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A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff

The Cello has brought me some pretty amazing opportunities. In July of 2019 I shared on the ‘gram that my cello and I were lucky enough to be asked to be in an independent film, called “A Kaddish For Bernie Maddof“. I had 2 roles: Cello playing aging wife and mother who lost her inheritance to Bernie Maddof, and a cello playing legal secretary. The common thread here is “cello playing”.

The film was written and produced by Alicia Jo Rabbins, directed by Alicia J. Rose, and is “A mystical meta-musical feature film about the greatest financial fraud in history.” IMHO, it’s awesomely unique, and thought provoking.

It was such a great experience to be a part of, and even more amazing to see the beautiful final product. The film won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature @ the Ashland Film Festival, and just finished screening at the Washington DC Jewish Film Festival. Keep an eye on the film’s Website (link above) for updates on the next screening, and keep your eyes open for me and my cello!

Romantic Timberline Elopement 2/15/22

First wedding of 2022, and what a great start to the year! I was honored to be asked to play for Marina and Tara’s romantic Timberline elopement ceremony. Such breathtaking scenery, and what a wonderful and kind couple. The ceremony was brief and very heartfelt. They requested “The Story” by Brandi Carlisle as their first dance, and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” to celebrate making it official. Congratulations Marina & Tara, best wishes for a wonderful life together!

2022: weddings are back!

2022, Year of the Wedding

Happy 2022! I’m looking forward to playing lots of weddings. With Covid still in the mix, you may be hesitant about having an indoor wedding. Luckily, the PNW has the most beautiful outdoor venues in the world, and I will hike to your destination ūüôā

A big thank you to everyone who is supporting local artists and musicians; we couldn’t survive without you!

Lessons and Weddings during Covid-19

Last year in March, I took what I thought would be a 3 week break from teaching and playing weddings, as Covid-19 restrictions were put into effect. Little did we all know that Covid would become such a long and transformative part of our lives.

The world is making progress, and the vaccine is a huge step towards eventually getting back to school, lesssons, and gathering for celebrations, but we still have a long way to go before all of our most vulnerable people are safe.

I really miss playing and teaching, and want to get back to it. This summer, I will be booking outdoor weddings only, and small gatherings only, both for my safety and the safety of others. But an outdoor, intimate wedding is a wonderful thing, and Oregon is an amazing place to find gorgeous outdoor venues! I look forward to being able to play for yours.

I also want to resume cello lessons, and as soon as vaccinations happen and the governor opens up the option I will re-start my teaching practice. Online lessons are one choice, and this summer, outdoor lessons in my spacious back yard can happen. Contact me if you have questions about either of these options.

Most of all, stay safe, and stay optimistic! Hold on to the beautiful things in life: family, smiles, music, art, laughter. See you soon!

7/25/20 – Outdoor Wedding in Stevenson Washington

Outdoor weddings are perfect for social distance. This wedding at Cape Horn Estates was peaceful and beautiful; the view was spectacular. The wedding planner was Eventcracker, and were super friendly and great to work with.

Another unique element of this wedding; the bride was also a cellist! I love playing for people who love the cello. Congratulations Darlene and Derek!

7/11/20 – Backyard Socially Distanced Wedding, Music by a Cello Ninja

Covid-19 has certainly changed everything, and that is definitely the case with weddings. I have been spoiled by very full booked summers, but ‘Rona caused all but 2 weddings to cancel this year. Here I am in July, at my first socially distanced wedding!

The couple was lucky enough to have access to a very beautiful and large backyard for their ceremony. Everyone wore masks (except of course the bride and groom). I felt like a cello playing ninja!

12/7/19 – Wedding @ Oaks Pioneer Church

I know I have said this before, but I absolutely love the acoustics in the Oaks Pioneer Church.  There is something incredibly special and sacred about this intimate church.

Church-3308-1024x681 I was honored to play my first fully bi-lingual wedding, the entire ceremony was first spoken in Spanish, then in English.

The bride requested “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran for her processional, and “The Time of Your Life” by Green Day for the recessional.¬† It was the first Green Day request I’ve had, and I liked playing it so much I made it a permanent fixture on my playlist!

Corporate Party @ Multnomah Whiskey Library

I was invited to play at the Multnomah Whiskey Library, which is just what it soundsIMG_0699 like, a library of whiskey.¬† Complete with ladders like you would see in the stacks, and stocked with 1000’s of bottles, it’s quite the statement.¬† It’s also in quite an old building.¬† To give you an example, I plugged in my amp in a vintage 2 prong outlet in the floor.¬† Folks stayed pretty mellow considering the amount of alcohol that was present, and the acoustics were quite good!

11/22/19 – Wedding@ the Lan Su Chinese Garden

It’s amazing how many breathtaking venues I get invited to play at!IMG_0641¬† The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a hidden gem nestled in the middle of the Old Town district in Portland. It’s an amazing venue, every square inch of the grounds has been meticulously designed.

And once again, the powers that be allowed amazing weather for an outdoor wedding in November!

The couple requested The Book of Love for the bridal processional, and Imagine by John Lennon for their ring blessing ceremony.

10/12/19 – Wedding @ Pondview Retreat

Peaceful and meditative weather for a beautiful outdoor wedding in October at the Pondview Retreat in Cornelius Oregon.¬† The bride requesteIMG_0610d “Isn’t Love” by Joe Purdy for her processional (you can see/hear the song as sung by Joe here.¬† I had never heard Joe Purdy before, and I ended up loving his music and buying one of his albums.¬† Learning new songs and hearing new music is one of the highlights of being a wedding musician; it keeps my musical spirit renewed and in a constant state of learning and discovery.

 

9/13/19 – Wedding @Gray Gables Estate

Who knew that a beautiful paradise existed just a block off of McLoughlin Blvd?¬† I got invited to play a wedding for a lovely couple at Gray Gables Estate, which has a beautiful outdoor cathedral-like setting, a pond and fountain with live Koi, and a very nice indoor area for gathering.¬† The bride’s dreaIMG_0639m was to walk down the aisle to Pachebel’s Canon in D, and I was honored to play for her and her partner.¬† Congratulations Shelly and Alyssa, many blessings for a long and happy life¬†together!

9/1/19 – Wedding @Blockhouse

There is an amazing plant paradise in NW Portland called Pomerius Nursery, and my cello and I got to play among the palm trees!¬† The bride asked me to play a cello arrangement of Endlessly by Amaranthe for her processional.¬† It’s a beautiful song, and one I will keep on my playlist!¬† Congratulations Emily and Edwin!IMG_0635

8/31/19 – Wedding @Hoyt, Steven’s Pavilion

Surrounded by old growth trees, my cello felt right at home.¬† I always enjoy playing at Hoyt, today there was perfect weather in thIMG_0633 2.jpgis perfect setting.¬† The couple asked me to arrange a cello version of “Yellow” by Coldplay for the wedding processional song, and the song worked well on cello with a light synth background loop.

 

8/4/19 – Wedding @ Hoyt, Redwood Deck

I was asked to play a morning wedding at Hoyt Arboretum.¬† This ceremony was held at the Redwood deck, an intimate setting among old growth redwood trees.¬† The wedding began at 10:30am, which perfectly avoided the 90 degree weather forecast for the afternoon.¬† The couple requested Bach Cello Suite 1, which I’ve always thought sounds better outdoors.

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I really enjoyed the readings at the ceremony, one of which was an excerpt from a poem by Rumi:

‚ÄúToday, like every other day we wake up empty and frightened.¬† Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.¬† Take down the dulcimer.¬†

Let the beauty we love be what we do.¬† There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.‚ÄĚ

Congratulations Claire and Zahir.  Wishing you a long and happy lifetime together!

8/3/19 – Wedding at First Presbyterian Church, Downtown PDX

IMG_0376Lovely church wedding at the First Presbyterian Church on 12th and SW Alder.¬† I had never been inside this amazing church before, and the interior is every bit as amazing as it’s exterior.¬† I had to get a picture of my cello with all the fantastic woodwork, curved balcony, and huge stained glass window.

Also within this church is a fully functional, massive pipe organ.¬† The picture I took doesn’t really communicate the actual feeling of the size; it’s definitely the centerpiece of the church.¬† This speaks to how central music was to worship at the time this church was built – how important it once was. What a wonderful time that must have been to experience!¬† Congratulations to Katie and Andrew; best wishes on a long and happy life together.

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7/12/19 – Wedding @ Beacon Hill Winery

Gorgeous day for a wedding in Gaston, Oregon!¬† The perfect amount of breeze and lovely grounds at Beacon Hill Winery.¬† The bride requested an excerpt from the song “Planetarium” from the movie “LaLa Land” for her ring bearer and flower girl, and for the bridal processional a cello cover of “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens.¬† Congratulations Angela and Ryan!¬† IMG_0146

7/6/19 – Wedding @ The Abernathy Center Cathedral

CongratulationIMG_0128.jpgs to Kate and Robert Squires!  Beautiful wedding at the Historic Abernathy Center Cathedral.  Processional playlist included:  Bach Cello Suite #1, For The Love of a Princess (from Braveheart) and Canon in D.  This cathedral actually rang the bells when they finished exchanging their vows!  How cool is that!

6/7/19 – Wedding @ Lucy’s Garden

IMG_0587.jpgWedding at Lucy’s Garden, Ridgefield Washington.¬† Beautiful gardens and an indoor barn for the reception.

I played before the wedding during a cocktail hour in the barn, and had people singing along to familiar songs.

The bride chose Pachebel’s Canon in D for her processional.

Congratulations to Kristin and Drew!

5/26/19 – Wedding @ Irving Street Studios

IMG_0584Wedding at Iriving Street Studios, downtown Portland.¬† Light and airy venue with lots of natural wood, excellent acoustics.¬† The couple chose quite a few Beatles tunes for the pre-ceremony music, which I always love playing.¬† What is it about the Beatles that appeals to so many?¬† It’s music that so many can relate to.

The Processional songs were: cello and looper versions of¬† “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”.

Congratulations to the Skripsky’s!

5/25/19 – Urban Wedding @ Urban Studios

In a total contrast to the outdoor, lodge themed weddings of last week, I got to play a wedding in a very urbanIMG_0562.jpg venue in Downtown Portland.  I enjoyed the modern lighting, decor, and huge windows.

The Processional was a cello version of “A Thousand Years”.¬† And the Recessional:¬† “Don’t Stop Believing” on cello and looper.

5/20/19, Wedding @ Silver Falls State Park

 

Silver Falls State Park has some of the most amazing scenery in Oregon!¬† I’ve been hiking at the Falls, but I’ve neveIMG_0558.jpgr been to this lodge.¬† The ceremony was held outdoors in an outdoor cathedral, surrounded by silent, old-growth trees.¬† Instead of using a generator, I was happy I brought by battery powered amp so everyone got to enjoy the sounds of nature and the cello.

The processional songs were cello¬† versions of “Speechless” by Dan and Shay, and “At Last”.

Afterwards, the party  moved into the lodge for the reception dinner.  Absolutely gorgeous!

Wedding Season 2019!

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Dust off your dancing shoes, it’s on!¬† Spending time in my studio working on cello arrangements for new tunes.¬† I’ve had a few requests that venture into the country genre (Lonestar, Dan & Shay); as well as some R&B/Synth songs, and a classic Elvis tune that never loses it’s charm.¬† Arranging these songs for the cello’s voice results in something surprising but familiar, and always beautiful.¬† So far, new songs I’ve added to my playlist this season are:

Say You Won’t Let Go James Arthur, Love Someone – Lukas Graham, Amazed – Lonestar, Speechless – Dan & Shay, Beautiful – Bazzi, Love Me Tender – Elvis

 

 

10/27/18 – Wedding @ The Benson Hotel

IMG_0487This Saturday night I played in the Crystal Ballroom at Portland’s iconic Benson Hotel.¬† This venue has an urban-vintage feeling; there’s such a solid feeling of craftsmanship in the building, lots of attention to every detail. The series of huge chandeliers put the “crystal” in this ballroom.¬† Whoever designed and constructed this building went all out on the ceilings!¬† So the next time you visit the Benson, be sure to look up.

This wedding marks the first time EVER I have finished Pachelbel’s Canon at exactly the moment the Bride reached the altar.¬† Seems the planets were perfectly aligned for this couple!

 

10/5/18 -Governor Kate Brown@ Wildwood Company, PDX

I was honored to be asked to play for a fundraising event for our Governor, Kate Brown.   Such an inspiring and strong woman!  Representative Blumenauer and Representative Bonamici were also in attendance.   The event was hosted downtown at Wildwood Company, an elegant store featuring fine bespoke suits, with an amazing space for hosting special events.  Governor Brown commented this was the first time she has ever had her picture taken with a cello!DSCF5808-Edit.jpg

9/9/19 – Wedding at Peninsula Park

Too bad this photo isn’t scratch and sniff…the scent of roses at Peninsula Park was amazing!¬† I got to play for a lovely couple on a lovely day in Portland, another day in paradise.¬† I have to say weddings in late September may be my favorite.¬† I also have to say I feel very honored to be aIMG_0349 part of these beautiful life events.¬† I’ve really been moved lately about the way couples celebrate and proclaim their love for each other.¬† As a wedding musician, I feel like an honored guest to witness you and your families get together to honor the amazing emotion that is love.

When I began playing weddings I thought about it in a very straight forward way; I would be playing music for wedding ceremonies.  But a major side benefit to this profession is being witness to love.  Each wedding, each couple, so unique.  To everyone for whom I have played, thank you for asking me!

9/8/18-Wedding at the Shakespeare Garden

I played a wedding at the Shakespeare Garden, one of the garden spaces at the Portland Rose Gardens near Washington Park.¬† I’ve never been to this spot, and thought it was the perfect place for an outdoor wedding:¬† it’s got a small brick stage-like area, and the lush landscaping serves as a cover to giIMG_0346ve a little privacy from the crowds at the Rose Garden.¬† Again, the weather was perfect! (2018 has been great for rain-free outdoor weddings)¬† The Bride requested ” A Thousand Years” as a processional, as well as mood music before and after the ceremony.¬† A small battery powered amp was perfect for the space.¬† Another beautiful wedding, PDX style!

Cello with Looper, Fix You by Coldplay

I arranged this song for cello as a special request, and it’s turned into one of my favorites.¬† If you have a song that is special and would like it played I’m happy to transcribe it for cello.¬† In fact, that’s how a great number of the songs on my playlist ended up there!¬† It takes a village to build a decent playlist.

Wedding at Hoyt Arboretum, 8/25/18

IMG_0243A beautiful non-rainy day for a wedding at Hoyt Arboretum!¬† The couple requested a traditional processional, but requested I learn “Butterfly” by BTS to play during the cake cutting.¬† The toasts were the best part of the day, and were spoken in both English and Japanese.¬† A very special day.¬† Kanpai!

 

 

7/14/18 – Wedding @ Para Hevea

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Wedding at Para Hevea, an equine boarding ranch in Molalla, Oregon.¬† IMG_0229Fantastic setting complete with Tepee for the “Bride Tribe” and covered wagon for chefs preparing the meal.¬† Also featured much appreciated shade in 94 degree weather.¬†¬† Great venue for an outdoor, western themed ceremony, plus I made anew four-footed friend.

 

7/13/18 – Youngberg Hill Winery

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Lovely 90+ degree day for a wedding, but the setting was scenic (Youngberg Hill Winery) and the people were wonderful!  This couple had a  unique request:  they asked me to play along with the DJ for the processional.  It went amazingly well!  (The song: The City of Black and White by Mat Kearney)  The DJ was great and the processional was perfection.

I was also asked to play a special song in the middle of the ceremony, another request that is not common, but one I wish would make a comeback.  I loved that this couple had a song that had such significance to them that they wanted it included.  Just as hearing a tune from the past brings back vivid memories from that time, marking this day with a song is insurance that every time that song is played, you will have an instant recall of your wedding.  Music just has that kind of power.  So consider putting music in the ceremony; add a meaningful hymn to honor the spiritual nature of your union, or a special song during the lighting of the union candle, or a devotional love song to each other.

 

Acoustic Cello vs. Amplified

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6/30/18 РSetting up for a wedding at Oaks Pioneer Church, in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland.  I love playing at this church; the acoustics are absolutely amazing, and there is something magical about the light and lines of the building.

Acoustically the amp wasn’t necessary, but when I want to use my looper I have to play amplified.¬† In instances where the acoustics of the room are so perfect, I turn the looper up to the volume of another cello, so it sounds like I’m playing acoustically with another person.¬† Using an amp does not have to detract from the pure sound of the instrument, and I am careful to maintain the cello sound we all love, but just use the amp to fill out the volume.

People often have questions about whether to have me play acoustic cello or amplified, and I always recommend amplified whenever possible.  An acoustic cello in a setting where the crowd is silently listening can be heard quite well, but add 10 or 15 people conversing over mixed drinks and the mellow sound of the cello disappears in the background.  Playing indoors with an amp is an easy way to boost the sound so everyone can enjoy the music.

Outdoors is  a place where having amplification is very important.   Since there are no walls to hold the sound, it travels and fades away.  With an amp the sound can be adjusted to travel far enough to reach the whole audience.  I have a battery-option amplifier for places with no power source, and I use the tower PA in the picture for larger rooms and groups.  So, when planning your event be sure to consider the following when considering acoustic vs. amplified: 1) Is amplification allowed,  2) Is there a place to plug in,  3) How many people will be at the event  4) How big is the room.  If in doubt I am happy to offer some suggestions on what I think would be the best sound options for your event.

 

The continuous seach for music to play…

Typical cello and/or violin lessons generally begin with Suzuki (or an approximate likeness of it), scales and some introductory music theory.¬† Once you’ve got a handle on playing, the question becomes:¬† What do I want to play?¬†¬† Maybe you already know, maybe you knew from birth!¬† But maybe you have to go on a search to find songs that make all those scales and etudes worth while.¬† Where to look?

On-line is a great resource for sometimes free sheet music.¬† I’ve found a few sites I really like, but I could always like more.¬† Here’s what I’ve found for free: IMSLP, a huge mega site for classical players, a feast of music! ¬† freegigmusic.com has some music for combinations of instruments, for example if you play the cello but your friend plays violin and you really want to play a duet, here’s a good place to start.¬† There’s also All about Mozart, another free classical site that has simplified versions for those of us who are not in the NY Philharmonic.¬† Not only is Mozart there, but Beethoven and a few others as well, all for free.¬† Those 2 sites should get the classical types going, but what about other music?

I recently went to the West Cascades Fiddle camp (Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers’ Association), and learned a bunch of old-time fiddle tunes…by ear and a bit of tab.¬† Not the classical way to learn a violin tune, but it works!¬† The goal of most of the people at the camp was to leave with as many new songs recorded as possible so they would have plenty of new tunes to work on over the long winter.¬†¬† Fiddle tunes are traditionally passed on from teacher to student, but there are some decent books out there, and who knew, Portland has it’s own collection of tunes called – The Portland Collection.¬† And not just one, but 3 tomes of Contra fiddling madness!

There are a few great Irish books, The Irish Cello Book by Liz Maxfield is just plain awesome.¬† The play along CD is lightning fast!!¬† Don’t be discouraged, just keep playing.¬† For violins there’s The Irish Fiddle Book by Matt Cranitch.¬† Again, a really great book with very authentic tunes and techniques.

If you have an inside track on some other sites, or great books please drop me a line and share them with me.¬† I’m forever on a quest for the next great song!