I’ve been on a blogging hiatus the last few months. One reason is that I’ve been devoting a lot of time to developing two new projects:
Wolak / Donnelly Duo
Kornel Wolak is a monster clarinetist. His specialty is classical music, though he has many traits rarely seen in classical musicians. For one, Kornel always performs from memory. He and I agree that music stands, sheet music, page turning and page-turners are communicative barriers. They obstruct our personal relationship with the music, our relationship with each other, and our connection to the audience.
Second, Kornel is the most spontaneous classical musician I know. One thing I’ve learned from Kornel is how much room there is for spontaneity in classical music. This is rarely achieved because certain conditions need to be met in order for it to be realized: Spontaneity requires artists with extremely high levels of discipline, artists who are willing to rehearse rigorously/obsessively, and artists who are willing to take risks.
Kornel Wolak is such an artist. I like to say he’s the jazziest classical musician I know!
Together, we’re playing music by Mozart, Brahms, Gershwin and much more. We also mix our programs with solo pieces. Keep an eye out; this guy’s good.
The best ensembles play without music; it’s a goal all ensembles should strive for. But, there’s a counter argument here: Jazz is just as much about ensembles as it is about the individual. In some cases, you could say playing in ensembles is only a means to expressing oneself. In which case, I have no right to criticize band mates for reading music. They can do whatever they want! Still, relationships within an ensemble and also with an audience are best achieved without reading music. And this is what Myriad is doing.
Another thing I’ve noticed: even though we’re dedicated to rehearsing and jamming regularly, we’d much rather “rehearse” and develop our tunes on the bandstand. Think about it: If our goal is to cultivate a “group sound,” or to enhance relationships within the trio, can’t this be done by jamming in a basement? Perhaps. But you’ll learn more about yourself and the ensemble if you make mistakes in public. There’s an element of risk in live performance; there’s more at stake. Cultivating a group sound may be possible in your basement, but performing live will do that faster and more profoundly.
Myriad has plans to record an album, tour Canada and continue playing throughout the GTA. Stay tuned!