Category: Music

In Memory of Sophia Rosoff

In Memory of Sophia Rosoff

On Thursday, November 22, 2018, my brilliant, wonderful piano/music teacher Sophia Rosoff passed away at her home.  She was 96.

It is difficult to describe how much Sophia impacted my life.  Sophia brought me back to the piano and I am literally a born again pianist because of her.

I met Sophia in August 2011.  After having a baby I suffered from tendonitis, carpel tunnel and radial tunnel in both arms, wrists and thumbs.  I was a mess.  Even though I had not played the piano seriously in almost 15 years, the thought of not having the ability or the choice to play the piano was devastating to me.  I decided while receiving occupational therapy that I would relearn how to play the instrument and that I should do it with Sophia Rosoff.

On our first meeting I felt nervous and insecure.  Sophia asked me to balance an egg on the carpet.  To our mutual surprise, I did this in a matter of seconds.  She then asked me to balance the egg upside down.  I did that just as quick.  She then asked me to balance an egg on wood, glass, and china, which was most challenging.  After that Sophia said that I was ready to play something for her.  When I went to the piano, I felt calm, focused and unafraid to play.  Sophia was sweet and kind but honest with a quiet intensity that made you feel determined to work.  Everything felt brand new with her.  I felt like I was experiencing the piano for the very first time.  I was really hearing and feeling the music.  I felt connected in a way that I never had before.  Most of my piano experience was filled with anxiety, frustration and misery.  Practicing the piano was agony.   I never realized that practicing could be joyful, filled with love and rewarding (what irony!)  I was falling in love with the piano all over again.

Sophia always believed.  She believed in me and that made me believe in myself.  I specifically remember after a lesson Sophia said, “You can do anything you want in music. You have that ability.  Whatever  path you choose to do, you have it in you.”  I was overwhelmed by her statement but deeply grateful.  It made me start to believe more in myself and what I was capable of.

One of the truly special gifts Sophia gave me was her bi-monthly piano classes.  This class was held at Klavierhaus on 58th St. every other Thursday evening.  Here is where I would hear some of the most incredible music by wonderful pianists, sometimes singers, violinists, violists, saxophonists, guitarist etc.  This class was special.  Never had I been with a group of musicians who were so supportive, loving with no ego or competition in the air.  It was all about the music.  Sophia was always about the music.  I believe it was the way Sophia taught her students and the way she made everyone feel special that made this class so unique.

I am not a writer, I am not eloquent.  That’s ok. I just wanted to let the world know that I have been changed by Sophia Rosoff.  That there are people in this world that have that capacity.

Thank you Sophia for bringing me back to the piano, back to music.  Thank you for believing in me and giving me the love and support to be more courageous and true to myself.  I am sad you are not with me on this earth but I am so happy that you are at peace.  I miss you but you will always be with me.

Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Tomorrow night at 8:00pm, I’m performing Dan Loomis’ Jobs Trials at Ibeam in Brooklyn.

This music is based on the bible’s Book of Job. There are great musicians performing alongside with me. A wonderful singer out on the scene from Korea, Songyi Jeon, great guitarist, Jeff Miles, Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums (where did this guy come from? Awesome!), the all inspiring leader,composer and bassist, Dan Loomis and yours truly on voice.
Howard Fishman is our narrator and there will be some beautiful artwork by Sean Gallagher.

This is going to be epic!

Listen Here

Listen Here

You can check out some of my music here:

Track 1: Coming Home is a piece I wrote for my first recording “Soulmates” 2001
Track 2: Not Much Of A Dog is from my third recording
“Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo” 2008
Track 3: Facsar is an excerpt from a composition by Luciano Berio.
I am improvising while violist Miranda Sielaff plays the composition 2009
Track 4: Happiness Hotel from “Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo”2008
Track 5: Blackberry Winter – a live concert recording with pianist, Jacob Sacks from Bennington College 2014
Track 6: Sorry is a piece I wrote for this live recording with
Dan Weiss, Jacob Garchik, Dave Ambrosia and Jacob Sacks, “4inObjects” 2006
Track 7: Bein’ Green from “Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo” 2008

All of these recordings have no overdubs or edits.

Ten Days Till Carnegie Hall

Ten Days Till Carnegie Hall

I still can’t believe that in 10 days I will be on stage at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall singing. Ok, I have been blessed before and I have sung at Carnegie Hall in 2015 and 2014 but you see, it still blows me away every time I think about it.

I have had my struggles with health especially close to performance time. Last year, it was a miracle that I sang a concert. I was so sick that I could barely talk two days before. Some how I managed to get through it but got laryngitis two days after (but hey, that’s ok! – I did it)

This year, I am having some of the worst allergies and I am mildly freaked out by the possibility of getting laryngitis from the post nasal nastiness that allergies bring on.

So I am praying to all the gods, getting lots of rest and hoping that the voice will dominate rather than the allergy.

Here’s to optimistic wishing!

My First Video

My First Video

Ok, I did it.

I made my first video. This is a big deal for me since I haven’t ever posted a video of myself let alone one of me playing the piano.

For those who do not know, I was a classical pianist before I devoted my time to singing. I took a long hiatus from playing and performing on the piano. I am now back at it.

Stay tune for more!

I Am Playing Carnegie Hall!

I Am Playing Carnegie Hall!

The title says it all folks. I am playing Carnegie Hall on March 25th, 8:00pm at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Can I tell you that I’m excited? I am excited!! I hope you buy a ticket cause it’s going to be a blast!

See you in two weeks!

Buy tickets here

Shows To Check Out Before 2014 Ends!

Shows To Check Out Before 2014 Ends!

We are coming into our last two weeks of 2014 (holy crap!) There are some great performances that I highly recommend you all to go see.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:30pm

Jesse Stacken‘s Helleborus CD Release Concert
Jesse Stacken – piano and compositions
Tony Malaby – saxophone
Sean Conly – bass
Tom Rainey – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

This show will be wonderful. Look at that line up! Jesse is a fabulous pianist who writes wonderful compositions. If you have a chance, check out his website here.

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:30pm

Lyra Faculty perform at Tenri
Mu Phi Epsilon Founders’ Day Recital

Tenri Cultural Institute
43 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

Akiko Sasaki – piano
Marc Szammer – violin
Andrew Janss – cello

This performance is going to be awesome. This trio will be performing the monstrous Rachmaninoff Élégiaque Trio No. 2, Op.9. (Akiko did a run through for me at my place many months ago. I thought my piano was going to fall apart!) A must see!

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 9:00pm

Jacob Sacks Quintet

Jacob Sacks – piano, compositions
Jacob Garchik – trombone
Ben Gerstein – trombone
Thomas Morgan – bass
Dan Weiss – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

I am totally bummed that I won’t be seeing this quintet on Saturday (holiday travel *sigh*) This quintet has been around for as long as I have been in NYC. This is a special group and should be experienced by everyone! Go check it out.

Friday and Saturday, December 26 and 27, 9:00pm

Open Loose

Tony Malaby – tenor saxophone
Mark Helias – bass
Tom Rainey – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

Look at the line up! Enough said…

Sunday,December 28th,2014, 7:00pm

Ras Moshe-Reeds & Flute
Kyoko Kitamura-Voice
Joe Gallant-Bass
Reuben Radding-Bass
Sean Conly-Bass

(8:30pm-Steve Gauci-Ken Filiano-Yoni Kretzmer-Michael Wimberly)

Why Not Jazz Room
14 Christopher St. NYC

For you free improvising jazz folk out there, this performance will be up your alley. With three bass players in the band, it’s gonna get deep. Check out the next band after Ras’ project. (I worked with Michael Wimberly this past semester up in Vermont and he is awesome!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 8:30pm

Tom Rainey Trio

Tom Rainey – drums
Mary Halvorson – guitar
Ingrid Laubrock – tenor saxophone

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

Tom Rainey is one of my favorite drummers and musician and Mary and Ingrid are superb. Go and check it out.

Ok, that’s all folks. I hope to catch one of these before I go on holidays and I hope you check some of them out too. These performances are not to be missed.

Enjoy the music and happy holidays!!

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

Once again, I have dropped the ball and didn’t quite make my November artist feature. However, I have managed to put together this month’s feature on the amazingly talented violinist, pianist, and composer Dana Lyn. I have known Dana for over a decade and for a short period we were also housemates. (Dana taught me how to truly appreciate vegetarian soup!) I have seen and heard incredible music whenever Dana is involved.

Dana moved to NYC in 2000 and has gone through some interesting transformations during her 15 years here. When I met Dana, I knew her only as an Irish fiddler, which was her main focus until about 2007. After that, Dana began performing music by Bach, writing string arrangements for various music groups, and composing string quartets and other original music. Dana’s vast artistic versatility has made her an incredible force in the NYC music scene.

Dana’s main current musical project is her band, Mother Octopus, which performs Dana’s original compositions. This band has been in existence since 2011 under other names such as Yeti Camp and Aqualude but the members have always been cellist Clara Kennedy, guitarist Kyle Sanna, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and multi-wind instrumentalist Mike McGinnis. Another important project is her duo with Kyle Sanna. A new recording of this duo will be coming out in the near future following their debut recording called, “The Hare Said a Prayer to the Rainbow and Followed the Fox Down the Hole” (2011). This last CD is a wonderful listen and a top pick for my husband. Another recording worth mentioning is “Bach Reformed” by Dana and Rob Moose (who plays tenor guitar and mandolin on it). The repertoire comes from J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello and the Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, with the material arranged as duets.

Dana also has a project with actor Vincent D’Onofrio called “Slim Bone Head Volt”. This work is based on D’Onofrio’s journal entries which Dana creates music for. This duo will be releasing their first recording on March 3, 2015.

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider commissioned Dana to compose a work called “Maintenance Music” for their Brooklyn Rider Almanac. Dana also wrote eight string quintet arrangements of traditional Irish fiddle music for the Apple Hill Quartet which has a recording due out next year.

One more thing to mention is that this past summer Dana was musical director of Family Album, a musical by the Tony award winning team Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

You can see Dana perform with Mother Octopus Sunday, December 14th, 8:00pm at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn. She will also be at The Living Room with Matt Kanelos on December 17 ay 8:00pm. Slim Bone 7ead Volt will be at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7:00pm to close out Dana’s performances for the year. If you have the opportunity to check out Dana’s performances, I recommend that you go and see all the shows to really experience the breadth of Dana’s musical talent. You will not be disappointed.

August Artist Feature: Miranda Sielaff

August Artist Feature: Miranda Sielaff

This month’s featured artist is the wonderful performer, educator and violist, Miranda Sielaff. Miranda and I go way back to when we used to teach music up in Westchester county back in our early days in New York City. Miranda and I have shared countless meals together over the past decade or so and I’m not sure what her favorite dish is but I think she does enjoy the oven fried chicken that I make for my annual Memorial weekend picnic. Miranda is pretty handy in the kitchen and I always enjoy her cooking every 4th of July and birthday celebrations.

Since 2001 while completing her Masters in performance at Juliliard, Miranda has performed with renown artists from all over the world and is a part of some incredible ensembles such as the self-directed orchestra, The Knights, The Caravel Trio with cellist, Jane Cords-O’Hare and violinist, Kristi Helberg, and is a regular performer in ensembles such as the String Orchestra Of New York (SONYC), the composition collective ensemble, Wet Ink and recently with Ensemble Pamplemousse. Miranda regularly participates in Concerts in the Heights which is a concert series held in Washington Heights, NYC.

Miranda is a dedicated teacher of viola and violin and she is amazing at teaching little children. She teaches in Manhattan at School for Strings, the Diller Quaile School of Music and has her own private studio in Brooklyn.

You can hear Miranda next month with The Knights at Roulette on September 18 at 8:00pm. This is a special concert to check out because it will be the first from a series of self-presented concerts from The Knights. The Knights have never done a NYC concert series before so this is hopefully the beginning of great things to come.

Miranda is a generous, thoughtful and kind spirit and I have had the honor of performing with her in a duo setting, which was one of my performing highlights in NYC. Miranda’s sensitive and emotional playing creates a wonderful environment for her fellow musicians to have a deep musical interactive experience as well as audiences being uplifted by the beauty of her playing.

Take the opportunity to go hear The Knights or see Miranda perform with her trio. It will not disappoint.

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

This month’s artist feature is the remarkable and talented song-writer, guitarist, singer and actor Benjamin Scheuer. I have known Ben for more than a decade and seen this wonderful musician grow into the amazing talent that he is now.

Ben is a foodie. It is guaranteed that if Ben hosts a party, there will be incredible food to be had. When Ben came to my child’s first birthday party I was in disbelief watching Ben continuously eating the fish tacos I had set out that day. I take that as a compliment.

Ben has a remarkable story and it feels challenging to try and tell it in a few paragraphs.

Originally from Westchester, NY Ben settled himself in NYC in 2005 and by then had already recorded with his bands, The Capability and Call the Cops. Soon there after he recorded with his other band Escapist Papers (2006) and collaborated with fellow songwriter and bassist Geoff Kraly in Lady Clown (2007).

In 2007 Ben wrote an original musical with librettist Zoe Samuel called “Jihad!: The Musical” that premiered at the Fringe Festival in Glasgow followed by the premiere in London in 2010. Also, in that summer, Ben was invited to be part of the Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop. Things were going strong and Ben was continuing his artistic pursuits until the unexpected happened. In 2011 Ben was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. He underwent six months of chemotherapy and as of now I am so happy to say, is cancer free. During and after cancer treatment Ben began to record his sophomore recording with Escapist Papers called “The Bridge”. A video was made for the track, “The Lion” (which yours truly sang additional vocals for) has received four international awards for best video. You can view this amazing video here.

Ben was invited to be part of Lincoln Center’s “Songbook Series” (Broadway’s Future) in January 2012. During this experience Ben realized that a story needed to be told. In the following year, Ben was invited to the Goodspeed Theater and there he met director Sean Daniels. Sean and Ben began to develop Ben’s storybook and has now become the musical called “The Lion.”

Ben performed the early draft of “The Lion” (which at the time was still called, “The Bridge”) at the Fringe Festival in 2013 and received the Best Lyrics award for “The Bridge” and in the same year was awarded the ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award for Song Writing. (On top of being a great song writer, Ben is an incredibly generous individual; he donated the funds from his award to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society).

You can see Ben perform his new musical “The Lion” at the Manhattan Theater Club now until July 13th. Tickets are only $30 and I urge all of you to see this moving and wonderful performance. During cancer treatments, photographer Riya Lerner did a weekly documentation of Ben’s journey along with Ben’s journal entries and created a book with graphic designer, Lia Strasser called “Between Two Spaces” which will be available at All sales will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Benjamin Scheuer is earnest, charming, fun loving person whose generosity is moving and humbling. He is a musical force to be reckoned with and I am so honored to call him a colleague and friend. Go see The Lion everyone. You will not be disappointed.

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