Posts Tagged ‘Prokofiev’

vermont mozart festival @ the radiator, event #3

August 4, 2009
8/3/09 - Andrew Schwartz, as viewed through a segment of his own bassoon.

8/3/09 - Andrew Schwartz, as viewed through a segment of his own bassoon.

Even the largest orchestras, while they may may have a few dozen string players, rarely employ more than one or two full-time bassoonists.

“It has to come from a place of passion,” were the words of long experience from bassoonist Andrew Schwartz, when I asked what advice he gives his students on how to rise to the top as a performer on such a specialty instrument. He also emphasized the hard work, practice and tenacity aspects (oh, that!) of his own successful career.

8/3/09 - VT Mozart Festival Exec. Director Tim Riddle & bassoonist Andrew Schwartz

8/3/09 - VT Mozart Festival Exec. Director Tim Riddle & bassoonist Andrew Schwartz

Schwartz visited the Radiator yesterday for the grand finale in a series of three “Mondays with Mozart” this summer, in partnership with the Vermont Mozart Festival. He’s a regular performer with the Festival, and has a featured role in the concert coming up this Friday (playing Mozart’s only remaining Bassoon Concerto).

As the Burlington Yoga Studio filled with listeners and late afternoon sunlight, Schwartz opened the session by handing out pieces of his bassoon. Yes, segment by segment, the instrument was dispersed throughout the room to amused audience members who hesitantly accepted them, turning the burnished pieces over and over and glancing at each other with some puzzlement.

Schwartz explained, “I always like to hand out the pieces of my bassoon. It really shows people, it’s just a bunch of sticks!” Then as quickly as he had distributed them he collected the parts, assembled them, and launched a lively and entertaining session that included famous bassoon highlights from Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Stravinsky’s haunting opening to The Rite of Spring, and – of course – “Grandpa’s” voice from Peter and the Wolf.

Just a bunch of sticks? So are chopsticks and pencils. And toothpicks, for that matter. They sure don’t sound like that.


(“World of Music” returns from summer hiatus on Monday, August 17th, starting at 3pm EDT. Listen online at The Radiator, or in Burlington, VT at 105.9FM.)

vermont mozart festival @ the radiator, event #2

July 27, 2009
7/27/09 - Jennifer Grim

7/27/09 - Jennifer Grim

World of Music is taking a short summer break, we’ll be back in business later in August with a fresh collection of tunes from every corner, with the usual unusual assortment of  jazz, poetry, blues and world sounds.

‘Til then, “Mondays with Mozart” on The Radiator feature visiting performers from the annual Vermont Mozart Festival. Last week we talked with oboist Marc Schachman. This week the spotlight turned to another veteran wind player, the Festival’s principal flutist Jennifer Grim. (Next week we’ll complete the trio with bassoonist Andrew Schwartz.)

At the start of the conversation she remarked that it’s especially nice to come back to New England to work with the Festival now that she’s moved away. I wasn’t sure quite how to take that, but she quickly explained herself. As an associate professor at UNLV (“a place where they still look forward to rain”, noted Exec. Director Tim Riddle), Dr. Grim’s landscape has changed much since she moved from New York City to Las Vegas. Summers in Vermont, rainy or not, are a welcome change of scenery.

Change of pace? Well, probably that too, but maybe not in the expected way. With around 10 concerts in the three weeks of the Festival (and no repeated programs!), the schedule is demanding, performers are chosen for their deep experience with a wide variety of repertoire, and precious rehearsal time is spent “coming to a concensus about dynamic and tempo markings,” Grim said, “we don’t have time to spend hours discussing it.”

As the studio’s temperature and humidity escalated in the late afternoon sun, the audience questions dwindled and Grim offered to play a Bach Partita. It was elegant and lovely – light, while the day hung heavy and hot. She performed standing. Sort of. The lilting Partita was accompanied by Grim gracefully and naturally moving with the music: raising up on her toes in the high register, leaning in (as if listening, or encouraging listening) to the pianissimo passages, and dipping and swaying to dig into the arpeggios.

Executive Director Tim Riddle and Jennifer Grim

VT Mozart Festival Executive Director Tim Riddle and Jennifer Grim

“Do you have training as a dancer?” asked one audience member in the short followup q & a after the performance “Yes, I do,” Grim admitted shyly, “I took ballet lessons from four years old to college.” Though she also confessed that it often took observers to let her know afterward she’d been moving with the music she was playing.

Along with the work she does in the full Festival Orchestra, Grim often takes on solo or ensemble work over the course of the summer’s programs. Like the all-Bach and Prokofiev concert coming up on the 31st. She’ll be seated for that performance, I’m guessing, but that won’t keep you from enjoying the dancing lightheartedness she brings to her music.

Listen to the final “Mondays with Mozart” event next week, starting at 3pm. It’s 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator.

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