Syrinx : XXII — back at work!

August at the beach? 'Fraid not! August finds me happily rehearsing a fantastic new program with Syrinx : XXII: António Carrilho, recorders and Raj Bhimani, piano. 

We are preparing for our return tour to India in November, taking a program of gorgeous works from four centuries, including Bach, Gluck, Schubert and Mozart, works by living Portuguese composers and the premier of a new trio by Sören Sieg, to boot!

Raj snapped this cool photo of me warming up on the bass flute for the Sieg work—a rollicking fun and beautiful trio that uses the bass flute to perfection—thank you, dear Sören, once again!

Why is the bass flute just so cool?

Why is the bass flute just so cool?

Powell Brings Philippe Bernold to Tomar

Courtesy of Powell Flutes and its parent company, Buffet Crampon, Professor Philippe Bernold, of the Paris National Conservatory, presented classes, a seminar and a recital at the Summer Flute Academy 2018, in Tomar. 

It was a unique opportunity for all present to observe his work, play for him in classes and hear him perform a stunning recital. Bernold is a Powell Artist, performing on a Handmade 18k gold Powell flute, and along with his position at the Paris Conservatoire, gives master classes worldwide, and is extremely busy as a soloist and conductor. He is also very approachable, generous, and can simplify musical and instrumental issues brilliantly.

He also fell in love with Tomar! Portugal has many "hidden" delights, and the historic city of Tomar—gastronomy included!—is definitely high up on that list! Prof. Bernold—au revoir! See you again soon!

Philippe Bernold in recital with pianist Jonathan Ayerst, at the Summer Flute Academy, Tomar

Philippe Bernold in recital with pianist Jonathan Ayerst, at the Summer Flute Academy, Tomar

India Travelogue: the Whirlwind Begins!

Nov. 2016—Our first two, oops, three! concerts have already taken place since I last wrote—such is the touring life: lots of packing and unpacking, setting up, taking down, travel, EATING (great food!), and trying to fit in some sleep! 

The first concert was at the "Piano Man" Jazz Club in Delhi, which was a totally chic venue with a fantastically warm audience, many of whom were hearing their first-ever live Western classical music concert! We were honored! The Club features not only Jazz, but every kind of music, including Indian Classical music and Western pop music of all kinds. A great openness to all music is the result!

The Club has produced over 380 concerts in just 14 months, IMAGINE THAT! 

Our concert was tremendously well-received, with special kudos to the new trio by Carlos Marecos' which had its premiere. Many in the audience came up afterwards to mention how moved they were by the work, which depicts seven rural villas in Portugal with the special harmonic genius of Marecos setting the scene for each. Thank you, Carlos, for such a magnificent piece!!

Photos: Arjun Sagar Gupta, owner of the Piano Man; a fine collection of recorders; Syrinx : XX colleagues rehearsing; a seriously cool chandelier made of, well, trumpets!!

Today! First Concert in India!

Time is flying and today we'll have our first concert here in Delhi, India, at the Piano Man Jazz Club!  Along with that excitement, we've launched a FaceBook Artist page for Syrinx : XXII where you can follow us, and we'll be premiering the fantastic work written for us by Carlos Marecos, "7 Instantes from Rural Portugal" , Op. 92. Also, there is a great article about another of the works on the program written up in Serenade Magazine, which is an online magazine about Western Classical Music in India—and a very fine and interesting magazine it is!

Yesterday we fit in a bit of proper tourism, visiting Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. This preceeds the Taj Mahal by some 80 years, dating to the 16th century, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first garden-tomb complex, with various buildings and the central tomb; the Mughal style later culminated in the Taj Mahal, which is some five times larger! Yet the scale and proportions and sheer beauty of the layout at Humayun's Tomb were already a delight, and as it was a holiday, there were many locals as well as tourists enjoying the visit in a leisurely manner.  

A few photos here—I especially liked the coexistence of the very modern "selfie" moment, fine dress of a young man, and the beautiful, centuries-old monument in the background of the first photo! 


The international gesture of the moment… 

The international gesture of the moment… 

The sarcophagus in the very center

The sarcophagus in the very center

View of the gardens from the tomb

View of the gardens from the tomb

Happy tourists! 

Happy tourists! 

Amazing INDIA! Syrinx : XXII Tour!

We're almost on our way…to India!! A huge, storied country I've dreamt of visiting for decades! Best of all, I'll be there with my colleagues of Syrinx : XXII, António Carrilho, recorders, and Raj Bhimani, piano, performing in numerous cities and venues in various parts of this enormous country. A life in music occasionally brings these extraordinary rewards, to compensate for the hours of slogging away in a practice room, no?

I've set up a page about the tour on the site, and will be blogging as we go along. So follow us here on this adventure, starting on the 11th of November. For as much as I've heard and read and especially EATEN of Indian culture, I've also heard that it really must be experienced in person, and is one of the most memorable destinations in the world, so bring it on!

Here's the poster for our first performance, in a more casual setting: the Jazz Club (!) of Delhi! Poster and concert presenting by Sardana Creative Consultancy—thank you!!

Syrinx : XXII—photo by Rita Delille

Syrinx : XXII—photo by Rita Delille

Ravel's "Mother Goose" returns to the CCB in December!

Parents and the young-at-heart, take note: "A Minha Mãe Gansa" ("Mother Goose") will be performed on December 16th, Friday, in the Large Auditorium of the CCB at 6pm. It is a wonderful multi-media mix of storytelling and the music of Ravel performed live by the Lisbon Opera House Orchestra.

This production, previously presented in the "Dias da Música", was conceived several years back by Madalena Wallenstein of the Fábrica das Artes at the CCB and myself, with a brilliant and moving script also by Madalena Wallenstein, art/video by André Godinho, and narration in this production—co-produced by the CCB and the Lisbon National Opera—by actress Natália Luiza.

"A Minha Mãe Gansa" is somewhat akin to Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", but with stunningly beautiful music by Ravel and perhaps more insight into the connections between music composition, the instruments, the "Mother Goose" stories—primarily from 17th and 18th-Century French fairy-tales—and the magic of growing up and realizing your dreams.

We are still some six weeks off, but I recommend purchasing tickets NOW (6€ only!) to secure a good seat for a wonderful pre-Christmas event for all!

Drawing for "A Minha Mãe Gansa" by André Godinho

Drawing for "A Minha Mãe Gansa" by André Godinho

Helianthus—a terrific ensemble!

What a pleasure to hear the Helianthus Ensemble at the Music Room of the Queluz Palace on Friday evening! Aside from the perfectly balanced combination of period instruments—late 18th Century— and the fact of the concert being in a "period" concert hall, as well, it was simply wonderful to hear great players enjoying playing together! 

The give-and-take of chamber music was present at every moment, whether it be in the cellist's delight in the bass line, or the violin's discreet agitation of sixteenths in an accompaniment passage giving way to "stealing" the tune from the flutist! The harpsichordist (it was really a cembalo, I believe, with metal strings but hammer-action rather than plucked—I need an expert to sort that out for me, please!) was duly discreet UNTIL it was his moment to shine. Which was actually a lot, especially in the Mozart Concerto Op. 107, with real Mozart cadenzas as a bonus!

My favorites were perhaps the Danzi, of wind quintet and Flute Concerto fame, and the Haydn Trio for Flute, Cello and piano/cembalo. For the flutist (Laura Pontecorvo, see previous blog!) both were full of fancy filigree and rhythmic gestures contrasting with the most expressive, soaring melodic lines. Ditto for the others; it was a sort of musical game of chess—pure Haydn-esque fun, and delightfully executed!

Bravo to the Helianthus members, and come back soon!

Laura Pontecorvo, flute, Guido Morini, cembalo, Iskrena Yordanova, violin, and Marco Ceccato, cello— Helianthus Ensemble

Laura Pontecorvo, flute, Guido Morini, cembalo, Iskrena Yordanova, violin, and Marco Ceccato, cello—Helianthus Ensemble

Friday! At Queluz Palace - A Rare Chance to Hear a Classical-Period Flute!

How many times has you heard Mozart performed on the kind of flute that he actually wrote for? Not many, if you are like me! So this Friday, at 9.30pm you'll have a rare chance to hear his music, along with other galant and classical composers, performed by the Italian flutist Laura Pontecorvo, and her Helianthus Ensemble in the perfect setting at Queluz Palace, outside Lisbon.

Laura, a fantastic teacher and versatile performer of "early" flutes, will be performing on a copy of a Grenser flute that she found in the oddest way—read the story here! Kind of like finding a Stradivarius in your fire-wood pile…Such luck!! This flute has 5 keys, as opposed to the one-keyed baroque flute, and was a dominant instrument in the second half of the 18th Century.

In this concert, Laura will perform with her Helianthus colleagues Iskrena Yordanova, violin, Marco Ceccato, cello, and Guido Morini, harpsichord, in various formations from duo to quartet, and including music by Haydn and Danzi among others. So it is really a fantastic and rare opportunity to hear "Mozart's Flute" in its natural element, with other instruments of the same period, and performed by top-notch players! For more information on the program, click here!

After all, for all that we've heard about his not liking the flute, Mozart did not write a famous opera called "The Magic…Clarinet"!! 

Laura Pontecorvo, founder of the  Helianthus Ensemble

Laura Pontecorvo, founder of the Helianthus Ensemble

TONIGHT: Mafalda Carvalho at the Winners' Concert!!

Calling all Lisbon-area flutists! Let's show up in record numbers for the Winners' Concert of the Young Musicians Prizes (Prémios Jovens Músicos) TONIGHT, at 9.30pm at the Gulbenkian Foundation. It has been SIX YEARS (!) since the last Sr. Division Flute Competition, so NOW is our chance to hear a flute concerto front and center! Those not in Lisbon can listen live on Antena 2 radio.

I exchanged emails with Mafalda, and let's just say she's had a BIG YEAR: finishing her Masters Thesis and training, touring with the Galiza Symphony Orchestra to Abu Dhabi, teaching, entering the Classic Orchestra of Madeira as 1st Flute—and winning this competition! As you might imagine, she's pretty much a master of organizing her work and her time! So exciting to see someone aim high and achieve their goals! Click here to read an interview with Mafalda on Da Capo Magazine.

Mafalda says that she feels a special affinity for the Nielsen Concerto, which explores many different moods. For the free-choice repertoire for the rest of the competition she relied, intelligently, on works that she loves and had previously played, bringing a new maturity to them this time around. That sounds like an excellent "recipe" for success! Don't forget that to arrive at this new maturity, there always has to be a first time around, too; all stages of development are important!

Now I just look forward to being there and hearing Mafalda perform the Nielsen with the Gulbenkian Orchestra! Tickets are free but get there early before the hall fills up! And to Mafalda, as we say in the US: "Break a leg"!! Or simply: "GO GIRL!"

Flutist Mafalda Carvalho 

Flutist Mafalda Carvalho 

Not to miss: Winners' Concert of the Young Musicians' Prizes—FRIDAY!

The culminating moment of the 30th Edition of the Portuguese Young Musicians' Prizes, the most prestigious national competition, now celebrating its 30th edition, will be the "Winners' Concert", Friday, September 23rd at 9:30pm at the Gulbenkian in Lisbon.

Happily, there is a flutist among the 1st-prize winners, the fabulous Mafalda Carvalho, who will perform the first movement of the Nielsen Concerto with the Gulbenkian Orchestra. Having been on the flute jury again this year, I can vouch for the very high level of all the candidates—and tell you that the flute competition (Senior level) was the most contested of all the instrumental competitions, with 32 candidates submitting recordings for the first round. So an extra bravo for all who entered, putting in hours of preparation and work. There is never anything to lose if you are invested in the work, even if you don't take home a prize, and much to be gained, namely "grit" and  experience!

Those not in Lisbon can hear the concert live on Antena 2, but tickets for the concert are FREE, on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early and DON'T MISS THE SHOW! And let's give all our flute-community support to Mafalda! I'll have more on Mafalda tomorrow; stay tuned!

Mafalda Carvalho, 1st-Prize Winner, Senior Flute Category, Young Musicians' Prizes, 2016

Mafalda Carvalho, 1st-Prize Winner, Senior Flute Category, Young Musicians' Prizes, 2016