Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hugues Cuenod (1902-2010)

It was impossible to feel down around Hughie. Remembering him this quiet, bright morning, I am grateful to have known this musician, whose irrepressible joy in life and art expanded the humanity of everyone he met.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

German Knights

Die Ritter is headed to Germany. Home on 9 October.

See you then, or there!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two Summer Knights

There are two upcoming Knights performances next week in New York City.

Tuesday • 3 Aug • 7:30
Naumberg Bandshell, Central Park at 70th Street

After being rained out in June, The Knights return to the Naumburg Bandshell with a free concert perfect for a New York summer night in August. It's been a distinct pleasure to rehearse this week with Vera Beths who will both lead as concertmaster and play the solo part in Beethoven's eloquent Romance in F Major.

The Knights
Eric Jacobsen,
Vera Beths,

Rossini Barber of Seville Overture
Beethoven Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F Major, op. 50
Shostakovich Two Waltzes (arr. Ljova Zhurbin for the Knights)
Debussy Children's Corner Suite (arr. Mouton)
Haydn Symphony in D major, No 101, "The Clock"


Wednesday • 4 Aug • 7:00
AppleApple Store, SoHo

The Knights
Lara St. John, violin soloist
Eric Jacobsen, conductor

This concert celebrates the release of a new CD of Mozart Violin Concerti played by Lara and Scott St. John with The Knights conducted by Eric Jacobsen.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Koolhaas & Lohengrin in a Beijing Taxi

Heading to the Beijing airport, our taxi driver spoke no English (and we no Mandarin), nevertheless, he was determined to give us a parting tour of the city. We spoke back and forth in different languages, the conversation moving quickly and incomprehensibly, articulated with brief moments of clarity.

"Rem Koolhaas, CCTV."

Our driver said as we passed the Dutch architect's delirious addition to the Beijing skyline. It was not the most practical vocabulary, but we were glad he knew it.

Then we passed a caravan of cars covered in ribbons. Our driver honked and waved and smiled and told us many things in excited Chinese.

We weren't getting it.

He wrinkled his brow for a moment and then sang, Treulich geführt. Of course! Gamely, we all sang along and waved at the be-ribboned wedding procession passing us on the highway.

As we sang, my mind raced between other instances of this melody in my life, from Beijing to Lima to backstage at The Metropolitan Opera.

Years ago, I played with an opera company in Lima founded by my Juilliard classmate, Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Some members of the opera orchestra were hired to play a wedding. In Peru, Mendelssohn's Hochzeitsmarsch is played as the bride processional, while Wagner's march accompanies the newly-minted couple's first stroll down the aisle on the way out. Richard Wagner and Felix Mendelssohn combined with South American Roman Catholicism in a Peruvian Baroque cathedral; playing "Here comes the bride" at the end of the wedding only enriched the admixture.

Years later, I would play in the stage band for Robert Wilson's contoversial production of Lohengrin at The Metropolitan Opera based in part on Japanese Noh Theater. The stage band musicians wait to play late into the night, there are hours between entrances. (It is actually possible to leave the theater and play a different concert during these breaks.) When the time finally comes, the musicians gather in the dimly-lit wings to play strains of Treulich geführt. Pretty lofty for "wedding gig," I thought, walking up the stairs backstage at The Met, another cathedral in its own right.

How could I have expected to find myself singing Wagner with a Chinese cabbie in Beijing, but I hardly could be surprised.

Would Wagner?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Surprise parade on the East River.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seven Four

Waiting on the subway platform at 14th Street for the F train to Brooklyn, I heard a young woman in full-Williamsburg hipster regalia playing the accordion.

Her selection? "Ring of Fire" from Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

I love this song for so many reasons, but leading them is the instrumental refrain in seven-four time. Count it out. Once the entirely unexpected Mariachi trumpet passage starts, the song is in seven. (Da-dut da dah dah dee dah daaa - 5 - 6 - 7, Da-dut da dah dah dee dah daaa - 5 - 6 - 7) I'm not sure which is more surprising the meter or the orchestration.

Maybe fifteen years ago, I heard Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash at Irving Place. Wonderful, amazing concert. They came with the best sidemen in the biz; country-western 2/4 back beat was elevated to poetry.

If you listen to June Carter and the Carter Family, you'll find a flexible metrical music that easily moves through odd-number bars and playfully skips over an eighth-note here and there.

Seven-four on the subway platform. I love New York City.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Zéphyros Winds is headed to Beijing as part of the the National Centre for Performing Arts' 2010 May Festival.

Click here for details . . . and tickets!

photo by Bell Soto