A Master Class with Sherrill Milnes

SMilnes1 This week the legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes visited the Triangle, sharing his wealth of knowledge and experiences through a series of lectures, dinners, and Master Classes.  Yesterday he gave a Master Class at UNC Chapel Hill for (college-aged) voice students, and today he gave a Master Class at the studio for (graduate-level) fellows of the AJ Fletcher Opera Institute at UNC School of the Arts.  The event drew participants all the way from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, with a goodly number coming from Chapel Hill, Durham, and, of course, Pittsboro. Continue reading “A Master Class with Sherrill Milnes”

Banda Magda brings world music to Chapel Hill middle school

Two weeks ago, world-renowned and Grammy®-winning violinist Gil Shaham performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D with the UNC Symphony Orchestra. The electrifying performance was a capstone event for the first half of his 2015-2016 artist-in-residence program at UNC Chapel Hill.  The smiles on the faces of those students after the performance confirmed that they knew that they had not merely witnessed greatness, but had participating in creating that greatness.  And with that great success now a part of their foundation, they can aim even higher in whatever they do next, whether it be more performances, academics, professional career ambitions, or public service.  As a Carolina Performing Arts board member, I am proud generally of the artistic residencies we have helped to realize at Chapel Hill, and very proud of this one in particular.

B001_C003_1027DK.0009649-2Last week, I had a chance to witness and help support another artist-in-residence program in Chapel Hill.  Banda Magda (founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou) has played Carnegie Hall, Webster Hall, Irving Plaza, The Kennedy Center, The Jefferson Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, Jazz al Parque, St. Moritz Festival Da Jazz, and the Chicago World Music Festival.  Their debut album Amour, t’es là? set a blistering pace (Top 10 Billboard World Music Charts, NPR’s All Songs Considered, First Listen, NPR’s 10 favorite World Music Albums 2013), and their second album Yerakina shows the next step in their musical evolution.  Magda and her band-mates have composed and/or performed on a number of Grammy®-winning and Grammy®-nominated projects, yet instead of chasing only brighter and brighter lights, she takes the time to bring up the next generation of artists and creators by doing artist residences with youth orchestras.  This year the stars aligned for the youth orchestra of the Guy B. Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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UNCSA Chrysalis Ensembles

Streichquartett Musical Score
The notes of the string quartet are annotated with expression marks, fingerings, and bowings. But how does one anticipate the changes between playing in a performance hall vs. a recording studio?

This past weekend, Manifold Recording hosted four ensembles of the Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute from UNC School of the Arts (UNCSA): the Giannini String Quartet, the Liminal Phase wind quintet, the Chrysalis Brass Quintet, and an ad hoc piano/violin duet.  The goal of the session was to give these developing musicians an opportunity to hear themselves in a new way–recorded in a studio setting.  Of course musicians must be able to hear themselves, and of course they must be able to hear other members of their ensemble.  But beyond that, how much do they take for granted that what sounds good inside the circle will translate beyond it.  This session gave them the opportunity to experience this for themselves.

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Wayne Krantz coming to the Miraverse, Feb 15 2015

Wayne Krantz playing his James Tyler guitar
Wayne Krantz, Premier Guitar

Guitar virtuoso and teacher Wayne Krantz and his trio are coming to the Miraverse February 15, 2015, and we are so excited!  I first learned about Wayne from the AbstractLogix catalog.  My love of the music created by John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Herring, and others of that sort predicted I would like Wayne’s music.  Not because he imitates them–he most certainly doesn’t!  But because he is as boldly original as they are, bringing together an exciting mix of classic and alien, funky and beautiful, harmonic and angular.  I bought the self-titled album Krantz Carlock Lefebvre and it spent weeks in the player as I listened to it over and over and over again.

When Wayne released a book (An Improviser’s OS), I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of nearly infinite complexity.  And infinitely beautiful.  And that’s how I learned that in addition to being a creative composer and master player, he is also a teacher.

So it is fitting, then, for him to come to the Miraverse both to play, and to teach…and you can attend his lessons and/or performances by clicking here.

Still reading?  Then here’s some more motivation to come…

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Renaissance Weekend speech texts

As we have in the past, our family participated in Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  It is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas we’ve been developing and to learn from many, many people whose perspectives are truly global.  This year I was invited to share some remarks as part of the closing plenary, titled “If these were my final remarks”.  It is both a privilege to be giving the opportunity to have the last word, but it is also a challenge: of all the things that I could say, what should I say (and therefore what must I not say)?  To help me with my choice, I wrote down my two favorite themes, read them out, and decided, based on votes from a few trusted friends and my own instincts, which to deliver to the audience and which to share after-the-fact.  Here are the two texts.  Please feel free to comment on which text you prefer, or any other thoughts they elicit from you.

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The importance of art education

Last week the church I attend highlighted The Arena Culture, an editorial by David Brooks which considers a new book All Things Shining.  David Brooks writes:

For the past hundred years or so, we have lived in a secular age. That does not mean that people aren’t religious. It means there is no shared set of values we all absorb as preconscious assumptions. In our world, individuals have to find or create their own meaning.

This, Dreyfus and Kelly argue, has led to a pervasive sadness. Individuals are usually not capable of creating their own lives from the ground up. So modern life is marked by frequent feelings of indecision and anxiety. People often lack the foundations upon which to make the most important choices.

Brooks puts his finger on a very important subject—the relationships between truth, meaning, and reality—but when he wields his rhetorical hammer, it is his logical fingers, rather than the target, he manages to strike.  As a parent, as a church-goer, and as a board member of a Montessori school, I have been on my own little journey of self-discovery, and I have had a chance to re-evaluate many of the truths I thought I had settled the first time I made my way to self and adulthood. Continue reading “The importance of art education”

Changing kids' lives through jazz

 I never thought I’d be giving a shout out to CNN from this blog, but the article they wrote about Wynton Marsalis and his musical ministry was exceptional.

The story begins “Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis knows how important education is for youth, but what feeds their minds and souls, he says, often lies beyond traditional classroom walls.”  Amen!

Growing up in New York City, I had always taken the City’s icons as givens, as if Tiffany’s, or The Metropolitan Opera, or the Empire State Building had always been a part of the city, because they were all part of the city by the time I became aware of them.  When Wynton Marsalis co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center, he changed the architectural, musical, and cultural landscape of the city, thereby also changing the fixed points of reference that I had presumed were immutable since I was a boy.  Something really new in New York?  Amazing! Continue reading “Changing kids' lives through jazz”