Journey of 100

Chaconne #26 – April 6, 2015 Private home NYC

I am very excited to be playing for one of my dear creative colleagues next Monday.  Since the last Chaconne (#25, 12/28/2014) I have been focussed on moving my residence, and have allowed the Bach to lie fallow through the deep winter.

Now it is Spring, and I am coming back to the Bach after these few months’ hiatus; I am finding a new level of understanding, particularly in terms of tempo and rhythmic organization, choosing to explore specific influence from two great Maestros with whom I have worked at the MET for many years.  More on that later!

7 responses to “Chaconne #26 – April 6, 2015 Private home NYC”

  1. Good luck on all fronts, Shem.

  2. lucky people in NYC april 6 (how can they even imagine what perfomances we heard befoer

  3. Julian Zelizer says:

    Shem brought the sorrow and turbulence of Bach’s piece to life. In the intimate setting of a NYC living room. Shem conveyed the struggles that seemed to have shaped Bach as he wrote this piece at a difficult moment of his life. At certain points, Shem managed to make his instrument sound as if there were several violinists playing at once. The physicality of the performance was also quite moving.

  4. Robert Schenkkan says:

    A fantastic evening! So thought-provoking and so moving. The opportunity to hear great music played with extraordinary skill in an intimate setting is sadly so rare. There was such a sense of communion and immediate community in the sharing of this experience. And to sit so close to Shem, to hear the physical effort that goes into the performance. One could almost see the sound waves vibrating across the room. And while I have heard The Chaconne before, never have I payed such close attention. If it is indeed an anguished dialogue between the grieving composer and his God, it is a complex multi-layered one, worthy of Job.

  5. Deborah McDermott says:

    Shem, it was such an honor to experience your Chaconne in our private world of good friends and family. I personally adore that we were number 26 (one of my two lucky numbers!)

    I related to your comment about getting lost in your performance…how nothing else exists during those moments. I would imagine that during those moments you are feeling love….. love of life, love of your gift. And the beauty of that is that we, your audience, find ourselves immersed in that same feeling of “love”.

    Thank you, Deborah

Chaconne #25 – December 28, 2014 5pm – Private performance

in memory of my friend Lev Gogish.  White Plains, NY

5 responses to “Chaconne #25 – December 28, 2014 5pm – Private performance”

  1. Vlad Gogish says:

    Shem, our family is deeply grateful for your touching performance on December 28, 2014. We are honored that we could be there for your 25th stop on the journey of 100. It is fitting, given the emphasis of this series on live performance, that you dedicated it to my father’s memory — it is a wonderful way to honor a life.

  2. Ilya Gogish says:

    Shem, thank you for the wonderful and unique performance. You showed me a new side of Bach’s genius – not celestial peace and harmony, but human life with its waves of pain and suffering changing to joy of new discoveries and love. My father would greatly appreciate this stop on your Journey of 100.

  3. Serafima Dashevskaya says:

    Dear Shem,
    Thank you so much for performing at our home. This was a very important milestone in preserving Lev’s memory and truly once-in-a-lifetime event for everyone in the audience. I was listening to your beautiful playing with tears in my eyes and my heart aching but I also felt Lev’s presence and it made me happy. You made it possible for me to personally connect to the Bach’s greatest piece.

  4. Eugenie Ford says:

    What a wonderful pleasure to hear Bach live in the home of Seramina and family last night. The intimate group and live Violin were amazing, the passion was really felt. Lev would have loved it. Your mission to achieve 100 performances is a delightful journey. Bravo.

  5. Judy Gardiner says:

    Shem, your concert was a journey through the life of Lev, capturing his enduring love of family, his openness to the world, his curiosity and discovery, his exuberance, some moments, serious, others sad, but essentially what I felt through the music was the life force of a truly extraordinary human being whose eternal spirit is alive and as vibrant as our four seasons.

    Connecting listeners in small groups, especially children, through the language of music may help to soothe the wounds of a fractured society so globally bereft of emotionally healthy connections that cultivate empathy, compassion, and sharing.

    Thank you.

Chaconne #24 – 5pm Sunday July 13 2014 – Guilford CT

Greene Gallery, on the Guilford Green – Guilford, Connecticut 

5 PM – $15 admission to benefit Guilford Better Chance

RSVP 29 Whitfield St, Guilford, CT 06437

(203) 453-4162

6 responses to “Chaconne #24 – 5pm Sunday July 13 2014 – Guilford CT”

  1. Saw this too late. I would have most definitely come to hear you

  2. Lee T. McQuillan says:

    I would first like to thank you for what you are doing. We need more of this in the classical music world.
    I enjoyed your concert and presentation very much. I especially liked the silence you created afterward for the piece to have time to be. The sound of your instrument is amazing. What is it? The space was very nice for the performance as well.
    Thank you again,

  3. sgwp_a1 says:

    Lee, thank you very much. The instrument I was playing was made in Italy in 1915 by Stefano Scarampella – it belongs to my older brother Yenoin (my first violin teacher in fact, when I was 5). He offered to swap instruments with me about a year ago…isn’t that a fine thing?! Glad you enjoyed it. Shem

  4. Reggie Reid says:

    I attended the Bach Chaconne performance Shem gave at the Greene Art Gallery in Guilford, Ct and I was mesmerized. Such beautiful music, performed live right in front of my eyes with the most beautiful background of original paintings, both worthy of each other. Shem was outstanding, when he finished we were silent, his violin spoke to us through his masterful playing!

  5. Craig helmrich says:

    It was a wonderful evening listening to your music.

Chaconne #23 – West Side Community Garden NYC June 29, 2014

Sunday June 29, 2014 – 6 PM – FREE ADMISSION – West 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.  The Chaconne opens this short program…Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major comes next – played with my friends Artie Dibble, Viola, and Lindy Clarke, Cello.

This outdoor concert was blessed with perfect weather and a large, appreciative audience…lots of families with children, and the little ones were getting up and coming to the front of the stage area and dancing away with pure delight…somewhat astonishing for me because their delight and joy was like a second counterpoint to this work of Bach’s and it was challenging to stay plugged into the deep flow of the Work and not “fall out” into the dancing of the children!

I had spent a lot of time in the last week working on purity of intonation as well as stronger rhythmic organization, and I was happy that that work wasn’t wasted…that being said it is humbling that even at this 23rd time, for me,  thorough practice is still an essential component:  there were areas of which I assumed in my practice sessions  “ok, that part’s fine, don’t need to invest time there”,  that would have benefitted from slow, mindful work….sigh….I remember reading Kreisler’s writing about train travel providing him time to review in his mind every tone of  the works he was performing, to sort of, in his words, “re-carve” the grooves on the disc (the vinyl or glass LP recordings of his time)….I will remember that going forward.

 The Beethoven seemed an easy delight to play – in gusty winds that required us to pause and carefully replace the clothespins that held the music onto the stands!!!  Artie and Lindy are, simply put, terrific.


7 responses to “Chaconne #23 – West Side Community Garden NYC June 29, 2014”

  1. Lindy Clarke says:

    Shem, thank you for bringing something beautiful into the world. Just Bach, pure and simple, beautifully in tune, lovingly played, allowed to speak for itself.
    We were in a garden, with children dancing, and all sorts of people listening, and really with you and the music. What could be better?

  2. Diana Bloom says:

    A delightful experience. I was left, being musically illiterate, wondering what the questions were and what the answers in the solo piece. I, too, enjoyed the children, the plants, the appreciative audience, the weather, the music, and late during the second piece, the Proustian fragrance of cooking onions.

  3. Well done, Shem! A loooong way from our little adventure into the Brahms Horn Trio about…ummmm…. 44 years ago! 🙂

  4. Serafima Dashevskaya says:

    Dear Shem,

    Thank you for inviting us to this concert. We loved your playing Bach very much and the trio was beautiful too. The garden, dancing children, nice audience – everything contributed to the tone of your performance.

    Good luck with your Journey of 100,
    Serafima, Lev, Ilya

  5. sgwp_a1 says:

    Thanks all – Diana, I have been thinking a lot about your comment – especially about questions and answers. If you enjoyed the performance – then that is what matters most. That you were moved to take the extra time and effort to come visit us here and share your reflections says even more.

    This music is so BIG that there is room in it for my deep personal feelings about questions being posed and answered, room for your delight at letting the sounds waft over you while savoring the smell of onions…and room as well for the feelings of a 10 year-old boy at PSK179 (Brooklyn) who heard the work one morning last November (Chaconne performance #18). He wrote me an Essay saying “I felt relaxed, then I saw sparkles and wanted to dance and then I thought of my friend, back home in Bangladesh, and my Soul wanted to fly out and visit him and his Family…”

    Maybe they too, were cooking Onions that morning in Bangladesh on the other side of the World.

    Thanks for writing. Shem

  6. Randa Kirshbaum says:

    Hi, Shem, I’ve been at all of these Music in a Garden events, and it is a lovely spot of green. But concerts there are a work day for me, to keep things moving and flowing. When you first started playing I heard your authority of control of the violin and the material, and was able to relax, immediately ready to give over to your playing. Then I heard more. I still have a lump in my throat from your rendition of that Partita. You danced every note, intonation was very good, and the humanity… I listened to a recording of Heifetz playing the Chaconne later that evening, and you are the greater human being.

  7. Dolph LeMoult says:

    Thank you Shem. Looking back, I now think that silence might have been the more appropriate response to such a celestial experience. Bravo, my friend. Dolph

Chaconne #22 Bennington College March 18, 10 PM

On campus in the CAPA LENS.

Tuesday night’s 10 p.m. performance of the entire D Minor Partita produced one of the most memorable results I have ever experienced as a soloist.  The audience of about 60 or so stayed sitting together in a profound, relaxed silence for a good 8-10 minutes.  Slowly, one or two students at a time would quietly put their things together and leave the room.  About six stayed for talkback and conversation that was captured by our Catamount Access cameraman.  I will put the students’ insightful comments together in an edit, and post it here as soon as I can.

One of my comments about the performance is that the emotional arc of my performance felt sloppy to me – and when I shared that, Matthew (one of the students) replied that “emotions are sloppy” and that the rawness of my musical expression (his words) was what made it so powerful. That gives one *much* to consider in terms of balancing personal expression with expressing musical understanding of Bach’s fine works.

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