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Alison McQueen

Archive for the 'Music Performance and Lessons' Category

Viva los Stoltzmans

May. 7th 2014

What a treat it was to hear Mika and Richard Stolzman play at PS 321 this past Monday! Their marimba + clarinet program included several variations on well-established pieces, such as Bach’s variations. The duo adapted a Ravel piece that created a juxtaposition of somber melodic lines and the unique, bright sound that comes from combining clarinet and marimba. Mika revealed a major highlight in the program when she played a piece written for her by John Zorn. Their good friend Bill Douglas wrote several pieces for them, as well. Have a listen here !

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Bach to Basics

Mar. 8th 2014

Sue Sobolewski and Eleonor Bindman delivered an entirely Bach-based program at The Old Stone House last Friday. Their performance and the sweet simplicity of the venue offered a totally refreshing experience.

Sue and Eleonor are formidable scholars in addition to their fierce work as talented pianists. They provided the audience with analyses and expositions of the works they performed; they took us through suites and partitas, and shared delightful tidbits of Bachian history.

There’s a story that when eminent biologist and author Lewis Thomas was asked what message he would choose to send from Earth into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft he answered,”I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach.” After a pause he added, “but that would be boasting.”


Check out this factoid! Bach sometimes signed his work using a musical cross. In German notation, when read on following  staves, this notes spells, B-A-C-H. Very cool!









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Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen

Mar. 2nd 2014

Few experiences are as empowering as attending the annual Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen in the Bronx. This year’s installment, held at Hostos Community College/CUNY, focused on vibrant and genuine celebration of sisterhood.

MHHK’s outstanding line-up of talent and engaging artist tables offered a touch down into NYC community and humanity. There are many ways to get active and show support for communities in the South Bronx. Check out these sites and get involved! Upcoming Female Flava; Windows of Hip Hop; NYSYLC

MHHK_SISTERHOOD_PDF_online-flyer 2.37.49 PM

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Toasting with Rachmoninoff

Jan. 2nd 2014

What a treat to ring in the new year with the Clarion Society! This talented choral group performed Rachmoninoff’s Vespers at Trinity Church. The event was well attended by early music lovers who wanted to welcome 2014 with sweet and restorative orthodox chants. Here’s a link to a rendition of these enchanting vespers.

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Ode to Clarinets

Nov. 21st 2013

This past Tuesday marked a highlight in the Chamber Music Society’s (CMS) fall 2013 program, with a bow to one of my favorite woodwinds!

The Virtuosos Clarinetist featured David Shifrin (on faculty at Yale) and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, among many other talented string and clarinet players. The performance was a nice retreat from the sometimes jarring sounds of NYC life, and I was delighted to hear the NY debut of Theofanidis’s Quasi Una Fantasia for Two Clarinets and String Quartet. Theofanidis treated the instruments well in his composition by acknowledging and utilizing their nuanced strengths. The piece also boasted some incredibly beautiful resolutions. All-in-all a lovely tribute to an exceptional instrument!

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Private Instruction Benefits All

Nov. 12th 2013

The NY Times recently published an article that highlights the benefits of music instruction. A study done by Dr. Kraus at Northwestern found that people who studied music in their early years processed speech more quickly than those who did not study music. This supports the breadth of research that extolls the benefits of music and “ear” training, and serves as a great reminder that studying music provides our brains with good exercise!

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Carnegie Hall Teaching Program

Feb. 26th 2012

In January, I become a founding teacher in the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program. This program offers a national standard for private music teachers and provides students with study materials, trajectories for progress, and adjudicated recitals at the end of each school year. Expertly developed study materials are available for piano, guitar, voice, and flute, and appropriately challenging repertoires exist for various skill levels. Materials for clarinet and saxophone are slated to appear within the next year.

In order to fully understand the participatory experience of this program, I’ve signed up for a graded guitar recital that will take place this May. I’ve been playing woodwinds for over 20 years but remain a novice on stringed instruments. I’ll use The Achievement Program’s study materials and introductory guitar method to prepare a piece from the introductory-level guitar repertoire. I’m looking forward to this experience!  Overall, I believe this program will offer fresh perspective and methodology to private instruction — I’m excited for the students who will chose to engage in this type of study.



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Fill-in with the New York Arabic Orchestra

Oct. 1st 2011

It was a treat to perform on clarinet this summer with the New York Arabic Orchestra. Our concert was part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, and the crowd was warm and positive — people even danced in the aisles while we played! We performed various traditional and contemporary Arabic pieces arranged by Bassam Saba, the orchestra’s director and conductor. Bassam is also a world-famous ney and oud player and has released albums that have met critical acclaim.

The music itself was soothing and beautiful. Learning the music required that I become familiar and comfortable with note modifications not typically found in Western Classical music. Arabic music is a different bird altogether in that the key signatures and notation accommodate half-flats and quarter-tones, which result in refreshing, unique blends of sound. It was truly an honor to be asked to work with these accomplished world-music performers.

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