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Phil Kates revisits China - May 5, 2010

Trip to China Earthquake Region - June 9, 2008

by Philip Kates

June 4 - 5, 2008, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

First, I must say, the beautiful spirit of the Sichuan people was so moving, even in the wake - indeed the midst - of their terrible disaster. I have never had the privilege to meet a more compassionate, warm and caring people. Also, without the sincere help and guidance of Wu Zhuo Ling (Julie), my interpreter here, most or all of my good intentions would likely have been fruitless. She dedicated herself completely to seeing that I was able to touch the lives of as many as I did. It started with a desire - as people all over the world have felt, and acted upon - to make some small difference in even a few lives here. Of course, in a way, the primary and overwhelming need is for food, clean water, secure shelter and a real reason to hope - to believe - that life will again be normal. But in another way, I learned - or rather had my conviction affirmed - that an equally vital human need is to know that others care.

Upon hearing of the devastating "Wenchuan" Earthquake, I began to think if there was anything I could do, personally, for those living through the disaster. My work with the Philadelphia Orchestra would bring me near to the "area" 3 - 4 weeks after the first awesome shock. I say first because there continued to be several significant aftershocks which also had shattering effects, both physically and psychologically. We (the Orchestra) would be arriving in China on June 1st with concerts in Beijing on the 2nd & 3rd; the 4th was a day off (and most of the 5th) so I knew my window for a visit, if there was to be one. If there was to be one...

I have brought my violin to play for children in many schools around the world during my 27 years of touring with the Philadelphia Orchestra, but of what possible use could a violin player be to children suffering from the end of their world? To seek to impose myself on these vulnerable people who were struggling in ways I could not begin to comprehend - what a selfish and egotistical thought! Our first tour concert was in Japan on May 23rd, just 11 days after the quake, and I began to solicit opinions from people in the tour group: Was this a stupid, naive idea? Was it dangerous, crazy or worst of all, callously self-centered? I began to realize a sound decision really couldn't be made until we actually arrived in China - conditions in the quake areas were changing daily and the last thing I wanted was to be a nuisance or inconvenience to those with so many real troubles or the legions of people bringing legitimate help.

When we arrived in Beijing on June 1st I started making inquiries. (I had already checked into flights while back in the U.S.) A reporter who had heard of my prospective plans sought me out. Jennifer Lin, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, had just returned from the quake region. She thought the time could be ripe for a good will type visit (especially with music): The major aftershocks had probably passed, the Chinese government had acted quickly to get temporary housing and support systems in place and people (many, at least) were starting to settle into a routine, basic as it was. This was all the encouragement I needed. I was introduced to a thoughtful and gentle young man, Ted, originally from Ohio, but now living in Beijing. He was hired to be interpreter for the Orchestra during our visit. Ted's best friend - it just so happened! - lived in Chengdu (where my flight would arrive) and he was sure, if available, she would be pleased to serve as interpreter for me. (It turned out she was far more than that, facilitating practically every detail of my time in Sichuan.) Soon thereafter, I was introduced (by Steve Millen, Orchestra V.P. & Manager of Operations, who also coordinated the Philadelphia Orchestra's own Earthquake Relief initiative - resulting in substantial corporate contributions for the building of earthquake-proof schools) to Ning Shao and Jim Curtis. Both are associated with Pennsylvania's cooperative effort with China for exchange of commerce and now, especially, building safe schools in China - a project for which Orchestra musicians themselves contributed $5000.

(Not so incidentally, Pennsylvania government officials were a huge help in facilitating the donation of gifts and medicines in conjunction with a 1999 Orchestra musicians' visit to an orphanage and school in Viet Nam! - but that's another story....)

I learned from these gentlemen that their organization had, just days earlier, built a temporary school in Mianzhu, a badly damaged area, and they could arrange a visit there if I liked! Contact was made with a volunteer, Li Li, at the school and it was set. When I arrived at the airport in Chengdu, I would need a car and driver as the village school was about 2 hours drive north of the city. I spoke with Julie who would set it up. However, the day before I was to leave, Julie phoned to say that a friend of hers had been several times to this area and wanted to return to help the relief effort so hiring a car (and driver of unknown credentials) would not be necessary. (This turned out to be a fortuitous development.) The day before the trip, Ted arranged for purchase and delivery of my airline tickets (to Chengdu and then, next day, to Guangzhou, the city of the Orchestra's June 6th concert). Then we set out shopping to get gifts (colored pencils, crayons, modeling clay and assorted sweets) for up to 200 children.

That night, at our final Beijing concert, Lang Lang, illustrious Philadelphia-trained, Chinese soloist for our China concerts - who each night had offered a painfully beautiful encore "dedicated to the victims of the Earthquake" - signed a photo for the children of this "Project Hope" school and also wrote a personal message for them.

June 4th

Upon arrival at Chengdu airport (a 2 1/2 hour flight from Beijing) just before noon, I am met by Julie and her friend, Mi. They seem genuinely to be looking forward to setting off, although with a certain sense of sober responsibility, which I feel as well. They think nothing of the 2-hour journey. Mi drives a substantial Jeep and her driving skills (I will learn) range between seriously competent and virtuosic. It was a brilliant stroke of luck she was willing and available, first, because any normal car would have been crippled by the terrain we would encounter and second, any mercenary driver would surely have balked at even attempting to put his vehicle through the tortuous "roads" which, unbeknownst to me, lay ahead. Also very fortunate - Mi had already made several relief trips on her own to this area and so had a government issued placard which allowed the vehicle on the roads we would need to travel.

At a certain point it seemed obvious we would be perhaps a half hour late. (The school visit was planned for 3 - 5 p.m.) Julie phoned Li Li. He said, even though we had been instructed to stop first at the City Hall, now doubling as Earthquake Relief Administration Office, we should come directly to the school. Mi therefore took a "short cut" which at the time seemed (to me) to be a big error in judgment: The "road" went for miles of hard-packed, hilly dirt, rocks and, worryingly, even a small, muddy river to traverse - more like an ATV course than a road. When we finally arrived at the school, we found what an important and good decision this detour had been: Just a few hours earlier, the city government had decided to prohibit entry to all foreigners to the Mianzhu area! (It seems that foreign reporters had become increasingly intrusive into the lives of victims and the stress was becoming too much on these villagers.) At first Li Li was reluctant to let me meet the children, but our sincere concern and patience helped him see our intentions to be rooted in friendship. Surprisingly, in anticipation of my arrival, the headmaster (principal) of the school had dismissed all the students early! He had said it was too hot (and it was!) for them to be inside... Maybe this was his way of honoring the new directive...

Anyway, Li Li got word out to the people in the village and we set out for a pastoral spot amid bamboo stands and rice paddies. I don't know how Mi managed to keep the massive Jeep from dipping off the narrow strip between the rice fields - I was holding my breath. We left the car in a shaded area and walked the final 500 meters or so to where the children were gathering. There were about 20 by a small oblong, terraced, stone swimming pool. Some were splashing and playing - as children should. Others were expectantly waiting for the music. We all found a cool(-ish) place among the bamboo stalks. Julie introduced me and the children seemed very proud - as if they must be quite important to get a visit from a musician from a big American orchestra that had just performed in Beijing the night before! Now the concert could begin.

The music consisted of short pieces which my father had taught me when I was about their age (6 - 12 years old): Bach, Weber, Beethoven, Gossec, Wieniawski, Kreisler and one of my dad's own compositions titled, "The Bird". (It fit very nicely in this open air "program".) More important than the music though, yet inextricably linked to it, was the human contact - the connection I could make with these beautiful, young people who were undoubtedly struggling to come to grips with what their lives had become - what there lives might not become.

After a warm reception for the musical fun, the children followed us back to the Jeep where they sweetly lined up and each graciously and delightedly received candies, cakes and books (which Julie & Mi brought). To Li Li I gave the before-mentioned school supplies and Lang Lang's photo and message. I also presented him with a set of Orchestra CDs and our acclaimed DVD, "Music From The Inside Out" for their future school's library. We were then led on a "tour" of some of the destruction. Not gaping cracks or monstrous upheavals of earth as I had imagined (and dreaded) seeing, but soberingly terrible visions nonetheless. We have all seen the horrible images in newspapers, on TVs and computer screens - there is no need for me to try to describe here with my inadequate words. ... a collapsed school, of course, garden walls, remnants of houses... but the one sight especially memorable because of the personal connection I now have made - a house which a man had only finished building a month earlier: rubble. His wife was asleep upstairs when the quake hit; somehow she managed to get clear before she would have been crushed. All in her immediate family survived. Of the 2900 people living in their village on May 11th, 1000 are no more.

On the way back to the car, we were shown where this family was living now - nine of them, including grandmother and cousins, in a makeshift shelter (so many of which clutter the rural landscape): a good tarpaulin covering, some quasi-protection from wind and rain on the sides, some flimsy bedding materials and not much else. There were smiles though: The family members clearly were concerned they would still be in this fragile "home" come winter, but just as clearly grateful they were all together, alive. We chose the paved route back to Chengdu.

After about ten minutes' driving away from the village on dirt roads, we would have a less battering ride to the city. It was now past 6:00, but Mi and Julie knew I would still like to play in one more place today, if possible. Right by the Relief Office (which we had bypassed on the way) was a "tent city" the likes of which I couldn't have envisioned. Its orderly set-up reminded me of a military barracks, but it definitely was not at all like that socially. There was a very friendly, community feel - and, it was much larger. I don't know how many large tents - a thousand, two thousand - most with less than a meter of space between them. There were also "specialty" tents set up for cooking, distribution of water (by pail), toilet facilities and even a tent for hair-cutting. There were many children playing together, spiritedly in the dirt - only the old people seemed like lost souls, out of a twilight zone, wandering as if they imagined this is how life, for them, would end.

Julie and Mi scouted around and found a tent set up to be a schoolhouse. They got permission for me to play and a teacher put word out that a musician - an American - had come to visit them. It was dinnertime and only a couple dozen were there when I began, but the "odd" sounds coaxed curious passersby. This impromptu stop turned into another exceedingly meaningful visit and when the music was over, the children clamored for autographs and photos. Julie and Mi lingered to talk with the teacher about ways they could help when they returned in the near future.

Now 8:00 and dark out, the day felt long enough. (For me, travel had begun in Beijing at 7 a.m. - I wouldn't be to my Chengdu hotel until 11 p.m.) I had told Julie of a hospital in the city I wanted to visit on the next day - she would arrange it - tomorrow would be here soon.

June 5th

Actually, she hadn't arranged a visit - Julie just "knew" that it would be OK! At a little past noon, we arrived at the Hua Xi Hospital and went right to a pediatric floor. (Children on this floor were all here with quake-related injuries - and again, I prefer not to describe.... some of these children were from the village I'd visited the day before.) Julie walked into one room and asked parents if they'd like some violin music. The response was puzzled, but enthusiastic. -

And so it went... for the next 2 hours we went from room to room, about 10 minutes in each. Wards had from 4 to 8 children. And the most wonderful thing - although something I've confidently come to expect - regardless of her physical or emotional condition (and some were glum or rightfully angry at the state of their lives) - each child had a smile on her face before I left the room. Especially moving for me, perhaps in a way only a parent can appreciate, were the tears in some mothers' and fathers' eyes as they glimpsed a now rare lightheartedness and glee in their children's faces. Any doubt I may have had as to the value of my making this trip evaporated at such moments.

 

For decades, the Philadelphia Orchestra has been known as an international ambassador - in fact helping to open up relations between China and the West with its historic 1973 visit here. And my father had always told me that, professionally, membership in this fabulous organization would open doors all over the world - I just never imagined that would mean such personally satisfying possibilities. When I was in Mianzhu, the father whose "home" I visited asked, "In Beijing, do they think about us or only about the Olympics?"... I didn't know how to respond - only to say that I knew when Lang Lang played that encore, everyone in the entire concert hall was thinking of him and his family - and nothing else. When I left Mianzhu, I was presented with a gift. It will always be one of my most treasured possessions, but only as a symbol of the love I felt that day and the small good I know I accomplished. It is a bright green t-shirt which, in Chinese, says simply, "We are together - Wenchuan Earthquake - Volunteer". 

Something To "Harp" About - November 7, 2007

Liebesfreud looks forward to its 5th annual Beethoven's Birthday observance.
This year's main course is the op. 74 "Harp" quartet with an appetizer of op. 18 #2.
["Dessert": As always, a wine & cheese reception with the musicians!]
While many of Liebesfreud's concerts - most notable the "Last Fridays" - are FREE!
this program's $10 admission charge benefits, 100%, "Wintershelter" a program of the Trinity Center for Urban Life.
Concert time: 5:00 p.m. Beethoven's Birthday! (Sunday, December 16th)

Summary of Free Concerts 2006 & 2007 - October 29, 2007

January 2006 ["Last Fridays" - Broad Street Ministry]

Guest artist Ricardo Morales, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Clarinet
All Mozart - 250th Birthday! -Program.
String Quartet in G major (dedicated to Haydn) K. 387,
Clarinet Quintet in A major K. 581, and "Ave Verum Corpus" K. 618
Location: Chambers-Wylie Church
323 S. Broad St. (across from the Kimmel Center)


" 'N Zehn", a University of the Arts vocal ensemble under the direction of Jeff Kern, has graciously agreed to join us in the "Ave Verum Corpus".
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February 2006 [LF - BSM]

Geoffrey Michaels and Philip Kates offer a one-hour recital.
Both Mozart violin/viola duos!

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March 2006 [LF - BSM]


Grieg: Fugue in F minor
Haydn: op.77 #2 in F major
Wolf: Italian Serenade

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April 2006 [LF - BSM]

Schubert Quartet in C minor, D 703
Beethoven Quartet in Fmajor, opus 135

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May 2006 [LF - Ethical Society]

Beethoven Quartet, op. 18 #3 in D major
Rachmaninoff Romance and Scherzo
Rimsky-Korsakov Allegro from "The Fridays"

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June 2006 [LF - Bryn Mawr College]

Strings International Music Camp Scholarship Fund Benefit:
Late Night - Late Beethoven!
Program to include the String Quartet, op. 135 and Dvorak's Bass Quintet with guest, Harold Robinson, Principal Bass, The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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September 2006 [LF - ES]

Jennifer Montone, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Horn, joins for
Mozart's Quintet for Horn and Strings, K. 407.
Program also includes Shostakovich String Quartet #6 in G major

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November 2006 [LF - ES]

A special "Thanksgiving" program of music by
Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Kates and Beethoven
(includes "Hymn of Thanksgiving..." from Beethoven Quartet, op. 132)

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December 2006 [Beethoven's Birthday - Trinity Center for Urban Life]

4th Annual Beethoven's Birthday Celebration:
String Quartet op. 18 #5 in A major
String Quartet op. 132 in A minor

* Benefit: 100% of donations go to "WINTERSHELTER",
Trinity Center program of 'CORP'
to accommodate and feed homeless men.

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January 2007 [LF - ES]

All-Schubert
Quartet Satz (in C minor)
The Glorious Cello Quintet with guest, Vivian Barton Dozor

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February 2007 [LF - ES]

Bach - selections from the "Art of the Fugue"
Mendelssohn - String Quartet op. 13 in A minor
Ysaye - Trio "Les Londres"

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March 2007 [LF - ES]

Beethoven Quartet op. 18 #5
Haydn Quartet op. 54 #2

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April 2007 [LF - Art Alliance]

Hear rarely played works of:
Ernest Bloch (Recollection; Night)
Josef Suk (Meditation) and
Eugene Ysaye (Trio "Le Londres")
(plus a little Mozart!)

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May 2007 [LF - ES]

Rachmaninoff - Romance and Scherzo
Brahms - Piano Quintet

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June 2007 [LF* - BMC]

Dvorak "Terzetto"
Schubert "Cello" Quintet
with guests Efe Baltacigil and Vivian Barton Dozor, cellos

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September 2007 [LF - AA]

Haydn String Quartet op. 76 no.1
Mozart Viola Quintet in D major, K. 593
guest: Alison Avery, viola

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October 2007 [LF - AA]

Edward Elgar 150th Anniversary Year
Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor, op. 82
String Quartet in E minor, op. 83
with guest, Michal Schmidt, piano

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November 2007 [LF - ES]

Feature work: Mozart "Divertimento" for String Trio in E Flat major, K. 563

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December 2007 [BB5 - TCUL]

5th Annual Beethoven's Birthday Concert:
String Quartet op. 18 #2 in G major and
String Quartet op. 74 in E Flat Major (The "Harp")
* Benefit: 100% of donations go to "WINTERSHELTER",
Trinity Center program of 'CORP'
to accommodate and feed homeless men.

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"Last Fridays" 3rd Season of Free Concerts Begins - October 1, 2007

The auspicious 250th Anniversary of Mozart's birth occasioned the first in a series of free chamber music concerts presented by Liebesfreud. This series - dubbed "Last Fridays" - has so far logged 15 performances: 31 works of 15 different composers with 9 invited guest artists in 4 different Philadelphia area venues.
Public most welcome.
Admission always free!
Information on Calendar page of Liebesfreud website: www.liebesfreud.org

"Last Fridays" - 1st Anniversary - January 27, 2007

January 27th - Mozart's Birthday...
One year ago today Liebesfreud celebrated Mozart's 250th Birthday by inaugurating its "Last Fridays" Concert Series.
So far, there have been nine concerts in that series, with three more scheduled - all FREE to the public.
Also of note... Dana Shukovsky, a senior at Cheltenham High School and staff writer for its newspaper, The Cheltonian, took top honors in our first Trivia Quiz. Dana was the only one with a perfect score! The prize, an $18 Borders gift card, is on its way to her. Congratulations, Dana!
Thanks to all who participated in January's Quiz. The next installment will appear early in February on the 'Music' page of this website.
February's theme - Love and Music...

A Happy and Healthy New Year to All - December 18, 2006

We wish all our fans a happy and healthy new year, filled with "Love's Joy".
Liebesfreud has had a wonderful, musical 2006, beginning with our Mozart's 250th Birthday "Gift to the City" Concert, ending* with our annual Beethoven's Birthday Celebration / Benefit Concert for the Trinity Center's homeless shelter and with many memorable events and fabulous guests in between.
* (not really the end: we play Christmas Day at the Brotherhood Mission.)
We look forward to seeing you all again on January 26th (5:30pm - Ethical Society) for Schubert's Cello Quintet - First FREE "Last Fridays" concert of 2007.

4th Annual Beethoven's Birthday Bash - November 18, 2006

Liebesfreud presents its annual tribute to Beethoven. $10 suggested donation to WINTERSHELTER* gets you two string quartets, one early, one late!
6:30 December 15th @ 22nd & Spruce Streets.

*please see Calendar page for details

"Last Fridays": Last of 2006 - First of 2007 - October 1, 2006

Liebesfreud wraps up first year of "Last Fridays" concerts. The series, which began on Mozart's 250th Birthday, January 27th, 2006, concludes for 2006 with chamber music of Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Beethoven on November 24th. The 2007 season opens with one of the most beloved of all chamber music miracles - Schubert's Cello Quintet.
Both programs at Philadelphia Ethical Society, and both Free!
In between, on December's middle Friday, the Annual Beethoven's Birthday Celebration! Details for all three on the Calendar Page.

Come Welcome Jennifer Montone! - September 1, 2006

Jennifer Montone, The Philadelphia Orchestra's newly appointed Principal Horn, joins us for Mozart's Quintet for Horn and Strings, K. 407. The one-hour program begins at 5:30 pm, Friday, September 29th at The Ethical Society of Philadelphia on Rittenhouse Square ("Last Fridays" Series), opening with the Shostakovich String Quartet #6 in G major, celebrating that iconic master's "100th Birthday".

Orchestra Postlude #2! - August 18, 2006

Liebesfreud has again been invited to perform following a Philadelphia Orchestra concert in Verizon Hall. This time, in observance of the Shostakovich Centenary.
October 13th, 10 PM!
Please see calendar dates for details.

1st Annual Chamber Concert and Pajama Party! - June 1, 2006

Believe it or not, since June's "Last Fridays" concert is transplanted to the Strings International Music Festival (about 200 teenage music students from around the U.S. and the world will attend) with a 10:00 p.m. start time, everyone is encouraged to wear pajamas! Cool door prizes for all who do.
(program details on 'Calendar' page)

Liebesfreud To Perform in Orchestra Postlude - May 1, 2006

Liebesfreud has been invited by Christoph Eschenbach, the Philadelphia Orchestra's Maestro, to perform at a 'Postlude' event in Verizon Hall following the Orchestra's May 17th performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony!
While the Orchestra's concert (at 8:00) is sold out, limited seating (Free Admission!) is available for our 10:00 pm performance of Beethoven's F major Quartet, opus 135. Please email - by May 15th - pk@liebesfreud.org with your requests for seating at this performance (approx. 30 minutes).

Another Beethoven Quartet - April 30, 2006

Liebesfreud presents the first of Beethoven's quartet masterpieces. (Although the F major op. 18 #1 and G major op. 18 #2 were published first, the third of the "Opus 18's" was first completed.)
Op. 18 #3 in D major, a Haydn-like beginning for a composer who would revolutionize the genre, is complemented, as last month, by two works from the "Selected Shorts" release. This time the appetizers are Rimsky-Korsakov's single movement work written for a gathering of composer-friends in St. Petersburg, and a very beautiful Romance and Scherzo by the teenage Rachmaninoff.
5:30 pm / Admission: Free.
(please check back for location)

To The Memory Of Craig Williams - April 29, 2006

Liebesfreud was honored to open yesterday's Memorial Ceremony for Craig Williams, who had been a kind, passionate and knowledgeable guide for tens of thousands of music lovers in his position as usher at Philadelphia's venerable Academy of Music. Craig's devoted tenure spanned a remarkable 50 years and we are all the better for having known him.

Beethoven's First and Last Quartets - April 1, 2006

Liebesfreud presents these two quartets, written at opposite ends of the master's compositional life. The last, op. 135, will be offered this month - along with two works from the "Selected Shorts" album, Schubert's late C minor Quartet (in one movement) and Mendelssohn's late - and unfinished - op. 81 Quartet.
This free concert is presented in the Chambers-Wylie Church.
(see calendar page for details)
The earliest of Beethoven's finished quartets - op. 18 #3 in D major - will be offered next month. The balance of the program to be announced at the beginning of May.

Happy Birthday Haydn! - March 1, 2006

Liebesfreud's "Last Friday's" series continues with a
celebration of Haydn's birthday - March 31st.
His String Quartet, op. 77 #2 in F major is the program's centerpiece,
flanked by the dynamic, yet little-known! Fugue in F minor of Edvard Grieg
and Hugo Wolf's popular and charming Italian Serenade.
5:30 p.m. at the Chambers-Wylie Cathedral.
Admission: Free
(see also 'Calendar' page)

The Celebration Continues - February 17, 2006

Continuing the observance of Mozart's 250th anniversary year,
Geoffrey Michaels and Philip Kates offer the two Mozart duos for violin and viola.
This concert is the second in Liebesfreud's series, "Last Fridays",
(please scroll down to view 'January 1st' entry)
early evening 1-hour programs on the last Friday of each month.
6 p.m. Friday, February 24th in downtown Philadelphia.
(Please see Calendar page for details).
Admission is free.

Beethoven Open Rehearsals Resume - February 14, 2006

Liebesfreud continues its popular open rehearsal offerings...
Monday, March 20th - morning
Friday, April 7th - evening
$15; $10 students & seniors
(contact pk@liebesfreud.org)

This Just In! - February 2, 2006

Actually 'These' just in... 1050 of them! Liebesfreud's new CD, "Selected Shorts".
Available now in "Applause", the gift shop of Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, and online (click the 'Buy' tab at left). More sales locations to follow...

Happy Birthday, Mozart! - January 27, 2006

Today's the day. The music world celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! Liebesfreud joins the festivities with two free events. This morning at 9:30 - a live broadcast on WRTI radio (90.1 FM) and this evening at 5:30 with a free one-hour concert in downtown Philadelphia. (please see CALENDAR page for details)

Mozart's 250th - Sneak Pre"view" - January 24, 2006

Liebesfreud ushers in Mozart's 250th (for those of you rising fashionably late!) at about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Radio station WRTI (90.1 FM) hosts the quartet, joined by the peerless Principal Clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ricardo Morales, in the exuberant Finale of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet. Catch the whole program at 5:30 Friday evening. (See Calendar page) Admission is free.

University of the Arts to Join Mozart Celebration - January 18, 2006

Liebesfreud's observance of Mozart's 250th birthday just got the perfect ending! (Click on Calendar tab at left.) " 'N Zehn", a vocal ensemble in residence at the University of the Arts, under the direction of Philadelphia's own Jeff Kern, will join Liebesfreud in the exquisite motet, "Ave Verum Corpus". Written in the last few months of Mozart's much-to-brief life, this is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and perfect pieces in all of music. We sincerely hope you can be with us to hear it on the 27th, but if you can't, make sure to put it on your list of music to hear before departing this good earth.

Enter contest to win Liebesfreud's new CD - January 13, 2006

We're expecting delivery of our first recording, "Selected Shorts", February 2nd. The fine print specified "subject to 5% overrun or underrun".
This means we'll receive 950, 1050 or anything in between.
So... go to "Guestbook" ~ enter: name, e-mail, and in the comment box, the number from 950-1050 you guess will arrive in our first shipment.
(Comments, of course, also welcome!)
Click on "Submit..."
~ 1st Prize ~ Entrant guessing closest to number we receive wins:
~~ a CD and admission for 4 to a Liebesfreud Open Rehearsal
~ Exact match bonus, in honor of Mozart's 250th Birthday (see "Calendar"), the
Everyman's Library - EMI Classics "Music Companions" Mozart book and 3-CD set!
~ 2nd Prize ~ Runner-up wins:
~~ a CD and 2 Open Rehearsal tickets.
Other rules:
~ 1) Anyone may enter, but only once, please
~ 2) Maximum of 101 entrants ~ one per number ~ so browse previous entries
~ 3) If Liebesfreud "family" member wins, other best 2 guesses still win!
~ 4) Come to our concert on January 27th - not required (LOL) but we do hope to see you there ~ see "Calendar" page
~~ Winners posted on February 7, 2006 ~ Good Luck to all! ~~

Liebesfreud's First CD Available "Short"ly - January 8, 2006

~ Liebesfreud's first recording, titled "Selected Shorts", is scheduled for release at the end of this month.

Selected Shorts - Neglected Gems for String Quartet

Instrumental chamber music probably took shape as an independent, self-sufficient genre late in the 17th century and composers—a hard-headed bunch, as we all know—seem to have adopted, almost immediately, a very practical policy: if you are going to require two or more people to forego the delights of the tavern and Monday Night Football for the more dubious satisfactions which music-making might provide, then you had better give them something substantial to play.
This usually meant a work of several somewhat contrasted movements—four, most often—and the practice remained remarkably constant, from the Baroque “Church Sonata”, through the evolution/revolution of the sonata style (and the concomitant emergence of the String Quartet as the genre’s fundamental medium), and beyond even the aesthetic upheavals of Romanticism and Modernism. Isolated pieces for string quartet are therefore a bit anomalous and, it would seem, awkward to accommodate in concert programs, so that a certain amount of beautiful and distinguished music tends to get lost in the shuffle—hence, this recording.
Think of it as a shelter for homeless quartet movements.

These works are unattached for reasons that are sometimes obvious—Grieg’s was a student exercise, Mendelssohn died—and sometimes unfathomable (as with Schubert’s piece), but each one either represents its composer’s full powers or offers a glimpse of something unfamiliar in his creative persona—sometimes both.
We should add that this collection is far from exhaustive; stay tuned for Selected Shorts—the sequel!

The works included on the recording can be found by clicking on the "Music" tab on this homepage. Program notes were written with humor and eloquence by Liebesfreud violinist, Geoffrey Michaels.
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