Sibelius Trick: Use Your iPhone as a Number Pad for Your Laptop

I’m sure I’m not alone among Sibelius users in relying very heavily on the number pad for quick music notation.  It is of course much quicker than pointing and clicking on that little tool box.  So, at such times when I’m using my MacBook away from the wireless keyboard (with number pad) that I normally use, working with Sibelius is excruciatingly slow and frustrating.

The solution, it turns out, is a very nifty iPhone app that can be had for $3.99.  NumPad is a multi-purpose number pad that connects to your computer via the iPhone’s WiFi connection.  It can be set to work as a standard number pad with, you know, numbers, or as seen here it can be set to control Sibelius.  You can get to the various toolbox thingies (or whatever they’re called) by swiping left or right).

I find that it’s very fast and responsive when my WiFi connection is functioning properly, but I imagine performance will vary according to your setting.  In any case, I was thrilled to find this solution, and thought I’d pass it along to readers and future Googlers.

Oh, and guess what: It’s similarly compatible with Finale.

Categories: ComposingTags:

Video: American Standard at Old First

Filmmaker Mark Altenberg did a lovely video interpretation of my clarinet/piano piece American Standard that was displayed live during a recent performance at Old First Concerts in San Francisco. Using footage taken of clarinetist Karla Avila and pianist Regina Schaffer in rehearsal, the video is interesting and evocative.

Now, for posterity, Mark has synchronized the video with the recording of Karla and Regina’s live performance that evening and made it available for sharing.

Categories: Performances, Video

City Walks at SFO "You Are Hear" Festival

Some composer friends and I have been kicking around the idea of getting our music played in unconventional venues. The idea is that if music is only played in concert halls, then the audience is limited to people who take time out of their busy schedules to seek it out, to say nothing of willingness to spend money on tickets. Surely we can find new ways of bringing new music to audiences that don’t require them to be so proactive.Read this post

Categories: Past Work, PerformancesTags: , , ,

Project Encore: Choral Works Awaiting Second Performances

Last year the New York chorus Schola Cantorum on Hudson initiated their Project Encore initiative, an effort to promote second performances of choral works that have received premiere performances and nothing since.  It is a great and much needed idea: a juried central repository complete with instrumentation, text, program notes and even audio excerpts that choral decision makers can resort to for new works to consider.Read this post

Categories: Choral Music, Past WorkTags: ,

Joseph Castaldo’s "Ancient Liturgy" Revisited in Philadelphia

This month the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, my choral alma mater, will present a concert that epitomizes the kind of music making that went on in Philadelphia when I was a student there in the 1980’s. The occasion is the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Joseph Castaldo’s extraordinary work for narrator, chorus and orchestra Ancient Liturgy, which was originally commissioned and premiered by the Music Group of Philadelphia under Seán Deibler, who also happened to be Choral Arts’ founding Artistic Director.Read this post

Categories: Choral Music, TeachersTags: , , , , , ,

What Is Musicianship?

Anyone who has studied music at a conservatory or college level has taken an ear training class typically called “Musicianship.”  This is where we train our ears to recognize intervals and chord qualities, learn how to perform melodies and rhythms accurately at sight and practice writing down musical examples upon hearing them.  I wonder if, bogged down in the details of teaching those various skills, we’ve lost track of what musicianship really is, and why we would use that name for such a class, as opposed to just, say, “Ear Training” or “Sight Reading”.

I have occasionally seen the class referred to simply as “Solfège.” This reveals a common misunderstanding:  solfège is just one of many tools used in musicianship training—not an end, but a means. Read this post

Categories: Musicianship, TeachingTags: , , , ,

Berlin, 1989.

Long story as to how and why, but within a few days of the Berlin Wall opening on November 9th, 1989, I was on an overnight train from Budapest to Berlin to check out the scene.  Then I was removed from the train in the middle of the night at the Hungarian/(then) Czechoslovak border.  The Velvet Revolution in Prague wasn’t scheduled to happen for another week, and I found out they were actually still serious about the whole “transit visa” thing.  So I hung out with the border guards until the next train came through on the way back to Budapest.Read this post

Categories: ReminiscencesTags: , , ,

More Fascinating Folk Music: Sutartinės of Lithuania

Well, now I have Lithuania to add to the list of countries whose folk music to be obsessed with. In a discussion with my teaching colleague Arkadi Serper about what folk music traditions might have influenced Stravinsky’s ear in his youth, I brought up the amazing vocal music of the Caucasus region, particularly Georgian table songs.  Arkadi agreed, and then went on to alert me to several others from within Russia and the former Soviet Union, including Lithuanian sutartinės.Read this post

Categories: Folk MusicTags: , , , ,