Categories
Talking about Music

Gratitude for music in 2022

Destiny Muhammad says it best! We are all so grateful for music in our lives.

Once again, AMN is so thankful for all the wonderful folks who have made our workshops so vibrant and nourishing in the past year. From extraordinary mentors like Destiny to all the folks behind the scenes who make the workshops happen, THANK YOU!

As you know, AMN is not just workshops! We are grateful to all the musicians who are reaching out to find one another through our listings. And grateful to be part of a larger community of organizations and individuals who support music and music-making. To all our partners, sponsors, and friends who support our work and engage with us to make it happen. THANK YOU!

AMN needs your help.

 

AMN aspires to bring musicians from around the world together—to make music, to connect, and to share the transformative power of music. Our participants and mentors hail from across the globe, and we are connecting people one by one. Now we need your generosity and support to continue to bring high quality mentors into the living rooms and practice spaces of amateur musicians. We are committed to broadening our reach—but we can’t do it without your help.

Please join us by donating what you can to this enriching effort. We know we can do it—together!

Categories
Chamber Music Community Talking about Music

Music for the Love of It

Below is a guest contribution by violinist Joel Epstein, author of the new book Music for the Love of It: Episodes in Amateur Music-Making

The illustration above is a cartoon by James Gilray from the late 18th century called “A Little Music, or the Delights of Harmony.” It illustrates one of the recurring themes of the bookthat, while in society women may have been subordinate, in the music salon they were more than equals.

As an amateur violinist, I feel—and, I think, most of us feel—that I am carrying on a great tradition reaching back hundreds of years. A few things inspired me to explore that tradition, an exploration which eventually culminated in my book Music for the Love of It: Episodes in Amateur Music-Making.

The first thing that tickled my interest was the dedication on the title page of the Brahms string quartets opus 51: “To Theodor Billroth.” The name was vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure who Theodor Billroth was. A quick check of Wikipedia revealed that he was a leading physician, an amateur violist, and an intimate friend of Brahms. In a used bookstore I found a collection of Billroth’s and Brahms’s correspondence, which provided a fascinating insight into the composer’s creative mind and the key role the amateur violist played.

The second thing was Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music. This two-volume tome from 1929 I also found in a used bookshop. It is far more than an encyclopedia—it is one man’s personal encomium to the wonders of chamber music. The world of chamber music, Cobbett wrote, “…was an art for which I had a definite affinity. It is not an exaggeration to say that there opened out before me an enchanted world into which I longed to gain an entrance.” The encyclopedia was, like all encyclopedias, erudite, comprehensive, and written by leading experts in the field; on the other hand, it was filled with Cobbett’s own expressions, very personal and very eloquent, of his love for the glories of chamber music.

One thing led to another, and I found myself delving into other episodes of amateur music-making in history: the pivotal role of women in promoting amateur music in America; the brass band movement in Britain, which began as an attempt by moralists and by industrialists to use music to reform retrobates and to quell labor unrest in the coal mines and textile mills of Britain, and ended up as a mass musical movement that swept the country; the romance of Russian Jews of the early 20th century with the violin. In the end, it all started to fit together into a coherent story about the very tradition that we all feel to be our joyful duty to sustain.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of AMN. 

Categories
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