Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Coffee: La Pavoni

Many who follow me on socials have learned about my love of coffee, specifically espresso. In 2008 I had the pleasure of traveling to Sardinia and Bologna, Italy for concerts. On this trip, I noticed that espresso tasted quite differently than in the US, and it did not cause the negative effects on my body that I was accustomed to. Since then I have delved into the exploration of espresso!

I recall visiting the home of Maestro Pepe Romero for a New Year’s Eve Party, and seeing his counter tops covered in espresso machines, at least 6! He told me most of them were gifts from his students who knew that he and family loved espresso. Soon after he was in Boston for concerts, and we stopped for an espresso on the way back to the airport. He told me espresso was very important to musicians and especially guitarists. He did not say why, and I did not question him. He’s Pepe Romero and he was preaching to the choir!

My newest addition to our espresso family is the Stradiveri by the Italian company La Pavoni.

https://amzn.to/2UJuU6k

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Espresso

Using a Practice Calendar

I made this video for the 2021 Guitar Foundation of America Conference as part of a group lecture on Practice Habits. It focuses on the integration of the use of a Practice Calendar into our daily practice. The video is 5min. What do you think? Do you have a way of keeping yourself organized?

Year of the New Lullaby!

Happy New Year Fans of the New Lullaby Project!

Thank you for redeeming a bit of 2020. I hadn’t planned on 2020 being the year of New Lullabies for me. I had planned a year of Cage, chamber music and touring, but a chance New Lullaby collaboration at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity with performance artists Laura Sofía Pérez & Jasmine Yeh in January planted a seed that would blossom into two new creations as the pandemic decimated the performing arts.
The prospect of recording close to 50 New Lullabies still to be recorded had been a major financial hurdle. Catherine and I had spent the prior 18-months re-organizing our basement with plans to rent short-term, but the Boston Housing Gods decided in June that we had too many rooms for a single family, so no rentals would be allowed in the basement. With Catherine’s blessing, some advice from engineer friends and mentors, I began building a home studio. As the saying goes, If I can’t make money on it, at least I can deduct it for business!
At this time, I had a conversation with the director of the American Composers Alliance, Gina Genova, regarding my longtime dream of publishing scores from the New Lullaby Project in an anthology; btw, a collection is different than an anthology. I had received grants from the ACA for the performance of multiple pieces by Thomas L. Read, and the ACA introduced me to the music of Tom Flaherty, so I knew they were a legit organization of awesomeness. They rest, as they say, is history.
I’m extremely happy with the album and anthology. I have plans for another album and anthology volume to be released in early 2021.
To all of the patient composers and longtime audience members who have expressed support of the project through attending concerts this year online, purchasing the albums and anthology, and writing me directly: THANK YOU!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
May we Dream Well!
Aaron
Lullabies Performed in 2020 (+/-)
Scott Wheeler – Nachtlied
Ken Ueno  – Ed è subito sera
Jacob Mashak – Lulubye
Ian Wiese – Seeketh Not Its Own
Michael J Veloso – Little Dancer
Patricia Julien – After Many Days Without Rain
Jim Dalton – A World of Your Own
Garrett Shatzer – Lullaby for D—
Laurie Spiegel – Watching Rain – world premiere
Stefanie Lubkowski – Drifting – world premiere
Anthony R. Green – Counting Backwards – world premiere
Kincaid Rabb – Water Lilies – world premiere
Francine Trester – Lullaby for Our Time – world premiere
Roger Éon – Berceuse
Stephanie Ann Boyd – Esperanza

New Lullaby Concert, 12/10/11, Francine Trester, Hayg Boyadjian, John McDonald, Martin Schreiner, Demetrius Spaneas, Patricia Julien and Jacob Mashak

John McDonald – Upward
Thomas L. Read – The moon through the window shines down
Thomas Schuttenhelm – Wiegenlied
Barnaby Oliver – The Pillow That You Dream On
Agustín Castilla-Ávila – Perseiden
Charles Turner – White Potatoes
Eric Schwartz – Song Softly Sung, In Trying Times
Tim Pence – The Sleeping Guitar
New Lullabies Received
Curtis K Hughes – Lullibule
Stepan Rak – Lullaby
Special Thanks to Your Heaven Audio, Steve Hunt, Groupmuse, Alex Fedorov, Jeffrey Means, and Simon Berry.
Listen to all of the New Lullaby Project Releases and order the Anthology: https://alcguitar.bandcamp.com/

CONCERT REVIEW

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

a virtual journal and essential blog of the classical music scene in greater Boston

ALC and Groupmuse Provide a Brief Respite

by Ian Wiese • APRIL 8, 2020

Aaron Larget-Caplan (file photo)

What else can be said about the current “New Normal?” Social distancing forced the cancellation of nearly all of our concerts, which means that musicians are not performing for audiences in the same room if they’re performing whatsoever. Music has entered uncharted territories. That has not stopped the ever bar-raising concert host Groupmuse, however, which has transferred its concerts over to Zoom for its digital audience. One took place on April 3rd over cyberspace:  guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan played for nearly 70 people across the world through a webcam and sophisticated microphones while the audience sat on couches or in their kitchens at home drinking wine and enjoying one little respite.

Larget-Caplan started the unusual evening a couple of his own transcriptions from J.S. Bach Well-Tempered Klavier. The ubiquitous C major prelude showed his fluidity and deep sense of forward momentum that rivaled many keyboardists. He let the music ebb and flow with a firm hand but a sensible gentle guidance. The second was the B-flat major prelude transposed down to A for the sake of the guitar. Rather than showing his inner musicality, this prelude showed the artist’s expressive virtuosity, making the rather unidiomatic prelude seem easy on the guitar. This reviewer wishes he could have LC’s confidence.

Taking a second to acknowledge the reality of our current world, LC dedicated Augustin Barrios’s Una Limosna por Amor De Dios (roughly translated to “A Donation for the Love of God”) to the victims of COVID-19 prior and coming. Centered on rasgueado playing with a line over it, it gave him a chance to explore the colors of the instrument with great ease. The melody effortlessly sang out over the accompanying rasgueado strumming. This number seemed to be an audience favorite from what this reviewer could see from the other webcameras; the audience members popped up infrequently throughout the stream, as the Groupmuse host muted everyone except LC. During the applause, the other viewers came on the main screen; this reviewer did note that the audience was visible on the all users bar at the top of the screen, so some of the reactions could be seen in real time. It felt like looking out into the audience to gauge reactions but where one could see all the faces at once. Suffice to say, this was a slightly unusual sensation, but not one to scoff at.

LC represented his commissioning series “The New Lullaby Project” with Stephanie Ann Boyd’s Esperanza. Boyd, who was in the digital audience, said that she wrote the piece as though she were writing a lullaby for her little sister (who was also in digital attendance) titled with what she called the most beautiful girls’ name while exploring magical and dreamy sounds from the guitar. Laced with harmonics and initially minimal chord flourishes, LC crooned the soft melody as though he himself were singing it. Gradually, the piece built up intensity until a very strong climax that lead back down into the quiet realm where it all started from with the only difference being a return to harmonics rather than merely restating the melody. It was a beautiful lullaby, though the climax might have awoken the sleeping baby girl.

This reflective atmosphere came abruptly crashing down with España Cañi by Pascual Marquina, arranged by LC for guitar. Originally an orchestral work heralding in the bullfighter to the ring, this transcription had all the hallmarks of a Spanish piece of music that need not be stated, for imagination is enough. LC imbued it with the proper amount of aggression and machismo needed to keep it interesting and the sound bitingly sharp. This piece also let the audience really see LC’s precision and accuracy with his right-hand technique, which occasionally moved so fast it blurred in the otherwise clear webcam feed.

Following in his own transcribing footsteps, LC treated the audience to one of his John Cage transcriptions for guitar, In a Landscape. This choice was a rather bold one, as the guitar both can and cannot have the same resonance as a piano or harp, as Cage originally wrote for. Through some creative manipulation of placing lines on different strings and exceptional left-hand technique, LC pulled it off quite well. The resonance needed to sell the landscape sounded most of the time; there were occasions the mechanics of the instrument did not allow this to happen, which was disappointing but understandable. Deceptively simple and harmonically dream-like, LC really pulled this one through and made what seemed to be a difficult choice for guitar extremely convincing.

This reviewer, who has been to several of LC’s concerts, was not surprised that the traditional ending of The Legend of Hagoromo by Keigo Fujii rounded out the program once again. As one of only a handful of guitarists to be able to play such a complex piece, it is understandable why he has adopted that tradition. Basing the work  on a 13-century Japanese legend of the same name, Fujii crafts a tour-de-force solo-concerto for guitar while maintaining a folk-like wonder to the sound, in no small part due to the resonance of the strange DADGAD string tuning and use of nearly every possible standard technique for guitar. LC burned through this one like thermite through steel, meeting Fujii’s challenge with unprecedented skill. Quick changes in playing style or technique shifted like greased levers with clear musical intent and integrity. Whatever the guitar can do, LC can do 50 times better than other guitarists. When the piece got very quiet, Zoom did seem to filter out some of the music, making an occasionally strange gap of watching him play while hearing nothing, but what can be done with technology in that case?

If this New Normal has led to this reviewer hearing such a fantastic guitarist from the comfort of my bedroom on a computer with (sub-par) speakers, for the time, I will take it. I would listen to LC live or on livestream any day.

As for Groupmuse and their new attempt to keep the music going, this first Boston-based concert was definitely an admirable effort. The platform, Zoom, was never built for concerts, so the fact that this one worked as well as it did is a testament to the software and its functionality. Perhaps they can fine tune this system for our uses, but to them, concerts are completely ancillary functions to the business meeting. Groupmuse kept a charge of $3 to attend the livestream, which is completely understandable. So long as the organization and the performer work together and utilize moderately professional equipment as a base line (LC used some studio-quality gear for this concert, and rightfully so), the fee is negligible. Perhaps to warm people up to this new idea they should offer one concert booking free to their base, but that would only be to drum up support if needed. I think it definitely worked, and so long as this New Normal persists, this style of concert-going experience serves to be a good band-aid to the situation.

Ian Wiese is a doctoral student composer at New England Conservatory studying under John Heiss.

Ways to De-Stress

It’s a stressful time. It is.
Dealing with the unknown and needing to react quickly to the latest cancelation or news is not easy. Here are 5 ways to relax by yours truly!

“Not some godawful
Classics-for-Baby”
Fanfare

1 – MUSIC

Of course!
I released ‘New Lullaby’ in 2010 knowing our culture doesn’t sleep well enough or listen to much music by living composers. The result is 14 New Lullabies from 13 American composers, from the warm and sightly dark to the lullaby you shouldn’t hear the end of because you’re asleep. It has continued with over 55 premieres!
Check out the album on BandCamp: alcguitar.bandcamp.com/ (best for Artists)
Physical CDs from: Amazon
Autographed CDs from my Store: alcguitar.com/store (great for Artists!)
Join the New Lullaby Project FB Group!!
Youtube Playlist of New Lullaby Videos

2 – Neu-Becalm’d

After a major house fire in 2007 and finding I couldn’t sleep more than 4 hours or quiet my mind, my wife discovered Neu-Becalm’d™. It is a nutritional supplement that gives the brain-targeted nutrients to aid in the balancing of neurotransmitters. Problems such as mental and emotional focus, or substance abuse may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Very helpful for performance anxiety and quieting the mind. This was life changing!
I do not recommend drugs of any kind (beta blockers, weed, etc), but this is only amino acids. I do believe in it enough to be a distributer.
• You can find it at my Website Store: alcguitar.com/store (we will match prices)

3 – Food

Jasmine Yeh at Banff

During my Banff Music Residency in January (remember January!?) we held a New Lullaby concert with performance art and visuals called ‘The Oscillating Dream Space’. Artist Jasmine Yeh (NY) served up “chill food” and Laura Sofia Perez did visuals. It was amazing!!

I can’t recommend enough finding the right food to compliment your body and assist your mind. It is not comfort food. Chill food is food that helps you relax by its chemical makeup, ie. melatonin (amino acids!).
• A few include: Fruits and vegetables (tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber)
• Grains (rice, barley, rolled oats)
• Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed)
In other words: Cook!

4 – Garden

‘Tis the season. Go work in your garden. There is not much that compares with digging in the dirt. Don’t forget to wear gloves if you’re a musician. Our Dwarf Iris’ came out and they bring smiles. We need smiles!
That’s it.
Go dig and start planting!

5 – Walk

Go.

via GIPHY

Financial Hits – Credit Cards

Sometimes the universe throws a curve ball that upends our well organized short and longterm plans. In the case of Covid 19, I have a total of 18 events (concerts, classes, radio) on the chopping block for a 3-week period and seven of them have already been canceled/postponed. This has serious immediate financial repercussions for me and my family of over $5K lost, and substantially more if it goes into April.
Since Artists rarely speak about finances amongst each other, I thought I would give a few words of advice regarding credit cards and how one can navigate a precarious situation. Remember: In the US we are judged on our teeth and credit rating.

via GIPHY

I should state I am a touring classical musician (solo and chamber) who teaches at a university (adjunct) and privately, have multiple recordings and arrangements available, lecture on Creating Commissioning Projects and Being an Artist Entrepreneur, AND lost a house and studio due to a major fire. This is not my first rodeo fugue.

CREDIT CARDS

1 – Call your credit card company(s) and ask if they are offering any kind of relief for those out of work due to Covid 19. If they are unsure then speak with someone who knows; they work for you. Depending on the company and card level, they may offer:
– No interest or late payments
– Wave late fees and interest at a later time
– Small business loans
– Horrible hold music (promise!)

via GIPHY

• American Express is actually a wonderful card (no spending limit) and is flexible in making things works during hardship, especially if you are a long time card member. I don’t like large corporations, but if you have to have one, I would go with AMEX. The call took 8min.
• Chase did not have Massachusetts listed as State of Emergency as of today even though our governor stated such yesterday!! I spent 30min on the phone with an advisor and they did agree to wave late fees and interest, but I would have to follow up after the fact. Also I should check in again to see if things have changed.
• I have not yet called BOA…

2 – Make your minimum payments when possible.
Unless they have marked your account specifically, it is always a good idea. Get the name of the customer service person at ALL times.

Balance Transfers
American Express Everyday Card is a no yearly fee card that offers free balance transfers from non-AMEX cards. Chase Slate card as well, and Bank of America also has one. As most credit cards charge a 3-4% fee automatically on all transfers I highly recommend finding a card(s) that works. You WILL still need to pay the balance amounts, but hopefully this shit-show will have passed, we’ll have a new set of leaders, and our lottery numbers will come in. Link for Best No-Fee Cards:

via GIPHY

SAVINGS ACCOUNT – OR CASH
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!

If you are able to get some relief from immediate payments and if you are able to move the money out of your checking account. Put it into a savings account and try not to touch it. If you are of a certain type it may be best to withdraw the money to have cash on-hand.
In either case, DON’T use it the money unless it is a major emergency.
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!
Remember: Nothing is free in the US unless you are famous or rich.

via GIPHY

Read the small print. If you have been or are about to be hit with a large jump in interest transfer the balance ASAP. It usually takes 2 weeks, so act even if you have to pay a 3-4% fee. Compounding interest and late fees can destroy a career, home and family. Eating Chocolate and laying in a fetal position may be nice, but the balances won’t go away.
Do not have guilt in any of this. It is just a game and learning how to juggle is one more skill freelance musicians should learn.
After my fire I went from 3 credit cards to 13 in just over 3-months. It cost money and I made mistakes, but I learned and survived. So can you!

via GIPHY

Other Debt Options

Home Equity Line – Citizens Bank offers a $50K equity line for $50 a year with pretty much a no questions application. Other banks too!
Musicians Foundation – Apply for $500-$3000 to assist with medical, utilities, and vendor bills. Will NOT cover credit card bills.
Patreon – Create art and ask supports to subscribe for a fee. (See my SITE: https://www.patreon.com/alcmusic!!)
Local assistanceThe Record Co. is offering small grants for those who lost gigs. The City of Boston is offering grants of up to $1000 for artists of all types who lost income.
Support Local Artists – Be a part of the solution! If you are able donate to a Patreon, buy an album (physical with autograph is best), promote another. (Check out my store: https://alcguitar.com/store.php)

photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

Becalm’d – Quieting the mind

I’m regularly asked how I can perform in front of so many people and remember so much music. Of course the simple answer is that I enjoy it and I practice a lot, but that is not to say I haven’t had my hurdles to deal with or had to work on many aspects of quieting the mind so I can perform with peace.

My wife Catherine is a healer and voracious reader about how the mind, body, and spirit can work in harmony. Neither of us are fans of beta-blockers and other calming tools, as we find they have too many other negative effects. After a major house fire where I could not sleep for more than 3-4 hours a night, Catherine discovered Neu-Becalm’d. Ever since I have slept better and performed at a substantially higher level. As it is just amino-acids there is nothing to overdose on nor side-effects. I HIGHLY recommend this to musicians and artists, as well as those who want more out of life.
*For those who are interested you can find it online or you can purchase it via my STORE and get a free sticker.

FROM THE Neu-Becalm’d Website
Neu-Becalm’d is a nutritional supplement that gives the brain-targeted nutrients to aid in the balancing of neurotransmitters. Problems such as mental and emotional focus, or substance abuse may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Scientists recently learned that in handling lack of focus and other stress related disorders the brain uses significant quantities of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). At some point, the level and/or number of stressors can cause the brain to run out of these chemicals. Typically, when this happens, a person first begins to have difficulty sleeping, experiencing depression, loss of temper, interest, sex drive, attention and feelings of anxiety.

It has been proven that with proper diet and selective supplementation, prescription medications with all of their side effects, need never become a part of your life.

Your brain is supplied with nutritional support for restoring and rebuilding healthy brain chemistry.

With Neu-Becalm’d™

  1. You can focus and think more clearly
  2. You will regain and retain a positive mood
  3. You will find internal well-being, stay calm
  4. You will sleep more soundly and wake refreshed
  5. You are able to cope with every day stress more successfully
  6. You can control your emotions
  7. You will feel hopeful and positive, more optimistic
  8. You will experience a higher level of self-worth
  9. You will be able to relax and “turn your mind off”
  10. You will reach and sustain an improved energy level

The reason why Neu-Becalm’d produces such incredible results in so many different ways is because it addresses the needs of the brain in a manner that no other product does.

Neu-Becalm’d™ IS PATENTED because of its ingredients and their formulation and how the brain reacts when the ingredients enter the brain fluid.

Neu-Becalm’d Ingredients & Their Importance (2 Capsules Per Serving)

  • 5HTP (Tryptophan): (10mg) Tryptophan is one of your essential amino acids, and can not be manufactured by your body. You must get this amino acid from either your food or a supplement. It combats stress, depression, insomnia, and aids in weight control. Research shows that it helps relieve migraine headaches and may reduce some of the harmful effects of nicotine. It aids your body in the production of serotonin.
  • Calcium (from Calcium Citrate): (21mg) Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and the fifth most abundant substance. About 99% is deposited in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is involved in the soft tissues, intracellular fluids and blood. The 1% of ionized Calcium that circulates in the fluids of the body is small but vital to your life. It is essential for healthy blood and eases insomnia and its delicate messenger ions help regulate the heart beat. Along with Calicum, magnesium is needed to properly maintain the cardiovascular system. It affects neurotransmitters (serotonin, acetycholine, norepinephrine) nerve transmissions, muscle growth and muscle contraction. Calcium is needed for emotional stability. Without it you may have a lack of rational emotion, feelings of irritability, sudden unexplained tears, or sleep problems.
  • Magnesium (from Magnesium Citrate): (8mg) Magnesium is an essential mineral that accounts for about 0.05% of your body weight. Most is found inside your cells where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. It helps to regulate the acid-akaline balance in the body. Magnesium helps promote the absorption and metabolism of other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. It also helps to utilize the B complex and vitamins C and E in your body. It aids during bone growth and is necessary for proper functioning of muscles, including those of the heart.
  • Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxal-5- Phosphate): (2mg) B Vitamins are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system and may be the single most important factor for maintenance of the nerves. Along with other ingredients, it helps your body to develop the neurotransmitters Gaba, Enkephalins, Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Without these neurotransmitters you may have free floating anxiety; fearful, insecure feelings; feelings that things are closing in around you; unexplained panic; Feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy; never feels “equal”; Anhedonia: no pleasure in life world looks colorless; inability to “love”; no remorse about personal behavior; Lack of ambition; Lack of drive; Lack of energy; and Depression.
  • L-Glutamine: (300mg) Glutamine is used primarily as a brain food (improves intelligence). It alleviates fatigue and is also helpful in the treatment of arthritis, connective tissue diseases and fibromyalgia.
  • Folic Acid (as Folate): (200mcg) Folic Acid is one of the B complex vitamins and is necessary to help in the development of the neurotransmitter, Enkephalins . . . without which you may have feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy and never feeling “equal”.
  • DL-Phenylalanine: (600mg) Enhances sexual interest, improves memory and alertness. Very useful in aleviating symptoms of Pre-menstral syndrome (PMS) and is a very strong anti-depressant. D-Phenylalanine helps your body to replace Enkephalins which aids in psychological pain relief. L-Phenylalanine contributes to the development of dopamine (Pleasure, Reward, Good Feelings, Towards Others, Maternal and Paternal Love) and Norepinephrine (Arousal, Energy Drive).


Happy New Year & Winter-Spring 2020

There are firsts in 2020 beginning right away!

Dear Music Lovers,
I am looking forward to an exciting year of music making. The next few months will hear 35+ different solo and chamber pieces including multiple premieres, new arrangements, and a few commissions. ¡Guitar + Electronics!
For the first time I will be Musician in Residence at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity in Canada beginning this Monday, where I will continue my exploration of John Cage on Guitar. February brings recording contemporary music and touring ¡Con Fuego!. In March & April I join violist Michael Hall for concerts in NYC & Boston, before doing a solo tour in California. Balancing the many programs and projects is a challenge, but I’m a professional. It’s what I do.
Read below about a new Cage edition from Edition Peters, as well as new videos, AND you can follow my Banff experience on social media. Click on the symbols on the top right to join in the fun.
May 2020 bring peace, great adventures, a bit of bubbly, and great music to all!
Musically,
Aaron

*Go to Aaron’s Calendar for concert details!

CAGE: PIANO MUSIC – New Edition!

I am very pleased to announce that Edition Peters has released the 2nd edition of my JOHN CAGE: PIANO MUSIC ARRANGED FOR GUITAR, and it includes TWO additional pages of notes!
The notes gives context to the works, a few thoughts on interpretation, and ideas how to approach them as a guitarist.
*Check out the wonderful review of the editions in the Fall 2019 edition of Soundboard

Go to Edition Peters to get your copy:
https://www.edition-peters.com/product/piano-music-arranged-for-guitar/ep68585
The holidays aren’t over yet!!

Soundboard Score+Album Reviews

CAGE: PIANO MUSIC ARRANGED FOR GUITAR (Edition Peters): “I would strongly advocate these compositions to be performed by young guitarists before they start working on any other contemporary composers.”
– Soundboard, Vol. 45, No. 3, p. 55

JOHN. CAGE. GUITAR. (Stone Records): “[Bacchanale] is a marvelous racket! The artist, who did all of the arrangements, is greatly to be commended for this project, for which he also provided the fascinating liner notes. As noted earlier, recorded sound is crystalline.” – Soundboard, vol. 45, No. 3, p. 57

*Author was notified of name spelling mistake. It’s disturbing…