• Articles

    Mind the Gap!

    If you’ve ever been on the Tube (London Underground) you’ll be familiar with the phrase “Mind the Gap!” Not only is it announced as train doors open, but it’s also written on the floor in numerous stations. To make it easy and efficient for trains to traverse the underground tube-like tunnels throughout London, some tracks are curved even in the stations. Therefore, the platforms are also curved. But train carriages are straight. Naturally, the center of each train carriage is the closest it gets to the platform but the ends of each carriage can be far away. For the sake of providing an efficient service, there is a gap. By this time…

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    Hot Topics for Orchestras

    (Percussionists: Get “Six by Six” for only $6 or £6 just this weekend, during the McCormick Marimba Festival!) The orchestra world (particularly in the USA) is currently rife with intrigue, politics, passionate zealots and somewhere in the midst… great music. Over the past few weeks there have been some interesting observations touching on the borders of three particular topics, and not being one for averting the unpopular or difficult, I shall name them right here, right now: Keep the penguins? Nostalgia. What makes music beautiful? There we have it. I’m serious. OK, so the titles themselves may not ring any bells with you, but let me explain: Penguins. As in,…

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    Les Miserables the movie

    I’m a fan of “Les Mis” the show. Overall assessment of the movie is good – I liked it and I liked that so many of the audience were directly affected (meaning, audibly sobbing or laughing). Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) – bravo! Anne Hathaway (Fantine) – well done. Russell Crowe (Javert) – completely ruined the film. (Sorry Russell!) Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) – she hit the high notes! Samantha Barks (Eponine) – terrific. Really. Isabelle Allen (Young Cosette) – really good singing and acting. A pleasant surprise. Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche) – brilliant. Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thénardier) – acting brilliance shone through the terrible interpretation. Borat (Thénardier) – should stick to what he…

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    Ask A Conductor?

    Two years ago two of my dear Tweeps @mcmvanbree and @laceyh started an awesome day of musical questioning. Including myself, Lorin Maazel, Sasha Makila, Vladimir Ashkenazy (through the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Twitter account) and a whole host of others, the general public got to ask us Conductors from all over the world… whatever they wanted! It was challenging and exciting at the same time, yet experts such as Mike Seal and Kenneth Woods provided much insightful entertainment and I look forward to their participation again this year, too. This year’s event will be on Wednesday, December 12 YOUR LOCAL TIME. That means, the ‘day’ could last up to 48 counted…

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    Exclusive “Schmooze with Stephen”

    Let’s take a break from seeing how a composition is created for a moment, because here’s something really exciting for you. Over the next couple of months I have three pretty important events (amongst many others) taking place around the USA. All three are featuring new pieces of mine, including the Sonata for Chamber Orchestra we’ve been exploring in this blog, a brand new marimba concerto (in which I’ll attempt to play the solo part – should’ve been a bit kinder, methinks!), my string quartet, my wind quintet, and a cute little ditty called Green Painting based on one of three pictures I bought from a legless (literally) street vendor in Lilongwe, the…