on goodness

The past two evenings I performed on a Third Angle New Music studio series concert called “A Family Affair”. It was a concert centered around one of my colleagues in the ensemble (and in the Oregon Symphony), cellist Marilyn De Oliveira. Marilyn is quite a remarkable human being. She is one of the few people I know who is almost relentlessly positive in her outlook, regardless of what is happening both inside her life and in the outside world. She describes herself – somewhat ruefully – as a pollyanna. She is also, perhaps because of this worldview, a tremendous advocate for music to everyone. She, as she put it at a Q&A session last night, was brought up with the view that music has an incredible capacity to bring joy to every single person who encounters it. She is, quite honestly, a musical evangelical. And she’s one of those advocates who doesn’t tell you why music is good for you, she just, by her way of being and inhabiting the music, makes you also want to hear more, do more, maybe even learn more about music.

It’s so admirable, what Marilyn embodies. The audience at the concerts this week were also completely rapt in their attention to what Marilyn and her band of friends and family presented. It’s a rare thing, to be on the receiving end of that sort of audience focus. There really was a give and take that one always hopes for, but seldom gets in larger scale performances in the concert hall. For chamber musicians it’s more common to encounter, but these shows were at a level of interchange between audience and musicians that was way up in the 99th percentile. I’ll close by saying a heartfelt thank you to Marilyn for her musical kinship and friendship these past few years, and for inviting me to perform with her this week. It was a career highlight for me.

Obrigado, Marilyn!

Program:

CAROLINE SHAW | limestone & felt (2012)
JOHN TAVENER | Akhmatova Songs (1993)
ANDY AKIHO | 21 (2009)
SVANTE HENRYSON | Off Pist (1996)
KENJI BUNCH | Adventure Awaits (2017)
Commissioned with support from The Collins Foundation
GIOVANNI SOLLIMA | Lamentatio (1998)

Performers:
Marilyn de Oliveira, cello
Edlyn de Oliveira, soprano
Trevor Fitzpatrick, cello
Charles Noble, viola
Michael Roberts, percussion
James Shields, clarinet

seattle cellist toby saks has died

Toby Saks, founder of the Seattle Chamber Music Society and an acclaimed cellist, died early on Thursday (Aug. 1) — sending waves of shock and grief around the world as music lovers got the news. She was 71 when she lost a short battle with fast-moving pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis she met with bravery and calm.

Seattle Times obit.

boston cello quartet debut album a must buy

bsq-pictures-cover

The Boston Cello Quartet, comprised of four young cellists from the Boston Symphony, will release its debut disc on February 5th. The BSQ was founded in 2010 by Blaise Déjardin, Adam Esbensen (formerly of the Oregon Symphony, and a Corvallis native), Mihail Jojatu and Alexandre Lecarme. They rotate lead players for each piece they perform, and each player is brilliantly suited to the task at hand, showing the virtuosity and flexibility of the quartet, both collectively and individually.

The album’s title is ‘Pictures’, and this is undoubtedly due to the fact that the centerpiece of the disc is a virtuoso arrangement of selected movements from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.   The arrangement, by Blaise Déjardin, is quite breathtaking in its simplicity and ingenuity. Listening to each of the movements, I found myself quite forgetting Ravel’s virtuoso orchestration, and simply enjoying the tonal possibilities of the four cellos, and the beautiful playing throughout.

There is a wide selection of material for just about any mood on this disc – from the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, to Debussy’s Clair de Lune, to Piazzolla’s La Muerte del Angel. And the piece de resistance may be the final encore selection by Déjardin, his Mozart Variations, which has the temerity to combine Mahler, Mozart, John Williams, Rossini, McCartney, and Haydn into a delightful bon bon.

The sonics of the disc are as superb as the playing. I recommend this disc most highly!

It drops February 5, 2013 and is available through iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.com.

website: www.bostoncelloquartet.com