Make a Payment

Category Archives for "The Kitchen Sink"

May 02

Making Magic

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink , violin , voice

Fifty-six years ago, a handsome young Edwardo made the long journey to Mexico City with his new bride. It was their honeymoon, and though he had little money in those early days, he wanted to take her to the most elegant restaurant in town. And so he did, and he thus marked the beginning of a lifetime together.

Today, Edwardo and family came together to comfort his wife. Laying in a hospital bed, she was connected to oxygen and faced the end of her life. From their darkened room Edwardo heard strains of violin music floating down the hallway into the open doorway. It so happened he heard me playing selections of music for my mother, as I frequently do when visiting her convalescent home.

And so, a still very handsome 80 year old man appeared at our doorway. He shyly asked if they could listen for a while. Edwardo knew his music, and recognized everything I played, from Bach to Schubert. At one point he recited the Spanish version poem of Schubert’s lovely Serenade, while I played the melody.

It wasn’t long before I found myself down the hall, playing for Edwardo, his wife and company. The request: Monti’s Csardas, the very same piece the young married couple remembered from their honeymoon, more half a century ago. The proprietor of that Mexico City restaurant played it that night for the newly married couple. I had the honor and privilege of recreating that moment, as Edwardo cradled his very weak wife’s head in his arms, as he once again affirmed his love. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, including mine. It was a tender moment I’ll never forget.

Such is the joy and magic of music. It transcends borders and crosses generations unabated. It’s truly a gift of the spirit and the highest expression of humanity.

Mar 15

From String Quartets to Acting Lessons

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink

Downtown Albuquerque, NM
I’d be remiss if I let too much time pass without thanking my studio and group students for allowing me the time to visit the recent American String Teachers Association conference in Albuquerque. I made the trip along with my dear friend and orchestra colleague, cellist Kyle Champion. Also making the trip were something like 2000 string teachers and students from across the USA and beyond, including fellow FSS instructor Wendy Waggener, and Redlands Symphony harpist Mary Dropkin.

New Mexico was beautiful and sunny; the workshops and concerts were inspirational as was the camaraderie and spirt surrounding the event. Certainly string teachers are a diverse group, yet within that group one can find a spirit of generosity and dedication to a common purpose.

Of special note: a recital by violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk. I heard Josh Bell play a the Mendelssohn Concerto with the LA Phil a couple of years ago; it was indeed an impressive concert. But this recital, which included works by Tartini, Prokofiev, Schumann and Saint-Saéns was even more so. Bell and Denk donated their time to ASTA, and were equally generous with the playing. I can’t remember any musician with as much celebrity as Bell putting so much energy into an evening of music, from first note to last. This while the duo needed to pack up and catch a red eye back to the east coast the very same evening. The music was transcendent; one could have heard a pin drop during the quiet moments in the packed full Kiva Auditorium.

Bell made many an ASTA attendant beam when he thanked the organization from the stage. His big break came after winning an ASTA competition in Minneapolis. A year later he was playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Another surprise from the stage: Bell dedicated his encore: March from the Love of Three Oranges, to “his idol” Jascha Heifetz, who penned the venerable Prokofiev arrangement. To me it was a surprise comment from a young player whose extroverted approach seems so different than that of Mr. Heifetz.

Another notable concert: that of the Shanghai Quartet. This virtuostic and innovative group didn’t draw the the big crowds of Bell’s recital. Too bad for those who missed another spectacular evening of all out, take-a-lot-of-chances music making. Perhaps string quartets have an undeserved reputation for being a bit cerebral. Certainly that wouldn’t apply to this group of four young musicians, now resident at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Check out a recording of violinist Yi-Wen Jiang’s quartet arrangements of traditional Chinese folk songs; they are gorgeous and ravishing, expertly written.

Dozens of musicians, artists and educators presented workshops. Mark O’Connor talked about (and demonstrated!) his “New American Classical Music.” My own idol, violinist Darol Anger, led several sessions on jazz and alternative styles. He’s every bit the musical genius that Josh Bell is, in his own unique way. Somehow he manages to touch the deepest part of me, every time I hear him play, even if it’s just a simple old fiddle tune. And there were the youth honor orchestras and ensembles; it’s impressive to see these kids playing so well and excelling in their lives. Kudos!

As my friend Kyle pointed out, a recurring theme for me was attending sessions that focussed on Yoga, Alexander Technique, acting exercises, singing, shoulder injuries and custom fitted chin rests. More and more, I’m realizing the skills of using the body properly, releasing tension and being “in the moment” are vitally important to me and my students. Students: you’ll be hearing more about this in the studio soon!

So again, thanks to all my students, as well as my very first teacher violin teacher Marjorie Marth, who covered my Suzuki group classes while I was gone, and of course to the dedicated folks at ASTA, who put on one of the best conferences ever!

Mar 03

Exciting News!

By Melanie Alpert | Events , The Kitchen Sink , voice

There have been many exciting developments in the Alpert Studio family recently. First of all, let us all congratulate several Studio students for their notable accomplishments.

Michael Sturgis and Cesar Quintero were selected as semi-finalists in the SCVA Vocal Solo Competition and advanced to the next round which will be held this Saturday. Good luck to you both! Cesar was also a semi-finalist in the non-classical division of the LA Music Center Spotlight Awards. Way to go Cesar!

Kathryn McGuire will be spending most of her summer in Graz Austria after being accepted to the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies.

Also several studio students are on stage this month, please support them by attending their performances:
Kari Kennedy is in the Grove’s production of Pochantas and Mackenzie Orr stars as Mary in the City of Rancho Cucamonga’s Community Theater production of The Secret Garden. I’m really proud of all of you and all the hard work you’ve done.

Finally: news of this Summer’s musical production. I’m thrilled to be music director of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in conjunction with Broadway Experience and the Los Osos High School Theater Department. Performances are slated for July. For audition and additional information visit the Broadway Experience Website.

Feb 09

Baroque Music Concert

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink

The beautiful and acoustically inviting Calvary Chapel

I’d like to invite violin studio students, as well as all Alpert Studio students, families and friends to enjoy a concert of Baroque music in the beautiful setting of Calvary Church, Riverside. There will be a nice selection of vocal and instrumental music, and I’ll be playing a portion of Vivaldi’s exciting Four Seasons Concerto for violin. Please join us!


Orchestra, soloists and Chorus
The Lyric Symphony with Camelia Voin, conducted by Viorel Gheorghe
Selections by Vivaldi, Bach and Handel
Bill Alpert, Violin
Performing Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

At the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverside
Sunday February 17, 2008 at 4 pm, admission is free

4495 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501 • Directions

Jan 03

An opera to save the world

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink

The Ring Photo
A scene from Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” (courtesy Metropolitan Opera)

Richard Wagner’s epic The Ring is a collection of four operas that have inspired concert goers, film makers, film composers, artists of all manner and even soldiers in combat for 150 years. It’s twenty hours of music that encapsulate legend, love, war, incest, racism and even the creation of the universe.

Productions of this mammoth work are legend in themselves. People plan for years and travel thousands of miles to attend. The mother of all Ring productions can be experienced at a specially built opera house in Bayreuthe, Germany, where Wagner staged his original production. You’ll need to buy your tickets early, maybe a couple of years early. Seats are running about $2000 each, per opera. Yes, a trip for two including air fare should be easily doable for only about $25,000 🙂

In case you don’t have the 25K, here’s plan B:

Find a quiet hour, brew a cup of tea, pull up a comfy chair and point your browser to the WNYC public radio podcast The Ring and I. It’s a fabulous production from WNYC’s Radio Lab. I’m a regular listener to this fine series, and this particular podcast is one of the best shows about classical music I’ve ever heard. You can download the mp3 here!

It’s extra credit for all Alpert Studio students, and a great way to introduce your non-musical friends to opera. Let us know what you think!

Dec 25

A Holiday Wish

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink

Christmas presence
by Ralph Marston

There is a light in the darkness. It is love; it is joy.

There is a pure and simple radiance with a positive, joyous
power. It warms the hearts of those who value peace and

The spirit of Christmas transcends beliefs, traditions,
culture and customs. It speaks directly to the heart, of
love and grace, of giving and of renewal.

In the pure, limitless power of love, life is created and
sustained. In the radiance of this day, love’s presence is
joyously expressed again and again, in countless ways.

In this moment, new life begins. And love is the
ever-present purpose that drives every other purpose.

On this day, you have a glimpse of how truly blessed you
are. Give love, give joy, and you have even more.

Dec 24

Music Pick for your Holiday

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink


If the holidays bring out your traditional streak (i.e. are you listening to Perry Como, Andy Williams and the like?), here’s an album you’ll be sure to love: John Rutter’s Music for Christmas, on the Hyperion Label. It’s choir (Polyphony) plus orchestra (The London Sinfonia), conducted by Stephen Layton. You can buy it on Amazon

Maybe I’m a bit late for this year but then again, there’s always next year. The choral sound is magnificent, the arrangements are sublime, and it’s just a lot of fun. If you like Rutter, you’ll love this!

May your holiday be blessed with good cheer, and may the music of the season whisper beautiful hopes and dreams in your ear!

Dec 23

Holiday Greetings from the mountains of Florida!

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink , violin , voice


Intrepid Expedition Everest Explorers wish you a Happy Holiday!

We’d like to extend the best of the season to our entire studio family. We’re back from our road trip and looking forward to seeing all of you soon, starting the week of January 7.

Happy Holidays to one and all, and a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

This just in: congratulations to studio student Kathryn McGuire for her successful audition for The Intimate Opera Company’s upcoming productions of La Traviata and The Mikado. Awesome!

Dec 21

New Orleans and News!

By billalpert | The Kitchen Sink

Bourbon Street on a recent weeknight

There is, and could only ever be one New Orleans. Our homeward bound trek along Interstate 10 gave us a day to savor the city’s unique flavor. The Red Fish Grill provided a dinner I’ll remember for years to come. Check out their double chocolate bread pudding for dessert. OMG.

The real treat came with a stroll along Bourbon street. It was buzzing with activity, even on a Wednesday night. Music streamed out of practically every doorway. We were awed by a makeshift brass band which took up residence on a street corner. Their robust sound, a funky, updated tribute to traditional dixieland playing was at once honest, vital and virtuostic. Most amazing of all, none of group appeared to be older than a teenager.

Beyond the French Quarter, one doesn’t have to look far to find evidence of Katrina. The local newscasts still feature stories of the many struggles this proud city still faces.

What an embarrassment that such destruction and poverty can continue to persist so long after the hurricane. This is our country, these people our citizens, this music our heritage. Dear Lord!

Impromptu street concert worthy of Lincoln Center

It’s been a wonderful trip. Still, we’re looking forward to being home, and sharing the holidays with friends and family.

Some special notes of congratulations to Alpert Studio students Gabi Martinez upon her acceptance to Oberlin Conservatory and also to Mackenzie Orr who was selected to perform the lead role of Mary in the upcoming production of The Secret Garden at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center. Kudos to these hard working, talented students.

Technorati Tags: