Sight, Sound and Beyond

Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category

Piano Duo Venti Dita Update

Piano Duo Venti Dita

Piano Duo Venti Dita CD

Well this was announced a while back but thought I would also mention it on my blog as well.  There has been a change in Piano Due Venti Dita personnel.  I, Jennifer Castellano, have moved on to pursue other musical interests and therefore am no longer apart of this unique piano team.  

So Piano Duo Venti Dita now welcomes Alison Neely.  I am glad for Marvin and Alison to be working together and I wish them a great partnership.  They both live in Princeton, thus making it easier to rehearse.  Since I am in New York (40 minutes above midtown), a lot of travel was involved when it came to Marvin and I rehearsing and performing in concerts.  Nevertheless, it was a fun three years working with Marvin and as his musical pal and sidekick, I wish him the best in all his future endeavors.


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  I realize I have not written a very long time.  I must confess that I have been pretty lazy about it.  For starters, I wanted to share that back in September, the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss released a CD entitled Hear This! Music from the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss.  This CD features two piano performances by Yours Truly.  I play Brahms’ Klavierstücke Op. 117, No. 2 in A Major and Scribin’s Prelude Op. 67, No. 1.  Both of these performances were recorded live during recitals did in my 20s.

Piano Duo Venti Dita

Also, Child in the Garden: Contemporary Music for Piano 4 Hands, the CD project I did with Marvin, became officially available months before that.  The CD is a collection collection of music from the 20th and 21st centuries.  We recorded works from Italy, Estonia, Latvia and the United States.

Let’s Recap

Sunny and Nikki

Sunny and Nikki

It’s been a while since I written a blog entry.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps my life has not been that interesting lately.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  I live with two birds remember?  They always keep life interesting and they think my life is interesting because they always want to be involved in whatever it is that I am doing.

Anyway, let’s briefly recap what has happened over the last few months.

My four compositions were premiered on Saturday, November 17th at the New Jersey Music Teachers Association State Conference.  The conference was held at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ.  It was quite the experience.  After all, it isn’t everyday that you get to hear a live performances of your own music.  These student works include:

  • Peaceful Pause (beginner piano solo)
  • Avian Adventures (intermediate piano solo)
  • Modern Dance (advanced piano solo)
  • Shades of Blue (violin and piano duo)

My music will be performed at the Aram Khachaturian House-Museum in Yerevan, Armenia.  One half of the concert will include music by New York Women Composers, and the other half will include music by Armenian composers.  Works by New York Women Composer include:

  • Joyce Orenstein – Three Pieces for Clarinet
  • Jennifer Castellano – Reverie for Flute Solo
  • Binnette Lipper – Trialogue for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon
  • Marilyn Bliss – Murali for Flute Solo
  • Rain Worthington – Duets for a Duo, for Flute and Oboe

I never dreamed that my music would ever be heard outside of the country.  It is pretty wild.

Marvin and I are almost ready to send our CD project off to production.  We got all the licensing done, we have our cover art, and all our CD text is all set.  We are just finishing the design and layout of the inside booklet.  Our CD is titled Child in the Garden: Contemporary Music for Piano 4 Hands, and we expect the CD to become available in early March.

Is Summer Really Over?

Well, summer doesn’t officially end until the first day of autumn, which is September 22nd so I have a few days left, but seriously, where did the time go?  I think it went to the same place that my twenties went.  What I love most about the summer is the long hours of daylight.  I will miss how how it would still be light out at 7pm.  However, I won’t miss the heat and humidity.  We had a lot of that, and it was pretty uncomfortable.

So what did I do over these past few months other than get an iPhone?  Well, I thought I give you a recap of some of the exciting things that I did so here we go!

Gold Master Disc

     Piano Duo Venti Dita

Marvin and I recorded our CD.  Yes, we have the gold master disc and we are in the early stages of production.  We are quite happy with how the master sounds and are looking forward to the finished product.  We also have an official name now: Piano Duo Venti Dita (It. Twenty Fingers).  We are playing in a concert together this Sunday, September 23 in Bristol Chapel at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ.  Actually it’s Marvin’s concert.  I will be acting as his sidekick, but hey, I am still in it.  Yea!  I love being included!

Squawk Back (excerpt)

     Squawk Back

I composed a piece for flute and tape called Squawk Back.  The girls, as usual, managed to squeeze in to this project.  The work was written for flutist, Meerenai Shim, who is looking for new works to perform and possibly record.  I don’t know if this work will be chosen but I am quite happy with how it turned out.  The tape consists Sunny and Nikki’s squawks altered to sound like a drum track.  It is a rhythmic ostinato that repeats through out.  In addition, Sunny and Nikki’s natural calls are mixed in to add an avian flavor.  The flutist plays along with the tape.  It is quite unique but then again, the girls always bring something unique to the table don’t they?


An Avian House Guest

I birdsat a 20-year old White-Eyed Conure named Vito.  He stayed with us for two weeks while his family visited Italy.  H and the girls squawked back and fourth.  I have birdsat Vito several times and it is always an experience because he he sounds like a bugle.

T-Coil Headphones

For years, I have always had trouble listening to music with headphones.  Because I wear hearing aids, that go behind the ear. wearing tradition headphones often both my ears.  Everything would sound distorted.  I also often get some interference and sometimes even feedback, depending on what I am listening.  I obviously can’t wear earbuds since I already have the earmolds that attach to my hearing aids in my ears.  So what did I do?  I purchased my very first pair of headphones from TecEar, which are designed for people who wear hearing aids that have a telecoil program.  Telecoils, also known as T-coils, are nifty little devices that are found inside a hearing.  T-coils allow sound to bypassthe hearing aid microphones and travel directly to the hearing aid via a magnetic field.  In the past I would wear a pair of headphones over my hearing aids, the sounds would travel through the microphones and thus become amplified.   Telecoil or T-coil headphones allow the sounds to bypass the microphones and travel directly to the hearing aid itself.  What is the result, crystal clear sound.

This is how the T-coil headphones are worn.

Yes!  I love these things.  I use them on my iPhone religiously and they work on any audio source that have a standard headphone jack.  My T-coil program is set to a t-coil and microphones mixture in both ears.  So I can listen to music on my headset and still hear environmental sounds around me.  It’s a win win situation!

T-coil headphones don’t look like conventional headphones.  In fact it is kind of like wearing coat hangers on your hears.  Okay, maybe not quite like that, but the ear hooks that sit behind your ears resembles that of a hook that you find on a coat hanger.  There are colored markering on each of the hooks: the blue is for the left ear and the red is for the right.  These are the standard colored markings used on hearing aids so people don’t try putting the left hearing aid on their right ear and vice versa.  It took me a while to get used to putting on and and taking off my t-coild headphones, but after a few days I became a pro and use them whenever needed.  They are a great invention and I am very happy with them.

Don’t Know What to Write About

This is a picture of a Blank Canvas to represent my current lack of ideas.

When I was in high school, we were given an English assignment to write a poem that told a story.  I remember agonizing over what my poem was going to be about until I decided to write a poem about how I didn’t know what to write about.  The opening stanza went like this:

I cannot do this assignment today
I must write a poem that tells a tale
But I have no thoughts of what to say
This assignment is making me pail!

Likewise, I have been wracking my brain on what my next post should be about and have been come up empty.  I guess that’s what I get for telling my friend to say the abbreviation for Mount while pointing to his head.  Now, the jokes on me.

I really don’t have much to talk about lately.  Here are the most exciting things that have happened in my life since the last time I posted.

1.  Nikki laid another egg.  That makes a total of two so far.  I am hoping that this will be the last egg, but Nikki is always full of surprises.

2.  I finally finished mastering my CD and am now in the very early stages of manufacture and production.

3.  I started writing a string trio for a friend to play with her two daughters.

4.  I am getting new hearing aid molds next week.  Yeah, you heard right.  My audiologist recommended me getting new molds since the others are starting to wear down.  I pick them up on Tuesday.

Hopefully, my next post will be more informative but for now, that’s the latest.  I was hoping to have something interesting to talk about that relates to color and sound.  Perhaps an idea will hit me in the next couple days.  Maybe I will be elaborating on one of theses highlights.  Although, I hope I won’t be elaborating on Nikki’s egg thing as I want that to be over.  No more eggs.  My cousin suggested hooking her up with a male and I am like: “No, no babies.”  I have my hands full with two birds already and they are big girls now (7 years old).

So in the famous words of Porky Pig: “A-ba-dee, a-ba-dee, a-ba-dee that’s all folks!”,  Hopefully, I will write again soon!

Still Alive and Kicking

Vivaldi Summer – The Storm by Donald Rainville

Okay, so I know that it has been forever since I posted.  Let me tell why I took so long.  A small part of the problem was coming up with an idea of what my next post would be about.  I know that sounds really bad but sometimes, it helps when you get a little feedback from your audience.  So I am going to say to you now: “What would you like for me to talk about?”  Ask for my opinion on something.  Keep in mind, it should have some relationship with color or sound or hearing and seeing as this is kind of the focus of my blog.

However, my lack of imagination really is not the big reason why I have not been on here for quite awhile.  I have been totally busy!  Let me tell you the latest events going on in my life.  For starters, I put together a special event for a friend of mine, Marvin, from New Jersey.  He is a pianist, radio host, and educator (yeah, he pretty much does it all).  Anyway, I had been arranging for him to do a performance in New York near where I live (Westchester County) to celebrate Alan Hovhaness’ 100th-year Anniversary of his birth.   Marvin has been promoting the music of Alan Hovhaness for much of his life and was friends with the late composer.  So if there is anything you want to know about Alan Hovhaness, he would be a good source of information.   He is like a walking encyclopedia and also knows lots about contemporary music as that is what he presents on his radio show Classical Discoveries.  Anyway, Marvin’s concert was this past Sunday and let me tell you.  It was GREAT!  He was a real hit and had a great crowd and it was overall a very nice day.  I was very happy with how everything went.

Then, at the end of May, I started recording my first CD.  Yeah, I am serious!  Let me just say that I am very fortunate to be an alumna of Purchase College (I did graduate work there).  After I graduated, the music conservatory purchased a kiosk for students and alumni to use for recording.  It is actually pretty easy to use.  I am having it edited, mixed and mastered by Andrew Cardenas at his studio in Peekskill, NY.  Andy and I completing the editing phase and will be mixing and mastering the CD together this Sunday.  It is pretty exciting!

My CD is basically a collection of all my piano compositions.  I figure, they have not been available on recording to the public so I might as well be the first to do it LOL!  I hope all turns out well.  I am still keeping my fingers crossed.  It is going to be called Spectrum as it will include my piano piece with that title.  I would also like to think that I would have a nice variety of pieces, too.  Besides Spectrum, most of the pieces visual influences as well.  These pieces include: Conflicting Colors, Sketches, and The Castle at Sunrise.  Now that I think of it, they all have some relationship to the union of sight and sound.  Perhaps that will be the topic for my next post.  Hello, I’ve got it LOL!

So yes, in addition to work and my everyday life, these have been my two biggest projects.  And of course, Sunny and Nikki always keep things interesting.  It is breeding season now and though there are no male parrots around, the girls are still exhibiting hormonal behavior.  They can get a bit moody from time to time.  Today they were pretty good but occasionally they can get nippy.  There was also one summer when Nikki laid 5 eggs.  Even in the absence of a male, a  female can lay eggs.   Breeding season starts in May and lasts till the end of August.  The girls  usually get the most hormonal though in June and July though.  Once I pass mid July, things start to calm down.

So what are my plans for summer?  Well, I am doing Summit Music Festival and will be playing some chamber music this summer.  I will be doing some new repertoire for 1 piano 4 hands with Marvin too.  On Sunday, we played 3 duets at the Hovhaness concert: Child in the Garden, Ko-ola-u and Psalm and Fugue for String Orchestra (piano transcription).  I guess I will also be writing some music.  I don’t have any ideas or inspirations yet though so I have to wait for them to hit me.  You really can’t plan that stuff.  It happens when it happens.  I would like to write some poetry too.  Yes, I have been writing poetry since I was 10 years old.  I don’t know if I am particularly good but my great aunt always said that I was good so I guess I will take her word for it.

So here is to the weeks ahead!

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