Central Valley, Haddorff piano, Hans Oviedo, piano blog, piano blogging, piano movers, piano moving, piano sales, Valley Music Center

“Haddy” Haddorff is given a new home: The back story

My beloved singing nightingale that came into my life in May, 2011, has found a new, permanent nest.

About 4 years ago I stumbled upon “Haddy” while browsing a Fresno, California Craig’s Listing (by owner, used piano sales) It wasn’t that I needed another piano to join a growing family of Steinways but I was curious about an eye-catching console that had the exotic name, Haddorff. And since it resided around the corner, I simply arranged to see/play it just to purge myself of a growing obsession.

My Haddorff 1951 console, gorgeous inside and out

ESP or well-developed intuition bore out. I was led to a beautifully voiced and regulated piano that commanded my undivided attention. Gliding over its keys, blissfully enjoying its enviable resonance, I experienced a piano that begged to join my lovely brood of keyboard instruments. And though I possessed a modest living space, there was yet room for one more addition, especially since it had the look and feel of a piano perfectly crafted for younger students.

$700 dollars down, and this heaven-sent piano was mine.

With a preliminary tuning and inspection at its point of origin, the best laid plans were made for its relocation.

The mover, Ginaddy, who owned a piano store that had sadly gone belly up, accomplished the most incredible solo move I’d ever witnessed…on a dolly, with a breathtaking set of wheelies, he convened a rollicking journey IN THE STREET as cars stopped, and passersby gazed at his awesome escapade.

Once over the last bump before settling in, Haddy spent the next few years with me in Fresno, and the children flocked to her, avoiding the big Steinway grand, and sister upright. They gravitated to “Haddy” only, hardlly budging on the bench while Aiden cat snugly bonded to them through scorching Valley temps.

For me, Haddy was a great springboard for imparting an analysis of Bach Invention 1 in C Major– Its voice rang out at just the right volume and timbre.

With a sterling C.V. and growing reputation, Haddy, was surely destined to become a fixture in my Fresno repository of keyboards, though in time, my eventual relocation to Berkeley, CA, came with a necessary sizing down of pianos. In fact, my new digs in the East Bay could barely accommodate a Steinway upright and grand, let alone a Yamaha digital console. So where was Haddy to be put amidst a crush of pianos?

Unfortunately, Haddy had to find a new home, and I knew it must be with an owner who’d cradle and well-maintain her forever!

Within weeks of painstaking inquiries, I found the perfect partner for Haddy. She was Karen, a piano teacher colleague whom I had known over years through our local MTAC, and because needed a second piano in her Clovis home studio, the arrangement worked.

That said, Haddy enjoyed more than two years in the Central Valley, until an email arrived from its caretaker mentioning a dramatic change in circumstances that foreshadowed Haddy’s imminent orphanhood.

Could I take Haddy back and squeeze her into a corner? My pea-pod size apartment was becoming hazardous to walk through. I had already tripped on a sea of entangled wires and cables, careening into the wall, incurring a golf-size hematoma. And my grand pianos had no easy access, so I found myself crawling under them to get to the kitchen. For sure, Haddy would not have a secure and safe presence in my household.

In the nick of time, I thought of a former El Cerrito-based adult student, (Irma) who had given up piano lessons, but still had a hankering to play at her leisure. And at the time she quit, I had taken back my Baldwin Hamilton grand that I had loaned her.

Perhaps it was now time to fill the void with my singing nightingale piano if she acquiesced. (and she did!)

Over 24 testy hours, I located Hans Oviedo, whom I had known from my years in Fresno, and together we mobilized Haddy’s relocation the East Bay.

Oviedo, who earned himself a sterling reputation building up the local piano store, Valley Music Center, owned a tenacity I could admire, and now having the Steinway dealership in agriculture’s heartland, he had opened a window to the Bay area in the retail and moving services arena.

Quickly, I tapped into his allied moving services wrapping up the saga of Haddy’s wandering fate–securing her desired adoption.

Today Haddy, the singing nightingale, is nesting in her new El Cerrito home after a safe and snug journey.

Thank you Hans, Karen, and Irma for the collective effort!

***

P.S. Miraculously, my pod is becoming a bit less treacherous under foot, with a few strategic keyboard shuffles. The space Haddy might have inhabited is now freed up for safe and easy access to the kitchen and bedroom.

piano room, spacier

classissima.com, Fresno State University, piano worldwide

Honoring my “neighborhood” piano teacher amidst melting degrees of separation

The Back Story:

After having spent about 30 years in hometown New York City, I emigrated to the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, California, planting myself and family in Fresno. This seemed to be a God forsaken place with excruciating heat (though dry). With its relentless air pollution; bad water from contaminated wells, and high incidence of allergies, Fresno made the ten worst cities to live in.

Yet a saving grace was Classical music station, KVPR, F.M. that survived budget cuts where two others died on the vine. Over time, however, the same show-stoppers, like the Van Suppe Overture were played ad nausea, while NEWS segments invaded too many intervals between cadences.

To its credit, Fresno had a Keyboard Concerts series founded by the late Philip Lorenz, an Arrau apostle. He brought glittering pianistic talent to the Central Valley. (Below, he’s pictured in 1969 with the celebrated pianist, and Ena Bronstein)

ena

Among featured performers on the Valley series, Philip’s ex-wife, Ena, made a lasting impression.

Her Schumann Carnaval was a recital centerpiece, further resonating into in her public masterclasses.

I was mesmerized!

Ena Bronstein lived in my “neighborhood”–4 easy walking blocks away on San Bruno, so naturally, I became her student for two music-loving years. To my grave disappointment, in the mid 80s, she relocated to Princeton, New Jersey with her new husband, leaving behind a trail of devoted pupils.

(Pardon this long-winded prelude that gives context to this writing about the “neighborhood” teacher and “melting degrees of separation.”)

It turns out that my newest adult student here in Berkeley where I relocated in 2012, traces back to Fresno and Ena Bronstein.

Her mother who had been Ena’s pupil, rekindled Valley memories in a substantial email about our common connection.

In fact, she had brought her baby, (my student) to a lesson at Ena’s home, which probably coincides with my having played in a Masterclass for Murray Perahia at Fresno State University. I was 9 months pregnant at the time, about to give birth at any moment. Ena had helped me prepare Beethoven’s “Tempest” for the class. A proponent of supple wrist, big arm motions, she freed so many of us from our tight, squeezed playing.

What a small world, I thought. The mother of my student has origins in Fresno, and her daughter who relocates to Berkeley meets up with me, a “neighborhood” teacher, carrying on the tradition. (A transcendent transfer of knowledge and philosophy through generations)

As icing on the cake, I’m compelled to memorialize Ena Bronstein’s Fresno reunion recital in the following encore tribute.

Virtuosity and Poetry in Motion hallmark Ena Bronstein’s musical return to Fresno

Mister Rogers would have welcomed Ena Bronstein back to the “neighborhood” that she left over 25 years ago. He’d say that she planned to honor her friends, former neighbors, and piano students by giving them a very special reunion concert wrapped in love and caring.

And so it happened that our Fresno “neighborhood” piano teacher who had emigrated to the East Coast, returned “home” to her roots to bestow a musical gift that left an indelible memory.

***

With my video camera mounted on a delicate tripod, I wound my way to the balcony of First Congregational Church, finding a snug space, keyboard-side for my film landing. From this vantage point, I could zoom in on a 9-foot grand that was pea-size to the naked eye.

It evoked my childhood seat in Carnegie Hall’s last row– with its dizzying gaze upon a stage that hosted Ashkenazy, Richter and Gilels. Their delicate pianissimos were melted pin drops of musical pleasure.

Ena, too, would feed the soul of listeners at the Old Red Church on Van Ness with an expressive palette of tonal colors and textures, framed and styled for each of three composers: Liszt, Debussy and Beethoven.

From the very first silky sound emanating from a well cared for piano, she riveted her audience to every nuance, sculpted phrase, and expressive possibility of all programmed works. It was playing permeated by seasoned maturity, finesse, mood painting and heightened expression. (For students learning about the unity of physical movement with fluid, emotional musical expression, Ena’s supple wrist and flowing, relaxed arms were exemplary models)

An excerpt from Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Etudes

In the culminating Beethoven Sonata, op. 111 the artist left us in spellbound silence at the last fading cadence, needing no encore to disturb a purity of contemplation.

I barely held back tears.

***

Ena celebrated the birthdays of Liszt and Debussy in a personalized performer to audience soliloquy, then continued to play her heart out.

Pour Le Piano: Debussy Toccata

Prelude: Voiles (with my photo seascapes along the Bay)

For her generosity, and singular benefit performance to restore the Church’s Casavant pipe organ, she was rewarded by large servings of love that circulated through the reception area following her concert. I was one of many former students who begged for a photo with her:

As an added dessert, I was granted a brief interview with my “neighborhood” piano teacher who, despite her farewell decades ago, will always have an eternal presence in my life and those of others she touched in a unique way.

Ena, please come back home again, soon!

PROGRAM

From 12 Etudes Transcendantales
Harmonies du soir Liszt

Preludes – Voiles Debussy
Feux d’artifice

Etudes – pour les Arpeges composes Debussy
pour les Degres chromatiques

Pour le Piano
Debussy
Prelude
Sarabande
Toccata

Intermission

Sonata Op.111 Beethoven

Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
Arietta – Adagio molto, semplice e cantabile

BIO:

Ena Bronstein-Barton Bio:

http://www.rider.edu/faculty/ena-bronstein-barton

“Born in Santiago, Chile, pianist Ena Bronstein Barton began her career in South America, touring her native continent. After winning a national piano competition she traveled to New York to study with Claudio Arrau and Rafael de Silva. Her New York debut at Town Hall was received with critical acclaim. Since then, Ms. Barton’s career has taken her across the United States, back to South America, to Europe, the Near and Far East, Australia and New Zealand. Among her engagements abroad was an extended tour of Israel and Europe, highlighted by performances as soloist with orchestras in Jerusalem, Luxembourg and Rome.

“Ms. Barton has received many honors throughout her career, including an invitation to attend the Casals Festival, a 1976 Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant which resulted in a solo recital at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the 1996 Distinguished Artists Piano Award by Artists International. Her chamber music performances have included appearances with violinist Jaime Laredo and the Guarneri Quartet.

“Ms. Barton taught at California State University-Fresno for 13 years. She was artist-in-residence at Monterey Peninsula College in California and has conducted master classes at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico, and in Santiago.

“Recently she gave a recital and master class as part of the centennial celebration of Claudio Arrau’s birthday being held in New York City at the Greenwich House Music School.

“Currently, Ms. Barton is head of the piano department at the Westminster Conservatory of Music, the college’s community music school. She is also a member of the piano faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University.”

Links:


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/my-neighborhood-piano-teacher-will-return-to-fresno-for-a-benefit-concert-video/

Donald Munro’s Fresno Bee interview with Ena Bronstein:

http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/04/26/2815277/pianist-ena-bronstein-returns.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

The Neighorhood Teacher Lives On:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/the-neighborhood-piano-teacher-lives-on/

Shrinking Degrees of Separation in the Music World

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/shrinking-degrees-of-separation-in-the-music-world/

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog, After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, Amy Herzog, Beethoven, Fur Elise by Beethoven, Joe Josephs, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Leepee Joseph, Lincoln Center, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, New York, New York City, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, The Weavers, Uncategorized, West Village of New York

After the Revolution is my cousin, Amy Herzog’s tour de force play. (An Aurora Theatre Berkeley production)

DSC06175DSC06177

Amy Herzog is regaled as one of the most gifted young playwrights of her generation. Not only has she been a recipient of the well-regarded Lillian Hellman prize, but she’s amassed a slew of New York Times rave reviews.

Charles Isherwood, Arts editor, lauded After the Revolution in a generous media spread that wove in OUR family’s fervently political fabric (The cast of characters, includes Amy’s late grandmother, and my aunt “Leepee,” (aka “VERA JOSEPH”) pictured in the header; her second husband, Joe Josephs, who’s the play’s driving force, and various kin that weave in and out of the drama.

Though deceased, Josephs has left a trail of speculation about his controversial espionage involvement during World War II.

The disclosure comes in a media release which opens a Pandora’s box of doubt and deception, shaking the very foundation of respect and unconditional love for a parent.

As the plot unfolds, a conflict-driven drama embeds a three-generation split.

Isherwood elaborates

http://theater.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/theater/reviews/11after.html?pagewanted=all

***
The Back Story (from a child’s perspective—MINE)

I knew and loved Joe Joseph. He replaced my beloved uncle Arthur Herzog, (Leepee’s first husband) who collaborated with Billie Holiday to produce the song, “God Bless the Child.” Arthur and Leepee, parents of Gregory Herzog, (my first cousin) divorced in the 1950s, well before Leepee met and married J.J. Joseph in a Unitarian ceremony presided over by the Reverend Donald Harrington. (I was present at the Greenwich Village apartment)

Joe played the violin, (not deftly) but managed to convene a Baroque chamber trio, inviting me in as pianist alongside step-son, Gregory who played the oboe. I rendered the Continuo part on a Baldwin grand, while Joe scratched along.

Though our collective music-making precluded a mix of MUSIC and Politics, Joe would nourish audibly loud dinner table conversation, permeated by non-stop Dialectical babbling. (the “-ism suffixes attached to Stalin-, Lenin-, Bolshev- were DIZZYING!)

Joe Joseph front view

Years before these chamber music convergences, Greg had become my pianistic inspiration as he belted out Beethoven’s “Rage of a Lost Penny,” and then shifted mood, rendering a gorgeous Chopin e minor Prelude.

better Gregory Herzog playing the piano, my inspiration

Greg’s Prelude playing, especially, seeded my love for music that eventually grew and developed over decades.

***

More about Greg’s mom, Aunt Leepee

An expressive Villager piece about my auntie enlarges the the meaning of After the Revolution by enriching the landscape in political, ideological and human terms.

Dissidence and Drama have filled her life

http://www.thevillager.com/villager_226/dissidenceanddramahave.html

This poetically woven writing fleshes out my aunt as more than a rabble-rousing militant. At her memorial service in NYC she was characterized as “a work of art.” I experienced her as nurturant and loving.

***

The RED DIAPER BABY BACKDROP as applied to me

On a personal note, I’ve never been a Marxist, but was unreasonably indoctrinated as a child, having no ability to question what I was spoon-fed. Though my diapers lacked a hammer and sickle, I was still a Soviet propaganda puppet.

Amy, to the contrary was of a younger generation, and remained a keen observer of her grandparents’ idealism.
***

In a televised interview about Revolution, Herzog discussed their Marxist devotion in the context of an embrace of “religion.” Perhaps she meant to HUMANIZE families and not pin psycho-pathologies on them.

Finally, no matter how my family or any other will be perceived before Amy Herzog’s script comes to LIFE on stage, a jaunt to Aurora is worth an afternoon or evening’s escape from the blaring TV. Perhaps it’s better to watch families resolve their conflicts with a dose of compassion and forgiveness than blame them for political differences.

(As a footnote to this writing, I wanted to meet director, Joy Carlin, but her industrious devotion to directing precluded a face-to-face conversation. Maybe the PR people in the box office can snatch her from the set for a short coffee break)

Aurora Theatre Box Office information
After the Revolution starts its run on Aug. 30, 2013
TEL: 510-843-4822

https://www.auroratheatre.org/index.php?option=com_theatre&view=show&id=31

LINK: My family’s Genealogy

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/little-apple-big-apple-mayhem-murder-and-music-my-familys-history-and-genealogy/

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acoustic pianos, Fresno Caliornia, Heynor and Hans Oviedo, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano, piano teacher, playing piano, selling pianos, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Valley Music Center in Fresno, whole body listening, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, yout tube, youtube.com

Valley Music Center in Fresno, California resurrects the acoustic piano!

Given the surge in digital piano sales, most of us thought acoustic pianos were on their way out.

And when our local Fresno Piano dealership closed its doors back in March 2011, piano mavens who wanted to purchase prized Steinways had to schlep to L.A. or grab an Amtrak headed south for Bakersfield. Neither were enticing options.

Craig’s list, a former repository of acoustics, became flooded with electronics, falsely advertised as real “pianos.” What was this world coming to?

To the rescue:

Enter Hans Oviedo and his brother, Heynor, abiding sellers at the old local piano establishment who ran with their decades-long sales experience, and took a risk-bearing leap!

They re-opened Fresno Piano as “Valley Music Center,” catapulting it from a Lessons-only hub to a combined atrium for fine pianos and weekly instruction.

By their efforts, Steinway grands and uprights were home again in the good company of their Boston and Essex cousins with both models having the prestigious Steinway design logo engraved into their shiny brass plates.

Who could ask for more during a stop-off for lessons?

One of my students just happened to play the house Boston that sat nobly, center stage in Valley Music Center’s recital hall. She performed Bach’s Prelude in C (Well-Tempered Clavier) for her Spring concert selection, and with a crystal clear essence that permeated each note.

Still, I was distracted by a majestic Steinway O, seated in the store’s far corner.

Having the Classic look of yesteryear, with a florid rack and scrolled legs, the piano had been memorialized by Steinway and Sons at its 2005 celebration in Hamburg.

So why resist the temptation to dip my fingers into its sea of beauty?

And so it came to pass during this season of Resurrection that I played the magnificent repository of resonance and was not disappointed.

****

From Wiki:

“In April 2005, Steinway celebrated the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Steinway’s factory in Hamburg, Germany. Steinway employees, together with artists, dealers and friends from around the world celebrated the anniversary at the Laeiszhalle (former Music Hall Hamburg) with a gala concert, culminating in a showcase performance by the Steinway Artists Lang Lang, Vladimir and Vovka Ashkenazy and Detlef Kraus.

“As part of the celebration, the 125th anniversary limited edition Steinway art case piano by renowned designer Count Albrecht von Goertz was presented to the public.”

***

“This 5′ 10 ¾” (180cm) O grand piano has been a source of joy and inspiration since the very early 1900’s. Its sound is particularly warm and rich – far beyond what one would expect from a grand piano that is under 6 feet in length.”

P.S. Hans Oviedo has invited students and interested parties to sample the Hamburg O grand. He will mark off almost 20 minutes for each player by appointment.

Contact him at http://vmcfresno.com

or Phone at (559) 222-4900

LINK:

Is the Acoustic Piano Culture at Risk?

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/is-the-piano-a-dying-breed/

Claudia Arrau, Ena Bronstein, Ena Bronstein Barton, Fresno California, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Rafael de Silva, Rider University, Schumann Carnaval op. 9, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton New Jersey, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

My neighborhood piano teacher will return to Fresno to give a benefit concert! (Video)

It’s been well over 20 years since I sauntered just a few blocks over to West San Madele, a quaint street with manicured lawns and California ranch-style homes.

But one particular residence, with an adobe brick exterior, stood out because of its warm musical welcome mat. It promised entry into a magical space with a Yamaha grand taking up the lion’s share of a modest living room.

Ena Bronstein, “neighborhood piano teacher,” par excellence, drew students well beyond the boundaries of upscale Northwest Fresno. They came, young and old, to receive a touch of inspiration each week, returning to their private piano sanctuaries with a tad more motivation to practice the Masterworks.

For those of us who managed to find a spot on her teaching roster amidst a busy local and international concert schedule, we were further enriched by her Masterclasses that offered a rich serving of the pianist’s playing and commentary bundled into a divine gift.

Bronstein’s riveting performance of Schumann’s Carnaval sent me scampering home to embark upon my own Romantically imbued adventure. It was a journey assisted along by a great mentor with a bounty of wisdom to offer about piano and life.

A flashback 1981 performance excerpt from Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 exemplified Ena’s passion and towering technique:

As a teacher, Ena focused on the singing tone and how to produce it. She bestowed the physical ingredients of molto cantabile playing–how the rolling arm and wrist motions were embedded in phrasing and sculpted musical expression.

These were more than refinements that grew my own hands-on understanding of technique and opened doors to greater love and appreciation of the piano and its repertoire. From my two-year association with Maestra “Ena,” I gained so much for which words cannot amply express.

An Arrau protege, the artist passed along her mentor’s distinguished pianistic lineage and that of his assistant, Rafael de Silva to her many students who raced to the pianist’s local performances at every opportunity.

So for those of us who treasured our ongoing musical relationship with Ena, we were sad to be informed of her planned relocation to the culture-rich environs of Princeton, New Jersey. Yet, we knew that our loss would be the gain of students, colleagues, and new audience members on the East Coast.

Thankfully, after a decades-long hiatus, Ena will return to Fresno for a long-delayed reunion–one that surely promises to be this season’s peak cultural event.

I’ve already reserved my ticket.

About the recital:

“First Congregational Church of Fresno will present pianist, Ena Bronstein on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 3 p.m. in a concert featuring Beethoven Sonata Op. 111 and works from Liszt and Debussy.

“Co-sponsored by the Fresno Free College Foundation, the performance will benefit the Casavant Pipe Organ Restoration Fund at the church.”

***

Ena Bronstein Barton Bio:

http://www.rider.edu/faculty/ena-bronstein-barton

“Born in Santiago, Chile, pianist Ena Bronstein Barton began her career in South America, touring her native continent. After winning a national piano competition she traveled to New York to study with Claudio Arrau and Rafael de Silva. Her New York debut at Town Hall was received with critical acclaim. Since then, Ms. Barton’s career has taken her across the United States, back to South America, to Europe, the Near and Far East, Australia and New Zealand. Among her engagements abroad was an extended tour of Israel and Europe, highlighted by performances as soloist with orchestras in Jerusalem, Luxembourg and Rome.

“Ms. Barton has received many honors throughout her career, including an invitation to attend the Casals Festival, a 1976 Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant which resulted in a solo recital at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the 1996 Distinguished Artists Piano Award by Artists International. Her chamber music performances have included appearances with violinist Jaime Laredo and the Guarneri Quartet.

“Ms. Barton taught at California State University-Fresno for 13 years. She was artist-in-residence at Monterey Peninsula College in California and has conducted master classes at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico, and in Santiago.

“Recently she gave a recital and master class as part of the centennial celebration of Claudio Arrau’s birthday being held in New York City at the Greenwich House Music School.

“Currently, Ms. Barton is head of the piano department at the Westminster Conservatory of Music, the college’s community music school. She is also a member of the piano faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University.”

RELATED LINK:

The Neighborhood Piano Teacher Lives On!

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/the-neighborhood-piano-teacher-lives-on/

Bach Invention, Bach Inventions, Daniil Trifonov, Fresno California, J.S. Bach, J.S. Bach Invention 13 in A minor, J.S. Bach Prelude in C minor BWV 847, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, MTAC Baroque Festival, Philipp Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts, pianist, pianists, piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessson, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano technique, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, slow mindful practicing, slow piano practicing, studying piano, teaching piano, teaching piano to children, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

A Music Packed Saturday and Sunday! (Video) and NEW PHOTOS!

The MTAC Baroque Festival and Daniil Trifonov’s recital at Fresno State cap this weekend’s events, giving our city a warm cultural embrace amidst its Bulldog-driven sports fever!

First on the line-up, Claudia, 11, will play the Yamaha concert grand piano at the University’s recital hall today.(The Steinway is sequestered) She’ll offer two Bach selections: Invention 13 in A minor, and the Prelude in C minor, BWV 847.

A competitive gathering where about a third of the participants will be selected to perform at the Regional concert, it required a final-lap lesson pep rally:

As an extra inning warm-up, Claudia will have FIVE-minutes of GETTING TO KNOW THE STAGE PIANO at 11 a.m. this morning when I’m a last-ditch effort, side-liner coach.

From then on, it’s an interminable wait until kick-off at 2 p.m. (Too many students on the roster in a triple-header spilling into the late afternoon)

Scoreboard results “to be e-mailed in a day or two.”

Since CAMERAS are banned from this year’s real time proceedings, here’s a photo from Festival 2011 where Claudia performed Bach Inventions 1 and 4.

P.S. Here are a few pics I managed to snap just now during Claudia’s rehearsal:

Update: Claudia played her pieces exceeding well, and made a big leap in musical growth since last year’s Festival appearance.

The latest photos:

***

Tomorrow, Sunday, Daniil Trifonov, will sweep into Fresno, performing the works of Schubert/Liszt, Schubert, Debussy and Chopin on the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series.

From the flyer:

“Gold Medalist, 2011 Tschaikovsky International Piano Competition and winner of the 2011 Rubenstein International Piano Competition, this twenty-year-old Russian artist has already appeared in major venues in Europe, Asia, and the United States including New York’s Carnegie Hall.”

Stay tuned for post-concert coverage.

"How could this happen to my piano?" by Shirley Kirsten, Baldwin Hamilton 1929 grand piano, Baldwin piano, buying a used piano, pianist, piano, piano buyer, piano seller, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Steinway M grand, The Piano Book by Larry Fine, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

My blind date with a “new” piano–

I’m meeting a 5’2 Baldwin Hamilton in El Cerrito today, Sunday, and I’ll videotape the introduction for posting on You Tube.

This is the piano that had a verboten phone interview with a follow-up long distance tech eval. Good report, but the verdict is still in my hands when I run my fingers over its keyboard. Good looks do not guarantee beneath the polished surface character. (Sound familiar?)

Frankly, the finish is low on my list of priorities. For others, who demand drop dead exteriors, the preference might spell disaster, especially if the piano is nothing more than an eye-catching piece of furniture. (I’ve been down that runway when close friends chose florid musical partners on fancy websites. A few of these beauties had fluted legs and scrolled desks, a.k.a racks)

One buyer had a huge eye-opener when her mail-order bride arrived with a cracked harp. (cast iron plate) Or maybe it was a budding crack, like a fault in California, weakened to earthquake proportion, ex post facto. (after delivery)

In the “case” of a Proksch piano described in “FUNERAL for a CRACKED PLATE,” the conspicuous rift in the Capo D’Astro killed any tonal attraction the buyer ever had to this piano through her scanty online relationship with it. (The piano was located in rural Georgia, a long car ride from Fresno California, though the new owner eventually made the schlep to the boonies for legal purposes. It was a year or so after the beauty turned out to be riddled with internal problems)

The buyer lost her “case” in court, but the exotic seller eventually got slapped with a hefty fine by the Feds for smuggling ivory into the country. He figured the elephant tusks would entice interest in his “rebuilt?” Bosies (Bosendorfers) among other imported inventory.

Recently, I received the following comment from a technician who knew the shyster’s antics up close and personal:

“The Bosen-like pianos that he sells are furniture only. They don’t have modern actions and play poorly. He sells them on eBay for 10k He buys them in Germany from people who have acquired them for very little money. They have exotic cases and are very light weight . They have horrible tone. An American spinet has better tone. Most re-builders will not touch these old pianos. They where very poor to begin with. The actions are very simple. The long key has a capstan in one end. It pushes up on a leather butt that pushes up on a hammer that is attached to a brass flange which often clicks. The touch is awful. These old European actions where terrible. I work in this industry as well and he makes the rest of us look really bad.”

Amen, to this fellow who had the courage to publicly post the Truth at my blog site. It was definitely a red flag for those captivated by a brand, without a necessary in-depth inspection of a piano’s interior by a capable technician.

***

Now given all the exposure I had to this particular seller who pitched a dubious description of the PROKSCH to a prospective buyer in Fresno, I had promised myself never to rely on AT and T or anything resembling, to choose a piano. Yet circumstances required an imminent replacement of a teaching instrument (not mine) that was at death’s door, and the phone, being within easy reach, was a tantalizing option.

DETAILS:

The piano that piqued my interest, sat in the seller’s living room in Arroyo Grande, California, on the Central Coast.

Of speculation: Who did the so-called “excellent” rebuild of an instrument dating to to 1929? (I had acquired the serial number and matched it up in the Pierce Piano Atlas)

While a technician was selling it, he was NOT the original owner, and in any “case,” how could he be unbiased about a piano that embodied a profit by its sale.

(You can see why the upcoming blind date remained cloaked in suspense, not to mention FEAR.)

As far as I was told, the piano had a University-based history. Well, supposedly it bore a sticker with a Cal Poly inventory number.

An educated piano, perhaps? Tonal implications? Who maintained the piano?

The seller suggested that a fellow named “Richard Cummings” might have worked on it. Apparently, this regaled R.P.T (Registered Piano Technician) was one of the elite piano masters of Arroyo Grande. And from what I learned, he had relocated to Missouri in his retirement years leaving behind a following of fine piano owners.

***

I knew how it felt to lose a cherished technician. The aftermath could be of tragic proportion.

In 1989 my Steinway M, 1917 grand catapulted into crisis after a local tech “polished the knuckles,” and “filed the wippens.” He even “brightened” the treble, unauthorized transforming my life partner into a virtual stranger.

The ordeal, well documented in more than one blog, reached the Piano Quarterly, in a published article “How Could this Happen to my Piano?!”

To spare readers all the gory details, suffice it to say, that the piano barely survived an onslaught by more than one tech in a parade of them. In fact, my dearly beloved nearly died before its miraculous Resurrection through life-saving efforts of a Modesto-based SAVIOR.

(I’m PRAYING that my blind date was not comparably assaulted before its supposed “rebuild.” For all I know the “overhaul” could have amounted to applied varnish and hammer reshaping.)

Piano Genealogy?

Through a bit of Google-driven research, I had found the canonized Richard Cummings with God sent contact information.

In an e-mailed reply to my lengthy diatribe, he confessed openly that he never worked on my “newly” purchased piano, but had a fresh “lead” for me.

Perhaps an able tech named “Beverly” did the “work.”

So like a dog sniffing a bone buried deeply in the ground, I began my hunt for “Beverly” in “Arroyo Grande” and found an amiable woman speaking to me by phone about a piano she admitted was not one of her babies.

She mentioned “Forrester?” as a possibility in Oregon, sure to send me winding along a relentless trail. (Unfortunately, I’d lost the check stub with his scribbled name)

Back to start.

The plot thickened. A tech whom I had dispatched to review the Hamilton grand had a bit of a dubious connection to the seller, and I wasn’t sure about the quality of his work. He was definitely NOT mentioned by Cummings in his short list of numero uno techs. In fact the list amounted to ONE name–“Beverly.”

The tuning landscape sounded all too familiar. Here in Fresno, I could count one GOOD tech on my pinky, and that number was shrinking into the negative zone….

***

Okay Enough speculation and hand-wringing about my blind date.

JUDGMENT DAY is later TODAY, so I’ll have to wait patiently for the verdict.

Meanwhile, Stay tuned… I’ll be back Tuesday well after my tryst with this intriguing piano.

LINKS:

The Day of Reckoning, I meet my Blind Date in person: (6 videos plus CODA)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/just-in-time-for-valentines-day-i-meet-my-blind-date-grand-piano-in-el-cerrito-6-part-video-and-coda/

Funeral for a Cracked Plate


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/funeral-for-a-cracked-plate-piano-caveat-emptor/

Piano dealer busted for illegal ivory smuggling

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/19/pascal-vieillard-a440-pia_n_785913.html

Piano Interviews by Phone, Don’t Copy Me.

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/piano-interviews-by-phone-dont-copy-me/

Do’s and Don’ts for piano buyers and sellers

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/dos-and-donts-for-piano-buyers-and-sellers-dream-pianos-last-chapter/

The challenge of maintaining fine pianos after a personal tragedy

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/treading-on-hallowed-ground-the-challenge-of-maintaining-fine-pianos-after-a-personal-tragedy/

The voices of piano technicians around the country

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-voices-of-piano-technicians-around-the-country/