Archive for November, 2009

Classical Newcomer Writes Book On Bach Cello Suites

Head Yet To Implode

by: Colin Oettle

The Cello Suites
Eric Siblin, a pop music critic whose classical education is wanting at best, shares his take on Bach’s six cello suites in his book “The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece.” The book is the result of Siblin’s pseudo-obsessive exploration into the six suites, despite an overall unfamiliarity with Bach and classical music in general.

Siblin was inspired by the same Casals recording that brought the suites into the spotlight of cello literature, and he begins the book with an attempt to shed light on what NY Times writer Janet Maslin identifies as the suites’ “elusiveness.” Bach’s intentions are still murky, as the alternate tuning required by some movements suggests the works may not have been written for cello. Or if they were, that the outliers among the suites do not belong in the same collection that modern musicians have come to accept as an indisputable volume.
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Exclusive Interview With Bridgid Bibbens

Here We Go Again

by: Ian

WOW! What a fun interview. I have got to say that it was truly a blast to shoot this one! As soon as I walked into the Wood Violin workshop and saw Bridgid sporting a Whitesnake t-shirt, and a spiked belt with a Viper axe under her arm, I knew this was going to be a trip.

In this Sound Post exclusive interview, “Go-To-Girl” of Wood Violins, Bridgid Bibbens, sits down with Ian to talk about how she transformed from being a school strings teacher to violin-rockstar and spokesperson for the Electrify Your Strings program. EYS is a string education initiative founded by Mark Wood, and it is quickly sweeping the nation.

Bridgid also details the process of making one of Mark Wood’s famous Viper instruments (and then proceeds to rock out with a familiar tune from Liverpool, England).
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Pianist Pascal Roge Is Definition Of Classy

Class Act of the Day

by: Ian

Pascal Roge with wife Ami

It’s good to see that some people are already getting into the holiday spirit!

When Scott Freck, the general manager of the North Carolina Symphony made the call to virtuoso pianist, Pascal Rogé, to inform him of their inability to honor his contract for a performance of the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos because of financial constraints, he was more than likely ready for a verbal beat-down, or at the least a serious case of embarrassment.

What he didn’t expect, was Rogé offering not only to play the concert for free, but also to bring his wife, Ami Rogé, to play alongside him.
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Unfinished Debussy Operas Based On Poe Stories are Premiered

by: Colin Oettle

Opera comany Opéra Français de New York, in conjunction with the French Institute Alliance Française, presented two single-act operas that were left unfinished by French composer Claude Debussy. The two works are based on the Edgar Allan Poe stories “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Devil in the Belfry.”

According to NY Times writer Anthony Tommasini, the existing music for both operas, incomplete sketches included, was not enough to fill even an hour. So, the program was fleshed out with four songs and a piano prelude. Tommasini says that the show, called “Debussy and Poe,” still captured the dark, macabre exploration that Debussy intended for the works. Of course, listeners were probably unable to avoid the obvious question: what if Debussy had completed them?

For the complete performance review read the NY times here.

SOB Of The Day: Cameron Poole

Wife kicks him out of house

by: Ian

File this one under the SOB of the day…

Cameron Poole, now the former financial director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra is facing charges of embezzling £560,000 (roughly $936,000) from the ensemble to fund his rock-star lifestyle for the last four years.

It is thought that the money has gone towards everything from holiday vacations, clothing, antiques (including a set of £4,000 candlesticks… really?), to upgrades to his £900,000 home outside of London.
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Introducing The Fluid Piano

Pianists strike planned

by: Ian

As if our friends on the keys didn’t have enough on their plates…

Composer Geoff Smith, has just completed what is being described as the “world’s first multicultural acoustic piano”, and it is called the Fluid Piano. At first sight, it looks similar to a western fortepiano, but a closer inspection reveals a complex system of tuning slides which allow performers to access a wide variety of scales. Did I mention that they can do this adjusting on the fly?
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Handel’s Messiah: A Glorious History


by: Colin Oettle

The Smithsonian recently ran an excellent piece in which author Jonathan Kandell provides historical insight into Handel’s life and the conception of his greatest work: The Messiah.

Originally intended for Easter, Handel’s Messiah is now as synonymous with the Christmas season as egg nog and pfeffernüsse. Handel composed the work in only four grueling weeks between August and September 1741, with the text having been prepared by librettist Charles Jennens in July. Still conscious of his works’ lukewarm reception the previous season, however, Handel sought to test the Messiah on a booming European city whose wealthy elite would likely mirror the response of audiences in London. So he premiered the Messiah in Dublin the following year.
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Mark O’Connor Releases New String Method Books

Suzuki teachers can come out from hiding, it’s safe

by: Ian

Famed American fiddler Mark O’Connor has just released the first two installments of his new string method entitled The Mark O’Connor Violin Method. Savvy teachers will quickly find many similarities with the popular Suzuki Method.

Progressive repertoire, heavy emphasis on listening, and the sequential introduction of new techniques are all pedagogical practices which were first brought into mainstream string education by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. His method’s followers will be happy to see that O’Connor’s system has been largely based upon these principles. During an interview with Laurie Niles, editor of, O’Connor acknowledges the similarities between Suzuki’s method and his own:

“I patterned my method after some of the great methods out there, especially Suzuki, because they introduced very young people to a sequence of tunes. That’s something that is also inherent in folk music learning, too.”
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