“Advent Medley” from Spring Concert 2023

On May 13, 2023 Brian Stevenson, Pender Music Director, produced our annual Spring Concert.

This wonderful evening included music by Heidi Jacobs, pianist, the DC Harp Ensemble, the Pender Joy Ringers Handbell ensemble, Sean Wittmer, violinist, and an Irish music session.

Heidi had just been hired as Pender’s pianist on May 11, 2023 and she agreed to play her audition piece, “Advent Medley” for our concert.

Donations received went to the REACH International foundation in support of two Sri Lankan orphanages.

Benefit Concert for Ukraine

Concert repertoire will include:
Harp arrangements by Debussy
Piano trio of Jazz/Baroque
Flute Concertino by Chaminade
Woodwind Quintet with music of Duke Ellington
The Widor Toccata Organ Symphony Movement V
and an Irish session!

NYC All-Mozart Program

A repost from last year:

Tonight, we are going to Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program including

Piano Concerto No. 21

Symphony No. 38, Prague

Piano Concerto No. 20

And from another post:



Here’s a review of the exact same performance that we attended last night!  The same program was performed on Wednesday.

Review from the New York Times: New York Philharmonic Gives Mozart His Due

As the festival continues to evolve in directions that have less and less to do with its namesake, the Philharmonic, perhaps sensing an opportunity, offers a Mozart program of its own this week: the “Prague” Symphony and the Piano Concertos No. 20, in D minor, and No. 21, in C, with Jeffrey Kahane as guest conductor and soloist.

The “Prague” must be every opera lover’s favorite Mozart symphony. Composed in Vienna in 1786 and evidently given its premiere in Prague early the next year, it is a virtual caldron of tunes more or less shared with “Le Nozze di Figaro” (1786) and “Don Giovanni” (1787).

More than that, the symphony, played before intermission, evokes the moods and characters of those operas, especially “Don Giovanni.” Mr. Kahane treated all of that a bit matter-of-factly at Wednesday evening’s performance, with little lingering to search out lascivious byplay in dark recesses or to limn a bumbling Leporello.

So it came as a delightful surprise, after intermission, when Mr. Kahane injected the condemnatory sequence of rising and falling scales from “Don Giovanni” into his own cadenza for the first movement of the D minor Concerto. His playing was deft and virtuosic in both concertos, though his fast tempos in the outer movements of the C major resulted in some blurred scalar passages and a slightly hectic feel at times.

You might have feared a certain weightiness from the Philharmonic in Mozart, but Mr. Kahane generally drew stylish playing from a reduced band of 40 or so. The strings had a pliant quality, and the woodwinds were especially fine.

My thoughts are included on this blog post: http://maryoblog.com/2015/06/07/saturday-june-6-2015-part-2/

Josh Groban: The Science of Music

There’s more to a song than meets the ear, as Neil deGrasse Tyson finds out when he interviews singer/songwriter/producer Josh Groban. Josh shares how he got started playing his family’s electronic Casio piano while he was still in diapers, and whether he was a science geek in school.

In studio, concert pianist and MIT Lecturer in Music, Elaine Kwon, and co-host Chuck Nice add their voices to the chorus to help us hear the science woven into the songs. You’ll learn how artists breathe life into their music, and about the qualitative difference between human generated and automated music.

Explore the importance of the acoustics of a performance space, the effect music has on people, the difference between melody and harmony, the ranges the human voice is capable of, and which was more important, Charlie Parker’s personal style or his sax.

Plus, Neil and Josh discuss “acoustic panty removers”, Chuck admits to singing first soprano in his church choir, and we find out whether Rachmaninoff really had “big hands” and what rubato means.

via The Science of Music with Josh Groban | StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

When I Don’t Play the Piano

Schubert took piano lessons aged six, but don't let that put you off



By Stephen Hough

A concert pianist is someone who plays the piano in concerts. So far so good, although it may be worth adding the adverb ‘regularly’ to that description. Someone did once tell me that his Aunt Ada was a concert pianist. “She had a lovely touch and played to great acclaim in a concert in our church hall – ‘Rustle of Spring’ I think.”

To avoid any confusion the clip above was played by Semprini, not Aunt Ada.

I’ve written before on this blog about how much more time is spent practising secretly at home or backstage than in front of an audience. It’s the training leading up to the Wimbledon Final, the solitary punchbag months before the blood flies into the roaring crowds at the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship.

But between home and the stage there are many hours when I want to work and I can’t. It’s one of the greatest frustrations of my touring life that, unlike other instrumentalists, I arrive at a hotel without my instrument. There’s that hour before dinner or the time spent twiddling thumbs before doing an interview when I would love to twiddle all ten fingers and check through a passage in my concerto or just get loosened up after a long flight … and I can’t.

Or at least the effort involved in doing so can be enormous. A piano somewhere in the hotel is the best solution, as long as it’s far away from prying ears. It has been suggested to me in the past that I play in the atrium lobby, amidst the mingling guests, the palm trees, the pile-up of Samsonite suitcases. Not even ‘Rustle of Spring’ is thinkable in those circumstances, I’m afraid. If the hotel is a mere walk from the hall then that’s the next best scenario although, later in the evening, there’s unlikely to be someone waiting just for me at the stage door. It has to be planned in advance and it’s often hard to know my plans in advance.

Then the options start to get worse, a taxi ride to a distant hall in heavy traffic, for instance. Finding the venue itself is the first hurdle but then, how to find the stage door? I’ve spent many occasions circling the building, rattling rusty handles, banging my fists against flaking doors, pressing antique buzzers, shouting through glass walls, leaving voicemail messages … to no avail.

Sometimes a generous patron will invite me to use his or her piano. Now I don’t want to sound like I don’t appreciate such kind offers (and sometimes it’s been the beginning of a wonderful friendship) but in my experience pianos in strange homes often come with cats … or rattling photo frames perilously balanced on piano lids, or a vase of trembling flowers on the same, or an impossibly high bench, or a squeaky pedal. And worst of all is the person who, leaving the door open, says to me: “Oh, I love the piano. Don’t mind me. I’ll just be in the next room if you need anything. What are you going to practise?” Then I freeze. I simply can’t work if I know someone is listening to me. It’s a bit like writing when someone is looking over your shoulder. Self-consciousness makes self-expression (and self-criticism) impossible.

So for a long time I oscillated between these various unsatisfactory formats until in more recent years I just stopped trying to practise on the road at all. But then a few seasons ago I started renting an electric keyboard if I was going to stay in a city for more than a couple of days. It was wonderful, saving time and making time so much more fruitful. I’d turn the volume down very low and work away at any time of the day or night.

I’m just beginning a two-month tour, starting in Hobart this week with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Marko Letonja, playing all five Beethoven concertos for the first time. And, also for the first time, I’ve brought along my own electric piano. It’s an experiment and so far (during a short stop at a beach in Thailand last week) it’s been invaluable. A full length keyboard of 88 keys is no good because, as well as being just that bit too heavy to maneuver, it won’t fit into a regular taxi.

But then I discovered the Nord 76-key Piano 2 with Hammer Action. Hand-made in Sweden (yes, I did a second take too) it’s the perfect tool for the job. There are lots of pieces of course which you can’t play from start to finish with a reduced keyboard (although only one note, occurring just three times, in all five Beethoven concertos is missing) but, like a ballet dancer at the barre, in just thirty minutes I can warm up, stretch the muscles, work at a few problem passages here and there and generally keep in shape without having to leave my room. Now when I don’t play the piano I don’t want to.

By Stephen Hough

Concert pianist, writer of words and music, governor of royal ballet companies, theology, art, poetry, perfume, puddings. Website: www.stephenhough.com Twitter: @houghhough

via When I don’t play the piano – Telegraph Blogs.