Alessandro Deljavan is a uniquely gifted pianist

Sometimes winners of piano competitions are not true messengers of great musical artistry. They might succeed in pleasing a panel of judges who often reward interpretive conformity and convention bundled in pyrotechnical displays, bestowing the Gold medal upon the least offending contender. Yet such a career launch may be short-lived once the round-by-round environment is no longer a convenient safety net. A truly creative musician must ultimately emancipate himself from a competitive framing and develop an unbridled, form of individual expression.

Alessandro Deljavan is one of the few young pianists of his generation whose participation in the renowned Cliburn Competition brought singular adulation from audiences far and wide, but did not attach a Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal. His BIGGER THAN LIFE talent, LIVE-STREAMED from Fort Worth, Texas, in 2009 and 2013, drew a chorus of praise from pianists, teachers, and listeners around the world who enthusiastically mouse-clicked their way to his scheduled offerings. Yet, when the Italian pianist did not make the Finals, global sighs of outrage were funneled into Discretionary honors that would not soften international waves of disappointment.

Fort Worth arts critic, Gregory Sullivan and others summed up the reaction to Deljavan’s playing during the course of the Cliburn rounds:

“Deljavan’s performance was revelatory in every respect. Everyone in the hall knew that they were hearing something special-something wonderful from the very first notes. At the end, the spontaneous eruption of cheers was so different from the perfunctory ovation that any decent performance is awarded, that being part of the thrilled crowd was a unique experience in itself.”

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It’s no surprise that Deljavan is a virtuoso and poet of the piano without needing the rubber stamp of Competition juries. (Yet, he’s amassed a generous serving of first place awards at International concours)

With a mellifluous singing tone, deft technique, and immaculate phrasing, his deeply probing art serves the music and composer.

(I must admit to having shed tears listening to this Concerto excerpt) Deljavan’s riveting emotional connection to a score comes through in all style periods.

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I had a rare opportunity to converse with Alessandro who was in the Silicon Valley area (CA) performing chamber music with violinist, Daniela Cammarono, and cellist, Eugene Lifschitz. The group will showcase the works of Beethoven and Brahms at the School of Music and Arts at Finn Center, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View, CA. Sunday, April 16th, 2017 at 3 p.m. Otherwise Deljavan is jet-setting around the world giving concerts to appreciative audiences.

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Alessandro shared his thoughts about the role of chamber music in the development of a pianist, along with providing a profile of his earliest exposure to the piano, journeying into the present.

LINKS:

Deljavan’s OFFICIAL WEBSITE: (Click “MEDIA” for more performance samples)

http://alessandrodeljavan.welltempered.com

Discography:

http://alessandrodeljavan.welltempered.com/#discography


from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/alessandro-deljavan-is-a-uniquely-gifted-pianist/

Keeping up our skills as piano teachers, with an “eye” to taking on challenges

I couldn’t resist juxtaposing the importance of learning new and challenging music with an “eye” toward how we can best accomplish our short and long-term goals within our teaching milieu. (The EYE metaphor becomes CLEARER and dual serving as the posting progresses.)

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So many music teachers have a tight schedule of back-to-back students that precludes personal musical development. They’re caught in a tight squeeze, trying their best to keep up with the repertoire assigned to pupils, with the painful knowledge that they could use more than a spoonful of time to more deeply probe a Bach Fugue or a Beethoven Sonata movement.

Yet by not specifically setting aside daily periods for serious practicing, teachers are short-changing themselves and their students.

In my own professional development, I’ve been focusing on the J.S. Bach French Suites these past months– an undertaking sparked by an Online pupil in North Carolina who wanted to study the Allemande from French Suite No. 4 in E-flat BWV 814. Because I’d never worked on this particular movement, or the whole Suite No.4, I felt compelled to immerse myself deeply in the music so I could more effectively mentor the student. Otherwise, I would have been “winging it” without much depth.

The Allemande project led me to a set of independent discoveries within the total volume of French Suites. At first, I was drawn to movements that Murray Perahia had previewed in his you tube trailers where he covered all 6 of the French Suites. The last one in E Major caught my “eye” because it had an enchanting Courante and Bourree which I’d first explored before committing myself to a thorough study of the whole work.

(Without a doubt, the Sarabande proved to be a heart throb)

Perahia will play the French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817 during his appearance at Davies Hall, Sunday, April 25th. My pre-immersion in this composition will have deepened my understanding and subsequent revisit. It will keenly benefit my teaching on many introspective levels so the next student who embarks upon this work, will have the advantage of my intensified relationship to it.

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An ongoing French Suite journey has brought even more musical growth opportunities. Sarabande from French Suite No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812,is a tender love note, filled with sadness that demands a sustained mood of pathos and tenderness.

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But my biggest learning challenge is embodied in the Gigue from French Suite No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812.

Upon first glance, the Gigue looked like an uphill climb with its complex rhythms and crossover voices from hand to hand. In fact, when I tapped into Perahia’s Trailer on this very D minor Suite which ends with a snatch of the Gigue, I realized it was DIFFERENT from all others I had encountered in Bach’s collection: The Gigue from French Suite in G Major, BWV 816 was one I had previously learned when a student asked to study it. In 12/16 time, it has the characteristic mood and motion associated with a Bach GIGUE while the D minor is a cut time (2/2), “triple fugue,” according to Perahia–a revelation that was invaluable to my assimilation of this work from the ground up.

In the first few days of my exploration, I knew tackling this Gigue would ignite a significant growth spurt–the kind that I welcome in my musical evolution. A triple fugue, with its internal complexity, was a big serving that required meticulous voice parceling and thoughtful, painstaking fingering decisions. (The internal trills and ornaments compounded the complex rhythmic overlay that I characterized in totality, as “a cow.”)

In a companion email to my students, I shared the agony and the ecstasy of my journey, putting an emphasis on this very COW aspect of my learning adventure. These pupils know by this time that I’m always looking for ways to notch up my skills, hoping my efforts will trickle down to their individual musical travels. The collaboration, we collective realize, is a two-way growth process.

Finally, with an EYE to taking these big leaps in our musical excursions, and making challenging opportunities for ourselves along the way, I conclude with what may seem to be a mix-and-match ADD-On. It suggests a FOCUS that we should be made aware of in our own playing and that of our pupils.

The attached video provides food for thought, suggesting a discussion about how we absorb, play, read, and retain music when sitting at the piano bench. It certainly factors into our whole creative learning process and how we shape our development as pianists and teachers.


from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/keeping-up-our-skills-as-piano-teachers-with-an-eye-to-taking-on-challenges/

Piano repertoire: Review and Refresh

Striking a balance between learning new pieces and keeping a connection to older ones, requires a commitment to well-parceled, organized practice time. It presents a challenge that invites a particular focus on preserving familiarity with repertoire that can easily slip into obscurity during months or years of neglect. As time passes, tactile estrangement grows.

A review and refresh approach can therefore morph into Repeal and Replace if older compositions had been incompletely learned or prematurely abandoned. In their resuscitation, they will need additional fingering adjustments, introspective harmonic analysis, phrasing revisions, and altered practice routines. Oldies, on the other hand, that had enjoyed embryonic growth to full development in layered stages, will experience a smoother transitional review with the added crossover effect of simultaneous, infused NEW repertoire exposure.

In short, a harmony of new and older pieces in a reciprocal developmental relationship, will enrich a musical journey.

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One of my adult students, who appreciates the review process and its enduring musical value, requested a reconnection with Schumann’s “Of Foreign Lands and Peoples,” Kinderszenen 1, Op. 15. When I suggested a first step parceling of voices, with a plan to permute them in various combinations as we had done before, the task became daunting. Yet such a roadblock simply meant that although the pupil’s initial learning experience had been thorough and layered, a revisit might take a bit longer, requiring a dose of patience and self-compassion.

Second and third reviews of a piece over time, help solidify learning gains and insights, making retrievals less cumbersome and quite natural. In addition, a REVIEW having been built on a solid foundation, even if shaky in the early phase of re-exposure, will attach a deeper understanding of structural, harmonic and affective dimensions in the RETURN.

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In a video summary of ingredients attached to a Kinderszenen 1 Review, I drew upon the tenets of the original approach that added a few epiphanies.

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In a separate, “new” learning journey undertaken by a student, (Beethoven, Adagio Cantabile, Sonata Pathetique in C minor, Op. 13), a voice-parceling approach, comparable to that which applied to Kinderszenen 1, is valuable in the PRESENT, while it’s equally beneficial for a future revisit.


from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/piano-repertoire-review-and-refresh/

The Benefits of Piano Lessons for the Aging student

Despite the raging battle on Capitol Hill over health care legislation that threatened the loss of insurance to millions if enacted, a particularly vulnerable population of SENIORS engaged in music study, found sanctuary in a daily connection to the piano. Their “escape” to a universe of loving immersion became a mental prompt at the start of many long distance lessons. With a redirection of anger and frustration into expressive keyboard channels, these “aging” pupils braved a difficult transition of power in Washington (D.C.) without skipping a beat.

From my hub in Liberal, activist Berkeley, while imparting instruction to a Kentuckian at the polar opposite end of the political spectrum, a common musical journey was forged that neutralized our differences within the safe boundaries of a Beethoven Adagio (Sonata Pathetique) As a result, a rapprochement played out despite a house pet’s intrusion upon our conciliatory moments.

The following week, a “Make America Great” Trump rally moved into Louisville, triggering a lesson cancellation and temporary feelings of ill will.

Yet the fleeting relapse of relations was offset by Ludwig’s signature outpouring that promoted an enduring peace over the long haul.

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Musical sublimation to new heights of distraction from Fake News and attendant political shenanigans, are not the only benefits of piano study among the over 60 set. Tenacious seniors are awakened to improvements in short and long-term memory as a direct result of a carefully built, layered learning foundation that’s composed of baby step advances.

Decisions and trials related to fingering, for example, tease neurotransmitters out of passivity, creating new “connections” that can have long-lasting effects–that is, if students stimulate them on a daily basis. For seasoned music travelers who fall into the advanced level category, analyses of a J.S. Bach Fugue within the woven texture of interactive voices, is equal to a brain massage generating convolutions to the exponential. Even mapping cadences, dynamic shifts, and noting rudimentary phrase markings, spark neurological gains that carry over from the practice room to life’s many diverse activities.

A cognitive/affective/kinesthetic triad imbued in consistent MINDFUL practicing demands riveted concentration that chases away demons of fuzzy recall and forgotten names of friends who elude aging adults at the supermarket. In a struggle to make word associations in order to retrieve “tip-of-tongue” identities of concerts attended a few months back, or to dredge up the latest telecommunication breach on the Do Not Call list, tenacious, returning-to-the-piano seniors are thankfully assured that the piece placed on the piano rack is the one assigned to them from the previous week. This is a harbinger of promise, since a new composition that has acquired a sacred status among those those previously tossed aside prematurely, will survive any *abortive attempts.
(*Right to Life, or Choice partisans, notwithstanding)

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In conjunction with a senior’s committed regimen of quality keyboard explorations, many self-labeled “troopers,” will exercise their mind and body away from the piano, in healthful walks, or forays to the local gym.

(“Gym…for the body machine…and Music for the soul is a good Duet.”)–Comments attached by a Facebook friend.

In fact, social interactions in a musical context can transpire in chance meetings on the Yoga mat or in the locker room.

By way of a personal anecdote, I bumped into a NYC High School of Performing Arts (“P.A.”) grad, class of 1958 (a bit before my time), who shot the breeze at the Downtown ‘Y’- forgetting my name only the second time we met at the Gravitron. I returned the fuzzy favor at our third serendipitous encounter by the Universal Gender rest room. She happened to be looking for an able technician to tune and regulate her C3 Yamaha grand, so in a blink, I tapped into my memory bank with rhyme scheme assistance, and retrieved the name of one surviving practitioner who broke a chain of plundering assaults on my Steinway.

Upon my fourth run-in with the “P.A. alum at the Pull-Up machine, she had voiced gratitude for my sterling referral, but couldn’t quite remember the fellow’s name or what he did. In response, I urged her to practice more regularly given the activity’s benign crossover effect on her brain and memory function.

(For most seniors, the cardiovascular effects of a Mindful focus, with attendant respiratory benefits, are enough to draw them back to the piano bench with alacrity and enthusiasm. It’s a no brainer!)

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The Aging piano student and Isolation

Loneliness, an associated cause of unhappiness in the life of a senior, is positively addressed in the sphere of music study. Students far and wide, not only find a human “connection” to the music of Masters, but they often join Piano Clubs to share their love for music. One of my pupils from Edinburgh who relishes the quality of her retirement, is eager to brief me on her latest play date in the convivial community environment of kindred pianists of all levels. Apparently, they listen with empathy and affection, creating enduring bonds that spill over into the Internet transmitted lesson environment. Dreaded “nerves” that might have been a curse in a former life, seem to diminish with each experience of benevolent camaraderie. And it’s worth mentioning, that some retirees, still on detox from grilling, pressure-cooker corporate work environments find relief in an amateur music-making milieu.

Finally, the perks of studying the piano as we age are part of the totality of a life committed to beauty and personal nourishment. In pursuing creative development through patient, graduated steps of musical discovery, seniors become more OXYGENATED and alert, with a renewed appreciation for the bonds they make with friends and family during their reluctant breaks from the keyboard.

LINKS:

“The Relation Between Instrumental Musical Activity and Cognitive Aging”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354683/

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Oliver Sachs: Thoughts about music and Alzheimer’s disease/Dimentia

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Recommended:

Musicophelia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sachs
https://www.amazon.com/Musicophilia-Tales-Music-Revised-Expanded/dp/1400033535


from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/the-benefits-of-piano-lessons-for-the-aging-student/

Farewell Talisker Players

Some sad news from Toronto – Musical Toronto reports that Talisker Players will be ceasing operations at the end of the concert season. For 17 seasons, Talisker Players has been a leading proponent of vocal chamber music, and has commissioned 30 works since 1999. From the Musical Toronto article:

“With an organization like this, they do have a lifespan… and eventually you feel as though you’ve done what you’ve wanted to do,” said Talisker Players Artistic Director Mary McGeer in a phone interview. “The close of our season in May 2017 seems like the right moment to move on, to explore new horizons, and to embrace new projects.” 

McGeer clarified that the decision was not related to any financial difficulty, and the Talisker Players were proud to end operations with “an unbroken record of balanced budgets.”

A few videos that show the kind of material that Talisker excels at: a magnificently bearded Doug MacNaughton is joined by James McLennan in Flanders & Swann’s The Hippopotamus Song:

Tenor James McLennan, clarinetist Peter Stoll, and pianist Peter Longworth perform Leslie Uyeda’s Radishes, with words by Lorna Crozier:


Talisker’s final show will be A Mixture of Madness on May 16 and 17 at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre at 427 Bloor Street West.


from The Collaborative Piano Blog
http://collaborativepiano.blogspot.com/2017/03/farewell-talisker-players.html

Should You Be Dressing Down?

In many of the schools of music that I’ve visited in the last while, there’s a lot of dressing down going on. Has anyone else noticed this?

Tyler Cowan (of the highly influential Marginal Revolution) writes in Business Insider about the practice of marking status through countersignaling:

Countersignaling is when you go out of your way to show you don’t need to go out of your way. The boss doesn’t have to wear a tie or even dress up. 

If he did, that would suggest he had something to prove, which would be a negative rather than a positive impression 

The next step is that the vice presidents also don’t have to dress up, and soon enough most of the company doesn’t have to dress up.

This is all very groovy, but what do you do if you’re a recent graduate working in the music profession and you want to get ahead? It’s not so simple. Tyler continues:

If you’re 24 years old and looking to get ahead, it can be tougher.   

There isn’t such a simple way to visually demonstrate you are determined to join the ranks of the upwardly mobile. Looking smart on “casual Friday” may get you a better date, but the boss will not sit up and take notice. In other words, a culture of the casual is a culture of people who already have achieved something and who already can prove it. It is a culture of the static and the settled, the opposite of Tocqueville’s restless Americans….

…The young and ambitious really can set themselves apart from the slackers, even if doing so looks conformist and stifling when multiplied and observed on a larger scale. Societies of upward mobility, when based on large and growing business enterprises, look and feel somewhat oppressive. Much as many of us might not want to admit it, the casual and the egalitarian are closer to enemies than to allies.

But I suppose it never hurts to slightly overdress for a professional occasion, even if it marks you as being one of the over-ambitious ones.


from The Collaborative Piano Blog
http://collaborativepiano.blogspot.com/2017/03/should-you-be-dressing-down.html