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Risør in New York: Scenes from Risør

The Risør Chamber Music Festival comes to Carnegie Hall for a four-day residency from December 1 through 4, 2010. In the month leading up to these concerts, we present interview and performance videos from many of the Risør artists.

Here, while listening to Mozart's Clarinet Quintet—performed live by Martin Fröst, clarinet, Henning Kraggerud, violin, Frode Larsen, violin, Lars Anders Tomter, viola, and Torleif Thedéen, cello—we travel back to Risør in June 2010 to witness the sights and sounds in the village throughout the festival.

Risør in New York: Scenes from Risor | © Music in Motion

Risør Chamber Music Festival at Carnegie Hall
December 1, ...

The Beauty of Simplicity. The Simplicity of Beauty.

Nature is pleased with simplicity - Isaac Newton, Principia.

The longer the Pianobabbler plays piano, the more he grasps how it takes great mastery to achieve great simplicity.

Art is choice (see Pianobabbler 59.) Musicians face an infinity of choice. Permutations and combinations of notes, rhythms, styles, tempos, beats, instruments, whos, whats, this, that, what not, why not, kitchen sink.

Many musicians make wondrous music by making wondrous choices. Bach's Prelude and Fugues, Phineas Newborn's World of PianoTake Six's anything.

Some musicians make wondrously simple choices. Music with a minimum of everything. Little of anything. A small something. 

I don't mean minimalist music. I mean music ...

Have Clarinets and Laptop…Will Travel: Combining a Live Anywhere, Work Anywhere Lifestyle with Classical Music

Have Clarinets and Laptop…Will Travel: Combining a Live Anywhere, Work Anywhere Lifestyle with Classical Music

Image Credit: Andreas

I’m beginning to feel that I’m the protagonist starring in my own soap opera; or alternatively, Hercule Poirot trying to figure out “who did it”; in our case – piecing together the latest scraps of information in order to answer the question “Where in the world are we going to set up a new home base?”

I’ve often quipped that “life is an adventure” but recently every day that passes seems to bring up new developments which cause us to change our original plans.

The UK trip, albeit brief, was no exception in terms of enlightenment. Having made up my mind in theory that England’s green and pleasant land was the most likely to enable me to increase ...

Interview With Anna Goldsworthy, author, Piano Lessons: A Memoir

One of the most notable new books about music this fall is Anna Goldsworthy's Piano Lessons: A Memoir, which not only tells the story of her own artistic development growing up in Australia, but is a celebration of a decades-long relationship with her teacher, Eleanor Sivan. Anna's successes and failures are all tempered through the lens of an extraordinary Russian teacher whose mission is to create a fully realized person as much as a first-rate pianist.

Earlier today I had the chance to meet Anna at Indigo Books in downtown Toronto. She gave an elegantly revelatory mini-recital (Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C# major from the WTC Book I, Chopin's Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2, and Liszt's Rigoletto Paraphrase), ...

Should We Be Told When To Retire?

The Juilliard Orchestra is no longer an orchestra made up of young talented musicians who all want to become soloists and have no respect for the orchestral canon. These students I worked with last week are all musicians who are sensitive to their colleagues and to the conductor. They move and breathe together; they share a wonderful work ethic and a sense of humor. If this is the future of orchestral music in the States, I am not worried at all.

So, let’s make room for them! I have conducted too many orchestras where individuals can’t play their instruments anymore. I know this is a very controversial statement, but if we want the public to love classical music as much as we do, we have to invigorate the field with these ...

What 50 Pounds of Music Would You Move Abroad?

The reality of musicians moving abroad is that space for our scores and sheet music is severely limited to a mere fraction of its original amount.  Thanks to the flash drive, scanner and programs like Google Documents, we can still bring most of our music back to life, though be it through a printer. But there are some scores one simply cannot part with, not to mention bigger collections of work, no matter how practical their use may be in the new location.

Between chamber music, solo literature and other technical books, filtering out which physical scores made the cut was a process that took a great deal of editing; no musical “Kindle” equivalent would cut it for these.  As we all know, music adds up fast. I ...

Ageism is Alive & Well in Classical Music

Think all classical musicians are old and dusty, playing sonatas in symphony halls somewhere? You haven’t met the musicians slated for this year’s Impulse Artist Series: The Alter Ego Season, a weeklong slate of concerts that will take place in various locations throughout the city. There’s Kris Becker, a pianist who’s played Carnegie Hall and who tours as a rock keyboardist and composes nu-classical music. He’s joined by fellow pianist and multimedia artist Phyllis Chen, who often performs the works of 20th-century composers on toy pianos, boom boxes and other nontraditional instruments. Suresh Singaratnam plays both classical and jazz trumpet. “He does ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and all ...

Touring with Baby, Hubby, the Strad and a Teeny Bit of Sanity ...

It was an incredible experience seeing the wheels go up and down in New York, Chicago, St.Louis, San Luis Obispo and San Francisco. One month on the road playing at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, Le Poisson Rouge, Sirius Radio, WNYC, WXQR New York, WFMT Chicago, Space in Evanston, Mozart/Marsalis with the St.Louis Symphony, Ravel’s ‘Tzigane’ and Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’ on opening night with the San Luis Obispo Symphony and back to the ‘Seasons…dreams’ rep at Yoshi’s great Jazz Club in San Francisco. Whew……time for a vacation.  And all that traveling with my sweet and very patient 3 month old daughter who experienced everything from running out ...

Risør in New York: Introducing the Artists

Norway's famed Risør Chamber Music Festival, held every June in the charming southeastern seacoast village of Risor, is coming to Carnegie Hall for a four-day residency from December 1 through 4, 2010. In the month leading up to these concerts, we present interview and performance videos from many of the Risør artists.

In this exclusive Carnegie Hall interview, festival Co-Artistic Director (and internationally celebrated pianist) Leif Ove Andsnes introduces some of the artists that audiences will see at Carnegie Hall.

Risør in New York: Introducing the Artists

Risør Chamber Music Festival at Carnegie Hall
December 1, 2010 Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano, Marc-André Hamelin, ...

Alessio Bax: A Veteran Pianist Makes His "Debut"

Alessio Bax Pianist

I already marveled about pianist Alessio Bax and his wife, pianist Lucille Chung in my article last October on the occasion of their performance at ‘Le Poisson Rouge’; the downtown New York club that long since challenged the conceptual separation of classical and non-classical music performances and venues.

But if the noise of dishes being shoved around during Brahms rather makes you cringe in your seat, you still have time to catch Bax's formal  New York “Debut” tonight (November 5) as part of the Metropolitan’s Museum Piano Forte Series at its Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.

The handsome, Italian-born, pianist found his passion for the piano when his parents presented ...