Piano Arts in Netarts

 

I recently returned from Netarts on the Oregon Coast for Piano Arts in Netarts, Where Music Meets the Sea,  a workshop orchestrated by Dr. Jill Timmons, of Arts Mentor.

I joined about forty other pianists from Oregon, Washington, and California for a weekend of continuing education, beautiful music, friendship, renewal, and stunning scenery.

All  events took place in the fire hall of Netarts, a lovely community style meeting space. We enjoyed  a concert size Bösendorfer and a concert size Yamaha for the concerts and classes, courtesy of Classic Pianos of Portland.

The weekend kicked off with a Friday evening viola/piano concert in the fire hall featuring Jill Timmons and Laura Klugherz .  This fabulous duo played works from the likes of Bréval, Grignon, Ponce, Schubert, Bernstein, and Gershwin, to name a few.  Community members and workshops participants filled the concert space.

The following day began gently with body work, specifically, Feldenkrais, led by Laura Klugherz.  We then jumped into a full schedule of master classes.  The classes highlighted  nine different performers including soloists, a four hand duo (at one piano)  and two duos playing two pianos.

For those  scratching their head about the meaning of a master class, here’s a short explanation. A master class includes a small group of performers,  in our case, all professional musicians and a master teacher.   Each performer plays a prepared  work, and then, the master teacher digs into work and the performance. She addresses  body position, articulations, tempo, pedaling,  dynamics, expression,  phrasing, music history, performance anxiety, and everything in between! It’s like a lesson, but the lesson unfolds in front of forty people.

As a master class performer, I can tell you, the experience is exhilarating, humbling, educational, scary, and a joyful, all at the same time. For our series of  master classes, the repertoire ranged from the  Baroque period  to a work from the late 20th Century.  Each performer and duo managed to add unique pieces and pianistic challenges to the mix.  The repertoire included works from Hilary Tann, Albénez, Chopin, Charles Wakefield Cadman (my contribution), Debussy, and Lutoslawaski.

The following day started  with body work, this time, a yoga class led again by Laura.  The morning workshop addressed practicing effectively,  the afternoon presentation taught us about the inner workings of the piano. We wrapped up the weekend with a community concert presented by  the master class performers.

Of course, in between sessions, we socialized, shared some fantastic meals, visited some local watering holes, and walked around the charming town of Netarts.

Upon reflecting on the weekend and my dedication to continuing education until my very last day on this beautiful earth, I think of the following  quote by Seymour Bernstein.  “Music speaks concordantly to a troubled world, dispelling loneliness and discontent, it’s voice discovering in it those deep recesses of thought and feeling where truth implants itself.  Music offers no quarter for compromise, no excuses, no subterfuge, no shoddy workmanship.”

 Dr. Jill Timmons, director of the festival,  my mentor and friend,  teaches us to practice with full availability of self and also teaches us to give up the idea of perfection in performing. Performing, after all,  is a temporal experience.  She reminds us,  “Perfection only exists in our imagination. We are perfectly imperfect!” 

 

 

 

Heart and Place

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What Wondrous Love WAV (Traditional Folk Hymn)
I’m delighted  to announce the launch of a new program, Heart and Place: Stories of the Westward Expansion told through music and narrative.  This project feels like coming home, as I grew up in rural Montana.  Choteau, Montana, to be precise, population 1800.
My early music experiences in that small town and have fueled my career as a music educator/ musician.  Some of those experiences include  singing in choirs, playing in band, studying piano, playing for church, acting in musicals, and to driving to the next small town for voice lessons. This program brings it all home.
I’ll be launching the program in Seattle on Oct. 14 and will be taking it to Montana to perform at the CM Russell Museum Oct. 26, 7:00, as well as several Great Falls area schools.
 The story of the West is epic, and while I cannot focus on everything,  I’ve chosen certain aspects to highlight including the music of the Overland Trail, the early frontier settlements, and the  Northern Cheyenne Courting Flute as taught to me by Jay Old Mouse of Busby, Montana. The performance includes solo piano music, singing, guitar, and demonstrations on the fiddle and the Northern Cheyenne Courting Flute.

“COURAGE IS BEING SCARED TO DEATH, BUT SADDLING UP ANYWAY.”   ― JOHN WAYNE

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Swimming

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Yesterday, my fellow early morning  lap swimmers  and I had our end of the summer breakfast which marks the end of another summer season of outdoor swimming. We’ll head indoors for the fall and the winter.  I swim three days a week at 6:00 am, it’s a great energetic start to the day.

Swimming, like music, has been a constant companion ever since I can remember. I spent many happy summers swimming on the Choteau Swim Team.  (I’m first row on the right in the picture above, I think I’m about 8 or 9.)  In college, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor and after college, I  became a certified diver when I was working on cruise ships in the Caribbean.  That seems a lifetime ago! Now, I’m an early morning lap swimmer and swim mom.

My daughter, entering high school, just made the Roosevelt High School varsity swim team.  Way to go, Ruby!   She’s much faster than I ever was!  She’s also a water polo player, because these swimmers just can’t get enough time in the water.

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We should all find something we  love and keep doing it, like swimming, like music! Today’s post, an arrangement of REM’s Night Swimming.

Here’s the original, a gorgeous song by REM from Automatic for the people:

 

More swimming love! Here’s the ever inspirational, awesome  Michael Phelps in an Under Armour Commercial.

You Won’t Be The Same After Watching Michael Phelps’ New Under Armour Ad

 

Like a Sunflower

Mammoth Sunflower in Laura's Garden

Mammoth Sunflower in Laura’s Garden.         Photo by Joe Sweeney

After a glorious Seattle summer full of hiking, swimming, time with friends and family, gardening, weekend trips, a week long music residency in Fife, a speaking engagement in Eastern Washington, home improvements and relaxing, it’s time to settle into the rhythm of the fall.

The fall rhythm includes balancing family and home responsibilities with a full teaching schedule (32 private students), daily practice, booking concerts and residencies for 2015 and beyond, and mapping out goals for the year. I’ve got performance trips to Mexico and Alaska on the books for 2015, and am working on completing my second recording, Women With a Past, before the end of this year.

Like this glorious, gigantic sunflower in my front garden, which started from a tiny seed, I’m planning on aiming high and encouraging my students to do the same!

 

Visit Joe Sweeney at: http://sweeneyfit.wordpress.com