A Fateful Day in 1963; and in 2011

“One Red Rose” recalls a national tragedy, the day President Kennedy was assassinated, through specific impressions, filtered through 50 years of subsequent insightImage and experience. The three-movement work is for string quartet; its title derived from a detail reported by a Secret Service agent who examined the presidential limousine.

Recently, the Brentano String Quartetperformed this deeply emotional and thoughtful work by composer, Steven Mackey. The finale, “Anthem and Aria,” similarly juxtaposes collective anguish and acutely felt private grief.

I was on my way home from a chorus rehearsal, just 12 years old, and I heard the news on the radio not really knowing the true meaning of this horrifying news. I came home finding my Mother working on her stenography with the many LP’s of voices dictating letters at all speeds. When I told the news that Kennedy was shot and killed, she stopped and froze; it was the first time I ever saw my Mother weep.

I knew only then what really happened and that my message to her, blurted out by an innocent and naive child, wasn’t a news bulletin at all but more like daggers to the heart. It was only some five decades later that I saw that same profound sadness in my Mother’s eyes but amplified to deafening decibels; at my Father’s funeral.



Tragedy… international virtuoso loses his fingers to frostbite

Alexey Zimakov, winner of the 1991 American Guitar Association Competition in Miami, has suffered the amputation of all fingers on both hands after contracting severe frostbite in his home town, Tomsk, in Siberia.

The amputation took place, we are informed, on January 15. He had been due to give a concert with the Belgorod Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Evgeny Bushkov, on February 2, performing Ponce Concierto del Sur and Paganini Romance and La Campanella. The concert will now go ahead without him, retitled Hommage à Alexey Zimakov.

Of all the misfortunes we suffer, in the course of a musical life, few can be greater than this!

Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra to present the Music of Western Europe


The Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra’s “Around the Symphonic World” presents Music of Western Europe on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in Wilson Concert Hall in Lexington Virginia.

Under my direction, the SSO will perform Bizet’s Symphony in C, Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054 featuring Shuko Watanabe on piano, and Mozart’s  Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 with Alicia Bishop as soloist.

Tickets can be purchased online at: http://www.wlu.edu/x57582.xml  or by calling the Lenfest Box Office at 540-458-8000.

I’ll be on the Patrick Phillips Show February 3rd.

Be sure to tune into the Patrick Phillips Show Sunday February3 at 8 P.M. Eastern: http://patrickphillipsshow.com/

Patrick Phillips (@patrickphillips)  shares his unique passion for popular culture and nostalgia in this compelling weekly radio/web series.

“It is my hope that each episode literally transports the listener into the subject matter, illustrating the guests and their topics in Technicolor.” – Patrick Phillips

In late December of 2011 Phillips had the unique pleasure of interviewing the sensational Davy Jones (The Monkees) in what would become one of Davy’s final interviews before his death in February, 2012.

“I am captivated by the information Patrick receives from his guest. Interesting and informative. Powerful show, I loved every minute of it.” – Dillen Max

Recent Guests include some of Hollywood’s finest:  Tim BurtonMartin Landau, Wendy Williams, Kevin SorboSuzanne Somers, Karl UrbanLou FerrignoMarina Sirtis, Elvira, LeVar Burton and many more! (click for a complete list) In addition to his interviews with celebrated Directors and Actors, Phillips has chatted with award winning authors and often goes “Behind the Score” with talented composers for video games, film and television.

Les Misérables a fabulous production!

As a young boy growing up in New York City, my Mother would take my sister and I to matinees of many Broadway shows. I have been so fortunate to see the originals of My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Take Me Along, The Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha and countless other iconic shows. I grew up with going to Broadway and to Lincoln Center; two different but magical and wonderful worlds. New York was and still is the Capita of World.

I have continued this Broadway tradition and racked up a long list of shows. But few have successfully been adapted for the big screen. I remember there was a big buzz about Madonna starring in Evita in the title role. Watching that movie, I always sensed a disconnect between the dramatic action and the singing. With Evita, it is rather obvious that the cast recorded the songs in a studio way before filming.  On the other hand, Topol’s Tevye and the stark barren Hungarian countryside made Fiddler a box office hit. I thought that it was more successful than the Broadway version or maybe it was those cheap twofer seats I had, 20 miles from the stage.

Les Misérables” is one of those stories whether read or seen that is in its own category of greatness. Calling this masterpiece a “musical” is like calling Die Walkure, an “opera”. Both works defy the conventional definition of either genre. I was one of many standing on line Christmas Day 2012 to view the opening of the movie, “Les Misérables I knew immediately that it was not a photocopy of the Broadway production.  In this present incarnation, it is not an opera but a dramatic dark realistic story by which the dialogue is sung. My Broadway and cast album ears immediately were modified.

The singing was from the depths of the soul and the vocal sounds completely described the action and the scene. You could have closed your eyes I easily imagine the scene that was being shown. The singing wasn’t pretty and in this case it shouldn’t be. It just doesn’t make sense to even buythe movie cast album; that would be totally out of context. Should Fontine first utterances after being ravaged and reduced to the lowest depths of her existence sing “I Dreaned a Dream” as if it’s an art song? The audience bawled like little children after Hathaway’s interpretation of this most famous song from the show. How many tears flowed during Jackman’s prayer scene when he sang “Bring Him Home.” So many people related to this song in particular. Everyone has a loved one who we all pray to come home safely. Even ex-Gladiator Crowe revealed a stoic but conflicted  Javert. Though purists might have like a more powerful singing of “Stars”, Crowe, while walking the roof tops of Paris, projected to all of us what he must do; he had no choice but to jump.

The camera swoops offset by the hand held shots gave us a realistic look of Paris and its poorest of the poor. The closeups revealed every facial imperfection of the mob, whether young or old. We saw Valjean transfer from slave, to Mayor, to Guardian, to someone sick with anguish and conflict; he seemed so relieved after revealing his deepest haunting secret to Marius; he was then ready to be with Fontine.

The movie is a once in a lifetime movie as is the Broadway production. But don’t compare the two. Les Misérables will surely be around for another 25 years. The show is now available for the first time for amateur productions.  And the memories of this grand cinematic feat will be referred to and watched for generations to come.

Phil Kline continues to wow us all with Unsilent Night performances!

Unsilent Night“People who have no background in music are drawn to it just as professional musicians are. It makes the community so strong and connected to music.” Sunday, December 22, marked the 20th Anniversary of Unsilent Night.”

The brainchild of Phil Kline, who composed the music in 1992, it was intended to be played on portable cassette players, which participants shouldered as they walked through the streets of Greenwich Village.

The work, made up of sustained chords, bells and, toward the end, wordless choral singing, is recorded on four separate tracks; parade participants receive one of these to play on their devices. Some participants naturally pair up with another complimentary “track-holder” and then moves on to another.

These days, boomboxes have been replaced with iPhones and mp3 players. New York City has always been a city of music and theater. This combines those 2 in an improvisational flash mob. The Holiday Season in the Big Apple is to be experienced.

With such diversity and millions of inhabitants, the sprawling New York Campus become a Musical Village. Over 30 cities from around the world will take part in the Unsilent Night experience.