Artist Interview - Deborah Pae

Deborah Pae

Origin:

Livingston, NJ 

Education:

I went to Julliard for my undergraduate. I did my masters at New England Conservatory. I just finished an artist in residency at Queen Elisabeth Chapelle in Brussels, Belgium. 

What do you do for the festival? 

I play the cello in a variety of different repertoire. I don’t necessarily have a favorite piece that I’ve performed. Playing the solo Bach Concert was really exciting, but so was the opening concert. That was exciting because of the radio broadcast and the packed house.

What do you love about the LCCMF?

I love getting to see old friends that I’ve played with in the past. It’s like a big reunion. I also love the atmosphere, from the staff to the audience members.

What was your favorite LCCMF moment? 

A funny moment was when we were warming up backstage, but the opening concert hadn’t started yet. I heard clapping, and wondered why.  They were making an announcement that the show was on live radio. Gloria reminded me that we were live, and it really hit me that many people would be listening in to our performance. 

Why do you love music?

 I gravitate towards music the most. I feel that I can express myself most directly with music. It’s been part of my life forever. I can’t imagine not having music in my life.

Suggested Composer/artist:

 The first person I thought of was Anner Bylsma. He is a Dutch cellist. He had a huge influence on baroque music and cello playing. He had a huge influence on me while working in Amsterdam. He is a phenomenal musician. He speaks about music not through technical terms, but with analogies, anecdotes, and random thoughts that at first seem tangential until they make complete sense. 

 Suggested Piece

I’ll give you something that’s not cello music. The first time I heard it I was blown away. I recently saw an opera called Jenufa by Janacek. It is really powerful music and very dynamic and emotional.

 What’s next?

I will be going to Japan in a couple of weeks for concerts. That’s the next project, which I’m really excited for. I love visiting Japan.

Behind The Scenes Interview - Sebastian Maier

Origin:

Stuttgart, Germany

What do you do for the festival? 

I help with everything.

Why do you love the LCCMF?

I love the culture. The community supports the festival by attending and donating. I am hosted by wonderful people and fed wonderful meals (thank you, John). And of course I love the music.  

What was your favorite LCCMF moment?

The closing concert in 2012. It was my first year at the festival, and it was really special for me.

Why do you love music?

Because nothing else can touch me like music. It connects people. 

Do you play an instrument?

I play cello. I’ve been playing for 14 years.

Suggested Composer/artist:

I do like Brahms. I also love the music from Riho Esko Maimets. He was one of the young composers at LCCMF in 2013. 

Suggested Listening:

Bach, Suite No. 5 in c minor, which we are about to see at the St. Paul’s Cathedral.

What’s next?

I’m going to work for a festival for classical music in Hamburg. Then, I will study cultural sciences at university…maybe. 

Behind The Scenes Interview- Annie Jeong

Origin:

I’m a native of Seoul, Korea. 

What do you do for the festival? 

I’m the personal assistant of the artistic director and librarian. I give rides to musicians. I look after Nolan. I also help with the other interns.  

Why do you love the LCCMF?

The reason I keep coming back is because of the people. I get to meet all of the beautiful people of Vermont, and listen to the great music.  

What was your favorite LCCMF Moment?

When people appreciate what the interns do, and say thank you to us. They acknowledge that we are important for the festival to run smoothly.  

Why do you love music?

Music brings you life! I can’t imagine the world without music. When we listen to music it brightens one’s heart. It can change your mood and greatly effect you.

Do you play an instrument? 

Yes, I’m a violinist. I studied with Soovin Kim. 

Suggested Composer/artist: 

My favorite composer is Beethoven.

Suggested Listening: 

One of my all time favorite pieces is the Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.58

Behind The Scenes Interview- Tom Bergeron

Origin:

Essex Junction, Vermont

What do you do for the festival?

I am the stage manager. I also help out as much as I can with various tasks.

Why do you love the LCCMF?

The music is amazing. Being around allof these musicians is an amazing experience.

What was your favorite LCCMF moment?

I played in the master class with Radavan.  It was a surreal moment to realize that I was playing with one of the best French horn players in the world.

Why do you love music?

Its an outlet for when you are stressed or angry. It helps you channel your emotions into something else.

Do you play an instrument? 

Yes, I play piano, French horn, and I sing.

Suggested Composer/artist: 

I like Mozart. I also like Leonard Bernstein.

Suggested Listening:

Strauss Horn Concerto, all of them.

Behind The Scenes Interview - Hannah Christian

Origin: 

Chattanooga, Tennessee

 What do you do for the festival?

I’m an intern. I am here to learn more about arts management and festival coordination. I’m happy to learn from a well-established organization.

Why do you love the LCCMF?

It seems like a wonderful organization that brings world class artists to the Burlington area. It exposes wonderful music to the community.

What was your favorite LCCMF moment?

The Brahms trio with Radavan, Soovin, and Gloria. That was an incredible performance.

Why do you love music?

Because it is is a universal language and you can touch people across all cultures. It is the one thing that can unite people of all backgrounds 

Do you play an instrument? 

I play clarinet. I played since I was 10 years old. I love playing in concert bands. I play in a wind ensemble at Lee University as a community member.

Suggested Composer/artist:

My favorite composers are Stravinsky and Brahms.

Suggested Listening:

Messiaen Quartet for the End Of Time.

Behind The Scenes Interview- Sebastian "Seabass" Holcroft

Origin?

Burlington, VT

 What do you do for the festival?

 Intern, Lighting/miscellaneous

 Why do you love the LCCMF?

 Because there are really good musicians coming from all over that sound completely amazing

 What was your favorite LCCMF moment?

The success of the opening concert” 

Why do you love music?

 it unites all ages

Do you play an instrument?

No, unless you count computer keys

 Suggested Composer/artist:

David Ludwig

 Suggested Listening:

 Aria Fantasy, by David Ludwig

Sights and Sounds #4

12:54 PM, 8/26/15

Three workers arrive at the Flynn Space.  Robert Hicks has is setting up his harpsichord, piece by piece. A stage technician boots up the system and the lights come on. The Flynn Space is, at first glimpse, an unusual place for chamber music, as it is not a chamber. The sound is rather dampened. It will be interesting to see how the musicians interact with the space. A few more workers arrive, carrying music stands and snacks for the green room.

Tonight, we will hear Telemann’s “Paris” Quartet in D Major, and Rameau’s Piéces de clavecin en concerts. The performers are Emi Ferguson on Flute, Soovin Kim on Violion, Peter Stumpf on Cello, and Kit Armstrong on Harpsichord. An interesting connection: Kit Armstrong, at the age of twelve, studied with David Ludwig at the University of Pennsylvania. Ludwig taught him composition because he recognized the immense young talent within Kit. David Ludwig has left for a music festival in New Mexico, however the two were able to exchange greetings when they ran into each other at the hotel. I’ve heard the same saying several times this week; “The music world is a small world.” 

 

1:26 PM, 8/26/15

The harpsichord owner, Robert Hicks, has started playing in the Flynn Space. My doubts about the space are no more. The finely tuned instrument carries its own weight throughout the space.  Harpsichords have no dynamic contrast, as each string is plucked at with the same force no matter how hard one hits the key. We will witness the musicians adapting to the static dynamic level of the harpsichord in order to optimize their sound based on their environment. That is part of the beauty of live music performance.

 

3:02 PM, 8/26/15

Robert is re-tuning the harpsichord, having let it adjust to the temperature at the Flynn Space. The audio engineers have arrived. The interns have had lunch. Jody has arrived. Soovin has arrived.

 

3:22 PM, 8/26/15

The musicians are running a rehearsal. Kit has a macbook pro on the music stand of the Harpsichord. Great contrast.

5:57

After a long rehearsal, final placements for the stage set are being decided. The harpsichord is movements must be made with the utmost caution. The audio engineers and the musicians decide on the best placement based on where the sound exits the instruments. They begin one last run-through of a piece.

 

Sights and Sounds #3

8/25/15, 10:53 AM

Jody meets with the team, discusses plans for Bach In Church. Rainstorm. Ushers with umbrellas help arriving music-lovers arrive.

 

1:22 PM, 8/25/15

The listeners filter out of the St. Paul’s cathedral, smiles on their faces.  They just heard Deborah Pae perform Bach’s Suite no. 3 in C Major, and Suite No. 5 in c minor. Deborah Pae’s performance was captivating. She performed from memory, most often with her eyes closed. Her connection and comfortabilty with the cello was astounding. Before each movement began, she put on a facial expression, interpreting the mood of the movement. She moved her body with the music, steady and flowing, then abrupt and strong. At the end of a movement she would carry her arm past the cello and upwards, to carry through her motion. A look of bliss and power came to her face at each cadence. The sound carried through St. Paul’s cathedral with clarity. Every overtone rang loudly. A successful performance.

 

2:37 PM, 8/25/15

Back at Elley-Long Music Center. Musicians are warming up, pianos and chairs are moving around. Everyone just enjoyed hot sandwiches. Jody is talking to the audio engineers. Dana is working on publicity photos. Seabass is working on the ipad software. Jason is asking everyone interview questions for the upcoming features (soon to be posted.)

 

Nightingales and Lost Left Hands

In ancient mythology, the nightingale connotes tragedy. Speech lost, past life abandoned… the nightingale’s song is one of lament. In Ovid’s version of the classical tale, after many brutal and tragic events the princess Philomela and her sister, Procne, ask the gods to transform them into songbirds. Philomela becomes the nightingale, while Procne becomes the swallow. (If you’re interested in the full story of Philomela and Procne, click here. Warning: like many fairytales, this one could be too dark for young children.) The nightingale has lost something—most obviously, her speaking voice. Philomela’s story is one that deserves telling, but it seems that the only mode of communication bearable to the speaker is through song. 
So where am I going with all of this classical mythology business? What does this have to do with Robert Schumann, Heinrich Heine, and today’s concert?

Well, Philomela’s story is rendered comprehensible to an audience in part through the poet (Ovid’s) interpretation, and thus his translation.To paraphrase Cori Ellison’s introduction to today’s concert, the composer Robert Schumann saw artists as people in search of completion. They may seek that completion in other individuals, other artists, other particular modes of expression other than their own. Just as Philomela lost her powers of speech but gained song, so Schumann lost the use of his left hand, crippling his career as a musician, but then focused his energies towards composition. Losing the gift of performance, he gained the gift of creation. And Schumann found another artistic “half” in the romantic poet Heinrich Heine, who was all too familiar with the nightingale conceit (check out the full translation in the LCCMF program and you'll see what I mean.) As Dichterlibe (“A Poet’s Love”) so clearly illustrates, in Schumann’s mind the composer completes the poet, and vice versa. 

So the piano completes the vocalist. In today’s performance, Ms. Chien (piano) and Mr. Scarlata (baritone) performed a duet, complementing each other and weaving in and out of each other’s pauses and inhalations. The piano does not simply support the vocalist in the spotlight, but like the personified natural world in Heine’s love poem, enhances the vitality and tragic beauty of the narrative. 

Stanza 4 of Heinrich Heine’s poem reads, “but when I kiss your mouth, / Then I am altogether whole again… But when you say: I love you true! / Then must I weep so bitterly.” This line may at first read as counterintuitive. Why does the lovesick man weep when he hears that his love reciprocated? Well, Mr. Scarlata’s interpretation of this lyric might help us to understand. Sonically, the vibrations of Mr. Scarlata and Ms. Chien’s duet at this line (“Then I am altogether whole again”) are so concentrated and gentle that they create a sense of wholeness that we may only be able to experience in the absence of language. The audience may not have known what Mr. Scarlata was saying (he sang in German,) but we felt the fulfillment of that moment. Really great music gives us this sense of wholeness. Being by the ocean does it for me—watching waves crumple against cliffs, silver puddles of sunlight caught along the shoreline. For the poet-singer, the complete moment of the kiss is shattered by his lover’s words. Since Philomela’s lament (and undoubtedly beforehand,) artists have striven to express their longing for wholeness, and to offer a sensation of wholeness to others. But maybe Philomela knew best in giving up her powers of speech. Maybe we don’t always want to find that “other half” right away, whatever it may be. That way we get to “weep bitterly,” and keep singing or writing, a la Heinrich Heine, for at least another twelve stanzas. 

Staff Profile - Samuel Graf

There are many people behind the scenes of the LCCMF. These people work diligently, keep it fun, and can often be caught singing. In staff profiles, you'll get a short and sweet glimpse into the dazzling individuals that make up our staff.

 

 

Meet Sam Graf, A Senior Music Major at Kenyon College

Q: Sam, what's your favorite musical memory from your childhood?

A: It would have to be listening to Disney's Electrical Parade with you [Emily] in our family's basement in Connecticut. Sound-funny is a particularly great kind of funny.

 

To experience Disney's Electrical Parade soundtrack, click here!

Many thanks, Samuel! 

An Antidote for Insomnia

 

As a writer and dancer, I've been a bit apprehensive about writing on the subject of classical music. Forgive the absence of pertinent vocabulary here. I've abandoned all attempts to incorporate words such as "adagio" and "tempo di minuetto" in the hopes of offering an honest portrayal of today's music, and how it made me feel as an audience member. This afternoon's performance made me want to put pen to paper. But even more so, it made me want to get on my feet. The performance was charged with movement. The musicians dance: they stand upright as herons and float like balloons freed from their bouquets. All of the pieces this afternoon illuminated the physical grace of both music and musicians. 

 

 

Beethoven's Piano Trio in B-flat, op. 11 performed by Soovin Kim, Deborah Pae, and Gilles Vonsattel

The musicians draw their first notes to life, and smiles bloom on the faces of the audience. It's as though we have stumbled upon a conversation, a vibrant dialogue between friends. As the piece gathers energy, we move from conversation to song. The strings live and breathe and are poised on the brink of some beautiful discovery. At times, the musicians seem to surprise themselves and one another with the suddenness and the playfulness of their performance. We almost want to laugh. To listen to this performance is to surrender to synesthesia. The tentative afternoon glow through the windows gathers strength with the music. The room and the audience take on a dusky hue. 

 

 

David Ludwig's Aria Fantasy performed by Robyn Bollinger, Wenhong Luo, Deborah Pae, and Gloria Chien

David Ludwig describes his piano quartet Aria Fantasy as an "antidote for insomnia... a floating in and out of consciousness." For this audience, the piece was not an antidote for sleeplessness as much as a call to wakefulness. Aria Fantasy's most somnambulistic moments are also its most jarring. Like a dream, the piece lures us into one understanding of reality, and then immediately reverses it. We sleepwalk and fall down the stairs. Notes fall like blind moths knocking against a screen door. The rare moments in which the musicians are unified also offer moments of discord, reflecting turmoil onto the harmony of the piece. At one moment, Ms. Chien stands and plucks the strings inside her piano, delicately reaching through the physical door of her instrument.

Ludwig's piece knocks on the door of our consciousness, and wakes us up to the beauty in the unremembered moments of restlessness in our own lives. 

 

 

Sights and Sounds of the Elley-Long Music Center

This morning, the music center bustles with preparations for First Festival Saturday. As staff members configure chairs and set out flower arrangements, the sounds of violin and cello rehearsals drift through the building. The notes dazzle in the early morning sunlight. A lot of writing is fed and inspired by music, but sometimes the only thing a writer can do is sit, listen, and be transported.