I performed Syrinx at my recital with guitarist Allen Krantz at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania at the first concert in my Dolce Suono Ensemble’s new partnership with the gallery on October 2, 2013. I felt inspired to play Debussy among the works of his friend Rodin at this exhibition.
Since completing my Syrinx Journey on Day 366, Debussy’s birthday on August 22, I have missed this daily ritual very much. Although my yearlong cycle of performing Syrinx is complete, I continue to live with the piece in performance and just for myself.
Here is a performance of Syrinx I gave as an encore after soloing on Vivaldi’s Concerto ”La notte” and Bizet-Borne’s Carmen Fantasy with Delaware County Symphony (PA) and conductor Tim Ribchester last Sunday, October 20.
To see photos of recent performances with Dolce Suono Ensemble at the Hispanic Choice Awards, Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, and as soloist with Delaware County Symphony, please visit Mimi Stillman‘s Facebook page and Dolce Suono Ensemble‘s Facebook page.
Left to right: Celina Velez, violin, Daniel Lee, viola, Mimi, Louis Xavier Barrette, guitar, Hannah Ji, violin, Robin Kesselman, bass
Now posted on Mimi’s YouTube channel: Claude Debussy’s songs Romance, Les Cloches, and Voici que le printemps from Mimi’s book of arrangements Nuits d’étoiles: 8 Early Songs (Theodore Presser Company). Performed by Mimi Stillman, flute and Natalie Zhu, piano from Dolce Suono Ensemble’s “Debussy as Painter of Song” concert at Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, May 2013.
This Syrinx completes the yearlong cycle of Syrinx Journey, performed on August 22, Debussy’s birthday. On the shore of Lake George, New York, where I performed at Lake George Music Festival, I played Syrinx in the afternoon sun, gazing at the lake. I felt very emotional as I played Debussy’s masterpiece for the 366th time in as many days, bringing my project full circle. It has been the most profound and fulfilling journey of musical and personal discovery. As I steeped myself in the music of Debussy, I imbibed the arts and ideas of his time, luxuriating in the unique and beautiful aesthetic world that was his.
Afterwards my friends joined me to wish Claude Debussy a joyeux anniversaire.
Left to right: Kevin Kunkel, Catherine Chen, Ronni Gordon, Mimi, Samuel Nemec, Daniel Lelchuk
The nymph Syrinx returns to the forest of Arcadia, where she frolics among the trees and rocks and listens to the songs of birds.
I played this Syrinx in the woods at Lake George, New York, before performing a concert at Lake George Music Festival.
As I played, I felt myself very aware of this being Day 365, and except for the bonus performance of Syrinx on Debussy’s birthday the following day, this would bring my joyful year of Syrinx to a close. It was a bittersweet moment for me and my mother, Ronni Gordon Stillman, who has been integral to the project as film director and cameraman for the majority of videos. Beyond her filming, we have worked together throughout Syrinx Journey, exploring topics and conceiving of themes. Sometimes, when I was in danger of running out of ideas or simply was not able to plan a theme for Syrinx on a full day of other activities, Ronni came to the rescue because she had somehow managed to come up with a brilliant idea - a related composer’s birthday, an artistic or literary connection to Syrinx – while simultaneously writing her latest book. I am fortunate to have had such a companion on my journey, and one who shared my passion for the project, my determination to reach my goal, and my love for Debussy’s music.
To bring the project full circle I include a performance of Syrinx in Jerusalem, because my Syrinx on Day 1 of Syrinx Journey was also in Israel at the Roman theater in Beit She’an. Here, I play on the terrace of the Mamilla Hotel overlooking the Old City.
At the University of Pennsylvania Museum, I was surrounded by exquisite classical Greek artifacts, feeling tremendously inspired. In this room, the wood nymph Syrinx sought her friends among the figures on the urns. In this context, enhanced by the powerful echo, Debussy’s winding lines for this most ancient of instruments took on a timeless quality.
This is a double version of Syrinx, featuring one performance with violin improvisations by Nigel Armstrong, and double bass improvisations by Matthew Weber. They are two of the wonderful musicians I am having fun playing with at Lake George Music Festival in New York. Nigel is a fellow Curtis alumnus who also plays jazz, and Matt is a New York-based and plays in several orchestras. These are my first forays into Syrinx with the timbre of string instruments, and I think the contrast of the high and low strings provides an interesting range of sonorities.
I was invited to give a PreConcert Workshop at Lake George Music Festival on Debussy, so I gave a talk with performance on the theme of “Debussy at 150.” I discussed Debussy’s role as a major innovator and continuing influence on today’s composers, and played musical examples including, of course, Syrinx.