Lunch & News from Scherzo Editions!

Between rehearsals for Donizetti's opera based on the true story of Anne Boleyn, "Anna Bolena", I had a delightful lunch with João Vidinha, who is an outstanding flutist as well as the owner/founder of Scherzo Editions, the up-and-coming Portuguese music publisher/editor. 

It was, as always, great to catch up! Scherzo is "on a roll", having received a 1st Prize in the most recent "Newly Published Music" Competition of the (American) National Flute Association with "O motivo da menina laite" by André M. Santos for solo flute. This puts Scherzo on a par with renowned music publishers such as Theodor Presser and Universal Editions, which have been in existence for over 100 years!

I received my order for some of the latest items from Scherzo for flute, or flutes, and it was exciting to see Scherzo's catalog growing; it now includes works by Ricardo Matosinhos, Wilson Tanner Smith, Nuno Peixoto de Pinho, and two by Jorge F. P. Ramos—all of which come out of the Summer Flute Academy's Composition Competition! There are also works for flute by Sílva Mendonça, Fábio Cachão, Donald Yu, Sara Claro and others— you can check out the catalog on Scherzo's site. The composition talent in Portugal is second to none, and so is the publishing talent!

Scherzo Editions also has published all the commissioned works for the Young Musician's Prizes (Prémios Jovens Músicos) recently, and that adds a wonderful variety to the catalog as well.

Another day, another hat off! It's great to see well-executed entrepreneurial efforts based here in Lisbon—Portugal today; tomorrow, the world!

 João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

D E D I C A T I O N !!

Yesterday, on my way to rehearsal, I passed by a diplomatic ceremony in front of the Jerónimos Monastery. I was feeling grumpy because I'd had to get off a warm seat on the tram to walk past this "stoppage" and catch another tram on the other side.

Then I saw these colleagues, from the Portuguese Army Band, out on the street, playing at 9:15am, when the temperature—yes, in Lisbon!—was 4º Centigrade (that's 40º F). WOW, guys, that is great for skiing, but COOOOOLD for standing still, let alone playing. Yet there they were, and playing beautifully and somehow even in tune.

My hat's off to these musicians, that's for sure. I hope the diplomats had some appreciation.

We know all the years of practice and dedication it takes to reach professional level, but sometimes it just hits you in the face: you really have to be, and stay, DEDICATED!!

PS: No, Lisbon is not supposed to be this cold (but it is, sometimes)!! PPS: Yes, there were at least 4 flutists in the band—BRAVO!

 The Portuguese Army Band, performing with class and distinction in 4ºC weather!

The Portuguese Army Band, performing with class and distinction in 4ºC weather!

CAROS COMPOSITORES: 4º Concurso de Composição está em curso!

Queridos e estimados compositores—queria também anunciar, agora em português, a 4ª Edição do Concurso de Composição para Flautas Transversais da Academia de Flauta de Verão! Temos duas categorias diferentes que achamos que vão vos inspirar:

1) OBRA A SOLO para uma das "low flutes": flauta em sol, flauta baixo, ou flauta contrabaixo.

2) QUINTETO para 5 flautistas com instrumentação flexível.

O nosso concurso está aberto à compositores de todas as idades e nacionalidades, e temos abertura para qualquer estilo de escrita. Estamos ansiosos para ver, tocar e ouvir o que vocês podem imaginar!

Obras que obtém um 1º Prémio terão estreia durante a 5ª Academia de Flauta de Verão em Julho de 2017 no Porto. Serão gravados em audio e vídeo, e serão publicado pelo notável Scherzo Editions, e há ainda um prémio monetário.

Nota-se que a Scherzo Editions já foi premiado pela National Flute Association em 2016, com um 1º Prémio para Obras Recém-Publicadas (Newly Published Music Competition)—BRAVO, Scherzo Editions, uma empresa 100% portuguesa!!

O Concurso conta com o apoio precioso da Powell Flutes, EUA e da Kingma Flutes da Holanda, da Scherzo Editions e ainda com a ajuda da ESMAE no Porto—OBRIGADA A TODOS!

O regulamento pode está no site da Academia de Flauta de Verão. A data limite é dia 20 de Março de 2017—por favor, ajudam a partilhar estas informações, obrigada!

DEAR COMPOSERS: 4th Competition underway!

Dear cherished composers: we are pleased to announce (again, better a little late than never) that the 4th Composition Competition of the Summer Flute Academy is underway! 

Our two categories this year are: 1) SOLO WORK for "low flute"—alto, bass or contrabass; and 2) QUINTET for a flexible group of five flutists. The competition is open to composers of all ages and nationalities. We are excited to see, play and hear what you send in, so set your imaginations free!

First prizes include a premier performance at the 5th Summer Flute Academy, recorded in video and audio, publication of the work by Scherzo Editions, and cash prizes. We are proud to be sponsored by Verne Q. Powell Flutes, USA, and Kingma Flutes in Holland, and supported by ESMAE and Scherzo Editions—thank you all!

All details can be found on the Summer Flute Academy (Academia de Flauta de Verão) site. Deadline for entries is March 20th, 2017. SPREAD THE WORD!

 Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Better Late than Never!

That is the motto—chosen some 10 or 15 years after graduation—of my Pomona College Class, and I find it just PERFECT! And appropriate right now as I've been "off" the blog since early into our India tour. Technical difficulties; note to self: take IT genius along on next tour!

I have also been distracted or occupied with mundane things like a knock-down, drag-out cold (after not being ill for one instant in India!), orchestra concerts, both for the New Year (fun!) and Mahler Symphony Nº1 (amazing, always!), the Christmas season and the post-Christmas season. Excuses!

And, I admit, I've been distracted with "current events", which are worrisome at best. As an indirect response, I'd like to relaunch the blog today with one photo that, for me, sums up a lot about India, about tolerance, inclusion, and living in a country of 1.3 billion people—which is to say, a lot about living on an Earth with some 7.5 billion people.

This is a street sign in Delhi, and not an unusual one. It has the street name ("Marg" means street) in four of the 22 official languages of India: Hindi, English, Punjabi, and Urdu. How cool is that? And if we look carefully, doesn't each have its own visual beauty? Surely each has its own special sound, though that goes far beyond my linguistic abilities. In sum: diversity is beautiful, enlightening, enriching. 

 Note also the "PIN code" at the bottom—India: serious IT going on!

Note also the "PIN code" at the bottom—India: serious IT going on!

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! 

Back to Work!

After a day of rest, it's back to work, rehearsing for our upcoming concerts! We were grateful to the Delhi Music Society for the use of their largest room to unpack gear and rehearse for many hours. A great pleasure also to again take up preparing for the premiere of Carlos Marecos' fantastic work written for us, "7 Instantes from Rural Portugal" for flutes, recorders and piano. Marecos is famous for sensuous melodies and harmonies—effortless mastery, really—and we are sure the audience will love the work as much as we already do! Lots of other works, covering five centuries of music, on the program too, so we think there will be something, hopefully many things, on the program for everyone! 

More photos of the day! 

 Powell Flutes, unpacked and ready to go, plus a lovely Soubeyran traverso! 

Powell Flutes, unpacked and ready to go, plus a lovely Soubeyran traverso! 

 Just a few of the many recorders to be used for the program… 

Just a few of the many recorders to be used for the program… 

 A lovely Bõsendorfer piano owned by the Delhi Music Society. Ivory tops of keys nailed down due to humidity causing the glue to "melt". 

A lovely Bõsendorfer piano owned by the Delhi Music Society. Ivory tops of keys nailed down due to humidity causing the glue to "melt". 

 Masks to protect against the smoke (receding, fortunately) in Delhi—better safe than sorry.  

Masks to protect against the smoke (receding, fortunately) in Delhi—better safe than sorry.  

 Best news of the day: Hotel Concierge with our delayed luggage! Whew! 

Best news of the day: Hotel Concierge with our delayed luggage! Whew! 

Namaste — Welcome to India!

We've arrived! Smooth flights, friendly passengers next to us, even sleep on the plane! Delhi is recovering from the smoke-out much in the news last week, and we (wind players!) are grateful! 

So far, the most striking thing is the kindness and competence of the people here—having had our luggage miss the connection in Heathrow, our first task was to get that sorted out. Helpful people at every step, most appreciated. We're acclimating in a gorgeous hotel and that helps, too, but it is clear that courtesy is common currency here.  

Along these lines, I've learned that "namaste" is not a greeting for yoga classes only! The word, palms-together and slight bow greeting is the norm here for everyday use—a beautiful gesture which colors one's experience immediately. For the rest, some photos from the first day: colorful contrasts!

 Syrinx : XXII colleague António Carrilho at the beautiful airport in Delhi, India

Syrinx : XXII colleague António Carrilho at the beautiful airport in Delhi, India

 One of many different modes of transport in Delhi — great colors! 

One of many different modes of transport in Delhi — great colors! 

 A healthy "mocktail" with ginger, raspberry and lime—cheers! 

A healthy "mocktail" with ginger, raspberry and lime—cheers! 

 Refreshing cucumber drink, a great cure for traveler's dehydration! 

Refreshing cucumber drink, a great cure for traveler's dehydration! 

 Syrinx : XXII Reunited on a new/old continent! 

Syrinx : XXII Reunited on a new/old continent! 

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