English Blog

Piano Studio Recital at Occidental College 12/8/09

December 8, 2009

We had a piano studio recital at Occidental College last night, and I was so happy to hear everyone playing wonderfully! I have 16 students this semester(Please see a photo from last night. One student could not stay til the end, and one student could not participate because of her father’s illness.), and I enjoy working with each student, and seeing their progress. Occidental College is a liberal arts college, not a conservatory. So music study is not competitive. It is to express and to explore their music. Of course if students choose to major in music the situation gets serious, but it won’t be like a conservatory! Our program last night was diverse, from classic composers like Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Granados, Burgmuller, to Tenmon, Spektor, Kahn, Argent, Winston, and Rosenburg (his own jazz composition). One of students sang and played piano. She has a beautiful voice.  Compare to my education, going to an performing arts high school, to B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. , majoring all piano performance, the students at Occidental College explore many areas in their lives during these 4 years, including MUSIC! We have a wonderful “Study Abroad Program”. Some of my students have gone to different countries for a semester or a year. But under this program they don’t n need to delay their graduation. I feel very rewarding to teach students and to discuss about the music and their lives at Occidental College.

Have a wonderful holiday to all of my students and to you!

A Great Cello Day 11/29/09

November 29, 2009

I had a nice day yesterday, writing an article for Japanese Newspaper, practicing piano, doing chores around our house, seeing a good movie, working out at the gym–etc. But the evening was the best part! On the way to play for a cello recital in Long Beach my ears caught a familiar name on KUSC, Desmond Hoebig, a fantastic cellist, a friend of ours from Houston time. He was a principle cellist in Houston Symphony back then. The recording  they played was from May 2008 and it was Dvorak Cello Concerto with Cleveland Orchestra where he was a principle cellist. Oh!! it is not easy to describe how great his playing was! His tone, nuance, rubato, phrasing, vibrate— everything was just right! Of course his technique is perfect! I remember he has long beautiful fingers, and I was imagining the picture of him. My 43 miles drive to Long Beach was so quick listening his cello. I was lucky to listen his live performances in Houston for several times besides the orchestra concerts, and this recording reminded me that he is one of the best cellists in the world. And his comments after the concerto was also very sweet. Bravo, Desmond!!

And I arrived at Daniel Recital Hall at California State University-Long Beach to play with a very talented young (handsome!) cellist, Daniel Smith for his recital. I was pretty much still excited after the radio show. We did the touch-up rehearsal in the hall, and waited for the perfromance. I played with him last year, and this time he had Prayer by Bloch, and Barber Sonata with me, and his solo was Britten Suite No.1. Barber is one of my favorite cello-piano pieces ever! He played so well!! I had a great time making music together. Last time was already very very good, but he got so much better since. When I was playing with him in the first half I was busy, but in the second half I sit down in the audience and listened Britten Solo Suite. It was so powerful and passionate. His tone was beautiful throughout the piece, and he had a great focus in the music. This recital was a fund raising event and I imagine many of the audience were not classic concert regulars. But every single person in the audience was still and captured by his great music making. I am still in shock after his recital. Bravo Bravo, Daniel!

A Movie – An Education 11/28/09

November 29, 2009

I have been curious about this movie, and I had free hours yesterday before the concert SO I went to Playhouse in Pasadena to see it. I forgot the actress’ name, but she is just cute! The story is rather simple, and the script is well-written. I enjoyed the conversation in the movie. But I could not relate to the ending.  That was too easy!  Also accepting David, the actress’ elder (!) boyfriend, by her parents was too easy! How strict they have been to their daughter and how quickly they adapted this un-known elder man for her daughter’s special friend is strange.  I suppose the key was David’s soft spoken skill, but –. I guess they were amused by him as well as their daughter because of his fancy  life style contrast to what they have been doing. It is an enjoyable movie with fun conversation to follow. A+ student got into an unexpected affair with extravagant life, but she turned around quickly and went to Oxford!

Berliner Philharmoniker Concert in LA 11/27/09

November 28, 2009

I went to listen their concert in LA on Tuesday 24. It was the second night of their 2 concerts in LA. It was just amazing, the energy, great sound, fantastic individual playing, wonderful ensemble-. I could tell that everyone in the Disney Hall was listening deeply. The audience was so quiet. I did not hear the coughing and paper noise at all!  Berliner captured us!

The program was Schoenberg/Chamber Symphony No. 1 Op. 9, Brahms/Symphony No. 2, and Wagner/Meistersinger Prelude. Each player seemed playing like solo. Everybody was playing their best of best. The sound was clear and full. And it was great to feel the great relationship between Sir Rattle and musicians. I am sure most of musicians are related to those 3 composers on the concert through their teachers and family. It is a tradition! It is a proud!

I saw many musician friends in the audience and we were so excited to talk about their music making. Berliner filled the Disney Concert Hall with their amazing music. It is still ringing in my ears.

J. S. Bach: Cantata No.106 11/14/09

November 14, 2009

I had a chance to hear this powerful cantata at our church few weeks ago. The performance was fantastic in both instruments and vocals. It was 1st time for me to hear this cantata, and was deeply moved. It is obvious that this piece was written for the funeral, possible for his uncle? The music is beautiful, and especially the text is really deep and hopeful. I chatted with some people in the audience after the performance, and we agreed that we would like to have this music to be played at our funeral. I am not expert of copyright, but I think it should be OK to introduce this text in English below. I think it is hopeful to everyone.

God’s time is the very best time.
In him we live , move and are, so long as he wills.
In him we die at the right time, when he wills.

Ah Lord, teach us to think
that we must die
so that we become wise.

Put your house in order
for you will die
and not remain living.

It is the old covenant:
Man, you must die.

Yes, come, lord Jesus. come!

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, Lord, you faithful God.

Today you will be with me in paradise.
With peace and joy I travel there
in God’s will,
my heart and mind are confident,
peaceful and calm.
As God has promised me:
death has become my sleep

Glory, praise, honour and majesty
be given to you God father and son,
to the holy spirit by name!
God’s strength
make us victorious
through Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Concert by Lang Lang 11/09/09

November 9, 2009

I went to Lang Lang’s concert last night at the Disney Concert Hall. I heard him playing several years ago, and that concert was almost “fingers from hell”  program. He was pretty good with that kind of repertoire. I was impressed by the machine like playing !! I liked Tan Dun’s Eight Memories in Watercolor which is beautiful.

So last night concert consisted different repertoire, 2 Beethoven sonatas, Albeniz-Iberia, Prokofiev-No.7 Sonata. His great advantage from the last concert did not work with those pieces. Actually it went the other way, I think–. It was beyond interesting interpretation! His uniqueness continued throughout the concert. For instance in Beethoven Op. 2 #3 the moment supposed to be crystal clean turned into massive pedal playing. So it became just loud effect. Meaningless accents everywhere, constant loud tapping the floor, over action which made us laugh—-.  Also I was wondering about his right hand–?? Has he injured his right hand?? Because he voiced the left hand so often for no reason, and it seemed to cover the right hand weakness. And finally he played Chopin Etude Op25 #1 for encore, and again he played his left hand so loudly?? I am hoping his hands are OK.

During the concert, I noticed constant noise from the audience, and unfortunately the audience stop clapping right after he disappeared in the backstage before the intermission. But he came back to the stage anyway! I think it means that his music could not hold the audience. Mr. Lang is a very talented pianist so I hope he will find the way to deliver the music to us. And in case his hands are not well, please take care of them.

A Journalist Steve Lopez 11/8/09

November 9, 2009

Steve Lopez came to Occidental College last week to be a speaker. Of course I am a big fan of his articles on LA Times so I went! He spoke mainly about his book, “Soloist”, the story of a homeless/mental illness musician who attended Julliard School of Music when he was young. Mr. Lopez’s curious eyes did not miss Nataniel Ayers who was playing his half broken violin front of Beethoven statue in downtown LA. The story started that moment and grew into relationship between 2 men. I have heard this story from my husband who plays in LA Philharmonic and those 2 men got connected to LA Phil closely later.

He is a great story teller! I enjoyed every moment in his speech last week, and I look forward to reading his articles on the paper. I can’t start my day without opening the paper and smell the ink! Congratulations, Mr. Lopez!

A Movie – Coco before Chanel 10/17/09

October 17, 2009

I have been interested in seeing this movie, and I was so glad to have time to go to the theatre today. I have read about her interesting personality, and I was curious to learn more. This is a French movie, and I love to hear French language. It is beautiful! Through the movie her strong and independent, but very charming personality was the theme.  She created her own style against the big dress & hat  ladies. The movie showed the rural area of French, and it reminded me the time I stayed in a rural part of France about 10 years ago. With my stressful Japanese blood and few years of life experience in America it looked entirely different to me. The way French people spent time, the way they discuss, the way they eat—.  It was so interesting to me! I wish I have another opportunity to go back there.

The movie finished with her big success in Paris. I enjoyed following her thinking, and seeing the beautiful countryside in France.

Murray Perahia Concert in LA 10/15/09

October 17, 2009

I went to Perahia’s Concert last Tuesday at Disney Concert Hall. His repertoire was Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and Chopin. His playing was very refined and thoughtful. In his Schumann “Kinderszenen” I heard his interesting imagination. Each piece has own title, and he showed us his imaginative pictures according to the titles. Chopin Mazurkas were my favorite of that night.  He was having a great fun! I heard that Perahia had some hands problem few years ago. I hope he will be able to continue performing. It was a wonderful concert!

My Love for Cooking and Food 10/12/09

October 13, 2009

I have been always interested in food. One of my college friends from Toho Conservatory in Tokyo, who is a trombone player, told us one night that each dinner is very important because we will eat only about 25,000 dinners for the rest of our lives. We were 20 years old, and that was his estimate. I thought “Oh My Gosh!! That sounds so few occasions–” (of course I thought in Japanese!!) . I have had some undesirable food, but occasionally I have reminded myself about his wisdom.

Food is a big portion of our culture! As a Japanese I always take food as medicine too. Isn’t it great to enjoy your meal and it will became good for your health?? First of all I think it is beneficial to eat many different food a day (we believe 30 different food a day!) because each one has own value. I try to eat little bit of everything! And seasonable vegetable has a strong nutrition. For instance strawberries in summer have better quality than ths ones in winter. At home my breakfast includes brown rice, seaweed soup with anchovies, natto (farmented soy beans!! My husband hates it!),  umeboshi (salty plumes!! again my husband hates it!!), yogurt with topping of granola, soy-powder, sesame-powder, prunes, wheat bran, whole ground flaxseed, and seasonable fruits (often I get oranges and grapefruits from our back yard) , OJ, milk, and green tea. Of course I take little bit of everything. My husband eats cereal, and joins me for the part of Western food!

I love cooking! I love playing with food!  It is nice to hear nice comments from family and friends on my cooking. Cooking is relaxing and creative. I usually don’t follow recipe. I open the fridge and start combining the food. That is fun!

We eat 3 times a day, and it is important to enjoy the food. Also food can be poisonous, and can be healthy. I don’t think it is good to eat “Sugar Free and Fat Free” kind of food all the time because it does not taste good so we eat more or we are not satisfied after eating. And I heard (I don’t have scientific proof) that the process of making caffeine-free coffee is worse than taking caffeine. Well—caffeine exists naturally in many food.

I will cook Salmon with Daikon (fall-winter is the best season to eat Daikon which is Asian white radish) topping, Abura-age & Gan-modoki (kinds of Tofu), sliced seaweed and Daikon stew, brown rice, and potato salad (left over!) for tonight. Fun fun fun–!