Friday, July 3, 2009
Strings and Sketches....
A year ago, I experienced a combination of events that would lead to the next round of new pieces to write and perform. The first was encountering - and subsequently spending much time analyzing - Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor. The second was a Sheldon family trip to Siena, Italy, where in a beautiful music room in our hotel, I fleshed out a harmonic form that I had been kicking around for some time but hadn't yet completed. And the third was meeting Dutch artist Arjen Dijksma in a chance encounter in the Leidseplein the day after Jenn and Asif moved back to Boston.
After a few postponements due to work in America, pregnancy fatigue and at one point, a mild case of writer's block, I was finally able to hear my Sonata for Piano Trio in E Minor - as well as two other simple forms pieces I had written - realized in performance.
In early June, I hosted our ninth Canvas performance, this time offering two days of performances, as opposed to just one evening. Between the two concerts, over 60 people attended, half of whom were new additions to the Canvas community. Very exciting progress for me.
Also extremely rewarding was the collaboration with Dutch artist Arjen Dijksma, who installed an exhibit of his work for the performance and (most excitingly to me) created an original work inspired by the music I had written and the rehearsals of ours he attended.
Arjen specializes in making prints from etchings...a technique popularized by old Dutch masters such as Hendrick Goltzius and Rembrandt. Through manipulations in etching technique, he creates various depths and texture in his prints that is particularly brilliant in person. You can see in this work (titled "Canvas") a representation of our violinist Emma Breedveld, our cellist Eva van de Poll, and me at the piano (complete with a cubist-inspired maternal belly). Those of you who have been in our house or seen pictures will also recognize our beautiful stained glass windows in the background.
In the foreground, there is a piece of sheet music with "Canvas" inscribed on it.
It's a fantastic piece and I'm honored to be represented by his vision.
(Arjen made a limited number of prints and they are available for purchase. Should any of you be interested, please send me an email or leave a comment on this blog entry.)
I'm including below the introductory notes I wrote for the program:
"About a year ago, I heard a recording of the Beaux Arts Trio performing Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor. Having performed numerous times with violin and cello in separation, I was struck by the expanded realm of possibility of what the three instruments could express together and began exploring the combination. I started listening to and studying some of the great piano trio literature by Beethoven, Brahms, Schumman, and most impactingly, Maurice Ravel.
In deciding to assemble a piano trio for this performance, my primary objectives were 1) to gain aptitude in understanding and writing for this combination of instruments, and 2) to gain enough comfort speaking the language of this combination to be able to express myself genuinely through new pieces.
I was fortunate to find musicians to play with who are not only gifted technicians and intuitive interpreters, but who are also flexible and open-minded. Both of these women have the imagination to see their instruments both inside and outside of the conventional definitions of how a violin and cello should and could sound. They aren’t afraid to see their instruments as not only melodic string instruments, but also as bass, percussion, and even sound effect generators.
I have learned much from Eva and Emma and am honored that they have taken on the task of launching these new pieces.
In addition to my own work, I am happy to present two pieces by Ms. Breedveld in this program. This performance marks the premiere of Wals, and the first time Na den Beginne has been performed with the instrumentation of violin, cello and harmonium.
We will also play two pieces by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) from his Quatro estaciones de Buenos Aires (“Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”), written in 1969.
ABOUT CANVAS – The history of the salon concert is centuries old. Although its origin is porportedly Italian, it was the French who, in the 17th century, brought salon gatherings to a new level of prominence. Composer and pianist Frederick Chopin gave an overwhelming majority of his performances in salons, prefering to offer his works to small groups of people, most of who were friends or acquaintances.
In an ongoing effort to develop as both an artist and a craftsman, I began offering home concerts to friends and neighbors in December 2007. In March 2008, I gave the name Canvas to these programs, suggesting that each performance was a unique opportunity – a blank canvas – on which to place new pieces, new ideas, and new collaborations.
In less than two years, within the boundaries of space and budget, I have enjoyed presenting a wide range of genres and presentation mediums to an audience of over 120 different people, and I’m happy to see that number grow this weekend!
It is a pleasure to have you in our home. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to experience music in such an intimate setting. Please join us again!