Conundrum: On Their Kickstarter Campaign

Conundrum are (L to R): Marianne Breneman (clarinet), Danielle Lundley (flute), Mary Elizabeth Southworth (soprano), and Philip Amalong (piano)

Ohio-based chamber ensemble Conundrum are gearing up to make a promising CD of original pieces written for them by various living composers, and they need the help of the listeners through the mighty Kickstarter! Click here or on the bottom link to check it out and to make a donation!

The group’s soprano Mary Elizabeth Southworth explains how the ensemble took shape.
“The main idea, when we started out, was that we just made music with friends, and then we figured that the rep would follow. Our concerts consisted mostly of duos, trios, solos, and then slowly, after the first year, we would find these ensemble pieces or we would have something transcribed for us, and the second year things were going so well, composers were submitting new works for us, and that year we were also invited to do the Fresno New Music Festival, which was really exciting, because from that we got 2 of our mainstay works. Hailstones, by Kenneth Froelich, and The Ocean by Eric D. Sharp. Continue reading

Bridget Kibbey

Photo courtesy of Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Harpist Bridget Kibbey is currently creating another household name for harpists as we speak. Having just come off of a short series of shows at LPR titled Music Box where she performed a compelling recital of commissioned solo harp pieces, she has even more shows on the horizon and a forthcoming CD that features a special guest (As far as letting us know who that guest is, it’s top secret information; She wouldn’t even say what instrument they play).

Bridget took the time to speak with me via Skype. Continue reading

Douglas Knehans

Cincinnati-based composer Douglas Knehans may have come into the music game late in life (He wouldn’t be the only one as we’ve seen so far), but he has had quite a bit of experience thus far and is making the kind of music that media sources like The Washington Post and Miami Herald have been praising. Besides composing he is also the Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (My God, doesn’t that confuse people about his name??), and apparently he was once Jennifer Jolley‘s composition teacher (Hate that I forgot to ask him about working with her). Douglas’s last full CD of compositions titled Fractured Traces and the Pridonoff Duo’s current disc Virtuosity Squared (featuring Douglas’ piece titled Cascade) are both available on Ablaze, a label devoted to new and existing works by living composers.
Douglas had some time to speak to me.

CM: Can you take us back to your beginnings?

DK: I always wanted to be a composer, but I guess I felt I didn’t want to just be a paper composer, that I wanted to learn how to play an instrument and make music, therefore it was a little circuitous. I came to music late. I was in my last year of high school before I took up an instrument or learned to read music or anything like that. And then went straight from that into college-level music, and that was pretty scary because I was a little bit deficient in terms of my background–I had no music training in my childhood or anything like that. So, a lot of those undergraduate years were about just catching up and learning repertoire. But I also took lessons in composition at the same time that I took flute lessons and all the harmony and counterpoint stuff. I did kind of a double major then. Continue reading

Composers: Leah Kardos

Australian-born composer Leah Kardos is in the process of taking her place in the already sizeable club of composer/performers, and is another harbinger of the days now where the worlds of new classical and indie music are barely separated by a blurred-over line. Initially a founder of the band Helzuki, she currently has 2 other indie acts: My Lithium & Me and Spider & I. Along with these activities, she also has been writing film scores and occasionally assists other bands with orchestral, choral or chamber arrangements on their songs. Recently the composer decided to make a self-recorded CD of short compositions threaded together as a thematic statement on her life and relationship with her first love, the piano, and this was what became Feather Hammer. Having had Leah as a great acquaintance on Twitter, I realized that I needed to do an interview with her soon before she hired a publicist. 😉 Continue reading

Musicians: Caroline Adomeit

German-English violinist Caroline Adomeit (aka Caroline Adomeit-Gadd) is a soloist you may not be aware of if you haven’t been looking at the international concert scene, but she has been making regional waves, and has quite a few awards and some remarkable performances to show for it. Many clips of her performances of Bach, Ravel, Korngold, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi and Piazzolla, among others, can be found on her YouTube channel, and she has a CD titled Bach to Tango, which is available as a download-only on Amazon. As for her violin, she plays an Italian-model Fantin inspired by the Paganini Cannon, and, perhaps inspired by Hilary Hahn’s @violincase feed, has a Twitter account with the name @violinbow, except Caroline has not adopted the role-playing persona of her bow, she is only so in name.

CM: Caroline, you started studying both violin and piano at age six. Did you give up the piano due to preference for the other?

CA: Ultimately I had to choose between violin and piano, and I favored the violin.
I loved to play the piano but decided to become a violinist as I love the sound of the violin so much!

CM: What was it about the violin and about classical music that got to you at that time?

CA: Since I was a very small child I loved the beautiful sound of the violin. In my opinion, one can produce a uniquely personal sound on the violin that can be compared to the human voice. I also used to go to concerts and operas and operettas as my mother worked in a theatre, so I grew up with classical music; it was always around me.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (La Primavera: I: Allegro; w/Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Mainz, Germany)

CM: In one particular interview Hilary Hahn said that she never liked the feeling of being competitive at violin contests but she admired, and liked learning from the other musicians. You’ve participated in, and won several competitions like the Mozart Society Competition and the International Yfrah Neaman. What was your take on competing?

CA: Well, I actually don’t like competitions. I think that in art and music it is not possible to have a “winner” because unlike sport music is not just a question of “first past the post”.
Imagine deciding whether Heifetz or Oistrakh should be number one in a competition? Both are brilliant, but very different, it would be impossible to make a just decision. It would be against the artists and their music.
However, we live in a very competitive world, it’s almost impossible not to be influenced by that.
The good thing about competitions as a young player is, that you have a particular programme to prepare, gain experience and get to know other people who are also passionate about music.

CM: Among your repertoire pieces, I notice you have many classics and even a few rarities. How often do you play the D Minor Mendelssohn Concerto?

CA: I have played it quite a few times, as I did a series of concerts with a chamber orchestra, and it was part of the programme with the Four Seasons by Vivaldi and some Encore pieces.
I remember performing it together with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons a couple of years ago, both works were new to me, so I had a double premiere which was exciting 😉
It’s a great piece to play with string chamber orchestra and I had the opportunity to play and direct the orchestra myself!

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in D Minor (III: Allegro; w/Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Mainz, Germany)

CM: Are there any plans for you to tour in the US?

CA: Well, I would love to play concerts in the US of course. But nobody has asked me to do so yet… 😉

EDITOR’S NOTE: Promoters, get ready to take some calls!

Caroline official website

Amazon page for downloading Caroline’s CD Bach to Tango

Caroline’s YouTube page

Get a Load of Kiera Duffy

Performing Morton Feldman’s “Neither” at the Brut Wien Festival in 2009

“Kiera, you were robbed.”

I was so compelled to e-mail soprano Kiera Duffy and tell her this after I watched The Audition, a 2009 documentary (Shot in 2007) following a group of budding opera singers that were up for The Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Audition and earning a top cash prize.

The film showcases several vocalists that were all up for the same prize (Among them, Michael Fabiano, Angela Meade, Amber Wagner, and Ryan Smith, who tragically died of lymphoma during post-production), and while all were wonderful and had great depth, Kiera Duffy was someone that stood out. She wasn’t your typically big, boisterous opera star, and the film even shows she’s conscious of this (One of my favorite moments in the film shows her pantomiming the features of a stereotypical Brunhilde).

In the film, Kiera was shown performing Handel’s “Tormani a vagheggiar” (From Alicina) and Verdi’s “Caro Nome” (From Rigoletto), sadly, only in parts, but such coy character came out of her performances.

In the end, after the officials had a meeting and butted heads over their own agendas and taste, the winners were chosen and Kiera was among those that were not chosen for the prize. Perhaps not an upset that infuriates an entire country the way they do on American Idol, but I felt such an injustice was done.
This lady was charming and inspiring, and she deserved to be remembered.

Several years later, it turns out Kiera had gained quite a bit of support for her performances, and now she performs regularly around the country (And the world). She can be found on YouTube and Vimeo in several clips of contemporary works, including Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket (Based on Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

And btw, she had written about the reaction to her Audition snub in a blog entry titled “Soprano Kiera Duffy on life after ‘The Audition'” (Courtesy of Chloe Veltman; From her blog ‘Lies Like Truth’):

“Since the release of the documentary on national PBS stations this past January, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to The Audition. I seem to get at least a handful of new Facebook friend requests every day, not to mention the emails and wall postings and messages on my website from people around the country who were impacted by it. To hear what viewers have had to say after they’ve watched the movie has been fascinating: ‘I never realized what it took to be an opera singer!’, ‘I never saw an opera before, but now I want to go to one!’, ‘I’m simply blown away by all of the talent!’. I have to admit that I’ve also gotten quite a bit of: ‘I was sure you were going to win’. Or the slightly more authoritative: ‘You should have won!’. Or, ahem, my father’s personal favorite: ‘You got robbed.’ Of course, I am touched that people enjoyed my performance, and hey, maybe I could have used some of them at the judges’ table, but For. The. Record. I’m actually not sure I should have won, and I definitely don’t think I got robbed. Dad.”

Kiera’s dad and I quite possibly have some bonding in our future.

Photo courtesy of Steve Laxton