Friday, October 30, 2015

In Memoriam Gerald Ranck (1941-2015)

Gerald Ranck was the Music Director of the New York Society for Ethical Culture for almost 30 years.  He passed away in April, and was a kind mentor and dear friend.

This post celebrates a few of the many wonderful things about his life.

Foremost, of course, he was a harpsichordist and pianist.  He studied piano with Joseph Echaniz at the Eastman School of Music, and harpsichord with Sylvia Marlowe at the Mannes College of Music.

Gerry was a Scarlatti expert, and performed many concerts of his music.  He was also well-known for his Bach; here's the New York Times announcement of his performance of the Goldberg Variations at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Here are some YouTube videos of his playing:
Henry Purcell: Four Harpsichord Pieces: Z 655, ZT 682, Z 656, ZT 688

Farewell performance at the Society for Ethical Culture

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord (with Laurel Zucker, flute, and Samuel Magill, cello)
Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030

Sonata in E-Flat Major BWV 1031,
Sonata in C Major BWV 1033
Sonata in E Minor BWV 1034

J.S. Bach: Sonata in B Minor for Flute and Harpsichord, BWV 1030 (with Daniel Waitzman, flute)

G. F. Handel: Adagio, Op. 2, No. 3 in F (with Evan Johnson, violin, and Steven Machamer, vibraphone)

Georg Philipp Telemann: Die Kleine Kammermusik, Partita No. 2 in G Major (with Humbert Lucarelli, oboe, and Alan Brown, bassoon)

Daniel Waitzman: Sonata for Viola and Pianoforte or Harpsichord from 2008 (with Louise Schulman, viola)

At the Society for Ethical Culture, Gerry was known as much for his talks as for his playing; here are three examples:
"Tribute to our Progressive Conservationist President"
(about Theodore Roosevelt)
"Gun Violence in the Wake of Newtown"
"Clarence Darrow: Ethics, the Law, and Monkeys"

Farewell, dear friend. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking back, looking ahead

Happy New Year!

2014 was a busy year.  A set of short pieces for euphonium and piano, a piece for five saxophones ("Que un inmortal amor todo lo puede"), and some short pieces for high school string and wind ensembles constituted the main fruits of the compositional activity; a piece for saxophone quartet and saxophone choir is still in progress.

2014 was the year I met Juan Navidad.  We've already collaborated on two events; another is planned for January 21, 2015 at Centro EspaƱol.  For these events, I've written four piano pieces, re-purposed two of them for violin and recording, and written a third for violin and recording.  El Reloj de la Impaciencia ("The Clock of Impatience") is one of the pieces that exists both for piano and violin; here is a recording of the keyboard version.

2014 was the year of the 300th anniversary of CPE Bach's birth.  I provided links to online resources about him, in the hopes of stimulating interest.  I learned and performed a number of his works this year.  Here's a recording of one of them on SoundCloud.

2014 was the year of Alones Together, a concert devoted entirely to solo works for saxophone, cello, and piano.  Here's a YouTube link to Javier Oviedo's performance of a sonata for unaccompanied tenor saxophone.

2014 was a year of a considerable amount of home recording.  Here's where you can hear some of it.

2014 was the year of WikiConference USA.  I'm still digesting things I learned there.  One question I'm currently struggling with is how the various wiki-projects can benefit music education.  There is a lot of potential, but right now only a small fraction is being utilized.  Another struggle is the exponential distribution of languages along the content curve.  A few languages have lots of content, but many more have relatively little.  There's not much hope of evening things out, though there is work being done on the problem.

So what's ahead for 2015?

I already mentioned the event on January 21, which will include readings, music, and artwork.  There should be at least one new piece for that; stay tuned.  I'm enthusiastic about the combination of music and poetry, and looking forward to many more events that combine the two.

A concert is planned for Goshen, Indiana, probably sometime in June.  This will take place at Evergreen Place, on the Greencroft campus, and will include chamber music as well as some of the new piano pieces.

Again, Happy New Year to all!