inspiration

Maintaining Structure and Purpose in Your Day During COVID

Reprinted with permission from The Violin Channel. Violist Kim Kashkashian shares her thoughts on how she feels students can best maintain structure and purpose in their day during this pandemic. “Thoughts and musings on performing artists living at home … Where do we fit in as artists? Where do we fit in as citizens? How can we lead a productive artistic life? Our primary impulse- indeed, our primary need as artists is to create and share pure truth. We are all, in that sense, part of the healing profession. It is humbling and inspiring to recognize the potency and power of the visceral in our art. The power of resonance, vibration, sound waves in space and the organic feedback of an audience are unique and seemingly irreplaceable. But, we must [...]

Wellness Retreats for Musicians: Why Are They on the Rise?

I knew there was no way I could practice the amount I needed and not just completely destroy my body. I wondered how other people did it. It never occurred to me in college that it was something I could learn - University of Denver, USA, 1989 On line, or off, pandemic or no, wellness retreats for musicians are all the rage. With so much more now on offer in music colleges and schools in terms of a holistic approach, I set out to find out why so many young musicians are drawn to finding alternative support. In a survey I recently conducted about wellness as experienced by students in music schools and colleges over the last fifty years, it became apparent that, from the beginning of this period, horror [...]

The “Instead” List

While the list of pieces that appear in cello-piano recitals is incredibly short - same 10 pieces keep circulating in different order - we cellists actually have very large repertoire. Orchestras don't program much more than 10 Concertos and apart the Bach Suites there are maybe 5 pieces that make their way to concert programs. There are always multiple reasons for great music falling out of general attention. It may have to do with style, gender, origin, problems of notation, lack of publisher, wrong publisher, fashion, lack of social skill, too keen self promotion or any combination of these. Often the reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the music. And the quality itself is totally dependent on who is the messenger, in the wrong hands most music [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 4 – Presence) – by Ruth Phillips

Presence "The mind in its natural state can be compared to the sky, covered by layers of cloud which hide its true nature." – Kalu Rinpoche   Once we learn to generate movement from our core and not interfere with it, once we start to follow rather than control the music, we experience an extraordinary new space. Presence. Like a city dweller suddenly finding herself under a huge desert sky, for some this space can be terrifying. What do I put in it? Who am I in it? In fact, it is there we find connection. With ourselves, the music and the audience.   Thought “In order to really be, you have to be free from the thinking… Non-thinking is an art and, like any art, it requires patience and practice.” [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 3 – Non-Doing) – by Ruth Phillips

Non-Doing The tennis player observes the ball as it leaves his racket and completes the trajectory he has sent it on. He is no longer ‘in control’ of the ball but rather relaxed, alert and watchful. Primed for the return. Once we have learned to initiate movement from our core, we must then practice not interfering in it. For those of us who have learned that playing is all about control, holding and doing, this is quite a challenge, and yet this is what allows us to replace fear of being out of control with freedom and ease.   Gravity “When the abandonment to gravity comes into action, resistance ceases, fear vanishes, order is regained, nature starts again to function in its natural rhythm and the body is able to [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 2 – Power vs. Strength) – by Ruth Phillips

Power versus Strength ‘When you have attained complete relaxation, you are able to be flexible and agile in your movements.’ - Zen master Yang Cheng Fu “To relax is not to collapse, but simply to undo tension….There is nothing to be done. It is not a state of passivity but, on the contrary, of alert watchfulness. It is perhaps the most ‘active’ of our attitudes, going ‘with’ and not ‘against’ our body and feelings.” - Vanda Scaravelli -  Awakening the Spine. Building strength through force only promotes the shortening of muscles as they contract, causing fatigue and strain. That strain goes against rather than with our body. Developing power is another matter entirely. Power is a natural state. It involves movement generated from our core, a great deal of relaxation and a [...]

Presence on Stage (Part 1 – Introduction) – by Ruth Phillips

Introduction Many people ask me on Breathing Bow retreats if stage presence is something we can practice, if it is possible to find a way to be exactly where we are - in a concert hall with an audience right here and right now, about to share what we love? I believe that the answer is yes. Musicians’ preparation on a concert day can range from taking beta blockers to eating bananas. However, as soon as we are on stage we feel fear. Fear of losing control or mental focus, and above all fear of judgement. Our muscles contract, our heart rate speeds up, we go blank, our bow shakes, we sweat….the list of symptoms for ‘stage fright’ is endless and for many of us, coping with them simply isn’t [...]

By |2019-06-24T18:55:44+00:00September 12th, 2018|Categories: In the Practice Room, Performance, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , |

New York Chamber Music Festival: Tribute to János Starker

A Tribute to Legendary Cellist János Starker (1924 - 2013) Performances by: Rafael Figueroa - Principal Cellist, Metropolitan Opera Elmira Darvarova - Former Concertmaster, Metropolitan Opera The New York Chamber Music Festival is cordially inviting you to the JANOS STARKER TRIBUTE CONCERT on October 3 at 7 P.M., presented by the New York Chamber Music Festival at the Hungarian Consulate in New York (223 E. 52nd St.). Legendary cellist János Starker was one of the world’s greatest performers, teachers and recording artists, with an incomparable legacy and impact. The New York Chamber Music Festival, of which János Starker was Vice-President, is deeply mourning his passing. Please join us for a tribute, in the presence of Starker family members. Admission is free.    

A Celebration of Janos Starker in Memories & Music: Toronto, July 27-28

A Message from Gabriella Starker It is overwhelming as well as comforting to read and hear the outpouring of respect, memories and emotion since my father left us. I am still emotionally unable to look at all of it. I know I will eventually. My father was my inspiration, my mentor, my strongest and most demanding critic and my great friend. I know that most of you would say exactly the same. His devotion and passion for those he taught and inspired was all encompassing. Nothing gave him greater joy or pleasure. Personally I am reeling from the loss of my daddy, even the detail that he was the last family I could speak with in Hungarian when it came to the basics and not the intellectual pursuits. Life without [...]

Orchestra: A Love Story — by Martha Baldwin

Solo playing, chamber music, orchestra, teaching—I loved them all in college but at some point, we all must start to narrow our focus and work to establish a career that is dominated by one or two of these.  I think the most often over-looked aspect of choosing what direction to take your musical talents (insert LeBron goes to Miami joke here), is thoughtful consideration of the daily life. Happiness in life and career is so often not determined by money or status but by how closely our lives conform to our personal ideals and individual quirks. Young cellists often ask me “Why did you choose to play in an orchestra?” This is my answer. I’m a planner. I am happiest with a stable structured day with a decent amount of routine [...]

Teaching at Cello: An American Experience — by Mark Summer

As a founding member of the Turtle Island Quartet, I am grateful to Paul Katz for asking me to contribute to CelloBello. As a conservatory-trained, improvising cellist, I hope I can bring a unique perspective to this forum with thoughts on performing, teaching, and traveling with my cello. This past summer I enjoyed five days of intensely rewarding teaching and performing at the summer music program, Cello: An American Experience. The program attracted 18 young cellists from around the country, and is held at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, 44 miles south of Minneapolis. Left to right: Avery Johnson and Mark Summer My introduction to Cello: An American Experience began with a Facebook message sent to me from the director, and my old colleague, Anna Clift. Anna [...]

Stage-dreaming — by Mickey Katz

A few days ago I was on the Symphony Hall stage, playing Brahms’s A German Requiem in concert.  While playing the second movement, I started thinking about what I was going to make for dinner the following night. The last time I cooked it, I thought, it came out a little dry. Maybe this time I should… But wait a second, I was playing one of my favorite pieces in one of the world’s best halls, with a great orchestra and a great conductor, how could I not be completely absorbed in what I was doing? Was I the only one on stage whose mind was wandering, and if not—did anyone in the audience notice? I was aware that I was a part of a great concert, and the audience [...]

Passing It On — by Brant Taylor

A few weeks back, I was having a post-concert drink with my friend and colleague Joshua Gindele, cellist of the Miro Quartet, and the conversation turned to teaching. Though we are both associated with ensembles that perform dozens of concerts every season, teaching the cello is an important component of both of our musical lives. (Josh teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, and I teach at DePaul University.) Discussions on the general relationship between performing and teaching often give rise to interesting questions, some without straightforward answers. Many performers teach even though the skill sets required for good teaching and good performing are far from identical. If great teaching is something that is learned, when and how are the skills acquired? If a performer is a big star [...]

Bernard Greenhouse: January 3, 1916-May 13, 2011

Bernard Greenhouse left us May 13, 2011. Please scroll to the bottom of this posting and add your personal recollections and tributes for Bernie in the comment box. Bernard Greenhouse, one of my true cello heros and a man I loved and admired, passed away this morning in the middle of his 96th year. It was a peaceful death, middle of the night, in his sleep. It was not unexpected, yet it is so hard to accept. Thousands of friends, family and colleagues, generations of students will be saddened by this loss, for his music, his teaching, the legendary warmth of both his cello sound and his personality, have truly inspired the love and devotion of untold numbers. I had been eagerly looking forward to an upcoming visit to Bernie’s home on [...]

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