The Red Keyboard Odyssey - more dramatic than My Red Car! 6-7 years ago, I was at a concert at the TLA - Jaimoe, to be exact. It was one of those standing room shows. I was hearing this huge B3 sound coming out of a small (comparatively) red keyboard on stage. I looked at John, and said I have to find out what's making that sound. So I pushed through the crowd until I was in sight of it - "Nord Electro". Fast forward a few years, many more concerts, and invariably when I'd hear that special B3 sound but it wasn't a B3, I saw a red keyboard up there. So, I priced them, then I started checking Craig's list for used ones, and I learned they rarely show up for sale 'used'. Tells you something about them.

Anyway, after many years, I was finally able to order one. But, a decision had to be made - the Nord Electro4 or wait for the Nord Electro5. The '5' was being debuted at the Namm convention in LA before the grammy's. So, I sent out a request to some of my Grammy friends and found that Michael Gallant had spent an hour demonstrating the '5' at the convention. He gave me input - (the 5 had a switch to turn on the 'Leslie' type effect - the amazing vibrato that you'd hear Melvin Seals turn on at JGB concerts, so decision made). I ordered the Nord Electro 5 in February. Hoped to have it by April, then it was pushed back to May, then June.

Finally in June, keyboard arrived, with damage to the box, the frame dented and some sort of white plastic pieces - possibly part of under part of a key. So, damaged keyboard returned, new one ordered. BUT the Nord is hand built in Sweden, the music store that handles the pre-order (Kraft) is in Wisconsin. They hoped for July, then it became clear not until Sept. And while they offered me the original repaired keyboard at a discount, I decided to wait - what's a few more months after 6-7 years?

SO 2 days ago I got a call - keyboard had arrived & was being shipped to me - I could expect it next Tuesday. Checked the order status yesterday, and it said delivery today. Checked the order early a.m. before going to one of my schools, and it had already arrived in Lawnside. Looked outside a half hour ago to check for the truck - found the keyboard on my doorstep! (Luckily we're in a safe neighborhood!). Anyway, the Odyssey has ended, or maybe it's just starting. I have to figure out how to get the sounds out of this before the Burlington VFW open mic tonight!

I am sending out a thank you to The Recording Academy (and to the cosmos) for giving me the opportunity to present my music here. When I first began this journey two years ago, I was not planning on doing any type of album, or even singing, ffor that matter (it had been 30 years since I'd done any solo singing!). But with the gift of a ukulele (and a red car!) and a friend who was writing poetry, these songs materialized. I only wanted to put them out there, and my goal was to do the best job that I possibly could to accomplish that. Because of that, I bit the financial bullet to bring in other musicians, and when I heard Michael Ronstadt playing cello at a local coffeehouse, I knew it would be wonderful to have him on the album, so I asked. Not only did he come into the studio on Day one, he ended up volunteering to do the beautiful string arrangements on the recording. I can't begin to say enough of the other musicians who joined in - with Dan Bacon (upright bass - & then whistling on My Red Car) and Russell Gellman (percussion) also in the studio on Day One to begin pulling together the music. We started with this core group, and added others as the music required, including two wonderful guitar solos by Jack Prucella (my long-time flute/guitar duo partner), and violin by Janet Marquardt. On listening to the finished master of the recording, my husband said, with a smile, "Congratulations! Once again you have managed to create something that doesn't fit into any genre!"

Anyway, I'm getting off-topic. When My Red Car didn't make it into Americana, I had a twinge of disappointment, but was so proud to have two of my songs in the composing/arranging division - Night Stroll (best inst. comp.) and On Nights Like These (best instu. arrang. accomp. vocals). So it was complete astonishment two days ago when I found that "My Red Car" had been sitting in Pop Vocal Album, and my husband said for me to check Song of the Year (he's the one who told me "it's 10 years old" when I didn't even think I could take the red car out for a test drive, that it was too fancy for me!). So at his assistance and with my own disbelief, there was "My Red Car" sitting under Song of the Year!

Today I have tears, but they are good tears, that these two years that greatly impacted my life (and my husband's) have culminated in being able to put my songs out there. And this site has allowed me to achieve my original goal way beyond any dreams or expectations I had. So I thank you, and whatever allignment of the stars & the universe allowed this to come together, and I will continue to be a member & support this community, not because I have any plans for more recordings, but because it is you that has allowed me to do accomplish this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lore Constantine

Some of you may be aware that my husband and I have been great fans of the band 'Hot Tuna' (Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane), and over the years we have seen them in many venues, from Thanksgiving Eve shows at the Keswick Theater, to Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Wilmington, DE, even the Pitman theater in Pitman, NJ. We have seen acoustic Hot Tuna, Electric Hot Tuna, Hot Tuna with David Bromberg, Jorma Kaukonen solo with Barry Mitterhoff at the TLA, Philly - anyway you get the picture. For the last number of years, they have toured with mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff (of a bluegrass group Skyline), and we have had the pleasure of seeing this collaboration develop from an acoustic trio, onward to an Electric Hot Tuna with Barry playing electric mandolin, finding his way into creating electric guitar rifs on the mandolin.

 

So when a friend told us Barry Mitterhoff was coming to Medford, NJ for a house concert last Monday evening for SJARMS (S. Jersey Acoustic Roots Music Society), we had to go. We were told that they would do some 'jamming' afterward, so I knew I had to bring my flute & ukelele, (even though my ukelele playing isn't exactly masterful). I have to add that halfway through the concert Barry introduced a song that he said had flute & ukelele on the original recording, as well as mandolin & guitar, so I felt justified with my intrument choices!

 

After the concert, the members of SJARMS were gathering to play some music, and we saw a few people go outside to the Gazebo, and that's where the night turned magical for me. I sat in a gazebo with Barry and some other musicians, and was trading solos on my flute with Barry for what seemed like a good 45 minutes or so, (and also occasionally strumming my ukelele!). At any rate, it was a special, magical night to have the opportunity to play with such a fine musician, and I send out a special thank you to SJARMS, for creating such an opportunity, and for allowing a 'non-member' to participate! Here's their website, if you're interested in learning more about them: http://sjarms.com/

 

Here's a photo of Barry that night, with me sitting across the way strumming my ukelele:

 

Barry Mitterhoff and me with my ukelele

 

Once in awhile, something is really life changing, even if we don't realize it at the time or listen to the calling. For me, one such moment was in March 1978, when I attended a concert of Vladimir Horowitz. Attending this concert was not even my own doing. I was invited by a friend from school and really had no concept of what I was going to see or even the rarity or what I now view as priceless seats for that event. We were in the first raised area of seats at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, providing a perfect view of the piano, the keys, and of course Horowitz himself. Coming from a small town in central Pennsylvania, attending very few concerts "in the city", and unaware of the history of Horowitz and his many years of not performing in public, I still cannot fathom now that I had this wonderful opportunity and the amazing generosity of another fellow pianist from school who gave this to me.

 

The program included Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, including Chopin's Sonata in B-flat Minor, Opus 35, which has the famous "funeral march". I felt nothing but pure astonishment as the chords for this rang out through the concert hall. One of the encores was Schumann's Träumerei, Op.15 No.7. The sheer beauty and simplicity of this was transfixing - every note had meaning and purpose. Later, I was able to watch the wonderful movie of Horowitz returning to Moscow in 1986 to perform, and again hear his 'Träumerei' which held even more significance for that audience.

 

As I graduated from undergraduate school, my piano teacher, composer Margaret Garwood, gave me two recordings of Horowitz, including a live recording of Horowitz playing Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 3 with the New York Philharmonic in January 1978, actually 3 months before I was to see him. These were special recordings to her, and also to me, at a time when I felt I was letting my teacher down by concentrating on my flute for graduate school, rather than the piano. I was very aware of my limitations in virtuosity and didn't know what purpose there was to my music, but I held onto those recordings, and I continued to listen and remember.

 

Fast forward to today and why I am writing this. Jacobs Music of Delaware announced a Horowitz piano tour with an opportunity to play this piano by appointment. This was not any piano - this was CD314503, the piano he took to Moscow on his return to Russia, and I've since determined, also the piano in his apartment for his interview with Mike Wallace, and the piano I heard him play. Even being in the same room with this piano is much closer than any "degrees of separation" I can imagine between people. I promptly responded and requested a possible appointment time, expecting maybe 10 minutes or so. When I confirmed the time, I found I was given a full hour. Even writing this is emotional for me! At any rate, on May 1 at 11 a.m. I will be in an amazing musical vortex, and while this isn't a public concert, if you happen to be in Wilmington, Delaware that day you're welcome to stop by:

 

Jacobs Music of Delaware

2800 Concord Pike

Wilmington, DE 19803

Tuesday, May 1

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. 

And if, as I expect, most of you are elsewhere working, etc., take a moment to think on the amazing connections and events that can be life-changing, even when we aren't aware of it at the time.

While I was playing my piano this morning, I saw a sparrow land on a pole outside my window . . .

Welcome to my first blog.  In this blog I will be posting music-related thoughts of my career, both in teaching and performing.  Info about this journey will hopefully open a dialogue with fans and fellow musicians alike about common interests and pursuits, and any suggestions about future topics are gladly welcome.

For this first blog, I would like to answer the question “What pianists do you listen to?” 

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Upcoming Dates (See Calendar for complete list)

  • Dec 15
    Filomena - Blackwood,  Blackwood
     
  • Dec 19
    Private Engagement - University of Pennsylvania Hospital,  Philadelphia
     
  • Dec 22
    Time Out Sports and Entertainment,  Barrington
     

Imagine with video from my CD Release Party