2017 Amateur Chamber Music Workshop Photos


Photos from the Amateur Chamber Music Showcase (3.26.17) Chet Swartz – violin, Doris Swartz – piano Beethoven Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola: Debbie Stephenson – flute, Karan Wright – violin, Michael Hansen – viola Shostakovich Piano Quintet: Winston Davis – violin, Michele Bartlow – violin, Gail MacColl – viola, Richard Mier – cello, Dianne […]

On musical memories and Faure’s Piano Quartet no.2 op.45


The hardest thing to put into words is the feelings you’ve forgotten about that only surface when listening to music. Clouded with the dust of the everyday mechanics, your brain doesn’t compute it when it hits you. So it comes to you with a roil, drifts away in wisps. That’s why people often use words […]

On Mark Carlson’s Piano Quartet


Piano Quartet by Mark Carlson: Composer, Teacher, Performer and Music Lover When I was a sophomore at UCLA and struggling with, among many things, the anxiety that comes with trying to decide if a career as a musician suited me and was even possible, Professor Carlson’s music theory class was an oasis for me. His […]

On Steven Stucky’s Piano Quartet


It was on Valentine’s Day of last year that Steven Stucky passed away.  Brain cancer, they reported. “Steven Stucky, Composer Who Won a Pulitzer, Dies at 66” was the boiled down headline of the NYT, where his numerous life’s accomplishments were listed off in their characteristic no-frills style, his monumental accomplishments more impressive by the […]

On “Cruel ragtime” and Chopin nocturnes


Sometimes musical kinship between two vastly different composers isn’t readily apparent until you start practicing for a concert that you’ve programmed them on.  One wouldn’t naturally find similarities between the madcap William Albright and Frederic Chopin, considering that a good 150 years and several continents lie between them.  But one of the perks of being […]

On Dohnanyi’s Piano Quintet no.2 in E-flat


In our first rehearsal yesterday of Dohnanyi’s op.26 Piano Quintet, Juliette, who was unfamiliar with the work, remarked on how nostalgic it seemed. “Was it a late composition?” Meh, more like middle period.  He was 37.  But I understood what she meant.  There is a sweet familiarity in some of the quintet’s themes, a reflective […]

On Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on Music


Richmond homeboy Edgar Allan Poe will get the spotlight this coming Sunday with a couple of very cool works that you may not know about. More than a few composers have found the visceral horror of Poe’s stories to be a source of powerful and evocative music.  In André Caplet’s (1878-1925) case, Poe’s Masque of […]

On the Artwork that inspired Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (part 2)


Okay, so the thing I find super cool about the pictures that inspired Mussorgsky’s composition is that they were mostly related to other works of art. Viktor Hartmann was an architect and designer in addition to being a painter, and many of his works in the exhibit were designs for costumes, buildings, or architectural studies […]

On Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition


Pictures at an Exhibition is probably Mussorgsky’s most popular work, though he never had the satisfaction of knowing that.  Plagued by severe depression, the composer basically drank himself to an early death at age 42, leaving many works unrevised for publication. Like many other of Mussorgsky’s works, Pictures was subjected to the hubris of other composers, […]

On Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat, D929


Before I start waxing poetic on Schubert’s great E-flat piano trio, I wanted to give you a quote from Stanley Kubrick, who had used this piece in scenes of Barry Lyndon to express what dialogue could not convey. “Barry and Lady Lyndon sit at the gaming table and exchange lingering looks. They do not say […]

Summer 2016 Finale: “All’s well that ends well”


I always have a hard time starting these posts because there are about 5000 thoughts and feelings buzzing around my head after a concert, and nearly zero that can really be condensed into a comprehensible sentence.  This is doubly so for the last concert of the season, after the jam-packed, exciting marathon that is our […]

Summer update: 8/22 – 8/28


this was me this weekend: because …. piano piano piano! but also…. 50 billion notes! 4 pianos + over-the-top epic rep = broken strings and lots of scampering The pianos at Garth Newel got a lot of use this past week, because not only were they being played four times as much as usual, but […]

Summer Update: 8/14 – 8/21


One of my favorite chamber music memories was during my first semester as a masters student, where I was assigned to play the Poulenc Sextet for wind quintet and piano.  I didn’t know the first thing about playing with winds, had never even heard the piece, and I didn’t know any of the players, who […]

Summer update: 8/8-8/14


When I moved to Bath County at the beginning of September 2015, I was there just in time to catch the blowout string extravaganza that was last summer’s finale.  Always the gracious host, Shawn and the Garth Newel crew invited me to all the festivities, even though my official start date wasn’t until a week […]

Summer Update: Aug 1-7


I’m terrible with goodbyes.  Because how do you encapsulate your appreciation for someone in a hurried moment?  It’s one of those instances where words fail me, but oh well, goodbyes must be said.  They’re just a reminder that while goodbyes might seem paltry and rushed, the depth of affection and care we’ve come to have […]

Summer Update – July 25-31


You know, I have never met a less complain-y group of 18-25 year olds than this one.  Not one whiner in the bunch.  It’s remarkable, really.  Maybe they’re being real secretive about their whining, but that’s not really in the nature of complainers.  I mean, they had a long week. They had to perform 4 […]

Summer Update: 7/18 – 7/24 Parker Qt Residency


Smush. I’m typing this at 1:26am in a darkened room, so bugs are flying on the sole light that is my computer screen.  And, being lazy, I’m smushing them against the computer with my thumb.   My brain might be a little fried.  For a very good reason though!  It’s been such a wonderful week, […]

Summer update – 7/11-7/17/16


  So the Emerging Artists have all arrived.  Which means our normally quiet grounds are full of life and laughter.  It’s been wonderful; instead of shutting off the lights at the end of the day, I pull out in the evenings to the sounds of practicing and conversation.  And we’ve been joined this week by […]

On the start of our 2016 summer season


The summer shenanigans at Garth Newel are now in full swing.  Technically, we started July 4th weekend, with Rene Marie packing Herter Hall on Saturday, and with us resident musicians at the Homestead on Sunday.   But the roiling kickoff to our jam-packed season seemed to come this past weekend, with Saturday and Sunday filling us all […]

On Lera Auerbach


This week I annoyed the quartet by asking them if we could start programming next year’s pub concerts.  (Sorry guys!)  This is way ahead of when we usually do it, but there was an application due soon that needed that information. As a result though, I’m SUPER EXCITED about what we have lined up for next […]



It’s too much.  One of the deadliest, most horrific mass shootings in US history occurred yesterday morning at Pulse Orlando.  A MASSACRE of innocents by a MONSTER whose evil is beyond all comprehension.  There are no words available to process this devastating tragedy of 50 dead and 53 injured.  I find the only reaction that is true lies in music. Inspired […]

What kind of Garth Newel fan are you?


So, I don’t know if you know about this yet, but Garth Newel is not only on Facebook, but on Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, Instagram, and Google + (which…does anyone use Google +?  Our profile is up in case people do, but I have yet to see evidence that it’s alive…) The point is, there are so many […]

Mom’s Chopin


Like a typical teen, I tried to do the opposite of everything my mom did.  Chopin was her thing, so I went in the spikier direction of Bartok, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich.  From the years from age 15 to 24, I did not touch a single piece of Chopin’s, even though I had consistently performed his […]

Garth Newel RVA


We are 2/3ds of the way through our Richmond tour, and wanted to update everyone with how its going so far.  But because Richmond is so ravishingly beautiful, it seemed more appropriate to let pictures tell most of the story. Even though we left for Richmond on the 23rd, our tour was really kicked off […]

On what musicians are thinking about when they perform


The following thoughts occurred on March 9th, during our concert at VMI   Are we all ready to bow yet?  I’m having trouble standing without falling over – Jeannette You guys, wait for me.  I’m still walking.  Seriously, if you guys start bowing without me I’ll be really annoyed – Evelyn Hm. Jeannette walks really fast on stage. […]

On audiences here at Garth Newel


Last night was a revelation to me. Herter Hall was packed. PACKED.  Shawn was gleefully pulling out more and more chairs for people, his stentorian “Welcome!” on rapid repeat throughout happy hour.  Ahh, I thought, they must be here for the promise of Chef Josh’s delicious pizza. Except…they loved the music!  I stared into bright faces, […]

On working with composers


The thing that hooked me into new music was my addiction to solving puzzles.  Rapidly oscillating 9ths up and down the keyboard with too small a hand?  Regroup and quickly throw! Passagework which squirrels away from any comfortable hand position?  Sneak some with the other. Ostinatos of complicated rhythms underneath an equally complicated but divergent […]

String Envy


At college, I wound up mostly hanging out with string players.  There were a multitude of reasons why I was drawn to them; they shared and encouraged the same geeky excitements I had, they loved to sightread and discover new pieces, and they were positive and affectionate towards other musicians.  They demonstrated a joy in […]