What do you have to say?

SquirrelSmSomething to say?

One of the common problems in written communication is the lack of vocal tone and inflection. This can lead to gross misunderstandings when the receiver does not interpret the message with the same intention as the sender. Take today’s subject line: What do you have to say? Which word gains your attention most? You? What? Have? Try reading it over several times with the stress on a different word. Are there versions that are more aggressive than other options? Does the picture of the squirrel change your interpretation of the phrase? What if instead I had used one of the pictures of Uncle Sam pointing at “you”? How much does seemingly unrelated context change our interpretation of what we see or hear?


I was always a shy quiet person growing up, and while I may be more comfortable in social settings now, I don’t think anyone would expect me to be the life of the party! As a musician, however, when I play, I must have something to say. While we may be able to convey some sort of meaning with words on a piece of paper (or through cyberspace), music doesn’t exist on paper. There has to be a person and personality involved. Even if we are playing the composition of (as a friend puts it) a long-dead European white guy, it will be up to us as performers to communicate using those notes from the page. Which are the important words (notes) in the phrase? Is this playful or serious? Accusatory or inviting? Why did we choose this piece? What do we hope to communicate through this music? Chances are we will never know precisely what a composer was intending to communicate with a composition, but do we have a message that we can communicate with the notes that the composer has provided?


As a composer and improviser, I strive to use music as my language for communication. Have I mastered the language of music? Will I ever master the language of music?I believe the answer is no. Just as there will always be new words to learn in English and new sentences to create, new experiences to describe, there will always be new music to explore. Even with the seemingly limited musical vocabulary of twelve chromatic pitches, new music is being created every day, imbued with the spirit of each individual creator. I expect to continue to use those pitches to create new music, play the compositions of others, and share what I have to say. I believe everyone has a message to convey. Your language may be music, art, English, or simply being there to listen to a friend at the right time. Sometimes we may fumble over our means of expression, but I believe the key is that we all have something to say, so I ask again, what do you have to say?

Wishing you all the best,
Newsletter Issue 27 – 2014 08 19
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Anniversaries: How to look ahead

LakeEolaFireworksHappy anniversary!

With this newsletter, I celebrate my one-year publication anniversary. In case you missed that first issue, you can still see it here (and all the issues are listed here). Thank you to everyone for taking the time to share in my adventures of the past year. I hope they have been as enjoyable for you to read as for me to write!

While we often stop at the end of the calendar year to review where we’ve been and plan for the next year, it can be helpful to have a checkup and review at any anniversary moment. Where were you one year ago today? What have you accomplished in the last year? Did you meet your goals? If not, where did you fall short? Did you manage to completely blast them out of the water? How much further would you like to go in the next year? What can you do today to move you closer to where you’d like to be?

Current Assessment

One of the magnets on our fridge is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have!” To plan for the future, you have to start with the present. Where are you now? What skills and resources do you have now? It doesn’t matter if you don’t like your current situation. Ignoring a problem or difficulty, won’t make it go away — it might just make it worse. Far better to know what is the status quo rather then pretend it to be different. To plan a trip, you not only have to know the destination, but you’re starting point as well. If you are trying to get to Carnegie Hall, it’s a completely different trip to plan if you are starting in Florida, Peru, or lower Manhattan. Trying to fly there from lower Manhattan makes as much sense as trying to walk there from Peru. Sometimes the preferred means of progress (flying in this case) might not be the best option. The only way to know is a thorough evaluation of the current state of affairs.


Despite many people’s fascination with the law of attraction, I think one of the other key points from Teddy Roosevelt’s quote above is the first word: Do. Newton formulated the law in physics that tells us a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Wishing or planning how to accomplish something is not the same as doing. Even Yoda urges us to action: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Our modern day GPS devices are excellent at getting us from point a to point b, as long as we are in motion. If we miss a turn, it will recalculate and adapt. If we stop moving, I’ve seen many GPS devices get confused and start giving very odd instructions. Just like pilots on a long-distance flight, we need to start moving in the general direction, and then make adjustments as we approach our destination. While planning can be an appropriate action, just don’t expect it to get you to the destination without starting up the engine and moving.

CFCArtsMozartSingleMassMoving Forward

While I may still be in the patient maintenance mode of preparing the next crop, there is a concert this Friday that I will be playing. Last year in my first newsletter issue, the concert was Mozart’s Requiem. This year, it’s the Mass in C Minor, K 427. (I think next summer, we’ll be planning something other than Mozart.)

I find it interesting to note that Mozart left this piece unfinished. As we take a moment to celebrate this newsletter anniversary, what projects have you left unfinished? One that I recently was able to finish was to get the video from a performance in May up on-line. You can now hear the Bel Canto Choir of Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta sing my composition Faith is Like a Mystic Spirit (text by John Dalles) by clicking here. Now I need to finish up that other piece I started for them…

Hoping your projects come to a happy conclusion,

Newsletter Issue 26 – 2014 08 05
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A time to sow, a time to reap

GrassAndSkyThere is a season

While I can’t profess to know a lot about farming, I do know that there is a large chunk of time when the farmer must wait between when the crop is planted and when it is ready to harvest. There will be regular tasks to perform to make sure the crop is nourished and produces the best yield possible, but for a large chunk of time, the farmer must simply be patient and trust. It can be hard to wait, but digging up a seed, potato or carrot to check on its progress not only won’t help it progress any faster, it will probably kill the progress! For me, this summer is a time for sowing seeds and waiting patiently for the growth that will come.


Summer has often been the time when I plan out the fall season of music for church. Planning has been one of the most stressful tasks of my church work. Trying to find the right balance of old and new music, both easy and challenging for an ever evolving group of singers that also fits with the readings of each Sunday is a challenging process. With plans this year to start a graded children’s choir program at Holy Redeemer, I have a new wrinkle to consider, so may not be able to plan as thoroughly as I would have in the past. I suppose I am a farmer trying out a new crop this fall: hoping for excellent results, but uncertain if the conditions will produce the best outcome.

Summer is also the time when many musicians organize their concert season for the next year. While everything is not settled yet, I am looking forward to several fabulous concert opportunities and compositional premieres in the next few months.

Patient Maintenance

Everyone copes with stress differently. I need a certain amount in order to keep me fully engaged, otherwise it’s very easy to slack off when the deadlines seem so far away. The unofficial motto of my high school was “If it’s not due today, it’s not due.” While I might not have been the most strict follower of that motto, I continue to struggle under it’s influence. This is my public reminder to myself to continue practicing my improvisations, learning repertoire and working on the pieces I already know I need to compose for this fall. It’s the patient part of farming that I find most difficult and seems to be most challenging to our instant gratification society.

Watermelon5KFinishSMRunning Ahead

I’ve been running in maintenance mode for the past couple of months, but managed to pick up a partner. My wife Karen has adopted the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude and ran her first 5K on July 4. It was a slow run for me, but I’m very proud of her. It was only a year ago that I became confident that I would be able to run a half-marathon, and now I’m signed up for the Dopey challenge at Disney! Before the race, she said she didn’t want to do anything longer than 5K, but afterwards she was asking when we could do a 10K, so maybe with a little encouragement, she might actually do a marathon one day! Today is her birthday, so be sure and congratulate her on the run and wish her a happy birthday. (if you don’t have contact info for her, you can use the form on her website here.) Help me plant and nourish the running seed that she has planted!

Wishing you a summer full of nourishment!

Newsletter Issue 25 – 2014 07 11
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Live at St. Thomas – NYC

New_York_-_Manhattan_-_Saint_Thomas_Church-682x1024Webcast Available

Because I’m on the road attending the Association of Anglican Musicians conference in Washington, DC this week, this is going to be a super brief update. St. Thomas has updated their website to include the repertoire for this Sunday’s Festal Eucharist sung by the Orlando Deanery Boychoir and Girls Choir. The service will be broadcast over the internet, so even if you aren’t in New York City Sunday, you can still listen. The service is scheduled to start at 11am, but I’m playing prelude music, so you’ll need to tune in earlier or catch the recording available afterwards if you are trying to hear me play. Information about the service can be found at St. Thomas here. There is a link in red on the right side of the page that will enable you to listen to the service.

Hoping you have a fun and adventuresome summer!


Newsletter Issue 24 – 2014 06 19
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Summer adventures

CarlMaultsByGlennOsborneSmGod Is Gone Up

Last Thursday, it was my pleasure to attend the festival choral Eucharist at St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park where the St. Richard’s Schola under the direction of Dr. Carl MaultsBy gave the premier performance of my composition God Is Gone Up. I was very fortunate to be accompanied by a classmate from Westminster Choir College who blogs about her church visits. You can read her write up about the experience at Some Disagree with Mom. As it seems few churches actually celebrate on Ascension on Thursday in this area, there were several other musicians in attendance, and probably the best compliment I received was when one of the other musicians made a request to purchase copies of the score after the service was over! I want to express my gratitude to Carl for requesting this piece and giving me the opportunity to add another useful composition to my output.

Premiers and Classical

CFCArts_MozartsMass_Poster_B-667x1024Both the Bel Canto Choir of Gateway High School and the Holy Redeemer School Choir did admirably with the other premier performances last week. I am sad that I was not able to capture audio for the performance of God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons, but hopefully I will be able to post audio or video for the other two pieces sometime soon.

After a three premiers last week, this week ushers in a return of my accompanying and directing responsibilities with the kick off to the summer season of the CFCArts Classical Choir. We are still looking for singers for the Mass in C Minor (K. 427) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings with one concert performance on Friday, August 8, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winter Park, FL. If you are in the area, I encourage you to come and join the group!

Organ Improvisation

In addition to creating music for people such as the premiers or with people like the Classical Choir, I have been fascinated by the skills necessary to create music on the spot, especially at the organ. For that reason, I started a website a few months ago organimprovisation.com. I am pleased to announce that the site has been greatly expanded and that there is now a lesson handout on how to improvise a French toccata available when you sign up to receive the newsletter. I also just completed a newsletter series on the Four C’s of Improvisation that include a few helpful hints on becoming a better improviser. Even if you believe learning to improvise might be out of your reach, you could check out all the videos or recordings for some inspiration. I believe every musician should be able to improvise and can learn to do so if willing to practice.


One of the events I always look forward to attending is the AGO national convention. This year it will take place in Boston, one of my favorite cities. While there are many different events to attend, you can be sure to find me at the events where improvisation will be the focus. I compiled a list of them here if you will be at the convention and wish to find me.

This year will be the first year that I attend the conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. Last summer, I was able to attend the RSCM Course in Tulsa, so I am looking forward to attending a conference with more people who run RSCM programs. As an extra bonus, I’ll get to stop by New York City in between the two conferences and play for the Orlando Deanery Choir at St. Thomas. While I would not normally be excited about two weeks on the road, the music making and chance to see many friends make me look forward to this extended trip. If you will be at either of these conferences, I hope we can find each other and at least say hello!
Hoping you have a fun and adventuresome summer!


Newsletter Issue 23 – 2014 06 02
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The Chariot Rolls On!

The Chariot Rolls On

What a delight it was Monday evening to hear the Bel Canto Choir from Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta give the premier performance of my composition, The Chariot. Knowing that the students had only a few rehearsals to learn the piece, I was quite pleased with the result. Check it out for yourself by clicking the picture below!

Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit

At the conclusion of the piece as I was walking off stage, I told Chris that I’d have another piece for the group to learn for the Gateway High School Baccalaureate. By the end of the week, I had sent him a score for a new text by John Dalles, “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons.” Unfortunately, it seems I took the text’s references to “a bold challenge we can claim…at the edge of what can be” a little too seriously and wrote a piece just out of reach for the number of rehearsal left. So I found another text (also by John Dalles) and produced something a little easier: “Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit.” I went over to rehearse the choir last Friday and am now looking to the premier of this piece at the Gateway Baccalaureate on May 25.

Finishing a Piece

So what happens with “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons”? The piece is written. Will it sit in a drawer until next year? Any one else interested in giving it a go? I love the text so much that I decided to program the piece with the school choir from Holy Redeemer for the eighth grade Graduation Mass. We won’t be able to sing all the harmony parts, but the melody alone (with piano accompaniment) will still provide a lovely rendition of this end of school year text. I may not have mentioned it in last week’s discussion of the 5 Ws, but it’s very difficult for me to write a piece of music if there is no ‘When’ on the calendar. Also, when the piece requires more than just one person to perform it, I never feel like it is truly finished until I’ve handed the score over to someone else to perform. This is when I realize what part of the music doesn’t exist on paper, and what I still need to write down. Even this scaled down performance with the school choir from Holy Redeemer will give me that opportunity I need to experience the piece and satisfies that “W’ that went missing on me.

40 Days After…

Sandwiched in between the graduation pieces above happens to fall the Feast of Ascension (40 days after Easter) and the premier of “God Is Gone Up” written for Dr. Carl MaultsBy and the St. Richard’s Schola. This is the second piece I’ve written for St. Richard’s and will make three premiers in one week! What an exciting way to bring the month of May to a close!

CFCArts_MozartsMass_Poster_B-667x1024Classical Choir

With all this talk about the end of the school year, it must mean that summer is almost here. For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of accompanying the CFCArts Classical Choir in their summer concerts. This summer, I will be playing for the group rehearsals and concert as they prepare the Mass in C Minor (K. 427) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you are in the Orlando area, I encourage you to sign up and join the group. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings starting June 5. I was able to perform this work with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Robert Shaw while I studied at Westminster Choir College, so I am looking forward to doing the piece again now almost twenty years later.

Wishing you a happy and safe Memorial Day and a beautiful start to your summer!


Newsletter Issue 22 – 2014 05 20
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How to write a piece of music


This past Friday, I went over to Gateway High School to hear the Bel Canto Choir rehearse the piece I wrote for them with a text by Emily Dickinson: The Chariot. It is always such a thrilling moment for me to hear a group actually sing something that I’ve put down on paper, and I am very much looking forward to the premier performance tonight during their spring concert! I hope to be able to post a video after the event is over. (Now available here.)

Their director, Chris, and I were still discussing interpretation ideas when the next group came in for class. He introduced me to them and offered them the opportunity to ask me questions about the composition process. The first question I was asked reminded me of the questions I had been asked when I first went to hear the Bel Canto Choir last fall, both of which were some form of: How do you choose what notes to put on the page? In each case I referenced a quote which I finally looked up from Igor Stravinsky: “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self.” I remember hearing this first from my own first composition teacher who explained that when asked simply to compose a piece of music, even the great Stravinsky was at a loss as to what to write, but as soon as you told him that you needed a piece for -choose your favorite and most peculiar set of instruments (accordion, kettle drum, flute and viola, for example)- he had lots of ideas.

Five Ws

The five Ws are questions for gathering basic information: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Just like the five vowels include a “and sometimes ‘y'”, we could add ‘How’ to this list of questions words. Just like Stravinsky, the more information I have regarding these topics, the easier it is for me to write a piece.


Generally I need to have an idea of who will be singing or performing the composition I am to write. This will enable me to determine instrumentation and help identify the difficulty level. An amateur choir does not have the same musical skills as a professional octet, and if the brass ensemble is two trumpets and two trombones, writing a tuba or French horn part does not respect who the group is.


For choral pieces, what is the text? Is this a concert piece or a piece for worship? What addresses The answer to what sort of piece this is addresses the form the composition will take.


Is this piece for a small church covered in carpet, a large resonant acoustic, or Yankee Stadium? The performance venue can influence the style of writing or the form of the piece.


This can be a very critical question for style. How long until the performance? How many rehearsal will the group have. I always strive to write pieces that will be successful not simply in and of themselves, but for the performers as well. Giving a group with little rehearsal time a piece that is too difficult to learn only will result in either frustration, a poor performance, or even a cancellation. Not good.


This question for we is the one most closely related to musical style. What sort of affect is desired or intended by the composition? Is this a piece meant to convey joy or grief? Anger or delight? Severity or lightheartedness? Music has a message to convey, and that message is the why of the piece.

Craft vs. Inspiration

I studied harmony and counterpoint for several years, in addition to creating music on the spot through improvisation. Through a regular process of writing psalm settings, I feel I have developed a solid craft of composition. While a dash of inspiration may help the process along, as Stravinsky also said, “Composers combine notes, that’s all.” Plumbers and electricians do not wait for inspiration in order to work. People don’t wait for inspiration to have conversations. If music truly is a language, musicians should be skilled in the craft enough to converse and not have to wait for inspiration or rely on the “words” of someone else. In the past, formation as a musician included the ability to compose. Could the lack of instruction in composition now be one of the reasons “classical” music, including symphony orchestras and opera companies struggle to continue operations?

Writing a piece of music for me involves answering the 5 Ws and then applying the skills I have learned to communicate (or enable the performance group to communicate) a message appropriate for their skill level, the forces available, the venue, time and occasion of the event. Each of the three premiers coming up this month were easy to write because I had lots of solid answers to those questions. Do you need a piece for your group? Can you answer the 5 Ws for me? If so, send me your answers and I’ll see if I can add you to my calendar of events.

Wishing you all the best!


Newsletter Issue 21 – 2014 05 05
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It is finish-ed!

ColorLogoRGBLogo chosen!

It was a tough choice, but I awarded a winner in the competition at 99designs.com for a logo for Audubon Park Music. Thanks to everyone who voted or offered their opinions on the submissions! Net up will be a website redesign to incorporate the new logo and start moving my catalog of music for sale from wmglennosborne.com over to audubonparkmusic.com. I hope to have the site fully functional by the time the bishops grant me permission to publish my psalter.


Any musician at a reasonably large church is familiar with the difficulties of having to be in two different places at the same time. While science may have advanced enough to provide clones of certain animals, I’m still waiting for the technology that allows us to bi-locate. How much more practice time could I get if I could actually be on the organ bench AND at the staff meeting? If you could be in two places at once, where would you choose to go?

Sadly, we can’t divide ourselves yet, and as the sound system in the social hall at Holy Redeemer was my most stressful part of this past week, I am extremely grateful that my choir was willing to change venues and move from their traditional location of the church to serve the overflow crowd in the social hall. While I normally like to have everything well-planned in advance, I am still an improviser and will go with the flow when necessary. Thank you to all the singers and musicians at Holy Redeemer for a wonderful week of liturgies and for going along with the flow when change was needed!

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Death seems to be the theme of this week. Not only at church, but in real life. One of my colleagues from Westminster Choir College passed away just over a week ago from cancer. While sad, this was expected. The unexpected event was the sudden death of one of my classmates at a rehearsal at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Jeff Dinsmore and I graduated from Westminster twenty years ago this May. I still feel young enough that learning of the death of someone my own age creates a pause for reflection: am I spending my limited time here on earth doing the best that I can? How about you?

The students at Gateway High School chose a text by Emily Dickinson for me to set for them titled The Chariot. Because I Could Not Stop for Death is the first line, and it seems very fitting that I managed to set this text during this week surrounded by death. We are still working on the potential performance date. There will also likely be another piece written for Gateway this year to be sung at their baccalaureate service at the end of May. No one wants to hear about death at a graduation ceremony, so I’ll be looking for a happier topic….

The next performance I do have scheduled is the Classical Choir Concert of the Central Florida Community Arts on May 3 and 4. The program includes The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore Dubois (referenced by today’s subject line). Luckily, this concert also includes some happier tunes by Mozart, Rossini, Thompson and others. I’m hoping this week of death is now finish-ed and more pleasant times will arrive in this Easter season.

May you live long and prosper!


Newsletter Issue 20 – 2014 04 22
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Birds, Birds and More Birds

NewsletterBirdSeeking Singing Birds

As you may remember, I registered with ASCAP just a few months ago. In order to do so, I needed to choose a name for my publishing company. After exploring a few possibilities (some of which had already been taken), I settled upon Audubon Park Music. The neighborhood where I live in Orlando is called Audubon Park and the working title for my psalter has been the Audubon Park Psalter, so it made sense to me to go ahead and make something like that the name of my publishing company as well.

Logo Competition

What’s one of the first things you need when starting up a business? Nowadays, that would be a website and business cards, of course! The website – audubonparkmusic.com – I set up the day I chose the name using a simple WordPress template, but I didn’t want to print simple plain business cards. Every good business has some sort of identifiable mark or logo that is instantly recognizable. Take McDonalds, Nike, or AT&T for example. I wanted a nice clean logo for my company, so I turned to 99designs.com.

At 99designs, there are over 200,000 designers competing on various projects. I presented a design brief outlining what sort of logo I would be looking for and some of my thoughts about what the logo could or should look like. One week later, I have had 32 people submit 152 designs for my consideration. I have been very impressed by the creativity of several of the designers, and now it is time for me to make my final choice. Because I have always had a difficult time making choices, I would love to invite you to participate in a poll and rate the designs that I have selected as finalists. You may see the choices and provide your feedback here:
http://99designs.com/logo-design/vote-nxe1j0. I expect to wrap this up quickly, so please vote in the next 24 hours to have your opinion count.

New Pieces and Singers

While evaluating birds, I also received a request for an arrangement of HOLY ANTHEM for organ and brass quartet. I hope to have the Finale performance file of it uploaded today here if you’d like to give it a listen. My next composition task is to set a poem by Emily Dickinson for Gateway High School. The premier is scheduled for just about a month from now, so if the girls are going to have time to learn it, I need to get them a score soon!

In addition to looking for singing birds, I’m also looking for singing people. This summer (preferable sooner rather than later), I’d like to make a recording of some of my compositions to be released as an album. If you are in the Orlando area and would be interested in being part of this recording group, please let me know so that I can begin to figure out rehearsal dates and locations.

Hoping the birds are singing for you!


Newsletter Issue 19 – 2014 04 10
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Videos and Concerts

AllSaintsAisle2Duets and Pedal Fun

Preparing for the two organ duet concerts with Jaime Carini created a very intense week. I hope you enjoyed the video from our first day of practice in the last newsletter. ( Click here in case you missed it or to see it again.) We also posted Promenade by Dello Joio from our practice session in Daytona here. By far, the most popular piece on the program was the set of waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr. transcribed for four feet. These were very challenging to learn as we often found ourselves playing the exact same notes right after each other. We had to practice slowly and watch where and how we moved to each note in order to make sure we didn’t step on each other or keep the other person from getting to the proper location. We even took a little video to see if we could spot any better ways to stay out of each others way. Have a look and see for yourself: Pedal Practice for Strauss Waltzes.

Naji Hakim – The Apostles

It was a great joy to play the US premier of movements from The Apostles by Naji Hakim. We have audio and video from both concerts, and I hope we will receive permission from Hakim to post a couple of excerpts on YouTube. We enjoyed doing these concerts together, and we both hope to be able to play the pieces again in other locations as well as actually learn all the movements of The Apostles.

John Stainer – The Crucifixion

After putting Jaime on the plane early Monday morning, I went up to Leesburg that evening to play for a rehearsal of The Crucifixion by John Stainer at Morrison United Methodist Church. When I last played the piece, I burned my hand the week before the concert, so had to play the piece using basically only my right hand and pedal with a few single notes by my left hand and a little assistance from my page turner for a couple of passages where Stainer requires the organist to play on two separate manuals. The concert is tonight at 7:30 pm. I am looking forward to it as not only a wonderful musical event for the Lenten season, but also as a chance to finally play the piece uninjured and pain free!

Even though I know many of you are not able to attend these events in person, I hope that the clips on YouTube provide some entertainment. Once this set of concerts is over, I hope to be able to post more videos of performances and improvisations in the next few months. I also wish to continue exploring how music gets both to and from the written page.

Hoping spring arrives in April!


Newsletter Issue 18 – 2014 03 31
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