The jacaranda time is here! I love the outrageous purple of the blooms contrasting with the typical yellow buildings on the left and especially the pistachio-green building on the right — repainted a few years back, surely with this (often brief) moment in mind! One torrential rain or wind, and the blooms fall to the street, also beautiful, but then are lost. Fleeting beauty, rather like music…Carpe Diem!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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"!!
A week has passed, and I'm finally "back in the saddle" here with some news! Sorry—busy time of year!
Our first-ever POWELL DAY was a gigantic success! For the flutists who came by, nonstop all day long, there was a "feast" of flutes, piccolos and head joints to try out, two rooms and three "specialist" ears to listen attentively. Everyone had, I do believe, a blast trying out all the gear, and exploring the differences that the various head joint cuts, metals, weights, and so forth DO, IN FACT, make to the resulting sound. This permits each person to find their perfect match—so that they can become their own dream flutist!
Meanwhile, the folks from Boston, Daniel Sharp and Rebecca Eckles, were quite taken aback by the fantastic level of the flutists coming by. Yup! We're a small country on the map, but flute-wise, we are getting pretty darn BIG! It's been an exciting time and things are only getting better and better. It's always cool when "outsiders" confirm what we here feel—the BUZZ!
So I thank everyone who came by, it was a blast! And anyone who would like a follow-up session, or couldn't make it on that day, just contact me to set up a trial—there are still plenty of flutes (piccs and head joints) to try out!
Hang on to your hats, and hope for no (more) rain! Powell Flutes is coming to Lisbon with lots of great gear for all us flutists to try out! Don't miss this first-ever opportunity to meet with Powell folks Daniel Sharp and Rebecca Eckles here in Lisbon, and have a grand time trying everything out!
The "show" runs from 11am to 6pm, come whenever you like! For more information on the location, please contact me here, or via FaceBook Messenger. You don't need to register or anything formal!
It is reported that there might be some food (my most famous American specialty!) on hand as well! Here's how Lisbon was looking just a few minutes ago: I think it's saying "WELCOME, BOSTON!"
Porqué é que deves deslocar num Domingo, quando podia ficar todo o dia no sofá? :)) Porque este é uma oportunidade EXCEPCIONAL de experimentar imensas variedades de flautas fabricados pela famosa empresa Powell Flutes de Boston, Massachussetts! Não só experimentar mas com gente da Powell a ajudar e explicar e guiar e ouvir com ouvidos experientes!
Naturalmente, lá estarei também, para vos acolher e ajudar como sempre faz com quem esteja interessado em experimentar flautas. E haverá flautas de todas as gamas e materiais da Powell—diversão total!
Para receber informação sobre o local é só me contactar. O horário do dia é das 11h até às 18h. Pode até ser que, sendo em Portugal, haverá um bocado de bebes e comes para mostrar a hospitalidade portuguesa aos americanos da Powell ;)
Tenho grandes notícias para todos os flautistas: dois Representantes da Powell Flutes, Boston, EUA, estarão em Lisboa todo o dia de Domingo, 16 de Outubro, com um vasto conjunto de flautas para todos experimentar!
O Daniel Sharp e a Rebecca Eckles da Powell vão trazer uma excelente seleção de flautas Powell Custom Handmade, inclusivo em platina, grenadilla, prata sterling, e o novo Ruby Aurumite. Vão trazer ainda cabeças Custom Handmade de vários materiais e cortes de embocadura, flautas Conservatory, Signature, Sonaré e flautins! Será uma verdadeira festa de flautas em Lisboa!
Para saber mais pormenores, é só entrar em contacto comigo por email! Ficaremos à vossa espera para um dia como nenhum outro!