About me

I am an active composer, music teacher, and organizer of music events. I share an occasional Music as Meditation concert with listeners and fellow musicians and I organize several concerts of new music each year. I use this blog to tell people about my musical endeavors and as a home for my virtual busking basket. If you want to support my musical efforts financially, please look for the donate button on the right-hand side of this page. You can find pages about The Davis Hill Studio on this blog. Look for the orange links on the right-hand side of the page.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

 

Violin and Piano Recital May 5, 2022



Dreaming the Intricate Details

The Little White Church in Eaton, NH

Playing music is how I make sense of the world in times of trouble. I have often thought, and sometimes said, “Beethoven is the only thing that makes sense right now.” The rational way notes fit together to make a line, compounded with the logical way lines fit together to make a part, and parts fit together to make a whole, brings me comfort and a door to trusting in the ultimate beauty of the world.


It's my good fortune to have friends who like to bring music to life. Margaret Hopkins and Chris Nourse, both fine violinists, join me to realize some beautiful music. The concert is planned for Thursday, May 5, at 7 PM at the Little White Church in Eaton. Admission is by donation. Donations will support the church and the musicians. The program presents a series of sonatas and a set of folk songs from the Slavic world.

Many years ago, Chris Nourse and I worked up our first Beethoven Sonata to perform at the Little White Church. Around that time, I asked him which Sonata of Beethoven's he wanted to play. His reply was “all of them.” We haven't yet achieved that goal, but we keep playing them. This particular Sonata, Opus 30, number 2, was written in 1802 and published in 1803.

More recently, I began to write in the Sonata form. Slowly, my writing got smaller and smaller. I've completed several sonatinas for various instruments and piano. These are much shorter pieces, using the same kind of fast-slow-fast format as many Sonatas. Two of my Sonatinas are on our program. One was composed in 2019-2020, and one in 2016.  You can give it a listen here. Margaret Hopkins helped me record the more recent one last autumn.

When Margaret and I first played together we talked about other pieces we'd like to try. One of these was a sonata published by Henry Eccles. Scholars think that this Sonata was mostly Eccles's own composition, but the second movement—the Corrente—came from one of Francesco Bonporti's Sonatas. Perhaps people in those days had more of a “share and share alike” attitude than is prevalent now. I was already familiar with this Sonata. I found it when researching Solomon Eccles, Henry's father, who was a famous early Quaker but burned his instruments when he converted to the new faith.

Because we all hope for peace, we will play some songs from the Slavic part of the world where violence is erupting. One is called “Storks on the Roof.” It asks for peace for the whole world, and for storks—a symbol of peace—to stand on every rooftop.

Friday, March 4, 2022


 Listening to warm music performed with youthful friendliness is a great way to usher winter out the door. On Saturday, March 12, teen musicians from Davis Hill Studio and Fryeburg Academy perform a varied program of chamber music. Students have been learning their parts since the beginning of the school year, rehearsing together and enjoying each other's company while they craft worthy musical offerings.

A student duo interested in the hardest music available will perform Camille Saint-Saëns' “Danse Macabre.” The composer himself made this arrangement for piano and violin. Gideon Richard and Phuoc Bao Le perform it in style with lots of fire and warmth. Molly Della Valla and Maisie Brown created an arrangement of Paul Desmond's “Take Five” for piano four-hands. The piece has plenty of room for both girls' exacting personalities. Zoë Jung chose to study Rachmaninaff's famous song “Vocalise.” She will perform it on the cello with great feeling. She will be accompanied by the program organizer and teacher at Davis Hill Studio, Ellen Schwindt. Lou Tillmans and Gideon Richard will play the first movement of Bach's famous concerto for two violins.

Three teen violinists, Isabel Macht, Soleil Huang-Dale, and Jiwon Choi will present an arrangement of Vivaldi's “Concerto Grosso in D Minor” for two violins and cello, accompanied by Continuo player Kaitlyn Sakash. Adult teachers Jenny Huang-Dale and Ellen Schwindt help fill this ensemble out.

A few of the students will play a solo or two to keep us from the cold. Among these is an elegy for winter by Cecile Chaminade, performed by Kaitlyn Sakash. This promises to be a concert not to miss, and it's being offered at free admission. The concert takes place in the Gibson Music Building on Bradley Street in Fryeburg at 7 PM on Saturday, March 12. Contact Ellen Schwindt for more information: 603-307-0825 or ellen.m.schwindt@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

 Back To School Post


It's that time of year. The goldenrod are blooming. The harvest is coming in. It's time to get ready for the school year. Find out about Music Lessons at Davis Hill Studio by clicking the orange link on the right.

It's always exciting, even for the teacher, to start a new school year. This fall I'm looking forward to

  • Exploring the music of George Crumb
  • Finding ever new ways of reaching my youngest students. I have a new "suitcase for success" to incorporate into my little people's lessons
  • getting ready for Fall Festival with verve and style
  • Sharing the new sound of my piano with you all--Bill Boulton installed brand new dampers on the Chickering and she sounds quite a bit different. It's easier to control the volume, too. 
  • Meeting new students and catching up with students who took a summer break.
We jump in again on August 30th. Get in touch with me soon to reserve your spot in the schedule. 

Here's a calendar to whet your appetite

Davis Hill Studio Calendar Fall 2021

First Day of Semester: August 30

October 8 No Lessons

October 9 No Lessons

October 11 No Lessons

November 11 Workshop Day at Little White Church

November 13 Fall Festival

November 13—No Lessons at FA

November 18 Recitals at Little White Church

November 26 No Lessons

November 27 No Lessons

Last Day of Semester: December 18


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

 This Forest is Alive

         It's not an opera, not a science lecture, not a symphony, not a feature film…..

It is a collaborative multi-media art project celebrating the amazing idea that forests live in community and that we might learn to live in community with the forests that surround us.

     The first installment of this project is a video with spoken words, nature sounds, a fugue, and pictures of the forest. Robin's Song in Mixed Meter features a Robin diva along with a woodwind trio comprised of Doris Henney playing flute, Judith English playing clarinet, and Nancy Goldenhar playing bassoon. Remaining videos are in development and will be released every so often. Check back here for more. 


Link to Opening Words and Living Forest Fugue


Link to Robin's Song in Mixed Meter

     Lots of people responded to the first video with ideas for further reading. I am compiling a bibliography to further our corporate understanding of forests and our place among them. If you have something to add, please let me know. Please get in touch with me if you want to contribute visual art to this project. You can find my e-mail to the right of this page. 


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Winter/Early Spring Music Lessons

 

Davis Hill Studio

Lessons for Children and Teens

Winter/Early Spring 2021


It's time to sign up for Winter/Early Spring music lessons. I'm planning a “trimester” approach this time around. I hope that will offer everybody some flexibility. I'm hoping to travel out West when the weather and the pandemic allows.


The Winter/Early Spring Term will run from January 4 to April 17. That covers 16 calendar weeks. I'll plan on teaching students 14 lessons over those 16 weeks—with a two-week cushion for flexibility.


The cost for that term, for 45-minute lessons, is

Tuition: $37.50 X 14=525

Materials/Recital/Technology Fee: $50

Total: $575


I recognize that everybody's financial situation is different, so if these rates don't work for you, please talk to me. I teach because I want to, and although I need to make a living at it, I have found ways to make it work for a lot of people in different circumstances.


To cover the rest of the school year and the summer, I'm planning a Late Spring Term that will begin May 3 and end June 12, and a Summer Term that will span July and August.




Sunday, June 14, 2020


Making Lemonade

a masterclass for a time of isolation
Pianists and isolation
Pianists are used to being alone. We practice (for hours) alone. We perform alone. A lot of the pieces we want to play are for piano alone. So you might say we are practiced at being alone.

Still, this isolation business is a bit hard to bear. We are in the season when pianists and other musicians come together to play chamber music—perhaps the most wonderful thing a musician can do. We should have been gathering to sample the delights of the companionship of music. Instead those gatherings, by and large, have been canceled.

So, when life hands you lemons.....

Back in May, I was feeling sorry for one of my advanced students. Her contest, for which she'd been preparing for months (in isolation!) was canceled. Then her summer program was canceled. It was sad to think that this year, she wouldn't have a chance to get to know other advancing pianists her age and to hear them play. It was disheartening to think she would miss the chance to learn from highly-advanced pianists/teachers and to imagine a path for herself as she advances her skills at the piano.

Then one day I woke up with the solution to our problem in my mind. I could ask Ratko Delorko to teach over zoom while my student and I participated from the newly-opened Davis Hill Studio studio. I met Ratko on Charles Street in Baltimore when we were both in that fair city to attend a piano teacher's conference. Since then, we have kept up a correspondence and exchanged ideas about teaching and composition. Ratko Delorko is a sought-after clinician and piano coach at a collegiate and professional level. He has traveled the world teaching piano to dedicated students. He established an on-line teaching studio several years ago and so he has a lot of experience guiding students without being able to access any of our profession's tried-and-true hands-on methods. Ratko agreed to set up a masterclass. He will be hosting our first zoom session on Friday, June 19th. (Eastern Standard Time)

I think we should all get ready for the best lemonade ever. It will be as refreshing to hear some new ideas about how to have fun playing the piano as it is to drink a tall glass of freshly squeezed lemonade after a long bike ride--motor powered or otherwise. There is a little foreshadowing in that last sentence; some of you may recognize it. We will enlighten you all on the day of our class. I hope to "see" you there. 

In order to manage the zoom session well, I want to send out invitations to people who are planning to attend. If you would like to attend, please send me an e-mail by Thursday, June 18th at 6 PM. I will be checking my e-mail and will send you a zoom link as soon as I receive a communication from you. Now I'm off to practice. I hope you are, also. 

in pianistic solidarity,
Ellen






Friday, February 21, 2020


Music as Meditation: When is a Jig Not a Jig?
          Hasn't it been reported that the Philosopher Wittgenstien believed that a philosophical treatise might be written completely as a series of questions? If a serious work on the nature of reality could be written that way, why not a press release about the upcoming Music as Meditation planned for Sunday, March 1, at 5:00 PM at Christ Episcopal Church in North Conway?
          When is a Jig not a Jig? How could a jig be written in 2/4 time? Why did J. S. Bach choose such a meter for the last movement of his keyboard partita #6? Why did he choose such a complex work for the 1725 notebook he gave to his second wife Anna Magdalena Bach?
          Why does a composer so capable of complexity work with a simple theme like “Ah vous dirai-je maman” otherwise known as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?” What makes a pianist want to play such a work? Might it be that the simple tune weaves through variations spanning light and dark, motile and lyrical?
          Had Beethoven really heard the popular tune for the second movement of his trio (opus 11) for piano, cello, and clarinet, in the lanes of Vienna? Is it helpful to balance the mathematical precision of a Bach Fugue with a romantic work like Rachmaninov's Prelude in G flat, Op 23 No 10? Why is it that so many composers write a short piece in each of the 24 usual keys? How grateful will Ms. Schwindt be to hear Mark Rossnagel play her little Etude in E flat, part of a (mostly-unfinished) set of such pieces? (Hint: the answer is very, very, grateful!)
Mark Rossnagel, visiting classical pianist, will perform at March's Music as Meditation

          And finally, what could be more important than preserving the living memory of these pieces by playing and listening to them? Will we be imbued with the emotions of the pieces, or with the opposites of those emotions?
          What is NOT in question is that we will delight in the playing of visiting pianist Mark Rossnagel, who holds a Bachelor's degree in organ performance from SUNY Binghamton, where he studied with the late Jonathan Biggers, and a Master's degree in piano performance from the University of Southern Maine, where he studied with Laura Kargul. Jenny Huang-Dale, cello, and Judith English, clarinet, are sure to join Ellen Schwindt, piano, to perform the aforementioned Beethoven Trio. We will share a poem Bach liked enough to pen into his wife's notebook and other musings on the nature of aspects and music.
           Music as Meditation is a monthly gathering of listeners and artists interested in the spiritual—though not necessarily religious—source of art and music. Music as Meditation in April has a folk music focus. The gatherings take place on the first Sunday of each month at 5 PM at Christ Episcopal Church in North Conway. Admission is free. Donations toward the upkeep of the Steinway piano are gratefully accepted. Call or e-mail Ellen Schwindt for more information: ellen.m.schwindt@gmail.com 603-447-2898.