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  • 1,000 Dragons Rising: The Path of the Ancestors Triumph for the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    EF250F24-F771-47F8-B448-A230402FE78B The world premiere of Kim Thủy Hỏa by Vũ Nhật Tân.

    ”Bác Jeff!” breathlessly whispered one of my Vietnamese colleagues, hurriedly finding me back stage as we were all getting ready to perform. “We must wait to start the concert. We have over 1,000 people trying to find seats, more than the auditorium can handle. Uncle Jeff this never ever happen before!”

    In the Path of the Ancestors indeed proved to be the right title at the right moment for the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble. Post concert noise and chatter continues to flood the city’s cultural discussions while both Vietnamese national and international television networks can’t seem to get enough of me, resulting in very good media exposure for a new music group in its fourth season.

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  • The 10th Anniversary of the Manila Composers Lab in The Phillipines

    Thoughts about my recent visit to the 10th Anniversary of the Manila Composers Lab in the Phillipines with Luong Hue Trinh!

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    3031EE04-3B3A-4DAC-8577-3F80A94E453E The triumphant members of the 10th Manila Composers Lab.

    “I feel like I’ve just visited the Bayreuth of the Phillipines,” I said to my gracious host, composer and ethnomusicologist Ramón Pagayon Santos. He’d invited us over for an expansive morning and afternoon conversation including lunch the day after the final concert of the 10th anniversary of the Manila Composers Lab.

    One critical aspect of my 2019 residency with the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble are my visits to the new music neighbors of Việt Nam. Before arriving in my second home here in Hà Nội, I’ve made fresh contacts with new friends in Singapore and met composers in Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand. Before heading home to California, I will go to Japan in late April, after the conclusion of Hà Nội’s fourth season, to follow-up with many friends in the Japanese new music world.

    I am already convinced…

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  • On the Path of the Ancestors with the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    0973AC55-4AC0-41B9-8E55-734C7164F4BE National treasures of Việt Nam, Thanh Hoài and Xuân Hoạch.

    On the Path of the Ancestors is my next concert with the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble. My friends here always find wonderful and poetic titles for our programs, they can’t do otherwise. In a long career devoted to new music, conducting over forty world premieres, numerous recording sessions, securing commissions, animating second performances, planning tours and collaborations, this concert at 20h00 in the Grand Hall of the Việt Nam National Conservatory of Music on Friday March 22, 2019 looms as a milestone.

    Three generations of composers are coming together and my Hà Nội New Music Ensemble will be joined by a cast of national treasures, whiz-bang technology, guests from the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, the light bearing Ancient Ensemble of Tonkin/Đông Kinh Cổ Nhạc led by Đàm Quang Minh.

    Cue national and international television broadcast by the major…

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  • “What’s Next?” in Asian Creative Music

    Jan Karlin — What's Next?

    yQj%4s3qSFK21tyKZGeS8Q Composer Kee Yong Chong introduces us to delicious Singapore with lunch at the Albert Hawker Center:  (L to R) Char Kway Teow, savory Carrot Cake and Laksa

    One of the joys of travel is meeting new people, especially when we share friends in common. Before arriving in Vietnam to begin our 2019 concerts with the Hanoi New Music Ensemble, my husband Jeff and I decided to visit Singapore and Thailand to meet some of their composers and contemporary music leaders. I am pleased to report that creativity in Asian contemporary music is thriving and exciting.

    With introductions from our Vietnamese colleagues, Facebook and emails facilitated quick connections. Luckily musicians love to eat, so our conversations also included local food as well as introductions to music and cultural institutions. Our trip began in Singapore, a city of the future with a thriving arts scene.

    Pictured above is composer Kee Yong Chong…

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  • A New Generation: From Hamburg to Hà Nội with Lương Huệ Trinh

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    492487DA-11A4-4AA8-A39A-53814F1E5F77 Our first meeting in 2017 at Public Coffee in the Neustadt District of Hamburg.

    Nothing is random. In June of 2017, on our way to take in the conclusion of the opening season of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg with Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder conducted by our friend of over forty years, Kent Nagano, I noticed a Facebook post of a young Vietnamese student who was part of a team contributing a technology component to a Hamburg Staatsoper production of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Æneas.

    That got my attention for all types of reasons! 

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  • The 25th Anniversary of the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble in México City

    Enjoy this blog posts about my colleagues the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble in Mexico City, who have already performed Nguyen Thien Dao and Vu Nhat Tan, as well as regular tours to Japan and Indonesia!

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    F47BAC8B-207D-4ADA-AD4A-297798353A6D Tambuco celebrates 25 years, with guest pianist Ana Gabriela Fernández.

    The spirit of percussion opens everything, even what was, so to speak, completely closed.” – John Cage

    Ricardo Gallardo and I have been partners in new music projects for a long time. We got started because of an introduction by American icon William Kraft, have received four Grammy nominations for our collaborative CD recordings, Southwest Chamber Music toured México multiple times, at UNAM and in Guadalajara, Tambuco has come to Los Angeles multiple times, to both Herbert Zipper Hall at the Colburn School and REDCAT in Walt Disney Concert Hall.

    We’ve even tracked each other down in Japan!

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  • “The Ancient is New & The New is Ancient” at L’espace in Hà Nội

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    146FCB75-9BB0-4459-9FDE-0409E95CD5E5 A silhouette of my friend Hương Lan in Huế.

    I have been trying not to view Japan as an absolute but as a duality, otherwise the tradition does not come alive but remains an unavoidable antique.

    In 1989 Toru Takemitsu wrote an essential article, Sound of East, Sound of West. For me, his perspective gives a serious reader a compass of magnetic certainty for navigating the blending soundscapes of our musical world. And like any map locating an unknown destination, my dog eared copy of this East Meets West article, a transcription of a lecture Takemitsu delivered at Columbia University in New York City, has been read and re-read more times than I can count.

    On Saturday night December 1st, 2018 at 20h00, the Institut-Français Hà Nội sponsors the ongoing collaboration of the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble and the Đông Kinh Cở Nhạc/Ancient Ensemble of Tonkin at…

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  • The Hà Nội New Music Ensemble 2018-19 Season Starts September 8

    Sound Travels with Jeff von der Schmidt

    16BD0FC9-CC14-44F5-80CF-AEF5303CA181.jpeg Violinists Phạm Trường Sơn and Vũ Thị Khánh Linh.

    I may be house sitting for a friend in San Francisco this September, but unlike Tony Bennett I’ve left my heart in Hà Nội, Việt Nam!

    The opening concert of the 2018-19 season of the Hà Nội New Music Ensemble will get underway on Saturday September 8 at the Manzi Art Center at 8 PM. The first of five programs this season, the most ambitious we’ve planned, begins with a Composer Portrait concert of works for strings by Vũ Nhật Tân, entitled Màu Âm in Vietnamese, Shades of Sound in English, Couleurs des son in French juxtaposed with ancient Vietnamese music with our friends in the Ancient Ensemble of Tonkin.

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  • Tanglewood Memories

    Jan Karlin — What's Next?

    fullsizeoutput_6c1d.jpeg Tanglewood Music Center Alumni (L to R): Jeff von der Schmidt, Jan Karlin and Bruce Creditor

    Grandma led me to the Press Gate at Tanglewood where her dear friend Louie Esterman held court. Louie stopped us instead of waving us through – “I want you to meet Leonard Bernstein’s children: Jamie, Alex and Nina.” At ten years old, I wasn’t exactly sure who they were, but we nodded to each other. I could tell that Louie thought it was a special encounter.

    My mother grew up in Pittsfield, next to Lenox, which is the location of Tanglewood in the beautiful Berkshires in western Massachusetts. As a child, my grandparents Anna and Nathan Bass began taking me to hear concerts at the summer home of the Boston Symphony because of my violin studies. I loved the beautiful environment and enjoyed the music. Because Louie was a volunteer at the press gate…

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  • Experience Counts – Build Your Resources

    Jan Karlin — What's Next?

    Attending a peroformance Southwest Chamber Music’s Summer Festival at The Huntington: 20 years of outdoor concerts included challenges of logistics, added lighting, and a large campus. Our budget included beautiful lamps, walkie talkies, drinking water, and blanket rentals for outdoor seating!

    As one gathers ideas to begin a new venture, many questions surface. What do you want to do? Is your idea unique? Where is the best location and when should we begin? Who can I ask to help? And, what resources are available?

    Ah, “resources.” This often becomes a code word for “where’s the money?” Even if you are beginning with funds out of your own pocket, you need many resources to support your idea. And, I wish to stress, the idea MUST always come first. A quick route to mediocrity is finding money first and then deciding what you can afford. A strong idea will always generate the resources —…

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