Independence Day Weekend – 2008

July 6th, 2008

Greetings from the airspace above Missouri!  This has been quite an interesting last month, and I am on my way towards four weeks of travel, playing, and a much-needed vacation!

My trip to Texas last month was refreshing and productive.  I certainly enjoyed visiting and staying with good friends, and I was able to play and meet up with my teacher, Chee-Yun.  She has the number one selling album in Korea at the moment:  “Serenata Notturna”, and it was a pleasure to play Ysaye, Kreisler, and Bach unaccompanied works for her.  Also, the burlesque show that I took in was quite…memorable and outrageous!

I was fortunate to play in a concert where the lovely and inspiring Sylvia McNair was a guest soloist.  She is humble, charming, charismatic, and her immaculate singing is breathtaking.  Ms. McNair delivered in every respect, and not only she did look radiant, but she moved many grown men to tears.  What an artist.

So, Independence Day has come and gone, and I always spend it at my best friend’s house for a barbeque and drinks.  I spent much of the time being domestic, playing with the cutest 20-month-old I’ve come across.  And yes, I did sit her down at the piano to see if she is musical!  We’ll see if her parents listen to me about starting her this year on violin… :)

I’m bracing myself for the Southern desert heat that is bound to hit me as soon as I step off of the plane.  Last time I was in Dallas, it was over 100 degrees half the time I was there.  Now, on the trip to Dallas and Taos, I’m prepared to roast for the next two weeks.  Then…I’m going to northern Ontario to vacation for ten days before serving as guest concertmaster of the Mansfield Symphony for their August concerts.  It will be rejuvenating to be in the middle of Lake Penage without laptops, cell phones, or contact to the outside world.  Just what I need for a couple weeks!  Not that I’m constantly on one of those devices or anything…

These are going to be some exciting times ahead…I’ve recently met with a couple of conductors to discuss upcoming projects – long-term ideas, stretching to 2013 and so.  I hope everything ends up working out, and additions to the schedule will be made each month.  The goal of performing in all fifty states by my twenty-fifth birthday is still in effect, and the tour next year will take me to some states that I have never been to before…including Oregon, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Kansas.

ANYWAYS…I’m being told I have to shut off my computer.  Time to think about what breakfast to get in the St. Louis airport.  I don’t remember – is it St. Louis or Atlanta that has the good mom-and-pop breakfast place?  Or is that Chicago Midway?  Maybe I’ll just park myself in the Starbucks that I am SURE is still there in the E gates area and get on the laptop for awhile…

Rambling in the air,

Andrew


Murphy’s Law – otherwise known as, my last two weeks

June 9th, 2008

Greetings from disgustingly humid Cleveland!  It is about 91 degrees and 100% humidity.  As soon as you leave your house, you are coated in sweat (or, in the case of my Yellow Lab, matted fur).  This weather has been unbearable, and it brings back memories of the summer of 2005.

That summer, there were more record high temperature days than in recent history.  My trio and I were to play the first concert of ENCORE’s programming with the Rachmaninoff d minor Trio.  Outside, temperatures plateaued around 105 and in the chapel (quite literally 20 degrees warmer), we had to strip to our tees to perform.  My violin had rivers of sweat, and I wonder if the applause wasn’t more for the fact that the concert was FINALLY over!  :)

Anyways, it’s definitely hard to practice and focus when it’s this uncomfortable, so I’ve been keeping busy with being domestic, catching up with old friends, and getting ready for traveling.  I need to get away – Murphy’s Law came into town in full force on June 1st.

After taking our dogs to the park where they can romp in the river, my best friend, her family, and I were caravaning back to good ole Shaker when out of the blue, an inexperienced driver plowed into their car, right in front of me.  Resulting in a broken vertabrae for my friend, as well as a totaled car, that afternoon was….shall we say….less than pleasant.

Following that drama was my birthday celebrating…a celebration that lasted four full days.  I love summer birthdays!

Anyways, this past weekend, I performed in a concert with an anonymous venue and conductor where the conductor failed to materialize until 20 minutes after said concert was to begin.  I thought that the executive director of the hall was about to take the baton into his own hands (so to speak).  Perhaps the Indian restaurant for dinner wasn’t such a good idea?  At any rate, it was an entirely new experience for me…waiting in the wings while the worker-bees backstage are frantically trying to locate the pilot of that vehicle (Lord, what a poor analogy).

With all of this drama taking place, I’m fleeing the coop and taking off to Dallas for a week.  It won’t be all pleasure…I need to learn this showpiece program for the 21st, as well as the Mendelssohn octet and Brahms violin concerto.  How nice it would be to get away without the violin.  A couple weeks after this, I am in Taos, northern Ontario, and central Ohio…I’m enjoying the downtime while it lasts.  Speaking of the Ontario trip (which is an annual excursion to vacation north of the Georgian Bay), I’m thinking of preliminary plans to have a chamber get-together (an informal way of saying “festival”) up there every summer…how does that sound?  Incredible chamber works with some of my favorite musicians in that bucolic setting…mmm…

I hope everyone is staying cool, wherever they are, and getting out to see some good concerts!

Happy June,

A


Exhausted, yet content…

May 20th, 2008

Wow, I don’t know where to begin.  Life has been going about a million miles an hour, and only after this weekend does it begin to slow down.  Last week, I was in the tropical paradise known as the Cayman Islands, performing chamber music and doing masterclasses.  Words can’t describe the bucolic scenery, translucent ocean water, and succulent native food.  The Islanders (generally of British or Dutch descent) were very hospitable and eager to have us there, as it seems like the arts are a semi-rare occasion there.  I hope to return in the upcoming season, and perhaps see more of the island.  We remained mostly on the south and west ends (Seven Mile Beach, I believe).  Anyways, the performances generally went well, though there were about 5 in four days.  Now I am back in Cleveland preparing for a benefit recital on Sunday, with works of Schubert, Mozart, Fein, Chopin, and Brahms.  This summer, I will be serving as guest concertmaster for a nearby orchestra, as well as going to Taos, Dallas, and northern Ontario in July.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to poolside recreation, finishing my book list (just finished Titus Andronicus), and picking a summer musical project (perhaps the Elgar or Joachim concerti).

The past few days saw me connecting with some Cleveland/CIM friends.  This is a rare privilege, as I am usually gone when they are in town.  The staff at the Winking Lizard, City and East, Yours Truly and others have come to see us on a fairly regular basis.  Tonight, I’m tuning in to watch the American Idol finale (a guilty pleasure of mine), and figuring this Schubert out.  Schubert is one who I always want to tackle, and then regret it later as his music is so difficult (at least for me) to have a convincing phrase structure.  In addition, he (like Tchaikovsky) is sometimes long-winded in his ideas, and sustaining even my attention for the duration takes work.

While tooling around Cleveland, I have been studying Julia Fischer’s Brahms concerto and double concerto album.  Is there a recent violin recording of these works that is this lucid, commanding and intelligent?  Congratulations, Julia – I cannot wait for your Blossom debut here in July!

Next season’s schedule is almost completely up–just waiting on a couple of repertoire and contractual ideas to be concluded.  Check out the calendar portion (http://www.andrewsords.com/component/option,com_events/)  of the site for more details.  Next season’s concertos are all blockbuster standards (Brahms, Bruch, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart 4), with some recitals thrown in (I’m thinking works of Grieg, Nielsen, Beethoven, and of course, continuing the Brahms cycle).  Additionally, I’m hoping an orchestra will ask for the Beethoven “Triple” Concerto (any takers?)  :)

I hope everyone is having a fabulous month of May, and that you are all looking out for the summer schedule of an orchestra near you!  Look out for performances of Julia, Stefan Jackiw, Andrew von Oeyen (a piano phenom I met in Reno), and, of course, The Cleveland Orchestra.  :)

Happy Almost Summer,

A

With May Right Around the Corner….

April 28th, 2008

Greetings all!  The last 6 weeks have been very productive – planning next season, quite a bit of traveling, and chamber music galore.  I am back in Dallas for the final week of the year, and just arrived from Ohio.  Last week, I played a children’s concert for several fifth-grade classes in Northeast Ohio – I was amazing at how many questions they had, and their high level of enthusiasm!  I think many were shocked when I admitted to having Rihanna and Christina Aguilera on my ipod as well…
Also last week, Anita and I played the Brahms Sonata cycle at Kent State (about ten days after I did the cycle in Dallas), following a fun (at some points hilarious) televised interview beforehand.  We concluded the concert with two Hungarian Dances as encores, and I am looking forward to playing there in the near future (perhaps a showpieces concert…)
The rest of the week was filled with people-seeing, getting caught up on practicing (for the two recitals I took part in here in Texas), and hitting up my favorite spots around town.  It’s always nice to return to the same jaunts with fun people (including seeing the Cavs girls at one nightclub), and the ultra-friendly staff of various places on Coventry.  When I return to Cleveland next week, I’m sure the usual gang will be at various west side venues … looking forward!

Having grown up in Cleveland, all of this warm weather and bright sun in the South is intoxicating.  It is hard trying to remain focused on work when outside, the weather couldn’t possibly be nicer (or more suited to poolside recreation).  In 2 weeks, I am going to the Cayman Islands for a week of chamber music, and I honestly haven’t a clue as to how much practicing or rehearsing will get done.  Then, immediately after that, my friend (and cohort in crime) Evan Fein and I are doing a private benefit recital for EMC Artists in Cleveland, Ohio.  The program looks like it will include works by Schubert, Beethoven, Fein, Chopin, and Brahms…those in Cleveland for Memorial Day weekend…let me know and perhaps you could make it to this event!

More to come in the near future, including next season’s performances (with Brahms concerto and sonatas, Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Mozart, and others), highlights from the Cayman Islands (including links and pictures), and more regularly updated blogs!

Yours from the tanning pool,

ANDREW


As the Classical World Turns…

March 13th, 2008

Hello, all!  I apologize that I have been so remiss about blogging frequently, but I promise to get better!  Life has been a bit hectic, but now that it is consistently 80 degrees outside, I just may find some more time to relax (and help makeover my site!)

It is ironic that I am welcoming the spring here in Dallas with open arms, when up north they were just obliterated by snow last week.  Thankfully, we in the South only had a minor dip in temperatures and continued on our merry way!  However, I am traveling to Cleveland next week, and am praying that the inclement weather is behind us.

Where do I begin?  Last week I was in Austin for a performance of Mozart’s 5th violin concerto with Robert Radmer conducting.  It was a great experience – the drive there was leisurely, the hotel suite was uncommonly attractive, and Mr. Radmer was very sensitive and inspiring to work with.  I played an encore (d minor Sarabande by Bach), and was able to meet some friends post-concert, some of whom I haven’t seen in over five years!  Austin-ites seem extraordinarily friendly, and they have a very active music scene.  I can’t wait to return–especially to that outdoor Jacuzzi!

I have the good fortune to collaborate with several singers this spring – let me tell you, this is an education in and of itself.  As an instrumentalist, you try and emulate the human voice more than anything, and to rehearse with a very accomplished singer – it makes me reconsider tone production, sound decay, matching vibratos, and glissandi (sliding from one note to another).  So, a big thank you to these wonderful singers who asked me to collaborate – I get quite a bit out of it too!

Recently, I have found myself becoming far more domestic and business-oriented than usual.  Clearly, the most obvious side of this industry are the live performances, but there is quite a bit that goes on behind the scenes.  For instance:  a recent day found me waking up quite early (rather, early by my standards) for a rehearsal with piano after looking at a couple spots in the Stravinsky concerto;  continuing on to about two hours of emails in straightening out next season;  combine this with extreme allergies and a bad case of the flu;  heading off to an outdoor photo shoot looking like Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer (or just death warmed over);  a photo editing session;  a lengthy conference call concerning press for an upcoming concert;  discussions about website modifications and traffic (well into six figures now – thank you everybody!);  and then the end of the day rolls around and I realize that I have hardly touched the violin at all!  How nice it would be to never concern yourself with anything other than practicing/performing.  Not to mention keeping an apartment organized and liveable – oh well.  Back to reality…

The near future sees a bit of traveling – the next trip being to Cleveland’s Fashion week shows next weekend.  I’m also relearning the Brahms sonata cycle for a couple of performances.  I never completely appreciated the second sonata (A major) before, but now have grown to love it.  The G major is so intimate, while the d minor is brooding, lonely, and hormonal, while retaining a concise structure.  Wait – am I blogging or writing program notes?!  My next blog will probably be my program notes for the Brahms cycle – otherwise I will never complete them on time!   Looking forward to each performance this spring…as well as the trip to the Cayman Islands in mid-May (moved from March).  The other musicians are so talented and the chance to do some outreach there will no doubt be quite rewarding.

I hope everyone is having a productive and healthy March, and that you’re all able to pick up some rays outside!  I wanted to recommend 3 recordings that I think are the top 2008 classical releases so far:  Julia Fischer’s Mozart “Sinfonia Concertante”;  Chee-Yun’s Beethoven Triple (with Andres Diaz and Barry Douglas);  and Evgeny Kissin’s Schubert album.  This three disks epitomize class, intelligent and moving interpretations, and utterly magical moments.  Enjoy!

Yours from Dallas,

Andrew


Performances, Primaries, and Paris’s – Life in 2008…

February 2nd, 2008

Where do I begin?  Just when I didn’t think 2007 could have provided more change for me, 2008 rolls in with gusto and fanfare.  As Hillary Rodham Clinton states on every campaign stop, “Change is good, and change is necessary.”  Truer words have never been spoken.  Unfortunately, I can’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that this year looks like it will bigger and better than ever!

There is a lot of upcoming craziness…I’m playing ninety minutes of “romantic music” on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day;  we have a recording session here in Dallas for a symphony premiere we did last fall (commencing at 9am on a Saturday, no less);  I am playing these fascinating poems by Langston Hughes arranged for soprano and violin for Black History Month;  and then I begin next month in Austin, Texas playing Mozart.  The project that I am tremendously excited for is my live broadcast recital of the Brahms Sonata cycle with pianist Anita Pontremoli.  The “Brahms project” is one I have been meaning to undertake for awhile now, and I couldn’t imagine pulling it off without the sensational Anita at my side.  So, come to Kent State University for our children’s concert and TV broadcast concert in April to check it out and meet us afterwards!

This is some of the future craziness…December 2007 provided some much needed downtime.  Fortunately, I was able to see a number of Cleveland friends and family, and even assisted my dad at his job. My dad works at a company that sells Tankless Water Heaters. These water heaters are designed to save money on utility usage and they take up less space and last longer than regular tank water heaters. They come in gas, propane and electric models…it’s actually kind of interesting, and they sell like hotcakes.

In addition, I have helped to spearhead the beginning of EMC Artists, Ltd., which I am very excited about.  My career will be heading in a new direction with some very exciting projects coming up!!!  I am excited to further these changes, and this management (along with new representation from a Cleveland-based law firm) will provide a solid support system.  My website will have new information and updates coming soon (as well as much-needed audio links!), so, stay tuned…and, I promise to blog more often!  If you were waiting for salacious stories from travels (apart from Paris Hilton’s premiere party down the street)…well, I haven’t been traveling that much recently but I look forward to some sure-to-be memorable concerts and trips in the next 6 months!

Yours from a drastically warmer environment,

Andrew


Greetings from the Tundra!

December 17th, 2007

Hello all!  I hope everyone has had a wonderful Autumn, and that their December weather has not been too harsh.  I am in Cleveland at the moment, and yesterday was essentially a white blanket outside.  Unbelievable.

Hopefully, Christmas will be as picture-perfect as today…

As usual, life has been busy.  I’m getting ready for spring and summer performances, and that includes practicing Mozart A major again (it’s been a LONG time since I have played this concerto), Beethoven, Ysaye, the Brahms sonata cycle, Bach, and Dvorak.  However, since this is my vacation time, I am treating my workload with a fairly relaxed attitude!   I’m also trying to think of fun and adventurous programs for next year.  Any ideas, anyone?

Last Thursday, I saw the brilliant Broadway star, Linda Eder, perform at the Palace Theater in Cleveland.  Now, I may be biased as I sat in the second row, but she was superb in every sense.  Her projection, presence, and flair for the Broadway hits and carols both had the audience on its feet on more than one occasion, especially her eleven-o’clock numbers from “Man of La Mancha” and “Jekyll and Hyde”.  Everyone should check out her tour schedule at www.lindaeder.com, and if you can make it, it will absolutely make for a memorable evening out.

Today (December 17th) is Beethoven’s birthday:  he is 238 today.  I doubt that I will do anything especially special today, but it’s nice to keep in mind.

This post is hardly incendiary or provocative:  it’s more of a still-alive-and-doing-a-normal-routine blog, but I promise the next one will be more juicy!  :)

Oh, food for thought:  should there be a “People Magazine” of sorts for classical music?  I believe it would be far more sordid and enjoyable to read than the ones featuring Britney and Lindsay….

Happy Holidays!

~Andrew


Andrew Does Dallas

September 10th, 2007

Hello all!  I have now been in Dallas, Texas for three weeks now, and am really enjoying myself.  It’s been quite interesting exploring various sections of Dallas–the culture, vibe, and city “personality” is, of course, quite different from Northern customs, and I’m embracing the change.  Southern hospitality is not a myth, the people here are exceedingly friendly, and the city stays out later than 10 pm during the week!  I have met a really fun group of people, and enjoy taking advantage of many of the resources in the area (not to mention the outdoor pool, neighboring sushi cafe, and stellar facilities).

It’s shaping up to be a busy season, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities I have this coming year.  For starters, I’m rekindling my trio (with Charlie Tyler and Liz DeMio), and we will be playing again in 2008;  Anita Pontremoli and I are going to be performing the Brahms sonata cycle, which is an event I have been looking forward to for quite some time;  and playing the Beethoven concerto for the first time next month is a landmark event in my personal growth as a violinist and musician.  Working here with Chee-Yun has really opened my eyes to a different way of playing, and teaching a bit just reinforces various ideas I have about the repertoire (and playing in general).  Everyone please send a good vibe Chee-Yun’s way, as she was injured in an accident and can’t play for some time–a travesty for the orchestras and audiences that were going to collaborate with her.

Recently, I have been practicing piano more and more, even going to far as to secure the scores to several standard concerti, trying to work them up.  It’s hard…I’ve been out of pianistic shape for years now, and often frustrating–but I feel it can only help me grow.

For those in the D.C. and Reno, Nevada areas:  I am playing with orchestras there at the end of September and in mid-October, and doing a meet&greet after the concerts.  For more information on those concerts, feel free to check out my schedule on my website.  I’m very excited, as my website will be undergoing some renovation in the near future, complete with links, pictures, and video from concerts!  Stay tuned for news… :)

I hope everyone is having a productive and safe September, and best wishes!

ANDREW

Greetings from South Korea :)

August 15th, 2007

Hello from the Gangwon Province of South Korea, where I have spent a marvelous last couple of weeks.  Hyo Kang (from the Juilliard School of Music and Aspen Music Festival) founded a festival here that is THE festival in South Korea, broadcasting its concerts live on KBS and to sold-out audiences.  The artists here range from Myung Wha Chung and Chee Yun, to Itamar Golan and Jian Wang among many others…in addition, the wonderful Sejong Soloists (based in NYC) serve as the ensemble-in-residence.  I have had a thoroughly enjoyable time (despite my violin seams completely coming apart in this extreme humidity), and look forward to returning here…here being the northeastern corner of South Korea by North Korea and the East Sea.  It has been rather therapeutic…no use of my Blackberry, fresh mountain air, and having all day long to practice…I could get used to this.  There have been some stunning concerts, and I quickly became accustomed to terrific Korean food (much healthier than what I eat back in the States, by the way…)  The 13-hour time difference was a bit awkward at first, but I have since overcome that.  I enjoyed watching the final round of the Aldo Parisot International Cello Competition, and getting to know some of the competitors.  I played Beethoven concerto last week, and have had the pleasure of playing with Evan Solomon on piano almost daily.  I spent all Friday flying home (about 26 hours door to door with driving–only good part of the trip is meeting my manager for lunch in LAX), and fly to Dallas next Wednesday, as I am relocating there.  Busy times, for sure.  I’m going to try and make the most of my time in Cleveland this weekend, as it’s my last weekend in Cleveland for quite awhile.  If anyone is familiar with the ins and outs of Dallas, I would love to hear about them!  Wishing everything a happy August, and until soon…


Leaving Cleveland…for good

July 30th, 2007

It has been six weeks since my last blog, and it seems that the time has flown by.  A lot has happened, I’ve been fairly busy, and have lot a lot of repertoire to contend with.  I have since finished my time at ENCORE this summer, after playing Franck sonata and a truly memorable Faure g minor Piano Quartet.  The four of us, radically different in personalities but working towards one common goal, really came through in the concert, and I think each of us was pleased with how it turned out.  Chamber music is like therapy…four equal personalities, rehearsal time not spend by yourself in a cubicle, fun banter…I wish I had the oppurtunity to play more chamber music than I do.  Also at ENCORE, there were some very memorable concerts…Hilary Hahn’s display of pyrotechnics (Ernst, Paganini, et al), and some younger violinists did extremely well.  I’m going to miss bucolic Hudson, Ohio, and should ENCORE occur next year, perhaps I will make it seven summers in a row.  :)

Last night, I played a house recital of music I’m taking on the road.  Roberta Whitely (a lovely woman with whom this was my first collaboration) and I played Beethoven, Franck, and Rachmaninoff, and a best friend of mine since childhood arranged it.  Complete with refreshments and wine (!), it was a good time, and it was nice to see familiar and not-so-familiar faces.

Tomorrow, I leave for Korea for three weeks, and I’m quite excited.  A little apprehensive, as this is my first time traveling to the Far East, but excited, nonetheless.  I love Korean food, and I am eager to encounter and experience a new culture, as well as a new geographic location.  I hear that July is “monsoon month” over there, but hopefully it clears up prior to the festival!  I’m going to be at Hyo Kang’s Great Mountains Music Festival, and in the first few days that I’m there, I’m able to spectate at the Aldo Parisot International Cello Competition.  This also marks my first time working with Chee-Yun, and I’m playing a recital live on KBS in the week or so after I arrive (hence the purpose of the recital last night).  I’m sure I will have quite a bit to blog about once I arrive!

Soon after returning from Korea, I depart to Dallas, where I will be living next year, and have trips to New York, Washington D.C., and Carson City in the first couple of months.  Until then, I wish everyone a safe and productive August!!!

~A