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AMN mentors Chamber Music Jazz and Beyond - Non-Classical Music Workshops

Destiny Muhammad and the Jazz Conversation

There’re still conversations in … music that are still alive. And so in this new millennium, what do I have to say as a participant in all those conversations?

– Destiny Muhammad

AMN Founder Lolly Lewis sat down with Destiny over Zoom to discuss the possibilities of AMN’s new workshop format, about Destiny’s devotion to the jazz tradition, and much more.

Lolly Lewis: I’m so excited about our workshop. You know, it’s been a year since you did that wonderful online workshop for AMN talking about the roots of jazz harp. And how great that you’re coming back with your trio to kick off our new series. This is going to be an opportunity for people to play with a professional ensemble in the comfort of home: you will be playing live at the wonderful theater at Drew School, and our participants will be at home with their instruments playing along with you. It’s going to be a new and innovative workshop model that we’re very excited about.

Destiny Muhammad: As am I! It’s definitely very innovative. And, you know, it’s going to be exciting for all of the participants who will have that opportunity to play and to actually interact with us, with Q&A happening during that time as well.

LL: People are very inspired by your devotion to the jazz tradition and the fundamentals of this music. That you really have a passion to convey and to bring people along with the joy that you find in music. I think that’s just so infectious and people really respond to it.

DM: I keep going back to the fundamentals. I can’t speak for everyone else but for me, the fundamentals have always been my launchpad. And when I have those and I feel them, not just in my hands but circulating throughout my DNA, then I feel like I can go anywhere with the music. And so I love the fundamentals. I just keep coming back to those ABCs of jazz.

LL: I think a lot of people who aspire to learn to improvise might feel like oh, I just have to jump off this cliff and do something that’s out of my comfort zone. But what you’ve just said has really sort of turned the light on for me, because if we get into [the fundamentals] we’re not jumping off anything; we’re going from a place of simplicity. And then it can grow and develop and that’s where the skill comes from.

DM: That’s why, even after 30 years of being a musician, I keep going back to the listening. I still need to listen, and then apply it to my instrument. I really encourage folks to really listen.

And I remember being a shorty in the music and hearing the word conversation said to me over and over again, and I didn’t really get it. And then it started to click… I liken it to European classical music where you’ve got chamber music, and you’ve got a cellist and maybe a violist and a violinist and everybody has to be strong in their understanding of the music. And then they come together and they’ve all been studying a particular song or suite of music. But everybody’s strong enough where they’re playing and listening, and their portion of the conversation is shared. And so [in the trio], we’ve all been independently what they call shedding. And then we come together with our own understanding of the music so we can bring that conversation. What is it that I have to say, in [Miles Davis’s] All Blues on my instrument? I’m feeling like I have something to contribute. What do I have to say as a participant in those conversations?

And so that’s what I see when I’m listening to each player. Each one is bringing all of their life experience. This is the thing that I want to share with the participants: bring all your life experience, whatever that is. Here’s the music. Miles wrote it, but what do you have to say?

LL: And that conversation is going to be so fun for people, not only to learn from you, but to really feel like they’re part of the ensemble and that they’re welcomed into that music experience.

DM: It would be wonderful to see you there in the virtual house!!P

Listen to the whole interview and join us on September 18th!

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AMN mentors Piano Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Pianist Monica Chew

Monica Chew joined AMN founder Lolly Lewis by Zoom to talk about working with Paul Hersh and her return to music after a long absence.

“The best thing about coming to studio class with Paul is always the other players who come and share music.” 

Although the Ravel piece that Monica Chew will bring to the workshop is the most modern music on our series, to Monica it’s very much music of the past. She has returned to classical music after many years away: having studied piano with Hersh for a year when she was a Conservatory student, she pursued a career in tech after college, coming back to piano as part of her renewed music life as a composer and new music advocate.

“I hadn’t seen Paul in many years, I took a long time off of music after I finished my Masters with him, and it’s been really nice to reconnect.”

She says she now finds that her approach is different from his, because “Paul is very score-based. Now that I’m also a composer I know how much there is that can’t be expressed in a score. I view music-making as much more a collaboration.”

“I’m very intimidated by piano music, simply because there’s such a large body of work for piano, probably more than any other instrument, and so much has already been contributed. What can you say that’s new? I still study piano music, and Ravel is one of those composers whose piano music is incredibly idiomatic. One of the things I love about his work is how well it lies underneath the hands. Even though he writes a lot of really difficult music, one always feels as though he really thought about the pianist.”

Monica talked about working with Paul: “He’s certainly a Renaissance man! He has many areas of interest in which he’s achieved a high level of knowledge. One of the things I really appreciate about Paul, is his curmudgeonliness about piano music and playing the piano. He doesn’t care how difficult a piece is or how well-regarded it is in the literature, or how much you’ve struggled just to get the notes out of the instrument. It’s very much an approach of, if it can be more musical, then let’s try and make it more musical.”

I hope that you will join AMN’s fourth and final session of the Piano Conversations series on May 11 as Paul and Monica explore one of the movements of Ravel’s Miroirs in greater depth.

Learn more in this preview video!

ATTEND ONLINE

Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.

Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.


DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Ludwig van Beethoven
   Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
   Pianist: Christopher Basso

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Franz Schubert
   Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1  Allegro assai
   Pianist: Hye Yeong Min

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Frederic  Chopin
   Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
   Pianist: Laura Magnani

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Maurice Ravel
   Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean 

   Pianist: Monica Chew

Categories
AMN mentors Piano Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Pianist Laura Magnani

Laura Magnani joined series moderator Cathy Angelo by Zoom to talk about her relationship with Paul Hersh and her deep connection to Chopin’s piano music.

“I’ve felt this connection with Chopin ever since I was very little – it came as a primordial call. 

When I first started playing Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in my teens, it was a very difficult work for me – there were many challenging technical details of dynamics, pedal, voicing, and touch to overcome. In time after studying all four ballades and many other piano works, you come to terms with Chopin’s language and style. And then you start to understand what he meant in a particular part of the third ballade and you go back and revisit everything with new knowledge. Once I reached a point where the technique was not such a big challenge and I could go beyond the stress of playing the notes, it was very helpful to read the four poems by Adam Mickiewicz. The poems were not a direct influence, because Chopin was a purist, he would not understand or agree with any external connection between the music and other things. His music is never descriptive [of] a poem or a landscape. In fact he doesn’t have names for his compositions, they’re scherzos, ballades, etudes, sonatas – there are no descriptions. But I couldn’t help seeing the deep impression he received, particularly for the third ballade, from the poem about Ondine, who is the goddess of water. Throughout the piece there’s the feeling of being under a spell of a nymph who has an agenda towards the shepherd – she wants him to get into the water and get lost in the water so she can possess his soul. It’s just so obvious to me that there is a story behind this piece even though it’s not declared, it’s not named so when I play it, it goes in front of my eyes like a movie, it has a narrative, it has a story to tell. That’s what I love about this piece.  

The third ballade has a particular way of describing an inner state of being completely fascinated, almost under the spell of something bigger than you, almost paranormal – when you’re drawn into something, a call you can’t resist – and this piece has that call in the main theme. It’s like something is calling him irresistibly. It’s so human, it is such a description of the human journey, and part of the human journey is to be magnetized by things that we can’t understand. We get so wrapped up and completely involved to the point of being completely lost – it’s a feeling between wonderful and terrifying, and I think this piece conveys all these feelings. That’s why it is so compelling to me.”

I hope that you will join AMN’s third session of the Piano Conversations series on May 4 as Paul and Laura explore one of Chopin’s best-known piano works, Ballade No. 3  in greater depth.

Learn more in this preview video!

ATTEND ONLINE

Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.

Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.


DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Ludwig van Beethoven
   Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
   Pianist: Christopher Basso

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Franz Schubert
   Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1  Allegro assai
   Pianist: Hye Yeong Min

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Frederic  Chopin
   Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
   Pianist: Laura Magnani

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Maurice Ravel
   Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean 

   Pianist: Monica Chew

Categories
AMN mentors Piano Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Pianist Hye Yeong Min

Hye Yeong Min joined Cathy Angelo, moderator for the AMN Piano Conversations with Paul Hersh series by Zoom this week to talk about her relationship with Paul and the benefits of attending Paul’s piano studio master classes on a regular basis.

Piano class has  been an incredible experience – I get so much from everyone who is there. 

“We meet every two weeks . . . every pianist has a different style, and we benefit from what they think. Paul is amazing – just his depth for the feeling of the music, his perspective as a pianist and a violist and having played so much repertoire for so many years – it’s been a really amazing experience for me. It’s also good to be able to play things differently than you usually do. They challenge you to do it differently on the spot, so you have to be flexible enough as a pianist to be able to do that. Paul is so open to suggestions – he used to play for us and have us comment on his playing. It’s amazing for someone of his stature to do that. He’s so curious about music and welcomes everyone’s thoughts and feelings—very inclusive.”

I hope that you will join AMN’s second session of the Piano Conversations series on April 27 as Paul and Hye Yeong explore one of Schubert’s late piano works, Klavierstucke No. 1 in greater depth.

Learn more in this preview video!

ATTEND ONLINE

Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.

Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.


DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Ludwig van Beethoven
   Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
   Pianist: Christopher Basso

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Franz Schubert
   Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1  Allegro assai
   Pianist: Hye Yeong Min

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Frederic  Chopin
   Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
   Pianist: Laura Magnani

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Maurice Ravel
   Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean 

   Pianist: Monica Chew

Categories
AMN mentors Piano Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Pianist Christopher Basso

Christopher Basso joined Cathy Angelo, moderator for the upcoming Piano Conversations series, to talk about his relationship with Paul Hersh

“I don’t recall my musical life without Paul!” 

Christopher Basso has known Paul Hersh for over 40 years since working on his undergraduate degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “His words and his insights into the music have stayed with me over all of these years and even in my own teaching today, I find myself harkening back to the things that I’ve learned from Paul – elements in the music I look for as a result of studying with him. I think for musicians in the Bay Area, Paul is central to that musical life not only for pianists but string players, because Paul is in that unique position where he’s a pianist who is also a violist, so he is exposed to music and plays music that pianists can only dream of. He adds insight from a string player’s point of view, which is more rare with pianists. I don’t know any other pianist who also plays another instrument professionally.” 

In a masterclass series that Paul gave at the Conservatory on Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, Chris remembers hearing the 3rd movement of Op. 109 for the first time – “I’d never heard anything like it!  I’ve studied the piece for over four decades on and off, and every time I come back to it there’s new insights, new things to be discovered – you never finish a piece. That’s the great thing about music, it’s a living thing, so every time I come back to it, there’s been something else that I’ve picked up on.”,

Join us for the first session of AMN’s Piano Conversations series on April 20 as Paul and Christopher explore the theme and variations of Beethoven’s piano sonata, Op. 109 in greater depth.

Learn more in this preview video!

ATTEND ONLINE

Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.

Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.


DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Ludwig van Beethoven
   Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
   Pianist: Christopher Basso

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Franz Schubert
   Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1  Allegro assai
   Pianist: Hye Yeong Min

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Frederic  Chopin
   Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
   Pianist: Laura Magnani

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Maurice Ravel
   Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean 

   Pianist: Monica Chew