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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

bon voyage

Jet-lagged. Lost my bag. Was unable to penetrate the immense language barrier and cultural gulf while communicating with locals.

And I just arrived in Newark, New Jersey.

Tomorrow, the Chuck Fryberger team and I begin the first leg of the journey, from New York's JFK International Airport to Nedumbassery Airport in Cochin, Kerala. Father Paul Poovathingal, a Christian priest and long-time friend of our Dr. David (see prelude post, from 10/10/09), has engaged me to perform a solo violin recital at the Chetana Sangeet Natya Academy in nearby Thrissur.

They say music is the universal language.

We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preparing, prepping, pre-production.

The time is right around the corner to officially pull the trigger and buy our plane tickets to India. We've been in pre-production mode now for months. Months of tossing around ideas, discussing the possibilities, and trying to determine the best way to move a film crew around India while still reserving enough time and energy to film our documentary.

The story has evolved, but it hasn't changed much. I'm personally trying to focus on the over-arching plot of Greg trying to pick up a musical style that's unfamiliar to him, because I think that's what most viewers will be able to relate most easily... the simple idea of challenge.

One small change we've made to the story is the introduction of a prop, which will help me communicate (and the audience understand) the providence of the sounds that will appear in the final scenes of the film. Greg will be using an old-school Nagra tape recorder to gather sounds as he moves through the wilds and back-waters of Kerala. I've always admired these machines, and I cant wait to get ours and put it to use... plus... how many props serve as a functional backup for the audio system on set?

The Nagra Sound Recorder

I cant wait to dig in to the various sub-textual elements of the story... concepts like fate, predestination, social ranking, nature, and wildlife.

Our schedule is about to be finalized, at least on the day-to-day basis. We have many details to fill in during the last few months of preproduction... we need to hire a local 'fixer' to help us move around efficiently. We need to hire a local sound recordist, and possibly a local lighting specialist.

The great thing is that the story is becoming quite concrete in my own mind, and that should help the production move along smoothly. Indecision is the sand in the gears of a production. Planning and high morale is the lubrication... and cash doesn't hurt either.

If you or anyone you know want to dip their pinky into the film business, we're currently seeking additional funding to support the production. Things are looking good on the business side... our TV distribution firm Ampersand has already been fielding inquiries about the documentary.

Anticipation is high to say the least.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Enter the WAV

It's pretty clear the main reason I was engaged to give a workshop at the International School in Como, Italy, this June was due to a recent acquisition: the NS Design WAV electric violin. The Italians weren't particularly impressed by my experiences with the Strad in Philadelphia - they'd just heard I could play a bunch of different styles. I walked in with the electric, and it pretty much sealed the deal.

Can't help but think the WAV might turn out to be my secret weapon through journeys to come...

(500) Days of Philadelphia

DAY (500): 10 December 2009. 7:59 pm.

The Philadelphia Orchestra's on the TV. You never get to see live broadcasts of the legendary ensemble where I live in Louisville, Colorado. I watch the audience find their velvet seats along the stage, already full of musicians, in Philadelphia's magnificent Verizon Hall.

There's a knock at my dressing room door and I turn away from the TV monitor. I give my bow one last swipe of rosin. I tuck a 300 year-old Stradivarius under my arm. I breathe.

For the past year and a half, I've known this day would come.

I'll never be able to go back to what I was. Now I go foward with a different confidence, one I hope will take me from this place I never thought I'd reach, to distant dreams I have yet to imagine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A new work in a great space, SOTU rolls on!

Recently, the SOTU team has been looking at a lot of spaces, and considering the impact of the space on the work presented within.

Our first day of production on the film was in and around Mackey Auditorium in Boulder, CO. Truly a great way to kick off the movie, especially the concert itself, with about 2000 audience members packing the space to capacity for a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Mackey was a great space for the work, being one of the biggest and best concert venues in Colorado. It's hard to think of a space that would be too big for such a monumental work of music, but the union of space, sound, and audience was just right on that evening.

St. John's Cathedral in Denver

Recently, we had the chance to attend the world premiere of Greg Walker's work titled Uneasy Sits The King, which is a reference to a passage in the great Choral work Carmina Burana, in which a king sits high... too high... and fears ruin. The work was presented at St. John's Cathederal in Denver in association with the Niwot Timberline Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Choral Sociey. Greg's work was presented along with a powerful recital of Carmina Burana, which has been used as the epic climax music in so many films that it has become a cliche' of Hollywood movies. St John's is an awesome space although not well suited to music requiring precise timing or clarity of instruments. Due to the length of the hall, the reverberation (which is well suited to choral performances) made some of the instruments less clear than they usually sound in a more conventional concert hall.

Shortly after that performance, we had the chance to meet up with the folks responsible for helping us present Song of The Untouchable at the King Center on the CU Denver campus. We discussed how to best present the film, and how to get everything on the stage in a fashion that suits the concept of the piece, and still allows enough room for a full 65-piece orchestra. The concert, which is also the finale of the film, is almost a year away but still there are some technical challenges we need to start working on right away. Coordinating a concert with video projection and a simultaneous film shoot is a daunting challenge.

Currently, we're organizing the pre-production for our trip to India. It's a complicated process but we're slowly getting a grip on the trip!



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Off and rolling

Yesterday was the first day of production on Song of the Untouchable. What a great feeling to break the champagne bottle over the bow of a concept we've been discussing for months. The production team spent a long day at Macky Auditorium documenting the concert from the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a terrific performance and we came away from the day with enough great footage to form the introduction of the film. I've taken a preliminary look at the footage and I think we're definitely on track. Here are a few frames of video from the shoot:

Performing the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

Violinist Gregory Walker

Gregory Walker rehearsing in the basement workshop

Getting dressed for the performance