The Cat and The Mouse - Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland (1900-90) was among the most successful American composers in the 20th century. Orchestras continue to perform his music, which is said to capture the open expanses of the Western United States with its widely-spaced harmonies, and hymn or folk-like melodies. Classical music audiences are familiar with the music that Copland wrote during the middle and later parts of his life, including Fanfare for the Common Man, Appalachian Spring, Rodeo and Billy the Kid, however, during his 20s, his music sounded more experimental.

Practice Tips for Auditions

In North Carolina, students prepare every fall for all-district and all-state auditions. In many cases, the pandemic has made it difficult for public music teachers to reinforce good practice habits with their students.

"My Man Benny" featuring Phil Woods

Phil Woods (1931-2015) was one of the preeminant jazz alto saxophone players to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Parker and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. He mastered the language of Parker, mirroring the ornaments and enclosures characteristic of bebop, and mixed it with the blusey, bold sound of Adderley, and the scoops and vibrato of Johnny Hodges. After growing up in Massachusetts, Woods moved to New York to attend school at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard.

"Ghost Waltzes" - Morton Gould

For Halloween, I chose to feature a late work by the American composer Morton Gould (1913-1996). Gould was among the prominant American composers of the 20th century, writing music for orchestra, chamber groups, film, and Broadway. Born in New York, critics deemed him a child prodigy in composition when he published his first composition at the age of six. At Juilliard, he studied composition and piano and worked performing in vaudeville and movie theaters. In the 1940s, he began working in radio and receiving composition commissions from symphony orchestras across the United States.

"Love on the Rocks/Bennie and the Jets" - Sara Bareilles

Many students love playing popular music and I encourage them to share their favorites so that we may incorporate them into their lesson repertoire. As we learn music that falls outside the realm of classical music, it is vital we consider how we achieve the style and groove of the original recording. Just as certain techniques (called performance practice) inform the way pianists play Bach, Mozart, Schubert, etc., different techniques are often used in playing popular styles (jazz, R&B, rock, pop).

"Nuages" - Eugene Bozza

Eugene Bozza (1905-91) wrote an enormous amount of repertoire for woodwinds and brass instruments, including solos and chamber music. A number of his works became standards in the solo saxophone repertoire, such as his Aria, and Improvisation et Caprice. This week, I am sharing his saxophone quartet piece, Nuages (1946).

"I Put a Spell on You" - Kandace Springs

You may not have heard the music of Kandace Springs (KS), yet. I came across this musician via saxophonist David Sanborn's Youtube channel, Sanborn Sessions, in which he invites guest artists to a recording session. KS is a singer and pianist who performs music in a style at the intersection of R&B, jazz, and pop. Growing up around music in Nashville (her father is the studio back-up singer Scat Springs), she studied classical piano before exploring other genres as a teenager.

Sonatine - Maurice Ravel

This week features one of Maurice Ravel's (1875-1937) most popular works for the piano, his "Sonatine."  Music historians often regard Ravel as a composer of the impressionist era, alongside Claude Debussy. As a student at the Paris Conservatory, he challenged his mentors with his progressive sounding compositions. Later in his career, he mixed elements from the Baroque music, the Classical era, and jazz, with modern textures and harmonies.

" I Loves You Porgy" - Melissa Aldana

COVID-19 has greatly effected all of our lives at this point in 2020. For musicians, their performances at concert venues and festivals have been cancelled; however, some festivals have opted to pay musicians to provide online videos for their patrons. This week I am sharing a video of the Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, shared by The Savanah Music Festival. Aldana is among the most respected jazz musicians of her generation and began playing saxophone at the age of 5.

Arthur Rubinstein

I am featuring the pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) in this week's blog. Rubinstein stands among the most influential pianists of the 20th century and released a massive number of recordings, beginning in 1928. Born to a Jewish factory owner in Poland, he was the youngest of seven kids. Historians write that he admired his sister's piano playing. Local musicians recogized Rubinstein as a child prodigy by the age of four, noting he already had developed perfect pitch.


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