Author Archive

The following are extended versions of the interviews I had with Toby Twining and Iva Bittova, who are both appearing at the 2011 Vital Vox Festival (Both will be performing on Night 2: Vocals + Strings)

First up, Toby Twining talks about his beginnings and inspiration as well as the new and current material.

CM: How did you go from roots in country-swing to rock to the other-worldly music you’ve been making for various instruments, including voices and chamber ensemble?

TT: This is a long story—I’ll attempt a Reader’s Digest version.

I grew up in Houston and my maternal grandparents were both pro musicians—grandad played guitar, pedal steel, string bass; grandmother played gospel piano like Liberace/Debussy mix. As a teenager, I played guitars, bass, and keys in rock bands. All the kids played Texas blues as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is the extended interview I had with singer/composer Judith Berkson, who will be appearing at the Vital Vox Festival this Saturday at Roulette in Brooklyn (She’ll be appearing on Night One: Vocals + Keys). Here she talks about her beginnings, and the preview of selections from her upcoming opera.

CM: Can you give sort of a small recap of how you got from your musical beginnings to your current status as a composer/performer? Was there a significant a-ha moment or was this something that was gradual?

JB: My father who is a cantor taught me to sing when I was very young by methodically teaching me Hebrew blessings which I would sing back by rote. He was demanding about precise pitch, I remember that. From about age 5 to 10 my family had a singing group/band where we played community centers and synagogues and we were required to be in it. It wasn’t really that fun since we had no choice and rehearsals were long and my father a perfectionist. But despite these conditions I was secretly compelled by music. I liked discovering how to do it. I started classical piano at age 5 and when I was 10 my father insisted on music theory lessons too. None of my friends had to do anything like that. I actually really enjoyed it though. I remember the circle of fifths blowing my mind. In high school I took singing seriously and started voice lessons. I reluctantly auditioned for conservatories not really wanting to go to college and ended up at the New England Conservatory. I thought I’d drop out and find people to play with and start a band but then I ended up falling in love with opera. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iva Bittova

The 3rd annual Vital Vox Vocal Festival, this year being held at Roulette in Downtown Brooklyn (Sat, Nov 5th and Sun, Nov 6th, 8 PM), is not just about singers, but those that are equally skillful at creating music. On November 5th and 6th, there is a sensational lineup of artists that are gifted at both of those as well as skirting genre lines between new classical, indie, jazz and world music. Read the rest of this entry »

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