Sunday, December 4, 2011

Soiree Tomorrow

Our soiree series is such a way to charge my personal batteries! I go a bit nuts before hand, producing all the program details, coordinating the various and differing venues (from private homes to luxury hotels to consul general's residences, among many others) -- but afterwards I always feel I've really connected with the soiree audience. It's like turning off the hectic world for a few minutes and returning to the roots of chamber music, music making in small, intimate venues for an elite gathering. It's great to have a soiree family with whom one can celebrate the holidays and the joys of chamber music!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

British Geoffrey Bush's lovely lovely trio

Today was so much fun! Got together with Liz Koch and Carl Nitchie to rehearse our upcoming Trio for Ob/Bsn/Pf by British composer Geoffrey Bush. It's a treat!! Declamatory, sweeping, tender, quixotic, full of yummy solos...  we really enjoyed the piece. And you will too, I feel sure! It begins our season on Sun Oct 23rd. Hope it's on your calendar and you've already gotten your 2 for 1 tickets in advance. We haven't played it before, haven't heard it before... but it's a keeper. (Whew! *sigh of relief*)

Friday, October 7, 2011

And we're off!

Finally, FINALLY, after all the weeks of talking ABOUT music, writing about music, raising money and writing grants to make music ---- TODAY we had our first rehearsal for our first performance coming up this Sunday, our first soiree. It feels like I am bathing in a heavenly shower after a dry desert storm... :))))))))

Friday, August 19, 2011

TWO NEW Rapido Partners!!

I am thrilled to announce that our upcoming 2012 Rapido Composition Contest cycle will include two outstanding new partner ensembles. From Dallas, the Voices of Change is one of our country's most respected new music ensembles and they are about to launch their 37th season. From San Francisco, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble is an acclaimed ensemble of 12 musicians which presents both traditional and new music in their varied programming. With the addition of these two amazing ensembles covering applications from all the Southwestern and Western U.S. states, our Rapido contest will cover all 48 states coast to coast! Boston Musica Viva will coordinate composition applications from the entire Northeast, Chicago's Fifth House Ensemble will coordinate the extensive Midwest, and we in the ACP will coordinate applications from Maryland and Washington D.C. to Louisiana and Florida. We are proud of the artistic umph of these five partner ensembles and look forward to an even more exciting cycle of our Rapido Competition in 2012-2014. Stay tuned for much, much more!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Programming is almost finished!!!!!!!

I'm getting VERY CLOSE to being finished with next season's four public concerts. It's such a puzzle to put together, with the musicians special requests and date restrictions, the availability (and not) of the four venues, plus the special requests and restrictions of the presenters themselves. No wonder I am pooped... Stay tuned. In just another day or two, I'll be announcing the next season! Make sure you've signed up for emails so we can stay in touch with you about details and deals!

Joyful Outreach!

Last Thursday was a most joyful experience for our ACP Outreach Quartet! We are Adelaide Federici, violin and 8 months pregnant, Charae Krueger, cello, Ann Marie McPhail, soprano, and yours truly on piano. We headed to the Benson Senior Center, one of Fulton County's impressive senior multi-purpose facilities, in Sandy Springs. From "O mio babbino caro" and Mozart Divertimento in Bb to "The Swan" and "The Sound of Music," this was a varied celebration of intimate songs, instrumental solos and trios. Our enthusiastic audience of about 75 were so gracious and seemed to really enjoy our gift of music. Big thanks to the Fulton County Arts Commission for helping support this memorable free performance for some very grateful seniors. We certainly enjoyed ourselves, too!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vacation now, right? NO! NOT YET!!

Well the big 35th season is over, so we're on vacation, right? NO, absolutely not, not at all!!! My colleagues are all incredibly busy with the final artistic flurry in the ASO and I am also incredibly busy - nailing down venues and concert dates for next season's public concerts and also our six soirees in private homes and venues. And programming! We all contribute suggestions and requests for the season's puzzle of programs and then I spread it all over my dining room table and work on it as a puzzle, juggling the balance of styles, instruments, even the work load. (Violin, cello and piano seem to be constantly in demand, no matter who else plays... leading to an exhausted trio. Too much of a good thing is still too much.) Anyway - stay tuned because I'm crunching it all right now and am determined to pull it all or mostly together in the next week! WHEW! I need a bit of luck too...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What is that SCHREKER piece Tuesday?

Have you heard of Franz Schreker? I sure hadn't... but I'm SO ENJOYING studying and learning the remarkably beautiful, evocative Der Wind... It's a real jewel for clarinet, violin, cello, horn, piano. Can't wait to perform it Tuesday evening at the Shakespeare Tavern! You'll be glad you did, I promise!!  AND we're reviving an old ACP favorite by American great - Ned Rorem... his Trio for Flute, Cello, Piano. Back in graduate school at SUNY at Stony Brook on Long Island, I first studied this work with my colleagues in our "Stony Brook Trio," a busy student group coached by Gilbert Kalish and Sam Baron and sometimes Tim Eddy. Many hundreds of concerts later, I still enjoy this big showpiece for all three instruments, featuring a different contemporary compositional style in each of the four movements. AND our big anchor is the magnificent Brahms Gm Piano Quartet, another ACP staple, this time with our great friend Will Ransom (of Emory University) on the piano bench. It'll be a treat to me to enjoy this great landmark romantic powerhouse of a season finisher with you in the audience. See you Tues evening. The Tavern Pub opens at 6:15 pm and our downbeat is 7:30 --- NOT 8:00. SEE YOU TUESDAY, I hope, I hope!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home! The Tour is a Memory!

The tour was probably the highlight of my 35 years as pianist with the Atlanta Chamber Players. It was also four of the most jam packed and exhausting days of my life. Jordan Hall with its gorgeous wood, its surprisingly raked stage, the beautiful piano... it was simply one of the greatest experiences I've ever had to play there. And music critic emeritus Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, who heard more than 12,000 concerts during his decades as Globe critic, was fascinating during the pre-concert panel with composer Michael Gandolfi and me. It was frustrating to have to leave at 7:35 to change clothes for the 8:00 downbeat! About 20 of us gathered afterwards with dear Atlanta soiree hosts at the Lucca Back Bay restaurant for a memorable dinner. An early train to Boston the next morning went smoothly, taking us through beautiful coastal towns such as Providence RI and New London CT before arriving at Penn Station. I was frankly a bit resigned that the Boston experience might turn out to be the musical highlight of the trip, but then we rehearsed in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall - and once again I was thrilled with the acoustics and beautiful piano. And it was a personal thrill to walk across the street from Carnegie Hall to Steinway Hall and be led upstairs to my private Rachmaninoff room for practicing. I spent 4 memorable hours there last Friday and Saturday, with Sergei staring down at me from two walls. While Boston's concert was an absolutely excellent performance, for me New York topped it. I believe the ensemble of the group in the Foote Piano Quartet and the beautiful colors of the piano made for one of the most rewarding performances I've ever played. There was no time for blogging during the tour. There was not enough time for sleeping! As more time passes, I'm sure I'll be able to process the nuances and highlights of this memorable tour. But I know already that I have just performed in probably the two most gorgeous halls of my career. Such memories. Such a privilege.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ready Set Go...

We've rehearsed, we've practiced performing the program, we've listened to the performance recordings and debriefed and then rehearsed some more, we've had some tense arguments, we've had some magic on stage... and tomorrow we lift off. 35 seasons. An adult lifetime, a whole career... and this is one memory for the record books. Tomorrow after years and years of hearing about it, I get to actually hear for myself the hallowed music space known as Jordan Hall. And it feels as if so so so many people are responsible for the upcoming experience. I can think of so many musician colleagues through the three and a half decades, the Board leaders who worked to keep the ACP boat afloat, my amazing soul partner who has endured the last 26 years of ACP with me. Thanks everyone, thanks for the chance to meet Jordan Hall in Boston tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Last week we performed a preview concert of our upcoming northeastern tour program at Spelman College's Sisters Chapel. I last played there many, many years ago - and frankly I had forgotten just how rewarding the acoustics are! During the performance I was hearing other musical parts in a new light, with flattering reverb from the hall. How beautiful each of the other instruments sounded, more beautiful than usual... the flute was more shimmering, the dark yummy tone of the clarinet more lush, the gorgeous singing vibratos of the strings more vocal... it was a real treat. And clearly we all responded musically. In the Foote Piano Quartet, phrases were shaped and treasured with especially tender care, new nuances were added and heard and repeated back to each other. It was like a new journey with an old friend. I often think of performing like driving a car on a journey together, knowing you have a destination together, but excited about the new details you can notice for the first time or in a different "light", as if it's sunset rather than midday or misty rather than full sun. Or vice versa. One never quite knows what one will see and experience and - dare I say it - feel during the performance journey. Sometimes we spend so much time self-critiquing and scrutinizing, striving for precision and clarity and consistency. But that night at Sisters Chapel, inspired by the beautiful and luscious acoustics, I actually forgot about precision as number one goal. I relaxed into the moment of enjoying the performance journey. The feeling was so welcome  and reminded me deeply why I began performing chamber music 35+ years ago and why I am still lucky to do so today. All because of acoustics. Thank you, gorgeous Sisters Chapel at Spelman.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

KSU Students were our practice audience!

Yesterday it was a treat for us to play on stage in the beautiful Bailey Center at Kennesaw State Univ. for a large group of orchestra students!  Seated on stage with us, the students heard introductions to our Harbison Songs, followed by a full performance, then Gandolfi's Canzona Nova. We really enjoyed our numerous and enthusiastic questions and comments from the students - and we were tickled that they seemed to especially enjoy the Gandolfi! (Almost every student voted it as "very enjoyable"!) It was really great to get to take our two commissioned works to share with curious students!!  Three Chamber Players serve on faculty at KSU - Christina, Cathy and Liz, and I taught there for 3 years a few years back, helping to expand the chamber music program. I must confess I miss the frequent interaction I had with college students for a total of 9 years - 3 at KSU and 6 at GSU. Teaching at a university is a huge addition to one's schedule of busy performances, but it is so rewarding to spend quality and memorable hours teaching and coaching. Congrats to the KSU School of Music during these booming days. And thanks for letting us come and practice performing big chunks of our Tour Program.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Putting it all TOGETHER!

In October we performed Arthur Foote's gorgeous piano quartet and we played a couple of movements at a soiree about the same time and another movement was soiree'd earlier in March. We premiered Michael Gandolfi's new piece in November at Spivey Hall ... and we really haven't played it since. John Harbison's Songs America Loves to Sing was last performed in 2007 - and premiered in 2004 and toured to Paris and Rome in 2005 summer. So last week we revived the Harbison, then on Friday more Harbison and Gandolfi and then today we worked on 3 of the 4 Foote movements. So now we're trying to juggle all the works at the same time and have everything peak at the right time. THREE WEEKS from tonight we'll be performing in New York at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall ......... :)))))))))))) (That should be 7 grins for our 7 ACPers going on this tour.) We're looking forward to two performances this coming Monday (for KSU music students) and Tuesday (Spelman College's Sisters Chapel, 7:00 pm, a free concert and all invited.)  Man, do I go on and on with these blogs, sorry. BUT these are exciting days during this exciting 35th Anniversary Season. Have I said that I'm excited?! Hope YOU are able to join us Tuesday eve Mar 22nd at 7:00 pm for our free Northeastern Tour Preview Concert at Spelman! Then maybe you'll be excited too. *wink* -- Paula

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rehearsal Boo Boo

Wouldn't you know?! First rehearsal of Harbison today, I go to the ASO Reh Hall to make it easy on the others, who'd just finished an ASO rehearsal there in the morning, I'm warming up doing my abridged Hanon, one colleague enters saying that three others are at my studio - the Octagon - waiting on me / us at my house. So we jump in our cars and 15 minutes later, we finally begin our rehearsal, not exactly in the venue we had originally planned, but we do begin it. Despite the late start, and after apologies all around, we run through the Harbison and it sounds like we performed it twice last week, rather than last a couple of years ago. This is what happens when you work with first rate players at the top of their game. Such a pleasure... :)))))))   Harbison? CHECK!  Next... Gandolfi tomorrow! AT THE OCTAGON for sure!

First Harbison Rehearsal Today

For days I've been revisiting our fabulous commissioned work by John Harbison - Songs America Loves to Sing. 10 American tunes like Amazing Grace, Aura Lee (Elvis' Love Me Tender), What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Poor Butterfly, St. Louis Blues, We Shall Overcome, even the Happy Birthday tune... you get the picture! And I've listened again (it's been a long time!) to the ACP CD recording... whew, it's good! Now to also give a good, accurate and impassioned performance LIVE... that's the challenge for performers on a stage as opposed to a recording studio with multiple takes and complex editing capabilities afterwards. Can't wait for our first rehearsal this afternoon, leading up to Tuesday's live concert at Spelman.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It's on my mind today, commissioning, because I'm practicing and refreshing John Harbison's Songs America Loves to Sing (2004) and Michael Gandolfi's Canzona Nova (2010). Both are ACP commissions. And today I've been talking to a composer member of the Atlanta School, hammering out details for another big commission to come in 2013 or 2014... Look forward to announcing that officially as soon as it's set in stone. Meanwhile, when I work with a living composer and can ask why he/she wrote such and such and if doing it this and that way instead would also be acceptable (because it works better on the piano or because the balance is better with the other instruments, etc etc)... often, even usually, they say yes. It makes me realize that maybe Schubert or Beethoven or Copland or Stravinsky would also sometimes say "yes, fine, go for it." But we performers study study study the score, digging through notes and searching for the compositional key to interpretation or the psychological inners of the composer's mind, trying to be dutiful, knowing that almost always the best performance results from the sincerest allegiance to the score. But then we find inconsistencies, mistakes in the score. And the composer has long since grown silent or lives in a distant land. In the end, one's sense of what is beautiful, what is art has to come into play. After all, when we walk out on stage, the audience are not sitting there glued to the score, they are listening to the aura or the lack thereof. A rambling blog... such are the back and forth inner trials and tribulations of putting together an interpretation and then performing it. At least sometimes we can actually ask the composer and get an answer. Then we have to see if we can love the answer we are given... Fortunately I am convinced by the answers I've received from my questions of Harbison and Gandolfi.

New to Blogging!

Hoorah, There is so much to share about the Atlanta Chamber Players! And now I can! Hope you have SAVED THE DATE of Tue Mar 22, 7:00 pm - Free Concert Preview of our upcoming Northeast Tour at Spelman College's Sisters Chapel. We'll be playing Harbison, Gandolfi, Foote - the exact same program we'll be playing in Boston and New York City the first week of April. Join us one week from tonight!