Infamous orchestral works at Garth Newel?


As some of you might have seen, I’ll be playing a duet concert this Saturday at Garth Newel, Feb.22, with Jeremy Thompson. And as some of you who have seen the program might be asking, why are we playing two works that are more often heard performed by a full orchestra? Both of these transcriptions […]

Congratulations to 2020 Garth Newel International Composition Competition Winner, Jordan Kuspa!


From all around the world works were submitted to Garth Newel Piano Quartet’s 9th International Composition Competition by composers who wanted to share their new piano quartets. The selected composer would be awarded the Glovie and Dick Lynn New Music Prize, along with a travel stipend to attend the premiere of the winning work by […]

Inside the Music: Lera Auerbach


In 2016, I wrote an excited post about Lera Auerbach for this blog, in which I gave a very subjective listing of some facts of her life that I had deemed were fascinating. If some nonsense words from 4 years ago bring nothing to mind for you, here they are again. It’s very important you […]

Inside the Music: Stylefinder edition


by Jeannette Fang Categories are quick, but they are not always accurate, and more often than not they can be misleading. Just take a look at iTunes, where the “Classical” screen encompasses everything from albums of 17th century composer Frescobaldi to crossover acts like 2 Cellos. Clearly, “classical” as a genre term has become a […]

Inside the Music: Getting to know Harold Meltzer’s Piano Quartet


by Jeannette Fang I was first introduced to the music of Harold Meltzer through his 2 Songs from Silas Marner, which stayed in my mind for its simple beauty, the cello evoking a peculiar feeling of loneliness and expanse. It was clear to me that Meltzer had a special mastery in creating texture to cull […]

Caption Contest!


In looking over pictures from recent concerts, we came across some shots of the ridiculous variety. In trying to remember what made us do this or that bizarre thing onstage, we started wondering what you out there in the audience must have thought. And, being fans of the New Yorker, we thought it might be […]

Recording Release


Our long awaited recording of Paul Moravec‘s Piano Quartet is finally out! We commissioned Paul Moravec to write us this work a few years back and have had a blast playing such a fantastic piece. You can listen to and download it on our store page, or any other music sharing site you use. It’s […]

On the upcoming pub concert: Colla, Coors, and Corn Chowder:


Every time I try to describe on this blog a piece of music we’re going to perform, two things happen. I test out a bunch of words that eventually morph into pretentious sacks, and the tunes of “insufferable” and “that’s not right at all” start cycling through my head in a 30 second loop. And […]

Announcing the winner of the 8th Annual Garth Newel Composition Competition


download press release for 2018 comp winner After receiving over 90 entries from all over the world, the members of the Garth Newel Piano Quartet are pleased to announce Balázs Kecskés from Hungary as the winner of Garth Newel’s 2018 Composition Competition. The Quartet offers their sincere thanks to all of the talented composers who […]

Literally, so many wrong notes


Why are we so hung up on wrong notes? After this year’s 10-week summer season, while I did all the whoops and high fives of getting to the end without face-planting onstage, all I could think about were how many gaffs I made onstage. How many little split notes and fudged fakeries that occurred out […]

When pianists play something not written for the piano


Despite the staggering wealth of repertoire written for the piano, there comes a time when someone asks you (esteemed keyboard player) to play something written for another instrument. There’s this piece we fell in love with, André Caplet’s Conte Fantastique (based on the Masque of the Red Death by Poe), which is scored for harp and string […]

4 pianists walk into a bar…


Every summer at Garth Newel’s there’s a keyboard weekend. It a tradition that started before my hire, and it involves 3 pianists descending onto Garth Newel to join me and give the term “piano quartet” a whole new meaning. You might imagine what that might be like. Perhaps we have nightly “octave offs”, where we […]

Putting a face to what you hear


This summer is shaping up to be one full of visits from the composers of programmed pieces. This is significant because we live in a time where this doesn’t actually happen very often. Most people don’t realize how much of a treat it is to actually put a face behind the music they hear, for […]

Garth Newel featured on NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer


We’re so fortunate to have been featured in a series of episodes on Lowell-award winning podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Listen to all 5 of the episodes in the links below and subscribe to his excellent podcast here Episode 1 featuring Shawn Puller talking about Garth Newel Music Center and it’s history article on […]

Unapologetically Yours


by Jeannette Fang I’ve been noticing more and more musicians saying that they don’t enjoy the spotlight. I don’t know if this is becoming a trend or not, it’s just something I’ve been paying greater attention to the more I’ve been thinking about what performing means to me. Sometimes I get a whiff of a particular […]

A Man with a Passion: the 6 degrees of William Cobbett


Walter Willson Cobbett may not have composed symphonies or even picked up an instrument as a child, but his influence in the world of chamber music is so far-reaching that it is felt more than a century later at Garth Newel. I suppose anyone with a lot of money has the capacity to make an […]

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


by Jeannette Fang 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 […]

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 […]