Journey of 100

Chaconne #18 – PS K179 Brooklyn, NY

Well folks, I am really happy because tomorrow morning I am playing the Chaconne for approximately 150 5th grade Violin students at PS K 179 in Brooklyn.  I am performing courtesy of Principal Bernadette Amato, Director Toby Kasavan of Neighborhood Music and Arts  (who provides the music program for the school) and the children’s violin teacher Megan Berson.   Stand by for the results in the next few days!  

——————–

Well this turned out just great – we had terrific support from Principal Amato the classroom teachers Ms. Campili, Ms. Moshitz, Ms. Orlando, Ms. Pacheco-Vitulli, Ms. Durka, Mrs Dibella and Ms. Crass, as well as the children’s violin teach Ms. Berson.

The performance was pretty good, I had enough time to warm up. I used a new approach to rhythmic organization – really letting the time drive hard and build all the way through the first section into the major section, and then treat that section in a similar manner, only letting the third section meander and wander as it would.

It was very gratifying to feel the kids being with me the whole way through the Chaconne – a good 15 minutes of solid music.  As I anticipated, there was no problem whatsoever with their attention span.

Afterwards we were able to capture on video the most informative reactions of a number of individual students (I will edit them and post them here in few weeks).

 

9 Comments

  1. Posted November 25, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    You go Shem – Little moments such as this provide the components of character building and the inspiration that can save lives.

  2. Posted November 25, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Wishing you every blessing in this season. You are an amazing soul.

  3. daler
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    good song i like it

  4. daler naimanov
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    go shem go

  5. Noila Sattarova
    Posted November 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank You For coming to our school. I am in class 501. I liked this song because it felt to me like the people in the song were each telling what happened to them and how they felt when it happened to them. what I also liked was the parts where it was quiet and sometimes it wasn’t quiet. Thanks again for coming to our School!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Posted November 26, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Noila and Daler: thank you for writing me and sharing your experience with everyone. I thought you and your fellow students were a wonderful audience! Keep practicing, ok?

  7. imane
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    dear shem,
    I loved ur performance that u did in NOVEMBER 25,2013 I liked it so much it was a lot touching and it mad me cry and a few parts were romantic.

  8. Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    lucky kids, lucky you!

  9. Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Shem – can’t tell you how impt what you’re doing is. As a NJ high schooler, I was bused into the old Met opera rehearsals on Wed afternoons, and I have loved opera ever since.Read more…


Chaconne #17 – October 27, 2013 Private performance

5 P.M.   NY, NY

We were a lovely gathering of people, including one musician, in a beautiful apartment that was perfectly suited for live music; after the music we all sat together for quite some time sharing reactions and questions.  I noticed that there was a large degree of ease and comfort among the group of listeners for  silence,  which to me is a testament to the power of the music.

Our location was new to me, and I had decided that would arrive and just start playing, without excusing myself to another room to warm up…in lieu of the warm up I repeated the first part of the opening movement  (Allemande).  It sort of worked; however, in the future I will explore a warm up that is in effect an open improvisation that leads into the work itself.

I felt slow overall, but calm and attentive, so instead of pushing and driving the music arbitrarily, I simply relaxed and tried to open myself to the flow of the work, and let it come to me and take me where it wanted to go.  I also noticed that while in my preparation of the previous three of four days I did *not* run the whole work for continuity (probably would have been a good idea), the parts I did practice were really fine.  

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    and no one was running a video camera?

    • sgwp_a1
      Posted October 31, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Michael that is a VERY interesting question: one of the approaches I am wanting to test out is to capture listeners’ reactions on video immediately after the music finishes and then edit them together and post…to explore that as an alternative mechanism to writing after-the-fact…thanks for your comment!

  2. Marsha
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear Shem,

    I just read your comment and it seems that you feel you were not at your best. I believe everyone that was here – certainly including me – thought it was terrific. For me it was a unique experience. The vibrations that i felt in my body brought me to a new understanding of classical music.

    Thank you, Marsha

    • sgwp_a1
      Posted October 31, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Marsha, you are *most* welcome! I think what I was wanting to express was a preference for a performance more rhythmically “on-the-edge”, maybe more sharply organized is a better way to say it. What you write about vibrations in your body is *so* true, and is one of the characteristic elements of live, in-the-room performance…

  3. Rose Dimant
    Posted November 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Shem, thank you so much! This was a marvelous, transformative experience. At times I felt reflective and quite. Other times I felt exuberant and joyous, the way I feel when running in the surf. Combining the music and the sound of the ocean would be magical.

  4. Cassie Magzamen
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a bundle, Shem & Marsha, for a unique & special evening. I’ve always felt that music is best experienced in smaller venues, and your playing, coupled with the intimacy of this gathering, provoked a range of feeling for me, from highs to lows / joy to almost tearing up. Also, I found the discussion afterward really thought provoking, and I’d love to host one of the hundred at my loft in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, & if you like, we can perhaps combine it with art &/or video for even more varied stimulation. Warm wishes.


Chaconne #16 – Chamber Music Conference August 15, 2013

A private performance late in the evening for colleagues – long time collaborators and good friends –  here at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.

It was a great pleasure to share this performance with friends with whom I have studied and performed many works of great – and not-so-great [smile] – musical significance.  As we began, I was not so sure that I would play the entire Partita (what I first had in mind), but decided to just start at the beginning and let it all flow as best as it would after almost two week of daily teaching and rehearsing.  The Chaconne is often played by itself, as a stand-alone work – yet I am coming to the firm conclusion that it is an integral part of the entire work (Partita in D Minor BWV 1004): better said, that the 4 opening movements based on old (in Bach’s time), known dance forms completely flow into the Chaconne, that the Chaconne is an organic emotional, musical and spiritual resolution to the questions raised in the previous movements – Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande and Gigue.  One of my colleagues pointed out that many musical elements in the Chaconne are foreshadowed in the dances, linking them together, and that those dances are part of the internal balance, so to speak, of the whole work.

I tested out – with apparent success – ideas that I have been working on in the studio – a few of them in brief: the opening (Allemande), a declamatory call for the attention of the Spirit and a reminder of the  Soul’s spiritual journey; an encapsulation of the struggles of Life (Corrente), deeply seated questions of Life’s meaning (Sarabande).  I also used the organizing principle of rhythmic drive and groove described below in the recent practice session.  They all apparently came clear to my listeners. In particular the rhythmic drive in the first part of the Chaconne set up great freedoms in the return of the theme in the concluding section (minor).

 

7 Comments

  1. Frank Daykin
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Thursday, August 15, 2013. Greenwall Auditorium, Bennington College. Between 9:45 and 10PM, start time. Dramatics personae: Shem Guibbory, violin; Audience: Armand Ambrosini, clarinet; Lew Paer, contrabass; Frank Daykin, piano.

    Bathed in a pool of light in the otherwise darkened hall, Shem shared, rather poured forth, the glories of not just “the Chaconne” but the whole D Minor Partita. He was playing a Violin. Relatively new to him, not his customary instrument. It was given to him by an older brother. From the first few test phrases, the instrument, bow, and player spoke and sang with clear, nearly human-singing sounds.

    The four courtly dance movements unfolded with perfect clarity and momentum, and without pedantic adherence to every repeat.

    Then “it,” the Chaconne. Some scholars assert that Bach was prompted to write it by the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara, and that in it he encoded certain death chorale symbols. No matter the origin, its universality needs no such specific program. It truly emerged as a “cathedral in tones” this night.

    The polyphonic separation was awesome. After the D Major central section, with its metaphorical ringing of bells, the return to D Minor, with a first-inversion Neapolitan triad, sounded even more spiritually bereft!

    Guibbory has embarked on this Chaconne journey with a “relaxed obsession” that is revealing much about the music to us, and much about the man/performer to himself. God bless Bach, Guibbory, and the Violin.

  2. Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Break a leg! Please say hello to Armand for me.

  3. Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Sorry all,the concert, and Armand and all was LAST week

  4. Lew Paer
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Dear Shem, I want to thank you, on so many levels, for inviting me to the sixteenth performance of your Journey of 100. Your playing, and your sound were so moving, and so inspirational. You played with such personal intensity, and stamina, and with such a deep command of the music. You made the polyphony, and color changes of this piece sound so completely natural, and so well thought out. I truly felt I could look deep into the music itself, and travel with it’s voices as you took us on a journey through the changes of spiritual outlook in each movement. I really thank you as well for envisioning this project, and through your commitment, I felt you giving of yourself, and telling us of your love of Bach that night. All the best!!

  5. Armand Ambrosini
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Shem,

    Thank you so very much for your sixteenth performance of the Bach at Benningthon College. The intimate setting, your meticulous attention to the details of its musical lines, the voicing, your overall technical mastery, and beautiful sound made the experience transcend the usual concert experience. Your performance demanded the listeners’ attention throughout, as you led each of us to deep, meaningful contemplations and the realm of the spiritual.

    It is a performance I will never forget. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOURSELF (AND BACH) IN SUCH A WONDERFULLY INTIMATE WAY!!!!

  6. Posted August 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for your Likes and your Ears

  7. Posted May 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your website accidentally, and I’m surprised why this twist of fate didn’t took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


Chaconne practice session August 9, 2013

Explored a new approach to the theme – using a very strong rhythmic edge to the pulse, driven by the Bass voice: it produced a greater differentiation of the Bass voice from the upper voices as well as a very strong overall forward drive…have to get off the notes faster and yet make sure that they feel and sound as independent voices of an emotional weight equal to the Alto and Soprano….thinking of Forkel  on J.S. Bach: counterpoint = accumulated harmony – i.e. horizontal harmony to my way of thinking…works well with the dotted rhythm variations…emphasizes their French Overture style feeling…

2 Comments

  1. Armand Ambrosini
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Shem,

    Thank you so very much for your sixteenth performance of the Bach at Benningthon College. The intimate setting, your meticulous attention to the details of its musical lines, the voicing, your overall technical mastery, and beautiful sound made the experience transcend the usual concert experience. Your performance demanded the listeners’ attention throughout, as you led each of us to deep, meaningful contemplations and the realm of the spiritual.

    It is a performance I will never forget. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOURSELF (AND BACH) IN SUCH A WONDERFULLY INTIMATE WAY!!!!

  2. Lew Paer
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Dear Shem, I want to thank you, on so many levels, for inviting me to the sixteenth performance of your Journey of 100. Your playing, and your sound were so moving, and so inspirational. You played with such personal intensity, and stamina, and with such a deep command of the music. You made the polyphony, and color changes of this piece sound so completely natural, and so well thought out. I truly felt I could look deep into the music itself, and travel with it’s voices as you took us on a journey through the changes of spiritual outlook in each movement. I really thank you as well for envisioning this project, and through your commitment, I felt you giving of yourself, and telling us of your love of Bach that night. All the best!!


Chaconne #15 Music Party, Oneida Lake NY

July 28th, 2013 – performance around 12:30 pm.  The performance took place on Sunday afternoon of a chamber music weekend amidst wonderful readings and wonderful performances by many musicians from the Syracuse area.  Other than the first public performances this was the first time in the Journey series where I was playing for professional colleagues (as well as other musicians and music lovers).  I was gratified to find that not only did my ideas hold up in that situation, but they were felt to be compelling and were taken as valid.  I tried out a new understanding of pacing for the end, and it worked.  Still the opening theme and first two variations need to be much more organic.

8 Comments

  1. Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I’m there in spirit!

  2. Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Your performance is coming, Frank!!

    Shem Guibbory
    914.948.1256 h
    914.391.4418 m

  3. Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Break a leg!

  4. Eiko Hamada
    Posted July 30, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    It was such a treat to be able to hear this performance on Sunday. I have never heard this Bach’s great piece played in such close small room before,
    and was overwhelmed by the intesity and the music I could feel from him.
    The environment was just perfect being in a small living room right by the
    beautiful Oneida Lake in Central New York. I took my 16 year old grand
    daughter visiting me from Japan for the summer. She plays the violin and belongs to a youth orchestra. To her delight, that Bach’s piece was her
    very favorite one. She even got the score and tried to go through, so
    she knew how difficult that piece was to play.
    I do not play the violin, so I do not know how difficult it was technically,
    but certainly that performance pulled and submergerd us all into the music
    he was creating. What I mean is that we could feel the music Shem feels from this piece. This piece is very known to be a great piece, but certainly without the help of this kind of performance, I can not appreciate
    the greatness of this piece. It was so different from what I hear from the
    CD. So thank you Shem for providing us such an opportunity.
    I am an amateur pianist who now, in my retirement life, has a passion in piano. There isn’t much hope for improving my technical skills but I can still try to play close to what the composer was intended to. Listening to great performance like this was very inspiring, as I could truely feel Bach’s music through you.

  5. rose
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I have heard this Chaconne before. But never like this. In the middle of musician friends. This music touched us all. As a shared experience. A fascinated group .. The incredible J.S. Bach work was offered to us in a simply “natural” way, as if this IS the way to play it. It flowed intensly , pouring over us. I don’t think we were “absorbing” it. The music stayed in the room to be kept as an everlasting memory.
    Thank you, Shem!

  6. George Coble
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Simultaneously exultant and melancholy.

    I would imagine that if, somewhere along the way, you were to tape your performances it would be most interesting to hear the evolutionary changes that occur between #15 and #100. Best wishes with your project….

  7. Allan Kolsky
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this moving, insightful performance in such a relaxed and intimate setting. This time around, you stood there in bare feet and shorts, with listeners huddled around you only 5-15 feet away. Throughout the small, packed space, people were listening so hard that you could hear a pin drop–it felt like we were eavesdropping on the practice room of a fine concert soloist.

    Thank you for letting us share in your exploration of this profound musical masterwork, and good luck on the rest of your “Journey of 100!”

  8. Jenna Weitzel
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Back when I had a cassette player in my car, I listened to my cassette tapes of Bach’s Sonatas & Partitas over and over, endlessly intrigued while on long trips. I even bought the music and made attempts to play less complicated sections. How precious it was on Sunday at Rose’s beautiful camp to experience a live performance of the Chaconne. The music hinted at resolving into an ending but then would change character and flow into yet another beautiful intriguing section and I would be so happy. When the music finally stopped, I held my breath hoping that it would again begin – never ending. Outside the windows the day was overcast above the lake; inside the wood paneled walls of the room seemed to embrace all of us together with the music of the violin, giving an almost surreal experience. Tears filled my eyes. Thank you.