Happy Birthday to Hilary Hahn: 2014

Today is Hilary Hahn’s b’day! Please join us in celebrating it by watching her performance from earlier this year of  the 4th Violin Concerto in D minor op. 31 by Henri Vieuxtemps with conductor Tugan Sokhiev and the Berlin Philharmonic.

BTW, it’s also Thanksgiving Day, so, Happy Thanksgiving to you all from The Glass!

Yuja Wang ~ 3 Pieces by Schubert/Liszt (Performed Live)

Schubert/Liszt: “Gretchen am Spinnrade”
Schubert/Liszt: “Auf dem Wasser zu singen”
Schubert/Liszt: “Der Erlkonig”

Yuja Wang, piano

I know that it is Franz Liszt’s birthday and not Schubert’s, but Yuja does such wonderful renditions of these pieces I just had to post them.

Fred Ho’s Last Year = Fred Ho’s Most Prominent Time Alive And In The Hereafter

8A-2013-12-30-FredHo-Promo

[a film review]
Fred Ho’s Last Year
Featuring interviews with Fred Ho,
Marie Incontrera, Ben Barson,
Ruth Margraff, Anne T. Greene,
Youn Jung Kim,
Royal Hartigan, and many more
Directed by Steven De Castro
uncool films, inc
58 minutes
Rating: Not rated

It is simply not enough for me to tell you this is a great film or that it features great music. Sometimes I feel like I write quickie pieces about things that are far bigger than I can possibly interpret (I once had a teacher that wrote on my paper that I turned in that was meant to be a written review of a play “This was not supposed to be a quickie review for a weekend newspaper”–I really understand this in much clearer perspective now).

The film Fred Ho’s Last Year, an almost too-brief filmed account of what’s really the last several years of composer/saxophonist/bandleader Fred Ho’s life, is so telling of a man who has so much to say, the film almost can’t compete with his outspokenness, and somehow, one wonders if people are still left feeling like they have no chance in this world when they previously knew absolutely nothing of the things Fred Ho knew and shared with the world, and he still lost his battle with colorectal cancer on April 12, 2014.

But I would suggest that despite the grim reality of the outcome, you should take away from this film several things:
A) Fred Ho’s Resilience: Despite the fact that he was diagnosed 8 years before his death, and had undergone all kinds of possible treatments for his condition (some of which were medical and some much more in the progressive homeopathic vein) and the fact that this sometimes left him physically weak, and even after accepting that his fate was certain, he considered himself a newly reborn individual and christened himself so, and continued on with his music career and public life with both style and tenacity.

He basically educates you throughout this documentary, and among these things is the message that this cancer and anything related to it that left him to struggle, in turn simply made him a much stronger person. The Friedrich Nietzsche quote that has been in popular culture now for quite some time certainly comes to mind here: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger”. I also think of Obi Wan Kenobi becoming more powerful after being struck by Darth Vader.

He also denounces the doctors that treated him very improperly after a particular operation where Fred wasn’t sewn back up–they said it was scar tissue that somehow couldn’t be closed up, but he said this doctor had to make an special public appearance, therefore foregoing the closure. I can’t say I blame him for speaking out against such malpractice. And yet I’m sure this guy probably had a bunch of framed awards covering his office wall like so many in the profession that feel a need to prove their credibility.

B) Fred Ho’s Message: In a world where we are finding out very disturbing things about the stuff we eat or use on ourselves, it is quite astonishing to hear about things like “the Matrix” and what it really is. Fred believes that this Matrix is something that physically keeps everyone from acquiring a self-sufficient lifestyle, and instead forces everyone to continue to make concessions to the capitalist corporate world by buying and consuming food, food that in some cases is processed and unhealthy, and has us all living in an environment immersing everyone with it. Being the out-of-shape person that I am, I feel that this speaks directly to me, and I simply can’t ignore such a message. I would feel like this is an important film even if this was all he had to say.

Fred Ho’s Last Year – Documentary Feature Trailer: “Rain” from Steven De Castro on Vimeo.

C) Fred Ho, the artist: Even though the film doesn’t ever quite get to the subject of Fred’s music in full discussion, the music itself functions as an alternate narrative to the film. Fred does get quite vocal about the way the public is “colonized” to the point that they only understand music when it’s in the popularized 4/4 time signature as opposed to much more complex times heard in his music.

And seriously, if you are a fan of the saxophone, Fred Ho the saxophonist–Let’s just say he made the saxophone speak even louder than he ever did. A stunningly dynamic solo is featured within the first 10 minutes of the film that ends with the shrillest wail that recalls the opening whistles in West Side Story, and the solo in general rivals Lou Reed’s heaviest guitar solos.

The selection of Fred’s pieces for the film were all quite fitting, but I have to say, please look out for “Iron Man Meets The Black Dog Meets Dave Taylor”, a splendid work (by Fred Ho and Marie Incontrera; performed by Youn Jung Kim and the Green Monster Big Band) that combines Black Sabbath with Led Zeppelin and brings them into a satirical big band world.

It is certainly clear in this film that the people that worked closely with Fred Ho as a musician and composer are the ones that will carry his music through to further generations of keyed-in music aficionados. Particularly people like Marie Incontrera, whom I have known for quite some time, and besides being one of Fred’s biggest champions is a great composer and conductor in her own right (You even see her in action in this film besides hearing what she has to say), drummer Royal Hartigan, and Ben Barson, Fred’s saxophone protégé, who will actually be performing on Fred’s saxophone at one of the premieres of this film in New York coming up soon.

Long live Fred Ho.

~~~

Listen to my interview with Steven De Castro about Fred Ho and the film on The Glass Sho

NOTE: The 2 New York City premieres of Fred Ho’s Last Year will be held on July 31st and August 2nd.

First Screening:

FRED HO’S LAST YEAR SNEAK PREVIEW & PANEL
MUSEUM OF CHINESE IN AMERICA (MOCA)
215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013
July 31, 2014, 7 pm
On the Panel: Anne Greene and Ruth Margraff

Second Screening:

FRED HO’S LAST YEAR & MUSIC TRIBUTE
City Cinema Village East
189 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
August 2, 2014, 5:30 pm
Music Tribute: Ben Barson playing Fred’s saxophone

And August 10th there will be a public birthday celebration for Fred:

Scientific Soul Sessions presents:
To Sing You Down
a celebration of Fred Ho on his first birthday in the sky
featuring Marie Incontrera conducting the Eco-Music Big Band

ShapeShifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place
Brooklyn, NY 11215
August 10, 2014, 7 pm
$20 admission

Discover Fred Ho (discoverfredho.org)

Hans Richter ~ Vormittagsspuk (1928)

Hans Richter (1888-1976)
Vormittagsspuk (1928; a.k.a. Ghosts Before Breakfast)
Cast:
Werner Graeff
Walter Gronostay
Paul Hindemith
Darius Milhaud
Madeleine Milhaud
Jean Oser
Willi Pferdekamp
Hans Richter

Produced and directed by Hans Richter
Music originally by Paul Hindemith (This version has no music)
Cinematography by Reimar Kuntze
Film Editing by Hans Richter (uncredited)

Backyard Portal ~ Film Preview

backyardportal

Backyard Portal, an upcoming short film by indie director Mathew Roscoe, is an interesting sort of fantasy/comedy about a couple that happens to stumble upon, oddly enough, a portal in their backyard that brings into their lives several characters out of various genres of film, and as you can imagine, much fun ensues.

This project is notable for several things: NY composer Rebecca Brandt scored the film (We shall be speaking with her again soon), and among the cast is one of the actors from the box office smash The Hunger Games, Jack Quaid.

Backyard Portal will be appearing at film festivals this fall.

The director and cast had a few minutes to talk about the film.

Mathew Roscoe (Director): In terms of the acting and skill, I have never been so stoked about a cast for a movie! I definitely pulled out all the stops. The entire cast are just exceptionally talented people! The cool thing that really gives the movie chemistry is that the cast is made up of mostly good friends that have previously worked with each other. 4 of the 5 actors all met at NYU’s Hammerkatz, where Donald Glover (Community) started out.

Jack Quaid (David–He and Gina discover the portal): Backyard Portal was amazing to work on. I had an absolute blast working with my old friends and and an even bigger blast making new ones. The film was obviously different from something like The Hunger Games, but I loved working with a smaller budget and within one location because it allowed us to really play with these characters and find out what makes them tick: a luxury scarcely found on a giant set with a billion moving pieces.

Rachel Joravsky (Gina, girlfriend of David’s): In general this was not a very difficult transition to make. I had been performing with Max, Jack, and Tirosh all year on NYU’s premiere sketch comedy group Hammerkatz. Needless to say we were use to collaborating and improvising together. Marlee was an excellent addition, we all vibed with her immediately — really just effortless to work with.

Roscoe was really great at letting us do our thing, but also reining in the crazy. If it was up to us, we probably wouldn’t have stuck to the script at all. That’s what you get when you have 4 plus improvisors together. Everyone is going to be vying for the last joke.

Tirosh Schneider (Chance, a version of a greaser): I modeled my performance on a purposefully bad impression of both Danny Zuko and Elvis Presley, but more than anything I was inspired by the director, Matthew Roscoe, who had a very clear vision for Chance (the voice and all) from the very beginning. He was great in communicating the part to me down to the voice, so it came pretty easily after that.

Marlee Roberts (Dorothy, a version of the action heroine): I’m very grateful I was given the opportunity to play “Dorothy” in Backyard Portal. Most roles I’ve played are of the innocent good-girl (“Spaz”) or cheerleader-esque stereoype (“The English Teacher”) so it was fun to wear black leather, beat up toasters, and explore this side of myself.

Director Mathew Roscoe and I discussed our inspiration for the role including character references from The Terminator and Firefly. We applied some of these characteristics while discovering Dorothy’s originality and intentions by building a back-story. Dorothy is very complex in the way that she has an almost childlike dependency while maintaining a cold exterior. To build her as a three-dimensional character, it was really important for me to understand why she doesn’t trust anyone. Why is she deathly afraid of machines? And what about them invokes such a strong emotional response from her?

I wanted to humanize the “action-girl” by creating a reason as to why she behaves the way she does. Every decision is motivated. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite roles I’ve ever played.

Max Ash (Marcus, a loud Roman warrior): This was actually the first short film I was ever in so I guess it was different than portraying my regular life as I’m not aggressive or a Roman warrior.

While I watched clips of Spartacus and Gladiator on YouTube to get ready for the role, my characterization was based mostly off what I remember about the movie 300. I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters but I remember a lot of yelling and angry looks so I did a bunch of that.

Backyard Portal – Official Trailer from Coast Cinema on Vimeo

Backyard Portal (facebook page)

WHY? ~ Kickstarting their Documentary

WHY? the band–Photo courtesy of Natalie Escobedo396603_10151235014998618_1263225577_n

Indie band WHY? are the subject of an upcoming documentary that will be chronicling the making of their current CD Mumps, Etc. as well as everyday business and personal moments from the group and its lead singer, Yoni Wolf. The filmmakers and the band have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for completion of the production of this film, and you can be a great help and kick in some cash by clicking on the link here or on the bottom.

The film’s co-director Scott Fredette spoke to us about how the project came to be.

“I stumbled on to it because Yoni and Josiah moved back to Cincinnati, and a friend of mine (Ben) was also a friend of theirs, and we both just basically decided to take it on. The idea was to film the process of making the new album. We were intrigued by the fact that Yoni moved back into his parents house, which was in a suburb of Cincinnati way far from where he lived in Oakland, CA. It was an interesting approach when he did his 4-tracking–He did the entire album in the dining room.

I’d done some talking with them in the previous year, and I actually started to like their music late in the game (2010), and we were becoming friends during the recording, so I was basically asking them the questions that I’d want to ask, as if a friend would ask them, and then it became a little more about the album process. It was also a different approach because Yoni wrote a majority of the music himself, but he has the other guys that are chiming in and creating a lot of energy from their end. Doug and Josiah are wonderful musicians as well, so there’s lots of input from those guys, but this time was different, so I was intrigued about how that was going to go. That was was the impetus, and we wanted to get into some deeper stuff, like Yoni’s illness and his quirks, and we just wanted to see where it would pan out from the beginning of an album to the end. We wanted to get into his religion, and what makes him and the other guys tick. We didn’t really know where it would go, but this is where we got to, and we still have a long way to go.”

Yoni Wolf himself also weighed in on the project.

yoniwolf

“Ben Nicholson was a fan of the group, and he was a friend of my father’s. It was his initial idea to do the documentary, and he got Scott Fredette on board. Scott originally did not know the band, but he was initiated pretty quickly when we started filming, and then Alex [Parks] was brought on as a producer. The film surrounds the making of Mumps, Etc, and has some day-to-day stuff–drama occurs, and there’s issues with my health–lots of ups and downs. It was a rough couple of years and they were there for it. I didn’t end up being the most sympathetic character in the movie, I was more of an anti-hero.”

Click here to contribute to WHY’s Kickstarter campaign

WHY? (whywithaquestionmark.com)

Everything Went Down Pretty Good

From L to R: Noah Drew and Kate Tucker, stars of Everything Went Down EWDbar

[a film review]
Everything Went Down
Starring Kate Tucker and Noah Drew
Directed by Dustin Morrow
Little Swan Pictures
1 hour, 25 minutes
Rating: Not rated

If you are a fan of the indie musical Once, you will probably enjoy Everything Went Down just as much–Like that film, this one takes the musical genre into a much more incidental and realistic world, and still manages to leave one feeling the music as both a delightful standout and an equal narrative to the dialogue as opposed to just being in the background.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By the way, I did do a preview for this film about a year ago at this time when it was still getting backing for its completion, and even interviewed both Kate Tucker and the film’s director Dustin Morrow if you would like to check those out

Continue reading