Friday, December 30, 2011

People on the Move

Hot on the heels of his Clayton Holiday Concert successes, Maestro Richman went directly to LA to rehearse with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra for its tour of China. The timing of this tour is cleverly designed to occur on the 40 year anniversary of President Nixon's historic China visit in 1972. What's more, the KSO's Director of Education and Community Partnerships, Jennifer Barnett, will be soprano soloist on the tour, which will feature eight performances in six cities over a 13-day run.

Another of our staff will be leaving us on January 13th. The KSO's Director of Communications, Stephanie Burdette, will be taking a position closer to her family in Richmond, VA. She will be a project manager for an advertising firm called the Martin Agency. One of her major successes in her nine years with the KSO is the establishment of this very blog, which is now well into its third year. We will miss her smiling face and wish her and her family all the best!

Speaking of Richmond, I can't help noticing from time to time that some in our community, and even in the orchestra, seem to think that our conductor's last name is pronounced the same as the city to which Stephanie is moving. I can only hope that these folks are being quaint and not unobservant.

The travelling bug has even hit my family. (This blog is being posted from Laconia New Hampshire, where my parents live). In a few short days, our son Thomas will be flying to Spain to spend his spring semester abroad in Madrid. A junior Art History major at Middlebury College in Vermont, Thomas is no stranger to Knoxville's classical audiences, having participated in the children's choir for Mahler's 3rd and for Knoxville Opera's production of Turandot. He claimed first prize in the Knoxville Choral Society's Young Classical Musician's Competition on piano in 2007, and in 2002 portrayed the title role in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors in a fine production at Westminster Presbyterian Church. We are devouring these last few days with him here stateside, and now I am off to kick his butt at pool.

On behalf of the KSO and all of its many faces, please have a happy and safe New Year!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Message

Well, here we are in the shadow of Christmas Day. It will be the first Christmas/Hannukah for some of the members of the KSO family: Alexandra Bloch, Kiri Fellenbaum, Claudia Pulgar, Clare Burdette, Alex Kim (Nadine Hur’s son), and Elise Carlson (Lucie Novoveska’s daughter). I am sure that their parents’ hearts will be as full of wonder as their own.

The KSO family wishes all of you a joyous and restful holiday season! I will leave you with a little more humor.

Here is an unbelievably random collection of personnel rendering a medley of Christmas tunes comatose-- Sonny and Cher, Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo (and one very homely looking child).

Now for something completely fowl... It's just too cute... I wonder how many of these are French hens?

This is about the extent of my knowledge of Christmas carol lyrics. All you need is the first line after all! It's so bad it's good.

And finally from the unblinking world of Facebook comes a list of titles of new reindeer operas. Thank you to my friend Lisa Ferrigno, whose status update got the ball rolling... (she led off with the first three, mine are the last two; duplicates have been eliminated and names have been left off to protect privacy, but about 40 people responded).

Top ten reindeer operas:

10. Vixen in China
9. Santa and Delilah
8. Turandoe

Adeste Fidelio
Donner and Aeneas
Castor et Prancer
Die Zaubersleigh
Die Rentiere ohne Schatten
Der Fliegende Reindeer
The Flying Fatman
Das Reingeld.
Rudolph in the Underworld
Santa Boccanegra
Prancer Grimes.
Abduction from the North Pole
Whoa Zech!!!
Comet und Gretel
The Cunning Little Vixen (Janácek) DOESN'T HAVE TO BE CHANGED!!!
The Reindeer's Progress
Tails of Hoofmen.
Madam Blitzen Flies
Deer Fliedermoose.
Iphigénie en Cupid
Le nozze di Blitzen
Lucia de Lammermoose.
Der Frozenkavalier
Donner Quichotte
Porgy and Blitzen
Santa and the Night Visitors
The Bartered Hide
The Magic Fruitcake
Deer Sleighschutz

Monday, December 19, 2011

25 Years of Holiday Class

Wow! The Clayton Holiday concerts this year were truly special, as witness the FULL HOUSE at today’s matinee. Logan Murrell’s smile and voice lit up the house, Jim Clayton displayed some serious talent and class, Hallerin Hilton Hill took us into new realms, Santa cracked us up, and Lucas Richman tied together the orchestra and Choral Society, Sound Company Children’s Choirs and Go! Contemporary Dance Works to give inspired and inspiring performances.

There are a couple people behind the scenes that you should know about. About one-fourth of the charts we played from this weekend were arrangements done by Warren Clark. With very little to go by, sometimes just a squeaky, jangly cassette tape, he can take a song and arrange it so that every player on stage has a part to play that is legible, correct, and playable but never boring. Tunes that Jim Clayton ("C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" and "Christmas in Dixie") and Hallerin Hilton Hill ("One Light" and "Light One Candle") sang were arrangements done by Mr. Clark. Often the deadline is in the middle of a rehearsal, yet he comes through time and time again. Oh, and I have learned a new word; the opposite of “swung” is “strate!”

The responsibility of getting those arrangements to our stands falls to our second clarinetist and librarian, Mark Tucker. NO music would be on our stand if not for this patient, patient man. And come to think of it, no one would be playing it either, because he is also the personnel manager. If anyone deserves a little time off, it’s Mark, who on top of all that lost his father on November 4th. Take five, Mark! No, make that twelve. You don’t seem like the type who goes for lords a-leaping or geese a-laying, but I hope at least three or four of your twelve days involve a beach and some barbecue.

This seems like a good place to recognize players who were at the first Clayton Concerts in 1987: violinists Mary Anne Fennell, Norris Dryer, John Fox, Liz Farr, Julie Swenson and Susan Thompson; violists Eunsoon Corliss, Bill Pierce and Carol Tucker, cellists Bruce Wilhite, Scot Williams, Alice Stuart and Don Grohman, bassist Herb Hall, flutist Cynthia D’Andrea, oboist Phyllis Secrist, clarinetist Gary Sperl, hornist Mark Harrell, trumpeters Cathy Leach and Marc Simpson, tympanist Mike Combs and pianist Carol Zinavage. We’ve come a long way, baby! And yet the joy of playing in the orchestra has been a constant.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Clayton Concerts' 25th Anniversary

This year’s Clayton Holiday concerts are the 25th annual ones. The silver anniversary version, if you will. It seems there are more features to this year’s shows, given the momentousness of the occasion. Jim Clayton has been such a gracious benefactor for lo these many years, but this year he will have a somewhat different additional role, one that may surprise many. Hallerin Hill, the Sound Company children’s show choirs, Go Contemporary Dance Works and the fabulous Logan Murrell will join Clayton regulars the Knoxville Choral Society– as the song says, “a show with everything but Yul Brynner.”

The Clayton concerts are a perennially festive event for those in the orchestra, a chance to exchange gifts, cards, cookies and hugs. In previous years there have been wild dress code variations, sometimes involving reindeer antlers, electric earrings and bow and scroll tinsel. Santa and his elves always make an appearance.

Along with the usual wide variety of holiday music, a featured work on this program will be the Finale & Hope from the Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project. This work is a collaborative effort among some 25 composers to bring attention to and help raise funds to rebuild Haiti after the devastating earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010. This is symbolic of the rebuilding efforts in that afflicted nation; to wit, many hands make light work. Our own Lucas Richman is not one of the composers, but his talents are evident on the recording that was conducted by him and released this past September.

We’ll be looking for you Dec. 16 & 17 at 7:30 (note earlier start time), with matinees on the 17th and 18th at 3:00 at the Civic Auditorium.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Santa...

Another Christmas is approaching, and even though I am just dreaming, there a few things that I want the music world to receive.

-A Brahms Octet for strings
-Mozart Cello Sonatas
-Beethoven’s 10th
-Brahms Cello Concerto
-a Wagner comedy
-Bartok Quintet for piano, violin, cello, oboe and trombone
-Schubert string quartet, “Death and the Taxman
-Schubert Symphony # 20
-Copland “Fanfare for the Common Cold
-a Fugue for Ten Horns
-A chalet overlooking Pachelbel Canyon
-a voice-operated page-turning mechanism
-Stravinsky “Camaro Suite
-a Honda Fugue (to follow the Prelude)
-I really just generally want a ricercar
-I would like for those “Allegro” RVs to actually travel at least andante
-a Black and Decker variable speed reversible cello bow
-an atmospheric resubstantiator which could reconstruct all of the music that Brahms burned
-I would like for choral conductors to just say they are conducting in 8 instead of being so fancy-schmancy and telling us that they are conducting in a subdivided 4.
-a fugue for Texas Instruments
-a National Semi-conductor, so people in the back stands of violins can see better. (I know, big government, but it’s an idea whose time has come).
-a video of Ravel and Debussy racing through the wine list at Les Deux Magots in Paris
-I want to put some Crumbs in a Byrd Cage and watch the Byrds get Bizet

There. I guess that about Rhapsodup.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nutcracker... Sweet!!!

The Nutcracker is back! From the overture, which I’ve never played– no cellos!– to the final waltz, which we just played a couple of hours ago at LMU, every mood is broached. Joy, despair, fear, mischief, love, – it’s all there. It is a zone that we enter every December in which we lose ourselves in the music while the finest local dancers take the stage one floor above us. The Appalachian Ballet Company's production has some new twists this year, and it has been amusing to hear how the presence of so many new players affects the overall feel of the ballet.

My favorite part is the snow waltz. The nutcracker has just become a handsome prince, and he leads Clara to a piney forest where snowflakes are dancing around them. I could never understand why such a joyful sort of occasion is accompanied by such starkly luscious E-minor music. The contrary motion and the hemiola rhythm create a sense of urgency that is calmed when a B-Major scale picks us all up and drops us into the land of E Major. A women’s choir confirms the good mood, and then it’s time to take a break. My second favorite would have to be the Arabian Dance. The harmony is so soulful and the instrumentation color is so charming, I never notice that I have just played the same rhythmic figure 66 times.

Tchaikovsky’s music seems so perfect, so pre-determined. It is hands down my favorite composition of his. Well, along with the Rococo Variations. The overture is in B♭, and Act 1 ends in E Major, a key a tritone away from B♭– about as unrelated a key as could be. (See earlier post about intervals). Act 2 picks up in E Major, and the ballet ends in B♭. This is not a coincidence. How he maneuvers to arrive in these keys so seamlessly is yet another marvel. As in the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra we played last month, every instrument is put through its paces in tasteful ways. Even the chime– I would certainly find it challenging to hit the chime exactly the same way exactly 12 times. (And not 13)!

In the 90's, I was able to play the entire first act from memory. It made for a very transcendental experience. Back then there were two completely different productions of the Nutcracker– the City Ballet, which was based variously in Cincinnati, Tulsa or New Orleans, and this same Appalachian Ballet. This year the ABC is doing productions at the Civic Auditorium, Dec. 3rd at 8 p.m. and Dec. 4th at 2 p.m., and at the Clayton Center for the Arts at Maryville College, Dec. 10th at 2 and 8. It should be noted that out of the 28 or so ballet companies in the Southeast, the Appalachian Ballet is one of four that use live music. And believe me when I say, live music is best.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Music

Survivors from the days of vinyl, some Christmas albums have withstood the test of time, and the holiday season does not start for me until I choose to play my cassette of these lps that I grew up with.

Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians The Sounds of Christmas is not available in its original configuration, but selections of it are included on this assortment of Waring releases from the 50's and 60's. (Tracks 1, 4 and 8). The original lp featured a gorgeous picture of a snowed-in Vermont village (East Corinth)? and the tunes had a continuous flow with snippets of
common carols segueing between less-well-known tunes, such as Jesu Parvule, Go Where I Send Thee, Ring Those Christmas Bells, While By My Sheep and a host of others you have never heard, but will wish you had. Beautiful part-singing and peppy late-50's arrangements are both contemporary and nostalgic at the same time. It warms the cockles of my heart to read comments on Amazon to the effect that this is one of the best– if not THE best– Christmas record ever made.

Original vinyl editions of this recording START at $200 on Amazon.

Harry Belafonte’s To Wish You a Merry Christmas IS available digitally, and it’s a blessing. This ultra smooth, understated collection of Christmas favorites and rarities has less to do with Belafonte's calypso style and more to do with music to calm you down after being pepper-sprayed at Best Buy. One of the rarities is present on both the Waring and the Belafonte collections, Rise up Shepherd and Foller; both versions are unforgettable. Word has it that when I was not able to speak complete sentences or read yet, I kept asking to hear this record, but just kept saying “Gave to me! Gave to me!” No one understood what I was trying to say, but one day when The Twelve Days of Christmas came on the radio, I nodded my head, smiled and said “Gave to me!” and the mystery was solved. “(On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...)”

While still a high school senior, I was a member of the Hartford Community Orchestra. They tackled challenging repertoire in my two years with them, not the least of which was Vaughan Williams’ Christmas cantata Hodie. A 16-movement work scored for chorus, boys' choir, organ and orchestra, and featuring tenor, baritone, and soprano soloists, it is full of rich, gothic, chocolaty goodness. A truly spine-tingling moment is the segue from the March of the Three Kings, in D minor, into the hymn No Sad Thought, His Soul Affright, in D♭ major. I came to love this early London recording with Dame Janet Baker headlining.

This same community orchestra the following year played Berlioz’ oratorio L'Enfance du Christ. A more involved work than the Vaughan Williams, the centerpiece of it is L'adieu des bergers (The Shepherd’s Farewell). Both this and the Vaughan Williams No Sad Thought have been performed by the KSO on Clayton Holiday Concerts, although it was likely before some of you were born.

I have some strange Christmas traditions. One of them is to listen to Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Trilogy lp every Christmas Eve. Sure, it’s not Christmas music per se, but when this was first released in 1973, it seemed like a religious experience, and I never wanted to let go of that myth. Songs like From the Beginning, The Endless Enigma and Abaddon’s Bolero were a nice backdrop to my holiday preparations, and FTB was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar.

There is very little to say about the Rachmaninov Vespers (also known as (All-night Vigil) that doesn’t say itself, once you start listening to it. Some have gone so far to say that this is Rachmaninov's crowning achievement. Although it also is not specifically Christmas music, what could go wrong with more than an hour of a capella Russian choir singing, with sometimes up to nine voices and bass parts that will make you involuntarily look skyward and close your eyes?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

(insert Thanksgiving-oriented title here)

As Thanksgiving descends upon us, it is tempting to get all sentimental and post a bunch of drippy, gooey testimony. So here it is! (JK)

My wife Helen, son Richard and I are joined by Helen’s parents, Mary and Tom Gover of Minneapolis this Thanksgiving. Our older son Thomas is a junior at Middlebury College (VT) and will be spending Thanksgiving with a friend in New York City. The Govers are big music lovers who have majorly supported Helen’s musical training since her childhood (she played for Dr. Suzuki in 1976- I’m working on getting a link to the vid), in college (at Smith, where she was Philipp Naegele’s teaching assistant and concertmaster of the Five College Orchestra), and throughout her professional career (as former concertmaster of the Oak Ridge and current concertmaster of the Johnson City Symphony).

Truly though, we KSO players have a lot to be thankful for. For the good breaks we’ve had in our careers that have allowed us to continue pursuing classical music despite warnings that it would be a tough row to hoe. For the wise management and munificent donor base that has kept the KSO in the black for five years in a row, and kept the music flowing through tougher times in the more distant past. For composers famous and otherwise who have supplied my colleagues and I with a seemingly endless stream of soulful, provocative and challenging music to perform. For those colleagues themselves, in all genres, who live for music and the good times that accompany it, and who would also give you the shirt off their back in time of need (like when you forget a shirt)! For city planners and entrepreneurs, who helped make Knoxville as intriguing as its orchestra. And for appreciative audiences, whose compliments help reinforce our conviction in making music.

I know the list should be a lot longer, but it sure is a good time to count our blessings in these all-too-often unblessable times. It's late. I'm going to bed. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Budapest (and Prague, and Bucharest) with Love

The Thursday and Friday night KSO Masterworks concerts bring orchestral genius from Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The centerpiece is the Dvorak Cello Concerto, with cellist Zuill Bailey playing a beautiful Göfriller instrument from the 1690's. The evening opens with Enescu’s vivacious Romanian Rhapsody #1, and the Eastern European tour will end with Bartok’s fascinating Concerto for Orchestra, about as perfect a piece of music as has ever been written.

The Enescu (or Enesco, as he is spelled sometimes) work is a new one for me. I had heard of it for many years; there was one short bit in the excerpt book, but it wasn’t something to slave over like Beethoven 5 or Don Juan. The rhythm and drive remind me of Smetana and Khachaturyan, but this is pure gypsy music. The mood freely alternates between a gently lilting melody and a frenzied Bucharest two-step with the drums fueling the fire and the violins fanning it.

Zuill Bailey is no stranger to the area; he performed the Saint-Säens Cello Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra under George Hanson (during Hanson’s guest visit as a music director candidate in 2002). Some time in the 90's he performed with the Oak Ridge Symphony, perhaps the Elgar? Anyways, that’s all immaterial as he is here now, and his Dvorak Concerto is rich and effortless. This quintessential cello concerto is the last work Dvorak composed in the US, but its heart (like Dvorak’s after three years in America) is thinking of home.

The Bartok has been on my mind ever since I learned of it being programmed. Bartok had an incredible sense of what an orchestra could do, and a big ol’ bag of Hungarian folk songs from which to draw for melodies. Every player is put through his paces and the musical language is accessible. In the Elegia, the clarinets play a lick that can only be described as otherwordly. You will not forget it. Like the Dvorak, this work was composed in the United States, although under very different circumstances. Dvorak was the head of a vital Conservatory in New York in the 1890's, but Bartok had fled the Nazis during WWII and lived in relative obscurity in New York, where he died in 1945.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robert J!

I always listened to the radio growing up. We had to. Although we had (and still have- right Katy)? LPs, there was no YouTube, MP3's or Spotify. My mother and I listened to the weekly broadcasts of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on WDRC-AM, Hartford. That same station would carry Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 later that night. The Red Sox were on WTIC-AM, and the National Lampoon Radio Hour was on WHCN-FM. When I started college, Howard Stern was the morning drive DJ on WCCC-FM. By the time it mattered to me, a long-time classical station in Hartford, WTIC-FM, had sold out to bubble-gum pop and the only outlet for classical music was NPR.

Yesterday marked what would have been the 80th birthday of a voice from my past. Robert J. Lurtsema hosted a remarkable morning radio show called Morning Pro Musica, syndicated on NPR in the Northeast from 1971 until 2000. His own quirky package of news, classical programming and live guests greeted New Englanders thirsty for eclectic repertoire and a slow pace to begin their day. From 7 a.m to noon. Every. Day.

“Robert J.’s” voice was so reliably serene, his pronunciation of foreign names was flawless, and the range of his programming was jaw-dropping- cycles of Boyce Symphonies, the complete works-- good and bad-- of every major and minor composer that ever lived, and every Sunday morning a Bach Cantata. The Hartt School’s excellent music library had scores to a surprising number of these works and I seized many days and devoured whatever I could. Guest artists included Scottish singer Jean Redpath, Julia Child, John Cage and Aaron Copland.

Much to his (and his devotees') chagrin, NPR decided to introduce a talk element to their programming “(Morning Sedition with Bob Bedwards),” and when grad school rolled around I could only hear him from 9-11. Still, I would religiously make notes in the 24-PAGE program guide for WFCR in Amherst, MA of pieces to record (remember cassettes)?? and I still refer to some of these tapes today. It was thanks to him that I became aware of the music of David Van Vactor.

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes in September, 1979, I also had mono and things were not looking good; I spent a week in New Britain (CT) General Hospital, figuring out what I needed to do to combat this new peril. I missed my first week of college and the day after I was discharged, my brother got married. Little did I know Mr. Lurtsema had decided to program the complete Bach Cello Suites that week as performed by Maurice Gendron. After I slept through the first Suite, I decided to set my alarm to coincide with the first downbeat of any successive Suites. Gendron’s renditions of the Suites were so refulgent and pure, echoing down the hospital floor, I had no choice but to pursue this music until I owned it, while vowing to never let diabetes own me. Mr. Lurtsema, your timing was impeccable.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Youth Orchestras Take the Stage!

The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras will open their 38th season Monday evening, November 14th at the Tennessee Theatre. This FREE concert will start at 7 p.m. The bigger-than-ever Preludium Orchestra, led by Erin Archer, will start the evening off.

The Philharmonia Orchestra, under the baton of Katie Hutchinson, will delve into a fun arrangement by Ben Clinesmith of S’Vivon (Hebrew for “dreidel”), and Richard Stephan’s Variations on a Well-Known Sea Chantey.

Kathy Hart-Reilly’s Sinfonia group will be playing their most challenging concert ever, featuring a Halloween “Spook-tacular” which will mash up several different ghoulish classical tunes.

Wesley Baldwin’s Youth Chamber Orchestra will be busy bringing Mozart’s F Major Divertimento, K. 138, and then will be joined by KSO concertmaster Gabe Lefkowicz in Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042.

The Youth Orchestra proper will finish up the evening with the Marche Militaire Francaise from Suite Algerienne by Camille Saint-Saens (wow! A piece I’m not familiar with!) and Tschaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, a piece I am familiar with, not just from playing, but from having many furrowed-browed students approach me with suggestions for fingerings.

Many of these young talents are students of KSO musicians. Come see the fruits of much labor and support the young musicians of Knoxville!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Intervals and You (video at end)

Intervals are the building blocks of music. Whether they are vertical (chords) or horizontal (melody), the ability to recognize intervals is a valuable skill for anyone wanting to become a better sightreader, composer or improviser.

The octave is the point at which the seven notes in a scale start to repeat themselves. E.g., if you start on a “c,” the next highest (or lowest) “c” is an octave away. The note that is five pitches away is called a fifth.

A fifth in its purest form is perfect; this is the interval that the strings on most bowed string instruments are tuned. (A bass is tuned in perfect 4ths, which is the inversion of a perfect fifth). Therefore, a perfect fifth + a perfect fourth = an octave. How can this be when 4+5 = 9?! It’s because the intervals are always measured inclusively of their start and end points. Fifths, even more than fourths, are the gold standard when defining what key you are in.

Other intervals, (seconds, thirds, sixths and sevenths) cannot be perfect; only either major or minor. A third is a special interval in that it is the interval that defines whether a tonality is major or minor. A blue-note is a third that cannot decide whether it is major or minor; jazz could not exist without this vacillation. The inverse of a third is a sixth. Seconds, and their partners sevenths, are intervals that serve in a vertical sense to liven up a chord by making it a little “dirtier.” A major seventh or minor second is the dirtiest interval of all.

While dirty can also describe the tritone, a better word for it is shifty. A tritone is the interval between a fifth and a fourth, or exactly halfway between 2 notes an octave apart. Technically, it is called either an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth, depending on how it is spelled. It is a chameleon interval which is unstable and wants to resolve, but it can resolve outward (to a sixth) or inward (to a third). Movie music that is used to accompany dirty dealings, cliffhanging, mystery and shock is heavy with tritones, some of which are there for their own sake and aren’t about to give you the satisfaction of a resolution.

Here are some easily recognizable intervals that occur in everyday living and in standard music repertoire.

Für Elise by Beethoven starts with a minor 2nd, wavering up high in the right hand. (Insert viola joke here). The first six notes of “Chopsticks” are a major second apart, played simultaneously.

Pick up a phone (landline). You hear that dial tone? That’s a major third. Now drive very slowly in the left lane on I-40. You hear that car horn? A lot of 2-tone horns use this interval also.

Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is one of the most instantly recognizable tunes ever written. The first two notes are a fourth apart.

Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra starts with two perfect intervals in a row a fifth and then a fourth. This interval is also all over the opening of Beethoven’s Symphony N. 9, vertically in the bed of 16th notes laid down by the lower strings, and horizontally in the violin melody.

Still confused? Listen and learn.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


The upcoming Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra concert will feature the KSO’s own Ildar Khuziakhmetov playing Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D. As this concert was to have featured Calvin Smith playing a Mozart Horn Concerto, we are all indebted to Ildar for stepping in on pretty short notice to fill some very big shoes. Ildar is a major force on Knoxville’s cello scene, having been a member of the KSO since 2000. His teaching studio produces great students, one of whom was featured on a KSO Family Concert a few years back. We all also owe a debt of gratitude to his wife, violist Jennifer Bloch and their young daughter, Alexandra for allowing Ildar to pursue Haydn with abandon.

The Knoxville Symphony has three members with the initials I.K.– Ildar, Ikuko Koizumi, and Ihsan Kartal, from Uzbekistan, Japan and Turkey. Ildar’s last name is very hard to pronounce, but I think I can help you out with it. To hear him say it, it’s a 2-syllable word, but just to break the ice with him for you, say “khoo Jacques MADE of,” very fast. Kh is pronounced like the “ch” in “chutzpah.”
While Haydn’s life may have been a little more incident-free than Mozart’s– there is no movie about Haydn called “Josef”– when he hit a home run, he hit a home run, and “Haydn D” is way out of the yard. A concerto my college professor, David Wells called an “old man piece” (meaning I was too young), it exists in a couple of different renderings. The autographed score from which we are playing was discovered in a storage closet in 1954 at Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig.

I learned a lot tonight. The last soloist for the Haydn D was Janos Starker, in February of 2000 with the Chamber Orchestra. Well of course, I already knew that, but it turns out that the first time this work was played with the KSO was in 1949 with Raya Garbousova, under the direction of David Van Vactor. (The KSO webpage and program notes have it wrong; it is not “Kaya.” She was the other cello professor where I did my undergrad! She introduced me to Feuermann’s widow. That is a scary enough coincidence, but...) Raya's son is married to Miriam Fried, who was the soloist on the January 1989 KSO Masterworks concerts, on the Sibelius Concerto. Miriam Fried’s son, Jonathan Biss, is a fine pianist who soloed with the KCSO in April of 1997! Yikes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Odds and Ends... and Opera!

The KSO just finished a run of Young People’s Concerts at the Civic Auditorium. The theme for these shows was “Got Rhythm?” and the five audiences we played for all decidedly did. Dancers from Go Contemporary Danceworks were featured on a Quadrille from Offenbach’s Gaîté Parisienne and Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz. The shows were educational for the musicians also; I learned, through pictures on the Jumbotron, that Leroy Anderson was the splitting image of the Superintendent of Schools of many small towns in the fifties, and that Jacques Offenbach was a strange-looking dude.

The Knox County Schools’ 2011 Honors Orchestra concert will take place TONIGHT at Farragut High School at 7:00. This is a free concert featuring a middle school and a high school orchestra. Come support Knoxville’s talented young orchestra musicians!

Nadine Hur and her husband David Kim are proud parents of baby Alex!!! He was born on the 21st of October in St. Louis and weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz. We miss ya Nadine, and hope to see Alex soon!

Opera is served next at the KSO’s banquet. A gem from Verdi’s "middle period," La Traviata will feature Joyce El-Khoury (who was heard here in Pagliacci in 2009) as Violetta, Zach Borichevsky as Alfredo, Mark Womack as Giorgio Germont, and Kevin Thompson as Dr. Grenvil. Verdi’s amazing party music is perky and quirky, and Ah, fors’è lui, Sempre libera, and Brindisi are vocal tours de force that sound young and fresh under the baton of Brian Salesky. Friday night at 8 and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 at the Tennessee Theatre.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perpetuating a Memory

Although you will be reading this a day late, I felt the need to note the birthday of a big influence in my musical cultivation.

Tom Nee brought a beautiful blend of dignity, benevolence and accuracy to the podium. He had been on the faculty of U-Cal San Diego's music department since 1967 and shaped that school’s innovative course. He served as music director of the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis (1953-67) and director and co-founder of the Minnesota Opera (1963-67). He was music director of the New Hampshire Music Festival from 1960 until 1992, the last 8 years of which I had the privilege of experiencing. His passing three years ago at age 87 marked the end of a truly genuine musical personality.

The NHMF is a dream festival that in actuality is a hiking jubilee set in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with music-making filling the weekdays and weekend nights. The venue back then was Plymouth State University, which my father had attended on the G.I. Bill after WWII. Imagine my delight when I learned of an opportunity to play classical music in what I can literally call the Fatherland! (My dad taught public school in the Lakes Region of NH and his Dad lived in Laconia, so as a child my summers were spent nearby). The festival was truly a family affair; one summer in the early 90's, participants traveled to Plymouth with 24 children collectively under age five. All of the musicians were housed year after year in the same dorm, which was famous for its unisex bathrooms and Thursday night kegs. Pemigewasset Dorm was a block away from a house my family lived in before I was born. I would marvel while pushing our son Thomas in a stroller late at night past this house, on the same sidewalks that my siblings had learned to walk on decades before.

I made an impression on Tom, and I joined the Festival in 1985. My first concert under him included 2 world premiers and a work by George Antheil, closing with Brahms Third- an adventure, to be sure. Future summers featured work with Ken Burns, Alexander Bernstein (son of Leonard) and Joanna Feidler (daughter of Arthur). Nee’s rehearsal technique was workman-like and civil, peppered with his own dry sense of humor, which was documented on many a folder. My favorite was while rehearsing a particularly gnarly contemporary work, things were iffy and he said, “if someone has a prayer wheel, you may want to give that thing a spin for us.” Another time, after a violin passage could not be made to sound good with either choice of bowings presented, he suggested that the violins play with the bowing that suited each individual player- and it sounded amazing!

His final concert with the New Hampshire Festival featured marches– including this Swedish gem– and Mahler’s 4th. On the chilly late-August nights in New Hampshire, the final concerts of the festival during my tenure there provided the soundtrack to my drive back to Knoxville, and fond memories of a more formative time in my musical past come swooping down on me during subsequent performances of works I played under Tom Nee.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wait! The Weekend Is Not Over Yet!

Awesome concerts! So many memories of previous performances flood my head when I play a piece as memorable as the New World Symphony. My high school orchestra played the last movement of it at a competition in Washington when I was a freshman in 1976. Or was it Ottawa in 1977? It’s getting pretty murky back there, my memory of the years of the Ford administration, but I do remember playing through it in my head back in the day, on long car trips when the radio was busted.

Here are Maestro Richman, composer Theodore Wiprud, and guest violin soloist for Katrina, Ittai Shapira at a post-concert gathering at Boyd's Jig and Reel.

Another awesome concert will happen Saturday, October 22 at 8 in UT’s Cox Memorial Auditorium. UT’s professor of viola and KSO violist Hillary Herndon is hosting a Viola Celebration at UT this weekend, and the public is invited to a performance of a rarely heard work, the Viola Concerto of William Walton. Special guest faculty for the festival, James Dunham, will be the soloist with the UT Symphony Orchestra under the baton of James Fellenbaum. The finale concert will be held Sunday at 4 in the same venue, featuring an all-viola orchestra! (Both concerts are free). Word has it that there were 93 violists on stage last year, will they make it to 100 this time?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

American Connections: October 20 and 21, Tennessee Theater, 8:00

All this time, I thought the Copland’s Corral Nocturne was really the “Chorale” Nocturne. It certainly is chorale-like. Just a play on words, I guess, by a composer who had made a name for himself by writing “plays on notes.” His humor can be heard via the trombone in the Buckaroo Holiday, in a melody full of more-than-pregnant pauses reminiscent of “I Bought Me a Cat.”And who can discount the charm of that same trombonist portraying the drunk and plum-tuckered-out-from-dancing cowpoke that finally passes out on the floor in the Hoedown. There is a definite lineage here; Copland’s composition teacher, Rubin Goldmark, was a student of Dvorak’s during the Czech composer’s tenure in New York.

Theodore Wiprud’s Violin Concerto, Katrina, evokes the Delta blues without falling into predictable blues constructs. The second movement will feature players of very traditional orchestral instruments playing on something you haven’t heard with the KSO since Robert Bonfiglio was here back in May of 1998- the harmonica. While this work is dedicated to the memory of pre-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, naming the work after the city’s downfall is a bit like naming the Harry Potter movies after Voldemort, but ultimately the concerto’s cathartic optimism allows us to embrace even the protagonist of this awful tragedy. Our soloist, Ittai Shapira, is playing on a Guadagnini violin that has to be heard to be believed. The lineage continues with this work; one of Copland's students, Jacob Druckman, was a composition teacher of Wiprud.

With all the talk about Dvorak visiting Iowa, it’s easy to forget that the Symphony From the New World was not written there. Dvorak arrived in New York in the fall of 1892 and assumed the directorship of the National Conservatory of Music on 17th St. and Irving Place in Manhattan. This attempt to establish a federally funded music conservatory tanked after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, but in Dvorak’s day, it had sufficient funds to lure him from Europe. His tenure there fostered the composition of such works as the Sonatina for violin and piano, the American String Quartet (duh), and a work that is performed far too infrequently around here, the String Quintet in E♭ Op. 97. To hear the last work that Dvorak composed in the USA, you’ll have to come to next month’s Masterworks concert.

This final symphony by Dvorak, whose earlier works were given later opus numbers by unscrupulous publishers in Europe bent on discrediting him, was premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 16, 1893 to “instant acclaim.” A pre-Lent Czech Carnival, called Masopust, had to have been celebrated by Dvorak in York City while composing this piece. In playing through the symphony, I am trying to picture where the influence of a Czech Mardi Gras might be heard. My guess is the second theme and trio of the Scherzo. It is some of the most “old country” writing in the work- giving new meaning to the term “Czech swing.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Milestone Approaches...

As we gear up for this week’s Masterworks concerts, featuring Dvorak’s Symphony From the New World, a stage that is already full of new faces will temporarily be missing a familiar one. A person you won’t see on stage is violinist Norris Dryer, who will be off in Elkhart, IN to celebrate his mother’s 100th birthday! Yep. I just typed a three-digit number. To give you some perspective, Dvorak’s New World was composed just 18 years before she was born, October 19th, 1911.

Bernice Dryer is a lifelong resident of Elkhart save for a year in school at Wittenberg College in Ohio, where she studied violin with Anton Bjorkland, a violinist in the Cincinnati Symphony. She played for 38 seasons with the Elkhart Symphony, from 1948-86- the first 38 years of that ensemble. She has a place in the annals of classical music history in the USA, having been the first piano teacher of Atlanta Symphony Music Director Robert Spano.

Norris performs in the KSO with the same violin she played in the Elkhart Symphony. Here she and it are pictured in a 1965 photo, sporting the usual attire that the women of the Elkhart Symphony wore at that time.

In this more recent picture she is seen on her 95th birthday. We wish Bernice the happiest of birthdays on this milestone day, and thank her for having such a terrific kid!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bartok Talk

The next Masterworks concert on Oct. 20th and 21st feature Dvorak’s Symphony From the New World, but the music on my stand to be bowed is Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. It is just barely not too late to start working on November’s featured work. Practicing Bartok is like playing tennis, doing Sudoku and gardening, all at once. Only Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring has comparable sonic breadth and splendor. Why isn’t it called a Symphony? A concerto for orchestra implies that more is demanded of each individual player, and that is certainly the case.

Sometimes you can predict where a passage is going to go, but when you miss an accidental or rhythmic shift, it’s ADVANTAGE, BARTOK! Since the tritone (e.g., C# to G♮) is an important interval in Bartok, and our strings are tuned in 5ths (e.g., C ♮ to G ♮), a lot of the scales- and there are many- can only use every other open string for pitch quality assurance, which on the violin is not too problematic because the intervals are smaller and easy to reach. On the cello, however the musical alphabet, in terms of reachable intervals, can only be written in a very large font which requires much more shifting. Would that we could get our “rackets” restrung!

I studied Bartok’s compositional technique in undergrad. His medium is the octotonic scale, where scale segments of first a whole-step and then a half-step pile up like Jenga blocks, starting over at every octave. This ensures adherence to the Fibonacci Sequence, which governs everything in Bartok from pitch selection to duration of movements. When you get it to all add up, you realize that you didn’t just learn how to play a passage. You became smarter, and your instrument did also.

Getting the Bartok Concerto to bloom and flourish– indeed, all playing we do– requires nurturing, cultivating and protection from the elements- the elements in this case being complacency, disbelief and preconceived notions of how a phrase should sound. Bartok was known to be very pleased when students brought the gift of a pine cone to his desk on which the spiraling arrangement of the scales are arranged in the Fibonacci series. Sunflower blooms also share this seed arrangement.

I learned a lot playing the third String Quartet of Bartok a couple seasons ago. I thought I had learned a lot when I first played it, in 1983 at the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Vermont. To be sure, it was an intense experience then; with only a couple weeks to master it, the somewhat random collection of personnel in the group needed to be quick adjustors, which always teaches. We performed it well and lived to tell about it. And quite frankly, the electronic devices we employ today– pitch generators, metronomes with subwoofers, tuner apps, and YouTube videos– didn’t exist. We had L.P.s. A dial-tone. And a Franz metronome that would scare the pants off of any TSA inspector. But the KSO principal quartet chose the work at least a year in advance, knew how to rehearse and knew each other very well, and there was a genuine thirst for knowledge about how to make sense of all those notes. The challenges of Bartok place the onus on us as individuals more than just about any other composer to make this whole add up to way more than the sum of its parts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coming Up This Weekend

This coming Sunday will see the KSO going to church! (So to speak). The fall family concert this season will take place at 2:30 p.m. at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, 9908 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, 37922. Picardy Penguin will be his usual endearingly perky self, and soprano Katie Wolfe Zahn will bring her entourage of merry-making children, the Sound Company Children’s Choir, to light up the “stage.”

The theme for this concert is “Music, Music Everywhere,” with tunes by Gershwin, Vaughan Williams, Gong Chen, Beethoven and others. Hopefully Picardy, on his voyage from the land of Symphonia, will not have a snafu with his passport or have his shoes set off the alarm, subjecting him to a patdown. “Picardy’s Playground,” a musical petting zoo, will take place at “The Castle,” which is the old Sanctuary of Cokesbury that has been redecorated to look like, well, a castle.

This will also be the debut of our principal flutist for this season, Ebonee Thomas, who will be with us while Nadine Hur is on maternity leave. Ebonee comes to us fresh off of a run of performances of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in Boston (hence the late arrival), and having spent the last three seasons with Florida Grand Opera. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s in Music from new England Conservatory.

Later that same day, the third annual "Knoxville Opera Goes to Church" will bring together soloists from the upcoming KO production of La Traviata and The Knoxville Opera Gospel Choir, featuring locally-based gospel singers, in an eclectic mix of repertoire. This will take place on Sunday at 4:30 at Greater Warner Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church, 3800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Knoxville, 37914. This concert is free and a quick drive across town will enable you to attend both shows.

To provide a smooth transition from last weekend’s Sinatra-fest to this coming weekend’s penguin follies, here is “Ol’ Blue-Eyes'” lovely rendition of “The Roses of Picardy.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Real Music

It’s never a bad time to hear songs from the Great American Songbook.

For years, I have had 5 radio station presets on my car radio. WUTK, 90.3 “The Rock,” WUOT,91.9; WNCW, 88.7 Spindale, NC (near Asheville); WKTI, 1040am (for years they played “Great American Songbook” tunes, but are now classic country- which ain’t a bad thing either) and CFZM-AM 740, Toronto, which after dark can often be heard playing music from the Big Band era. The two AM stations feed my hunger for the music that my parents grew up with- Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown; from a time when houses were white and cars were black. It’s as if these stations broadcast this music in the 40's and it went out into space and is only now just returning to Earth.

It was there in my car, listening to the radio while ferrying our boys hither and yon that I was introduced to Michael Feinstein and his interpretations of tunes from the “Great American Songbook.” Feinstein is a pedigreed descendant of the Greatest Generation of American songwriters, having endeared himself to Ira Gershwin while cataloguing Ira’s giant record collection. (Gershwin’s next-door neighbor, Rosemary Clooney, performed one of her last concerts in Knoxville in 2001). This latter-day Oscar Levant will perform a revue of Frank Sinatra essentials at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium this Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8. Come see why this music, some of which was written to make people happy “for the duration,” has endured way beyond. Until you do, here are a couple of fine recordings to get you In the Mood. I really like the Helen Forrest/Artie Shaw vid because it loads instantly! (don't be intimidated by the Russian). And this luscious recording of (not-so-)Old Blue-Eyes will bring a tear to your eye. Especially if you were there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

About Last Night... (and Last Weekend)... (and Tomorrow)...

Attendees of the Sept. 22 and 23 KSO Masterworks concerts were treated to an encore by piano soloist Alon Goldstein. Often a soloist just launches into something and we are left to guess what it is he/she has played. Mr. Goldstein, however, saved us all a lot of investigative work by announcing his encore, Alberto Ginastera's Danza del gaucho matrero “(Dance of the Arrogant Cowboy).” Here is a performance of the piece with the score on display- watch the notes whiz by!

On another note, it is with great pleasure that I can announce a marriage. Trumpet player Marc Simpson and his wife, violist Julie, have 5 children. Their oldest, Valerie, and Steve Foulk were married on Sept. 17th at Berean Baptist Church. When I first moved to Knoxville, Valerie was about three; boy, it’s amazing how old I feel for having typed that. But enough about me. CONGRATULATIONS!!

A couple of events are happening on Sunday the 25th that will interest classical music fans. At 4:00 the UT Symphony led by James Fellenbaum will perform Mahler’s Symphony #1 (speaking of monster symphonies, this one is subtitled the Titan).”at the James R. Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building on campus. This concert is FREE.

Later on tomorrow night, violinists Sean Claire and Ilia Steinschneider will perform on the ORCMA Coffee Concert at 7:30 at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, at the corner of the Turnpike and Robertsville Road in “the Ridge.” Sean will be playing the Franck Violin Sonata and Ilia will perform the “F.A.E. Sonata,” a collaborative work made up of contributions from Brahms, Schumann and Schumann’s pupil, Albert Dietrich. Sean described it to me over the phone, but I was driving and what stuck in my mind was the “FAO Schwartz Sonata.” Thank God for the internet which set me straight on that subject. They will perform a Telemann duet to wrap things up. Not only is this concert also FREE but you will come away with coffee (decaf) and treats afterwards.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The storied repertoire of Beethoven will be represented well this week by the KSO- the Coriolan Overture, the Third Piano Concerto and the Eroica Symphony.

I personally have a relationship with each Beethoven piece I have ever performed. They are like Facebook friends, only more in tune. As a sophomore at Hartt College, the Coriolan Overture excerpt was on the orchestra’s audition. It is a note-y little gem with a lot of surprises. The doofuses at International Music Company published the excerpt book with some of the lines out of order and only people who went the extra mile and played off a REAL part placed high on the audition. I learned the value of score study through this experience.

Two years later, I found myself playing in the Hartford Symphony. (Bulletin: the preceding music director of the Hartford Symphony, Edward Cumming, will be leading an all-Mozart concert in January). Pianist Rudolf Serkin, age 80, was scheduled to play the Beethoven Third concerto with us, but the concert had to be postponed because Mr. Serkin had broken his hip. Luckily the recovery was fast and he was resilient enough not to be diminished by the experience. His Third was epic; the way the arpeggios after the first movement cadenza just seemed to waft from the piano will always stay with me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of that concert was an exact duplicate of this week’s KSO repertoire. The KSO’s most recent performance of the first movement of this work featured our sons’ piano teacher, Mark Hussung, at Carson-Newman College in (I am totally guessing here) 2007. Our soloist this week, Alon Goldstein, can be seen on the KSO website playing Mozart; it is dynamic and sensitive.

To cap it all off is what is widely regarded as the first monster symphony, the Third (Eroica). As I mentioned before, this work also headlined the opening concerts of the 1988-89 season, and will soon be the first Beethoven Symphony that Maestro Richman has repeated. I have literally lost track of the number of times I have played the Eroica, but there is no losing track of the pathos, humor and majesty that Beethoven lavished on this work. There are some passages in Beethoven’s music that can only be described as Elysian; for me, it is the wind chorale deep into the finale after a grand fugue (poco andante between “E” and “F” if you have a score). Every time I get to this spot, I feel that if all of my life has come to this, then it has been a good life.

Remember: 7:00 start to this first pair of concerts!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Three Things KSO Musicians Do Well (Besides the Obvious)

#1: Getting Around Town

KSO ensemble members log many miles playing in the Knox County schools and care facilities, and take pride in their knowledge of Knoxvilles’ sometimes vexing roads. I spent many Septembers playing in a quartet at every school there was, and some of them are pretty far-flung. New Hopewell, Gibbs and Corryton; all the way to Mount Olive, Karnes and Copper Ridge. Need an alternative route to just about anywhere in the 9-county area and beyond? Ask a core string player, but hey, give the new members just a few months to get their bearings. If you ask one of us old-timers, terms such as “where the Weigel’s used to be” will creep into our directions.

#2: Handling With Care

Every musician has an instrument in his hand that is worth anywhere from $500 to 6-½ or more figures. (No, the chime mallet is not worth $500. But the chimes? Forget it). It isn’t about the money that an instrument is worth, rather its value. Even a wedding band or a sweatshirt zipper can inflict harm on a string instrument. Harps and basses pose king-size challenges; just carrying a bass is a craft. Until we have children, we have instruments from which to learn a gentle touch.

#3: Being Quiet

This sort of derives from the previous skill. Silence is a really important part of music. Granted, tight ensemble playing is a fine trait in an orchestra, but each player knows that a rest means shut up. The ability to honor silence and count rests quietly is a sine qua non for all of us. Wind and percussion players have the added challenge of changing instruments; plenty of opportunities for sonic violation there. A chime mallet makes an interesting but perhaps unwelcome sound when dropped on a suspended cymbal, and horn parts have a distinct report when dropped. Rests are a welcome sight in a long show, but that doesn’t give a us license to open a bag of skittles or clip his nails. A musician can be counted on not to wake your kid up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Folks- and a Bulletin

The results are in! With all precincts reporting, votes have been tabulated, and four new violinists and one new Principal horn have been welcomed into the KSO fold. Two days of violin auditions generated two one-year core appointments, one permanent section core position and a new Associate Concertmaster.

Coming in January to the Associate Concertmaster Chair from the Cleveland area is Gordon Tsai. He has a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Oregon and a Master’s from the University of Nevada, Reno. In January he will be joining the KSO Principal String Quartet as first violinist and will sit with Gabe Lefkowitz on the front stand of firsts.

Our new full-time core violinist is Sara Matayoshi and she comes to us from the lively Boston freelance scene where she has played with the Juventas New Music Ensemble, the Atlantic Symphony and the Boston Philharmonic. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern U. and a G.P.D. from the Longy School in Boston.

Diane Zelickman will be with us for the 2011-2012 season in the First Violin section. She holds degrees from Indiana University and the University of Arizona, and spent the last season as a member of the Tucson Symphony. Ruth Bacon will join her in the firsts; she comes to us via the University of New Mexico and the Cleveland Institute- like Gordon, a disciple of William Preucil.

Our new Principal Hornist is Sevierville native Jeffrey Whaley. He currently is a faculty member at ETSU, and has been a member of symphony orchestras in Wichita and Omaha. He attended school at Tennessee Tech and Wichita State. He is currently Principal Hornist of a rival orchestra in Kingsport, the Symphony of the Mountains.


It is not too early for me to remind y'all that the September 22 and 23 concerts uniquely start at 7 PM, not the usual 8 pm. Hope to see you there!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Off and Running... to Ijams!

A concert tradition that started my first year here and has never had a rain-out keeps the ball rollin’. It is an important eco-musical event, bringing Beethoven, benevolent giving and bugs together in in a benefit concert for the most natural corner of Knoxville, Ijams Nature Center. Over the years, this concert has had some memorable performances by prominent Knoxville figures in guest roles. Here are a few that come to mind.

Pat Summitt led the KSO in an unforgettable rendition of The Tennessee Waltz in Sept. of ‘97. But before she gave a downbeat, she made a substitution. She called out then-principal flutist Rob Cronin and instructed second flutist Jennifer Regan to take over first flute, claiming that Rob was suffering from “loser’s limp.” Senator Lamar Alexander made an appearance in the late 80's; he did a fine rendition of Please Release Me, among other things. Some time in the mid-90's, a local businessman (whose name I forget) brought his accordion AND his sense of humor, playfully dissing a colleague before launching with impressive zest into Lady o’ Spain. UT sports announcer Bob Kesling, a former student of KSO cellist Bruce Wilhite, rocked in Vivaldi’s Cello Sonata in E Minor back in the day at some point. In more recent years, David Keith and Bruce Pearl’s daughter Jacqui have soloed with us.

This year, Chista di Cicco will be our special guest and her unique vocal stylings will be augmented by fiddler Seth Hopper, an accomplice of hers in Knoxville’s swing ambassadors, Cristabel and the Jons. Yours truly will take a ride on “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” having taken many such rides before AND having busked with Mr. Hopper this summer on the Square.

For more details, call Ijams at 577-4717 ext. 117. Don't worry. The bugs are only attracted to our stand lights, and it should stop raining by then.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And More Auditions...

It might seem ideal, sitting in a beautiful theatre listening to extremely talented musicians play through short excerpts of music written by acknowledged geniuses of classical music composition. But it is a long process that isn't usually entertaining. Just about everyone deserves to be there. I wish for each to do well, even after a disqualifying gaffe renders the remainder of an unfortunate someone's audition moot. I am not so old and entrenched that I can’t remember a time when I was in their position, “sweatin’ to the oldies” in a different sort of way. Occasionally a candidate will appear who is in way over their head and our job is made easy.This is when I am thankful for the renovation of the Tennessee Theatre and gaze up at the ceiling with its big, beautiful, blue and gold omelet made of Fabergé eggs. I am also thankful for the screen that ensures anonymity for candidates and committee members alike.

Eighteen violinists have strutted their stuff on the stage and now it’s time to winnow the field down to a handful. Just about all of the committee is on the same page when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. Three players are deemed to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, but that is a narrow field from which to choose, so we revisit some of the close calls. After a bit of discussion, the field is upped to five acceptable candidates. In the final round we are rid of the screen and can see what we are hearing. It is valuable to know what these players look like when they play; posture, demeanor and other somewhat intangible factors. Resumés are made available also, to learn of a player’s training and experience. We take note of gaps in employment and amount of experience.

In the end we have chosen three players who are a good fit according to sound, experience and attitude. It is difficult to say no to some who were close but not close enough. That long flight or drive home is somewhat poorly but surely tempered by the fact that merely being a finalist is resumé fodder.

Stay tuned for the official word on the new players.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Different Types of Remembrance

Another loss that Knoxville’s musical community sustained this past spring was the passing on Feb. 20th of Roger Stephens, the Director of the UT School of Music from 2001-2011. He was a crucial catalyst in the drive to get a new music building at UT, the groundbreaking for which was held on Nov. 9th, 2010. A tribute to Dr. Stephens will be held on September 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cox Memorial Auditorium in the Alumni Music Building on campus.


We at the KSO are in the process of finding a new principal French horn, to replace the late Calvin Smith. This process, even more so than other auditions, is a labor of love.

Barry Tuckwell once likened playing the French horn to “driving a sports car very fast down a treacherous mountain road.” After hearing seven hours of horn auditions yesterday, I totally concur- and would have to say that there are some very good drivers out there. It is a versatile instrument that straddles the woodwind and brass families; brassy enough to hold its own with trumpets and trombones, but sensitive enough to blend with clarinets and flutes. As a string player, serving as an “at-large”audition committee member for wind instruments is a learning experience. Sometimes it is obvious what to look for, but a lot of subtleties are lost on me and I defer to the “experts” on such issues as blending ability, tone color shading, attack and breath.

As an ignorant young string player, my early opinion about French horn playing was that good horn playing was the kind you didn’t notice. I have been schooled on this and now know that there is so much more to it than that- especially when there are so many that play at a very high level.

To be continued....

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Blog That Got Away

I think she did it just because I accidentally omitted it, but Sarah Chumney Fellenbaum brought to my attention via Facebook one salient blog that should have been included on the August 11 post. It is the "Fellenbaby" blog that Sarah and Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum have launched chronicling their child-raising experiences with little Kiri. This is an up-close look, with a multitude of photos, of their experiences bringing up baby. Both of them are working musicians in this area and each have their plates full of music, Sarah with KnoX Brass WorX and the Knoxville and Oak Ridge Symphonies, and James with the UT Orchestras and of course the KSO. Keep up with them... If you can.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bowings, Bowings,

Bowings... They’re up, they’re down; they’re slurred, they’re separate; they’re hooked, they’re “as it comes” (AIC). The “paper-pushing” part of my job is upon me, choreographing everything so that all of our section is moving in symmetry (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with the other string sections of the orchestra. But... they’re here, which means that the 2011-2012 season is right around the corner!

The string principals, Katy Gawne, Edward Pulgar Steve Benne and I, get ahold of copies of parts that have been “bowed” by Gabe Lefkowitz. To the extent that is practical, we mark bowings that follow his lead and cause the sound to be shaped the way it should. There is a lot to consider. Will there be enough bow to get the right volume of sound in a particular phrase? Is everyone in my section capable of doing these bowings, if they are out of the ordinary? Have I put the same bowings at the end of the piece that match the analogous spot earlier in the movement? Does it really matter? (YEEESSSSS)!!!!! Will Katy, Steve and Edward guess the same way when it comes to things we have that Gabe doesn’t, or do we need a Skype date to figure it out?

When I sat in the section (rank-and-file), this wasn’t my responsibility, and I had no control over such matters. I would suggest things, but there’s a fine line between suggesting and pestering. As a section leader I am amenable to suggestions, as my predecessors were. Some changes are inevitable anyway; when we get to the first rehearsal and find that the tempo is much different than we thought, or just plain incorrect in the part, we are thankful that we can tweak things a bit to make our lives easier. By the final rehearsal though, everything needs to be just so for the next night’s show. YouTube videos help, as do memories of previous performances.

The Beethoven Eroica Symphony that anchors this season’s opening concert also opened the 1988-1989 season. Those concerts, some 23 years ago, represent the only KSO concerts that I have had to miss due to an injury, a woodworking mishap that involved stitches on my left hand. Luckily I can spare you the details because it was so long ago that I don’t even remember how it happened. Rest assured... I have no woodworking projects on the docket at this time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Blog Blog

Principal Clarinetist Gary Sperl is going to be followable via blog, as he adjourns to Tanzania for the upcoming school year. And... a major congratulations to him for his completion of the Lake Placid Ironman competition!! A little over 15 ½ hours for a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon run. Good NIGHT! I’m just happy to be able to take the stairs two at a time any more. (Yes, I know followable is not a word, but I am petitioning to have it coined).

Other planets in the KSO blog solar system are ripping it up, too. Katy Gawne still has wonderful culinary and stitchery blogs, and her husband Tim is feeding Frank Munger’s News-Sentinel Atomic City Underground column with old documents from Back in The Day in Oak Ridge.

Violinist Samuel Thompson is going places; a real “musician of fortune.” I’m not sure but it seems he has been in Italy and maybe England this summer. His older posts are found here.

Clarinetist Erin Bray is a culinary lodestar whose Fear and Bloating in Knoxvegas blog runs the gamut of life with raising kids, caring for parents, making music with your husband and of course, food. I recently was under the spell of a Boston Butt pork roast she conjured up that made me whimper. Y'all should pay attention, now.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Well, Shut my Mouth!

Ha! The minute I complain about not having enough live music around, an event pops up. On Sunday, August 14 at 3:30, cellist Bartholomew LaFollette and pianist Cathy Whitten will perform music of Bach, Brahms and Liszt at Concord United Methodist Church. Admission, as far as I can tell, is free.

Cellist Bartholomew LaFollette began playing the cello in Philadelphia at age 3, studying with Alicia Randizi-Hooker, who now resides in Knoxville and has played with the KSO. Now at age 27 he has fashioned an impressive career, having toured all over Europe and taught at prestigious venues.

Back in the dark ages (1986) when I was first hired to play with the KSO, one of our duties was to play with the Oak Ridge Symphony. Cathy Whitten was a high school student and played in the cello section of the ORSO, which was then under the direction of Robert Lyall. Years later, she resurfaced as a comrade of our son Thomas at American Guild of Organists’ local chapter events. She is a highly sought-after accompanist in the Nine-counties area.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Time for a Summertime Dream

A recent MetroPulse article by Alan Sherrod decried the lack or severe dearth, anyway, of classical music performances in the Knoxville area, in fact in the entire state of Tennessee during the summer. I couldn’t agree with him more. Whether due to the stultifying heat, the lack of interest, whatever, outdoor classical music here in the summer is sadly limited to one giant blowout here on the 4th, and the occasional church performance. Fans of Americana, blues, rock, bluegrass and similar genres have a gaggle of opportunities to get their groove on in the area, but classical seems to get short shrift. The Sewanee Summer Music Festival is a prestigious organization that many KSO players’ students attend (violist Hillary Herndon is a faculty member), offering a mix of advanced student and faculty performances, but it is a 2 ½ hour-plus drive from here.

This summer other KSO members have traveled to California, Colorado, New York, Iowa, Massachusetts and Oregon to participate in established summer festivals. The cooler climate of these locales makes outdoor concerts an attractive entertainment option, instead of a sweaty slog.

Given the need for a cooler environment, few East Tennessee towns are qualified candidates for an appealing and profitable summer festival such as Tanglewood, Chatauqua, Crested Butte and Bear Valley. Other drawing cards include a picturesque natural setting, hopefully at a high altitude, plenty of restaurants and better-than-average lodging, easy access from Knoxville via interstates or major highways, historic interest, and plenty of parking. The presence of a college campus, with its lovely air conditioning and ready-made housing and other facilities for participants, is a plus.

I dream of a musical summer in East Tennessee. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the like are out of contention in my eyes, at least, due to the sheer volume of traffic and the unlikelihood of a classical festival being a “big fish” in that town’s small pond. I nominate the following towns for consideration for chamber or small symphonic festivals.

The KSO has played at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center for a couple years now. There are scads of lodging and dining choices, and the audience demographic would be quite varied.

The oldest town in Tennessee has much to offer. Jonesborough is used to hosting high-quality events that draw a national audience, such as the National Storytelling Festival in October. About a dozen bed and breakfasts and plentiful motels are nearby, with a good variety of restaurants. The altitude is the highest of my choices, making for cool outdoor concert conditions.

Tennessee’s second oldest town is also quaint and fairly well-endowed with restaurants and accommodations. It is just off the interstate, and the presence of Douglas Lake provides marine access.

Cumberland Gap:
Another quaint old town, it’s at virtually the same elevation as Knoxville despite being in the mountains. There are a few restaurants in the area, but not much within walking distance. Nearby Lincoln Memorial University would be a dandy place for indoor concerts.

Tellico Plains:
Not to be confused with Tellico Village, which is a few miles downstream, Tellico Plains is a well-kept secret that charms the pants of off me whenever I go hiking and camping in the nearby Cherokee National Forest/Indian Boundary Lake area. How this funky little hamlet has escaped development is beyond me. Like Cumberland Gap however, it is remote (about an hour from the nearest interstate), and despite its charm, basic needs for a festival are lacking, like a performance venue and upscale lodging and restaurants. A classical festival would put this town on the map for sure.

A small city, but not too small, Greeneville would be a good place for a summer concert series. The General Morgan Inn is an elegant old-school hotel that serves as a hangout for KSO musicians when we play concerts at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. (NPAC seats about 1200). Just a couple doors down is the Capitol Theatre, where we performed before the Niswonger was completed a few years ago. Nearby Tusculum College has yet another performing venue that the KSO has used.

It’s just a dream. But dreams can come true. Don’t wake me up just yet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Kids in Town- and.... Your Kids on Stage! (Youth Orchestra Auditions)

This summer our new concertmaster is participating in the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in Hancock, Maine. The Monteux School is an internationally acclaimed institution founded in 1943, with an impressive list of alumni including Lorin Maazel, David Zinman, Sir Neville Marriner and Erich Kunzel. According to Facebook, Gabe has conducted Siegfried’s Funeral March by Wagner and two movements from Prokofiev’s Cinderella. It’s awesome that our new concertmaster also brings some conducting skills to the table!

While Gary Sperl is off in Africa for the 2011-12 season, his seat will be occupied by Peter Cain, who was the winner of our May auditions for the one year principal clarinet vacancy. Peter did his undergrad at Vanderbilt, graduate studies at the Univ. of Minnesota, and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Cincinnati. He is spending his summer in Colorado at the Aspen Music Festival and we look forward to having him!

In August there will be auditions for associate concertmaster, core section violin and principal horn. The horn auditions will be over two days! Interested musicians can learn more about the auditions by clicking here.

The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra has announced dates for auditions for placement in its 5 branches. The auditions will be held at West Valley Middle School on August 26th - 29th. For more information on that including repertoire specifics, click here. Be aware that what used to be called the Junior Philharmonia is now called the Preludium Orchestra.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ancient History: By the Numbers

As an addendum to “How I spent my Summer Vacation,” I returned from the Northeast on July 10th, which was my birthday. Not just any birthday this time, but the big FIVE-OH. I also have just concluded my 25th season with the KSO. Which means that out of the KSO’s 75 seasons, I have played a third of them. Even if you only have a GED you know that I was 25 when I signed on. A day will come in November when I will have lived exactly half of my life in Knoxville and half of it in New England. The question is begged, will I still be playing here when I am 75, in the KSO’s centennial season, having played half of their seasons?

1986 was a busy year for me, I was finishing up a Master’s Degree in music at UMass, Amherst. I met my wife Helen there and we played in a graduate quartet-in-residence. Helen had enrolled at New England Conservatory for the 86-87 school year, and we spent one very hot July day in Boston looking for a place for us to live. As a default, I had enrolled in a D.M.A. program at Boston University. I was antsy about living in Boston; the freelance racket was going to take a long time to crack. Between Thanksgiving of 1985 and August of ‘86 I took eight auditions; Louisville Orchestra (runner-up), Chicago Symphony (bomb), Spoleto Festival (got the job), Charlotte Symphony (finalist), Columbus Symphony (bomb) New Jersey Symphony (semi-finals), Boston Symphony sub list (one never knows how one does in Boston until the phone rings), and on a very hot August 19th, Knoxville.

After the audition I flew back to western Massachusetts and we were married on the following Saturday. (Yes, it is our 25th anniversary this year)!! We spent our honeymoon on Prince Edward Island, and soon after that Helen began her studies at NEC while I drove a moving van with all my junk down here, ditching the D.M.A. at BU and wondering how fate had acquired such a good curve ball.

So we lived apart for a semester, until Helen decided to capitalize on UT’s then-excellent Suzuki Pedagogy program. (Kathy Hart-Reilly, director of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Sinfonia ensemble, was a classmate). Helen eventually would secure a per-service position with the KSO. We drove a moving van with all HER junk and a car down here in a driving snowstorm, arriving on New Year’s Day of 1987.

Here are some pictures from my birthday party at Norris Dryer’s place in the old city.

Helen lights the candles...

making a wish

I always wanted a new Bluetooth! (something about the frosting made a lasting impression).
left to right: me, Eunsoon Corliss, Lindsay Crawford, Any Bermudez

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tomorrow, July 18th, the November 2010 Chamber Classics concert will be rebroadcast at 8:00 on WUOT, 91.9 fm. You may recall this was the re-creation of the KSO’s first-ever concert, given in 1936 at Church St. United Methodist Church. I am going to suggest that you crank up that giant stereo system you have, invite some friends over, and make these recipes that have been shared by KSO players.
Bassist Dan Thompson is a lucky man. He is married to clarinetist Erin Bray, who is an award-winning cook and a devotee of (among other things) all things barbecue. (You also may remember her name from years ago when she was an announcer on WUOT while a UT student).


My favorite summer asian bbq marinade:

5-10 cloves of garlic, peeled (depends on how much you like garlic)
2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and cut in half
1/2 of a yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup soy sauce (or more to taste)
juice & zest (grated) of one lime
1 cup of cola--not diet (or more to cover meat)

Place 1st four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor--process to a chunk-free paste. Remove contents to a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk in lime juice & cola.

This works supremely on pork butt, pork loin, chicken thighs or breasts.

For pork butts, marinate overnight in fridge. To cook, remove from marinade, wipe off excess (it can burn)--either in a 300 degree oven, uncovered for at least 3-4 hours, until meat reaches 190 degrees or grill--indirect heat for at least 5-7 hours, until meat reaches 190 degrees. I am sure you could do it in a slow cooker, but I have not tried it.

For pork loin, wipe off the marinade & either roast in a 325 degree oven until meat reaches 150 degrees or grill over indirect heat until meat reaches 150 degrees.

For chicken, marinate 2-6 hours, bake or grill as desired.

To serve: it works great over rice, but is even BETTER cut into chunks and served in lettuce wraps. It is RIDONKULOUS in lettuce wraps with sushi rice & the following sauce:

1 clove chopped garlic, smashed into a fine paste
1/4 cup chopped scallion
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine in a small bowl & whisk.


While things are cooking, people are going to want drinks. English hornist Liz Telling found this recipe for an amazing, summery drink called an ad lib.

Ad lib:

Cocktail ice cubes for muddling and shaking
5-7 fresh cilantro leaves
2 ½ oz. vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon-lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
lollipop rim

Fill a tempered pint glass with ice and add the cilantro. Muddle until the ice is slushy and the cilantro is evenly distributed throughout the ice. Add ice to fill the glass. Add vodka, lemon-lime juice and simple syrup. Cap the glass with a stainless steel cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a 10-oz. martini glass garnished with a lollipop rim.


Tomatoes and basil go together like Tristan und Isolde. Especially when they are fresh out of your garden, or- even better- someone else’s. Violinist Liz Farr shared this recipe with my wife and I many years ago. It is difficult to serve perfectly wedge-shaped servings of this but who cares what it looks like, it is majorly delicious.

Tomato-basil torte:

1 pie crust
1 ½ c. shredded mozzarella (6 oz.) – divided 1 c. and ½ c.
5 Roma or 4 medium tomatoes
½ - 3/8 c. flour – optional
1 c. loosely packed fresh basil
4+ cloves garlic
½ c. mayo
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 t. pepper (white pepper if you have it)

1) Preheat oven to 350. Prick the pie crust with a fork and pre-bake the pie crust for 15-20 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, while still hot, sprinkle the ½ c. of the mozzarella to coat the bottom of the crust. Allow to cool on a rack.

2) Cut the tomatoes into wedges and drain on a paper towel. Alternatively, mix the tomatoes with ½ - 3/8 cup of flour. If the tomatoes are quite juicy, it’s best to both drain them AND mix in the flour. (The tomatoes can be prepared ahead of time.)

3) Pre-heat the oven to 350. Arrange the tomato wedges in a single crowded layer on the bottom of the pie shell.

4) Using a food processor , coarsely chop the fresh basil and the garlic cloves. Sprinkle over the tomatoes in the pie shell.

5) Combine the remaining 1 c. mozzarella, mayo, Parmesan, and pepper. Spread as evenly as possible over the tomatoes + basil/garlic in the pie shell, aiming to cover the top.

6) Bake the pie at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the top shows golden and the tomato’s juices are bubbling.

Violist Katy Gawne says of this dessert that it is “so worth running the oven in July...”

Blueberry Kuchen:

1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon vinegar


5 cups blueberries
2 Tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar

Combine 1 cup of flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. Sprinkle with the vinegar. Press into an 8 inch cake pan. Add 3 cups of blueberries. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour and 2/3 cup of sugar. Bake @ 400 for 45-60 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling bubbles. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 2 more cups of blueberries.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How I Spent my Summer Vacation, Part II

I said I attended a 4th of July concert by the Hartford Symphony and I meant it. I know a wide variety of people read this so I will say to some of you, Hartford, Conn., not Hartford Tenn. (Or Wis.!) Enough Lady Vol fans read this so that some must surely be acquainted with the city where the UConn Huskies play some of their games. (UConn’s campus is about an hour east in Storrs).

I attended the U of Hartford for undergrad; back then Hartt was one of the “13 best music schools in the country.” There were a lot of opportunities and it was a half-hour drive from my parents’ house. Notable graduates of Hartt include Dionne Warwick, Richie Havens, and conductors Neal Gittleman (Dayton Philharmonic and a guest conductor here in the spring of 1999) and Apo Hsu. At the beginning of my junior year (see Feb. 25th blog re the maestro there), I was one of two cellists to win auditions with the Hartford Symphony, the other being a classmate and good friend of mine, Eric Dahlin from Minnesota. My tenure with the HSO was only three seasons, but they were jam-packed with new tunes and I effectively tripled my repertoire beyond what we played in the Hartt College Orchestra.
I visited Eric, his wife and two sons in rural Simsbury the day after their concert. I was astonished that he seemed not to have changed a bit, but he (and everyone I saw from the orchestra that I knew back in the day) seemed taller!! It was scary.
Simsbury figured prominently that day, because it is also the home to my first real cello teacher and high school orchestra director, Josef Treggor, and I got to see him and his wife also! He retired from teaching in 2001. There was a grand party for him, a la “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Richard Dreyfuss, however, would not very aptly portray Joe. Think Jimmy Stewart meets Bill Murray with a beard.

Joe was a cellist, and had what my parents would call an “artistic temperament,” a term which was lost on me until I acquired one. Growing up he was friends with Peter Tork from the Monkees, and when I first started lessons with him he had (in order) a 1965 Saab, a 1967 VW bus, then a 1969 MGB. He was married to my piano teacher, so I had piano and cello lessons on alternate weeks.

Musically he was ambitious and our high school orchestra (Newington, Conn.) rocked. While I was there we went to DC, Ottawa, and New York on trips for contests, but more importantly, we achieved high levels of artistry and the concept of a chamber orchestra was brought home to me. In 6th grade we were tackling Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, in 8th grade Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 and Bach’s 6th Brandenburg Concerto, and through high school Beethoven’s 1st 3rd, 5th and 8th symphonies, Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Reformation Symphony, and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

Joe added a feather to his cap in the mid 70's, acquiring a marine biology degree. His love for oceanography took him to sea, and he eventually voyaged with Jacques Cousteau and spent a good deal of time at Woods Hole on Cape Cod. (Poor guy). He was instrumental (ouch) in protecting a small, but beautiful waterfall that was threatened by a road construction project in Newington. His second wife, Kumi, is a former classmate of mine and Eric’s at Hartt College. How’s that for ironic?