Teaching

Pedro de Alcantara @ 5th Summer Flute Academy!!

Consider yourself invited to attend our 5th (!) Summer Flute Academy— it promises to be the biggest, craziest and most fun EVER! Don't come to sit there watching, you'll be there to play, play, play, and also do a little listening and lots of trying out of new ideas!

There is really TOO MUCH planned to list it all in one go, so I'll just start in with one hot-off-the press bit of news: Pedro de Alcantara, one of the world's best-known teachers of the Alexander Technique and a wildly creative person, will be present! I'm very excited to announce this as it is not easy to get Pedro, based in Paris, "down" to Portugal, not for lack of interest, but only because he's often busy working in exotic places such as Australia or Japan! 

Pedro is Brazilian, trained in the US and the UK as a cellist, and has lived and worked in Paris for quite some time. He is the author of "Indirect Procedures", a book about the Alexander Technique for musicians published by Oxford University Press, has released several CDs, including improvisations, and is also a writer of novels. Check out his site and blog!

But mostly, he is a wonderful, insightful and unique person, who will bring his own ideas on music-making to all of us at the Academy! Thank you, Pedro, for fitting us into your schedule! "Expect nothing, anticipate anything."

Pedro de Alcantara, musician, writer, thinker, healer, creativity expert

Pedro de Alcantara, musician, writer, thinker, healer, creativity expert

ESART - Auditions Overflow with Talent!

It was an exciting, if long, day at ESART last Sunday! My wonderful colleague (and Powell player) Professor Stephanie Wagner and I listened to twenty candidates for the Bachelor's program (licenciatura) — this was a tie with last year's number, and the largest applicant group by instrument!

To the hopeful candidates performing for us, it is of course very stressful, but an important thing to know is that what any jury really wants to hear is GREAT PLAYING! We are "with you" out there on the stage, we've been there, too! Never think the jury just wants to toss people off the ship—it really is not like that!

And we were extremely pleased with the level of the young flutists! For someone who has been in Portugal for quite some time, you might say the level would have been unimaginable even 5-10 years back. Therefore, we congratulate the hard-working, dedicated teachers who have produced such fine young players!

Lastly, we thank all twenty flutists for making the effort to be there and putting out your best! Bravi tutti!!

ESART Classe de Flauta Transversal, 2016-17 (with fun filters!)

ESART Classe de Flauta Transversal, 2016-17 (with fun filters!)

Congratulations, Aldo Baerten!

Great news from the fabulous flutist Aldo Baerten, our guest teacher at the 4th Summer Flute Academy:

Aldo Baerten will leave the Münster Musikhochschule and replace Professor Marina Piccinini at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Median in Hannover, Germany. He will keep his positions as Principal Flute with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and at the Music Universities in Antwerp and Utrecht.

As we saw during his recital and master class at the Academy, Aldo is a wonderful musician, flutist and teacher, inspiring and warm, so the Hannover Hochschule is very lucky to get him! Aldo, a Powell Flute Artist, was sponsored at the Academy by the generosity of Powell Flutes in Boston. BRAVO, Aldo, from your fans in Portugal!

Professor Aldo Baerten working with Constantino Dykiy at the 4th Summer Flute Academy.

Professor Aldo Baerten working with Constantino Dykiy at the 4th Summer Flute Academy.

Em Foco - Teses! / In Focus - Theses!

As part of the Summer Flute Academy project, we look for interesting thesis projects that can be presented in a seminar to the students (and Professors!). This is our "Em Foco—Tese" project, and this year's winner was André Cameira, of the University of Évora. He gave an excellent presentation on the 12 Fantasias of Telemann, with an overview, historical information and performance and practice suggestions. Highly useful and inspirational—THANK YOU, André!

Next year we'll be having our 5th (!) Summer Flute Academy, so if you have written a thesis that is nearing completion or has been completed in the last 10 years we'd love you to submit it—I'll let you know when the regulations for 2017 are on the site. Our idea is that many theses are being written but end up on a shelf without having any wider exposure, which is a shame. The winning thesis will also be included in the archives of the Summer Flute Academy online. And we are completely open to theses by non-flutists since many times the subject matter is relevant!

Flutist André Cameira presenting his seminar on the Telemann Fantasias at the 4th Summer Flute Academy

Flutist André Cameira presenting his seminar on the Telemann Fantasias at the 4th Summer Flute Academy

Vital Signs

I've had the good fortune this week of meeting and talking with the American pianist Nelson Ojeda Valdès, a fellow native of Los Angeles, California (which I don't come across too often here in Lisbon!) He's a friend of also-originally-from-LA pianist Raj Bhimani, who is also here in Lisbon rehearsing for upcoming concerts of Syrinx: XXII, so it's been a California-on-the-Tejo week for me!

Nelson, who is very active in New York as a performer, teacher and adjudicator, has a succinct way to refer to the two basic impulses of music, pulse and breath, calling them the "vital signs". He means that pulse and breath are just as necessary to music as they are to bodily survival; we performers should always strive to communicate these elements clearly to the listener, just as our bodies clearly need both pulse and breath to maintain life. 

Of course, pulse is fundamental—we all know the magic when music makes us tap our foot or want to dance along—and I always love to hear a non-wind-player talking about breathing in relation to music and phrasing. Of course, we flutists and wind players MUST breathe, but the bottom line is that the MUSIC must breathe (even Wagner, eventually…). Nelson's concept helps put the issue of breath on the right footing, as something good and desirable, rather than a necessary evil—I love it!

Post-rehearsal R&R with pianists Raj Bhimani and Nelson Ojeda Valdès

Post-rehearsal R&R with pianists Raj Bhimani and Nelson Ojeda Valdès

On the Road to Success…

If ever a picture is worth a thousand words, this is one! Found it on FaceBook somewhere (thank you, Universe) and it's priceless. Especially for us musicians—we've been playing for X years and we're STILL practicing? Yup! Alas, there are no shortcuts… 

So the only solution is to enjoy the actual practicing, the preparation, the "slog", while we wait for the results to come. The more we focus on the process, enjoying it and even finding a passion for it, the sooner we'll be taken by surprise — in a positive sense — and by "success"!

Words of wisdom…

Words of wisdom…

Powell-Happy… in San Diego!

Here's a great photo hot off the wires from the NFA Convention in San Diego—Christina Cobas of Powell Flutes in Boston, and Gary Woodward, Powell Artist, longtime Powell fan, and Professor of Flute at the U.S.C. among other positions. Christina, the wonderful "go-to" person at Powell, sent it just to make me (further) JEALOUS that I was unable to attend the Convention—even though it was held practically around the corner from where I grew up! 

Gary has always played on a number of Powell flutes, as well as a Powell piccolo he inherited from his teacher, Roger Stevens, who was Principal Flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Gary, whose second love is automobiles, once drove from L.A. to Utah (!) to pick up an early Powell, sight unseen—that's when I started to understand what special instruments they were. That was back in high school or early college days, when Gary was my teacher; in a few short years he took me miles in my playing, yet all the hard work just seemed like fun. THANK YOU, Gary, for that gift, and hope to see you "live" very soon! Thanks, Christina, for sending the photo!

Christina Cobas, of Powell Flutes, with Gary Woodward, Powell Artist in San Diego

Christina Cobas, of Powell Flutes, with Gary Woodward, Powell Artist in San Diego

Happy 90th Birthday to THE PROFESSOR

I've just discovered that the composer Karl Kohn, my dear Professor of Music at Pomona College, celebrates his 90th birthday today, so this entry SIMPLY MUST be dedicated to him. Professor Kohn was the towering figure of the music department for years, and for good reason. Born in Vienna he escaped to the U.S. with his family as a teen, was educated at Harvard, and has received numerous grants and fellowships, as well as being on the board of the famed "Monday Evening Concert Series" of mostly new music in Los Angles for 20 years. His works are published by Carl Fischer, among others.

At Pomona, he received us as freshmen: lumps of unformed musical material with extremely little culture (for someone from Vienna, especially), and through patient if occasionally dramatic means somehow, by senior year, turned us into near-musicians! (I suspect he'd have loved to begin teaching us at exactly the moment we graduated!). We heard Ligeti for the first time in a duo-piano performance with his also-gifted-pianist wife, Margie, and it was ELECTRIFYING. We discovered that Machaut and Josquin were just as clever as Stravinsky, rhythmically. We were taken to task if we turned in illegible work (pre-computer era): "You expect musicians to have time to try to read this garbage?" followed by the sound of your score being torn to shreds! Or, "you expect professional musicians to sit on stage and play 10 notes in the entire piece?? Write them something to play!". We eventually got the idea!

Now he is a Distinguished Emeritus Professor—retired with benefits—and is still busy composing and leading a life in music. I was honored to perform at a concert at Pomona last February, and in a way, knowing he was in the hall was all I needed to know I had to play my best. Thank you dear Professor Kohn, and many happy returns of the day!

Composer Karl Kohn with Raj Bhimani, piano soloist and member of Syrinx: XXII in February 2016

Composer Karl Kohn with Raj Bhimani, piano soloist and member of Syrinx: XXII in February 2016

Kids these days…

Are AMAZING!

Yesterday and today are the final presentations of the work we've done together at the 4th Summer Flute Academy- chamber music and ensrbles, respectively. What I love to see is the students' rising to the occasion as soon as they get up to perform- in front of a room of flutist-peers! Smiles and determination, gusto and charm, and "talent", oodles of talent. Which is to say hours and hours of hard work paying off. A delight to observe! With music from Gabrieli to Bozza, yesterday was a real show. Today the program leans more toward the modern, with ensemble works by Grieg and Wil Offermans, plus Jorge Ramos' "Recompor", based on a folk melody in a complex setting, and the stunning first-prize-winning (AFV's 3rd Composition Competition) duo "Traveling", for flute and alto flute, by Ricardo Matosinhos. These last two in world premiere and performed by AFV students. It's going to be quite a show again, I promise! Teatro Helena Sá e Costa at ESMAE at 11:30 am. Come see what "kids these today" can do! INSPIRING!

Just another typical day at the Summer Flute Academy

Which is to say: FULL! Morning: last lessons of master class given by our wonderful guest artist, Aldo Baerten- fabulous playing and fabulous teaching, exciting to watch! While everyone goes off to lunch, set up an expo of Powell flutes and piccolos in main room. Rush to lunch, eat on the fly. Seminar on the Powell company, its storied background, and current offerings, followed by a swarm of eager testers, swapping out head joints and bodies, great fun, the proverbial "birdcage on fire". OOPS, time's up, chamber music! Quick check on the duo working up the winning composition of our composition competition, "Traveling", for flue and alto flute, by Ricardo Matosinhos. Brilliant playing by two excellent participants. Then we crash the composers seminar, run by the President of the competition's jury, Ivan Moody, and the duo is worked through with the composer: a few tweaks here and there—a fantastically fun píece! Then on to hear a Kohler Quartet, which is coming along great— Friday performance on the docket. Then rush to rehearse "Recompor" by Jorge Ramos with a large ensemble: fine-tuning balance and expression, checking details with Jorge- so useful to have LIVING COMPOSERS at hand. Finally a moment of rest, then the urge to practice- a golden half hour, not bad. Final event: "Body Percussion" with Artur Carvalho. FUN FUN FUN. I am terrible, but who cares! Totally cool teacher; I want to do it again NOW! And just before starvation hits: dinner with Ivan- civilized and entertaining yakking over great food! Now that's a day in a "life in music", folks!