stranded on a desert island (#3)

A blog series in which a musician shares which three pieces they would choose to listen to, if they were hypothetically stranded on an island and could only listen to those three pieces for the rest of their life. Want to contribute? Contact me here!

This week one of my closest friends, Lauren Tokunaga, shares her choices:

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the chopin competition

Martha Argerich playing a Chopin mazurka in the 1965 Chopin Competition, the year she won.

The preliminaries for the 17th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw are currently underway. Held every five years, this competition has jump-started the careers of superstar pianists like Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, and Krystian Zimerman. It is also infamous for a kerfuffle among the jury in 1980, when Martha Argerich resigned from the jury to protest the elimination of highly provocative and controversial young pianist Ivo Pogorelić.

You can access live streams of the preliminaries on the Chopin Competition’s Youtube channel, as well as recordings of previous days’ competitors. Every day, competitors play from 10:00am till 8:00 or 9:00pm Warsaw time (except Sunday, which starts at 5:00pm Warsaw time). For those of us on the other side of the Atlantic, that’s 1:00am till 11:00am or 12:00pm Pacific Standard Time.

“how do you say that again?”

While the most famous composers are spared from the indignities of name-butchering (most people know that it’s not “John Sebastian Batch” or “Frederic Choppin'”), there are still some composers whose exotic names easily lead to some pretty confusing, tongue-tangling, stutter-inducing renditions. Hopefully this post will clear some of the confusion out of the air!

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the practice of practicing

Baby Stephen Hough! Awww.

Published a little while ago, but it’s still a worthwhile article to read and re-read: the brilliant Stephen Hough talks about how to approach practicing, and doles out tips that are sage, practical, and concise–a rare and praiseworthy combination. “The purpose of practising is so that we (offstage as engineers) make sure that we (onstage as pilots) are completely free to fly to the destination of our choice. That destination is one involving imagination and creativity and spirituality and danger and ecstasy of course, not merely the A to B of playing the notes, but without the nuts and bolts in place we will never be airborne. The greatest interpretative vision of the final pages of the final sonata of Beethoven will nosedive to oblivion if we can’t play an even trill.” Read the full article here.

What has been one of your biggest practice breakthroughs?