Monday, January 28, 2008

CMCS Series: Larghetto in F

I have decided to create a series of recordings from the music book Classical Music for the Church Service: Volume II by Alfred. I have enjoyed many of the works in this volume. They are relaxing, peaceful, and offer a variety of forms and structures. As often as time permits, I'll be recording various works from this and posting it on my Lisztonian site.

The first of these recordings is Larghetto in F by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is a slow, steady rhythm with a distinct Mozartian feel to it. You can visit the webpage to download the MP3/WMA of the recording, or you can listen to it here:

As always, if you enjoy these free recordings and feel inclined to help me improve their quality, then please support my endeavor to purchase a brand-new Steinway Model B! Any donation of $10 or more will be commemorated by having the donor's name printed prominently on the lid of the piano. Thanks for your support!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What happens once I get the piano?
What are the long-term goals?

The short-term goal of this project is obvious - to provide more and better free classical music by improving the instrument I use to play and record with. Additionally, it is to offer an act of appreciation and dedication to all those who have been willing to help me to do this -- by "signing" each doner's name on the lid of the piano so that it is permanently visible and offers a reminder that there are still many people out there who appreciate classical piano music.

But I have an even bigger dream in mind... to continue this endeavor and provide other pianists with the same opportunity! If this project works out and I am able to achieve my goal, then I am hoping to turn Sign My Piano into a non-profit organization dedication to providing talented pianists with better instruments.

At the Gina Bachauer Piano Festival that was held last year in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was extremely touched by a story of a young pianist from another country who did not have a piano of his own to practice with. He had to travel quite far just to find a piano to practice with. Despite the difficulties he faced, he continued to practice and has since been involved in several international competitions, including the Bachauer competition. Through that competition, he stayed with a family who raised enough funds --just in their own neighborhood -- to purchase and deliver a piano to this talented, young artist. It changed his life forever!

Now imagine if we can amplify that same experience a hundred times over! If this initial endeavor is a success, then I hope to provide other artists the same opportunity that I have been given.

So that, in a nutshell, is what I am hoping to accomplish through the Sign My Piano initiative. It is a great goal and I am hoping that there are enough classical music lovers out there to help make it a reality.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why a Steinway Model B?

That's easy... because a Steinway Model D is too big for my living room :)

But what's so special about a Steinway piano? What makes it worth three times as much as a mass-produced piano of any other brand? James Barron helps to answer that question through his 280 page book, Piano: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand. My wife bought me that book as a Christmas gift in 2006. If you REALLY want to learn more about what makes Steinway so amazing, then read that book. However, if you want my short version...

... because a steinway becomes a part of the musical art and not just a tool for sound...

A Steinway piano will alter the way a pianist plays because it gives such a wide range of colors and dynamics that other pianos simply cannot provide. With a typical mass-produced piano I find myself fighting with the quirks and limits of the piano as I struggle to get the sound and expression that I am looking for. And, quite frankly, I can almost never get it. But when I play a Steinway it is as if the piano becomes a part of me; almost as if it were a living thing, it seems to predict and enhance what I am trying to express. It is almost as if the keys can sense exactly what my fingers are trying to tell it through just the slightest variation of touch; and it responds - magnificently.

I'll leave the technical details up to James Barron to talk about. He does a wonderful job and if you read the book, you'll probably want to go out and buy a Steinway yourself... or at the least, you'll come out with an amplified appreciation for what a spectacular instrument it truly is.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Requesting Donations!

For several years I have been providing free classical piano recordings. I love knowing that there are so many people who have benefited from the music that I have provided. I am just an amateur pianist and I am employed in the technology industry, but I still enjoy knowing that my music has touched the lives of others without having to touch their pocket books :)

My early recordings are live performances on decent pianos. However, my most recent recordings are made at home, on my less-than-amazing upright piano. I don't have time to engage in public performances anymore and so I don't have the opportunity to record on the concert stage; so my recordings, unfortunately, are missing the touch that a beautiful instrument provides.

My dream piano has always been the Steinway Concert Grand (Model D). It is 8' 11 and 3/4" long. Much too big to fit in my living room! The next best is the Steinway Model B. It is about 7' long and provides the pianist with an enormous array of colors and dynamics that other pianos simply cannot provide. It is a hand-made instrument and sells for approximately US $70,000. I've played thousands of pianos over my lifetime and NOTHING compares to the touch and the sound of a steinway. It truly is a dream come true (to a pianist).

So now I'm hoping that the public who enjoys my recordings might assist me in obtaining my dream piano so I can continue to provide free recordings, but on a much more brilliant and expressive instrument. Additionally, to help honor and remember everybody who helps me obtain my dream, I am going to print each doner's name on the lid of the piano once it has been purchased. This seemed to me a great way to show appreciation to all those who are willing to assist me in reaching this goal.

So if you feel at all inclined to do so, please make a donation and include your name and email address so that I can notify you once the goal has been reached. Once I have the names all printed on the lid, I'll take enough close-up pictures so that everybody's names can be clearly read. If you'd like to make a donation without your name on the piano, then please just indicate that when you make the donation.

If you'd rather not donate, I understand... but please do continue enjoying the free classical music on my Lisztonian website!