Sunday, June 20, 2010

JH Documentary project part 2

Arthur Vered, a JH biographer and Peter Rosen, the film producer for this Documentary project, will soon travel to St. Petersburg, Russia and to Vilnius, Lithuania to shoot footages of film on location at the different residences where Jascha and his family lived, where Jascha went to school, where Leopold Auer taught (St. Petersburg Conservatory). Thanks to all of my dear friends, whom I only met last October 2009, when I was invited to take part in the Rimsky-Korsakov Music International Festival.

Last October 2009, I had no idea that a film documentary project about JH was going to be offered to any film maker in the United States. I was not aware of it until the month of November 2009, when this film maker Peter Rosen called me, and informed me that the daughter of Richard Colburn offered this film project to Peter Rosen.

The reason I was invited to participate in the international music festival at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, was because the director of the festival, who read my book, about JH.
It was an experience of a life time, which I will elaborate more on it, later.

I had to make all of the arrangements for Peter to meet all of the people (most of them are my personal friends), who will plan to help take Peter on the different sites, very essential to the film, as they were places where Jascha and his family had resided, or frequented. Peter will also plan to interview a few important people who know a great deal of information about JH's younger years.
As many of us are aware, that JH spent only a fifth of his life's period in his homeland...the rest of it which he spent in the USA.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Since Genevieve's death, April 10, 2010, I have missed talking with her on the phone once a week, some times more than that, for the past 30 years.
Genevieve lived in Geneva Switzerland, with her mother in a lovely apartment on one of the main roads between the train station and the airport.
She had been my true inspiration for all of this 30 years, in life, and she will continue to be my inspiration. The memory of her will forever have a special place in my heart.
In the next few days, I will attempt to tell you about Genevieve.
What a blessing it was for me to know her and her mother, Narcisse.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Elena, pianist, my dear friend

Last October 2009, when I was invited by the director of the Rimsky Korsakov International Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, unbeknownst to me, a young student, Elena from the conservatory was assigned to me as translator while I was visiting St. Petersburg.
I was assigned another translator during my master class and lecture during the music festival.
Elena told me that 2 months before the festival was to begin, the director requested for volunteers as translator/interpretors for the various foreign participants in the festival, which was to last for a full week (mornings, afternoons, and evenings, everyday). Students who were interested in volunteering must speak fluent english. These volunteers wrote down their names on the bulletin board, not knowing the list of names of the participants in the festival.
Elena was called into the office a month later, and was randomly assigned to me, as my translator outside of the conservatory.
I consider myself the most fortunate person in this world, because Elena and I became friends the moment we met at the airport.
I was introduced to her whole family, and out of their generous heart, accepted me into their family. And we have kept in touch since.
In February 2010, Elena came to visit me in LA for 2 weeks, played the piano, practiced her piano pieces she was preparing for her exams when she was to return back to the conservatory.
When Elena inquired whether she could pay me a visit in the first 2 weeks of February 2010,
by chance, I received at the same time another inquiry from another piano student, Alessia from Switzerland if she could visit me around the same time as Elena.
I said yes to the both of them.
What a blessing it turned out to be

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

JH Gilcrest Drive part 1

Since Mr. H died, I have not had the opportunity to find out what the interior looks like at the JH Gilcrest house. Even though, I have driven by the house hundreds of times, when ever a friend, or an old colleague would ask me to drive her/him over to that house on Gilcrest Drive.

Serendipitously, this past month of March 2010, when a dear friend was visiting me from England, because of the JH documentary project, some thing exceptional had occurred this time, when my friend asked me to drive him over to the Gilcrest house for the 5th time.
As I was waiting in my car, parked across the street from the house, my friend was taking pictures of the outside of the house, which was mostly covered with very high green hedges all around the property when the house was sold to a famous actor, James Wood. The only parts of the house which were not covered was the entrance to the front part of the house, which was gated not so high, and the entrance to the garage door.
Suddenly I saw a man coming out of the gated entrance door to get the mail. He noticed my car,
and was wondering what or who that might be parked across the street.
I decided to come out of my car , crossed the street (very narrow), said hello to this nice looking young man and introduced myself saying: " Hello, my name is Ayke, I used to live here in that house behind you with JH". Well, that really got his curiosity, and responded "Oh really? What do you mean? outside the house or inside the house?"
I: "of course inside the house, I was his accompanist, and was his house manager, who looked after many things for Mr. H"
The man (who turned out to be the owner now, took it over from James Wood), asked kindly, if I had since, seen the inside of the house. When I said "No", he invited me and my friend to come into the house.
This man was so kind and generous. When I asked if Peter the film producer could come out one day to take a few pictures of the view of the city of LA, located opposite of the house on the other side of the street, this man kindly said "yes".

I really believe that the spirit of JH must have been around me and he must have approved of this whole thing.
How kind and generous this man was.
And for fortunate he was, for all the series of events that have taken place as ground works for the film. A time was set for Peter to come out to the house in the next month.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Temecula Concert May 29

To my greatest surprise, Temecula turned out to be such a quaint, little city, having retained its flavor...which is everything western. One expects a few horse-drawn carriages flying or waltzing through this well restored little town. There were many little shops, or woodened type of little stands, where one can stop by and tastes different types of local wine, grown in this area.
One can still find a few indian reservations around this town.
When my roommate and I arrived there by car, 2 hours later, there were many tourists roaming around this town, and music faintly heard, coming from the different shops, or buildings.
The Old Town Theatre where Jeffrey Solow and I were expected to perform is a lovely little concert auditorium, which seats about 350.
On stage, there sat a 9 foot Steinway grand piano, at my disposal, for my use that evening.
The program for that evening, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to play through, the evening before, at a private home. It is always a good idea, to work out all the kinks of the different pieces before an audience, before one gets to perform them in a more formal setting, such as it was in this theatre.
I was most impressed with the attitude of the people involved who were responsible for the success of the evening concert...such as the staff, stage management, the piano technician, who just had finished tuning the piano when I arrived.
The piano, to my surprise, had a very heavy action....not easy to play on it. The keys seemed to have arthritis, because I could hardly push them down. Considering the program I had to play that evening; many passages, which demands brilliant executions, and many chords which needed to be played on a double forte level....that which I was really having trouble with.
I was a little concern, and out of courtesy, the piano tuner stayed around, while I was trying out the piano, just in case I wanted some changes made. When I mentioned it to the piano tuner, he was so kind and told me that he would work on the it was the pins which needed to be worked on. A half hour later, that same piano played like butter under my fingers, the keys responded so much better, and I didn't have trouble at all, using the strength and control of my individual fingers to produce any kind of sound out of the piano. Thank God!
I asked the piano technician, after I had thanked him profusely " How long will this last? will it last until 10pm this evening?" He laughed and said "of course". I don't want to tell you what he did exactly, since it might be his personal secret recipe.
The concert went reasonably well.
I was able to get the piano to cooperate in any shape and form.
It even surprised the soloist.
Performing with Jeffrey Solow, was a great pleasure, being able to get inspired and collaborate in my own style, musically intertwining with the soloist's sense of phrasing. It was intoxicating.
The audience was so attentive. It was well attended.
We drove home that same evening, after the concert was over, and after the short visit with some people from the audience who were mostly friends of Jeffrey, whom I also know.
There was a woman, who drove all the way from the Palisades, who claimed to be a fan of mine, and has been following where ever I have a performance around LA.
She was so sweet.
What a blessing of an evening it was.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

La Jolla concert with Nick

It was not a surprise to hear the response from the audience, that none had ever heard any kind of music played by just an violinist and an accordionist.
Nick and I seemingly have given these people quite a memorable evening, most of them commenting on the beautiful sounds they got from the 2 instruments combined.
We played a varied program, including a rendition of a french popular song La Vie en Rose,
which my genius accordionist friend Nick did, alone, at the very beginning of the concert, zag waying into a russian folk song...(that was not our original plan on the program, but the lady who invited/hired us requested for a french song/russian folk song)
We performed: Scheherashade by Rimsky Korsakov/Kreisler
Spanish Dance by De Falla/Kreisler
Clair de Lune by Debussy (for vln and accordion)
Malaguena for accordion solo
Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu (piano solo)
Indo Serene by Nick Ariondo (for violin, piano and accordion)
It Ain't Necessarily So by Gershwin-Heifetz
Hora Staccato by Dinicu/Heifetz
The audience was of the older generation. I was not sure how they would like our rendition of the Indo Serene, which Nick had written for me, where I switched from piano to violin back and forth. To my greatest surprise, they were so taken and moved by it.
In my whole life, I have discovered that I have received the greatest artistic rewards/satisfaction, making music with my accordionist friend, who is the best collaborator I have ever made music with.
And believe me, I have made music with many, in many different chamber music settings, during my life time.
I feel so blessed, and fortunate that I often get inspired during a performance before an audience (does not matter the size), and change my ways of interpretation of the musical piece of that moment. And I never worry whether my accordionist partner will be surprised or will follow. Because, he always listens, and is always right there with me musically.
I got such a compliment from some one from the audience, when he commented that he liked my rendition of the Chopin, much better than that of Rubenstein..Wow?
(I suppose, I could ask myself, "does he know what he is talking about?)
I really believe that we have given these people an evening of music they will not forget.

What a blessing!

Friday, June 4, 2010

JH's Malibu Road # 2

I have not thought about the name of the couple who bought the JH Malibu house in 1983, before JH passed away in 1987.
Now, 27 years later in 2010, a film producer from New York, Peter Rosen had been given this project to make a documentary film about Jascha Heifetz , by the oldest daughter of Richard Colburn (Colburn School of Performing Arts in LA), Carol Colburn.
Peter Rosen read my book, and was told that I might be able to help with the project.
One of the assignments I was given by Peter, was to find out if there still stands the flag pole out on the beach side of the JH Malibu house on Malibu Road #2.
For security reasons, many of the public breeze ways leading out to the beach which used to be accessible on foot from the street, are now closed. There was no way for me to find out about the flag pole, unless I walk on the beach starting from the beach off Pacific Coast Hwy, which was not impossible.
One day, in March 2010, when Peter Rosen was in LA, interviewing some people, from JH's past, one of whom was Arthur Vered, a JH biographer from England, I suggested to drive out to Malibu with Peter and Arthur, so that I could show Peter where the JH Malibu house was located.
The address of that same JH house now has 5 numbers. And it is not easy to find it again, for it has changed its facade; the white gate on the street-side taken away.
Anyway, when we arrived on the location, I noticed 2 cars parked in its driveway.
That means that there were people inside....possibly.
Peter Rosen's LA assistant Katharina, was not able to find out through regular channels about who now owns this house. Home owners in California, especially in the Malibu area, tend to
change hands often.
I decided to ring the door bell, located inside of the driveway, attached to an intercom system.
To my greatest surprise, a woman's voice came on the intercom, and asked who it was.
Suddenly, I felt speechless, having not thought about the name of the couple who bought the house directly from JH, but somehow under duress, JH's spirits must have enlightened me, and the name came to the tip of my tongue, and answered her question with " I used to spend a lot of time here in this house many years ago with Jascha Heifetz"
The woman's response: "Oh my gosh", whom would you like to speak to?"
I answered:" Mrs. Specht"
The woman:"Speaking, please come in" as the door buzzed open.
Peter, and Arthur followed me as we all entered through a breezeway (just the same as it was before), and immediately could see the flag pole from a distance, to my great relief.
That moment was the beginning of my friendship with this Mrs. Margery Specht, a loving, generous kind lady, who has since invited me many times to make some music together.
Margery Specht is a pianist.
Peter was given the permission out of the kindness and generosity of the Specht couple, to come back in the month of April, and spend an afternoon, till sunset, so that Peter can also film the sunset on the beach, when JH liked to sit for hours on the beach in silence.
I think that this was sort of a miracle in my life, it was meant to be.
And JH must have approved of it.
It was a blessing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

musical inspirations

I woke up this morning, thinking about how I would begin to fill in these daily weekly posts on my blog. And the thought of it begins to give me some inspirations as to why I want to share with my friends and family, the adventures and enrichments of my life's journey, which began... to my great surprise, when I started to give and share more of my talents without expecting anything in return.
For years,.... having worked with JH (Jascha Heifetz), studied with him, collaborated with him on completing many of this transcriptions, I was told that I should never want to play my musical instruments in front of people, unless I was either asked or was hired to perform.
But,.... I had this life and death experience, in 2005, which I survived and was given another chance at life. Only then, I began to think differently, with encouragements from my boyfriend of 10 years, Matthew, who often told me that God has given me those talents, in order for me to share them with others ....freely!
I began to volunteer at Cedars Sinai Hospital, as a music for healing volunteer, where I can come at anytime, and play in private in the patients'rooms. (Cedars Sinai Hospital in LA has a special volunteer program, where each volunteer must go for training first).
I received so much more rewards, gratifications doing this sort of things, than I feel that I have given. Anyway, the people I met have been incredible, and enriching.
I feel I have been blessed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a surprise visit

An old friend, Toni Schoen from Berlin, paid me a surprise visit yesterday, during a rehearsal with Nick Ariondo, my genius accordionist friend, with whom I will perform in concert in La Jolla on June 4th, at the White Sands Residence, home of Natasha Josefowich, the daughter of Jascha Heifetz' oldest friend, Tamara Chapro

Heifetz Documentary film project

This project has given me an opportunity to re-connect with so many people
from my past.
Due to public demand, I plan to continue my story