Jay Mason and the Grammys

Concordia Adjunct Professor of Saxophone Jay Mason contributed to three Grammy nominated albums/songs this year:

 Category 14: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, “The Sinatra Project”, Michael Feinstein.  Jay played lead alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute, oboe, and bass clarinet. 

 Category 49: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Recording, “Act Your Age”, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.  Jay played baritone saxophone, flute, and bass clarinet. 

 Category 85: Best Instrumental Composition, “Hit the Ground Running”, track from “Act Your Age”, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

 Jay also contributes to two high profile current soundtracks, for the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Jay plays a baritone sax solo in one scene) and several United Airlines commercials for the Olympics and Super Bowl.


Music Career Outlook

The U.S. Dept. of Labor maintains statistics for music careers.  

"Overall employment of musicians, singers, and related workers is expected to grow 11 percent during the 2006-16 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most new wage-and-salary jobs for musicians will arise in religious organizations." (from the Job Outlook section)

More detailed information for Music Directors and Composers (including Music Educators):


Long-lost Renaissance Mass for up to 60 Parts Found

From Sibelius Notes (May 2008):
One of the highlights of the 2008 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, presented by Cal Performances and the UC Berkeley Department of Music, is the American premiere of Alessandro Striggio's 16th-century long-lost Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno for 40 and 60 voices, the largest known contrapuntal choral work in Western music. UC Berkeley musicologist, renowned harpsichordist, and Sibelius user, Davitt Moroney, discovered the work in 2005 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France after a two-decade search. Professor Moroney translated the piece into modern notation using Sibelius software and will conduct the musical performance at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, CA on June 7 & 8.
Some very interesting information about this work can be found at these links:
Video Program Notes
Moroney's Lecture explaining the history of this work and its role in European politics
Striggio bio
  • Striggio traveled to major musical centers in Europe and influenced Lassus in Munich and Tallis in England (who likely was inspired to compose his 40-part Spem in Alium after hearing Striggio's work).
  • Striggio played a critical diplomatic role on behalf of the Medici family from Florence.
  • He collaborated musically with Vicenzo Galilei (father of Galileo Galilei, the astromer), and may have been a part of the Florentine Camerata.
  • His son (also named Alessandro Striggio) wrote the libretto for Monteverdi's Orfeo.
  • This work has been "lost" since the early 1700s - in a Paris library! To put it simply, it was miscatalogued - but the story is really more complicated than that. Read Moroney's lecture and you'll probably gain a little more respect for the challenges librarians can face!
Music History is far from being settled. Someone like Striggio doesn't make many history textbooks, but we are now finding out that he was a catalyst for large polychoral music throughout Europe. And we learn about the political role he played. With this discovery in place, and it triggering more puzzle pieces of history to be connected, will Striggio become a part of the canon of Western Music in textbooks of the future? He probably deserves to be. Now imagine that some of Indiana Jones' rivals wanted to find this work in the library before him...


Long Beach Press Telegram Previews CWO Concert

The Long Beach Press Telegram published a feature article about Francis Johnson and Steve Charpie's attempt to promote his legacy. The article was timed to help promote Steve's concert with the Concordia Wind Orchestra on Feb. 17. Read the article


Test your musical brain!


This site has 3 tests:

Adaptive Pitch: Determine how well you can discriminate between two separate pitches (it gets progressively tougher)

Rhythm Test: Measures your ability to hear subtle differences in rhythmic patterns

Tonedeaf Test: Measures your ability to hear subtle differences in tone patterns.

Give it a try!


CUI's Flute Teacher, Susan Fries, Publishes Book

Susan Fries recently published a book about legendary flutist Marcel Moyse, titled My Teacher, Remembering Marcel Moyse. The book is a narrative of 54 individual stories about famous flute teacher/performer, Marcel Moyse, who was the most-recorded flutist in France between the 1920s and 1940s.

Book excerpt
Book website


Steve Charpie

Our Feb. 17, 2008 (3:00) the Concordia Wind Orchestra will perform with trumpeter Steve Charpie. Steve is a expert on early American brass instruments. A great article and video about Steve was posted yesterday on the Long Beach Press Telegram website.

"Tuning" Out Distractions (lessons from sports science)

Fox Sports has a series that examines issues in sports science. There is plenty of crossover into music. Here's what I learned from a recent episode about free throw shooting:

  • the brain decodes visual stimuli and aural stimuli in different areas. Decoding visual stimuli is more cognitive, which also means visual distractions can more readily be blocked out.
  • Aural distractions, being harder to filter, will have a greater effect on us. The greatest of aural distractions is not just noise, but surprise, inconsistent noises.

What does this mean for musicians? Consider a solo instrumental performance. We make every effort to focus on, within the moment, our expressive music. But wrong notes happen (the trumpet "clam"). Science tells us that these shake us physiologically, breaking our focus, and putting future notes in jeopardy. There are two things we can do about this:

  1. PRACTICE A LOT: You'll miss fewer notes in performance!
  2. PUT YOURSELF IN PRESSURE SITUATIONS OFTEN: We may not be able to control the fact that audible distractions shake us, but we can control our reaction. Those that minimize the anger after mistakes are in the best condition to execute. Anger quickly raises the physiological stress indicators, and this makes playing an instrument more challenging, leading to more mistakes. A high-intensity, critical mentality may be useful in the practice room, but there is already too much heat on us while we are performing. A calm mind resists the mental "commentary" while we play. That is a good thing. How do we achieve the calm mind? We've got to perform as often as possible in many different pressure situations. Save your critiquing for after the performance and include a critique of how well you responded to your missed notes (the distractions). Did you dwell on it well after it happened? Did you allow your "blood to boil?"

Finally, the question begs to be asked - why do we put ourselves through this? In my opinion, playing an instrument in public is one of the toughest things to execute. The experience gained in the heat of the musical moment will definitely translate to other areas of life - public speaking, thinking quickly in a meeting, keeping poise when you are being judged (a job interview, date, etc.). Musical performances will stay with you all of your life. Make the most of them (prepare well & execute as calmly as you can), and you will always value and cherish the experience!

Sport Science: FT Distractions
Sport Science: FT Distractions