Subscribe

Your email:
Untitled Document

Topics

Links

Untitled Document

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

"Tom" by Arnold Steinhardt

  
  
  
Arnold and CA

The Guarneri String Quartet (photo by Erwin Fischer) and Charles Avsharian

Remembering David Crowder

  
  
  
David Crowder

On a Friday morning at the end of June, everyone at SHAR was saddened to hear that our master bow restorationist David Crowder had passed away after a lengthy battle with emphysema. Aaron Johnson, the Repair Shop Coordinator, shares his memories of David in this brief blog, remembering especially David's intelligence, humor, and eclectic interests. We'll miss you, David! 

The end of June was a surreal time for us in the Repair Shop. Our master bow restorationist, David Crowder, passed away after a lengthy battle with emphysema. David was 75. While it may not have come as a surprise to someone objectively looking at his health condition, it still managed to catch us off guard.

Before his career in bow making began, he was a code breaker in the US Navy, and then a college professor. As I got to know him over the past couple of years, he would occasionally share one of a number of crazy stories from his past life. Over time, I learned that even though David had a rather gruff exterior, he was an incredibly interesting man who held himself to a very high standard of quality in his work. In addition to bow restoration, David also had a great love of languages, logical deduction puzzles and, oddly enough, video games. One of the biggest surprises I’ve had during my time at SHAR was when David visited me on a Saturday and we proceeded to have a lengthy discussion of Zelda, different gaming platforms, and Call of Duty. I drove home and had a genuine “You will not believe what happened today” story for my wife.

David joined our staff in 1996 after working as an independent bow maker in Pittsburgh and Nashville. For 17 years he worked servicing SHAR’s customer, consignment and high end bow work. His attention to detail and excellence in his craft will be missed. I, however, will miss his stories even more.







Revolution Strings in China, Days Nine and Ten

  
  
  
Arrival

Think back to your high school days. You may have played an instrument, and you have been quite good at it. But did you ever get the chance to tour China with thirteen violinists, two guitarists, a cellist, and a bass player? And this was after you released your first album? Allow me to introduce you to Revolution Strings, an alternative strings group culled from Abilene High School and Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. Although each member has a strong classical background, these string players aren't afraid to dabble in jazz, country, Celtic and more. Revolution Strings has just embarked on their tour of China and they've kindly agreed to blog about their experience for the SHAR Music Blog. Justin Radcliffe, Theatre Director for Cooper High School, guest blogs for Revolution Strings.

Day Nine

Shanghai, China is as iconic a place as China has to offer. This city is home to twenty-five million people, with an expanded population of thirty-five million when the outlying area is included. Another two-and-a-half million migrant workers live in the city at any given time. History made Shanghai the prototype city for China's expansion into western trade, and it seems like just about everything in and around Shanghai has experienced growth. On Friday, The League of Astonishing Strings pulled into town and in true tour fashion saw as much of Shanghai as could be fit into a day.


The Old City is a part of Shanghai that was rebuilt in the style of ancient Chinese architecture. Though these beautiful buildings now house shops full of knock-off goods such as Rolex, Coach and Nike, they also provide local merchants the opportunity to sell items like Chinese script calligraphy and hand-carved figurines. A couple of hours in the neighborhood and one can truly feel the heritage of a beautiful culture emanating from the these traditional buildings. 


Then there's the other side of Shanghai: The Bund and Nanjing Road. Here, we saw a futuristic, dream-up city, especially at night. The skyline is a constant light show of Jetson-age skyscrapers, and The Bund is a tourist-filled overlook where, from across the water, you can see the truly awesome skyline. Nanjing road brings to mind the Las Vegas strip, with its neon signs, enormous LED screens and shop after expensive shop. Revolution members breezed through the streets with student performers from three other performing groups from the States, making memories and enjoying the sites.



The day ended with a special dinner treat of traditional Chinese Hot Pot. Attributed to Ghengis Khan, this dining style has taken on a relaxed, social pace, quite unlike its military origins! Similar to fondue, you cook your own food in a boiling pot of soup. Sharing a hot pot, the students celebrated an excellent tour and anticipated a final performance on Saturday.


Day Ten
The League of Astonishing Strings tour of China drew to a close on Saturday after a sold-out Shanghai show. The audience couldn't get enough of these talented Abilene students! 

Revolution Strings put on their best show of the tour, and the crowd adored the performance. The Shanghai Oriental Art Center has three performance theaters, and the sight of a capacity crowd in one of them cheering on our Abilene students was inspiring. Intent on finishing on a high note, Revolution held nothing back and wrapped up their China tour in style. 


After the performance, Revolution students greeted audience members in the foyer. Hundreds of Chinese concert-goers cheered for our students as they entered the foyer. Parents thrust their children into photographs with these high school orchestra students and several parents and grandparents even scrambled to get a photograph with them. This was undoubtedly an unforgettable opportunity for Revolution performers, as well as life-changing encouragement in their choice to be musicians. One Chinese father communicated that most Chinese children are forced to study music to better their chances for higher education. In The League of Astonishing Strings, Chinese students saw the joy music can bring into one's own life. 


On Sunday, Revolution left their Shanghai hotel at 8am for Shanghai's Pudong Airport. The following 24 hours of travel brought them safely back home to Abilene and a warm welcome from friends and family. Junior violinist Abby Fortson said it best: "I am just so deeply full of gratitude that I was a part of this wonderful group of people and this incredible experience." 


Revolution Strings

Directors:
Darcy Radcliffe and Dave Keown

The China Troupe
Violins: Candi Davidson, Jesenia Navejas, Alex Martinez, Nathaniel Pigott, Keila Salinas, Abby Fortson, Kenneth Menard, Adine DeLeon, Julia Taylor and Kiley Harris,
Viola: Logan McFall
Cello: Kenny Waldrop
Bass: Brendan Acosta
Drums: Joe Regalado






































Revolution Strings in China, Day Four and Five

  
  
  
Ferris Wheel Park

Think back to your high school days. You may have played an instrument, and you have been quite good at it. But did you ever get the chance to tour China with thirteen violinists, two guitarists, a cellist, and a bass player? And this was after you released your first album? Allow me to introduce you to Revolution Strings, an alternative strings group culled from Abilene High School and Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. Although each member has a strong classical background, these string players aren't afraid to dabble in jazz, country, Celtic and more. Revolution Strings has just embarked on their tour of China and they've kindly agreed to blog about their experience for the SHAR Music Blog. Justin Radcliffe, Theatre Director for Cooper High School, guest blogs for Revolution Strings.

DAY FOUR
Revolution started another day aboard a bullet train in China, arriving in a hotel to quickly drop their belongings and head out to a new kind of venue. Ferris Wheel Park stands as a Chinese tip-of-the-hat to Disneyland on a much smaller scale. (Ferris Wheel Park is located in Suzhou, in a southern province of China.)


After a sweltering afternoon, the performers waited as storm clouds built over the park. Once two of the four groups had performed, the clouds broke open and torrents of rain precluded the final act which was to be Revolution. But even as the group missed a performance opportunity, spirits remained high. After all of the travel and a demanding schedule of rehearsals and performances, students were given an unexpected respite with the evening off to recuperate for the tasks ahead.

DAY FIVE
Revolution welcomed our fifth day in China; it brought the first day off for the tour, which came just in time as the routine of the road and the demands of a professional performance tour had exhausted the League of Astonishing Strings performers. The League was begun by John Crozman and Dean Marshall, both directors of the Canadian based string ensemble Barrage. In addition to Revolution, this tour includes The Tremper Golden Strings of Kenosha, Wisconsin; Allegro of Chicago, Illinois, and The Wire Choir from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Students in these groups range in age from ten to twenty-one years old.


For a day of recreation the entire league was taken to the Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory to see how silk is made. Students were given a full tour of one of China's most iconic industries and saw the process from the silk worm egg all the way to fine Chinese silk garments and artwork.

Suzhou, a city of seven million people, is considered one of China's most beautiful cities. It's known especially for its ancient canal system. An evening cruise along the canal showcased the city's ancient architecture, and Revolution members were treated to a performance of traditional Chinese music along the way.















Revolution Strings in China, Day Three

  
  
  
China

Think back to your high school days. You may have played an instrument, and you have been quite good at it. But did you ever get the chance to tour China with thirteen violinists, two guitarists, a cellist, and a bass player? And this was after you released your first album? Allow me to introduce you to Revolution Strings, an alternative strings group culled from Abilene High School and Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. Although each member has a strong classical background, these string players aren't afraid to dabble in jazz, country, Celtic and more. Revolution Strings has just embarked on their tour of China and they've kindly agreed to blog about their experience for the SHAR Music Blog. Justin Radcliffe, Theater Director for Cooper High School, guest blogs for Revolution Strings.


Abilene's Revolution Strings performing ensemble has created quite a buzz in China.

We woke early on Saturday. Although we were excited to travel on China's new high speed train system, we were also leaving a (now) much-loved Beijing behind; the troupe of violinists loaded onto he new high speed and we were off to the southern city of Xuzhou (pronounced shoo-jo). Xouhou is a small city in China of 5 million, and the two hour ride at 180 miles-per-hour provided an opportunity to bond and laugh with like-minded students from some of the other performing groups on the tour. Serious work began when we arrived.


We set up in the spectacular Xuzhou Concert Hall. Surprisingly enough, it was less difficult than Friday's gig, and the group spent only a short amount of time in sound check. After a whirlwind bus ride to the hotel to eat and get in costume, the band was back at the hall to play for an eager audience. The audience was in for a treat as all four groups on the tour had excellent performances. Revolution, always an audience favorite, brought the house down for their second of six major performances in this beautiful country.









Revolution Strings in China, Day Two

  
  
  
revolution china

Think back to your high school days. You may have played an instrument, and you have been quite good at it. But did you ever get the chance to tour China with thirteen violinists, two guitarists, a cellist, and a bass player? And this was after you released your first album? Allow me to introduce you to Revolution Strings, an alternative strings group culled from Abilene and Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. Although each member has a strong classical background, these string players aren't afraid to dabble in jazz, country, Celtic and more. Revolution Strings has just embarked on their tour of China and they've kindly agreed to blog about their experience for the SHAR Music Blog. The second blog is also from Justin Radcliffe.

On the first performance day, Revolution found that the excitement and fatigue of a professional tour cannot compare to the thrill of a great performance. They quickly rallied!



While in China, the tour managers have made sure to provide cultural opportunities. Today, the group toured Tiennaman square and the Forbidden City. The vastness of these spaces is remarkable and has surely left a permanent impression on these students from Abilene, Texas. 


Revolution's first performance was held in the performance hall of the Forbidden City, home of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, which happened to be rehearsing upon our arrival. The day was filled with challenges as Revolution worked to adapt their sound equipment to the electrical requirements of China. Despite some pre-show glitches, such as a cello breaking moments before walking on stage and a performer becoming ill, these students persevered with great spirit and deeply impressed their first Chinese audience.

Saturday brings new adventures as a high speed train will take the performing ensemble to Xuzhou. More soon from Xuzhou!











Revolution Strings in China

  
  
  
welcome

Think back to your high school days. You may have played an instrument, and you have been quite good at it. But did you ever get the chance to tour China with thirteen violinists, two guitarists, a cellist, and a bass player? And this was after you released your first album? Allow me to introduce you to Revolution Strings, an alternative strings group culled from Abilene and Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. Although each member has a strong classical background, these string players aren't afraid to dabble in jazz, country, Celtic and more. Revolution Strings has just embarked on their tour of China and they've kindly agreed to blog about their experience for the SHAR Music Blog. The first blog is from Justin Radcliffe.
 


Revolution Strings has arrived in China and the day has been full. After traveling for a straight 50 hours our team was warmly greeted in the stunning Beijing Airport by the director of the performance tour, John Crozman. The traveling experience was full of the usual new challenges for young travelers including the adjustment to small spaces over extended periods of time but Abilenians would be proud of their students and the way they have responded to the stresses of such a lengthy travel experience. As a reward we were treated to a morning at the Great Wall of China at Badaling, a famous entry point to the wall.


Tonight ended after two hour rehearsal with the creators of the performance tour. Dean Marshall, the artistic director of Canada's famous fiddle group Barrage, oversaw 120 student performers playing together in their first and only rehearsal prior to performances. While in China, Revolution Strings joins three other classical crossover student groups from Chicago and Wisconsin. Show promoters are billing the concert as a performance by the four best alternative string groups in America! The six performances are expected to sell out in Beijing, The Forbidden City Concert Hall, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Ningbo...

Stay tuned for more from Revolution Strings!











"Colburn School Commencement Address" by Arnold Steinhardt

  
  
  
Guerneri CA (1)

The Guarneri String Quartet (photo by Erwin Fischer) and Charles Avsharian

Art and Illness

  
  
  
Joseph Chapman

Do mental and physical illness help us make better art?

Monday, May 27th was the anniversary of Niccolo Paganini's death. Paganini, of course, was the early 19th century violin virtuoso, and his life now seems like a rock cliché: drugs (he took opium and mercury for syphilis), sex (well, he did contract syphilis), and brilliant musicianship (without a doubt, Paganini was one of the great violin virtuosos). Two days later on Wednesday, May 29th, Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring celebrated its 100 year anniversary. Vaslav Nijinskychoreographed The Rite of Spring, and the combination of his forward-thinking, modern choreography and Stravinsky's experiments in tonality and dissonance caused the audience to riot at the premiere.

Both these anniversaries got me thinking about the intersections between great art and illness. Paganini suffered from a rare disorder called Marfan's syndrome and Nijinsky, following the 1916 Ballets Russes tour of America, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the rest of his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals. (Side note: other famous, alleged sufferer of Marfan's syndrome include Sergei Rachmaninoff, Robert Johnson, and Bradford Cox.) Both Paganini and Nijinsky were, undoubtedly, troubled but brilliant performers.

Moreover, what's striking to me about the proximity of these anniversies is the different types of illness each artist suffered from. Paganini's illness is a genetic disorder that affects, among other things, the skeletal system; people with this genetic disorder typically have a thin, tall frame and longer-than-average fingers (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing for Rachmaninoff, Johnson, and Paganini). In short, it's a physical illness. Nijinksy, conversely, struggled for many years with a mental illness that many have encountered through film and the news, or even through friends and family.

Although I try not to trust Hollywood too much, it's pretty much expected that any depiction of a major artists will include a requisite depiction of illness. A few biopics come to mind:Sylvia Plath in Plath (depression), Jackson Pollock in Pollock (alcoholism), Frida Kahlo in Frida (injury), Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved (bipolar and more), the list goes on and on. This correlation between art and illness is one many have long suspected, but last year the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden completed a 40-year-long study of 1.2 million patients and their relatives. Their study found that mental illnesses were more common among artists and scientists than among the general population. OK, so Hollywood isn't totally lying about art and illness. However, what interested me the most about the study was a statement by Simon Kyaga, a doctoral student at the institute: "If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient's illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment. In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost." Basically, what's the cost of treating a condition that enhances one's creativity?

Of course, much of what I'm writing here is speculation. (In fact, some researchers took issue with the Karolinska Institutet finding.) I know that all different types of folks become artists, and the only real thing that unifies them is, well, the fact that they make art. But I can't help but wonder about the conditions that catalyze art. Isn't art, in almost any genre or discipline you can think of, "a certain slant of light," an askance view of reality, or another reality the artist has created? I think of Paganini and Nijinksy and how illness, mental or physical, gives the artist distance from the reality most other people experience. Its their distance -- imaginative, prophetic, medical, or some combination of those -- that allows artists to create the alternate worlds that confront (and change) us.

In my head now, I hear the beginning of Beethoven's fifth symphony. 













The Best Metronomes and Tuners

  
  
  
best metronomes and tuners

Ever wondered what the best metronome or tuner is for you? In our newest e-catalog, the 2013 Metronome and Tuner issue, we have some handy charts that compare tempo range, beat, display, calibration, power source, and more. If you're in the market for a new metronome or tuner -- or a metronome-tuner combo! -- look no further than our latest e-catalog. Click on the image below to shop and compare!

All Posts