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Laying down the Music Tracks for Riuka’s “Trash the Dress” Video
Apr 19th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Recording the final titles cue at Blue House in Silver Spring
Last week marked the completion of my part in the making of Lithuanian director Tomas Riuka’s Trash the Dress promotional video. Israeli composer Erez Henya is scoring the music; popular Lithuanian singer, Vaida Genyte, is doing the vocals, and yours truly is doing the piano part.

Visuals and dialog for the video were shot on location at various places in Lithuania. Henya composed his score in Israel. The music was recorded in two places: Vaida Genyte’s part was done at a studio in Lithuania; my part at Blue House Productions, a studio in Silver Spring, MD. Final mixing and editing is scheduled to be done by Riuka in Lithuania this week with Henya in attendance virtually through Skype.

Without the internet and related technologies this video could not have happened.

How I Met the Composer
I met Erez Henya online; we became online friends; he invited me to participate in the making of the video. All of this was done without ever seeing each other face to face or even talking together over the telephone, an earlier enabling technology.

How We Prepared the Sheet Music
Erez email me Adobe PDFs of the initial versions of the sheet music. I printed and reviewed the scores, marked suggestions and potential phrasings and slurs on them, scanned and emailed them back to Erez.

The night before we were scheduled to have me go to the recording studio, we found, in reviewing the latest version of the score together, that about four measures of the music for the ending titles cue didn’t work as originally written.  By the end of our session late that night for me and very early in the morning for Erez, the problems had been fixed.

How the problems were fixed involved a fair amount of technology and couldn’t have been done without broadband internet service available to both of us. While Erez and I talked over Skype, I played alternate versions of those measures on my piano while recording them into my digital audio workstation. Those recordings were then uploaded to the other of the two computers in the room (the one with an internet connection)  and posted to a document sharing site on Google Docs. I could even hear Erez playing the clips over his computer through the microphone for Skype.

Dave Gradin at the Digital Audio Workstation at Blue House ProductionsThe Recording Session
The recording session at Blue House went off without a hitch. I listened to the click tracks provided by Erez through the headphones while playing the music from the score. The major difference from a more usual session came from the fact that the composer was “virtually” in attendance over Skype. For me it was a pleasure not to have to hassle any of the technology stuff and focus on the music making. Dave Gradin, one of the Blue House engineers, handled all that with true aplomb. We got about seven minutes of music from two different “cuts” layed down in just about 70 minutes, pretty quick from what I’m told. After I packed up and headed for lunch Dave finished up the mastering and uploaded the finished music files to the Blue House website. Total studio time was 90 minutes.

I’m not sure what the distribution is for the finished video, but I will post a link to a trailer when that becomes available. Stay tuned.

Accolades: Liz Daniels
Apr 13th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

“He is a pleasure to work with — an extremely accomplished pianist who offers strong collaborative support to his fellow performers.”

Elizabeth (Liz) Daniels, M.M., B.A., maintains a large private voice studio in Silver Spring, MD and is on the adjunct voice faculty at The Curtis Institute of Music and The Catholic University of America. She also is a master voice teacher for the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program

1st Time in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Apr 13th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Steinway Concert Grand at the Kennedy Center
Saturday, April 10, 2010 was a great day for me. It marked the first time I got to play on the “main stage” in the Kennedy Center concert hall. I accompanied Danielle Talamantes and Stanley Webber, two rising young singing stars, in a program for the Vocal Arts Society called: America Sings: A Festival of American Music for the Voice. On the program were Aaron Copland’s, I Bought Me a Cat, Bess, you is my woman now from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and Lori Laitman’s, Dreaming.

Ticket for America Sings

Another Story – Classical Music Sorry State of Affairs
Apr 5th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Bad News!

Another symphony orchestra appears to be heading into oblivion. According to a March 28th article on the Post & Courier web site at www.postandcourier.com, The Charleston, South Carolina, Symphony is suspending operations.

“The remaining Masterworks concert, scheduled for April 17, is canceled. Ticket holders either will be reimbursed or asked to donate the cost of tickets to the organization, [Board President Ted Legasey], said”.

Average salaries hovered around $20,000, evidently too much in today’s economy.

Comments from the local community on the Post & Courier site seem to devolve to discussions about politically conservative approaches to saving the orchestra (make the concerts more relevant, don’t rely on just a few donors, don’t take any government money) to liberal ones which involve government support and a complaint that $2M is going to be spent out of city monies to construct… a skate board park.

Sigh.

Commentary among musicians on Facebook are also polarized with the Young(er) Turks and their sympathizers pointing to orchestras as “museums” and the (presumably) older folks lamenting the loss of the museums.

Sigh.

There’s even criticism of the notion that “pops” concerts are worth anything or matter much. On that one, I beg to differ. Pop concerts where I soloed with the Mantovani Orchestra were extremely well received… in China. When I asked management why there hadn’t been a USA tour in some years, the answer was simple: “We lost money the last time. The economics don’t support it”.

So it appears that this malaise regarding the symphony orchestra might be a local phenomenon, local to the USA. I have personal experience that pops orchestras and concerts are well received in China; the same is true of Germany, and I’m told, other European countries.

So what can we conclude?

I’m not sure. There seems to be a real renaissance of interest among the young (and their proud parents) in playing in and listening to orchestral music. Competition is stiff for admission to local youth orchestras like PVYO and MCYO. This makes me hopeful that the orchestra, as an institution, but more importantly as an instrument of musical expression, will continue to survive.

It’s a complicated issue. As a working musician, I usually can’t afford to attend a concert by a major symphony unless I happen to be playing with them. The costs have gone too high.

Sorry not to have any answers today, just a lament about the continuing pressures on classical music in these difficult economic times.

The Spammers Have Found My Site, Alas
Apr 2nd, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

About a dozen “comments” from spoofed email addresses, ip addresses, fake URLs. I don’t know what I’ve done to attract their attention, but I do hope that what goes around comes around and bites them – hard.

For now, in the interest of keeping obscenities and other trash off my blog, I am forced to have a policy where I approve comments before they are posted.

Apologies to my fans and friends and other truly interested parties for the inconvenience. Any WordPress gurus who have a better way to screen out the crap, please contact me using the contact form on this site, and thanks for your help.

Videos from Spring Serenade… w/Jennifer Paschal
Apr 1st, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

…just a quick announcement to let folks know about the availability of videos from Spring Serenade: Songs of Joy, Nature and Renewal , a recital with Jennifer Paschal, part of the Virginia Tull Arts Series at Wake Forest Baptist Church, Wake Forest, North Carolina.
The video can be found on my website at http://www.AndrewKraus.com/listen as well as on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytQkXXT1jBI.

Stay tuned for additional songs from Schubert, John Duke and others.

Join my fans and other interested parties by filling out the guaranteed not to spam you “Join the Mailing List” box at the top right hand corner of every page of this site.

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