Meerenai Shim's new CD, Sometimes the City is Silent, include familiar works by CPE Bach, Carl Reinecke, and Bela Bartok as well as adventurous works by Ian Clarke and Janice Misurell-Mitchell. Noah Luna's Entrometido and Meerenai's own arrangement of Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances for flute and cello were recorded in collaboration with cellist Rachel Turner Houk. Pianist Lori Lack is featured in the Reinecke Undine Sonata as well as the seldom performed Sérénade aux étoiles by Cécile Chaminade.
In 1786, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Johann Sebastian Bach’s most famous son) wrote his “Hamburger” Sonata for flute and basso continuo in Hamburg, Germany. This recording is a modern adaptation of the composition, as it is performed on the modern Boehm system flute and piano. (Theobald Boehm, the inventor of the Boehm-system flute was born 6 years after CPE Bach died.)
In 2010, I commissioned Noah Luna to write a duo for flute and cello. A few months later, I was delighted to receive Entrometido:
‘The duo genre has always carried with it an inescapable subtext: a dialogue or scene in which each instrumentalist represents a single character. When I began to sketch out the concept for this work, that subtext was definitely on my mind, along with some notable duos that exemplify the genre: pieces about cats and mice, romances, quarrels, etc. As I continued to roll this idea around in my head, I began to think about the scenes in my life that were intimate conversations between two people. Now, coming from a large Mexican family, a conversation between two people never lasts long: you are always interrupted by each member in your family at least once, and at least three times by your mother. This seems particularly common, and particularly troublesome during young courtships.
This work represents the courtship of two young lovers who have no choice but to tiptoe about, keeping their trysts secret, lest the young man’s mother interrupt and tell the story about the time he accidentally went to school wearing his sister’s pants (which is a completely hypothetical scenario…) In any case, the two lovers are constantly playing this game of sneak, meet, get caught, sneak, meet, etc. But, there comes a time when the need for sneaking about is not necessary any more and the two lovers are free to come and go as they please. However, the two come to the realization that half the fun was working on their stealthy maneuvers and trying to keep their activities unknown to their nosey families. And, even more importantly, they have their nosey families to thank for the feelings they fostered for each other in secret. The two, I’m sure, still play their own game of cat and mouse from time to time, just to remind them of where their love initially came from, as well as remind them of what it was like to be young, in love, and constantly interrupted.
The title of this work, “Entrometido” translates approximately to “Meddlesome.”’
- Noah Luna
Although Cécile Chaminade’s most popular work today is the Concertino for flute and piano/orchestra, her piano compositions and songs were quite popular and she was a well-known pianist during her lifetime. Sérénade aux étoiles (Op. 142) was written in 1911 and dedicated to Adolphe Hennebains, flute professor at the Paris Conservatory.
“Sometimes the City is Silent for solo flute was commissioned by the National Flute Association for the 2003 High School Soloist Competition. This piece is based on a series of poetic and musical sketches I made in the fall of 2000 while I was teaching at New York University and living in Greenwich Village on the twenty-fifth floor of a hi-rise. When looking at the view at night I would sometimes try to read the outlines of lights (on bridges and in windows) and shapes on rooftops (water towers and cast iron ornament) as a kind of graphic notation; I would improvise flute lines based on these images. On nights when the windows were open I could hear the sounds of the traffic and people on Houston Street below; I sometimes improvised on these sounds, recorded them and also wrote short poems about them. On rare occasions there were times, usually for only a few moments, when the city was silent. This piece is about all of the above; it is dedicated to the spirit of the people of New York City.”
- Janice Misurell-Mitchell
This arrangement of Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances is based on the piano composition written in 1912 (Sz. 56) and the orchestral version written in 1917 (Sz.68). Bartók based this work on Romanian fiddle tunes: [track 6] Joc cu bata (Stick Game or Dance with Stick), [track 7] Braul (Sash Dance), [track 8] Pe loc (Stomping Dance), [track 9] Buciumeana (Dance from Bucium, also known as “horn song” or “horn dance”),
[track 10] Poarga Romaneasca (Romanian Polka), [track 11] Maruntel (Fast Dance).
Carl Reinecke wrote the “Undine” Sonata for piano and flute in 1882. It is loosely based on the then popular novel Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque. The story about a water nymph, who can only obtain a soul if she marries a human being isn’t depicted literally in Reinecke’s composition but some of the music obviously reflect the story. Listen for the waves and ripples in the water, especially in the first movement. There are four movements in this piece: Allegro [track 12], Intermezzo [track 13], Andante tranquillo [track 14], and Finale [track 15].
Written in 1999, Zoom Tube for solo flute by Ian Clarke is a bluesy and rhythmic piece that, to me, represent the sounds one may hear in a tube station in London. On his website, Clarke notes that inspiration for this piece came from “rhythm & blues, Bobby McFerrin, Stockhausen, Robert Dick, Ian Anderson & South American flute playing.”
About the Artists:
Adventurous Flutist, Music Educator, and Jill of All Trades
Milky Way, Galaxy, or Dragon River are all translations of the traditional Korean word that is also the first name of flutist Meerenai Shim. Pronounced “me-ren-ay,” the unusual name befits this unique performer and teacher.
Carnegie Hall was locked up at 11 pm on a Wednesday night in June 2011, so Meerenai took her New York City debut downtown to the PIT’s basement variety show on E. 24th St. Meerenai is comfortable performing in a variety of venues from bookstores and bars to concert halls and the streets. She has recently performed at the Revolution Cafe with Classical Revolution, Stanford University, Red Devil Lounge, Old First Concerts, Trinity Chamber Concerts, Le Petit Trianon and the Occupy San Francisco Music Festival.
Since 2010, Meerenai has been busy commissioning new music from American composers. Her 2011 debut album, “Sometimes the City is Silent,” is a diverse collection of old and new works, including the world premiere recording of a piece by Noah Luna. Audiophilia.com calls it “an eclectic mix that never flags the listener’s interests and beguiles the ear with the most musical phrasing and sparkling tone.” Her current big project is “The Art of Noise,” an album of chamber music for flute, cello, piano, percussion, and programmed Gameboy, that will be released in April 2013 and will feature three compositions written specially for Meerenai by Daniel Felsenfeld, Janice Misurell-Mitchell and Matt Payne. Other projects in the works include a recording project with guitarist Yuri Liberzon.
Meerenai’s journey of relearning how to play the flute as an adult and overcoming a performing related injury, makes her a special and gifted teacher to professional musicians as well as young students with learning disabilities. Since 2005, she has been studying the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method and Body Mapping and became a Licensed Andover Educator in 2012. She now teaches the course “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body” to her private flute students as well as in masterclasses and workshops. Her experience with observing and studying movement helps her students play well and avoid injury. Meerenai’s book, Scale Studies for Beginner and Intermediate Flutists, has been praised by flute pedagogues worldwide.
Meerenai counts among her most influential flute teachers Linda Lukas, Mary Stolper, Liisa Ruoho and Alexa Still. She studied orchestral conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and Eastern Music Festival, with teachers such as Paul Vermel, Murry Sidlin, and Sheldon Morgenstern. Meerenai earned the Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance from DePaul University in Chicago and the Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from San Francisco State University. She resides in Campbell, California with her husband Dave and dog Lucy.
Meerenai will be performing in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York in 2012-2013. You can visit her website and sign up for her newsletter to catch her in action: http://www.meerenai.com
Lori Lack, Piano, has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and the United States. She has a piano trio with Christina Mok and Joanne Lin, was a member of the Laurel Ensemble, and has performed with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Gold Coast Chamber Players. As a collaborative pianist, she has performed in recital with many artists including the Alexander String Quartet, the Stamic Quartet, Robin Sharp, Jassen Todorov, Gary Gray, Stephen Paulson, and Matt Haimovitz. She received her degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, and San Francisco State University. In addition to serving on the faculty of CSU Summer Arts and California Summer Music, she has worked as an instrumental accompanist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University.
Rachel Turner Houk is the cellist of Quartet Rouge, an alternative rock string quartet, with whom she featured on the Grammy winning CD “American Idiot: The Cast Recording”. She is the founder of Synchronicity Strings and actively freelances in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has performed throughout Europe with Northern Sinfonia, Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt, Wiener Maskentheater, Essen Folkwang Chamber Orchestra, and Rilke Project Live. She was a member of Helix! New Music Ensemble in New Jersey. Rachel earned her Master of Music degree from Rutgers University where she studied with Zara Nelsova, and her Bachelor of Music from Trinity College of Music, London.