Viva La Opera!!

I attended an opera recently and the demographics of the audience’s average age was about 75 years oldNot that there’s anything wrong with that, but we need to educate our young about the joys and beauty of opera. With news of the San Diego Opera Company folding after 49 years of adding to the cultural life of the S.D. area, I fear that opera houses in the U.S. will become extinct within a few generations from now.Yes, it is expensive to attend an opera but it is VERY expensive to produce and the price is fully justified if you look at all that goes into making an and staging an opera and it is worth every penny. We have to figure out a way to make opera more accessible financially-speaking. It is one of the civilized world’s great treasures. Let’s do our best to keep opera alive.  Viva La Opera!!

Opera singing lessons - Cornerstone Music Conservatory

Posted in Education, Music Knowledge | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Morten Lauridsen – Get to Know Him

On Sunday March 16th, I was lucky enough to nab a seat in Disney Hall to listen to a whole concert of Morten Lauridsen’s gorgeous choral music. The concert was a tribute to the composer and his volume of choral works performed by the LA Master Chorale. It was the kind of music where at the end of each piece you did not want to break the beautiful silence with the obligatory applause. It was that stunning.

Morten Lauridsen - Cornerstone Music Conservatory

Morten and I both attended USC as doctoral candidate students of music “way back when” where we took composition classes together from Halsey Stevens and Robert Linn. We had so much fun and I will never forget those special times. Since then, since I am so busy teaching music to others, directing the Cornerstone Music Conservatory, conducting a children’s chorus, and am also an artistic director to a non-profit organization, it is rare that I have time to compose except for an occasional ditty.

Lauridsen, on the other hand, has gone on to write the most beautiful choral music in modern times and has received countless accolades for his work internationally. He has been called a genius and the most popular American choral composer of the 20th century. With his beard and long tresses, he looks like a musical Moses who has, instead of going off to Mt. Sinai to receive the ten commandments, has purposefully become a part-time recluse every summer on a small San Juan island just north of Washington State to receive the inspiration and the quiet and the spiritual connection he needs to receive his musical gifts from undoubtedly a Higher Power or Force of Nature—whatever one chooses to call it.

In a way his life at times must be lonely, but sometimes musicians must be lonely. They must isolate themselves in order to pursue their passion, their song, their symphony, their opus. The discipline to follow that life path is not always easy and it is a choice for many composers, musicians and artists must make if they are to become excellent at their craft.

When one hears a whole concert of Morten Lauridsen’s music as I did last night, there were moments when the large audience was so quiet that there was not even one muffled cough because no one wanted to ruin the musical canvas upon which the sonorities emerged. As the hall was sprinkled with one incredible note and chord after the other upon the ears of the transformed listener, one wonders how long each one of those notes was contemplated by the composer before actually written down.

I encourage anyone reading this, if you aren’t yet familiar with Morton Lauridsen’s choral music, to sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and avail yourself of his many musical offerings on Youtube, close your eyes and immerse yourself in the glorious sound. You will be in for an extraordinary real treat.

Posted in Music Knowledge, News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Music of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays because I love the sound of Celtic music sonorities. Every year this holiday gives me a good “excuse” to teach my young Cornerstone Music Conservatory students the joy of the rhythms and harmonies of this music. I also teach them how to dance a jig and my more advanced students are required to compose their own Irish /Celtic tunes. There is just something about the music that is so fresh, vibrant and energetic that it really does put a smile on my face and makes it very difficult to be sad about anything.

st.patrick's day cornerstone music conservatory

Posted in Music Knowledge | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magic of Musical Expression

Written by guest blogger and Cornerstone student Silvana Ferrarin

I remember a day in my sophomore year of high school when everything just fell apart. My parents had gotten into a fight at home, and I had just found out that I had literally failed my math final. Not to mention that a love confession had gone horribly wrong, and my favourite TV series had gone on a hiatus. I had sat there on my bed, mulling over the events that had reduced me to an emotional wreck. Continue reading

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

Introducing Classical Music to Kids

from August 30, 2011 MENC comment – Using popular music examples to introduce classical  music to kids

Sometimes the best way to reach students in public school music classes who have never really been exposed to the beauty of classical music is to approach them on their level. Continue reading

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

Alex Davies, now an alumni from CMC

Last night our director, Ann Pittel, shared Japanese food with Alex Davies, 18, who has taken music lessons at Cornerstone Music Conservatory since he was 3 years old.  Alex was first enrolled in our toddler prep program, then the Harmony Road piano class, then private piano lessons with Ann, and has studied cello for many years with Dr. Stephen Reis.  It was a farewell sushi dinner as Alex, a recent 4.0 GPA graduate of Santa Monica High School embarks on his new adventure at Brown University, cello in tow. Alex will audition to be come a member of the BU orchestra in Providence, RI.  Major undeclared.  We wish Alex all the best success and will miss his cello playing at Cornerstone very much

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Cellos on Airplanes

Did you know that if one takes a cello on a plane, one must pay for an extra seat for the cello?  The cello actually then is entitled to bring one piece of stored luggage and one smaller under the seat carry-on.  Alex Davies, an alumni student at Cornerstone is carting one back to Brown Universityso he can continue practicing and audition for the BU orchestra.  We wonder if the airline steward will be bringing the cello a snack or a meal

Posted in Music Knowledge | Leave a comment

Proposed Cuts to Middle School Music Programs

I have just read the sad news in the LA Times that Los Angeles Middle Schools will be cutting out some of their music classes as part of the effort to trim the school budget.  It is always music and the arts that are first to go when there are necessary school budget cuts.  When will we ever realize that the arts is not just a frill, but a necessity—not just for art and music alone, but for bringing meaning and focus to all the other academic disciplines?  I am sure that I am not mentioning all  the benefits now, but here are just a few to consider:  music promotes creativity, cooperation, language development, abstract thinking, memory, community and self-discipline.  If we must eliminate some of these music programs in our schools now, let us hope that the curriculum planners might be creative enough to integrate more music in the teaching of the academic core curriculum.  I am up for brainstorming on this one. Let’s not let a lack of money interfere with music for our children.  Let’s get creative.

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

VisionWalk: Foundation Fighting Blindness

VisionWalk: Foundation Fighting Blindness

VisionWalk is the national signature fundraising event of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.  Since its inception in the Spring of 2006, the program has raised over $13 million to fund sight-saving research.  As promising treatments move into critical human studies, the need for research funding is greater than ever before.

Join the tens of thousands of people who have taken important steps toward a cure by participating in a 5K VisionWalk.

Date: October 24th, Sunday,
Time: 10:00 am
Where:  Meet at UCLA Dickson Court

Donate: please donate at

Posted in Events | Leave a comment