Posted December 21, 2015
I am delighted to report that my featured article, “What’s in a Name? Ladislav Vycpalek and His Suite for Solo Viola, op. 21” has just been published in the Fall 2015 of the Journal of the American Viola Society. I hope this article will help draw attention to this unheralded work and this interesting composer.
Here’s a link to the article in pdf form: javsarticle
Posted March 28, 2015
It has been a hectic few weeks, with many wonderful concerts and travels to all parts of the country. I feel very lucky to have so many opportunities, but am also grateful to be able to catch my breath.
The most exciting piece of news is that I have accepted the appointment of Assistant Professor of Viola at the University of Alabama School of Music in Tuscaloosa. This is truly an honor, and a very exciting opportunity! I look forward to working with the students and faculty in Tuscaloosa, and will be on campus starting in August. I am thrilled for this opportunity to recruit and develop a great viola studio at UA.
So…I guess I’m supposed to tell the tide to roll? Something? I’m sure I’ll learn.
Posted February 21, 2015
A heartfelt thank you to all of you who have already donated generously to my indie-gogo campaign. Because of your support, we are already over halfway to the funding goal, with two weeks left!
To give the backstory, the tracks have been meticulously recorded and edited at the highest professional level. An independent label is ready and interested to release the album, but needs funding assistance to produce and distribute it. This is the remaining money we are crowd-funding for. Once we have this funding, the album’s release will only be a matter of time!
So in case you didn’t think it is noticed, your donation makes a HUGE impact on realizing this project – which I cannot wait to share with everyone!
Posted February 3, 2015
As promised, today is the launch of my indie-gogo campaign. The tracks recorded last year sound awesome, and offer original never-before-recorded repertoire to violists and music lovers everywhere. We have an interested label, but need to raise a few more shekels to get it published and distributed.
Please consider helping us achieve this goal – even the smallest donation makes a huge impact!
Thank you for your support – here’s the link again in case you missed it.
Posted February 2, 2015
After a brief hiatus and minor technical hiccups, I have updated the site to include announced upcoming concert events in March – performances with Opera Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Symphony, Trio 248, and Camerata Pacifica highlight what is sure to be a busy month!
In the coming days I will launch an indie-gogo campaign to help raise the remaining funds needed to publish and distribute my album of Czech music. Centaur Records is ready to produce it, and we are almost there with the money, but we could use your support!
Lastly, keep an eye out for my first published article on Vycpálek’s Viola Suite in the Journal of the American Viola Society Fall 2015 issue.
Back to practicing…
Posted October 28, 2014
My recording of the Suite for Solo Viola, op. 21 by Czech composer Ladislav Vycpálek is now available for digital download! Special thanks to Barbara Hirsch, who engineered the recording, and Helen Callus, who produced the recording and provided invaluable feedback. The tracks were recorded at the Music Academy of the West in March 2014.
This piece is an unknown gem of the viola repertoire, deserving of a much wider audience (especially in the US). The tracks of all four movements are available through iTunes or through Bandcamp. I hope you enjoy discovering this piece as much as I have!
Additional tracks will soon be available, including my transcriptions of Janacek’s violin repertoire for viola. Thanks for all your support!
Posted September 16, 2014
I know you are eager to know what’s been going on.
It’s really hot in California which make the worrisome drought situation seem more dire.
My brother Peter (who helped make this website possible) got married in Cincinnati over Labor Day weekend. We had a fun party to celebrate.
And, oh yeah, I’m officially a doctor.
Technically, I am still waiting on some paperwork, and I am sure the piece of paper proclaiming me a doctor is still months away in the mail. But the committee-approved dissertation, the final step in the process, is complete. Alongside the recording made last spring (more on that soon I hope), this document is my big undertaking to complete the doctoral degree.
The title of the document is “The Viola Stands Alone: The Rise in Sonatas and Suites for Unaccompanied Viola, 1915-1929.” It touches on Reger, Hindemith, and Vycpalek and their solo viola works from this era, putting them in the context of those heady socio-cultural times.
This feels good to share. It was a huge process that took a lot of my time and attention the last few years, and I’m really proud of the results.
Posted March 28, 2014
My appearance with Linda and Angela on “Northwest Focus Live,” King FM, 98.1, Seattle is now available to listen to via SoundCloud. By clicking on my recording links to SoundCloud along the side of the site, you should be able to access it, as I re-posted it to my SoundCloud page. It is a full hour, and my playing is a bit tight – I’m not going to lie, playing live on the radio is nerve-wracking. Nevertheless, I would recommend listening starting at the 12:13 mark to hear me talk briefly about Vycpalek and my Czech recording project before performing the first movement of the Vycpalek Suite. Enjoy!
Posted March 23, 2014
Greetings! I write this while taking a much needed deep breath, reflecting on the bustling week that was while riding Amtrak through the Pacific Northwest on a gorgeous Sunday in March.
The title of this post is not my diatribe on Edward Snowden or wire-tapping, I promise. It is a reference to the theme that dominated this past week for me. The week began with two full days of recording Czech repertoire at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. I tackled the Janacek Violin Sonata (in my own arrangement for viola and piano) and the Vycpalek Suite for Solo Viola, Op. 21. The process was exhausting but thrilling, and I look forward to sharing the results of this recording project in the coming months! I must extend a very special thanks to the wonderful collaborators that helped make the recording possible: my generous and invaluable teacher Helen Callus, who served as producer and consultant, recording engineer Barbara Hirsch, pianist Pascal Salomon, and my academic advisor Dr. Derek Katz, who helped me hatch this entire crazy project and assisted with procuring University funding.
As part of winning the Frances Walton Competition last year, I was featured Friday night on King FM 98.1 FM in Seattle on the show “Northwest Focus Live.” A wonderful opportunity, to be sure. But having never played live on air before, this was a decidedly surreal experience, one that provoked long-dormant performance anxieties. Like most performers, I am accustomed to having immediate feedback from the audience I am performing for – I can adjust, read and react to the space and the audience over the course of a concert. To have no idea who may or may not be listening out there in the ether, playing for a faceless audience in a deathly-dry acoustic space, presents a wholly different set of challenges. I have no idea if I was able to say anything insightful or clever – but you can decide for yourself when I post a link to the interview in the coming days!
In the meantime, enjoy the fantastic license plate of Mr. Daniel Wing, who I had the pleasure of meeting on Saturday. A former violist in orchestras and string quartets in Germany, and current President of the Washington Music Educators (WMEA), he had the best license plate I have ever seen:
Posted February 24, 2014
I have just returned from the El Sistema USA conference in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the LA Phil, Bard College and the Longy School of Music. While there, I heard some fantastic speakers (Professor Robert Duke from UT-Austin was a particular standout), reacquainted with old friends, and met charismatic and impassioned teachers and administrators from other Sistema sites around the country. It is always exciting and inspiring to be in such a setting, in the shadow of Disney Hall where the Bolivars and the LA Phil were provoking rousing applause. (Full disclosure: I did not attend any of the Disney Hall concerts that were being offered during the conference – I chose to spend the money that might have gone to concert tickets on cocktails and dinner with friends. I didn’t feel guilty about that until writing this…)
I returned to Franklin Elementary – iCAN’s school site in Santa Barbara – on Sunday February 23 for a special opportunity. The ‘fellows’ of NEC’s Abreu Fellowship visited our site, having also been in LA for the conference. As it was a Sunday afternoon, only about 25 of iCAN’s regular 120 students could be persuaded to school on a sunny weekend afternoon. Between iCAN Teaching Artists and NEC Fellows, there was an incredible teacher-to-student ratio!
We had a wonderful afternoon – I worked alongside talented Fellows from Chicago and Germany with two iCAN third grade violists. In the course of about 90 minutes, each third grader composed and conducted their own original composition, which we performed for the whole group at the end of the day. Watching the students work past their initial anxiety and begin to imagine the possibilities of compositional creation was exciting to bear witness to – as is any moment when you witness the lightbulb going on in a student’s brain. But more than this, I was struck by the open collaboration between three teachers. The three of us had not met until a few hours prior, come from completely different geographic and ethnic backgrounds. We brought a wealth of diverse experiences and skill sets into the room, but no single teacher voice dominated. While no single teacher voice dominated, there was also no confusion about who was giving instruction at any given moment – everyone listened and shared with respect and consideration. Team-teaching this way has always felt like a form of improvisation to me – adding one more building block to what was just presented, saying “yes, and…” In this room on this Sunday, there was a comfortable give-and-take, an openness to experimentation and collaboration, that I believe is truly the key to creating successful Sistema teaching sites.
Sunday’s work felt a long way from Disney Hall’s bright lights and any media hype or trending topic. But creating these teaching spaces, these communal pedagogical laboratories, where teachers feel comfortable and open to give-and-take with other teaching voices (even if it means slightly straying from the lesson plan) is the key to the social transformation and artistic empowerment of the larger communities that Sistema programs are all striving for. If students are inundated into a teaching environment where such practices are the norm, the learning space is transformed, the student is engaged in fresh ways, intrinsic motivation develops and can be more fully nurtured, and that pivitol first step in the larger culture being transformed is firmly established.