Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More on the 4th- and a Summer's Tale

A new feature at our 4th of July concert will be an online site that will allow patrons to log on and learn about pieces that are being played, as they are being played. The site address will be displayed on the screens at the concert site, and there will also be a code on the printed programs that will guide the way to that site. The big programs that are handed out at Masterworks concerts are not feasible for an outdoor show such as this, but with this new- and experimental- link, a great deal more information will be available to concertgoers than would be possible with the single sheet of paper that is ordinarily handed out at concerts like this.

Some of our players are heading out of town this summer to play and/or teach at summer festivals. Principal Second violinist Edward Pulgar and his wife and two children are off to Indianola, Iowa (just south of Des Moines) to play with the Des Moines Metro Opera. This is a festival that I have played off and on since 1990. When one thinks of fine opera companies, rural Iowa does not leap to mind as a likely venue, but I spent eight lovely seasons there playing critically acclaimed productions, including some rarely heard operas, with world-class singers and up-and-coming opera stars.

In 1991, I turned 30 there. There was a party, but missing from it was one violinist named Lisa Muci. As I recall she was on her first date with Herb Eckhoff, a fine opera singer who was featured on the KSO’s performance of Act 1 of Wagner’s Die Walk├╝re in October of 2001. I have since forgiven Lisa for her absence that night. She made the right choice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rebroadcasts and Return Engagements

The KSO’s 2010-11 season broadcasts on WUOT-FM will be starting up soon. I always enjoy reliving some of the great moments of the past year, whenever I am in town to hear them, and it’s always a treat to have people call me up and tell me how awesome it is to hear the orchestra (or quartet, or etc.) on the air. I don’t know what scheduling gods were at work to bring this coincidence about, but the first broadcast will occur on July 4th, and the music will be all-Tchaikovsky, ending with the 1812 Overture- which will be performed live at World’s Fair Park at the same time!!

The rest of the broadcasts will follow on successive Monday nights. I am especially looking forward to the Janacek Sinfonietta, which will be broadcast on Monday night July 25.

If you enjoyed hearing (then) ten-year-old Logan Murrell with the orchestra on the 2007 Clayton Holiday Concerts, then you will be delighted to know that she will be returning to that stage for the 2011 set of concerts. She performed at the Lucas Richman Society dinner on May 22, this time accompanying herself on the guitar, and believe me, she is a gifted performer you do not want to miss. Judging from the number and variety of YouTube videos featuring her, there are very few genres that Logan does not feel at home with. Knoxville is truly blessed to have this phenomenal talent gracing our stages.

Monday, June 20, 2011

4th of July Program Announced!

The program for the KSO’s 4th of July concert has been announced! Starting at 8 on the South Lawn of World’s Fair Park, Maestro Richman will lead the orchestra in a wide variety of music, but the emphasis will of course be on patriotic themes. I will weigh in on some of the repertoire below. I will have to say that I won’t be performing on this concert, as I’ll be getting some badly needed quality time with my parents in New Hampshire and other family across New England.

Richard Chiaparra’s setting of the Gettysburg Address will be narrated by Hallerin Hill, who needs no introduction to Knoxville audiences, having appeared many times on Clayton, Ijams Park and other KSO events. (It also should be noted that his son, Hallerin II, is a veteran of the KSO Youth Orchestra and is a violin student at UT). Chiaparra is the music director of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra, based in my old stomping grounds. Some people I went to high school with are in this group- some of whom I hope to see on my trip north.

KSO hornist Mark Harrell’s March from his opera The Stainless Banner will be reprised, as will the Hymn to the Fallen from John Williams’ score to Saving Private Ryan. The first half of the show will conclude with Holst’s ebullient Jupiter from The Planets, which will be presented in its entirety on the KSO’s Masterworks concerts on March 22 and 23, 2012.

The second half will feature a medley of tunes by Irving Berlin, who it seems could only play the piano in two keys: F# major and D# minor, but he had an instrument that could be changed to other keys with the flip of a lever. (He called it his "Buick"). Vol fans will rejoice to hear that we will be performing Rocky Top, in an arrangement by Mark Harrell. Then the piece de resistance: Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Fireworks shall be coordinated into the end of this work, which has crossed international borders to represent and inspire patriotism here and in many other countries.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Well, Maestro Richman is a very busy man. Busy winning Grammies, busy having his picture put on billboards, busy having a day designated as “Lucas Richman Day”..... it’s no wonder that he hasn’t had time to do an interview about his Grammy. But I would definitely like to share this photo of the Maestro and his bling and comment about these other honors.

Imagine having a Grammy delivered to your door- by Fed-Ex!! When the delivery person realized what it was, Lucas had to wrestle it from her.

At the Knoxville Symphony League luncheon last month, Knoxville Mayor Dan Brown proclaimed May 18th “Lucas Richman Day, and County Mayor Tim Burchett named the next day as “Lucas Richman Day” in the county. Senator Lamar Alexander sent a representative to the luncheon to honor Lucas’ Grammy award. In a tender ceremony, 5-year-old Maggie Davis presented Lucas with a rose and a drawing she did depicting her attendance at a Family Concert which inspired her to want to start playing the violin. Congratulations Lucas!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where They Went From Here

I will be spending some of this bandwidth on catching up with former members of the KSO and some of their goings-on.

Former Principal cellist Phil Hansen was here just a brief time, 1992-1995, but he remains the only cellist who was a member of the KSO to perform the solo part to Strauss’ Don Quixote with the KSO. After spending some time in the Pacific Northwest, he was appointed principal cellist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He recently performed in Vladivostok, Russia in concerts sponsored by Russia’s Bi-lateral Presidential Commission.

Bassist Dave Sickle was here in that same ‘92-‘95 time frame, but left to pursue a medical career at Case Western Reserve University. After a stint with the Army at Fort Bragg, he now lives with his wife Janice, two sons and a daughter in Jackson, Tennessee, where he is an Orthopedic Surgeon with the Jackson Clinic. In his spare time he plays in a 90's alternative band called Skin and Bones. It is an appropriate name, considering the day jobs of the band members. To quote his Facebook description:

We started out with 3 orthopaedic surgeons and a dermatologist. We traded in the skin doc for a cardiologist but the name stuck.

If you remember violist Wendy Mullen from the late 80's to the mid 90's at all, you remember that she was an extremely talented soprano. She left here to pursue a DMA at Arizona State and his now the vocal coordinator and voice professor at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA. One of my most treasured experiences in music came in 1992 when she, violinist Sean Claire, pianist Carol Zinavage and I gave the Tennessee premiere of Shostakovich’s song cycle Seven Poems after Alexander Blok on a Knoxville Symphony Chamber Players concert. (A repeat performance at Pellissippi State was snowed out by the blizzard of ‘93). She keeps her viola chops up as a core member of the Macon Symphony Orchestra.

Hmmm, I didn't mean for this to be all about string players. I'll try to hit some of the other families in a later post. Right now, I am fixing to spend a couple days camping at Indian Boundary Lake with my 16-year-old son Richard and 3 of his friends. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dabbling in Classical- from Youtube

Summer's here and the time is right- for youtube in the streets!

~Here is Sir Paul and someone named Carlos bandying a Bach tune bach and forth. Paul says it became a Beatles song. Which one? Bach in the USSR? Get Bach? Bachbird? Paperbach Writer? Check it out.

~Here is that same tune in the capable hands and lips of a very talented flute player.

~This young man had a dream. To write and perform the weirdest music allowed by law. His dreams came more than true as soon (well, 15 years later) his lyrics would require warning labels.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Both Sides of the Fence

As I have mentioned before, I along with some other KSO members are involved in other genres of music in addition to classical. It was a always a dream of mine to be able to play a classical concert, and then wind down the evening with a bit of jazz, rock or alternative music. I find it virtually impossible to come home from a KSO service and jump into bed. I am a night person and I might as well be playing music- and earning money. That dream started to come true about five years ago. At the risk of omitting some friends, I will try to give a bit of an overview of the KSO’s fence-straddlers.

Violinist Liz Farr has probably been at this the longest. A Celtic harpist as well as a member of our second violin section, she formed Farr Horizons in 1986 with cellist D. Scot Williams and flutist Rachel Schlafer-Parton. A few years back cellist Stacy Miller joined the group, replacing Scot. The emphasis is on traditional American and Celtic styles. One shining moment (among many) for them was performing at Alex Haley’s farm in Norris when he hosted Oprah Winfrey.

Flutist Jill Allard has found herself on a similar path as a member of Red-Haired Mary, a band specializing in traditional and contemporary Irish and Celtic music. Although I thought I knew Jill pretty well, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that she sings, too! Joining her in RHM is violinist Erin Tipton Archer, who you may remember is the conductor of the KSO’s Junior Phiharmonia. Erin is no stranger to the alternative scene, having played with Erick Baker for many years, including Bonnaroo 2009.

If you’ve ever driven to a gig with her, you would know that oboist Ayca Yayman has very eclectic taste in music. It is no wonder then that she has gotten involved with an experimental fusion band called The Akashic Mysteries. This band is obviously influenced by the likes of Radiohead, Camper van Beethoven, and King Crimson, and Ayca’s occasional contributions add a very exotic touch.

As you might expect, a lot of the wind players cross over into the jazz realm. Trumpeter Stewart Cox, trombonists Brad MacDougall, Tom Lundberg, former principal trombonist Don Hough, and clarinetist Mark Tucker (saxophone) are all regulars with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The KJO’s varied programing compliments the KSO’s “legit” offerings very nicely.

For myself, I am guilty of crossing the line into other realms also. It’s funny, but a friend of mine said I have been sounding a lot better in the last 3 or 4 years. This time-frame coincides with the time I have been playing swing and gypsy jazz with the Johnson Swingtet, the Space Heaters, and Kukuly and the Gypsy Curse. Coincidence? I don’t know. All I know is that I am playing more of it tonight, at 9:00 at the Bistro by the Bijou with Kukuly’s band. I’m glad we get a tab. Channeling Django Reinhardt and Pablo Casals works up quite an appetite.