Friday, August 27, 2010

Download a new clarinet sextet

Sheridan Seyfried has sent me a link to a performance of his new Sextet for clarinet, string quartet and piano. It's an attractive, extroverted piece with a lovely middle movement and a jazzy, Latin-tinged finale that reminds me of the sort of stuff Copland and Bernstein were doing back in the 40s. Sheridan is still in his 20s — I'm guessing he'd be 26 now — and still has a long career ahead of him, but it's evident in this music that he is finding his voice.

His bio says he's from Philadelphia, but he grew up in a suburb called Upper Dublin, or, more minutely, a neighborhood known as East Oreland. I interviewed him several years ago for the Springfield Sun after he was accepted to Curtis at age 19. (He lived in our coverage area, and making it to Curtis is sort of a big deal.) I'm friendly with his mom, Elyse, who is the director of spiritual conformation at Christ's Lutheran Church, also in East Oreland. I see her once a year on Martin Luther King Day, when she organizes the activities for the area children.

Like every composer in the world except Elliott Carter, Sheridan also has his own website.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dennis Schmidt performs

My interview with Dennis Schmidt has been posted. The link is at right, titled "Bach by Popular demand." (Clever, eh? Remember, you're dealing with a small-town newspaper here.) The online article includes a video of Dr. Schmidt performing the first 38, self-contained, measures of Bach's E-Flat Prelude, "St. Anne," BWV 552. The organ is located at Grace Lutheran Church, Wyndmoor, PA, where Dr. Schmidt will perform an all-Bach program Oct. 31, which is both Halloween and Reformation Day. (Take your choice of celebrations. I generally go with Halloween, which is also my birthday.) As I said in an earlier post, Dr. Schmidt is offering to play and of the organ works of JS Bach for a fee. Prices are predetermined, from the chorale prelude at $10 each to trio sonata and other more elaborate works priced at $75.

The only drawback I see to this approach is that Bach wrote so much music for the organ — 243 individual pieces — that potential patrons like me with an extra ten dollars to spend might not know what to ask for other than a few favorite works. I know little of Bach's organ music well, and if everyone else is at or above my level of ignorance, there's a good chance we'll end up with a program of greatest hits, rather than hearing anything new, though "new" may be an odd word to apply to music nearly 300 years old. So far, two works hae been purchased, Dr. Schmidt said: The Trio Sonata in E flat, BWV 525 (a favorite of mine), and the Concerto in G BWV 592, an arrangement of a concerto by Duke Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimer, which I don't know at all. So there's at least one thing new to me. (And I hear that in his day, the duke was considered a real mf.)

If anyone reading this is within driving distance of Wyndmoor, I hope to see you there. Grace is lucky to have Dr. Schmidt as its "music minister," his is official title. He is, after all, the former director of the Philadelphia Bach festival, and the church is the only place where he perfroms at all anymore. He does not concertize. He does not arrange performances. During the week, he fulfills orders at JW Pepper in Paoli, and on Sundays he plays a two-manual organ in a Philadelphia suburb.

Current listening: Mozart Rondo in a, K., 511, Rubinstein; Elliott Carter, Four Lauds for violin, Jennifer Koh.