Monday, February 18, 2013

vote if you want to hear a modern remix of Handel!

I've kind of always wanted to collaborate with a hip-hop or techno producer and feed him/her some classical piano recordings. So I entered this contest. Vote if you like the idea!
Go here to vote. As of now, I could get into the top ten with less than 8 votes!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A message for Annie

Hello Annie,
You sent a message using my contact form. I am sorry not to reply directly, but you did not provide any contact information, so I do not know how to reach you. Please try again and include an email address, phone number, or mailing address.
Or if you got here using a Craigslist ad, the reply-to address that accompanies the ad will send an email to me, so that works too.
Kind regards,

PS I do in fact know a wonderful violinist.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Interpreting Scripture from the piano

Choosing music to go with worship services gets more and more interesting the more I do it. There's a whole range of ways to connect text to music. It can be a pretty obvious programmatic connection: next week I will play Balakirev's spooky "The Wilderness" to open a service focused on the story of Jesus in the wilderness. Or music can be chosen according to mood or form: the beginning of Isaiah 43, in which God's children pass through the flood and fire and are kept safe, led me to Beethoven: the Bagatelle Op. 33 no. 2, whose happy little tune goes on a journey through a flooded-sounding passage in minor and a Trio with lots of flickering fast parallel thirds, and emerges unscathed in the end.

Occasionally I wonder if people get the connections or not. A lot of the time I'm happy to leave it up to them to get it or not. Sometimes if there's something I really don't want them to miss, I put in an extremely short program note, maybe a sentence.

I have been thinking about what sort of biblical interpretation is possible from the piano. Music is in many ways more limited than verbal interpretation, especially when there are no singers up there making words. There's no way I'm going to analyze Paul's rhetoric by means of a fugue. Although it could be fun trying. Nor can I discuss several different theories about the afterlife, or clearly separate mistaken interpretations of a text from sound ones.

Music is also in many ways more powerful than verbal interpretation. If I want to try to talk about the peace that passes understanding, words fail quickly, but Beethoven or Schubert can communicate perfectly well. For the precise intersection of despair, nostalgia and memory loss, there are no words, but there is Liszt's Valse oubliƩe no. 1.

I don't mean to say that music is emotional whereas words are intellectual. I do think that music approaches people in a different manner than verbal concepts do. Maybe it is a friendlier manner, less directive, easier to relate to, easier to relate to in multiple ways?

Even on days when I got nothing, in terms of music that fits the text well, I can still play Bach and everyone's happy. Where there's Bach there's church.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Preludes and Problems

Some exciting new piano music from a couple of young composers I have recently gotten to know.

(Wouldn't a perfect CD title be "Preludes, Problems, and [some other word beginning with P]"??)

From 24 Preludes by Steven O'Brien (Ireland)
(only a midi recording is available.... for now)
Made available free by the composer on

From Problems for Piano by Jake Bellissimo (USA)
Performed by Andrew Langman
Streaming available free from the composer on, downloads available for purchase