All posts by Zara

South Tour

Our South Tour started with an intense Flamarimba Camp with LONG, and I do mean LONG, rehearsal days:

We didn’t just have a lot of music to practice…there were a lot of instruments:

And, though our real reason to be in North Carolina was to teach a class at the UNC School of the Arts, while we were there, I staged a little protest of their crazy discriminatory new bathroom law:

Then we were off:

It was beautiful:

And sultry:

And fancy:

And meta:

And we spent a lot of time on I-40:

Dead Composers Review Prelude Cocktail

Our debut CD Prelude Cocktail came out last fall, but the reviews are still coming in.  Just in time for Halloween, we have these quotes from the latest edition of De-Composition Quarterly.  They are, well, mixed:

“I thought Stalin was bad, but Prelude Cocktail makes me feel truly repressed.” D. Shostakovich,  staff writer

“I’m skeptical of a flute made of gold…but the well-tempered clavier is amazing!” -J.S. Bach, editor-in-chief

“Flute and Marimba?! It’s an abomination! Negative 4 stars.” -F. Chopin, staff writer

“Sacrebleu! J’aime la flûte et le marimba! Lawler et Fadoul sont formidables!” -C. Debussy, staff writer.

Lawler + Fadoul in Washington on 01/26/15

What I did on my Summer “Vacation”

“Vacation” is in quotes because musicians never really take vacations. Even if we don’t have concerts coming up, we are always practicing and plotting our next projects. Lawler + Fadoul spent July getting down to some serious R+D on our next extravaganza. Tentatively called “Clickable,” the program is going to be a staged concert that focuses on music that is normally not heard on concert stages (jingles, TV theme songs, hold music, video games…) and yet has a distinct pull on our psyche, making us want to buy the product, watch the show, or click through to the next video.

We spent our summer creative time talking about what kinds of music we might use, composers we want to commission, and elements we want to have in the show. Exciting though that was (and you will be hearing more about it in coming weeks), it was nothing compared to what I did in August! I became a parent!

My wife, Aine, had a healthy impishly cute baby girl, Frances! Oh man, she’s adorable:

Frances

Most of the month of August was spent on informal maternity leave…alternately gazing at the little cutie, changing diapers, catching naps whenever possible, and making up songs with such great titles as “Diaper Switcheroo” and “Floppy Head Baby Buddha.” Paul’s wife, PBS reporter Jenny Marder, wrote a really interesting article about lullabies , at least partly inspired by a conversation she and I had before Frances was born. I had been trying to learn some lullabies to get ready for parenthood, and somehow the best ones all turned out to be murder ballads! Anyway, now that I am a parent, I’m hoping Jenny will write an article about the impulse to create songs or rhythmic chants whenever a squirmy or fussy baby is in one’s arms. I’ve observed that phenomenon in myself and my wife, and virtually everyone who has come to meet Frances, even our non-musician friends. It’s like a biological imperative. Someone should study it!

Speaking of Paul and his wife, did you know they became parents last November?

kai in towel

Their healthy, impishly cute baby boy, Kai, was born (conveniently) right between our CD release house concerts and our November/December tour! Check out this cuteness:

Lawler + Fadoul: The Next Generation  has begun.

Whirlwind Weekend in Vancouver

We spent last weekend in Vancouver for a quick tour with a house concert and a conference.  We were pretty much in love with the whole city, and can’t wait to go back.

IMG_4742

On Friday night, Barbara Lyall and Kath Poole hosted us in a really fun house concert.  Kath’s home is an architect-designed modern beauty that seemed to have been created with house concerts in mind.  There was plenty of room for the marimba and the audience.

Brent Alley, who really should be considered a third co-host, took this nice photo of the audience:

DSC_7874

 

We are so grateful to our hosts for introducing us to their friends, to their friends for coming to the concert, and to our super-fans (those would be my family members!) who came a long way to see us and to help out!

 

IMG_4760

Saturday was dedicated to British Columbia Touring Council’s Pacific Contact, their annual booking conference.  We started out doing a mini-showcase (a “pitch/perform”) in the morning, compressing 300 years of preludes into five minutes.  The rest of the day was spent getting to know lots of new people–artists, presenters, consultants, and the amazing staff of BCTC as well.  It was the most friendly conference we’ve ever been to, and we hope to return to BC for more performances and yes, to go back to the conference too!

The “app folks” at BCTC were running a photo contest as part of the conference…the conference app had a nifty feature that would take a picture and frame it with the Pacific Contact  logo.  When we returned from lunch to find my parents “guarding” the marimba for us, I took this photo:

IMG_4750

 And guess what?  The photo won!  The prize was an iPad mini!!!  Talk about an unforeseen benefit!  I passed the mini on to my parents who really did deserve a prize for all their help ferrying us and the marimba all over town.  I submitted this “post-script” photo of me teaching them to use it:

IMG_4781

Anxiety Dreams

Dear Reader,

A lot has been going on for Lawler + Fadoul lately, as you may have noticed. Our CD is out; we had three CD release house parties; we went on tour with Prelude Cocktail; and the first week of December, we were in the Washington, DC area for lots of school shows (with 16 shows in 3 days!!) It’s all been pretty exciting, but let’s be honest, a bit stressful too.

For me, that kind of stress leads to some pretty hilarious anxiety dreams. Well, they seem hilarious after the fact, anyway. I’ve had two whoppers during this busy L+F season.

Anxiety Dream No. 1: Flute Field Trip to Outer Space

Yes, you read that right. In the dream, I was taking a bunch of Suzuki flute students on a field trip to outer space. I think this has something to do with having seen Gravity the week before.  Anywho, there we were, in the Space Shuttle, me and all the cute little Suzuki kids, and of course, something went horribly wrong and we had to prepare for a crash landing. And of course, there weren’t enough oxygen masks. In fact, there were only two, one for the captain, and one for Danny Castellano (the character from The Mindy Project…not really sure what he was doing on a flute field trip to outer space, but that’s the subconscious for you!) So they sent us all into a stairwell (this dream Space Shuttle had a stairwell), where we were to just hang on tight and hope for the best. There were a few terrifying moments, with engines whining, walls shuddering, kids whimpering, and me feeling incredibly responsible, and then we landed with a little bump and everyone was fine.

We were reunited with all their parents on a beach.

The end.

Anxiety Dream No. 2: Flute Playing meets Synchronized Swimming

Just a few days after the ill-fated flute field trip to outer space, I had another doozie.

In this one, I had to play a concerto, the famous Concertino by Cecile Chaminade, in some sort of tropical location. The orchestra was arrayed out on a second-floor U-shaped balcony, overlooking a U-shaped bay. I had to play while treading water in the bay, in my full diva gown…all the while keeping my flute from dipping into the water. At one point the very end of the flute did go into the water, and I had a moment of panic over the brand new pads I had just had installed, but it turned out not to be a problem.

In fact, the playing while treading water wasn’t really that hard. The real obstacle was hearing the orchestra. They were very far away, and members of the audience kept jumping in the water. The splashes made it hard to hear the orchestra, and what was even worse was that the audience members kept swimming up to me and trying to talk to me during the performance.

As if that wasn’t enough, a Russian submarine (Cold War era throwback anxiety, anyone?) was sneaking into the bay, and I had to figure out a way to warn everyone without the Russians knowing I was on to them.

Then I woke up.

The end?

There you have it, dear Reader, a glimpse into the subconsciuos life of a musician.

Sincerely,
Zara

School Shows, Kid Comments

Lawler + Fadoul spent part of the first week of December doing a record-breaking 16 shows in three days as part of our outreach work on behalf of the National Symphony Orchestra. Our in-school concerts are highly interactive, and it’s always fun to hear what the kids have to say about the instruments and the music. Below we share some of the best quotes from this three-day marathon.

From John Adams Elementary School where we performed Let’s Dance! for students in preschool, kindergarden and third grade:

“It’s a miracle!”
-kindergartner upon seeing the marimba for the first time

“There’s so many contraptions on it.”
-third grader upon seeing all the keys of the flute up close

As part of Let’s Dance!, we play Name that Tune, to demonstrate the flute’s melodic role in music. We had two really fun answers at John Adams. One was from a kindergartner in the Spanish immersion class, who carefully answered, perhaps translating in her head, “Mary had a little…sheep?” A more surprising answer came when I played the Star Wars theme song, and one kindergartner called it “Angry Birds!” I guess he was more familiar with the game than the movie!!

Can You Hear Me Now? at Mosby Woods

At Mosby Woods Elementary School, we did 10 performances of Can You Hear Me Now?, our interactive concert about preludes and fugues. At the beginning of each class, the music teacher asked the students what they thought of the instruments, and they had some interesting thoughts on the marimba:

“It’s the grandfather of the bells.”

“It’s like a giant xylophone.”

And a question about the flute:

“Is that flute made of bronze?” [actually, it’s gold!]

And at the end of our 10 shows, the music teacher exclaimed in a triumphant tone:

“This is the IT!”

I think that it was a subconscious combination of “This is it” and “This is the end!” but something about “the IT!” struck me as fitting considering how many shows we packed into those three days.

Why Prelude Cocktail?

Preludes are musical cocktails:  intriguing and intoxicating on their own, they also hold the promise of something more to come.  You might share cocktails before a big meal, just as a prelude often introduces a more substantial fugue.  Cocktails can be sweet (think of a Cosmo!), strong (gin martini), classic (Tom Collins, anyone?) or new and adventurous (what’s that one that is Red Bull and vodka?), and our selections from four centuries of preludes are equally eclectic.  Prelude Cocktail includes two world premiere sets of preludes by American composers Katherine Hoover and Roshanne Etezady, as well as our own brand new arrangements of favorites of the genre by Debussy, Gershwin, Bach, Chopin, Shostakovich and Scriabin.  Guest clarinetist, Christopher Grymes, joins us on two preludes and fugues by Shostakovich.

Photo by Julie Lemberger

Photo by Julie Lemberger

What about the promise of a prelude? That there is more to come? If fugues by Bach and Shostakovich aren’t enough… Lawler + Fadoul’s debut CD, Prelude Cocktail is the first stage of our long-term project to expand the repertoire for flute and marimba, both by commissioning new works and by arranging favorites for other instruments.  All works on the CD are world premiere recordings that herald the rich sonic and expressive potential of the combination of flute and marimba.  Lawler moves from flute to piccolo and alto flute and back again, as Fadoul plays both marimba and vibraphone, in quick succession or at the same time.  The addition of clarinet, beautifully played by guest artist Christopher Grymes, is a surprising and welcome ingredient.

The transcriptions have allowed us to explore the range and richness of what the unique flute-marimba combination can achieve – we see it as a way of looking forward while looking back.”