Monday, November 28, 2011

djivan gasparyan, recommended listening

The sound of the duduk has become known to a large audience through its use in popular film soundtracks. Starting with Peter Gabriel's score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, the duduk's archaic and mournful sound has been employed in a variety of genres to depict such
moods. Djivan Gasparyan played the duduk in Gladiator, Syriana, among others.
Born in Solag, Armenia, this artist became famous for his interpretations on the duduk, a double reed woodwind instrument related to the oboe.

Traditionally known since antiquity, the duduk is a traditional woodwind instrument indigenous to Armenia. Variations of this instrument are popular in the Middle East and Central Asia although not to be confused with the Bulgarian folk instrument of the same name. The duduk is a distant relative of Asian instruments, such as the Chinese Guanzi, the Korean Piri and the Japanese Hichiriki. Unlike other double reed instruments (oboe or shawm), the Duduk has a very large and unflattened reed, and is cylindrical in shape giving it a quality closer to a clarinet or saxophone than a double-reed. 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

anchorage symphony orchestra & step afrika

Last week I met conductor Randall Fleischer and founder and executive director of Step Afrika, Brian Williams, when they gave a talk at the Anchorage Symphony League luncheon.

Nan Tomasko, president of the Anchorage Symphony League had invited me. On a cold, snowy morning she and her husband picked me up and together we drove to Eagle River. Lunch took place at the beautiful, rustic Alaskan residence of the Rhyneer's in Eagle River and it was obvious from the moment of entering that a lot of love had gone into building this home. The music room with its gorgeous grand-piano left me pining for my own  (which is in storage for the time being).

Randall Fleischer
After lunch, Randall Fleischer and Brian Williams talked enthusiastically about their upcoming performances at the Atwood Concert Hall on November 12 and 13. Randall explained how he first heard of Step Afrika and here's what he had to say: I was picking up Michaela (my daughter) at her dance class in Pasadena and happened to notice "Dance Magazine" on the table  in the lobby. So I picked it up and started to turn pages, stopping on an article about a dance company out of DC by the name of "Step Afrika". The pictures were fabulous and the article was glowing, so when I got home that evening, I went online to search for more details. Finding their website, I saw their demo plus plenty of other footage of the company and decided at that moment that I would try to contact them and see if they wanted to do a project. 

On Sunday, November 13,  I attended the performance of Randall Fleischer's world premiere of "Symphony in Step", which he composed especially for this collaboration with Step Afrika. A wonderful, glowing performance that was received with great enthusiasm by a packed Atwood Concert Hall in downtown Anchorage. It was hard to stay seated as the music and dance performance evoked such an urge to get up and move along.

What is Stepping?
A dance form first developed by members of African American fraternities and sororities. A combination of dance and body percussion with intricate, highly complex jazzy rhythms as its base. A musical/dance language where the dance itself is the music.

The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
A semi-professional symphony orchestra located in Anchorage, Alaska. Randall Craig Fleischer has been their director and conductor, since 1999 and Linn Weeda is the assistant director and conductor. ASO was founded in 1946, by a consortium of like-minded musicians looking for a musical outlet. From their original size of 17, the ASO grew through the 50's, hiring Peter Birch as conductor, and increasing to 32 members. Anchorage, however, continued to grow and the orchestra crossed the threshold as a semi-professional ensemble. Today the organization boasts of an endowment, a board of directors, and 80 musicians in its ranks. In 2001, the symphony garnered the Mayor's Arts Award for an Outstanding Arts Organization and the Governor's Arts Award for an Outstanding Arts Organization. The Anchorage Symphony performs in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Anchorage.

Step Afrika, who are they?
Step Afrika is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Founded in December 1994, the company is critically-acclaimed for its efforts to promote an understanding of and appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition's use as an educational tool for young people worldwide. Step Afrika reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year and has performed on many stages in North & South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Founder Brian Williams, started this company over 17 years ago and has literally helped carry this unique American dance form of stepping to millions worldwide. (

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Monday, November 14, 2011

christel veraart launches inner landscapes


Inner Landscapes 
- reflective soundscapes of far-away lands 
Latest cd by Christel Veraart

Latest CD by Christel Veraart
This album creates a perfect calm in the storm of everyday life. Meditative, soothing and relaxing, Christel Veraart's music draws on both classical and modern influences. Ten original compositions take the listener on an enchanting journey through space and time. Referring to her music as Soundscapes, Christel combines sound with images and poetry, creating a unique experience. Her music reflects her own life experience, extensive travels throughout the world, and an enduring love of nature.
available as mp3 download and cd
625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 
(907) 929 9200


"Evocative and deep; this artist's voice draws you back in time to your ancient and ancestral beginnings."
Leah Zegouros

"In all my years of producing music, I have never seen a more dedicated and talented artist than Christel Veraart. She puts her heart into everything she writes, and her vulnerability touches my soul. Her songs stay with me for days after listening, like the memory of a good friend I can revisit over and over again.” 
Arthur Payson

Other Releases


greeting cards, holding mp3 downloads with christel veraart's music


featuring christel veraart's music, poetry and images

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