I admit, Facebook has taken me over. Since mid-2009, I have added over 2,000 friends–and most I know, and new ones are now in my FB 'family'. Some remarkable things have happened from FB–like the time when Jill Arbetter Karni found me on FB and wrote to me asking if I could perform Tschaikowsky's First Piano Concerto on less than a week's notice. I agreed, although I did not have the music with me in Colorado at the time. The piece came back to memory in three hours. The concert was in Bogota, Colombia, where I had never been. It was a fascinating journey, and the orchestra was splendid! The Richard Danielpour concerto project, "Mirrors", was premiered in February 2010, with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carl St. Clair, their devoted and brilliant maestro. The PSO staff is quite special, and we'll be working again together in November 2010 for the World Premiere of William Bolcom's "Prometheus" for piano, orchestra and chorus, which will kick off a nine member consortium project through 2012. At the moment, I am proud to announce that the newly created Trio21 will be represented worldwide by Craig Urquhart, who happens to be a wonderful musician, composer and pianist too. He was Leonard Bernstein's assistant and runs the Bernstein Estate, and just started The Craig Urquhart Agency based in New York and Berlin and has some illustrious soloists and conductors. We are very excited about this, and, since our inception in January 2010, a generous grant will allow for Kenneth Fuchs to compose a piano trio for us, and, we are assembling a consortium for a new "Triple Concerto for Viper, Electric Cello, Piano and Acoustic Orchestra" by the master electro/acoustic artist and composer, Mark Wood. The inaugural season for Trio21 is 2011-12. During 2009, E1 released Volume 1 of the Complete Sonatas by Mozart (with my own Mozartean improvisation in the repeat sections), and, Naxos released the Vivaldi "Four Seasons" for solo piano, accompanied by solo piano arrangements of Vivaldi's "Concerto for Lute in D Major" and "Concerto for Mandolin in C Major"–all done 'by ear' by the amazing Andrew Gentile–a long time friend growing up on Long Island. Only a genius of this calibre can create a solo transcription just by listening to recordings of the original settings with orchestra without musical scores! In 2010, Naxos digitally released the World Premiere recordings for the "Millennium Fantasy" by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, which had be commissioned by 27 orchestras and several private donors and foundations in 2000. With this work, Ellen's "Peanuts Gallery" and "Images for Two Pianos" are on the cd. Maestro Alexander Jimenez leads the very gifted Florida State University Orchestra, and, we enjoyed a week of recording sessions led by producer, John Hadden. John was a joy to record for, as he gently muscled us though the cd sessions. I return to the studio in June, with producer Steve Epstein (I still get goosebumps when I think about it!) for an all-Bach recording–and, I am just now working on the Baroque embellishments for this cd. It is a soul-searching creative project, one which brings me as close to the spirit of JS Bach as one might imagine. I am being extremely careful in adding the ornamentation, almost as though they already exist in an old edition. In my zany pursuits to keep commissioning projects alive, I began a monumental endeavor in mid-2009: the Ellen Taaffe wilich Global Commissioning Project–a project designed to join orchestras worldwide in cultural diplomacy, all the while keeping their share fees for the composer's fee affordable. We have five orchestras thus far on board, and anticipate more to come during this year. I do hope that 2010 is a good year for everyone, and that you are enjoying what you do and bring joy to those close to you.
Hello everyone~ been a long time since the last post. Hope this finds everyone doing well and healthy! I can’t believe I haven’t posted since September 2008–I can pretty much blame Facebook for that–which takes up the time we have to share everything going on in our lives. Working on getting two new works ready for premieres: Richard Danielpour’s “Mirrors” for piano and orchestra, and, William Bolcom’s “Prometheus” for piano, orchestra and chorus–both to be performed with the Pacific Symphony in 2010. Created the first worldwide commissioning project which will feature a new work for piano and orchestra by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Premiere will hopefully be 2011-12, as there are several orchestras on board at the moment. Working with a new manager in Hamburg, Kevin Wood, who is very dedicated and very well rounded. This year also brought a beautiful orchestration by Lucas Richman for my ‘Hanukah Fantasy for choir and orchestra. The LeDor Group, Lucas’ company, will have it available through their web site. The Hal Leonarde Corporation will have the SATB/piano version.
Please let me know how you are doing–hope we’ll stay in touch–and feel free to stop by Facebook where so many of us have re-acquainted or become new friends.
In the return to Brooklyn College, I noticed a difference in my teaching–as did my pupils who responded positively to it. I remember how my teacher, Adele Marcus played during lessons and was able to say exactly what needed to be done–I always wondered if I would be able to do the same, as a servant of the music, a transmitter of the traditions to the next generation. I think it finally clicked, at the age of 47! I felt the ease and flow of playing and verbalization for my students–well, most of them, and it felt, well, great! Can I keep that up for the 14 week term? Will they ‘get it’? Will they improve? Do we, as teachers, always have that spark that flames the imagination of the student week after week? This being my tenth year at Brooklyn College, I have seen some amazing talents come into our midst, some achieving wonderful dreams now, and a new flock studying to make their dreams a reality. There is also a sense of nostalgia, as this will be our last year in the building before they start a new arts center in 2009-10–wow! Traditions are instilled in the cracks of the walls of the institution, but we will take those traditions into the next phase of this college as it develops. I wish everyone a splendid year of teaching, concerts, writing and everything that makes us musicians and stewards of beauty.
A brilliant icon in the world of classical music in the USA, Mr. Henry Fogel, took time to generously focus and share his thoughts regarding America’s own composer, Leroy Anderson. After many years of chiming in about Anderson’s Piano Concerto, I am indeed proud to see the success of the concerto and its acceptance in the concert world. Due credit must be given to Erich Kunzel, who initially sought permission to perform, record and release the concerto, which he recorded for the first time in 1992. I was present at the performance in Cincinnati the evening before the recording sessions commenced, and was immediately enchanted with the piece. Erich graciously suggested I contact the Anderson family, which has evolved into a special and endearing friendship. After performing the concerto at its birthplace, the Grant Park Music Festival, in the mid-1990s, I had eventually convinced [the late] Maestro Skitch Henderson, founder of the New York Pops, to bring it, with me, to Carnegie Hall. I’ve proudly carried the concerto close to my heart since then, and was thrilled to have recorded it with America’s own maestro, Leonard Slatkin. Leonard is famous for promoting, recording and premiering new works, and this occasion was, for me, an event.
Here is the blog entry from Mr. Fogel:
Leroy Anderson: An American Treasure, Unjustly Neglected
In 1981, I traveled to Mexico (my first airline trip!) with my high school choir. Although I graduated in 1979, I was invited to accompany the choir, which I was very close to, having many friends still in the school. The choral director asked if I would perform a recital in Mexico City’s National Institute of Fine Arts (Pinacoteca Virreinal) and I did, which was followed by the choir performance. I remember the concert grand was a Petrov and the sound reverberated for quite some time–quite beautiful actually!
The altitude was an experience to get used to, for we followed our time in Mexico City with the long and winding road down to sea-level Acapulco. The old roads back then provided a movie backdrop, of beautiful mountains, towns, and the sight of Cuernevaca. We finally made it to Acapulco, and it was indeed enjoyable.
A few years ago, I became friends with the Mexican maestro, Eduardo Alvarez. He invited me to perform now with his Acapulco Philharmonica Orchestra, which he founded 10 years ago. Some amenities I took notice of include a personal mini-van with private driver, their own specialty shirts with their logo, and a very dedicated staff. During my visit so far, I managed to find where I stayed and walked 27 years ago! Not much has changed there, but the rest of Acapulco is constantly growing and building. Once a haven for movie stars and celebrities, it still has the seaside charm and attracts international travelers, although, I am here during their rainy season. It rains heavily, then passes, though I am sure the January-February period must be drier and quite blue. As for Maestro Alvarez, he is a warm and generous man and formidable musician. We are already thinking about programs for next year, with pleasure!
Apr 30 2008
CARL FISCHER PUBLISHES TWO CHORAL TITLES BY JEFFREY BIEGEL
“A Different Kind of Hero “
“Ho Ho Hanukah! Ho Ho Christmas! “
Thanks to the assistance of Rae Moses, Director for Choral Music at Carl Fischer, I am privileged to share the news with you that these two new pieces are now available in the Carl Fischer choral library:
‘Ho Ho Hanukah! Ho Ho Christmas!’
They have been arranged for two-parts/piano, based on the original three-parts and SATB versions.
If you click on the link above, you can have a listen to the mp3 of each title.
Hope it brings pleasure to many choristers throughout the US and abroad.
The LeDor Group Inc, Music Publishing, is pleased to announce the publications by composer/pianist, Jeffrey Biegel.
The brainchild of composer/conductor, Lucas Richman, The LeDor Group publishes a wide variety of music for orchestra, chorus, chamber music and theatre. The selections by Mr. Biegel include:
Psalm 100 ‘A Psalm of Thanksgiving’ (Chorus SATB a cappella)
Psalm 96 ‘O Sing Unto The Lord’ (Chorus SATB divisi, double chorus a cappella)
Psalm 93 ‘The Lord Reigneth’ (Chorus SATB divisi, double chorus a cappella)
Psalm 29 ‘Psaulme de David’ (Chorus SATB divisi, double chorus a cappella, in French)
Please visit the following links for these compositions:
It is an unusual feeling as an artist to perform works by composers who attend your performances, to say the least. But I was not nervous, rather, inspired to give the man who wrote this truly fine work, a chance to experience another artist’s rendering of his composition. The benchmark performance is Keith’s own recording with the London Philharmonic on the ELP album, ‘Works’. In the 1970s, 1980s, and perhaps into the 1990s, programming or offering a work as such would have proved fruitless, unless in an isolated situation. The piece was performed in Kentucky in 2000, and in China more recently. I plan to blanket the orchestras with this concerto, for I believe in its merits and accessibility to audiences–especially those who were raised on ELP.
Here is a story about Keith and his visit:
Here is a review of the performance:
C-U Symphony, pianist sparkle in season finale
“Leroy Anderson’s Piano Concerto is like everything by this great composer of light music, full of glorious tunes and wonderful twists of orchestration. Biegel clearly loves this piece and played its stormy and tender passages from the heart.
[Keith Emerson's Concerto no. 1] is refreshingly bold and saucy. Emerson is impatient with transitions, and there are many clashes of keys and moods, as well as wild endings to the first and last movements. The ghost of composer Paul Hindemith, of all people, turns up near the beginning, and the propulsive start of the finale owes something to the Khachaturian concerto.
Biegel played with his usual brilliance, and during curtain calls, Emerson loped onstage to embrace Biegel and [Steve] Larsen.”
It will be a journey to take Keith Emerson’s Concerto on the road, and to see who will find it attractive to program. It is a special work with its own sound, harmonic language and melodic invention. I think it’s time has come.
Back in the early 1990s, my friend, Don Pippin, told me about Richard Hayman, the veteran arranger, harmonica performer and conductor. He had already been the Boston Pops arranger appointed by Arthur Fiedler after Leroy Anderson, and recorded over 50 cds for Naxos, was principal pops conductor for orchestras such as the Saint Louis Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony and others during his long career. I knew he was getting up there in years, and as the years passed, and our schedules conflicted, it seemed less possible that we would share the stage.
Well, that changed this year–on March 15th. Our schedules coincided, and Richard invited me to perform with his Space Coast Pops in Florida. He plays golf quite regularly these days, and, at 87, he turns 88 on March 27th. That’s one year for every key on the piano–well, not the Imperial Bosenforfer, as he said! I brought two works: Leroy Anderson’s Concerto in C, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue–the 1924 version with the original piano part, which has some 88 measures in it which had been edited out in the best known editions of the 20th century.Of course, Richard knew this piece his entire life, and also plays it on harmonica–a half-step higher than written! When I brought the solo piano score to Richard, which is indeed much larger than the tiny conductor score (Richard said, ‘With such a famous piece, why can’t there be a larger conductor score??!!) he decided to conduct from my solo version, which has all of the missing measures. His conductor markings are now added in my solo score, which I will cherish. I was taken with the fact that he was willing to do this version, which he had no idea existed. He liked it too.
Many of Richard’s arrangements are still performed throughout the world today. But watching him conduct his own arrangements was a gift indeed. He feels the music from the inside out, and conducts it as he sways to the music, with the energy of a young man, as though the music was just off the ink press. His arrangement of ‘Mack the Knife’, adapted from the Kurt Weill song, is genius. He plays it on harmonica with the big band and added strings, and then breaks into the vocal like Louis Armstrong! Simply divine! This 51-piece big band is probably one of the only bands of its kind, and they were able to go from big band to Gershwin, to Anderson, to Dorsey. We surely hope Richard will grace the stages for many years to come, but truly, this icon of his generation is rare, and the audience of over 2,000 filled the Baptist Church of Merritt Island, knowing that they were in the presence of a true master of his genre. I knew it, and was in awe to be able to play these wonderful pieces with someone like Richard Hayman conducting. His humility is inspirational, as he would say, ‘I’ll follow you–you’re the soloist, and you know what to do with these pieces’. His interpretation of the second movement of the Anderson concerto was heartfelt–reminding me of how Skitch Henderson conducted it in Carnegie Hall with me in the mid-1990s. I am indeed blessed to have worked with these legendary artists.
After concerts with Kevin Rhodes in Springfield–we’ve done Liebermann’s 3rd (January 07) and Beethoven’s Emperor (March 08), Kevin said, ‘I’d love to do Prokofiev 2 with you next!’ Kevin is one of the most exciting and driven musicians I have met so far. he is also a consummate accompanist. This brought back many memories, for in 1983, I studied this warhorse with Adele Marcus while a student at The Juilliard School. On my cover copy is an autograph to me from the great Byron Janis. I ended up winning the concerto competition that year and played the concerto with the late Sixten Ehrling and the Juilliard Philharmonia–my first full concerto performance. In 1985, I won the William Kapell competition in Maryland (with National Symphony in the Kennedy Center) with the same concerto, and then an Oslo competition with the Oslo Philharmonic, again, ‘Prok 2′ as we called it. This was immediately followed by an invitation to play it three weeks later with the Danish National Radio Symphony in Copenhagen–the ever-amazing John Nelson conducted. That was the last time I performed this colossal concerto–my staple piece. Since then, everyone asks for the ‘Prok 3′, ‘Rach 3′, ‘Rach 2′. Taking out the score today was like meeting an old friend from many years ago, and the freshness of the music was overwhelming. So many of the chordal patterns and fingerings came back easily–others seemed like new territory. I can probably whisk the piece back into shape if I had to rather quickly. Having composed a good deal since then, the harmonic language seems very invigorating to me now–moreso than as a student. This is truly one of the great concerti, and I hope to have the pleasure to take it on the road many times again now.