Just Some Notes: Observing Some Pianists

September 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

For my piano lessons in college, one of the only assignments I had to do each semester was write up 3 concert reports. Any concerts that had a pianist in their ensemble was acceptable, and it wasn’t limited to just Classical concerts. In fact, it was a simple 2 page observation on the music, the atmosphere and of course the way a pianist plays. When I first started writing these concert reports, I hated it because I felt that taking notes during a concert was NOT the way to enjoy live music. Usually I loved just sitting back with my eyes closed, surround myself with the music and let the notes do their thing.

Of course, it wasn’t before long that I started to enjoy observing the different play styles and techniques of different pianists (cause I’m nerdy like that). For classical pianists, I developed a spectrum. On one end, you have Lang Lang, who is known for grandiose gestures and flourishes. On the other end, you have Horowitz, who is stoic and a minimalist in terms of movements. Most pianists fall somewhere in between on that spectrum.

Movie Poster for "The Pianist", the ultimate piano movie for Chopin lovers

The point of this written assignment for this class was for the student to be exposed to a wide range of pianists and examine the different techniques they applied. Some students that may have less movement (like myself) might find it beneficial to add more gestures to express the notes more, like raising your hand higher and let gravity help create a fortissimo sound (it helps a lot). 21 concert reports later, you kind of realize all the great pianists have more or less tailored a unique style of playing. There’s no “correct” or “incorrect” way of playing, there are just different ways that suit different people.

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Sounds of Daydreams and Fairies

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Watching movies is one of my favorite things to do (second only to sleeping and eating). I love just sitting down and immersing myself into a completely new and foreign world, watching stories and events that belong to other people. It takes my mind off everything going on in my life and instead, dive into the lives of others. It’s my form of meditation and means for escape, my go-to topic of conversation and my top favorite form of entertainment.

I finally got the chance to watch Finding Neverland today, a movie I’ve been meaning to watch since it came out back in 2004. Finding Neverland is a semi-biographical film of J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan played by Johnny Depp. The film explores his relationship and experiences with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (played by Kate Winslet) and her boys, who inspired the timeless classic. Classic children’s literature such as Alice and Wonderland and The Little Prince have always been my all-time favorite books. The creativity and imagination the writers used to create these mystical and fascinating worlds, combined with a touch of childish innocence and whimsical nature appeals to the kid in everyone.

It’s refreshing to Johnny Depp play a normal looking person, as oppose to a pirate, an artificial scissors man, or a crazy barber butcher/killer. The acting from both Depp and Winslet were steady, nothing too exciting. Freddie Highmore’s performance as Peter blew my mind; the range of emotions he was able to depict was so natural. I think what makes this movie such a treat was watching the relationship between Barrie and the boys develop and the inspirations he drew from their role-play and pretending. The scenes from the actual Peter Pan play in the movie were magical and captivating. If you haven’t had a chance to see this movie, I highly recommend it.

The title of this post refers to the absolutely stunning soundtrack by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, which won an Academy Award for Musical Score. I mentioned before that music adds soul and amplifies emotion in movies; this movie especially so. The music just sounds exactly what daydreams and fairies sound like. Below is my favorite song from the movie called Piano Variation in Blue:



Dustin O’Halloran

May 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

That feeling when you hear a new piece of music and you instantly fall in love:

His music has hints of Philip Glass, but somehow more expressive and human. All his pieces are just hauntingly beautiful and stirring.

Music adds soul to movies and images. It enhances and amplifies the emotion the image evokes. I love this music video for Opus 23 by  Italian director Marco Morandi; the animation is so simple and charming.

Violin Hip-Hop

January 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

Not too many people know this, but I am a classically trained pianist. I have a love-hate relationship with the piano. When my older sister started playing the piano before I did, I got so jealous of watching her play that I bugged my mom to let me start taking lessons too. Only after I started taking lessons did I realize practicing was part of the process of being able to play. I went through phases when I would really love playing and then get really lazy. Needless to say, I am no professional pianist. Yet, I stuck with it throughout high school and college (even minoring in college). So thankful that I never quit playing and continue to play to this day.

Just a cool piece of violin hip-hop. I always love the marriage of different musical genres. Feeling happy and musical on this Friday night.

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