Thursday, April 19, 2018

MARIO LANZA 1921-1959

Image of Mario Lanza used for promotional purp...
Image of Mario Lanza used for promotional purposes for the film Serenade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mario Lanza was undoubtedly one of the most loved Tenors of all time, his emotional renditions of famous arias and ballads have left a lasting legacy for all time. Born Arnold Alfredo Cocozza in 1921 (The year Enrico Caruso died), he inspired so many modern tenors to have a career in the opera houses of the world.

He had a meteoric rise to fame, and his career went the way of films, where he soon became a matinee idol. Here is a list of his films.
That Midnight Kiss (1949) with Kathryn Grayson
The Toast of New Orleans (1950) with Kathryn Grayson
The Great Caruso (1951) with Ann Blyth. Many consider this to be Lanza,s finest role.
Because Your Mine (1952) with Dorretta Morrow
The Student Prince (1954) Although Mario Lanza,s voice was used in this film, he did not appear in it personally.
Serenade (1956) All about a rising opera star! with Joan Fontaine.
Seven Hills of Rome (1957) with Renato Rascel and Marisa allasio.
For The First Time (1959) with Johanna Van Kozian and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
He truly had a gift that is only granted once or twice in one or two centuries, Mario could take a simple Neapolitan love song and turn it into an aria. Once you heard him perform it is often said that he made it his own, and no other could sing it like him with so much excitement and feeling. One such song is Core N Grato.

There are many stories abound about why he did not appear in "The Student Prince", I have in the past heard that he would disappear and binge on food, and his weight would balloon up and down. Another angle is a disagreement on the music, all conjecture and I wonder if anyone outside of his family really knows the truth, about this and his untimely death in 1959. (Another can of worms).

With that said let's just marvel at his talent and be thankful for a career (although brief), that has and continues to bring a lot of pleasure to all that hear him.

Whether you are a fan of Mario Lanza or not, you cannot help but be moved by at least one of his aria,s or ballads. It is like a fine wine "Once tasted never forgotten" and the world will never forget Mario Lanza's rendition of the "Drinking Song" amongst a host of others to take pleasure in.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An Alternative Way To Adjust Your GUITAR Nut

Truss rod adjustment bolt visible from the sid...
Truss rod adjustment bolt visible from the side of the headstock
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most new guitars arrive from the factory with the nut just barely playable. Older guitars may have the nut filed or worn down so much that fret buzz cannot be eliminated by neck or string height adjustment. If you have a new guitar, or you are replacing the nut with a new one, here is an alternative method to file and adjust the nut material to make your guitar play like the professional's guitars play.

Before adjusting anything, make sure your guitar is strung up correctly and that your neck is straight and not bowed or warped. If your neck is bowed you first need to adjust the truss rod. If your neck is warped it will require a more extensive repair. For the lowest possible action or to avoid fret buzz all across your fingerboard, it may be necessary to have your frets levelled and crowned first.

You will need a set of nut files (available from Stewart MacDonald), and a good set of feeler gauges as well. Different grades of sandpaper are very useful too.

Fret each string individually, starting with the High E, between the second and third fret, use your feeler gauge to check the amount of space between the bottom of the string and the first fret. You should have approximately .005" of space between each one, with the string barely touching the second fret. If this measurement is close or dead on then move on to the next string right up to the Low E string. You may want to record the gap on a scrap piece of paper as you move across the fretboard, to see the nut slot's height in relation to the fretboard as you do so.

For most players, a string height (also known in guitar slang as “action”) of 3/64" of an inch is considered normal. Some players choose a higher string height such as 4/64" of an inch while players which tend to have a light touch and want the fastest action possible strive to lower the action as close as possible to 2/64" which in many cases's is very hard to setup and maintain without fret buzzing somewhere on the fingerboard.

Of course, you can use the traditional method to set your string height in relation to the nut, by using multiple feeler gauges below the nut and filing down to the factory depth and width. However, I have found this method to provide a better and more consistent feel while playing near the nut.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Practice, Practice, Practice," Your Way to CARNEGIE HALL

English: Carnegie Hall, New York City.
Carnegie Hall, New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Carnegie Hall is New York's premier concert hall and is located at the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. It is considered as one of the most prestigious locations to host events of an artistic nature, such as musicals, concerts, and dance performances etc.

The Hall built in 1891 is one of last big New York buildings, which has been built entirely out of masonry which basically means that it has no steel frame, unlike the more modern buildings. The building was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and was sponsored and built by Andrew Carnegie who was at one time considered the 2nd richest man in the United States behind John D Rockefeller.

Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland and as a child migrated to the United States with his parents. He was a self-made man who is the very essence of a self-made man with a genuine 'rags to riches' story. He has gifted many free public libraries to around 2500 communities. Carnegie was a prolific writer and in his work 'The Gospel of Wealth' he articulated his view that, 'The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced'. He lived by this belief and gave away his fortune to various charities at the time of his death.

English: A post-concert photo of the main hall...
A post-concert photo of the main hall's stage inside of Carnegie Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another such legacy of Carnegie is indeed the Carnegie Hall which is one of four such concert halls around the States. It has an artistic programme plus a development and marketing department. During the season it has about 250 performances though since the New York Philharmonic moved in 1962 the Hall has not had a resident company.

For many going to Carnegie Hall is an entire event, from taking in the production to the after a meal. There are many places around the Hall where people can enjoy some good food such as the Seasonal, the Europa Café or the Carnegie Deli. Also, there are a number of garages located around which ease the parking problem somewhat in this densely populated city. However, it may not be cheap so always check out the rates before opting for parking.

The famous joke for this music and performance hall is that one day a visitor to New York has asked a local, "Pardon me, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?', to which the reply had been 'Practice, Practice, Practice", which explains the importance of the Hall as a performance venue. While the performances do not come cheap, it is always worth saving up to enjoy an event as it will be one of those 'once in a lifetime' experiences, which will be money well spent.

There is an abundance of hotels near Carnegie Hall New York such as the Hotel Pennsylvania, Park Central Hotel, Warwick New York Hotel and the Hudson Hotel just to mention a very few of the available options. With a little research, it is easy to find a hotel or accommodation to suit individual budgets. So make sure to include the Carnegie Hall as a must see when you visit New York.

    Larry Austin is a freelance journalist who writes on travel related topics such as on Hotels near Carnegie Hall New York and worldwide destination reviews etc. He is currently working for which offers visitors the option of worldwide hotel bookings.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Sunday, April 15, 2018

3 Steps to PLAYING Comfortably for a Crowd

Batsheva Dance Company theater crowd in Tel Av...
Batsheva Dance Company theatre crowd in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most people are not comfortable performing in front people. When I say of performing, such as an instrument, or singing, or acting, I mean more than just knowing how to do well at your chosen craft, I mean doing it well and in front of people. It’s the “in front of people” part that gets us every time. How many of us sing like a bird in the shower but then when people are watching we can’t carry a note. Here are three steps to start you on the road to comfort (never complete) when called on to shine.

1. Don’t neglect to practice. Whether you sing or play an instrument practice is a key to being relaxed. The more familiar you are with what you are performing, the less anxiety you will have about messing up.

2. Don’t back up. Piano teaches pass this on all the time. If you mess up in the middle, or any place in your piece, don’t back up and repeat the offending passage. Keep going. Chances are your audience didn’t even notice.

3. Try not to be critical of your technical skill. Focus more on your overall performance. How does it sound as a whole? If you’re a pianist and you worry during your piece about your fingering then you’re ignoring the song and how it sounds. Worry about technicalities when you practice. Which should be often.

With time playing in front of and for other people will come much easier. You'll be a natural. So use every opportunity to show your stuff!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CHOPIN - Piano Sonata No. 2 'Funeral March'

English: Arthur Rubinstein Français : Arthur R...
Arthur Rubinstein  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Arthur Rubinstein (1887 - 1982) was a Polish pianist and one of the great virtuosos of the 20th century. He was declared a child prodigy at the age of four and had perfect pitch. By the age of thirteen, he had already made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic.

He toured all over the world during his long life. There may have been other pianists that could play a certain piece or composer with more insight, but everything Rubinstein played was rock-solid in interpretation and technique. His tone was golden, he was incapable of producing a harsh tone from the piano. His repertoire was huge. For example, he could perform in short notice 27 different piano concertos. He was also an excellent chamber music musician.

He made recordings from 1928 to about 1976, with most of his recordings being done for RCA. all of his RCA recordings have been issued on music CD, the entire set contains 94 CD's and runs to 106 hours. He concertized until his eyesight failed him and he retired in 1976 at age eighty-nine. His last concert was in Wigmore Hall in London where he had first played nearly seventy years previously.

Portrait of Fryderyk Chopin.
Portrait of Fryderyk Chopin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rubinstein is most well known for his Chopin performances. Rubinstein was one of the first pianists early in the 20th century to play Chopin as the music was written. That's not to say he played it coldly and analytically, but Rubinstein purposefully rids himself of the excesses in performance and interpretation that had become somewhat of a tradition in Chopin's music. There is no better player of Chopin's 2nd sonata than Rubinstein. He plays with expression and passion that totally serves the music.

Chopin's 2nd sonata confused music lovers when it was first published in 1837. Schumann said it lacked cohesion and Chopin "simply bound together four of his most unruly children." The sonata is in 4 movements and follows the layout of Beethoven's Piano Sonata #12, which was one of Chopin's favorite Beethoven sonatas. The sonata opens with what some have called a tribute to Beethoven, as it is very similar to Beethoven's opening of his final piano sonata, Opus 111 in C minor, another favorite of Chopin. 

The second movement is a scherzo, the third movement is the famous Funeral March. The enigmatic final Presto movement has been subject to many interpretations. In the preface to the American edition of the sonatas, James Huneker quotes from Karol Mikuli, the editor of the sonatas and one of Chopin's pupils, that Chopin said of this movement, "The left hand and right hand are gossiping after the March". Arthur Rubinstein himself said of the movement that, "One hears the winds of night sweeping over churchyard graves, the dust blowing and the dust that remains."