English Blog

Good Friday

April 19, 2019

It was very beautiful during Good Friday Service.

O vos omnes                 Pablo Casals

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam:
attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.

(O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow)
Lamentations 1:12

Performance Opportunity at Académie internationale d’été de musique de Lyon, from July 27 to August 5

April 16, 2019

Hello! I would like to extend my invitation to come to Lyon, France, to study piano and perform this summer. I will be a piano faculty at Académie internationale d’été de musique de Lyon. It will be my second time to be at this festival! The festival is fantastic and Lyon is a beautiful city to stroll around, especially the evening is very romantic. The date will be from July 27 to August 5. I hope to see you in Lyon this summer! We will have lot of fun making music together. Please contact me at junko_piano@yahoo.com if you are interested in! 

Warmly, Junko Ueno Garrett

Festival Information

Beethoven Piano Sonata Op. 78 “Therese” 3/25/19

March 25, 2019

This sonata has been living in the special part of my heart since I first learned. Actually I learned it when I was in high school, and the first day I started to study I was totally attracted and mesmerized. What a charm, how tender and sweet… and humor too! And there is no conflict and agony even though Beethoven was going through a very difficult time. The 4 bars of the introduction is amazingly warmhearted and amiable. You almost feel the warm sunlight in the early spring time. Nothing to worry. Nothing to be distressed. The flowers are starting to bloom. There is a path to the loving future and hope. Then the 1st theme starts at the bar 5. It is effortless. The beautiful melody flows so naturally. Throughout the 1st movement there are a lot of loving conversations, never an argument. F sharp Major continues to the 2nd movement. Now we are in vivace. The rondo theme is very delightful. We can’t stop smiling while we play this movement! The rondo theme develops with a variety of notations and ranges. The other theme (theme B) is very interesting, as if a man (bass line) and a lady (soprano line) are playing around! The bass line plays legato phase while the soprano line plays jumpy and playful phrase. Or they are following each other, alternating the same 2 notes! Beethoven was suffering more and more difficulty with his hearings, but when he is with his music his mind goes through wonderful imagination. He is a great story-teller. Recently I rekindled with “Therese” and my heart is filled with full of affection.

A Movie “Cinema Paradiso” 3/6/19

March 6, 2019

This movie is one of my lifetime favorites, and I have already seen it so many times. Again I saw it the other day. This time on my computer! It was my first time to purchase a movie online to watch. I prefer movies at the theater though…. The movie is just wonderful. I cried again. Reflecting my own mind the movie seemed even more beautiful this time than usual. Robert Schumann said “The human heart sometimes seems strange, and pain and joy are intermingled in wild variegation.”

Ash Wednesday 3/6/19

March 6, 2019

Psalm 102.9  “For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink”

Music Performance! Subjective? Objective? 2/24/19

February 25, 2019

I played Beethoven Piano Sonata Concert last week. I was deeply moved by Beethoven’s mind during my performance. Op. 109 is one of my favorite sonatas. I have already written about my thought on this piece. We can feel Beethoven’s tender mind in Op. 109. The last movement is written in variation form, and at the end of the piece the opening theme comes back for a closure. It is very comforting. This opening theme is very meditative. During the concert after the finale of the variations (this finale is a “Praise God” moment, and we hear angels singing and trumpet playing) when the opening theme came back, tears came down on my cheek. Beethoven took me to a different zone. After I played the last note I could not get back to the real world (!) for a while. I try to have a balance between “Subjective” and “Objective”, but I often forget! I feel so fortune to be a musician and to have a free mind.

A Movie “Cold War” 2/19/19

February 19, 2019

“Cold War” has been advertised and talked. So I went to see it. Yes, it is beautiful and romantic. The picture (black and white) is gorgeous. The music is great. But the story is not convincing to me. I suppose the story does not matter in romance?? Each scene is almost a segment, and sometimes they are not connected each other. Again it may be the way the director wanted. So we, the audience, have to make up “in between”.

Beethoven Piano Sonata Editions 2/11/19

February 11, 2019

As I practice Beethoven Sonatas I have been looking at the different editions for my curiosity. Henle is wonderful and just so nice to see the dark blue cover! Recently I am drawn to Hans von Bülow edition. I can tell he was a great teacher. His comments are often very practical, yet very passionate. We know that he was one of very first Beethoven scholar, and of course he understood Beethoven deeply. It is so wonderful to feel his affection to Beethoven’s music in his edition! Also his writing is quite charming to me because of the elegant expression.  My Japanese piano teacher always encouraged me to look at different editions, at least 3 different, when I was very young. I still do. IPad music is getting more and more common in these days, and it is certainly very convenient. I may shift to IPad for my chamber music playing. But personally I can’t study music well with IPad. It is so wonderful to compare different books and see the pages! I know I am a dinosaur! Anyway it gives us a great feeling to read what music giants were thinking.

Living with Beethoven’s Life 1/21/19

January 21, 2019

I am focusing on Beethoven’s music in the 2018-19 season. I was little overwhelmed few weeks ago preparing so many Beethovens! I just performed Beethoven’s 3 cello sonatas, and will perform Beethoven’s 3 piano sonatas in February. It was almost “miracle” that I started to feel comforted once I passed the stage being overwhelmed. Beethoven’s life has given us the great imagination for many years in the world. He is a giant and he is a human-being. I often find moments in his music “Ludwig, you are trying to trick us?!” or “You are having an amazing time!” or “You are giving me a hard time…” or just simply “I love your music”. It has been and it will be an honor to live with Beethoven’s music and life.

Beethoven wrote various sonatas for various instruments in a different part of his life and it is a wonderful journey to survey those pieces with his life. I am preparing Op. 31 No. 3 “Hunt”, Op. 53 “Waldstein”, and Op. 109, “Hunt” as one of the happiest sonatas, “Waldstein” as one of the most virtuoso ones, and Op. 109 as most tender one. He tells a lot of stories in those sonatas. As I wrote in the past 2 main facts should be examined for studying piano sonatas, one to be the instrument development (pianoforte to modern piano), and another one to be his deafness which transformed his existence. I imagine Beethoven loved new gadget. If he would live in the current era I am sure he would love the technology! So piano development was a big part of Beethoven’s piano composition.

My concert for 3 Beethoven Sonatas will be on Saturday February 16 at 4pm at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena (500 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101) as a part of 3rd@1st Concert Series . I will speak about the pieces and will perform.


A Movie “Capernaum” 1/2/19

January 2, 2019

I saw this movie just before Christmas. “Capernaum” blurs the line between fiction and reality. The performers are not acting. They are real people, like the characters in the movie. The movie is from Lebanon, and directed by Nadine Labaki. The movie starts with the scene which a 12 years old, Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), is in the court suing his own parents for their negligence and abuse. He wanted to sue his parents because he was born, and he wanted his parents to stop having more children. They are not registered. His parents have stayed where they were born, but Zain wanted to change. He has been taking care of his siblings, and he works at the nearby market. He is the one to bring food for the family. His father drinks. Everything is so painful and hopeless. But Zain has a mind and strength to think. The movie received the jury prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2018. It is a very powerful movie. It has been more than a week since I saw this movie, and I still think about it.