Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tim Smith blogs about us!

The Baltimore Sun
music critic, Tim Smith blogged about us in his popular blog, Clef Notes.
"Opus Nine offers a good example of how music students and recent conservatory grads are making their own way...............Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Make Music New York Festival Party

Jarvis and I went to the Make Music New York (MMNY) Festival Party tonight hosted by Brooklyn Brewery(in our Opus Nine regalia). Part fundraiser, part networking event and part party-we were asked to help MMNY … by drinking lots of beer. Along with about 100 MMNY supporters we enjoyed the warm atmosphere, great music, and an open bar with eight great beers on tap.

MMNY is a live, free musical celebration across the city that takes place each June 21—the longest day of the year. On that day, public space throughout the five boroughs—sidewalks, parks, community gardens, and more—become impromptu musical stages, dance floors, and social meeting points. Thousands of musicians, in every genre, perform for new audiences, who come out from under their headphones to hear unfamiliar groups risk-free. Everyone is invited to sing along and enjoy the first day of summer. Opus Nine is so excited to participate in this day long festival this summer!

I have a new band obsession- Bury Me A Lion. They played a 1-hour set full of passionate lyrics, rocking original tunes, AND they gave Jarvis and me a shout-out from the stage -they absolutely rock! I even got this groupie/stalker photo with the band!

The evening ended with a drinking song sing-a-long-a little pitchy after a 3-hour Open Bar!
We had a great time and supported a great cause. Thank you to MMNY and Time Out Magazine for providing this great opportunity for musicians in NYC!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Robin Interviews Alexis Schultz

Robin had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Schultz for this interview. As a special treat for our Philadelphia concert-goers, Alexis will give a pre-concert talk on the evening of May 15th at 6PM!
Reservations suggested. For reservations, email

The adage says: "The devil is in the details." Or, you may prefer "God is in the details." Either way, one of the most important elements to a great concert program is in its program notes. These musical entrees, when well-written, whet our appetites and make us eager to hear the performance to follow. Are thorough concert program notes the result of divine inspiration? Let's find out by consulting Opus Nine's program note writer, Alexis Schultz!

R: Hi, Alexis! Thank you for joining me for an interview. We understand that you are very busy! Alexis is a full-time doctoral candidate at The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Is it true that you are the first violist selected in quite a while to pursue the coveted Doctor of Musical Arts degree (D.M.A.) from this highly-selective program?

A: I feel very fortunate to be one of two violists accepted the year that I applied. It definitely worked in my favor that I had obtained my M.M. [Master of Music degree] from Peabody -- I had a wonderful viola teacher and several Musicology teachers pulling for me.

R: Wow, that's impressive! No need for viola jokes here! :) Since I mentioned that you are a violist, let's expound upon that fact. How did the viola become your instrument of choice?

A: My father is a pianist, and I studied piano at a very young age. I was talented without working too hard at it, and honestly, I just didn't appreciate it. Along came my first orchestra director, giving all of the students a basic music test. Those who did well were taken to the school library, where three tables were set up. To the left, a violin, and to the right, a cello. The class divided almost exactly in half in the two directions. The viola just glowed on the table in the middle -- I had no choice. The viola chose me. So, I practiced tons and nothing came naturally. I had to work hard and fight for every little step. Maybe it was the challenge, but I grew to really appreciate music and the viola in a profound way.

R: Perhaps it is natural for we violists to walk to the beat of our own drum! You selected the viola when nobody else did! I agree that we often learn to appreciate real beauty in life and music when we persevere through trials. Clearly, you were quite an interesting child, Alexis. Tell us a little about your early academic experience. How and when did you decide to become a professional musician?

A: Again, I have to say, it never felt like a choice. It just was. As for academia ... it's hard to pinpoint when things fell into place. I was a book nerd as a kid and I'm a book nerd now. I blame my parents -- both big readers and knowledge-seekers. As I said, my dad is a musician -- he was my first piano teacher -- I distinctly remember being four years old, [sitting] on the piano bench and learning about Bach being from the Baroque era and how that differed from Mozart being from the Classical era, and Chopin being Romantic. In second grade I got in trouble for calling a classmate narcissistic. I was intolerable. In high school I was restless and signed up for an exchange program that would send me to Versailles. I had a great viola teacher there -- Paul Hadjage -- and I was changed. I started college thinking I might major in Musicology and minor in Viola, but my viola teacher -- Helen Callus -- would have none of it. So I signed on for a musicology-heavy performance degree, called a B.M./B.A., and took lots of history courses. I got to work with brilliant folks at UW in Seattle: Larry Starr, Joel Durand, John Rahn. I was hooked.


For Robin's full interview with Alexis Schultz, please click here.