Archives for category: string

A preview of our lunchtime concert on Wednesday 7th June 2017 at the Emmanuel United Reformed Church on Trumpington Street, Cambridge UK. Mifune Tsuji (violin)
and I (piano) will be performing memorable tunes from the films and beyond. Please stop by if you’re in the vicinity! It’s a free entry with a retiring collection for the church.

 

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Yesterday was a revisiting experience for me and also for my husband. It was the annual Alumni event at one of the colleges in Cambridge. I’d been invited to perform a couple of times in the past but this year’s Alumni was somewhat special since it was the last event presented by the retiring Master whom we’ve known some years. It’s been several years since we last visited the college. We saw some familiar faces but somewhat older as you can imagine. Some transformation around the college, we’ve noticed too! The Alumni event usually ends with a mini concert followed by the Alumni dinner. For this concert, I asked the violinist, Mifune Tsuji to join in. Over the past years we’ve been building up our favourite repertoires, and we picked a few for this event. The theme for the Alumni concert was ‘Music Without Frontiers’, exploring eclectic selection of music from around the world. Our programme started with my piano solo, playing G. Allevi’s Downtown. Followed by Miyagi’s The Sea in Spring, Piazzolla’s Libertango (The CelloProject version), Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Then, two piano solos, playing Grieg’s Arietta and Debussy’s Arabesque No.2 followed the highlight of our programme, my transcription/arrangement of Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango for violin and piano, recently published from the Piazzolla’s original publisher, Bèrben. It was our public premier performance and we managed to record it but the microphones position was not ideal since the room was very small and the audiences’ seats were close up to where we were performing, there were only two obvious spots for them. Either the piano side or the violin side; we definitely didn’t want to put them in the middle to distract the audiences’ view. Since the piano lid was fully open, my choice was to take the violin side. Although, the recording condition wasn’t ideal, I think it captured the momentum of our performance. Both the violin and piano parts are mostly truthful to the Piazzolla’s original but we allowed ourselves to have some rooms to put our own stamps on it. It was well received and again I think we created a very good programme to keep the audience engaged to the end.

In the past, I’ve come across with quite a few discussions in various forum sites regarding the violin and piano version of Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango. It’s originally written in C minor for the cello and piano, and Sofia Gubaidulina did a fabulous virtuosic arrangement for the violin and piano that are well known amongst the violinists who fell for the charm of Piazzolla’s music. Having played the Gubaidulina’s versions with the dynamic violinist Mifune Tsuji on several occasions, my desire to perform this piece in its original form started to grow. As I was making an attempt to arrange it in its original key for the violin and piano, I discovered a couple of problems; some of the notes in the violin part go lower than A below middle C; tonal balance between the violin and piano is not quite right; those who are used to play the Gubaidulina’s version in D minor have to relearn the whole thing! So, I’ve decided to maintain Gubaidulina’s choice in key. As a result, I had to apply a compromise to the modulation after the slow middle section (missing from the Gubaidulina’s version) so that the second libero e cantabile section is played in the subdominant key (G minor) rather than staying in the same key (D minor) as the first libero e cantabile section. If I were to keep the modulation as the original, the Piu Mosso section ends up starting in A minor, which is a perfect 5th higher than the Gubaidulina’s version. This simply was not going to work! By compromising on the modulation, the Piu Mosso section now starts in the same key as the Gubaidulina version. This new arrangement is now available from Bèrben Edizioni Muscicali, Italy. Catalogue number: 5810. Or from the SheetMusicPlus online shop in the USA. I’m happy to announce that Mifune Tusji and I will be giving the premier performance of the piece on 27th September 2014, at the Alumni event at St Edmunds College, Cambridge. I hope that this new arrangement will find its usefulness and deliver the essence of the piece that Piazzolla originally intended. Piazzolla-Le Grand Tango

—update 1— Following the premier performance of the above work, I’m giving away 3 copies (sheet music) to the musicians who may be interested in performing it in the future. Please send me a message. All I’d ask of you is a postage (by paypal) and to share the information of this work. Thank you. NB: Permission to give free copies away is granted by the publisher, Bèrben s.r.l.

—update 2— Two copies are given to the violinists from Hong Kong and Finland, so far.  One more copy is available. (as of February 2015)

—update 3— The last copy went to the violinst from Poland.  Thank you all again for your interest in this new version.
15th February 2015

—update 4— A few more online shops appear to have it in stock.  Here are those I’ve found recently:

Japan
Academia Music

Swizerland
MusikHug

Italy
Birdland

USA
The Juilliard Store

One of the most rewarding feelings you get, as a performer is I believe that you sense that you delivered something memorable for the audience to take home with. It’s even more so when you have a performing partner to deliver it together as a team. For the audience, perhaps it can be liken to the feeling of fulfilment when you had such a delicious dinner at a beautiful restaurant; an art form to enjoy with your eye, sense it with your taste bud, and absorb with your body and share the experience with others.

Due to my very limited numbers of concerts I participate in a year, there aren’t many that I get to experience this feeling. It’s not easy to spare enough time for learning new repertoires when you jaggling with teaching and composing and other works that occur from day to day basis. But sometimes, less time increases your focus level, and something unexpected comes out of it. One of such instances was the lunchtime chamber concert with the dynamic violinist, Mifune Tsuji, on 14th November 2013. Due to the lack of time, certainly I didn’t feel ready to perform this particular violin sonata: Sonate pour piano et violon en Sol Majeur (1892) by Guillaume Lekeu. The only thing that helps me through it was the fact that I felt in love with this piece of music at the first hearing. The fact that Mifune-san felt the same way about this piece and performed many times also helped me greatly. Her beautiful playing simply guided me to understand this piece of music and performing it together was such a joyful experience for me. When we were performing, I poured my whole self into it, in hope that we give something to the audience to take home to. Although there were still a few technical challenges that need to be sorted out over time on my part, I felt more controlled and calm than usual. I wish that happens more often!

My first and the most reliable critique is my husband. Although he’s not a musician, he’s got a certain instinct about the overall musical understanding. What I appreciate most is that he’s very honest in telling me how he felt from the performance. For me, it’s very refreshing to receive opinions from non-musician listeners, which more often than not quite spot on and I value them greatly. When Mifune-san and I finished performing, I was very anxious to find out how he felt for the whole concert. He gave me a big thumb up! I felt convinced that it looks generally positive! I’m glad that I managed to record the whole performance from this concert, so that I can sit back and listen to what our audience experienced from this concert. The positioning of the video recorder wasn’t ideal but I’d often like to capture how the audience is taking the music in and also I think it’s a refreshing idea to invite the audience to experience the performance from the performers’ point of view. I hope you understand what I mean by watching this video and that we share our love for this piece of music with you too!

The live recording of the whole concert is available to download free from my bandcamp page, if you’d rather just have a listen! Please click the link here.

One of the pleasurable experiences being performers is to come across with opportunities to play pieces of music written by living composers from whom we can ask for direct insight about the pieces.

This slow tango piece for violin and piano was written by the British composer, Graham Lynch.  I first came across with his name when he published a series of piano books for the elementary to intermediate levels (UK grade 1 – 4 standard), titled Sound Sketches .  Having being very enchanted by his writing style, I searched for more of his music, which resulted me in discovering some works he wrote for violin and piano. My passion!  But the sheet music weren’t available from music shops, so Graham kindly gave us the copies for the performance.  Having considered the programme we were performing, we decided to go for his Alba.

According to the composer, Alba takes its title from a Medieval genre of poetry of the same name, it’s poetry about the parting of lovers at dawn, and so is about love, regret, pain, which are all very much tango emotions.


If you’re interested in reading more about this piece, please visit the composer’s blog.

I feel so blessed with chances to work with amazing artists across the world. The thing is, I’ve never met any of them physically. This goes to show how much this social network media is playing a big role in my life as a musician now. I can explore my creativity with artists of likely mind to expand the boundaries around us.

Back in April, a fabulous jazz guitarist Rob Michael and I worked on my original piano solo tune to create a guitar & piano duet (https://yukiestpiano.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/another-long-distant-collaboration-with-rob-michael/). Now, 5 amazing artists came on board who were willing to be part of this non-profit project and kindly contributed their photographs to create a music video to release on YouTube. And here’s what came out! I hope it takes you to somewhere your heart is searching for. Enjoy!

Our special thanks to:

Pete Donohue
http://www.petedonohue.com.au/

Yuichi Kitamura (北村祐一)
http://plus.google.com/109066955810836133104/
http://www001.upp.so-net.ne.jp/kogakan/

Linda Palmer
http://www.ponor.info/

Ken McMahon
https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=wX#105844690378470320253/

Karen Shackles
http://elementsphotographicart.com

for kindly contributing their amazing photographs for this project.

Click here to download the music free: http://yukiesmith.bandcamp.com/track/at-dawn

Every time, it works. That’s what happens when you collaborate with Rob Michael. It’s an amazing fact that you find inspiring musicians through social medias whom you’ve never physically met before and ended up finding a common ground to be able to work together. Rob’s instinct for the music coupled with his immense talent and versatility certainly makes it possible.

Rob and I worked on a short piece of music I wrote back in December 2011, in aid of Save the Children Fund  (http://yukiesmith.bandcamp.com/track/above-the-clouds)  This is our second long-distant collaboration; this time we did it purely for our mutual enjoyment, and to share with people around the world, so it’s free to download!

Originally I wrote this piece of music as piano solo for my teenage/adult students. Pentatonic-based melody and sparse yet harmonically satisfying arrangement is usually a way forward with older beginners, I find. To me, often this type of compositions lends itself to potentials to grow into something more. For this piano & guitar duet version, I reworked my piano part to allow for melodic conversation with a guitar to develop through shifting metre and harmonies. Rob’s mellow and eloquent improvisatory playing weaves through piano tones like a singing voice. I think we managed to achieve the sound we’d hoped to achieve here.

Please consider this release as our musical gift to you all, so it’s free to download. If this piece of music speaks to you in any way, we feel that our mission is completed. I hope you enjoy it and share with others!

Additional info
I’m planning to make a music video for this tune using photographs focused on city/town/village scenes with/without people going about with their daily lives. It may take time but hopefully I’ll be able to upload it on YouTube in the near future.