Category Archives: Fiddle Stuff

Rule 5: Leila Josefowicz

© glampool

A great beauty as well as a virtuoso violinist.

Chamber Orchestra was fun

It was fun, indeed, but I haven’t worked that hard since I retired. Rehearsing a lengthy piece is work. The end-of-the-week concert was a breeze comparatively. And the workshop’s classes were a bit long, though the subjects were useful:

Intonation, expressive performance and bow variations, the bow being 90 percent of the fiddle as my teacher likes to say. The old joke goes: it’s not true the devil invented the fiddle but it is true that he invented the bow. And how.

Nevertheless I am going to try and get in the UTexas adult orchestra to continue this classical adventure a little longer. Only snag would be if I had to audition. I doubt I could get through that. Stay tuned, as the fiddlers say. Ha, ha.

UPDATE:  The UTexas Strings Project “parent” orchestra runs an hour a week from September to May and doesn’t require an audition (or a child in the Strings Project), so I’m going to plan on it.

MORE:  Meanwhile I signed up for a summer version of the above—five rehearsals and a performance—paid my $100 fee, got my 3 charts via PDF and am practicing them for the start on July 14.

Chamber Orchestra Workshop

Less than a week still to practice for my five-day Chamber Orchestra Workshop at Blackerby Violin on Anderson Lane not far from the rancho.

Twenty of us adult beginners, including violins, cellos and violas, will be rehearsing Telemann’s Concerto In D Major, Elgar’s Chanson de Matin, and Mozart’s Serenade in Four Movements for a recital on the last day. “The real classical repertoire,” as my teacher put it. But also a couple of light things such as Scarborough Fair.

After several years of playing Old Time and contra dance music, and lately practicing jazz ballads and klezmer, this will be my first venture into classical music. I think it’s going to be fun.

UPDATE:  Fun, yes, but also work. Not only am I one of the few 70-or-older participants, I’m the only one without much classical in my musical background.

APQ’s new album

This is one cool jazz album you gotta have. It’s Latin American jazz, called nuevo tango, mostly original but all in the style of Astor Piazzolla, an Argentine composer who grew up in Italy and later moved to Brazil. But nevermind all that confusion.

APQ is my genius violin teacher James Anderson’s quintet, called the Austin Piazzolla Quintet and this their new (third) album is called, simply, APQ. And it’s been out there for purchase (for as little as $10 for ten tunes at an average of six minutes each, but you should be generous and pay $20) for several days now.

Try it. I’ll be very surprised if you don’t like it.


Rule 5: Sarah Whitney


Definitely not plus-sized, but Ms Whitney is a helluva fiddler and striking, too.

No fiddle recital until spring

My teacher, the amazing jazz violinist James Anderson, put off his studio’s fall recital until spring. Too many of his young students had try-outs and auditions to practice for. For us adult beginners, recitals are just a lark.

Meanwhile I still have LOCO, my mid-week gig as a contra-dance band sideman playing backup chords and Pentatonic scales for much better melody fiddlers, along with mandolinists and guitarists. It’s like a free lesson and it’s also fun. I’d forgotten how much I loved ensemble work from my high school and college days as a trumpet player.

For the spring I believe I’m going to work up at least one piece by Duke Ellington, probably Satin Doll, or maybe Prelude to A Kiss. Shoot, I might do both. When it comes to jazz I confess to liking these old ballads the best.

UPDATE:  I’m working up Prelude and a Klezmer piece, Der Yid in Yerushalayim (The Jew In Jerusalem), which includes a harmonic I’m struggling with.

MORE:  The spring recital was set for June 7 but James has canceled it in favor of a new, uncertain date in late June or mid-July. He got a June 7 gig he just could not refuse, playing in the orchestra for this famous, Grammy-winning choir.

Great dreams

I met Duke Ellington in a dream the other night in a remarkably small theater after his ensemble had concluded their 1927 composition Black & Tan Fantasy.

I tried to bum a cigarette from the great jazzman, but he refused. I thanked him for doing that. “It will make a better story,” I said. Then I woke up with a smile.

When I told my fiddle teacher about it, he wasn’t surprised. “You’ve been playing his music,” he said. Spooky instrument, the fiddle.