“All Music Was Once New”
October 9th, 2012. Finally a new post… Since my last posting, I have played a number of concerts on bassoon and contrabassoon for the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra as a sub. They now have 2 very wonderful member bassoonists and there haven’t been pieces that use contrabassoon as of late, so my recent bassoon activity has been taking lessons and practicing. On saxophones, I have played for a few funerals for friends and family members. Now for the milestone: I just passed 50,000 youtube.com views of JS Bach’s Courante and Minuet from the 1st Cello Suite, which I play on baritone saxophone. If you go to the link, skip ahead and listen to some of the minuet too. Thank for your continued support of my music!
July 4th, 2011. Happy Independence Day, everyone! Since my last post, I had a great time performing for my son’s graduation party. It took place at his mom’s place and it was a perfect day for the event. My daughter, Sarah, and grandson, Zachary, were able to fly home for the event. I played the minutes and courante from JS Bach’s First Cello Suite on baritone saxophone as well as Jacob Ter Veldhuis’s piece, Billie, based on interviews with Billie Holiday. The performance went well from my perspective. Check out our post for this week from our musicquoteshomepage.com sight. I featured the work of another very talented composer paying tribute to Ter Veldhuis. Being it is 4th of July week, it seemed appropriate to feature the music of a French composer. Because, without the help of the French, early on in the formation of our country and with our two wars with Britain, we would have likely lost the wars and the signers of the Declaration of Independence would surely have all been hung. if you miss the video of Florent Ghys, you can find his composition here.
May 30th, 2011 A good deal has happened since my last post. My dad passed away on March 27th and I honored his request to play ‘A Closer Walk With Thee’ on alto saxophone at his funeral. I was joined by a fine accordion player, Gene Retka, who also played the prelude and postlude music. (My dad really liked ‘old time’ music.) While I had a good deal of concern about playing well, due to the emotional nature of the event, it surprisingly turned out to be one of the most rewarding musical experiences I have had.
In April, for a chamber music recital series sponsored by the Motley and Staples Minnesota arts organization, Ed Turley once again performed my ‘Five Evening Pieces for Piano’. He was joined by Patricia Kent, who, along with Ed, did a stellar job in performing the vocal version of the 5th piece, ‘Sleep Now’. Ed asked me to introduce the work at the Motley concert, and it was well received by the audience, based on the comments I received from several of them after the recital. Ed and the rest of his musician friends played beautifully.
In mid-April, I was asked by the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra to play contrabassoon for Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. In addition to a number of rehearsals, we gave two concerts for grade school kids in Sauk Rapids, MN as well as the final concert of the season and the farewell concert for the orchestra’s conductor and artistic director, Andrew Altenbach. It was an honor for me to play with the orchestra and my admiration for Andrew Altenbach couldn’t be higher after having the privilege of playing under the direction of a conductor who had such a clear, unpretentious and musically inspired way of translating the score into a delightful, and at times, electrifying performance! I join the regular orchestra members and community at large in wishing Mr. Altenbach the very best in his new position as opera director for the Boston Conservatory of Music.
My next performance event is in a few weeks, where I will play alto and baritone saxophone for my son Grant’ graduation party. The whole event is organized around live music. In addition to my prepared pieces, it is likely that I’ll do some impromptu playing with other musicians in the Indy and Rock genres. It should be a blast!
March 7, 2011 I had the great pleasure of hearing the Four Nations Ensemble, play three short concerts, and one full length one, over a week’s period of time this past week in St Cloud. What a delight! The regular members, Charles Brink, baroque flute, Krista Bennion Feeney, violin, Loretta O’Sullivan, Cello and Andrew Appel, harpsichord, were joined by soprano Christine Brandes. The playing was exquisite and heartfelt. Between seeing the shows and visiting with the members, this is the closest I have ever been to being a groupie. Based on the ‘transporting’ experience I had listening to each piece, I would travel distances to hear them play again. I hope they return to Minnesota in the future, because if I show up in another state to hear them anytime soon, my enthusiasm might make it hard for the members to decide whether or not I am a raving fan or a stalker! (Really, I’m just a fan… No need to take out a restraining order.)
February 21st, 2011 Despite no electricity in the hall, and some real difficulty seeing the music and the conductor, (all of St. Cloud was without power for much of the afternoon), We had a very good performance of All Works Dwell In Time and Gravity, Force, Movement & Percussion from DaVinci: Transcending Time for Wind Ensemble. Conductor Armando Saldarini and the St. Cloud University Wind Ensemble really came through!
The premier was on a concert honoring Dr. Albert Moore, (who received much praise for his 40 year career and gave very gracious remarks of appreciation,) a retiring trumpet and french horn professor and in the audience where many of his former students who came from great distances to honor Dr. Moore. I wish to thank all of the musicians, my friend and bassoon teacher, Laurie Merz, who played the bassoon solos, Andrea Fedele, my friend and oboe soloist, Armando and Dr. Richard Hansen, who conducted most of the rest of the concert and who programed my piece. Sections premiered included:
1st All Works Dwell In Time “Among the great things which are found among us the existence of Nothing is the greatest. This dwells in time, and stretches it limbs into the past and the future, and with these takes to itself all works that are past and those that are to come, both of nature and of the animals, and possesses nothing of the indivisible present.”
2nd Gravity, Force, Movement & Percussion “Gravity, force and material movement together with percussion are four accidental powers in which all the visible works of mortals have their being and their death.”
- Leonardo DaVinci
January 28th, 2011 Earlier this month, Bonnett and I heard a wonderful organ recital in St. Paul, MN by our friend Marcelyn Smale. During the second half of the recital, we sat in the front of the church, which was the area that the majority of the organ’s pipes were located. It was incredible to feel the vibrations of the notes through our backs, as the pews vibrated in consonance with the music. What an experience! – Richard
November 22nd , 2010 I had the good fortune of hearing a live concert, here in St. Cloud, MN, by the Imani Winds, one of the premier wind quintets in the world… and I was blown away! In addition to performing very ambitious music from the 20th and 21st century, they performed an arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which contained virtually all or the music of the full orchestral score. It was extraordinary!!!
During intermission & after the concert, I was able to chat with the performers, two of which are also composers, and was very inspired by their warmth and helpfulness. I purchased “Elegy for Innocence” by French horn player and composer, Jeff Scott, written for Bassoon and Piano, and was able to work on it today. It is both beautiful and challenging! For this week, a MusicQuotesHomepage.com link to an Imani Winds video.
November 15th, 2010 Just returned from Upstate New York, where I presented at a conference. I took the Mozart Bassoon Concerto sheet music with me and practiced mentally on the airplane on the way to New York and on the way back to MN. Funny… I thought it would be easier mentally than with the instrument, but it seemed every bit as difficult as ever! Will it be easier when I practice it for real after having devoted several hours of mentally practicing it? That is the big question for me.
I played my audio recording of my Five Evening Pieces for Piano to one of the other attendees and may have picked up one more fan of my music. At this one-per-day rate, I will certainly be a star centuries from now!
October, 17, 2010 I just returned from San Francisco and the wine country to visit my daughter and grandson. What a beautiful area! Now, back to practicing and composing! – Richard
October 4th, 2010 Here is the first photo from a photo shoot a few days ago by photographer Frank Kundrat:
October 3rd, 2010 I met with my good friend, architect Tim McCarthy today, who is doing the graphics for DaVinci Transcending Time for Wind Ensemble. We mapped out the basic layout for the video that will be broadcast while the piece is premiered. Time for finishing orchestration touches.- Richard
September 27th, 2010 Last week I met with Dr. Rik Hansen, of the St. Cloud State University Wind Ensemble and Armando Saldarini, the Italian conductor and master’s degree student of conducting at SCSU. They looked over the updated version of DaVinci Transcending Time for Wind Ensemble and we are now moving forward towards the premier of the work. More details to follow!- Richard
September 20th, 2010 I recommitted my fingers to practicing the piano and started working on minor scales and a Bela Bartok piece from the Mikrokosmos. I really love Bartok’s music! Bassoon is going well, despite taking a few days off to work on saxophone, due to playing at a wedding on Saturday. Played the entire JS Bach 4th Flute sonata while the church emptied out ever so slowly right after the wedding. The bride and groom were right outside the door meeting and greeting so I also played 3 slow pieces by Ferling, originally written for oboe. Nice stuff. Nothing like the very live acoustics of an old Catholic church! - Richard
September 13th, 2010 Time to start posting again! I now have a year of bassoon playing in and I can honestly say that my brain no longer hurts when I play it. Up until recently, trying to get my brain to do such new and unusual things was very tough on it. But now it is much better as it has backed down to something that is just plain hard rather than an activity in which my brain actually rebelled.
I’m working on a piece way above my head – the Mozart Bassoon Concerto in Bb – as well as the usual scales and exercises out of the method book. My teacher, Laurie Merz, an exceptional bassoonist, continues to put up with my multitude of bassoon shortcomings. It must be her way of burning off lifetimes of wretched Karma.- Richard
December 28th , 2010 I’ve been devoting more time to practicing bassoon, and am really enjoying learning a new instrument, having started bassoon in September of 2009. I played Christmas Carols on it for my mother-in-law and father-in-law on Christmas Eve. and again the day after Christmas for my the group of nephews, nieces and great nieces who were assembled for the get-together. My 4-year old niece was mightily entertained by my unintentional transition in the middle of “Frosty the Snowman” into “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
I am now putting on the finishing touches to DaVinci Transcending Time, with the present orchestration for Wind Band. It is my hope to also orchestrate this work for orchestra, as I believe it would work well for either kind of ensemble. Please click here for the Leonardo DaVinci quotations on which it is based. – Richard