a café, even the fitness center. (To get the exact locations and times, follow Miller Theatre on Twitter@MillerTheatre or on Facebook.)

Matt Haimovitz, in a definitely alternative location (where, I don’t know!). 

This combination of spontaneous “popup” performances along with formal recitals in a traditional hall is fascinating. It will help build audiences for the paid events, sure (and get followers for Miller Theatre), but it also brings this amazing music to people who don’t have the time or money for those shows–or who just don’t like traditional concert spaces. “Alternative venue” performances, as we call them, are just that–an alternative to traditional concerts, not less-significant performances whose worth are determined by how they transfer audiences to the often-stuffy and intimidating buildings of yesteryear. All of us who perform outside the concert hall know that the immediacy and connection brings a special kind of connection and interaction we don’t experience in a formal recital.

In the music entrepreneurship field, we talk a lot about the developing “alternative venue” market. As far as I can tell, Matt’s 2000 “Listening Room” tour was the first by a major name in classical music to do this in a way that attracted significant attention. Matt paved the way for the Classical Revolution movement, as well as the NYC venues [le] poisson rouge, Spectrum, and Subculture (as well as the ones elsewhere I don’t know about). Even if their founders weren’t consciously thinking of Matt, his work put the idea out into the world.

Anthony Tomassini, reviewing Matt’s 2004 appearance at CGBG (the now-defunct Lower East Sider rock club) in the New York Times, wrote ” . . . I salute Mr. Haimovitz for work that is truly pathbreaking, in that he is forging entries to alternate outlets for the music he loves. . . . Mr. Haimovitz’s mission, and that’s what it is, is providing a healthy prod to the classical music world to re-examine how it reaches audiences.”

Elevn years later, performing classical music in a club is pretty ordinary. How things have changed since then–and how Matt helped change them!

With this series, as with so many of Matt’s other projects, he combines new music and works from the classical canon, and innovative, “alternative” performing spaces with a traditional one. His career is original project after original project. I’m excited to experience Thursday and Friday’s events, and I have a hunch my students and I are going to be using them as a model.

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