Archive for June, 2005

There was a recent posting at orchestralist titled ‘food for thought’, and I chimed in with this vision I had from the early 1990s (which eventually became the first online cyber-recital in 1997) to help boost orchestra income: to have concert halls hooked up to the web and offer cybercast concerts online anywhere in the world for a nominal fee to ‘attend the virtual concert’. I envision this in this century to help save orchestras in their fears of a reduction in on-site attendance–with home theatres and ‘at home’ subscriptions, this has the potential to significantly boost income for orchestras (and any series for that matter). As technology advances, and the anti-piracy issues online become advanced in the coming years, one would hope that a home theatre and large screen tv can bring the concert experience directly to the home audience, reaching a far larger audience (even school music programs) to foster the next generation of concertgoers. In addition, one might eventually be able to download a specific selection from any given concert through itunes and pay a download fee as they do for recorded music today. Alas, much would need to be worked through legally, and I am sure that guest artists performing with orchestras or on recital/chamber series would want a piece of the action should their performance(s) be used outside of the concert hall. All things are possible–and it might be advantageous to the local service providers and computer gurus to bring the concert venues to the web. If you visit o-list, you’ll see a few replies to the idea. I hope to live long enough to see this become a reality.

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This article is so very interesting–James Conlon is a 21st century pioneer indeed, and these works from Holocaust-era composers, like Viktor Ullmann, who perished at Aushwitz, will surely become staples of the repertoire during our lifetime. If anyone has knowledge or access to any of these composers’ musical output, please share.

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For maestros and maestras on the lookout for some new holiday pieces for female vocalist and orchestra, the following press release for ‘Christmas In A Minute’ tells all about the new chart. I am especially grateful to Kermit Poling for creating such a festive arrangement!

Biegel’s ‘Christmas In A Minute’ Now Available for Orchestra
By Naturally Sharp Inc.
June 15, 2005

Renowned composer/arranger/conductor Kermit Poling has created a new arrangement of pianist/composer Jeffrey Biegel’s “Christmas In A Minute” for female vocalist and orchestra. The song is based on Chopin’s ‘Minute Waltz’ with original lyrics by Mr. Biegel, who had initially composed the song in 2001 with the legendary voice of Barbra Streisand in mind. Full score and parts are available through Helene Blue Musique Ltd. at 1-212-724-5900.

During a visit to a mutual friend’s home in 2001, Mr. Biegel had the privilege to perform the piano/vocal arrangement of “Christmas In A Minute” for Ms. Streisand during a telephone call. As Ms. Streisand had previously recorded an arrangement of the Chopin waltz in an earlier setting during the 1960s, it was decidedly not to be used again in another setting. However, through the wisdom and guidance of the brilliant Canadian producer David Foster, Mr. Biegel re-created the composition as an a cappella SATB arrangement which was recently published by the Hal Leonard Corporation and is a current Editor’s Choice composition at the www.jwpepper.com web site. .

The song is challenging as a perpetual motion waltz set alongside a dazzling orchestration of the famous Chopin miniature.

In addition, the Hal Leonard Corporation has also published Mr. Biegel’s arrangement for SATB a cappella divisi of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘Hey Ho, The Wind and the Rain’ for SSA/piano, and ‘The World In Our Hands’, co-written with Mr. Biegel’s son, Craig. His latest compositions are an SATB arrangement of ‘The Christmas Song’ (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) and ‘A Different Kind of Hero’ for chorus/piano.

Jeffrey Biegel has established himself as one of the most versatile artists on the stage today. He has consistently amazed audiences and critics throughout the world with his electrifying technique, elegant pianism, warmth and artistic maturity. Critics compare him to legendary pianists Cliburn, Kapell, Lhevinne, Fleisher and Horowitz. With his acclaimed interpretations of standard repertoire, to his affinity for “Rare Gems of the Golden Age” and unique piano concerti (Duke Ellington, Keith Emerson, Leroy Anderson) he is placed among the front ranks of today’s pianists.

Mr. Biegel has been the focus of two previous orchestral commissioning consortiums: Pulitzer Prize Winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Millennium Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra – Premiered in September, 2000 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos and performed by Mr. Biegel with 27 consortium member orchestras throughout the United States during the 2000-05 seasons, and Broadway legend Charles Strouse’s Concerto America for Piano and Orchestra. He will perform the World Premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s ‘Concerto no. 3 for Piano and Orchestra’ in May 2006 with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Andreas Delfs conducting, as part of an 18 orchestra co-commissioning project worldwide during the 2006-07 season.

In addition, American composer Richard Danielpour will compose a new work for Mr. Biegel, tentatively titled “Concerto for Piano & Percussion” (5 players and piano). This new composition is slated for premieres in the 2006-07 season with the esteemed Canadian percussion ensemble, Nexus.

His solo piano transcriptions of 17 of David Foster’s best known songs will be available at www.pianodisc.com end of June, and his arrangements of Josh Groban’s first cd songbook (plus three selections from ‘Closer’, Mr. Groban’s second cd songbook), will be released late in 2005 by PianoDisc. You can find much more about Mr. Biegel at his website – http://www.cyberecital.com/.

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After watching one of my sons play in a third grade school band concert (I was thrilled to see kids that young play like that!), my parents gave me a cassette tape they found in a drawer dated from June 1973 from when I was just 12 years old. It contained introductory remarks from my grandparents, like it was yesterday, and a complete Mendelssohn ‘Concerto no. 1′ with my then teacher, Morton Estrin, playing second piano as the orchestra. Then came the round of popular solos like ‘Malaguena’, ‘Nola’ (remember that old ditty?–and not an easy one at that), ‘Alley Cat’ (not an easy one either–and it HAD to sound like the record–and I played it faster and faster–remember how hard it was to dance that one??–am I dating myself yet??)–all I remember is that I cried at the sound of my grandparents beloved voices, laughed when I heard my playing (it was actually decent!) and I remembered the feelings I had dreaming of becoming a concert pianist. I can look back now and can admit that I’ve been able to nearly accomplish what I had set out to do–it was Horowitz and Rubenstein, Liberace and Victor Borge–I wanted it all. The road to success has been long and arduous, not always easy–and carving a career today is much different than it was thirty years ago. It is recognizably more difficult to keep the classics alive–though it has been easier to spread wings in other directions of styles and repertoire–which can be a plus. I am thankful for the gifts I’ve been given and it is always my quest to keep my vision alive to further spread the glorious joy of music wherever I can. They say it’s hard to look back–but it’s kinda nice–it takes us back to our original sense of purpose and re-defines our present. Not everybody is with us today, but their being part of our lives has helped get us to where we are now. Cherish the moments.

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A very well said summation from John von Rhein and my letter to him personally below:

Dear Mr. von Rhein,

Your article concerning the the post-Cliburn reality is a wonderful summation indeed. The music world and its opportunities for young artists have indeed evolved into an existence a bit different from the ones we remember after earlier Cliburn events. Due to the changes of worldwide demographics and audience attendance, not to mention the technological diversions from the concert halls, the realities for these young artists and their eventual need to network and soul search is ever more a reality than in years gone by. I hope many pianists (and instrumentalists) will read your article, as it is an honest lesson to be learned for many attempting to secure a recognizable career stronghold in the 21st century world of music.

I was happy to read your reference to the first time the Cliburn event utilized live audio and video–I was the first to use this technology back in 1997 in a first live audio and video streaming recital on two occasions: in New York’s Steinway Hall on July 8 and 25, 1997, and during the following season for the first European event from Amsterdam for a Netherlands based internet company pushing their streaming technology. It was an idea I had to help broaden the 21st century audience addicted to the internet, to bring a classical piano recital directly to them in the privacy of their own home (and/or office). Peter Goodrich, Director of Concert and Artists Services, remarked that it was ahead of its time when the Steinway event was produced, but it did indeed prove the technology worked (despite a delayed glitch on the first run on the July 8 cybercast). I still envision recitals and symphony orchestra subscription series being available online (for a nominal fee to ‘attend’) which will eventually assist the orchestras and concert series in their online revenue to stay afloat. From what I have witnessed during my travels (although my concerts have been well attended), this is something that may eventually become necessary due to a declining attendance amongst younger attendees. The internet might not be the same as the ‘live’ concert hall experience, but with enhanced home theatre on the rise, home concert attendance might become a fine adjunct to the ‘live’ concert hall attendance.

I hope to have the pleasure to play again in the Chicago area. In the interim, please feel free to visit my web site www.cyberecital.com. Once the premiere of the Lowell Liebermann Third Piano Concerto has occurred next May in Milwaukee (and will be followed by 17 other orchestras performing the work with me as far as Europe), I am sure the new concerto will be pitched to the Chicago area.

With very kind regards,

Jeffrey Biegel

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Here’s a solid assessment of today’s orchestra situation by Henry Fogel–and my reply this morning to the respected President of the ASOL:

Dear Henry,

Bravo on your succinct assessment of the current symphony orchestra in our times as described in the Cincinnati Post. I agree that with 350 orchestras in the US and after 9-11, we’re not doing so badly. However, in cultivating new audiences and selecting repertoire based on demographics and attracting new audiences based on this, I agree with you 150%. I am actually discussing this with composer Tania Leon, and how we can create a new piano and orchestra commissioning project based on a Latino subject that can be embraced by orchestras throughout the US to dig deep into the Latino and Hispanic heart of the communities that need to be tapped into.

Several years ago after I performed the world’s first live audio/video recital on the internet, I wrote to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation to inquire if the foundation would support the beginning of live symphony orchestra concert series on the internet. Not limited to concert venue ticket sales, this would allow people from anywhere in the world to virtually ‘attend’ the concert of their choice, pay a nominal fee online (which would boost the budgets for the orchestras) and put them in touch with what is happening musically anywhere in the world that is hooked up to an online system. Since this was a new approach and the union issues would have to be sorted, my idea to the Gates Foundation was to create first step regional orchestras throughout the world in strategic locations, comprised of players graduating from conservatories and those waiting for prospective jobs. They would receive salary, benefits etc, and the concerts would be cybercast. I called it the MSNBC CyberPhilharmonic (a 21st century version of the NBC Radio Symphony of the 20th century). This would have sparked renewed interest in ‘concert going’ which could have expanded into more regional symphony orchestra cybercasting for their subscription series. Of course, it was refused. I had shared this idea with some friends who said I was ahead of my time with these wild ideas. I do envision this before the end of the century.

I look forward to meeting you in Milwaukee next May for the Lowell Liebermann Third Piano Concerto project. I wish you great success in helping our orchestras as they enter new times, and hope they will adapt your solid principles and ideas that can help them rise through the 21st century.

Best regards,

Jeffrey

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Alex Ross’ article in The New Yorker is startling in the fact that it illustrates the fascination with early recordings and the prophecy of recordings replacing the live concert experience: one would hope that will never happen.

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