On Monday, December 7th, 2020 from 6 to 7:30pm PTFulcrum Arts presents an interactive session with Peter McDowell, going over the basic principles of how to raise money for a project as an individual artist or small artist collective. Peter puts particular emphasis on virtual events, as he has just completely two successful online fundraisers. This is recommended for artists of all kinds, and is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event is $5 and is online. Click here to RSVP.

Fulcrum Arts is based in Pasadena, CA, and champions creative and critical thinkers at the intersection of art and science to provoke positive social change and contribute to a more vibrant and inclusive community. They are dedicated to building cultural equity into the very structure and fabric of the organization at all levels ensuring that underrepresented populations and voices are included and heard. Fulcrum Arts supports creative practices that incorporate broader, non-western, and Indigenous traditions that resonate within the nexus of art, science, and social change to expand, define, and further human achievement.

Fulcrum Arts’ Emerge fiscal sponsorship program increases the capacity of independent artists, collectives, and small arts organizations by offering financial management, fundraising consulting, and the ability to seek funding through fiscal sponsorship. Our goal is to provide artists with the necessary tools to create sustainable practices, while allowing them to remain independent, dynamic, and responsive to the shifting social and economic contexts in which they live and work.

For more information, please visit fulcrumarts.org

Peter McDowell is an arts management expert with more than two decades of experience serving artists and organizations at the highest level. Currently Director of Development for American Friends of the Louvre in Los Angeles, he has held leadership positions at Opera America, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and most recently as managing director of the Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird. His firm, Peter McDowell Arts Consulting, offers a wide range of strategic career services for performing artists. As a publicist, Peter has garnered press coverage for his clients in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, and many other important outlets.

Peter is in demand as a speaker and workshop leader on diverse topics in career development and arts entrepreneurship. He has been an invited presenter at the Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern School of Music, Eastman School of Music, The Colburn School, Chamber Music America, and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP). He is also a documentary filmmaker and is currently at work on his full-length feature, Jimmy in Saigon. He is a recently graduated International Fellow from the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree in French from the University of Illinois and his Masters in Business – Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin.

Hey folks,

I am compiling a list of financial relief resources for classical musicians and others affected by the current situation.

  1. Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund
  2. Covid-19 Freelance Artist Resources
  3. 3Arts emergency resources
  4. Actors fund entertainment assistance program
  5. Chamber Music America resources
  6. American Composers Forum recommended resources
  7. Creative Capital resource list
  8. Parma Recordings resources
  9. Billboard’s Resources (big list!!)
  10. City of Chicago resources
  11. New Music USA Solidarity Fund
  12. City of LA COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund
  13. Rolling Stone’s explanation of Stimulus package’s help for musicians and artists
  14. Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

More to come soon! Email me with any other additions.

GRAMMY® Award winners Apollo’s Fire and Jeannette Sorrell are poised to launch a semi-annual Chicago-area residency. On March 12th, 2020, they will begin with O Jerusalem! – Crossroads of Three Faiths, a groundbreaking program that evokes ancient Jerusalem through music and poetry.

In anticipation of their upcoming performance, several of the musicians wanted to take the opportunity to share their stories.

“As we celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Jerusalem, several of our musicians with Jewish and Middle Eastern roots have chosen to share their family immigration stories with you.”
Apollo’s Fire

DAPHNA MOR, recorder and ney
Like most people of Jewish heritage today, I come from a family of immigrants and refugees.  My mother’s family fled from their homeland, Bulgaria, during WW2 to escape the Nazis. They did so by taking trains through the Balkans, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Miraculously they all arrived safely in the Middle East. My father’s family was less fortunate.  His parents met in Germany in 1945 in a Displaced Persons camp established by the U.S and the United Nations. Having lost nearly all of their family members, both of them were alone and had nowhere to go. The Americans settled them in an apartment in Regensburg, Germany.  And there my father was born. I often think of their years in Germany – living among the Germans including former Nazis… not knowing where they would end up, trying to rebuild their broken lives. Once Israel became established, they emigrated there.

Unlike my grandparents, I am an immigrant by choice – an Israeli and American citizen who had the privilege to choose her new country and to follow the passion of being a musician. This is not true for millions of refugees and immigrants around the world today, and each one has their own unique story. Please have them in your minds and hearts while listening to our music.

RENÉ SCHIFFER, cello and viola da gamba
I suppose you all have noticed for a while that I am an immigrant.  What you may not know is that my father is a Hungarian Jew.  He and his family were very lucky not to be deported by the Nazis in WW2.  But of course hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews – including three of my dad’s four grandparents and many of his friends – were killed in the Holocaust.  So after the war, my father and his older brother decided to go to Israel.  They were teenagers, and both were serious classical musicians heading towards professional careers in chamber music.  After two years in Israel (1949-50), they saw that there were not yet enough opportunities in Israel for classical musicians.  So they returned to Hungary…  communist Hungary.  

Six years later, they escaped the Iron Curtain under cover of night, on foot – during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.  A boy in their group almost froze to death while crossing a semi-frozen canal.  But they kept going and miraculously made it across into Austria.  As the Hungarian refugees poured into Vienna, many countries (including the U.S.) welcomed them.  My father and uncle chose for the Netherlands.  The Dutch government provided a bus to take them to Holland.  They both became prominent Dutch musicians – they played in the Haydn Quartet (originally called the Dekany Quartet) which can be heard on many recordings, including the complete Haydn string quartets.

SUE YELANJIAN, contrabass
My grandfather, O’Wagon Yelanjian, fled Turkey as a teenager around 1908 to escape the massacre of Armenians in Turkey.  He came alone, and was sponsored by a stranger. During WW1 he served in the U.S. Army.  After the war, my grandfather’s sponsor in Wisconsin wanted his Armenian fiancée to emigrate to the U.S.  She wouldn’t come without her best friend… and that was my grandmother, Angele Djivelekian. She married my grandfather without knowing him.  She was from Constantinople and brought her oud with her.  I recall her playing it for me, using a feather to strum the strings.  They went on to have two sons. When those children (my father and uncle) started elementary school, they knew no English.  As a reaction to his difficult early school years, my father didn’t teach us to speak Armenian.  However, my grandparents lived next door and there was a large population of Armenians in the area who formed a community. This colored and enriched my early years.

JEANNETTE SORRELL, founder and artistic director
I have always been proud to be the daughter of an immigrant. But only recently have I begun to understand just how proud I should be.  When my father came to the U.S. at the age of 27, he already knew about 4-5 languages – but English was not one of them. Though he had been a journalist and translator in Europe, he quite willingly took some clerical and menial jobs in his first year in America. He worked briefly in a shoe store, a deli, and as an elevator operator. But within 5 years, he had mastered English so well that he was working as a journalist again – this time for an arts and culture newspaper in San Francisco.  

Eventually he met my mom, a 22-year-old nurse from a small Midwestern town.  She did not know much about Europe or the horrors of World War II. She did not realize that this young European man, who spoke so passionately about theatre, literature, and opera, but would not say much about his past – was Jewish. (And her family would probably not have approved, if they had found out.). But she had incredible intuition. She knew that he was a profoundly good person.  And so… she married him.  

Like many immigrants, my father then went to night school while working full time to support his young wife and baby.  He sped through graduate school in record time, earned a Ph.D., and became a professor. He instilled in our little family a love of history, literature, and the arts.  It took 50 years and DNA testing, plus an encounter at Carnegie Hall, for us to find out that he is Jewish. But that’s another story.

If the U.S. government in 1957 had not welcomed immigrants, or if my mom had not been willing to trust a foreigner… I would not be here today.  And neither would Apollo’s Fire.

Composers Elizabeth Brown and Frances White will have their works performed in collaboration with the Momenta Quartet on Thursday, December 5th, 2019, 8pm at Brooklyn’s Roulette. As part of the celebrated Interpretations Series 31st Season, they will present an evening of works that blend sound and sight, both Western and Eastern in style, and steeped in literary and mythic origins.

The evening takes inspiration from 11th-century Persian epic Shahnameh, James Pritchett, W.G. Sebald, and poet Mark Strand, utilizing Interpretations founder Thomas Buckner narration and vocal skills.

Lothar Osterburg with Tower of Babel sculpture

Among several visual accompaniments, video and sculpture artist Lothar Osterburg has constructed a sculpture to pair with Elizabeth Brown’s Babel a fresh take on the Biblical myth. Rather than destruction, the pairing of music and visual presents the tale as cumulative growth, with New York City acting as a thriving analogue.


Watch a preview clip of Brown’s Babel with Osterburg’s visuals:

The program also makes excellent use of composer Elizabeth Brown‘s masterful prowess as a shakuhachi player.

This haunting Japanese flute is given a chance to shine in various works, such as Frances White‘s The book of the eveningand Brown’s own Dialect, for solo shakuachi, which makes its NY premiere.

Frances White’s world premiere of And so the heavens turned is not the first time she has directly collaborated with James Pritcher’s texts — for an example, check out The Old Rose Reader.

Her work has been called “seductive and hypnotic” (Music Works), and with its lilting string parts, this certainly follows suit.

This is also not the first time the Momenta Quartet has been summoned to bring Brown and White’s compositions to life. Please enjoy this clip of Momenta performing Brown’s Just Visible in the Distance.

For more of Brown and White:
Elizabeth Brown’s music page, with works and audio
Frances White’s SoundCloud and website

For the event’s official press release, click here.

As one half of the upcoming September 26th, 2019 Interpretations Series 31st season opener at Brooklyn’s Roulette, composer and pianist Rocco Di Pietro has curated an evening of compositions that span his whole career.

With a setlist comprised of selections that Di Pietro wrote himself, one special piece makes for an exception: “Hail Mary” by the late Julius Eastman. A dear friend and colleague, Eastman composed the piece especially for Di Pietro. As such, it is more than appropriate to be included in this retrospective, and will be performed in an arrangement by Di Pietro on piano and Robert Dick on flute.

Watch a 2017 performance of Eastman’s “Hail Mary” at OSU Urban Arts
with Rocco Di Pietro (keyboard), Larry Marotta (guitar),
and David Nelson Tomasacci (recitation).

Of the piece, Di Pietro had this to say:

Julius Eastman’s “Hail Mary” was written for me in 1984 after a concert he had set up for us at the Clocktower in NY fell apart. He had commissioned me for a two piano work we were to play together. He was having a very hard time in NY, and he thought I was much too isolated in Buffalo. He wrote the “Hail Mary” as a consolation for my meditation, in which everything would be all right.

He admired me because I was still writing music with few opportunities, while he was giving up music altogether. It was a misunderstanding, as I wrote music to protect myself from reality. Julius did not like this Giacometti-like stance.

I buried the work for 32 years. I found it one day when the Guardian newspaper called and asked me about Julius in 2016. It was first performed in London at the LCMF in 2017, and I performed it myself in Berlin in 2018 at Savvy Contemporary Berlin.

I may have played it myself in New York in 2016 in an early non sequenced version at Spectrum, but I can no longer remember without checking past programs. Since then, Luciano Chessa told me he has performed it in NY at Mannes and in San Francisco.

As a special tie-in, Di Pietro will offer copies of his new book, Memoir of Julius Eastman, at the Roulette performance.

Although the book is not for sale, donations will be accepted to cover the cost of the galley and the book.

Following the performance, the book will be given away online and at dipietroeditions.com.

For more information about Interpretations’ 31st season opener, click here.