Resort number 1 seems to be my 2nd Home. My 1st home graces in sunny Sarasota.My profession as a pianist takes me to Boca Grande. There, I play at the Gaparilla Inn. The Inn captures the charm of a bygone era of Florida hospitality. It again claims its throne this year as resort #1. The Inn’s style is stately and grand. It offers glamour that recalls the heyday of mid-century Floridian beach resorts. A slower pace of life is offered. “It’s Old Florida at its best with modern updates.” Activities abound at the resort. Sport offerings include golf, tennis, croquet, boating, and other misc. water sports . You’ll want to have in your list of memories its Beach Club views of the Gulf of Mexico. More information: the-gasparilla-inn.com
Resort number 1 has Interesting Guests
David is scheduled 6 nights weekly in season on this island resort. On a typical night you can hear music by Cole Porter, George Gershwin. You’ll authentic ragtime by Scott Joplin. The Inn was actually built at the height of the ragtime era. He also loves the great classics. His regular list this time of the year is a 30 minute rendition of principle dances from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. He plays Jupiter from the Planets by Gustav Holst. He loves to play the theme from the King’s Speech. It is the slow movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Excerpts from principle operas are often included. His favorite popular song to play is “Killing Me Softly.” The arrangement he has by George Shearing is so beautiful that many diners have to wipe tears from their eyes.
Be sure to also catch David and his wife, Sharon, as they workshop their new opera comique, Patra September 1 -7 on Schroon Lake in New York.
PATRA – Opera Comique by Sharon and David Ohrenstein. Join the Fun!
Counterpoint focuses on melodic interaction—only secondarily on the harmonies produced by that interaction. John Rahn contrasts melody with counterpoint quite adeptly. He states:
It is hard to write a beautiful song. It is harder to write several individually beautiful songs that, when sung together, sound more beautiful as a polyphonic whole. The internal structures that create each must contribute to the the polyphony. Vice versa, the combination in turn must comment on the the individual voices. In this way the contrapuntal universe combines the singular with the plural. The way that is accomplished in detail is … ‘counterpoint’.
Our New Opera, Patra, Skillfully Uses Melody with the Contrapuntal Universe
Patra Workshop to debut in New York. Patra is the shorter name for Cleopatra. Queen of Egypt, she was one of the most famous women in history. Her full name was Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (69 BC – 12 August 30 BC). She was the last of the Pharaohs set up in Egypt by Alexander the Great. By descent, she was a Macedonian Princess. It will appear off book in the workshop. Our singers will literally be top notch. My wife, Sharon is the librettist and a co-composer of Patra. I, husband David, am also a composer. Before going to NY, it will have a staged concert presentation. This will be in Sarasota Fl at the newly built Sarasota West Coast Black Theater. Our casts in both NY and Fla are busy rehearsing. Here’s the gist:
Cleopatra had stopped the onslaught of two invading Roman generals through love. She thus neutralized the worst effects of their invasions by marrying the generals. Patra had children with each. The generals were, first, Julius Caesar; and then, Marc Antony. Was there any possibility of love with the 3rd invading general, Octavian? That is the subject of our new opera comique.
`How does this tie together melody and counterpoint? By the beautiful vocal lines. Also, the piano provides additional counterpoint. Don’t miss our New York workshop on September 7, 2019. See our website, Patraopera.com. for details.
Patra Workshop to debut in New York. Patra is the shorter name for Cleopatra. Queen of Egypt, she was one of the most famous women in history. Her full name was Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (69 BC – 12 August 30 BC). She was the last of the Pharaohs set up in Egypt by Alexander the Great. By descent, she was a Macedonian Princess. It will appear off book in the workshop. Our singers will literally be top notch. My wife, Sharon is the librettist and a co-composer of Patra. . I, husband David, am also a composer. Before going to NY, it will have a staged concert presentation. This will be in Sarasota Fl at the newly built Sarasota Westcoast Black Theater. Our casts in both NY and Fla are busy rehearsing. Here’s the gist:
Cleopatra had stopped the onslaught of two invading Roman generals through love. She thus neutralized the worst effects of their invasions by marrying the generals. Patra had children with each. They were, first, Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony.
Enter Octavian, a third Roman invader. She almost stops his aggression through love. In order to save her children, she follows the way of the warrior: An honorable death. If she she married Octavian and moved to Rome, both her and her children would have been seen as a threat to the Roman triumvirate. Our opera features Patra and Octavian’s encounter. In the opera she convinces him to become Augustus Caesar- 1st emperor of Rome Later, as a result, he honors her by placing a statue of her in the Temple of Venus in Rome. The statue was displayed exemplifying her as the good mother.
Patra has memorable melodies, Latin rhythms and most important – a gripping story. Sample our music on Patraopera.com.
See PATRA in Sarasota before it goes to New York !!
Presented in Sarasota for One Night Only
Before heading to New York in September, our new opera PATRA will be presented as a concert reading in Sarasota. The complete opera will be presented on Fri. July 19 at the new Westcoast Black Theatre at 6:30 pm.
The New York Workshop
PATRA has been selected for a fully-staged professional workshop in upstate New York at the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake. The American Center for New Works Development at Seagle has work shopped pieces by many award-winning writers like Stephen Schwartz, Mark Adamo, Kevin Putts and more.
Patra Workshop – the Story
PATRA is loosely based on Cleopatra’s final days. When the villainous Octavian dangles a marriage proposal before Cleopatra, she hopes to secure a future for herself and her children. Yet, things do not go as he planned. Cleopatra’s love challenges Octavian and transforms him into a new man. PATRA has five singing roles. Our great Sarasota cast is listed below.
Writer, co-composer, librettist states: “When I began the eleven month rewrite of our more tragic Octavian & Cleopatra, I wanted to lighten the work and give it a popular bent. I cut two singing roles and added a dancer. Then, I infused comedy, lively dance rhythms, a small amount of spoken dialogue and a surprise at every turn. Most of all, I showcased the singer. I did something rather unusual in any musical or opera I created numerous dramatic moments where the instrumental accompaniment is silent. Only singing voices are heard.”
PATRA is an opera comique: It uses techniques from Bizet’s Carmen and Bernstein’s The West Side Story. .
Patra Concert Presentation
The WBTT concert has a $20 suggested donation ticket price to be paid at the door. For an advance reserved seat visit GoFundMe.com/PatraOpera, make a donation and in the notes write WBTT ticket. Westcoast Black Theatre is located at 1012 N Orange Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236.
Libretto by Sharon Ohrenstein
Music by David Ohrenstein and Sharon Ohrenstein
Our terrific Sarasota CAST
Kathryn Parks as Cleopatra, Joseph Ryan as Octavian, Carole Cornman as Iras, Robyn Rocklein as Charmian, and Baron Garriott as Marcellus. Pianist Teresa O’Connell will accompany the shows.
Dancer Vanessa Russo, currently based in Sarasota, has been hired for the New York Patra workshop workshop. Only singers will be performing in Sarasota.
Background for the Patra Workshop: About Ohrenstein and Ohrenstein
Musical theater writers and performers, Sharon and David Ohrenstein have performed internationally from Canada to Honduras. Their musicals, Octavian and Cleopatra, Our Golda, and Elizabeth of Russia have been produced in Florida and New York to remarkable reviews. Sharon was honored to be chosen an Amazing Woman of the Suncoast by ABC 7. David’s chamber compositions for wind ensembles and larger works for concert band have had world premieres in New York, Ontario, Ohio and Florida. David just finished his tenth season at the Gasparilla Inn where he plays for U.S. presidents and other dignitaries. For more information visit Patraopera.com. Here is an internal link to a ballet I, David, wrote: Zodiac Dance Demonstrates Extremes from Ballet to Modern
Romantic Composer Comrades were Common. Musical composers are the avant-guard of civilization. Avant-guard defines a group of artists, musicians, or writers working with new and experimental ideas and methods. Without composer comrades, it is doubtful that we would ever know who Franz Schubert was. Composers are vital to a civilization. Yet, they are like babies. They need help. Such was the case with Franz Schubert. He only lived to age 31. Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music.
Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875), made from his own 1825 watercolor portrait.
His last symphony, “The Great,” was never performed in his lifetime. He received payment for it from the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1828. However, they ended up performing an easier symphony by Schubert, , No 6. The “Great” remained in the truck of his brother, Ferdinand Schubert. His Romantic composer comrades included Robert Schumann. Scumann went searching for it. He discovered it in Ferdinand’s trunk in his attic.
Fortunately, Felix Mendelssohn, counted among Schubert’s Romantic composer comrades, was in a position to make the “Great” come to life. He was the director of the Gewandhaus Concerts in Leipzig, Germany. The story goes it was difficult to perform even for his orchestra. To make it more palatable, Mendelssohn omitted the repeats in the symphony that were indicated by Schubert. Here is another story of Schubert’s almost lost and forgotten music:
THE CLIFF HANGER QUEST OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN to save Schubert’s Music
Gilbert and Sullivan had heard of Schubert’s Rosamunde. The manuscript was not to be found. On a whim, they traveled to Germany to find the music. There, they caught wind of a Doctor Snyder who may have been in possession of the score. The rest of the story reads like a cliff hanger. When they arrived at his home, Dr. Snyder told them he had had a number of Schubert’s manuscripts in his attic. Unfortunately, he had already placed them in the trash bin. The operetta duo ran to the refuse container. There, they not only discovered the score to Rosamunde, but numerous other symphonic works by Schubert. The rest of the story goes, they were so excited at the find, that they played leap frog with each other to celebrate the find.
Without the arts, life seems shorter and even brutish. We must support creators of the fine arts who supply the musicians in the concert hall with new music. After all, there might not be a team like Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn or Gilbert and Sullivan at the right moment to save the great works of another poor Schubert-like composer.
Singer Composer Was the Creator of Opera. Today, many do not think of singers as the creators of opera. In the early 1700’s they were. The taste in Naples, Italy at that time, dictated how opera was created. That taste was manifested in the love of vocal display. Popular idols were made of singers. Theodore M. Finney writes in a History of Music: The composers became “a kind of formality that had within it the seed of artistic sterility and death.”
What Happened to Opera as a Result of the Singer Composer Phenomenon?
Many composers at that time would write scores of historical interest. However, they had little if any musical interest. Opera composers turned from opera to writing for other mediums, such as instrumental. Society in Italy mainly fawned over virtuosity in musical drama. This gave rise to the Golden Age of Bel Canto. Francesco Bernardi, for example, loaded his adagios with countless ornaments. Opera singers became heroes. Hogarth immortalizes a singer in one of his arias in The Rakes Progress: He receives the adulation of a lady who says: “One God, one Farinelli.” The composer was reduced to the sideman.
As a matter of fact, the admiration of opera singers of the at time was so tremendous that most were totally unconcerned with the excellence of an opera itself. For that reason the music of many operas had nothing more than a figured bass and perhaps the outline of a melody. They singer flushed out the rest of the opera. The singer was also the primary composer. Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of musical notation in which numerals and symbols (often accidentals) are used. They indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones that a musician is to play. Historically this was most often applied to piano, harpsichord, organ, and lute.
Women out West: Rodeo. Copeland wrote Rodeo in 1942 as a Ballet in One Act. The Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo commissioned choreographer Agnes de Mille to collaborate with Aaron Copeland on the Rodeo project. I found a score arranged for piano. The arrangement is copyrighted by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. It was printed in 1962. It has six principle sections:
First Episode: Buckaroo Holiday
Second Episode: Corral Nocturne
Ranch House Party
Third Episode: Saturday Night Waltz
Fourth Episode: Hoe-Down
Women Out West Had to Find Suitable Men!
Basically, throughout the American southwest, the Saturday afternoon rodeo was a tradition. Usually, it was followed by an evening dance at the Ranch House. Copland’s Rodeo uses this basic western concept. As a matter of fact dating between the sexes was problem confronting all American women since early pioneer times. The question has been how to get a suitable man? Most likely, it is still a problem everywhere.
Women Out West Relished the Saturday Evening Dance.
On Saturday evening, after the Rodeo, social time was shared by dancing the square dance. The principle theme of Copland’s Hoe-Down in Rodeo uses a square dance tune called Bonypart. Of course this is a humorous reference to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Agnes de Mille describes the basic concept for choreography: “Throughout the American Southwest, the … dance was a tradition. On the remote ranches, as well as in trading centers and the towns, the “hands” get together to show off their skill in roping, riding, branding and throwing. Often, on the more isolated ranches, the rodeo is done for an audience that consisted only of a handful of fellow-workers and women-folk. Any neighbors that attended often had to do an eighty mile or so run-over to witness the event.”
I, the blogger, also wrote a ballet called The Dance of the Zodiac. It also features the bull, as in the rodeo. Only it appears as the symbol of Taurus. Enjoy this internal link to my own ballet.
Instrumental Versus Vocal – Which One Dominates at any particular time? Secular cultures have greater emphasis on instrumental. Religious cultures emphasized more vocal music. Troubadours and jongleurs elevated the dominance of instrumental music in Medieval times. How did they come about? The oldest mention of the word troubadour as trobadors is found in a 12th-century Occitan text by Cercamon.The sixteenth century Italian historian Giammaria Barbieri was perhaps the first to suggest Arabian influences on the music of the troubadours. With instrumental versus vocal, the former comes out ahead in this case. Later scholars like J.B. Trend have asserted that the poetry of troubadours is connected to Arabic poetry written in Spain.
Instrumental music was given a boost by the Crusades. War and hardship also resulted from the Crusades. But, these Holy Pilgrimages also brought about free flow of ideas to Europe from the Middle East. Author Theodore M. Finney in A History of Music goes so far as to state: …”the development of harmony may sometime need to be rewritten giving much more weight to Eastern influence. Eastern being Arabian influence.”
Instrumental music, Finney states, was at first fashioned by what he calls “rough people”. This simply means people who did not dwell in towns or villages. They used instruments to accompany their wanderings with their flocks of goats or sheep. . Also, they would play for their own dancing. These activities, in turn, gave rise to instrumental secular music.
Here are two class systems that gave rise to more instrumental music. This system involved the division between Troubadours and Jongleurs. This music was performed by groups of musicians known as troubadours,trouvères, and jongleurs. The troubadours and trouvères were active in France. The troubadours to the south. Trouvères to the north. They were medieval poet musicians that catered to the upper class, or the nobility. Oftgen they were noblemen themselves.
The Jongleurs were often collaborators or assistants of Medieval Troubadours or Minstrels. Jongleurs gained a reputation of itinerant entertainers of Medieval France and in Norman England. Many were deemed to be vagabonds. They wandered from court to court with their music.
Finally, with regards to the featured picture. David Rubinoff is on the left. Fritz Kreisler is on the right. They were royalty of music. We can compare them to the troubadours. Dave made as much as $500,000 annually by performing on the violin and conducting for the Paramount Theaters in New York and Paramount pictures in Hollywood. For some 15 years I was his accompanist and arranger. Enjoy this caricature of a classic jongleur to troubador Rubinoff to realize an exaggerated difference.
Music Prolongs Life of Rubinoff and His Violin – DSO Works
Nov 9, 2017 – Music prolongs life as it did for David Rubinoff and His Violin. He just returned from the… This blog story has an air of mysticism. It doesn’t seem …
Traditional Employment includes types of people and places. Any new year is a time for reflection: What happened or didn’t happen last year? What might happen this year? Since this new year (2019) is about to begin, I thought I’d reflect on previous jobs. I seem to have a predilection for working with: (1) Successful older people. (2) Spectacular older places. By traditional I refer to: (1) Great places built over 100 years ago. Or, (2) Successful men who, at the time, were old enough to be my grandfather or possibly great-grandfather at the time of employment.
Traditional Employment by Rubinoff and His Violin
I learned the musical craft of arranging and accompanying from Rubinoff. He conducted the Paramount Theater in New York and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. What a perfectionist! After working for 8 hours during the day, at night he’d change his mind. The next day we did a different 16 bars. Dave’s Stradivarius violin was purchased for $100,000.00 in 1929. He made about $500,000.00 annually in the 1930′ by conducting and performing. It seemed like the “His Violin” was his marriage contract with music.
Traditional Employment at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House
For better than 15 summer seasons I played piano for shows at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House in Deposit, New York. The resort was born in 1869. What a wonderful time our family had. Our children literally grew up in the Catskills at Scott’s. Playing many shows as well as our own (with wife, Sharon) were part of my duties. Most recently, the cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselle got to experience the same resort.
To the right, Rachel Brosnahan, winner of the award for best actress in a comedy series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, speaks in the press room at the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Jordan Strauss | Invision/AP)
My wife and I wrote a new opera comique entitled Patra. It certainly is quite traditional. Our models were Bizet’s Carmen and Bernstein’s West Side Story. We will have a full production workshop in New York at Schroon Lake scheduled for September 2019. This will be with the Seagle Music Colony. The Colony is under the artistic direction of Darren Woods and The American Center for New Works Development. Schroon Lake has quite a cultural history. Here is an internal link to this Schroon Lake’s glorious past. It inspired me to write a poem. Share if you wish.
Central Pillar and the 3 x 3 Number Square. In the featured picture the corner numbers on the Lo shu are 4,9,3 and 5. Remaining 5 remaining numbers are called the gnomon. These five are 2,7,6,1, and 8. There are three more possible corner/gnomon arrangements. That can be a subject for future blogs. The Tree of Life uses this one arrangement on the central pillar: The upper left corner v. its gnomon. Here are some instructions on how to read and compare the two systems. A vanished civilization knew what you are about to read. They enjoyed a Golden Age until they succumbed to a worldwide cataclysm. Certainly, Plato’s account of Atlantis fits this description. Allusions to this lost culture are found in the survival of ancient measurements. Below are a couple of my internal links.
On the number square, multiply the numbers of the upper left corner: 4 x 5 x 9 x 3 = 540.
Multiply the gnomon numbers: 2 x 7 x 6 x 1 x 8 = 672.
Next, look at the central pillar on the Tree of Life:
Multiply the Central numbers of the four emanations (circles):1 x 6 x 9 x 10 = 540. This duplicates 540 product of the upper left corner of the number square.
Take the central pillar numbers again. Add them: 1 + 6 + 9 + 10 = 26. Square 26 as 26² = 676. This is not the 672 gnomon product above. However, by rules of gematria, one can be added to each word or factor, in this case- circle, without essentially altering its meaning. We have 4 circles on the central pillar. Thus 672 + 4 = 676. We have congruence again. Gematria is explained in great depth by my favorite author, John Michell. His books are extremely rare and difficult to come by.
Ageless Teacher Pianist Mischa Kottler. Great men, like great wines, improve with age. Mischa, at the time of this picture was 88. He stayed active until age 94. What kept him going? Passion for the piano. As a teacher, he had a slew full of piano competition winners on his record. Even rock n’ roll benefited from his total mastery of the instrument. Gregory Arthur “Greg” Phillinganes (born May 12, 1956) is an American keyboardist, singer-songwriter, and musical director based in Los Angeles, California. A prolific session musician, Phillinganes has contributed keyboard tracks to numerous albums. These included representing a broad array of artists and genres. He has toured with notable artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Toto, served as musical director for Michael Jackson, and has released two solo studio albums.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine and his Quote of Mischa Kottler
“Sensing that I needed discipline more than anything else, my Mom managed to hook me up with a wonderful teacher named Mischa Kottler. He was a no-nonsense Russian Jewish guy who could crack a pane of glass with one finger. He was a complete badass, and he cooled my attitude out immediately. I studied with him well into my teens.
Primarily as result of having studied with my ageless teacher pianist Mischa, I too have had a successful and long lasting career. I’ve just begun my 10th year at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. There, I play piano for VIP’s from around the world. The most memorable person I played for was former President George H. Bush. Below is an internal link to this event from DSOworks. Also, Sharon Ohrenstein, my wife, and I are bringing a full workshop to the NY stage this coming September. Our original “opera comique” is entitled “Patra”. Look under the “stage” heading on DSOworks.com. We will be working with an incredibly, wonderful, creative team. Workshop will be sponsored by: The American Center for New Works Development.