Categoriearchief: English

Review Anne Ku about ‘Piano Animals’

This 31-page book of four hand piano music is sheer FUN with a capital F. The composer Heleen Verleur knows just what pianists love playing: music that is easy to read, sounds hard to play, but is so much fun that you don’t want to stop until it ends.

Commissioned by the Groninger Piano Festival 2017 where it was premiered, “Piano Animals” is a piece that belongs in every quatre-mains repertoire. It’s programmatic, with images and sounds of animals in their environments. The 452 measures are packed with variety and contrast. The primo and secondo are duetting with each other, interacting in every which way possible, making the experience of playing together truly exhilarating.

Premiere at Groninger Piano Festival

The duet opens with monkeys scrambling about. Both primo and secondo play quarter notes in staccato with accents and grace notes here and there. Anyone who has visited a zoo, gone on safari, or watched monkeys in action will relate to the 68 measures of nonstop activity, except for a few surprises requiring both pianists to stop playing and call “ae, oe” or clap their hands, or stomp their feet in unison.

No sooner do the monkeys leave, the wild pigs march in. They move in one direction looking for food and then turn around to hunt in the other direction. Black key clusters, right hand, left hand mimic the way they move about.

Then it’s whale watch season. The whales waltz in the ocean, whether Pacific or Atlantic, they know they’re being watched in Hawaii between November and May and the north eastern coast of the USA from May to October.

When I received the book in November 2021, I pondered how I would play it. Do I record myself playing one part and then play against the recording? If not, self record, how would I find a pianist who would be willing to collaborate?

How would I find a pianist who could sightread and would sit next to me, not socially distanced, and play together? On Oahu, Camilla and I sat in front of her piano while her husband Mark turned pages and recorded the first and only time we ever played together. I had just met her for the first time that day.

[YouTube Video will be released on Sunday 8 May 2022 at NOON EDT ]

https://concertblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/08/review-piano-animals-duet-by-heleen-verleur/

Plyve Kacha: a famous Ukrainian Folk Song

“Plyve Kacha” or “Plyve Kacha Po Tysyni” translates literally to “the duckling swims”, but the lyrics are a dialogue between a mother and a son going off to war, according to the BBC’s Irena Taranyuk. She translates two of the most moving lines of the song this way: “My dear mother, what will happen to me if I die in a foreign land?” “Well, my dearest, you will be buried by other people.” Dozens of people were killed by snipers in Maidan on February 18th and 20th, 2014 and were buried and mourned in a mass funeral on February 21st, with this song being used to memorialize their lives.

On February 27 2022 I made an arrangement from a Youtube setting for voice and piano. I arranged it for piano solo intermediate. I also put a translation of a French translation into Dutch. You can freely use it. For yourself, for your students. The more people who will play it, the better. When you don’t play the piano yourself, please pass it on to people who might appreciate it. You can download de pdf below.

Ps it has a strange lay-out when you look at this pdf below (I don’t know what happened) but your download will be normal sheet music.

Pianiste Janneke Koetsier is playing my arrangement in the Youtube video:

https://youtu.be/pEJKTjwqmII

Ugandan Dance for piano

This duet dance for piano I wrote for the foundation ‘Music for Children’, inspired by Ugandan music. The foundation helps orphan children in Uganda and Colombia to get shelter and music lessons. If you like the piece, you can order it by sending me a personal message. It costs 5 euro and this amount will be tranferred to Music for Children. The children are hungry now, because of Corona there are less shelters and there is little food. You can help them when you buy my piece! By the way: the piece can be practised after a few years of piano lessons. It is not very hard, and in the middle there is space to improvise. It will become the 13th dance of my book: ‘Dances’ with a rondo, a dance a al Dave Brubeck, a tango, a boogie-woogie, a gnossienne, a wooden shoe dance, an Egyptian Mummy dance, a bourree, a sarabande, a tarantella, a Spanish dance and a minuet.

1st page Ugandan Dance


Archie’s Ship Live 4/11/20

Op woensdag 4 november 2020 was ik te gast op Archies’s Ship om mee te werken aan een benefietconcert voor Music for Children. Helaas was het beeld via Youtube niet helemaal scherp, het lijkt wel een beetje op een schilderij van Monet. Via de onderstaande link kun je de gehele uitzending terugzien en horen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKSPuIIQ0ss&fbclid=IwAR2rnRlFzVInrVvovPfY2m8J6dV9lCcHy6D7URVVmGKHIKRrUYbrY7IatyY

Teaching piano in Italy

Today I had a very nice experience teaching two students in Italy (by Zoom). The first student lived in Bologna, the next in Piemonte. This event has been organized by the European Suzuki Association by Marco Messina, a very enthousiastic teacher in Italy. It is called: Suzuki Lesson Link Up. In Messina’s words:

“A day when students can have a ‘distant’ lesson with a teacher from another country. The idea behind it, is to demonstrate the great ability of the Suzuki Method to connect people united by a single project and who speak te same Suzuki language. The lesson will naturally focus on a positive approach that aims to achive a positive experience and maybe a first contact of friendship that remains until teachers and students can meet at a future workshop or convention.”

And on Sunday 5th of July I taught a boy living near Rome. Among many pieces he played ‘A Short Story’ and some exam pieces has has to study. We practised with the metronome, and after that we did some improvisation exercises which he liked very much. His mother wanted me to come to visit Italy. I could stay with in their house. This only after half een hour of teaching. Music is connecting, that’s for sure.

Teaching a book 3 child
Teaching a book 2 child and her father
Lesson 5th of July 2020

Scarlatti

Imagine: a colleague from Italy has found a Sonata by an unknown composer in the Parma library, but he suspects that it is a sonata by the composer Domenico Scarlatti. He sends me a copy of what he found. I play the music: it definitely has characteristics of my favorite composer Scarlatti. The repetitions, the playfulness. It also seems to feature a motif that resembles a Neapolitan folk song. (Although Scarlatti lived in Spain for much of his life, he was originally from Naples.) What a discovery! Via this link you can hear part of the sonata. It is not a top recording and I have to study it a bit more, but I just couldn’t wait. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldJ07MrIG_g

De 18e eeuwse Napolitaanse componist Domenico Scarlatti heeft 550 Sonates geschreven voor zijn leerlinge Maria Barbara, de latere koningin van Spanje. Toen zij trouwde met de Spaanse kroonprins vertrok hij met haar mee naar het Spaanse hof, waar hij bijna 38 jaar Sonates voor haar schreef die zij -naar het schijnt- op virtuoze wijze ten gehore kon brengen. In de Sonates kun je invloeden horen van Spaanse volksmuziek. Maar in deze sonate hoor ik ook duidelijk een Napolitaanse invloed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldJ07MrIG_g

Your brain on piano

Poster Classic FM
Poster Classic FM

Op deze poster van Classic FM die al een tijd geleden is gepubliceerd, kun je heel goed zien waarom piano spelen zo goed voor je is. Je hele lichaam is erbij betrokken, inclusief alle zintuigen en bewustzijn. Je snapt dan misschien ook dat piano leren spelen iets is van de lange adem! Geen wonder dat het af en toe niet makkelijk is.

Als je maar rustig elke dag je oefeningen blijft doen, dan zullen er over een tijdje wonderen gebeuren. Weet je wat een mooi bijeffect is: als je piano blijft oefenen, zal je geheugen er ook op vooruit gaan. Er zullen vele nieuwe verbindingen ontstaan tussen je hersenhelften, ongeacht je leeftijd en niveau.

‘Help’ text for Italian Concerto

Bach before he saw the text
Bach before he saw the text

Bach after he saw the text
Bach after he saw the text

The middle part, the Andante, from Bachs Italian Concerto is quite hard to remember for most people so I put a text on it, maybe it will help. I do hope that in near future a singer will perform it with me as well! It was a great job, looking for the right syllables on the right notes.
Hopefully this text will help more level 5 Suzuki trainees! It’s half serious, half funny.

Youtube recording Andante

The text is:

What did I do wrong
I really don’t know
what I did
to make you feel so bad
that you don’t want to see me any more.
That hurts me, that hurts me,
and I don’t have a clue,
I love you, I love you,
that’s all I know. I do.
Why did you just ban me,
what did I do wrong?
Was is that I didn’t like your dog?
But I didn’t mean to hurt you, to hurt you.
I didn’t want you to feel this pain
because I love you, I do.
But can you please take another dog?

Why do you like her more than me?
I just don’t see
I don’t agree that she’s more lovable than me,
that she’s more lovable than me.
Should I learn to growl like she does?
Would you then love me more or do you
understand her, do you understand her,
do you love her more than me,
do you, do you love her more,
more, than me?
Ah. That hurts that hurts
that you love her more than me.
But I don’t agree:
only cats are more lovable than me!

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Andante from Italian Concerto

Support for Children of Mexico

Before summer holiday up to now, my students and me worked together on several compositions for a book. The book is meant to be published at least before Christmas. The proceeds from the book (with deduction of the costs) will all go to the wonderful foundation ‘Children of Mexico’. Henning Zorn, chairman of Children of Mexico, is alos the father of two of my students (Alán and Nora Zorn). I know their project is 100 percent safe and all proceeds will be truely spent on the projects.

The compositions in the book will be ascending in difficulty, because the youngest participant is 4 years old and one of the oldest about 74. They can be played and practised by children and adults. The pieces have an average level, the easiest can be played after only one year of lessons. Some pieces have a secondo part (composed by Heleen) so that they can be played together, as a duet.

Mexican embroidery
Mexican embroidery

Read more about ‘What Children of Mexico do’ or click the video link below:

What Children of Mexico do
Video Youtube Children of Mexico

I will soon publish more about the costs and what will be the date of publication. Of course there will be a book presentation where you can buy the book. The book will contribute to much musical pleasure, ánd a better life for Mexican children.