Live from Studio A

Libor Ondras has served as the music director of the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra since 2013. He also is a gifted violist, and he will present a recital on Sunday, March 26 as part of the GLCO’s Sunday Series.

 

Live from Studio A – pianist Spencer Myer

Mar 17, 2017
Andrew Le

Piano soloist, Spencer Myer travels the world performing with orchestras, in solo recital and as a chamber musician. He says keeping and open mind and being versatile are keys to having a fulfilling life in music. Myer is in Northern Michigan this week and will be featured on Sunday with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra. He stopped by IPR’s Studio A to share  music and insights into his artistic experiences. 

This Friday, March 17, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will feature performances by the concerto competition winners. Ailun Zheng, a senior from Shanghai, visited IPR's Studio A recently for a performance and conversation.

Music has been part of singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan’s life and career aspiration from her earliest days. The Irish-American musician was born to two Boston-based musicians and spent her summers in Ireland with her cousins.

Jeremy Kittel is a seriously well rounded violinist and musician; he’s a master of classical, jazz, Scottish and Irish fiddle, Bluegrass… you name it, he does it!

Jeremy recently came to Interlochen Arts Academy to work with some students before a Valentine’s concert in Suttons Bay, and brought his bandmates Joshua Pinkham (mandolin) and Quinn Bachand (guitar) with him to Studio A.
(Learn more about the band, and our Studio A visit, by clicking "Read More.")

You've probably listened to some tunes while making dinner - but how often have you based the menu directly on the music? IAA Band Conductor Dr. Matthew Schlomer and Black Star Farms Chef Jonathan Dayton put their heads together for an innovative project that does just that.

"Tone to Table," a collaboration between Interlochen Arts Academy and Black Star Farms, is an upcoming event exploring the connections between food and music - compositional "ingredients" taking on new depth as they relate to one another.

Chef Dayton, along with Black Star's Stephanie Lee Wiitala, came together with Dr. Schlomer to create an event based on the interplay of music and food. On November 20th, diners can experience that exchange, with music provided by IAA, and food by Black Star Farms. The menu has a, "Landscapes," theme, and follows many layers of that idea - everything from outdoor landscapes to landscapes within - what Dr. Schlomer calls, "ideal urges," and, "primal urges."

We were treated to a performance and discussion of those, "primal urges," in Studio A. IAA Flute Instructor Nancy Stagnitta was the soloist, with a group of IAA percussion students (Joshua Pearlmutter, Stephen Karukas, Adriano Macciocchi and Miyu Morita), performing samples of Andre Jolivet's, "Suite en Concert." The piece is based on ancient sounds and ideas - flute and drum are the oldest musical instruments known to man. Chef Dayton discussed how the primal sound and differing textures influenced his dish, from ingredients to  plating.

It was a fun, interesting discussion (we even talked about how Chef Dayton changed a sauce because it was too, "creamy," for its accompanying composition), interspersed with fascinating music, but be warned: it might make you hungry!


Guitarist Bret Hoag (pictured, left) and flutist Jeff Zook (pictured, right) are colleagues and studio neighbors at Oakland University in Detroit. The two started out as mutual admirers, and ended up touring together.

Jeff enjoys finding challenging new arrangements for them to play. Bret enjoys telling Jeff to quit finding pieces written for the piano ("I keep throwing him piano parts," says Jeff, "and he keeps throwing them back."). Somehow, no matter the original instruments, they always come up with something compelling that works for both of them.

Bret and Jeff were in town for an "Around the World," themed concert at the Oliver Art Center, in conjunction with Chamber Music North. They treated us to three pieces Live in Studio A, including a Libby Larsen piece that Jeff performed on a flute d'amore. We discussed its eerie sound, and how the instrument had recently enraptured a group during a performance. "I felt like I just had everyone in the palm of my hand," said Jeff. I told him, "That's why it's called the Flute of Love." He replied, "Exactly, baby!"

Listen to the three pieces, below: the first movement of Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango, the Libby Larsen, and a piece from Enrique Granados originally written for piano, but transcribed for guitar (it seems Bret has a point about that whole piano-pieces-for-guitar thing, there.) 


We had a delightful visit from some of the cast and crew of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City, brightening up a gray and rainy day in Studio A.  The show opened in early October at the Old Town Playhouse, and runs through October 25th. According to the New York Times, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a high-spirited comedy that, "aims to vault over the lines of good taste." 

The cast, and director Perez, were quite pleased with that description, and recommend the show for audiences over 18, but they were kind enough to bring us material that was left us utterly tickled - and reasonably un-scandalized.
 


Enso circles back!

Aug 16, 2014
Maureen Nelson, Richard Belcher, Melissa Reardon and John Marcus
Tim Burke

  The Enso String Quartet has returned to the Interlochen Adult Chamber Music Camp as guest artists-in-residence.  The ensemble’s name is derived from the Japanese Zen painting of the circle, which represents many things: perfection and imperfection, the moment of chaos that is creation, the emptiness of the void, the endless circle of life, and the fullness of the spirit. In addition to teaching during the  camp, Enso gives three recitals over the course of six days.  Still, they found time to drop by IPR's Studio A to perform excerpts from Five Pieces for String Quartet by Erwin Schulhoff.


Four guitars, one great sound!

Aug 14, 2014

  This summer, the Interlochen Arts Camp was once again filled with young artists, actors, writers, dancers, and, oh yes, musicians! Among them, a guitar quartet who paid a visit to IPR's Studio A.  Leonela Alejandro, Ria Modak, Grace Elmer and Luke Sunderland performed Kalimba by Jurg Kindle. For this performance, some of them put cloth under the strings near the guitar bridge to imitate the sound of the kalimba, also known as the "thumb piano".

  

The Cavani String Quartet came to the Interlochen Arts Camp this summer to work with the advanced string quartet program.  While they were on campus, they stopped by IPR's Studio A for a live performance. Here's an excerpt from Midnight Child by Charles G. Washington.  It's based on the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child , and mixes some of the music that Washington heard as he grew up: Gospel, Blues and Swing.


The cast of Broadway's Next Hit Musical was on Interlochen's campus for a show, and brought us a real treat - our first ever entirely improvised Live from Studio A session! Cast members Rebecca Vigil, Rob Schiffman, Rob Grant and Eric March gave us a performance to remember.

Eric, Rebecca, Rob and Rob were great sports, and performed for us at what had to be an ungodly  hour of the morning for them. Since I was the only live person in the audience (a perk of hosting in Studio A!), I got to choose the song title (yay!).   At the end of the interview, please enjoy, "It's Early, and I'm In Love."

After the jump, learn more about BNHM and  hear a BONUS TRACK! - the cast dedicates an ode to IPR Studio A engineer, Brock Morman.
 


Violin Virtuosity: Stanislav Pronin

Jul 8, 2014

Violinist Stanislav Pronin paid a return visit to IPR's Studio A and gave a live performance of Nathan Milstein's challenging, "Paganiniana."  We asked Pronin what attracted him to Nathan Milstein's arrangement of works by Paganini. His answer? "It's just fun to play."

It's also a lot of fun to hear!

Brooklyn Rider takes the idea of the string quartet to a new level.  Already champions of new music and fresh approaches, the Brooklyn, NY-based group stretch the boundaries of the classic quartet, adding unusual instruments and other forms of art to the mix.  In their Studio A session, they treated us to terrific, high-energy performances of, "Doina Oltului," a Roma-inspired piece, and, "Ascending Bird," originally arranged for quartet and Persian Fiddle (kamancheh).
 


Carol Jantsch is known for elevating tuba playing to performance art (she's performed Flight of the Bumblebee in full bee suit and advertised her first tuba CD with a rap video). She is also the first woman to hold a Principal Tuba Chair among major orchestras in the United States (in this case, the Philadelphia Orchestra). Jantsch is at Interlochen this week, teaching the Tuba and Trombone Institute.

Jantsch says she thinks of herself as a musician first, and a tuba player second, and she's interested in playing pieces not originally intended for the tuba.  She visited Studio A with accompanist Ellen Sommer-Bottorf and performed a wonderful rendition of Debussy's, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.  If you think the tuba is nothing more than a background instrument that goes oom-pa-pa - you're in for an elegant surprise.


William VerMeulen has had a life full of connections to Interlochen.  His mother came here to attend Music Camp and play the cello in the 1940's, and later, was a participant in our Adult Chamber Music Camp.  He attended Interlochen as a Camper, and then later, as an Academy Student.  He even worked in food service in the cafeteria, and eventually spent three years as an Academy Horn Instructor.  "I've done," he says, " everything you could do at Interlochen, and now to be back is a thrill."


NMC Choir Director Jeffrey Cobb brought the Canticum Novum ensemble by Studio A for a sneak preview of the group's upcoming concert series.  The twenty-four singers, with pianist Peggy Johnson, performed a warm, spicy and modern tango, "Noche de Lluvia," by Sid Robinovitch.  They then followed up with a jazzified slice of Americana in an arrangement of, "Country Dances," by Ward Swingle.


Jeremy Laureta, Interlochen Senior and Viola major, dropped by Studio A to perform a selection from his recent Senior Recital.  Jeremy performed the balcony scene from Prokofiev's, "Romeo and Juliet." Susan Snyder provided piano accompaniment as Viola professor Renee Skerik listened proudly in the wings. We wish Jeremy all the best as he moves on to his next phase at the Manhattan School of Music!  

 

Chopin's Music Fills Studio A

May 5, 2014
Interlochen Arts Academy senior Grace (Jiyuan) Zhang
Tim Burke

Interlochen Arts Academy senior Grace (Jiyuan) Zhang recently visited IPR's Studio A to perform the third and fourth movements of Frederick Chopin's Piano Sonata in B-flat minor, Opus 35.   The third movement (known as the Funeral March) was written as Chopin's native Poland was being invaded.  Grace says "it was written for generations - for a country." Grace will continue her studies at the University of Michigan beginning this fall.

The spirit of collaboration is alive and well with Interlochen's upcoming New Opera Project.  Interlochen composing students worked in tandem with faculty and performers to create scenes for new operas.  The Parallel45 Production company came on board to produce, and the operas will make their world premieres at the Inside Out Gallery in Traverse City.

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