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And now a word to the wise from Joni...

June 29th, 2018 at 4:25 pm

"You know the times you impress me most,

are the times when you don't try.  

When you don't even try."

                                                                                 - From the song Woman of Heart and Mind

God how I love that line!  

Tags: personalreflection


You Want Drama......?

June 16th, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Then I'll give you drama.  I have entered four of my songs from the Musical Hail Mary in the competition for the Fred Ebb Award.  They are all relentlessly dramatic:

Historical Events (We're the VIP's), Queen Elizabeth the first’s spymaster and Mary Stuart’s nemesis William Cecil tries to bend Mary Stuart’s ambassador to England’s loyalties against Mary by seducing him with the duplicitous manipulations and ruthless prerogatives of power.

Sinners in the Eyes of an Angry God, This is the closing song of Act I.  Mary Stuart has an audience with John Knox (her other nemesis) who has been slandering her mercilessly as an unrepentant sinner to convince him to cease his inflammatory self-righteous oratory from the pulpit.  Knox, true to form responds with his own brand of bigoted, narrow minded, hellfire and brimstone, life hating nastiness.

Surrender, Mary Stuart and her entourage are waylaid and kidnapped by Lord Bothwell, the man who is to become Mary’s third and last husband.  It is essentially a love song sung when Mary and Bothwell are alone and signals Mary’s vulnerability and acquiescence to Bothwell’s overtures after her many prior painful disappointments with love.

and Moving On (Again), Final Song of the play – Constantly having to move on, staying one step ahead of danger and betrayal is a theme of Mary Stuart’s life as she prepares to escape from her first period of captivity with the help of a sixteen year old youth ending the play on a positive note.

Results are due in  November.  Meanwhile, this summer I will be looking for other play submission opportunities.  Stay tuned!



Tags: musicandartnews


Back Cove Festival performance and Student Kudos

June 2nd, 2018 at 2:55 pm

I performed the first three episodes of my composition A Distant Shore at the Portland Conservatory of Music's Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival on May 19th which garnered consistently positive feedback.  Unfortunately there were no members of the press present to write a review of the Saturday night concert.

Sincere congratulations to all my students who participated in the student recitals in May.  The performances were truly outstanding, reflecting hours of preparation and demonstrating great promise for the future.  As we ease into a more relaxed summer pace, I would also like to acknowledge the team efforts everyone made during the past school year which resulted in meaningful progress and the joy and satisfaction of making music.  

And finally, thanks to my students for helping me to constantly sharpen my teaching skills!


Tags: musicandartnews


A Distant Shore Performance May 19th

April 26th, 2018 at 4:05 pm

On May 19th I will perform the first three episodes of A Distant Shore:  A Narrative for Piano in Five Episodes at a concert of the Back Cove Contermporary Music Festival in Portland, Maine.  Here's the story behind it....

2018 is my third appearance at the Back Cove Festival.  The last one was in 2010 because from 2010 to 2016 I lived for 72 months in Silicon Valley.  I lived, taught piano and composed in Menlo Park, the home of Facebook.  I taught in Palo Alto across the street from the Stanford campus.  I taught in Cupertino across the street from Apple's corporate headquarters surrounded on all sides by the Apple campus buildings.  I taught composition to a Google engineer from Sweden and played Gershwin at a lunchtime concert on the Google campus.

I played my compositions at school recitals in Mountain View and Santa Clara, and played jazz in San Francisco and San Jose.  There were 300 days of sunshine a year but somehow it felt like sugar coating on a bitter pill.

A Distant Shore is best understood as the story of a journey home.  It starts with being stuck in a technological world and moves relentlessly towards a world informed by the human heart.  

A Distant Shore made it to the semi finals of the American Prize Composition Competition in the Chamber Music category.  Not a prize winner, but as author Norman Mailer once observed, part of a writer's lot is to paper the walls with rejection slips.

Tags: musicandartreflection


So what's new?

April 7th, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I just completed the final rewrite of my second musical Hail Mary about Mary, Queen of Scots which was originally written in 2004-5.  I cut the number of songs down to the 16 strongest numbers, and streamlined the script with two goals in mind.  The first was to be able to feel the drama in every line.  The second was for every line of dialogue to flow and crackle with energy.  Following these two criteria resulted in a much tighter production.   

The lesson?  Sometimes it takes a distance of 10+ years after the creation of a new work to objectively see what needs to be done to improve it.  My next step is to submit Hail Mary for consideration by the American Academy of Arts and Letters: Richard Rodgers Awards.  The music from Hail Mary is now available on the Products page of this website.

On the piano side of things I recently added Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G Minor to the mix of pieces I am working on.  It's a great piece and fun to play.

Tags: musicandartnews


Shifting Gears and Thinking Small

March 30th, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Okay.  So if you've read any recent entries in this blog you know some of my views on this topsy turvy world and it looks like nothing is going to improve any time soon.  Since the Parkland student shootings, donations to the NRA have tripled, a subsquent school shooting in Maryland was largely ignored, and a young man was shot to death by police in his backyard for threatening them with a cell phone.  It all makes great sense, right? 

So now it's time to bring it on home.  My boat is leaving the dock of a world that seems to thrive on confusion and turmoil.  I have watched these same issues crop up for decades and it seems that humankind is determined not to learn anything from the past.  Social media has taken the place of social engagement and it seems that Huxley's Brave New World is upon us without our even realizing it. 

So, in the words of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song Wooden Ships:


"Silver people on the shoreline, let us be.

We are leaving.  You don't need us....

....And its a fair wind blowin' warm out of the south over my shoulder.

Guess I'll set a course and go."


It turns out that some of the least important things in the world's view are the most important to me.

Tags: personalreflection


And the great disconnect continues....

February 16th, 2018 at 6:37 pm

And now, tragically, 17 more people were killed in the latest school shooting in Florida on Feb. 14th, 2018.  Americans are killing americans, doing our enemy's work for them.  And how did the stock market react to this event?  It rose by 306 points! 

I am not saying there is necessarily a correlation here, but the circumstantial evidence seems to say that our collective conscience ends at our collective wallet.  I would further venture to say that until our financial markets feel the pain the rest of us feel from events like this, the carnage will continue.

As of this moment, all we're getting is lip service.

Tags: worldreflection


Two for the record books

February 9th, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Has America lost its mind and its soul?  How is it that on October 2nd, 2017 the day after the Las Vegas massacre, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, the stock market hit a new record high?  Talk about a disconnect! 

Tags: worldreflection


A tale told by an idiot...

February 9th, 2018 at 4:47 pm

American government now rests on the four pillars of blame, insults, threats and lies.  In the immortal words of Shakespeare, "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Tags: worldreflection


.....As good as his word

January 29th, 2018 at 3:52 pm

If it's true that a man is only as good as his word, what does that say about our current president?

Tags: worldreflection


The Fruit of Our Expectations

January 19th, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Much unnecessary unhappiness comes from the mistaken belief that the world owes us something.  This is especially true at the holidays.  Although rituals are an important part of human life, it is much better to let our experiences unfold without expectations and allow them to be what they are in the unique circumstances of the present, rather than what they were in the past.

Tags: personalreflection


Time to get your man pants on!

January 4th, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Okay.  So it's been a year since my last entry. Time to move on and augment my stoic resistance with an effort to breathe life back into the areas where I have the ability to do that.  I can fully and humbly accept that what I do, feel and think are almost totally irrelevant to the world at large, but the people getting the lion's share of the world's attention are sucking all the air out of the room.

And oh yeah....  Happy New Year!

Tags: personalreflection


Capitalism trumps Democracy

December 28th, 2016 at 10:38 pm

Forget Love trumps Hate because capitalism has trumped democracy.  That's the real issue.   And how can anyone ever believe it when someone tells them that every vote counts when in 2016 there were 3,000,000 people whose votes didn't count.... 

Go figure.

Tags: #everyvotecounts


Up in the Air

May 22nd, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I am closing a chapter in my life in order to make room for the next one.  This chapter has run its' course and we're planning to leave Silicon Valley after 72 challenging months here.  Looking over the horizon to see if we can find that distant shore to call Home.  I've less than two weeks of teaching left and then free to explore the options. 

I'm having some very touching parting moments with my students which make me realize how much the time we have spent together was meaningful and is appreciated by them and me.  I am limiting my committments as much as possible in order to let the new life emerge slowly, gently, and naturally.  Many things are up in the air but the air is fresh.  Let's see where it goes...

Tags: none


The Last Word

June 4th, 2014 at 4:35 am

....The endless cycle of idea and action,

Endless invention, endless experiment,

Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;

Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.


.....Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

                                                                                             - T.S. Eliot, Excerpts from Choruses from 'The Rock'


"The presence of that absence is everywhere."

                                               - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tags: none


Time and Tide: A Road Trip

May 16th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

After arriving in California four years ago, last month we were finally able to take our first, long overdue, whirlwind 10 day road trip back east to reconnect with family and friends, and it was great. 

We flew into Newark airport on Sunday around noon, rented a car and spent an overnight visiting my dad and step-mom at their new place in New Jersey. 

On Monday we drove from there to Portland, Maine where we stayed with a close friend, arriving just in time to go out for dinner with her and another friend at an old favorite haunt.

On Tuesday we went out to breakfast, took care of some business and I caught up with my daughter over some pizza as Betsy was treated to dinner with a couple of friends. 

On Wednesday after waking up to a light snow, we roamed the Old Port before going to see a designer's preview of a live stage production opening the following week.  What a treat to see so many old theater friends!  That night I had an outstanding time with my 2 sons at dinner together. 

On Thursday we went to lunch on the ocean at the Lobster Shack, drove back into town, had some steamers on the waterfront at J's as we reconnected with more friends, and then finished the day by going to Katahdin (another restaurant) to meet with theater friends again after their rehearsal ended.  (By now you must have noticed that eating out at good restaurants was a recurring theme.) 

After breakfast on Friday we bid a fond farewell to Portland friends, drove to my mother's in the Catskills and went out to dinner with her shortly after arriving there. 

We tried to make the most of Saturday in a country setting as our first and only real day of down time. 

Sunday was Easter which we celebrated with my mom, sister, niece and a close friend. 

On Monday we bid farewell to the Catskills and went to Manhattan where we visited with 2 nieces, a nephew and his wife, and my other sister before getting back to our hotel after midnight. 

Tuesday we took the train back to Newark Airport, returned our rental car and flew home. 

What a wealth of relationships we experienced, leaving me feeling enriched, strengthened, and humbled by the experience of seeing so many dear family and friends.


Tags: none


Music In the Castle of Heaven

March 9th, 2014 at 12:28 am

When Bach improvised for a half hour for the composer Reincken on a theme of Reincken's, the older master responded by saying, "I thought that this art was dead, but I see that in you it still lives."  What a moving tribute to the young Bach who was not interested in merely replacing the older composer's ideas with newer ones of his own, but instead was invested in keeping something of value alive.

Anecdote from Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Tags: none


What really matters in 2014....

January 31st, 2014 at 8:05 pm to choose, and focus on the things that really matter, which are.....

Tags: none


What are The Hidden Places?

December 17th, 2013 at 8:16 pm

The title and theme of my new CD for 2013 is The Hidden Places.  I have been engaged in a life long fascination with, and search for what I call the Hidden Places.  In general, they are those deeply personal, meaningful, and wondrous discoveries which we sometimes find only after great effort, and other times are fortunate enough to stumble upon.  The more of these you have discovered, the harder new ones are to find, which is why they seem to be more difficult to discover, the older you get. 

On my CD, the first hidden place represented through music is Chopin's expression of profound exasperation over the accelerating deterioration of his health during an intended holiday beset with continuous cold and rainy weather.  The second hidden place is Liszt's expression of self consolation following his friend Chopin's death.  The hidden places of the title cut are the tones themselves, arrived at through a searching and circuitous process.  The Hidden Places in the Easter Suite are embodied in Christ's parting, suffering, and sacrifice, but most of all in the Miracle of His Resurrection and Ascension.  In Paradise Lost, the Hidden Places are the Abyss, Paradise itself forever hidden from mortal sight, and the unknown challenges and opportunities which lay ahead of Adam and Eve after their Fall from grace.

Good luck in your search, and Merry Christmas!

Tags: none


That's Entertainment

November 3rd, 2013 at 5:41 pm

As I flip through the hundreds of TV channels and internet outlets that are now available to us, it quickly becomes apparent that the world's disfunction has become our chief form of entertainment.  From sectarian violence to climate change, to public and private sector surveillance, to politicians, journalists, and reality TV celebrities constantly competing and haranguing each other over every imaginable topic it is clear that disfunction has now attained a real commercial value which perpeteuates more disfunction.  After all, if viewers will watch, and advertisers will pay for disfunction, let's give them more.  But take a moment and try to imagine where it all leads to.  If there is more financial reward in presenting disfunctional behavior, where is the incentive to make things better? 

Tags: none


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