Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stephen Clapp, 1939-2014

Stephen Clapp passed away on January 6, 2014 at the age of 74. His life was celebrated at Juilliard’s Paul Hall on a stunningly beautiful May afternoon, presented by the school’s President Joseph W. Polisi.

Dr. Clapp (with a smile), always preferred to not be addressed with his honorary honorific, received by the Juilliard School after 27 years of service as teacher and dean. What follows is my encomium to the man through a correspondence with his wife.
                                                                         Wednesday 21 May                                                                                                       
Dear Mrs. Clapp,                                                    

It was a great honor to participate in Juilliard’s memorial to your beloved husband. Though I was overwhelmed looking at the magnificent pictures in the elegant program, playing for his student Jordan Hendy’s sterling performance moved me to tears.
Knowing Mr. Clapp and working with his pupils was ennobling; his advice to me musically and paternally was the most precious. A man of the greatest integrity, I admired his complete commitment to his faith even if I couldn’t share his religious views. He led a remarkable life in music as a violinist, chamber musician, educator and administrator who miraculously marshaled and balanced all of his responsibilities.
Though I’ve the pleasure of meeting you only twice, that you were the beacon of his life was touchingly and radiantly apparent.
I send you my deepest condolences.

All Love To You,
Eduard Laurel

                                                                                             Tuesday 3 June
Dear Eduard,

I would love to be writing to you on creamy embossed stationary, as your letter to me deserves. I would be if I had your mailing address.
Thank you SO much, Eduard, first of all for sharing your music with all of us at the Tribute.  But even more personally, for sharing your responses to Stephen and his life, with such beautifully thought out words.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

It Takes Two to Tango, Samba, Waltz (And Do a Sacrificial Dance)

  The duo-piano team Christina and Michelle Naughton offered a most impressive program August 5th presented by the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts on a warm clear moonlit night. A welcome, if unexpected guest was a peregrine falcon who soared over the bandshell throughout the evening. These poised gracious identical twins, who look much younger than their 25 years, are two mean pianists. They captivated their large audience (an estimated three thousand) and a global radio audience in a program of iconic demanding modern works, perhaps a trifle heavy for a summer’s night in Central Park.
They opened with a delightfully sparkling account of Milhaud’s Scaramouche whose clarity of texture balance and ensemble was ideal. In the Moderé the quasi-yodeling dialogue between the instruments was so sweetly naïve, though the samba that is the Brazileira could have used more maracas. John Adams’ ecstatic Hallelujah Junction was the pinnacle of the evening, and its complex cross-rhythmic rippling interplay was dispatched with thoughtfulness, aplomb and abandon, and along with the entire program, played by memory.