Category Archives: Classical

Debdeep Misra performing at Golpark Ramakrishna Mission – Raga Yaman



By Debdeep Misra, FFM Ambassador for India

“Indian classical music is a genre of South Asian music.It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic.”

Indian classical music has two foundational elements, raga and tala. The raga forms the fabric of a melodic structure, while the tala measures the time cycle.

Indian classical music is a genre of South Asian music.It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic.

The raga gives an artist a palette to build the melody from sounds, while the tala provides them with a creative framework for rhythmic improvisation using time.

There is no concept of harmony in Indian classical music. 

Here Debdeep Misra performs raga YAMAN……WHICH IS INDIAN CLASSICAL RAGA. Yaman emerged from the parent musical style of Kalyan Vilambit bandish  ” kahe sakhi kayse ke ka kariye”
Debdeep Misra
Debdeep Misra, FFM Ambassador for India



हिंदी एफएफएम (Hindi FFM) – गांधी और संगीत …(Gandhi and Music)


अंकुर बीप्लव
अंकुर बीप्लव

महात्मा गांधी – राष्ट्र के पिता, हम सभी को एक स्वतंत्रता सेनानी के रूप में जानते हैं, एक व्यक्ति जो हमेशा सच्चाई और अभाव में, एक दैवीय आत्मा और अपने देश के लिए महान प्रेम और सम्मान वाले व्यक्ति हैं। हम सभी ने अपने जीवन के विभिन्न पहलुओं के बारे में सुना है / पढ़ा है, लेकिन आज हम संगीत के लिए उनके प्यार के बारे में बात करेंगे। हाँ! अधिकांश लोगों को लगता है कि वह सभी कलाओं और संगीत के खिलाफ थे लेकिन संगीत के लिए उनका विचार- “संगीत अकेले गले से आगे नहीं बढ़ता मन, संवेदना और हृदय के संगीत हैं ”

कुंआ! हम सब प्रसिद्ध भजन- “वैष्णव जन” और “रघुपति राघव” के पास आए हैं, ये भजन नियमित रूप से उनके आश्रम में खेले जाते थे। उनके अनुसार सच्चे संगीत में कोई बाधा नहीं है। संगीत वह शक्तिशाली हथियार है जिसमें उसकी भावनाओं को बदलने / नियंत्रित करने की शक्ति है। गांधीजी का दिन भजन के साथ शुरू होगा और भजन के साथ समाप्त होगा। प्रसिद्ध संगीतकार जैसे- पं। एन.एम. खर, मामा फडके, श्री विनोबा और बल्कोबा भावे अपने आश्रम के भजन सत्र का एक हिस्सा थे। उनके आश्रम में भजन के दौरान धर्म, जाति, पंथ, क्षेत्र, भाषाओं आदि का कोई भेदभाव नहीं था। उनके अनुसार संगीत एक था राष्ट्रीय अखंडता का शानदार तरीका क्योंकि यहां विभिन्न रिघीजेन्स के संगीतकार एक साथ बैठते हैं और एक संगीत कार्यक्रम में प्रदर्शन करते हैं। उन्होंने अक्सर कहा, “हम एक संकीर्ण अर्थ में संगीत को ध्यान में रखकर साधन लिखना और अच्छी तरह से खेलने की क्षमता का मतलब करेंगे, लेकिन इसके व्यापक अर्थों में, सच्चे संगीत तब ही बनाया जाता है जब जीवन एक धुन और एक ही समय की धड़कन के साथ होता है संगीत का जन्म होता है जहां दिल की तार धुन से बाहर नहीं होती है। ” जब गांधीजी दक्षिण अफ्रीका में थे तो उन्होंने आश्रम में शाम नमाज शुरू किया था। भजन का यह संग्रह बाद में – ‘नीतीवम कव्यो’ के नाम से प्रकाशित हुआ।

संगीत सुनने से हमें कई तरीकों से मदद मिल सकती है शायद, यही कारण है कि गांधी जी को संगीत की ओर आकर्षित किया गया था। संगीत एक शानदार मस्तिष्क व्यायाम है जो मस्तिष्क के हर ज्ञात भाग को सक्रिय करता है। यह जीवन के सभी चरणों में एक स्मार्ट, खुश और अधिक उत्पादक बना सकता है गांधी जी ने यह भी सोचा था कि संगीत लोगों के मन में शांति और सामंजस्य स्थापित करने का एक तरीका था। संगीत सुनना मानव मन को एक अनन्त शांति देता है, यह सुनिश्चित करता है कि उनका दिमाग हिंसा के प्रति आकर्षित नहीं है। किसी ने एक बार महात्मा से पूछा, “महात्माजी को संगीत के लिए कोई पसंद नहीं है?” गांधीजी ने उत्तर दिया- “अगर कोई संगीत नहीं था और मुझमें कोई हँसी नहीं थी, तो मैं अपने काम के इस कुचल बोझ से मर गया होता।” गांधीजी बहुत संगीत से जुड़े थे  22 दिसंबर, 1 9 45 को उन्होंने रबींद्रनाथ टैगोर को लिखे गए पत्र के जरिए संगीत के लिए उनका प्यार देखा जा सकता है जिसमें उन्होंने रबींद्रनाथ टैगोर का सुझाव दिया था कि भारतीय शास्त्रीय संगीत के साथ साथ पश्चिमी शास्त्रीय संगीत को बंगाली संगीत के साथ दिया जाना चाहिए। इससे यह भी पता चलता है कि गांधीजी को विभिन्न संगीताओं का बहुत ज्ञान था।     गांधी जी का जीवन लय और सद्भाव से भरा था उन्हें भजन के साथ अपना दिन शुरू करने की आदत थी और भजन के साथ अपना दिन समाप्त भी किया था। आजकल कई हिंसा देखी जा रही हैं शायद लोगों के बीच शांति, सामंजस्य और भाईचारे को सुनिश्चित करने का एकमात्र तरीका संगीत है।

English Translation

Mahatma Gandhi- The father of Nation, we all know him as a freedom fighter, a person who always believed in truth and nonviolence, a divine soul and a person having great love and respect for his country. We all have heard/ read about his various aspects of life but today we will talk about his love for music. Yes! most of the people think that he was against all arts and music. But his thought for music was-
“Music does not proceed from the throat alone. There is music of mind, of the senses and of the heart. ”

Well! we all have came across the famous bhajans- “Vaishanav Jan” and ” Raghupati Raghav”, these bhajans were played at his ashram regularly. According to him In true music there are no barrier. Music is that powerful weapon which has the power to change/control one’s emotions. Gandhijis’ day would start with bhajans and would end with bhajans. Famous musicians like- Pt. N. M. Khare, Mama Fadke, Sri Vinoba and Balkoba Bhave were a part of his ashram’s bhajan sessions.. During the bhajans in his ashram, there was no discrimination of religion, caste, creed, region, languages etc.

According to him music was a great way of national integrity because here only musicians of different religions sit together and perform at a concert. He often said, “We shall consider music in a narrow sense to mean the ability to sing and play an instrument well, but, in its wider sense, true music is created only when life is attuned to a single tune and a single time beat. Music is born only where the strings of the heart are not out of tune.” When Gandhi Ji was in South Africa he had started evening prayers in the Ashram. That collection of bhajans were later published under the name of – ‘Nitivam Kavyo’.

Listening to music can help us in lot of ways. Maybe, that’s why Gandhi Jee was so attracted towards music. Music is a fantastic brain exercise that activates every known part of the brain.  It can make one smarter, happier and more productive at all stages of life. Gandhi Jee even thought that music was a way of establishing peace and harmony in the minds of people. Listening to music gives an eternal peace to human mind thus, will ensure that their mind isn’t attracted towards violence.

Someone once asked the Mahatma“Mahatmaji don’t you have any liking for music?” Gandhi Jee replied- “If there was no music and no laughter in me, I would have died of this crushing burden of my work.” This shows how Gandhi jee was so attached to the music.
His love for music can be seen by the letter he wrote to Rabindranath Tagore on December 22, 1945 in which he suggested Rabindranath Tagore that due place should be given to Indian Classical Music as well as Western Classical Music along with bengali music. This also shows that Gandhi Jee had great knowledge of different genres of music.

Gandhi Jee’s life was full of rhythm and harmony. He had a habit of starting his day with bhajans and also ending his day with the bhajans. A lot of violence is witnessed nowadays around the world perhaps music is the only way to ensure peace, harmony and brotherhood among people.




बाबा (राजकुमार श्यामानन्द सिंह) की याद में …


अंकुर बीप्लव द्वारा

आज सुबह जब रियाज़ कर रहा था, उसी वक़्त  मुझे अपने बचपन की याद आ गई जब मैं अपने दादा जी से मिलने देवघर  (झारखण्ड ) गया था और वहां दादी माँ के कैसेटों के संकलन से सुबह -सुबह जौनपुरी की बंदिश ऐ रि फिरत एक दमदार आवाज़ में सुना.

उस वक़्त तक मैं राग से अनजान था, सुर का भी ज्ञान नहीं था लेकिन गीत सुनकर मैं डूब गया। गजब का आकर्षण था उस आवाज़ मे . बाद में दादी माँ ने बतलाया वो कोई और नहीं उनके पिता जी स्वर्गीय राजकुमार श्यामनन्द सिंह की आवाज़ है। मैं बहुत ख़ुश हुआ था।

बाद के  वर्षों में जब मेरी थोड़ी और रूचि बढ़ी तो मैंने राजकुमार श्यामानन्द सिंह की आवाज़ में “दुःख हरो द्वारिकानाथ ” को सुना और ऐसा लगा कि वो सच मे कितने दिल से द्वारिकानाथ को याद किया करते थे . जितनी बार इस भजन को सुनता उतना और सुनने का मन करता. यहीं से शास्त्रीय गायन से मेरा लगाव बढ़ा।

बाद में राजकुमार श्यामानन्द के बारे में ख़ूब सारी जानकारी इकट्ठा करने लगा। उनका जन्म 27 जुलाई 1916 को हुआ था.उन्होंने अपनी शुरुआती संगीत शिक्षा उस्ताद भीष्मदेव चटर्जी से ली थी.बाद के दिनों मे उस्ताद बच्चू खान साहब  और पंडित भोलानाथ भट्ट से भी उन्होंने संगीत की शिक्षा ली थी.

जैसा की मेरे घर में पापा बताते हैं की उनकी दुःख हरो द्वारिकानाथ भजन को सुनकर केसरबाई जैसी गायिका  ने उन्हें अपना गुरु बनाने की इच्छा जताई की थी.जब भी कोई इनके गाने को सुनता तो वो बस सुनता ही रह जाता था। सबसे खास बात इनके गाने की वो थी बंदिश की अदायगी .

वैसे मेरी दादी माँ यह भी बताती है की बाबा (राजकुमार श्यामनन्द सिंह) शिकार के भी बहुत शौक़ीन थे.वे स्पोर्ट्स मे भी उतनी ही रूचि रखते थे. मैं सोचता हूं कि बाबा एक जीवन में कितना कुछ कर गए। उनके बारे में सोचकर ही रोमांचित हो जाता हूं।

आज 9 अप्रैल 1994  के दिन ही उन्होंने गाते गाते ही अपने प्राण त्याग दिए थे. ये मेरा सौभाग्य  है कि वो मेरे पापा के नाना जी थे. लेकिन मुझे इस बात का दुःख है की मै उनसे कभी मिल न सका ना उन्हें गाते सुन पाया . तो भी यह सोचकर गर्व होता है कि मैं उनके परिवार का हिस्सा हूं। वो सच मे एक गायक नहीं साधक थे.


Practice Techniques in Preparing for Rehearsal #1



Authored by Mark Nuccio, principal clarinet of the Houston Symphony and former associate principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic.

One of the most important responsibilities a musician has is the early preparation of a piece of music prior to even beginning to play one’s instrument. One must first familiarize yourself with the score of each work that he will be performing and evaluate just how your part fits within the context of the orchestra or chamber music piece. As is the case with many things in life, if you begin this preparation early, it is more likely that you will have a deeper understanding of the performance once you get to the performance.

If you are confronted with multiple and/or consecutive upcoming busy weeks, the early preparation can make it that much easier. It simply requires obtaining a score, preferably the urtext or most respected score for the piece you are to perform. In the case of an audition, find the most accurate score but if it is a piece you are to perform or record, it is more important to get a score from the edition from which you will be performing.

Why is this important, you may ask? Often times there may be a difference in slurs, articulations (style and location of), dynamics, etc ¼ for those who are not near a major public library or may not have access to an orchestra library, you can often times use IMSLP.com, a free source. Many times, I haven’t found these scores to be the best editions available but it certainly is better than nothing.

The next step is to seek out multiple recordings; listen to the conductor’s and the soloist’s interpretations and decide which one seems most reliable making sure that you choose something that represents the middle ground if there are large differences in tempi through the recordings. If you are performing with a major conductor who has recorded this work, find HIS/HER recording as this will be the most similar to what you will probably be performing. Certainly, if you are auditioning, this is likely the pacing and interpretation that the orchestra is most accustomed to and likely the conductor’s preference.

After you have chosen the ideal recording, you will need to listen to this again, probably several times, with your part, a pencil, eraser, and a metronome; be prepared to pause the recording many times while listening. This process will be described in detail later in this article. Your listening should be fully dedicated with NO other distractions.

On a side note, I always copy my parts so that if I were to perform the piece again, I don’t have to do all of this work again. Now you will have officially begun building your own library. Do your best to find real parts, purchase or copy them and understand that even these could have some mistakes. Use your sources (teachers, study of the most accurate published scores) determine the accuracy of the notes and/or printed tempi. Ex¼Beethoven is rarely performed at the printed tempi. Use excerpt books as a source of study but not a regular means of preparation. Always do your best to practice from full parts.

Now is where the work starts. Keep in mind that nobody should know the score any better than you. Ideally you will be surrounded by colleagues who also know the score as well as you do. Then the process of rehearsing goes twice as fast and music begins from the first time you and the “group” get together. That is “collaboration”!

Key things that I am looking for are listed below:

1. Mark the tempo for the movement on your part and include changes of tempi within the movement (ex. Quarter = 120). This will allow you to practice at the prescribed tempi during your preparation.

2. Which instrument/s starts the movement? If it is not obvious, a small cue in the part would help. Often times, a rhythmic cue of four 1/16 notes with the note “vln” would help you to know the tempo when the piece starts and who starts the piece. Obviously this would indicate that violins start with four sixteenth notes.

3. This next section should assume the person marking their music is a clarinetist. You can adjust these cues based upon your instrument.

As you are listening, decide if your notes are primary melody, secondary melody, harmony, etc.. If you are primary, you need to lead with your sound and pacing and everybody else should be subordinate and thus, follow. I might mark this (cl/ww’s) If you are a secondary melody, you should be a small amount quieter than the primary and always shadowing the primary voice regardless of whether the primary voice is with the conductor.

I might mark this fl/ob/cl)¼.in order of priority. The conductor will likely work to get the primary voice positioned correctly and then the secondary voice will then make sense. If you have the harmony or a part of the harmony, it typically is even less present, allowing the primary and secondary voices to dominate. I might mark this (Strings/ob/cl). It is entirely possibly, if not likely, that you could have the Primary voice and then hand that primary voice to another instrument and become secondary after doing so. If this is the case, readjust your role.

This can much more easily be determined during this process where you are reading a score and listening with your part in front of you rather than trying to do it in the first rehearsal on the fly with no score study. Understand that if you have the leading voice, the conductor (or other members of your chamber ensemble) will be looking your way for leadership and acknowledgement that you are aware of this. Look at the conductor right before you are to play the primary voice or solo.

As soon as he knows you are ready, he can then focus his attention on other voices. If you are not the primary, it is more important that you are in contact with that instrument and shadowing them rather than the conductor’s beat. I often times watch the bows of the lead string players with whom I am playing so that I am with them if they have the primary voice.

This is more often the case for a clarinetist since there are 30 violinists and one of me. So if you are a wind player, make sure that unless you are the lead voice, you know who is and you are with them, in time and in style!!! Even if it appears that the conductor is ahead, BE WITH THE PRIMARY VOICE. If that is the string section, watch the 1st desk of strings and you will likely be right.

Many stages don’t allow for the accuracy of ensemble due to proximity of each of us on stage and therefore we have to rely as much on our eyes tracking the bows of the lead desk of strings than even the conductor, especially if they have the lead voice. That, by the way, would be true for the back of the string section in its relation to the front of the section.

4. If you have a long rest, I find it useful to make a note of some key sound that happens during the rest so that you can check your counting as you pass by those spots (ex. In a 16 bar rest, cymbal on bar 9¼..I would write 9-Cym). If the orchestra gets separated, it may allow you to be the musician that helps to get the orchestra back together. This is also true with chamber music but less so with a concerto. Obviously there are times during a concerto that you also don’t have the primary voice and you need to know what instrument has the melody and become a bit more of a team player.

You should also make note of other cues such as a cymbal crash, loud trombone tutti, English Horn solo, or a big section cello entrance¼all things that help you to be sure you are in the right place. I also like to make sure if there is an 1/8 note pickup to my melodic line entrance, that I make a note of that and then I know to wait to hear (or see) that. I would write an 1/8 cue ahead of my part and label it ‘bsn’¼.or whatever instrument has the pickup.

5. Be aware of the instrument that precedes you and follows you so that you know the type of sound you should play with. For example for clarinetists, if oboe plays the first part of the primary voice and hands it to you, you should match the oboe sound and pitch and then if you hand the primary voice to bassoon, broaden the sound to match the bassoon as you pass the melody to them. Flexibility of one’s sound allows us to play with different colors allowing for more seamless transitions within the piece or melodic lines as we pass to different instruments.

6. Intonation: Know where you are in the chord in intonation- sensitive areas so that you are able to place your “root” or “third” with confidence. Who has the root? Is your third of the chord melodic or harmonic? That will determine its pitch placement. If you have the melody and it happens to be the third, then the root will have to adjust upward for the chord to sound in tune. We can’t adjust a third in a melody because it would sound wrong if adjusted and therefore others have to adjust around the melody.

7. Listen for what should be the appropriate style of articulation (is the weight of the accent on the front or slightly inside the beat¼, which instrument do I join and if we are in unison¼, which voice should dominate?) Style—is it a pressing tempo or back side of the orchestra’s pulse? I tend to want to play on the back side of the beat in romantic music if I have the solo. As long as the orchestra keeps pressing forward, it allows for a more expansive and expressive interpretation.

8. Always be aware of whether your line has already been stated. If so, you are obliged to make an effort to compliment the style of the solo so that the listener understands the passage in a similar style. Totally disregarding it makes you look as if you never knew that musical line had previously been performed.

9. This was touched upon earlier but make it a point to have eye contact with the conductor as often as possible, especially when the solo line is yours. He will be more confident that his “soloist” in that particular passage is ready to play and prepared to lead that passage. As they say, “the stick makes no sound”. But you should do your best to have contact with the conductor peripherally all the time.

10. Practice more technically challenging sections above the needed tempo so that if a conductor or soloist takes a tempo that is faster than your recording, you are ready. Practice with flexibility and don’t dominate when it is not your lead or solo line. On the contrary, when it is your lead, make sure to play more than your colleagues on a solo line even if it says ‘p’. Whatever the printed dynamic, your dynamic as the solo line should be one dynamic marking louder than what is printed.

11. Your preparation should allow you to sound performance-ready by the beginning of the FIRST rehearsal.

12. Make sure you have taken care of tough page turns so that you are able to execute the notes at the end of one page and the beginning of the next.

13. Be flexible with your other colleagues. Often times you may have to accommodate an instrument that has an inflexible note, pitch-wise, in another instrument. If this is something that can be addressed and fixed by the player, fine. If not, you must help them. No instrument plays perfectly in tune. My priority is first the music though and if there is anyway to achieve that rather than emphasize a pitch weakness in a given instrument, then choose the musical line first.

14. Unisons should not be played equal within the same instrument or even within the woodwinds. Allow one voice to slightly dominate in unisons and this will now sound more like one voice. Many times, allowing the lower voices some dominance adds depth the the higher voice’s sound.

Mark Nuccio

Mr. Nuccio officially began his position as Principal Clarinet with the Houston Symphony Orchestra in the 2016-17 season after seventeen years with the New York Philharmonic. He also serves as clarinet faculty at the University of Houston’s Moore School of Music. Mr. Nuccio joined the New York Philharmonic in 1999 as Associate Principal and E-flat Clarinetist and during the time served as Acting Principal Clarinet for four years from 2009-13.

Prior to his service with the Philharmonic, he has held positions with orchestras in Pittsburgh, Denver, Savannah, and Florida working with distinguished conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Andre Previn, Christoph von Dohnanyi, and Gustavo Dudamel.

Additionally, Mr. Nuccio has toured extensively with the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in numerous countries, recorded with both orchestras, and performed regularly with the Philharmonic on the award-winning series, Live from Lincoln Center, broadcast on PBS. Recent highlights include the Philharmonic’s historic and newsworthy visits to North Korea and Vietnam.

Nuccio is an active solo and chamber musician and has been featured with various orchestras in the United States and made multiple appearances as a featured performer at the International Clarinet Association conventions. He made his subscription solo debut with the New York Philharmonic on Feb. 10, 2010 and returned to perform the Copland Concerto with the NY Philharmonic under the baton of Alan Gilbert on May 31 and June 1 of 2013. Other highlights include a New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2001 and his Japanese recital debut in 2002.

He is an avid chamber musician and continues to regularly perform recitals in Asia and Europe as well as across the United States. In New York, he can often be heard at Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Nuccio also participates in the chamber music series at the Strings in the Mountain Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and teaches at the Hidden Valley Music Festival in Carmel, CA.

As a studio musician, Mr. Nuccio is featured on numerous movie soundtracks, including Failure To Launch, The Last Holiday, The Rookie, The Score, Intolerable Cruelty, Alamo, Pooh’s Heffalump, Hitch, The Manchurian Candidate, and various television commercials. Additionally he has performed on the Late Show with David Letterman and on the 2003 Grammy Awards. His own debut album featuring the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms, Opening Night, was released in November 2006.

A Colorado native, Mr. Nuccio was recently awarded the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from his alma mater the University of Northern Colorado, a very selective honor bestowed on an elite group of 200 alumnus representing various fields throughout the long history of the university.

He also holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University where he studied with renowned pedagogue Robert Marcellus. Beyond his active performing schedule, Mr. Nuccio is a dedicated teacher committed to training the next generation of musicians and teaches master classes in the U.S. and abroad. Nuccio is a D’Addario Advising Artist & Clinician and a Performing Artist/Clinician for Buffet Music Group.



FFM Indian Ambassador Debdeep Misra to Perform at Golpark Ramakrishna Mission



Debdeep is an Indian Classical Music Singer of the ancient Indian tradition. He will be performing at the GOLPARK RAMAKRISHNA MISSION on the 7th April from 6pm. All are invited but if you are not in this part of India or, not in India at all, you can see Debdeep’s concert here at FFM via the Live Lounge.

Good luck Debdeep and much love from your friends around the world!!

Debdeep Misra, International Ambassador for India.



Introducing from Italy – Caterina Serpilli – Classical Guitar




Caterina Serpilli is an Italian classical guitarist. She started to play guitar and accordion when she was 12. In 2000 she entered to the Conservatory “G.Rossini ” in Pesaro where she graduated in 2011. In 2010 she also took the degree in Economics at Politecnico delle Marche – “Giorgio Fuà” business college in Ancona.

Ms Serpilli attended as a full student masterclasses with Jason Vieaux, FabioZanon, Giulio Tampalini, Carlos Bonell, Michael Newman, Gaelle Solal MarcinDylla, Oscar Ghiglia and others. From 2011 to 2013 she studied at PreludioCentro Musicale (Bologna) with Walter Zanetti. Currently she is attending theannual masterclass with M° Arturo Tallini (Rome) and from 2012 she is
studying at Guitar Academy “Francisco Tarrega” in Pordenone with Adriano Del Sal.

Learn more about and contact Caterina Serpilli

Caterina Serpilli
Caterina Serpilli



Work of the Week – Ilja Reijngoud: Somnambulist



Ilja Reijngoud

(July 5th 1972, Leiden, The Netherlands).

After his cum laude graduation at the Hilversum Conservatory in 1996, Ilja taught the trombone there. In 1997 he was the second Dutch student so far to receive the American Degree ‘Master of Music.’Ilja is permanent member of Nueva Manteca, The Dutch Jazz Orchestra, Gino Vannelli’s Dutch Beat Band, The Houdini’s, The Cubop City Big Band, The Jasper van ‘t Hof Quartet, Lucas van Merwijk Music Machine and many other well-known Dutch groups. He was featured soloist with the Metropole Orchestra for four times.

Ilja worked and recorded with Tom Harrell, Ivan Lins, James Morrison, Jim Beard, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Bill Dobbins, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner, Ed Neumeister, Jimmy Bosch, Vince Mendoza, Lester Bowie, Bill Holman, Dori Caymmi and many others.

In 1998 Ilja and his former teacher Bart van Lier founded an impressive trombone department at the Rotterdam Conservatory (Codarts). With classical collegues Alexander Verbeek and Brandt Attema they form the trombone Academy of Codarts, Rotterdam. Besides teaching main subject trombone, Ilja is leader of the conservatory bigband for the last 15 years, ensemble coach and arranging teacher. From 2015 the team of trombone teachers at Corats is completed with the great Bert Boeren and Andy Hunter.

Besides being the principal teacher at Rotterdam Conservatory (Codarts), ilja is guest teacher at the Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht Conservatories.

Ilja Reijngoud
Ilja Reijngoud

Visit Ilja Reijngoud’s Official Website



The 1812 Overture: the hit that Tchaikovsky hated


Though he loathed it, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture won him fans the world over and made him a household name.

In 1962, a Don Draper-like advertising executive decided to market the oaty goodness of an up-and-coming brand of breakfast cereal by detonating bowls of it from a cannon in time to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

When Arthur Fielder led the Boston Pops through the same piece in 1974, during a televised 4 July concert, the 1812 Overture was elevated from advertising prop to full-on national anthem, one still performed today to mark American Independence Day.

Woody Allen co-opted it for the soundtrack of his 1971 screwball comedy, Bananas. It has been referenced in The Simpsonsand in 1967, British comedian Charlie Drake struck comedy gold when he ‘performed’ all Tchaikovsky’s instrumental parts and ended up in an exhausted, Norman Wisdom-like heap on the floor. Each re-imagining took us further away from the 1812 Overture as Tchaikovsky understood it.

Not, we hasten to add, “as he knew and loved it”… because Tchaikovsky hated the piece.

That infamous assessment of it as “very loud and noisy and completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth or love,” was penned by Tchaikovsky himself. The overture’s popularity was a source of deep frustration to this sensitive, serious-minded symphonist whose imaginative fantasy and whimsical, melodic turn of phrase had also managed to transform the art of composing ballet music to a high calling.

The success of the 1812 Overture told him that the world cared more about theatrical spectacle than the hard fought-for personal expression of his symphonies, concertos and chamber music. The more successful his overture, the more Tchaikovsky became convinced that the world fundamentally misunderstood his art.

The piece is drenched in proud nationalist sentiment; Russian folk songs are heard to chase the French national anthem, The Marseillaise, before obliterating it in sound. It has become fair game for ‘pop classics’ concerts to trade off its showbiz pizzazz.

Tchaikovsky’s climactic cannon shots are used to trigger indoor fireworks, acrobatic displays even. The populist ante is constantly upped. 1812 Overture On IceUnderwater 1812 Overture? Celebrity 1812 Overture On Ice, The Musical? It’s only a matter of time.

via GIPHY

But what happened to the ‘real’ 1812 Overture, and how did Tchaikovsky come to write his Frankenstein monster? It is the 1812 Overture because it was conceived to commemorate the Battle of Borodino, fought in September 1812.

In the 1880s, Russian pride still glowed at the warm memory of Tsar Alexander I’s troops thrashing Napoleon’s army, although there was a certain level of rose-tinted hindsight going on here. Napoleon had retained the tactical upper hand throughout the battle itself, and was only forced into a long and arduous retreat when, during his subsequent occupation of Moscow, food supplies ran out as winter started to bite. Armies march on their stomachs, and Napoleon’s men marched out of Moscow to fill theirs.

Fast-forward to 1880…

… and a cunning plan from Tchaikovsky’s champion and mentor, Nikolai Rubinstein. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which had been commissioned to celebrate the Russian victory – never mind the nitty-gritty specifics of the battle itself – was nearing completion on the banks of the Moskva River in central Moscow. Rubinstein’s request to Tchaikovsky might have gone something like this:

“Compose a ‘go to’ commemorative composition and fill it with national themes. Make it a ‘useful’ occasional work to be performed to mark the opening of the cathedral. And the 25th anniversary of Alexander II’s coronation. And don’t forget about the 1882 All-Russian Arts and Industry Exhibition. They’ll want something too…”

Tchaikovsky cranked out the 1812 Overture in six weeks, cutting his imagination loose with every note and theme designed to tug at Russian heartstrings. And although the most celebrated section of the work is inevitably Tchaikovsky’s flamboyant, proto-cinematic finale, its opening passage is equally spectacular – albeit spectacularly understated.

Needing to ground the music in some fundamental truths about the Russian mind and spirit, Tchaikovsky opens by recalling a soulful Orthodox hymn, ‘Troparion of the Holy Cross’. A lesser composer might have sentimentalised the harmonies, but Tchaikovsky places this objet trouvé delicately on four violas and eight cellos, like an ethereal and wistful sound borrowed from the memory bank of history.

And now, two things have become clear…

… that the 1812 Overture is better than Tchaikovsky realised and, despite the indignities and abuse it has suffered in the name of entertainment, his score is robustly constructed and has maintained its compositional integrity. Because the opening sets the scene so powerfully, Tchaikovsky has access-all-areas to go anywhere musically as he begins to portray the shattering impact of the French invasion on his country.

A Russian folk dance, ‘At The Door, At My Door’, trumpets national pride; pride that is rocked by the first appearance of The Marseillaise, characterised as mocking and provocative, which Tchaikovsky shoots down with five strategically aimed cannon shots.

cannon

In a late, great symphony like his Fifth or Pathétique No. 6, Tchaikovsky’s melodic invention rises to the surface as his themes are combined in counterpoint: polarised logics of the symphonic argument made to coexist or not, and
 Tchaikovsky’s genius for eloquent counterpoint is woven into the fabric of the 1812 Overture at a deep structural level too.

With the battle gathering force, another Russian theme emerges, God Save The Tsar!, which he manoeuvres into a contrapuntal skirmish with The Marseillaise: two nations fighting it out in music, the composer never
allowing the contour of one theme to nestle too cosily against its adversary. Enemy lines are kept tautly demarcated. A plunging, descending string line symbolises the Russian retreat; cannon shots and cathedral bells peel over a victorious roar of God Save The Tsar! from the orchestra.

Tchaikovsky ought to have been proud. He had written the ultimate showpiece, but his faith in the 1812 Overture quickly unravelled. His aspiration to see it performed in the cathedral square, with a brass band marching on stage to clinch the climax – only to top that with cathedral bells and cannon fire – proved impractical.

Tchaikovsky hadn’t reckoned on a basic logistical flaw: that the arithmetic of exploding cannon shots in time to the music proved trickier than splitting the atom. A time lag between releasing the barrel and the shot sounding made shot-to-score co-ordination impossible. Then in 1881, the Emperor of Russia, Alexander II, was assassinated and triumphalist music suddenly seemed inappropriate. The work had its first hearing – indoors – at the Arts and Industry Exhibition two years later; no brass band, no cannon shots, no cathedral bells.

So what are the lessons of the 1812 Overture, much loved by an eager public but often mocked by musicians who play it, and even by its own composer? Perhaps that the person who wrote a piece of music cannot be trusted to give a reasoned opinion on it. Tchaikovsky failed to realise that it is impossible to take a piece back, or impose a view upon it retrospectively, once it leaves the composer’s desk. The material with which you once shared an intimate one-to-one relationship is in the public domain. It’s gone.

But here’s an intriguing concluding idea.

Manfred Honeck, principal conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (and a Tchaikovsky obsessive) remarked that most conductors play the March section of the Pathétique Symphony too triumphantly, when Tchaikovsky meant it to sound ambiguous and questioning.

There’s nothing ambiguous about the 1812 Overture of course; could that be why Tchaikovsky couldn’t comprehend the forces he had unleashed? For the rest of us, the 1812 is to be enjoyed in all its noisy, vulgar splendour.

If he didn’t like his 1812, he’d have hated how it’s been used…

  • 1962 Used in a commercial for Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice – with the slogan, ‘This is the cereal that is shot from guns.’
  • 1967 Charlie Drake as orchestral musician, then conductor, tickles the nation’s funny bone by performing the 1812 Overture single-handedly, dressed in an ill-fitting tuxedo.
  • 1971 Woody Allen uses the 1812 Overture on the soundtrack to a love scene in his comedy Bananas.
  • 1974 The piece becomes part of American folklore after a televised Boston Pops performance captures the national mood.
  • 1976 In an episode of The Muppet Show, Gonzo grows a tomato plant to the accompaniment of the 1812 Overture.
  • 1990 In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart hums the 1812 Overture manically as he prepares an Evel Knievel-style death- defying stunt with his skateboard.
  • 1995 The Swingle Singers release an a cappella 1812 Overture, complete with air-raid sirens and machine gun fire.
  • 2005 The dystopian thriller V For Vendetta gives the 1812 Overture a sinister twist, referencing it alongside music by The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones to suggest a society out of balance.
  • 2009 An advert for Vodafone New Zealand recreates the1812 Overture using the ringtones of 1000 mobile phones. It sounded horrible.

The battle of Borodino, 7 September 1812

The Battle of Borodino, the event that Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture commemorates, was the key battle of the Napoleonic Wars, and also its bloodiest. Seventy thousand troops perished as Napoleon’s army attacked the Imperial Russian Army outside the village of Borodino, west of Moscow.

Over a 24-hour period, the French bombarded the Russian Army, capturing the strategic points on the battlefield, but failed to destroy their enemy. Napoleon occupied the battlefield after the fighting was over, exploiting his position to launch an attack on Moscow, where he waited for over a month for a Russian surrender that never came. Napoleon hadn’t reckoned on the awesome chill of a Russian winter, and with food running out he was forced to retreat, handing the Russians victory.

The recordings

In 1954, a studio recording was released that finally did the 1812 Overture justice. Hungarian conductor Antal Doráti and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra used the authentic French muzzleloading cannon that Tchaikovsky had asked for in his score. It was accompanied by a documentary about how the cannon and cathedral bell effects were achieved, and how the cannon shots were co-ordinated.

This was the clear benchmark until, in 2007, Antonio Pappano released an intriguingly rethought 1812, performed with electric verve by the Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (EMI Classics 637 0065).

Pappano’s concept was a historically re-envisaged 1812 Overture in which the hymn-based opening and anthem God Save The Tsar! are sung, rather than played.

It’s not what Tchaikovsky wrote but the sung sections put the music into context: how rooted the work is in the Russian soul through its choral tradition. Pappano doesn’t hold back on the cannon shots and bells, either.



Is Adele actually a good singer?


It’s all about control, poise, power and drama – but is Adele’s voice any cop?

Her public adore her, critics idolise her: Adele is hailed as the ‘voice of a generation’ for her power, emotion and sheer vocal strength. She sits comfortably within the pop/soul genre, but with a raw instrument like that you can’t help wondering if it’s actually, y’know… technically good?

Her Power

Adele has a huge voice. Although she’s not a great technician, nobody will disagree with the fact that she’s an amazing powerhouse of a singer. If she had been trained in opera there’s no doubt she would have projected over an orchestra without the need for amplification. Rich, deep and full of colour, she can belt right up to an E5 (the E in the octave above middle C).

Her Vocal Colour

Adele’s range is not the most impressive weapon in her arsenal, (Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Bruno Mars all have wider documented vocal ranges). What sets her voice apart is the masterful manipulation of timbre and colour which she uses to express the text she sings. She easily slips into the roles of scornful ex (‘Rolling In The Deep’), heartbroken lover (‘Someone Like You’) and repentant ex-girlfriend (‘Hello’):

Even in opera, gruff growls and shrieks which are not technically perfect are prized if they add the right character and emotion to the music. Listen to the breadth of different colours Maria Callas achieves in this final aria of La Cenerentola:

Could Adele be an opera singer?

The opera world classifies singers using the Fach system, which describes the voice and the different roles which might suit it, almost like describing wines as red or white, dry, semi-dry or sweet. A light high voice might be more traditionally suited to playing a princess, or a low contralto a widow.

Many people hear her low notes and instantly assume that she must be a contralto – but don’t be deceived. She actually produces these signature growls using quite a tense chest mix, her voice really comes into its own as she moves up in her register, becoming most clear between C4 (middle C) to C5.

When you also consider her warm, rich tone, it’s most likely that she’s a lyric mezzo-soprano. This Fach is described as strong, flexible and lachrymose, and is suited to roles such as Cherubino in the Marriage Of Figaro, and Nancy in Albert Herring:

One thing which separates opera singers from singers in other genres is their athletic ability and stamina. Adele already has a world-class instrument, and as her technique and her stamina improve she looks set to become one of the defining voices of our era.

So yes, she is actually a good singer – characterful, emotional and powerful. There are gaps in technique and she’s had well-documented medical issues surrounding her vocal cords (thanks to oversinging, the curse of many a popular artist), but at its root, it’s an instrument that conveys in spectacular fashion.


Music lessons make children smarter, new study reveals



By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A recent study shows that studying music can boost a child’s brainpower and academic ability.

In a study of 147 primary school children, pupils were given music lessons and tested for memory and vocabulary.

The study, by VU University Amsterdam and ArtEZ Institute of the Arts at Zwolle in the Netherlands, found that school children who had music lessons were more competent in other subject areas as a result.

Lead author Dr Artur Jaschke told the Daily Mail: “Children who received music lessons showed improved language-based reasoning and the ability to plan, organise and complete tasks, as well as improved academic achievement.

“This suggests that the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children’s cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to overall improved academic performance.”

The children who received music lessons were also better at planning and controlling their behaviour than children who didn’t have music lessons.

> ‘It’s appalling that music is neglected in schools’ – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music teacher and boy

The report, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, claims that when reading music, children use parts of their brain involved in memory and attention, which prepares them for other life skills.

“Even though not everybody is a professional musician in the beginning, practising an instrument and the discipline it takes can increase brain function,” said Dr Artur Jaschke.

In the study, children with an average age of six were divided into four groups. Over a period of two and a half years, the first group was given school music lessons, the second school and private music lessons, the third no lessons, and the fourth group were given art lessons only.

Regardless of musical ability, the groups who had either school or private music lessons showed greater memory and vocabulary capabilities.

Their memory was tested by remembering dots in a grid on a screen, and their vocabulary by naming similarities between objects, like a cat and a dog.

The research also found art lessons had a notably positive effect on children’s visual and spatial memory.