I am happy to announce that as part of a year long Guest Artist Residency at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, I’ll be performing a free recital on Wednesday, April 17th in the Woolley Room at Mary Lyon Hall. The program features music by J.S. Bach; Elliott Carter; Boston-based composer Kevin Siegfried; new works by young Wheaton composers, and a duo with violinist Irina Muresanu of music by Ravi Shankar, in honor of the international music hero’s recent passing. I am most excited by the fact that the program will feature four new lullabies by Wheaton composition students as part of my New Lullaby Project. Click HERE for concert info.
I first came to the school in December 2012 to perform the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo with the student orchestra, The Great Woods Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Delvyn Case. I returned in late February to work with four composition student, none of which had written for guitar. I performed some solo pieces for them (Carter, Siegfried, Feist), discussed writing for the guitar (tunings, notation, possibilities and pitfalls) and took their questions.
In late March I came back with drafts of their new compositions and read through them for the class. The experience was exhilarating and a bit nerve racking. I had received two of the four the night before and only read through them that morning, some had some issue with their notation software, they were not sure what to expect and the first time can be a bit brutal for all of us. After two hours, I think the students came away with an idea of how to improve the music (notation, voicing) to get their ideas across, take better advantage of the guitar and not kill the player’s hands. Since then and over many emails I have received ‘new’ versions and am practicing away! I am very excited for the upcoming concert.
It is a great honor to work with these young minds and present their work. I hope you will join me for the concert!
New Lullabies by Young Composers:
Berceuse for Iris by Gordon Jones ‘14
The Edge bMontana Rogers ‘15y
Icarion by Siv Anderson ‘15
Post-Bedtime Adventure by Tim Larson ‘15
Also on the Program:
Suite BWV 996 by J.S. Bach
Shard by Elliott Carter (watch video HERE)
Tracing a wheel on Water by Kevin Siegfried
L’Aube Enchantée by Ravi Shankar, in honor of the music hero’s recent passing, with violinist Irina Muresanu
A beautifully written reflection in the Upham’s Corner News about my January Greater Boston House Concerts event. I paired with author and former musician Glenn Kurtz for an evening of music played by me and readings by Kurtz.
A wonderful late night of music making.
“[Aaron] impressed the audience with his rapidly changing chords and trill movements.”
Read the complete article in the Brown University Daily Herald:
Watch a preview video of the October 6th concert in Boston with Schola Cantorum:
A Salon Concert Review of
Inside the Piano – Outside the Box with Barbara Lieurance, piano
By Frank E. Warren
Presented by: Greater Boston House Concerts
Aaron Larget-Caplan, Director
15 September 2012 • Season 2
Whether one plays inside the piano, or lives outside the box, Ms. Lieurance presented a truly musical event. It seemed too, that the intimacy of the Greater Boston House Concerts, combined with Ms. Lieurance’s natural charm, created the perfect atmosphere for this program of “modern” piano music. The evening was so great, it is difficult to know where to begin. So, we’ll talk first about Greater Boston House Concerts.
Founded by Boston Conservatory and UMass-Boston classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan in 2011, Greater Boston House Concerts (www.GBHConcerts.com) presents monthly, salon-style programs, open to the public. With the expert assistance of Caroline Larget and Catherine Larget-Caplan, the house is transformed into the perfect balance of a casual social evening, and a music program of the highest professional level. In Upham’s Corner in Dorchester, this beautiful 1885 Queen Anne Victorian home has the open space to seat 40 or more people comfortably, and it appeared to be a full house for this event. Each concert is between one and two hours duration, followed by an informative question and answer session led by Mr. Larget-Caplan, and of course a Meet-The-Artist reception. In polling the audience, it was a pleasant discovery to find a good percentage of the folks who lived in the neighborhood, while others came in from the suburbs and other parts of Boston. There were as many non-musicians as musicians in every age category, and academics as well as tradesmen – a true salon experience. This 1885 house has truly re-discovered a magical time in history.
Known for her innovative performances and her daring programming, Barbara Lieurance brings new music to concerts halls (and parlors) throughout North America and Europe. She has been a special guest artist at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, with the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, performed two tours with the Keys to Music program, bringing avant-garde music to hundreds of school children in Michigan, and was invited to perform a full recital in celebration of the Swiss composer, Meinrad Schutter. She is also a founding member of the new music trio, Antares Project.
For the GBHC presentation, Ms. Lieurance built her program around a C. Curtis-Smith composition entitled: Rhapsodies, written in 1973. When discussing the music on the program, she raised the following points: These Rhapsodies are the first compositions (we know in modern times) written for bowed-piano – an effect where nylon line is pulled along the piano strings to create new sounds, there are four movements that all borrow titles from the Ordre, of François Couperin (1668-1733), recognized as the first French composer to write keyboard compositions of lasting significance, and in her study of the Rhapsodies, finding suggestions that the music of Prof. Curtis-Smith is highly influenced by the sound and gestures of French Impressionism.
There were five compositions on the program, two were performed strictly on the keys, and three very much performed inside the piano sound box. The order in which these compositions were presented framed the featured work beautifully while allowing each piece to “live” in its own time. The overall balance of the full program was quite perfect and extremely satisfying. It seems the entire audience shared in this opinion.
To link with the French Impressionist concept alluded to earlier, the program started with Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, a well-known work to music audiences. A fine selection, as it settled the listeners for upcoming events. Ms. Lieurance’s performance was perhaps a little slower than we might be accustomed to hearing yet, the phrasing and nuance of her interpretation allowed the tempo to enhance, rather than distract from the lovely and familiar tune. From this point on, she had captured the willing audience…
The next composition, Sonata, by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidalina (b. 1931) can be described as powerful, virtuosic, and sometimes “jazzy.” As the performer points out, it is music that requires hearing more than one time, to best appreciate its complexities. In three movements (the first two connected), and the fast-slow-fast defining of movements, the piece is identifiably what I might call a post-Beethoven sonata in form. The first two movements make heavy use of varying techniques for playing Inside the Piano, while the last movement is virtually performed all on the keyboard, introducing more clearly the composer’s concepts regarding Jazz harmony and rhythm. As throughout the entire program, Ms. Lieurance performs this music with full truth.
After such an energetic piece, it is always nice to “cool down” with something that is a little more relaxing. Ms. Lieurance does this, while keeping to the program idea of the avant-garde with a John Cage piece, Dream, from 1948, and written for Merce Cunningham. In some respects I found this music to link more closely with the Debussy. It would be interesting to know if that was the performer’s intention? Either way, her choice shows much insight for excellent programming, and understanding of audience/participation. For those unfamiliar with this work, it is in every sense of the word “traditional.” As the title implies, it is a dream piece, for the most part running up and down minor scales. It is affective music, and served its purpose well.
Up next is what most of the audience came to hear – and see – whatever it is that is called Bowed piano! Like any prepared piano, this has the added effect of drawing nylon line across the strings. The composition is in four movements (with the Couperin reference), each becoming more involved with the inside of the piano, until the keyboard is almost entirely ignored by the last movement. In this space, with the available piano, some adjustments were required for resetting the “bows” between movements. This necessity in one sense made it difficult to find any continuity from one movement to another. On the other hand, it provided a nice opportunity to meet the wonderful people sitting next to us!
Sometimes when listening to a piece for the first time, it is hard to determine whether we are understanding the composer better or, if the music is simply getting better as it goes along? All kidding aside, my sense was that the composer was exploring in this composition, and it finally came together in the last movement. With a few more hearings my understanding might become more detailed yet, even in the program notes it says, “… a journey that parallels that of the exploring composer;…” What is clear is that Ms. Lieurance has worked with this music for a long time, enjoys bringing it to the public, and firmly believes in its value. The skill with which she conjures various sounds from within the piano is a fascinating pleasure, one that this listener will surely explore more deeply, and look forward to hearing more often.
The performer’s interest in this concept has grown to the point that she’s commissioned selected composers to write new music specifically for bowed piano and, she plans to make archival recordings of each project. The first composer she commissioned, John Oliver (b. 1959) of Vancouver, BC, wrote Meditation for Barbara, which is the music she uses to close the program. It is a beautiful piece in one movement, about six minutes in length, through composed yet, closely resembling a simple song form. What is most striking is that within all this exploration of sound… shape and proportion remain the most important elements. It is not possible to imagine that this music could have been performed any better than what we heard this evening. Every type of mood, expression, articulation, dynamic, phrasing, you name it, was brought out by Ms. Lieurance – in a way that we understood – the music was most important. No doubt, this woman will leave a lasting, and positive mark on the landscape of 21st Century music. She may be Out of the Box yet, she IS in step with the music.
After the music, the audience was invited to look Inside the Piano while she informatively answered every question. One bit of information that Ms. Lieurance shared that was not lost on anyone in the audience was; “…with everything going on inside the piano, the most important aspect is to know the instrument is safe. Any time a new idea is introduced, I speak with the piano technician. If we agree it is safe, OK. Otherwise we find an alternative approach, in order to preserve the piano.” Outside the Box must mean With responsibility!
Any opportunity you have to hear Ms. Lieurance, attend a Greater Boston House Concert activity, or do both, this writer recommends that you mark it on your calendar. This performance was a memorable experience.
________ Frank E. Warren
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Hey Fans of Aaron Larget-Caplan,
It means a lot to me that you’ve been a supporter of my music career, and as an indie artist every dollar counts— so I wanted to let you know that between July 30th and August 3rd, if you purchase any of my MP3s from CDBaby.com, I’ll get to keep 100% of the sales! (Usually CDBaby takes 25%. iTunes takes 30% and is not part of the 5-day special).
If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, now is the best time to buy my music because your money will literally go further to help me make my next album, launch my next tour, etc.
Check out my music on the newly www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AaronLargetCaplan.
If you already have all of the music, please consider writing a CD review!
I received this note on December 19th from composer Hayg Boyadjian. I premiered his new lullaby, “Cancion de Cuna” on December 10 & 18 in Cambridge & Nashua. I recorded and performed his ‘Mi Tango’ on an Albany Records release in 2010 (Listen or Watch)
I was very impressed in a number of ways at your New Lullaby Project Premiere Concert at the New Music School on Saturday evening where you performed twelve lullabies for guitar solo, a good number of them world premieres, including my lullaby “Cancion de Cuna”.
Performing twelve mostly new works by twelve living composers is in my mind a great accomplishment, given the amount of work involved in learning these twelve pieces, which must have required a great deal of commitment on your part. I should say that we composers are lucky to have a musician of your caliber and dedication in presenting these new works to audiences. One would have a hard time to imagine the challenges that you faced in learning these works written in a musical language that is not traditional, as the concert of Saturday demonstrated. I would wish that other musicians were as dedicated as you are in promoting the works of living composers, it is a priviledge to have you as a champion of our compositions.
Finally I should add that I enjoyed the performances of all the twelve lullabies. Each one of them written in a different musical idiom and each one communicating a different mood made the concert very interesting for its given variety.
Thank you for all your dedication to new music,
- Arts Residency, Con Fuego, Concerts, General, Greater Boston House Concerts, Interviews, New Lullaby Project, Recordings, Reviews
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Welcome to my first Year-in-Review. All of the names words with underlines are links. Please check out the amazing collaborators, awesome publications and very cool video and recordings. Enjoy,
2011 started off with a bang with a program titled, “A Minor Concert of Major Works”. The last third featuring the awesome Kai-Ching Chang on piano for the Concierto de Aranjuez. The concert earned my first review with the Boston Musical Intelligencer (Read Here). I also returned to El Show de Fernandito for a performance & interview (Watch). Got moving on Twitter: @AaronLC
February: A return to Harvard University’s Pusey Room Series, directed by Carson Cooman with the wonderful Duo Diavolo (Orlando Cela). My debut at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester (cupcakes included) was followed by a return to John McDonald’s Composition Seminar at Tufts University for a new lullaby sharing, and a trip out west to CSU Bakersfield, where Jim Scully & Roger Allen Cope hosted me for a recital and master class on their Guitar Arts Concert Series. Reviews of my New Lullaby CD appeared in Classical Guitar Magazine, Fanfare Magazine (2x), The Triangle, American Record Guide.
March: A concert of contemporary music and a master class at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas was made possible by the wonderful New Lullaby composer Nolan Stolz (listen & watch on YouTube). I returned to Colorado for concerts with the Alamosa Live Music Association (go Lucas Salazar!) at Adams State College, house concerts in Denver and Boulder, as well as much needed downtime in some amazing hot springs. My return to Boston heard concerts for the Ligue Francophone and one of the most fantastic endeavors of 2011: a 13-performance, 3-concert and 3-workshop (20 events!) residency in one week in Northern New Hampshire (900 miles of driving!), sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire (AANNH) and NEFA. Amazing!
April: After a giant blizzard, the AANNH Residency finished with a concert by Duo Diavolo. The magical dancer Gabriela Granados & I brought ¡Con Fuego! to Springfield for a lively concert with City Music Springfield. I appeared solo on Canary Burton’s ‘The Latest Score’ on WOMR, Provincetown. Reached 600 fans on Facebook!
May: Premieres of New Lullabies by Thomas Schuttenhelm and Michael Veloso in Cohasset & Boston, Mass. Started Greater Boston House Concerts with the first performance by violinist Shaw-Pong Liu. Joined the faculty of the Boston Conservatory with Berit Strong and Olav Chris Henriksen to revamp the classical guitar program; a very cool month!
June: Repeat performance of the May New Lullabies and ¡Con Fuego! was joined by cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer for its debut, during a downpour, at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT. A repeat performance in Cambridge rocked! WATCH Polo by De Falla (cello & guitar)
August: ¡Con Fuego! set out west with Gabriela Granados, Catherine Larget-Caplan as navigator, for performances in Taos, NM (Taos Academy of Arts), & Alamosa (KRZA), Leadville (Tabor Opera House) and Centennial, Colorado.
September: Hurricane moved concerts and I moved people, musically speaking, on Cape Cod and at the University of Vermont in Burlington, where I premiered the first two 12-tone New Lullabies by Jacob Mashak and Patricia Julien and a 3-voice lullaby by Alan Fletcher.
October: Performances with pianist John Thomas and a solo enrichment program on the Cape and New Hampshire. A new lullaby by Canary Burton was premiered as well. Went down to Texas for debut performances at Esquina Tango in Austin & the Greater Houston Guitar Guild (radio too LISTEN). Sadly, Fort Worth fell through thanks to United/Continental (not fun!). Texas premieres by Hayg Boyadjian, Jonathan Feist, Alan Fletcher, and Michael Veloso. My work as an Artist Entrepreneur was featured in an article in the International Music Fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon’s magazine, The Triangle: Building a career through talent and savvy.
November: Duo Diavolo teamed up for more concerts with Greater Boston House Concerts performing in Boston, Newton and Cape Cod the awesome music of Ravi Shankar, Astor Piazzolla, Enrique Granados and Toru Takemitsu. Reached 800 fans on Facebook!
December: Duo Diavolo performed for the NEFA Idea Swap. The awesome chamber work Sextour Mystique (Mystic Sextet) by Villa-Lobos was performed by myself and students from the Boston Conservatory.
• I recorded & released my first digital single: Summertime by Gershwin arranged by Takemitsu (click to listen).
New Lullaby Project Concert was featured in the Jewish Advocate and the Dorchester Reporter.
A solo performance at the Apple Store was followed by a New Lullaby Project Premiere Concert of 12 New Lullabies (#’s 18-30) in Cambridge, MA and at Studio 99 in Nashua, NH, with seven composers present and milk & cookies. The year ended with a performance and interview on Jewish Perspectives, a monthly program on Boston NBC 7.
2011 turned out to be pretty darn awesome!
***I know none of this would not be possible with the great love and support I receive from my wife Catherine Larget-Caplan and her sister Caroline. Thanks to the amazing composers who entrust their music to me; my duo partner Orlando Cela; all the organizations and people listed for making the concert/piece/article possible. And to each person who takes a moment to just listen. You rock!
Most Photos & Video courtesy of Catherine
I had the great honor of being interviewed and performing a few pieces on the Boston’s NBC 7 for the monthly show, Jewish Perspective. I spoke mainly about the New Lullaby Project but wonderful questions got me speaking about sound, how we listen and my own background prior to classical music. Playing live, with only the camera as audience, is a wonderful challenge that was both exhilarating and daunting.
I performed two New Lullabies from the New Lullaby CD, Leaky Roof and No Time (listen), both by Jonathan Feist. I also performed a beautiful arrangement by Toru Takemitsu of George Gershwin’s Summertime (iTunes). I had recently recorded Summertime and seeing that it was winter I found it timely.
It aired at 6am on Sunday morning and though I was up working until 3:30am I did not get to see it. I hope to have some video from the show in early January. If you did see the show please tell me what you thought. Thanks!
“ps. I should add that it is a bit ironic to have Gershwin and Jonathan Feist on a Jewish show on Christmas. Born Jewish, both have no use for religion. Feist recommended “It Ain’t Necessarily So” for an encore…”
On December 10th, I had the great honor of performing 12 New Lullabies: five world premieres, seven Cambridge premieres. It was fascinating!
The oldest lullaby was written in 2009 and the rest come from 2010-2011. Also present at the recital were 7 of the 12 composers, a great honor, and a milk & cookies reception (thank you cookie composers and Catherine & Caroline!) The program was repeated on 12/18/11 at Studio 99 in Nashua. The Milk and Cookies were quite a wonderful treat. Organic milk is always a must! Read on for my thoughts on the pieces and some video.
Wiegenlied (2011) by Thomas Schuttenhelm
The Moon Through The Window Shines Down (2009) by Thomas L. Read
Lullaby in Three Voices (2011) by Alan Fletcher
Song for Daddy* (2011) by Francine Trester
Cancion de Cuna* (2010) by Hayg Boyadjian
Upward* (2011) by John McDonald
Whispers (2011) by Canary Burton
A Lullaby for Restless Times* (2010) by Martin Schreiner
Little Dancer (2010) by Michael Veloso
After Many Days Without Rain (2011) by Patricia Julien
Lulubye (2011) by Jacob Mashak
A Child Sings at Thanksgiving *(2010) by Demetrius Spaneas
* World Premiere
Played without an intermission and a minimum of talking, relatively speaking, the concert was just about an hour. I found the greatest challenge to the program to be actually creating an order to the program. Though each piece was unique in its musical language of a lullaby the pacing of the concert was a concern. A flashy start and finish was impossible, yet the basic of a program needed to be present: beginning, middle and end.
I found myself creating rough descriptions of the pieces either in their harmonic qualities or their construction, i.e. 12-tone, contrapuntal, repetitive, tonal, warm vs. sparse.
My Thoughts (these are not final and do not represent the composer’s, see their program notes for that)
I opened with Wiegenlied by Thomas Schuttenhelm, as since its premiere in May 2011 it has received repeated performances, so I felt very comfortable, but also it has qualities that I love, harmonics, unusual harmonies, and a lulling middle section that I think exemplifies the New Lullaby Project: it is contemporary music and clearly a lullaby. Thomas also writes some mean program notes (click here to read)
Thomas L. Read‘s lullaby received its premiere in 2010 and though simple in its construction (repetitive bass figure and heart breaking melody) it is actually quite a challenge. In an effort to keep lines legato and the bass figure consistent the left hand does some wonderful acrobats. Though I find the piece full of a restrained passion it is hypnotic. A real gem.
Alan Fletcher’s Lullaby in 3 Voices is the most technically difficult of this program and possibly of the whole batch of New Lullabies. I don’t say that as a criticism, for I find it quite beautiful and though I have heard the moments of magic they don’t always occur in the concert! A mere 30 measures, the piece requires the performer to hear and respect each of the three voices (each singing a lullaby or do the three together make the lullaby or both?). I look forward to the continued discoveries in this finger twister.
Song for Daddy is Francine Trester’s second New Lullaby. The first being My Darling’s Slumber recorded on the New Lullaby CD. I find it amazing to play a second piece by a composer especially soon after the first. The language is understood from the start, signs and symbols are no longer a mystery but something to be fulfilled. I also like to think that the composer is writing with their last experience of me in mind.
Cancion de Cuna by Hayg Boyadjian is the second work I have played of his but the first lullaby. (I recorded his Mi Tango for his Albany CD Vientos, 2010). Hayg’s language is unique and playful. Often using the guitar as a single voice the player moves quickly throughout the range of the fretboard with vibrato, thick sound and unusual rhythms. As in every piece of Hayg’s, there is a moment of sheer difficulty. Four bars of this lullaby took many, many hours. The biggest challenge though was having to sing the finally melody, in Spanish, as I played. The first time was rough but it creates an amazing effect. To many more!
Upward is John McDonald’s second New Lullaby as well. His first being You Are Alone To Sleep recorded on the New Lullaby CD. Probably the sparsest of this set of new lullabies, John has each phrase move in a lulling rhythm from the lowest notes upward to three octaves above harmonics all in the space of 4 or 5 notes. A great effect and I got to work on my LH thumb technique à la cello. I found the sparse textures of this work to be a good compliment to follow Hayg’s. (His program note is beautiful)
Whispers is a sweet work by Canary Burton that reminds me of Provincetown and how the wind can whip by or massage your face. From a single melodic line the music takes on unusual phrasing and odd intervals before relaxing on harmonics and lulling arpeggio. The tossing and turning of an exciting dream or not deep sleep almost finishes the piece but just at the last moment calm returns, much as the sun on a summer afternoon on the Cape. (I can’t say this is what she imagined but as a performer I can take liberties.)
Martin Schreiner’s lullaby is the 2nd of the contrapuntal lullabies though it comes in and out as the restlessness of the title is due the contra-rhythms of the voices 3/4 and 6/8. Sometimes the voices move together and then they quickly move apart to return to each other. I find the dynamics of his writing be just right with the repetitiveness complimented but the color and dynamic changes. Though the piece begins simply each new section, in essence, expands on the melody and harmony: a new bass note, larger dynamic. All said, I found the harmonic section though all natural harmonics to be quite challenging in the balance of the harmonics and accompanying strings. This lullaby will continue to grow and be explored.
Michael Velosos’ Little Dancer, as its title suggests contains both the lullaby aspects of the genre and a bit of dance. The lullaby starts sweet with fleshy chords and a nice wide melody before the 4th string motif begins, but then a little dance sneaks in, and before we know it we are accelerating and moving along in an accented 6/4. The climax of this section though is followed by some ultra-sweet harmonies and an awesome melody on the second string. The coda has us back in a lulling rhythm though are melody still moves throughout 2-2.5 octave range. I found the extra movement in this piece very helpful in making the program move to the final three works.
After Many Days Without Rain is the first 12-tone lullaby on the program. As testament to Patricia Julien’s abilities the work is so much more than just a mere theory exercise. It is beautifully written, not a note needed to be changed, lush in its voicing, free in its positioning and also demanding. The rhythm is 5/4 and the resolution of sleep is a wonderful find.
Lulubye is the 3rd submission by Jacob Mashak, and my favorite. Also a 12-tone lullaby, Jacob’s varies greatly from Patricia’s. In two voices most of the work, the work begins quite quietly with short phrases. Each section has a similar figure that grows in notes and harmonically before coming back down to pp. The shape of the whole work being a big hairpin < > . One of the listeners on Sunday 12/18 in Nashua was particularly moved by this work.
A Child Sings at Thanksgiving by Demetrius Spaneas came to me as the closer of the main program for a number of reasons. Its repetitive and great harmonies, lulling rhythms, singing melody and a second half of beautiful harmonics. It also re-imagines the” Thanksgiving Hymn “We Gather Together” in an abstracted and fleeting way, the work perhaps evokes an adult’s distant memories of holidays past.” I have not received many work that are arrangements or re-imagining (see Trester and McDonald’s first lullabies) and I found that quality quite becoming. A Child Sings is brief, sweet and beautiful, and a lot of fun to play.
As an encore I performed Toru Takemitsu’s Summertime by George Gershwin. This work inspired the New Lullaby Project back in 2006 and so I found it to be a fitting end for this one. I also just recorded it: http://aaronlargetcaplan.bandcamp.com/