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Categories: General

October 2021 has been quite the month: this new website is up and running, designed by my friend Jenny Schuler (whom everyone should hear sing sooner than later), with photography by Elliot Mandel. The CD recording of “Human to Human: New Works for Vocal Quartet” is out now, with Chicago’s Fourth Coast Ensemble and our two commissions: Wayland Rogers’ I-Thou and Andrea Clearfield’s A Brush With Our Time, both compelling works in their own right and both with a universality of themes. And, Were I With Thee the new CD with Michelle Areyzaga, soprano and me on the piano, has been out a week and we had the first CD Launch Party last weekend. All three of these projects – the website and the two new CDs – mark the end of the pandemic for me, and now I can look forward to help sell the CDs, but also, get on to new projects, with Operafest next weekend at Roosevelt University and two recitals coming up at Project 88 in Berwyn – all are listed on the “Engagements” page of this website. 

What is the common thread among all of these projects? The people. I am mightily blessed by super-talented friends who make music as though their lives depend on it, and also, by super-creative people whose work I appreciate more each day, like Jenny and Elliot. The artists of Fourth Coast Ensemble are wonderful, soulful singers whose professionalism and desire to excel inspire me with every rehearsal. Michelle is like a sister to me, wonderful in every way, hilarious and beyond fun to work with. Her talent and ability to wrap an audience around her little finger never cease to amaze me. From all of these people I have learned that there is nothing like making art with friends whom I’m loved and admired for years. I am not a rich person monetarily, but I am rich in friends and musical partners. For all of these people, I am and will remain grateful. 

I was having a conversation the other day with one of my students, a very talented Korean pianist in the second year of her Master’s at Roosevelt. She asked me how I split the difference between solo playing and collaborative playing, to which I answered: “well, the solo playing led to getting a doctorate in collaborative piano” and then ten years later, I went back to solo lessons, and I love the solo repertoire more than I ever have”. I also readily offered the fact that keeping up both can be difficult, and it tends to be either one or the other, but not both. I also said that working on repertoire like the Ravel Left Hand Concerto and the Chopin Ètudes, all 27 of them, made so many pieces in the collab repertoire easier for me – not easy, but easier. After all, one has to be a good solo pianist to handle the introductions and postludes to many songs, as well as much of the chamber music literature, like the Franck Violin and Piano Sonata. My student said she was undecided on what to do after her solo Master’s, and I said, well it tends to work itself out, if one is open-minded. “Don’t think one rules out the other – we are all pianists at the end of the day”. 

I’m leaving out all of the other people who made the CDs come to life…I’ll save those for another post. In the meantime, let’s all count our blessings and be grateful for the gifts we have received. More soon,