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Sergei Rachmaninoff Recalled Fondly by London Piano Institute

In Music on August 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

London-Piano-Institute-Sergei-RachmaninoffRussian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff continues to influence budding young artists today, says London Piano Institute. Today, Celine Gaurier-Joubert of London Piano Institute talks about one of her main musical inspirations.

Q: Good morning, and thank you for being here today.

London Piano Institute: It is absolutely my pleasure.

Q: First, for our readers’ sake, can you tell us a bit about London Piano Institute?

London Piano Institute: We’re a private music school that specifically teaches adult learners how to play the piano. As an instructor, I work with students of all skill levels and from all walks of life.

Q: We understand you have a few favourite composers. Could you share one of those with us?

London Piano Institute: Indeed, I do have many favourites. The first to come to mind is Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Q: He was a Russian pianist, correct?

London Piano Institute: Yes, he was. Rachmaninoff was a very popular Russian-born composer, conductor and pianist who lived from the late 1800s to the 1900s.

Q: What’s particularly notable about his music?

London Piano Institute: He is popularly considered to this day one of the finest pianists of the early to mid-20th century. He is a fine representation of Romanticism, as his work is reflective of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Q: And what is his musical background?

London Piano Institute: He was born into a musical family; his father was an amateur pianist.

Q: So did he learn music from his dad?

London Piano Institute: No, actually. His mother—a gifted instrumentalist herself—gave him informal lessons when he was 4. However, his grandfather hired a private music teacher from St. Petersburg when Sergei was 9 years old and this is what made the biggest difference in his choice of careers.

Q: We understand he made friends with Tchaikovsky and many other famous composers.

London Piano Institute: Yes, he considered Tchaikovsky one of his greatest friends until the latter’s death in 1893. Later in life, Sergei befriended a young Vladimir Horowitz who considered the elder composer a great influence.

Q: Tell us about Vladimir Horowitz’s composition of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2.

London Piano Institute: Rachmaninoff had a strong faith in Horowitz’s skill. So much so that he allowed the young pianist to create a fused rendition of his second piano sonata.

Q: This was unheard of at the time, no?

London Piano Institute: That’s right, and Rachmaninoff enjoy the interpretation so much that he is quoted as saying he never believed his concerto could be played the way he had always dreamed, but that Horowitz had done just that.

Q: Let’s talk about Rachmaninoff’s playing style for a moment.

London Piano Institute: After his early nods to Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff was one of the most original composers of his time. He is noted for producing bell-like sounds by using widely spaced chords.

Q: This was very unusual for Russian composers, wasn’t it?

London Piano Institute: Yes, it was. However, it worked well. He was also very fond of Russian orthodox chants and used them throughout his career.

Q: Rachmaninoff had one very outspoken critic. Explain this?

London Piano Institute: Yes, Thomas Edison. Edison did not care for Rachmaninoff’s playing style at all. Edison owned a major recording studio at the time and passed on the opportunity to sign the musician. However, Edison’s company pianist Robert Gaylor convinced the near-deaf Edison to change his mind.

Q: And it’s such a good thing he did. Well, that’s all the time we have. Thank you for filling us in on this great musical talent.

London Piano Institute: You’re welcome, my pleasure.

Celine Gaurier-Joubert is a master pianist and founder of London Piano Institute. She opened London Piano Institute with the belief that adults, regardless of previous musical experience, can learn to master the often misunderstood and unnecessarily intimidating piano. Located just off Liverpool Street Station, London Piano Institute is a convenient and affordable teaching establishment that has earned the respect of business professionals throughout the city and the surrounding boroughs.

Jim Spencer, St. Louis Business Owner, Winds Down with Music

In Music on November 19, 2011 at 6:30 am
Jim Spencer on Forsyth Street

Jim Spencer on Forsyth Street

Under the black and gray awning of the Busch Guitar Studio on Forsyth Street, Jim Spencer holds a Dobro in one hand and a cell phone in the other. The cell phone, says Spencer, is getting set to silent.

As this St. Louis entrepreneur and busy dad enters the studio, Jim Spencer’s demeanor seems to switch from executive to introspective. He explains that he plays the guitar for fun, and as a way to keep himself focused. As the owner of a successful marketing firm, Jim Spencer knows that having a versatile range of daily activities helps to keep the feeling of burn at bay. After thirty years of running his own company, Jim Spencer knows just how important that is.

Jim Spencer’s musical interests range from Pink Floyd to old school jazz sounds. St. Louis is a city ripe with budding musicians, says Spencer, and it’s a great town to meet other players. There are times when Spencer likes to sit back and just listen to other artists play; St. Louis is full of music venues, like the Old Rock House on 7th Street.

According to Jim Spencer, there is something about the sound of a guitar sending its melodic harmonies through the air. Playing music is a form of therapy that allows people to really get in touch with what they are thinking and feeling, he says. Psychologist use Music Therapy to help patients in their practice. Even garden centers in the area, chuckles Spencer, play music to help their plants get fuller and more beautiful. He isn’t sure if it works, but says it couldn’t hurt.

Aside from being good for the soul, Jim Spencer says that playing the guitar is just plain fun. Plucking away, finding new sounds, hitting the steel strings with a metal slide and letting the sounds trail off in different directions can make even a grown man feel like a boy again.  And while Jim Spencer is not a boy any more, music does help him stay young at heart.

Rock of Ages: Musical Influences of Guitar Hobbyist Jim Spencer

In Music on October 30, 2011 at 6:30 am
Jim Spencer St. Louis

Jim Spencer St. Louis

Sitting comfortably on an old wooden chair at the Busch Guitar Studio in St. Louis, Jim Spencer gently strums the steel strings of his Spruce top acoustic. The notes are unmistakable: Here Comes the Sun.  The Beatles, says Spencer, are an influence on his playing style left from childhood. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, Spencer found music a part of everyday life, and it has followed him well into adulthood.

Jim Spencer credits groups like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and more contemporarily, Nirvana as having a major impact on him.  There is something about music, says Spencer, that sets the soul free and allows the mind to clear. St. Louis is a town full of musical history, and he is proud to call the Gateway City home. Many talented musicians hail from St. Louis, including Cheryl Crow.

Playing for fun, muses Spencer, is just that. Fun. He is learning the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” and from the look in his eyes, he’ll get it quickly. Spencer is lost in the melody; anyone familiar with the tune is sure to understand why.

The 90s brought the alternative group Nirvana into Jim Spencer’s play list. The nervous sound of Kurt Cobain’s voice belting out confused yet beautiful lyrics intrigued him. Jazz music, says Spencer, is another genre that has a direct impact on his guitar playing style, and as luck would have it, St. Louis is a fantastic city for catching Jazz festivals underneath a clear summer sky. A favorite of this St. Louis native is Al Di Meola, a talented Jazz guitarist and an artist that Spencer often tries to emulate in his guitar play. In fact, Jim Spencer has many musical influences and, as he grows as a musician, their predominance will no doubt begin to fade, allowing his own personal style takes shape.

Tips on Cold Reading a Script

In Music, Professionals on October 21, 2011 at 6:30 am

Aspiring actors know that they must become accomplished in cold reading a script. That means fine tuning the ability to read for a part from a script you have never seen. Cold reading is not as easy as it seems, but it is an essential skill for an actor. Here are some basics to help you shine on your next audition.

In regular theater, actors are giving a long time for memorization and preparation. Theater actors often have a prepared monologue in their repertoire that they recite at auditions. There is a difference in film and commercial auditions, however. In a film audition cold reading is the accepted format. There is usually no monologue portion.

Typically, the industry convention is to give actors their script at least one day before the audition. But this seldom happens. The film industry is so busy and extemporaneous, that actors simply have to adapt to the flow and demands of producers and directors. If you can hone your cold reading skills, you’ll never need to go into an audition worried.

How do you learn to cold read? The best way to learn to cold read is to jump right in. Just grab a script, read a line, memorize it, then immediately recite the line without reading the script. The only way to master cold reading is to practice. With much practice and repetition, you will advance from cold reading a few words at a time to cold reading several lines at once. Once you have practiced some cold reading alone, then find another actor to work with. Practicing the skill of cold reading will someone else will improve both of your skills.

Tom Patterson Deerpark – The Flute in Antiquity as Discussed by Tom Patterson, Deerpark Middle School

In Music on March 26, 2010 at 2:52 am

Tom Patterson of Deerpark Middle School teaches about the history of many musical instruments. The flute, says Tom Patterson of Deerpark, is one of the most interesting instruments. Deerpark’s Tom Patterson says the simplicity of the flute, a bored tube with a mouthpiece and simple fingerings, makes it the foundational instrument structure of the entire woodwind family.  Tom Patterson of Deerpark mentions the examples of piccolos, clarinets, oboes, and saxophones – all of these instruments employ the same basic sound making techniques as the ancient flute.

Two archeological examples of early flutes date back from about 35,000 years ago, says Tom Patterson of Deerpark Middle School. One prehistoric flute was found near Slovenia and looks to be carved from the femur of a small bear. Tom Patterson of Deerpark notes two other prehistoric flutes found in Germany. Tom Patterson of Deerpark elaborates that one ancient instrument is a V-shaped flute made from a vulture bone and the other a three-holed flute made from a mammoth tusk.

Tom Patterson tells his Deerpark Middle School students that this information is very exciting because it sheds light on the age and significance of musical creativity in early humankind. Deerpark’s Tom Patterson reports that some scientists see the flute as a cultural artifact that may even help explain the connection between Neanderthal man and early modern humans. Tom Patterson of Deerpark elaborates by saying that the intellectual creativity illustrated by the existence of the flute suggests that musical talent was one of the driving intellectual forces of the early modern humans.

Tom Patterson of Deerpark continues that as these early humans developed their intelligence, the art they produced was some of the earliest evidence they left behind for us. In short, says Deerpark Middle School’s Tom Patterson, by learning to play music, and building instruments for that sole purpose, early humans gradually developed more intelligence. On an archeological and historical level, continues Tom Patterson of Deerpark, flute carving and music making are the heralds of contemporary human intelligence.

The State of Jazz According to Tom Patterson, Band Director in the Round Rock District

In Music on March 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Tom Patterson of Deerpark in the Round Rock school district recently commented that jazz has become an ornament that adorns all modern musical genres. Tom Patterson of Round Rock added that jazz music may no longer be the leader of the music industry, but it still remains the grandfather. The modern traditional jazz scene is a productive but under-represented segment of the musical population, noted Tom Patterson of Round Rock. Tom Patterson pointed out most musicians are not jazz musicians. Regardless, maintained Round Rock’s Tom Patterson, jazz remains more prevalent than ever through its ubiquitous influence.

Any modern genre of music, explained Tom Patterson to Round Rock students, owes its existence to jazz. Tom Patterson of Round Rock also told them that Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Hip-Hop and Electronica are all jazz based music. Round Rock District’s Tom Patterson added that these contemporary forms of music all have jazz structures in common. Common jazz structures, according to Tom Patterson of Round Rock, include complex rhythms and chromatic chord progressions. Tom Patterson of Round Rock further explained that we do not notice these elements everyday simply because they are so common. In fact, it would be easier to notice their absence.

As Band Director at Deerpark in the school district of Round Rock, Tom Patterson is familiar with the fact that much of today’s radio repertoire is constituted almost entirely of jazz inspired musical forms. Tom Patterson of Round Rock pointed out that if we remove all jazz based music from radio broadcasts, all that would be left on the air would be classical music and talk radio. It is important to develop an appreciation, instructed Tom Patterson of Round Rock, for jazz and its integral part of music today.

Like any great art from, concluded Tom Patterson of Deerpark’s Round Rock district, jazz has not confined itself to the land of its birth. Round Rock’s Tom Patterson drew attention to how jazz, in a relatively short time, has spread all over the world. From its American roots, jazz has traveled to every continent and country. Tom Patterson of Round Rock concluded that a jazz fan could easily find jazz festival in every time zone of the globe.

Round Rock Band Director Tom Patterson Studies the Blues Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll

In Music on March 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

According to Tom Patterson, the band director at Deerpark Middle School in the Round Rock district, World War II was one of the most culturally and socially significant events of the last century. Tom Patterson is a band director in the Round Rock district who enjoys the study of history through the lens of musical forms. Band director Tom Patterson recently explained that the Second World War brought tremendous social upheaval in its wake. One of the cultural responses to this social upheaval, noted the Round Rock band director, was a popular music explosion known as rock ‘n’ roll.

Artists like Bill Haley and Chuck Berry, said band director Tom Patterson, were at the forefront of the rock ‘n’ roll revolution. Tom Patterson told interested Round Rock students that rock ‘n’ roll was built on the musical accomplishments of blues, jazz, and swing. Band director Tom Patterson also noted that the electric lead guitar characterized this musical era. Today, the band director from Round Rock added, any typical rock ‘n’ roll ensemble sports a lead guitarist. Round Rock’s Tom Patterson said this formula arose out of the blues guitar tradition.

Round Rock band director Tom Patterson further explained that the blues guitar established its role as a strong solo instrument with the help of electricity. Electricity made the guitar a truly modern instrument, said Tom Patterson. B.B. King was a seminal figure, continued the Round Rock band director, elevating the electric blues guitar to a revered position in modern blues. Tom Patterson also said that the blues guitar became a premier solo instrument, even competing with the singer for the audience’s attention. Performers and audiences alike, wrote Round Rock band director Tom Patterson, flocked to hear the electric blues guitar sound.

Once the blues went electric, elaborated Tom Patterson, the rock ‘n’ roll revolution was not far behind. The Round Rock band director described droves of American citizens coming home after the Second World War looking for more out of life. Tom Patterson pointed out that new inventions, like radio, TV, and rock ‘n’ roll created a modern cultural environment where Americans could explore and test their boundaries. Band director Tom Patterson concluded that the success of this movement was evident in the classic rock ‘n’ roll of the 50s and 60s, from Elvis to the Beatles and beyond.

Larry Weir | New Single ‘Rock On’ 09 | Larry Weir

In Music on August 14, 2009 at 5:55 pm

History Repeats For Fast Rising New Single ‘Rock On’ 09 – By Larry Weir

Recording Artist Michael Damian appears to have a hit all over again with the release of his new ’09 version of his No 1 Billboard rock classic, “Rock On” from his soon to be released CD album, “Rock On” from Caption Records.

“Rock On” ’09 was released twenty years after Michael Damian’s version hit No 1 on the Billboard and Radio & Records charts.  The same production team behind Michael’s chart topper – Grammy® Award winner Tom Weir, Michael Damian and Larry Weir – produced “Rock On” ’09. Larry Weir who runs National Record Promotion has been running all of the radio promotion for the single. Taking a break from his successful independent film career as an award winning Writer/Director/Producer (“Moondance Alexander”) to return to the studio and his musical roots by popular demand, Michael has artfully crafted a warm, intimate musical treasure of new music tracks combined with fresh, innovative new recordings from his hit music catalog, with a few classics.

“It was exciting to return to the recording studio and immerse myself completely in my music once again,” reveals Michael. “I’ve been so focused creatively on making art through my independent films (directing/producing) until the fans and the media spoke up demanding more of my music.” Michael adds, “Plus, it’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since my original ‘Rock On’ hit No 1 on Billboard. Yet, this new version shows it’s still a classic song and socially relevant to a whole new generation.”

Adult Contemporary, Hot AC and select Top 40 radio stations across the country have already embraced the new single favorably generating high rotation airplay, strong fan response and the buzz is spreading quickly. Michael’s ‘Rock On’ has become a national anthem and his new version is ready to conquer a whole new generation,” raves Tom Holt at WSRS radio. “Let’s Rock On!”

“Michael has taken ‘Rock On’, his ’80s classic and given it a contemporary edge without losing that classic feel,” adds Rusty Keys of KBEE radio. The new “Rock On” CD album features new contemporary tracks plus new recordings of fan favorites including “Was It Nothing at All”, a hit on the Billboard charts, and Top 5 Radio & Records Adult Contemporary chart twice for which Michael was awarded a BMI Song-writing award.

Michael’s new album features world renowned musicians Tim Pierce, who has played with Celine Dion, Chris Isaak and David Cook on guitar; Paul Bushnell, who has recorded with Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill and Miley Cyrus on bass, Josh Freese, who has played for Avril Lavigne, Sting, Gun’n’Roses, and Daughtry – who toured with Michael on the first Rock On Concert Tour when he was only 16 years old – playing drums. Michael’s brother and record promoter Larry Weir also did back-up vocals for many of the tracks.

Michael is also known for his starring role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Joseph & the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat” where he broke box office records both in L.A. and on Broadway, plus performed in San Francisco and Chicago. His starring role earned him a Grammy® nomination for the cast recording. Damian features a new rendition of “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do” from the hit musical.

The ‘Joseph’ musical songs were a family affair – co-produced by Maria ‘Mom’ Weir, a classical pianist and choir director. She directed the children’s choir in the songs. Plus, one of the children in the choir is Mia Frampton, the daughter of rock superstar Peter Frampton. It’s the first time many of these fan favorites by Damian from “Rock On” and “Was It Nothing At All” to his selections from “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be available to fans for purchase.

As an actor, Michael is probably best known for his 18 year run in CBS No 1 Daytime Drama, “The Young & the Restless”, where he recently reprised his role and performed two of the CD’s tracks, “Getting So Much Better” and “Still Mad About You” for Y&R’s 35th anniversary special. Besides Y&R, TV audiences have seen Michael perform his music on a wide range of TV shows including Oprah and The Tonight Show, where brother Larry Weir played keyboards. Michael is currently on location in Vancouver, Canada directing the feature film FLICKA 2 for 20th Century Fox.

“Rock On” 09 the single has been released and is available for purchase through iTunes. The album “Rock On” has been released by Caption Records March 24 and is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon.com and through retail stores nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.CaptionRecords.com.

Larry Weir | Rock 09 Hits Top 30 | Larry Weir

In Music on August 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Rock 09 Hits Top Thirty on the Billboard AC Charts – By Larry Weir

Caption Records announced that Recording Artist Michael Damian’s “Rock On 09″ hit the Top30 on the Billboard AC charts. Record promoter Larry Weir from Heartland Entertainment ran the radio promotion for Caption records.

It was twenty years ago that Damian’s first release of the rock classic hit #1 on both the Billboard and R&R Top40 charts. The single taken from the newly released “Rock On” album from Caption Records, also moved to #28* on the Mediabase AC charts, and is Top 10 at New Music Weekly and now ranks #5* on the Independent Music Network’s Top 30 Countdown.

Larry Weir was Damian’s manager at that time and oversaw all the promotion activity with the A&M records staff. Damian is currently in production on location directing the film “Flicka 2″ for 20th Century Fox, where he recently added Clint Black (country singer & TV star of “The Celebrity Apprentice”) to his all-star cast.

“I’m so thrilled for what’s been going on with ‘Rock On 09′,” said Michael from his film set up in Vancouver, Canada. ” And thanks to the fans along with my friends at radio who have been so much a part of making this happen a second time around.

“The new “Rock On” album was produced by Grammy® Award winner Tom Weir, Michael Damian and Larry Weir and is a top feature on iTunes this week. Plus, a summer tour is in the early planning stages. “Rock On” from Caption Records is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and through retail stores nationwide. For more information, contact Caption Records LLC at 818-505-9368 or visit the website at CaptionRecords.com.

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