Sybarite5 ~ Kickstarting the Forward Festival

Sybarite5, that great quintet that specializes in transcriptions is back, and they are currently raising money through Kickstarter for an event called the Forward Festival, which the group is calling “The world’s first portable chamber music festival”. You can find out how to help by watching the clip and clicking on the link below for details.

From their Kickstarter page:

This May, Sybarite5 is on a mission to launch the world’s first portable chamber music festival, The Forward Festival.
The Forward Festival is simple by design but limitless in its scope and reach. For our inaugural week of concerts, we will collaborate with the outstanding musicians of the Sarasota community to perform in venues across the city. The music will be fresh and accessible; the performances vital and surprising. Forward Festival will bring the whole community together to celebrate its inherent cultural richness during this week. We then plan to re-create the Forward Festival in cities and towns across the country and the world.


The first Forward Festival will take place in Sarasota, FL, where the group has deep roots. We have five concerts lined up, featuring world class artists in five different Sarasota venues. We will collaborate with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, Sarasota Orchestra’s principal cellist and harpist Abe Feder and Cheryl Losey; Sarasota’s own renowned Chroma Quartet; acclaimed pianist Djordje Nesic; and versatile percussionist George Nickson. The concerts will take place all over Sarasota, from the Symphony Center to alternative art spaces like the HuB. The concerts will include music from Debussy to Radiohead and a world premiere by Andy Akiho.



This is our most ambitious undertaking to date. We are truly creating something from the ground up; something we hope to see flourish for years to come and which will enable us to engage with communities previously unreached by classical or chamber music. But we can’t do it alone. There are huge expenses associated with creating a music festival, and we have already received some wonderful support, but we have a long way to go. The funds we hope to raise through this campaign will go towards the immediate cost of this year’s festival. We need to rent venues, get insurance, pianos, music, cars, video equipment, as well as pay for travel, production costs, video, printing, ticketing, and other expenses…the list goes on and on! But you can help. Plus, your support will also help the larger mission of the Forward Festival: to help its presence evolve across the country and the world, and become something that is recognized as an innovative contribution to the artistic landscape of our time. Please consider being a part of this journey—and help us bring Forward Festival to your own backyard!



Comprised of violinists Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violist Angela Pickett, cellist Laura Metcalf and bassist Louis Levitt, Sybarite5 is the first string quintet ever to win the Concert Artists Guild Competition. The quintet has performed in 26 states, as well as Newfoundland Canada, and is traveling to Japan and Argentina in the coming months. Sybarite5 made its Carnegie Hall debut in Zankel Hall in 2012, and its debut EP Disturb the Silence reached the top ten on the Billboard Charts. The group also recently released an all-Radiohead album on the CAG Record label. Sybarite5 has received awards and accolades including the Sylvia Ann Hewlett Adventurous Artist Award, a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant, and others.

Click here to donate to Sybarite5′s Kickstarter page for the Forward Festival

Forward Festival (

The Glass Shō ~ Lauren O’Connell Returns


Lauren O’Connell has done another cool interview with me, this time for The Glass Sho podcast, and you can hear it here (The bottom link or on the top right of this page) in its entirety. She spoke about recording, touring, fan support from her Patreon page, and the reaction to the use of her recording of ‘House of The Rising Sun’ in promos for FX’s American Horror Story: Coven.

In this excerpt from the interview, I had asked Lauren about her influences as her music had become so progressive from her first mostly acoustic records to her last 2 full-length albums being in a much more experimental vein production-wise.

“It’s hard to know what your biggest influences are–it’s really hard to know what gets into your head and stays there. A lot of music I listened to when I was younger and don’t really think about anymore–I’m sure a lot of my melodies are rooted there whether I know it or not.
In terms of artists that I try to learn things from now–Gillian Welch is definitely a big one. Gillian Welch, by the way, is really a duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. They perform under her name, but they write the songs together and perform them, and their records are pretty much just the 2 of them. There’s so many distractions with production that are available to everybody now, and writing and production are often blended together, but just the fact that they’re still writing songs with 2 voices and 2 guitars, and they are still basically releasing records with just that, and the writing is that strong and they don’t need to add things in production–I really admire that, and it’s something I try to learn from.
And then St. Vincent is kind of in the other direction. I wouldn’t say she’s one of my biggest influences, at least consciously, but she’s going far out, trying to do these new things with her songs, and making all these new sounds, really doing something fresh. It’s kind of the other end of the spectrum, but I love what she does as well.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 5 (Lauren O’Connell)

the glassshoA1

“Levers and Gears”

Lauren O’Connell (

Lauren’s Patreon page (Lauren O’Connell is creating songs;

The Glass Shō ~ Lainie Fefferman Discusses Her 2 Premieres

Composer Lainie Fefferman sat down to do a really fun and informative interview with me for The Glass Sho podcast, and below are some excerpts from the chat about her 2 premieres next month. The rock oratorio Here I Am, featuring new music band Newspeak and a cappella trio Va Vocals (May 1st at Roulette in Brooklyn), and a stand-alone piece titled “The Pirate’s Daughter” to be premiered by ETHEL at their Homebaked Commssions concert (May 11th at DROM in Manhattan; Links with information are on the bottom)
You can listen to the full published interview on the Glass Sho link at the bottom or on the right of this page.

newspeak4[Pictured left, Newspeak]

“Here I Am is a rock oratorio…It’s just tough what to call it. It’s new music, but it’s got lots of rock elements in it. I call it an oratorio because it is in the tradition of biblical stories and people singing out these biblical stories often as an omniscient narrator and not always taking on a role as a biblical character. It’s the intoning of these biblical stories and it’s not staged, but a semi-staged production. It’s got a lot of theatrical elements. It doesn’t feel like a concert to me, and I felt that rock lets you know the sound of the music that’s going to happen in this oratorio, because it’s a singing-out of these crazy biblical stories, so, that’s where that came from! I don’t really know what it is, it’s some kind of big, crazy theatrical music extravaganza, so I call it an oratorio.”

Lainie Fefferman: Here I Am – Trailer from Lainie Fefferman on Vimeo.


“I’ve loved ETHEL forever! When I was just starting to learn about new music, one of the first CDs I bought was the 1st ETHEL CD with the arm. And I fell in love, I just decided that was it!
Ralph Farris called me some time ago, and I was actually having dinner with my family, and I said ‘Hello? Who is this number?’, and he said ‘Hi, this is Ralph Farris, can I talk to you?’, and I was talking to Ralph Farris! He said ‘We love your music, can you write a piece for us for our Homebaked Commissions?’, and I was over the moon! That was my dream commission!

Trailer for the Pirate’s Daughter

I had been doing a series of pieces for a bunch of friends that I’m calling my portrait pieces–I tape interviews that I have with the commissioning performer, and I use that as a tape track. I highly edit it, but I use it as a tape track behind the piece, so that the audience hears the piece and the performer’s voice speaking about music, life and whatever we happen to be talking about. So this is what I wanted to also do for ETHEL’s piece. It turns out they are hilarious! So, the piece has a lot of humor, but I talked to them…Because ETHEL’s been so big in my life, I ended up talking to them a lot about the history of the group–what makes them (in my mind) a really special quartet and what makes them really different from other string quartets, and in a way, the piece is an homage to what they’ve done for the New York music scene and new music in general.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 4 (Lainie Fefferman)

the glassshoA1

Click here for info/tickets for Here I Am at Roulette, May 1st

Click here for info/tickets for ETHEL’s Homebaked Commissions show featuring Lainie’s piece The Pirate’s Daughter at DROM, May 11th

Lainie Fefferman (

The Glass Shō ~ Michael Vincent Waller Talks Five Easy Pieces… The EP

Composer Michael Vincent Waller released Five Easy Pieces, a digital EP of solo piano pieces that sound very much in a vein that combines minimalist styles with French impressionism. Gumi Shibata and Jenny Q. Chai are the featured soloists on the recording.

Michael talks about the EP in this excerpt from the interview he did for The Glass Sho podcast. You can hear the interview in its entirety on the link below.

Michael Vincent Waller - Five Easy Pieces - cover

“Five Easy Pieces is a new EP I just released…Essentially, this is the beginning of my recorded career. I had always focused on live performance, composing and commissioned works, but recording was something I had been interested in, and this is my first offering, which, I think is music I want to hear. The EP is about creating a vibe of contemplation, a kind of hypnotic, relaxing introspection. Sort of philosophical while being emotional. The EP, although it’s only 25 mins, allows you to enter into that world and really experience it without being sort of overloaded, I guess.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 3a (Michael Vincent Waller)

the glassshoA1

Click here to purchase Five Easy Pieces by Michael Vincent Waller

Michael Vincent Waller (

Fred Ho (1957-2014) ~ Marie Incontrera Shares Memories of Her Mentor

Fred Ho

Composer/saxophonist/bandleader Fred Ho, a truly unique artist who has been creating an interesting avant-garde blend of music featuring elements of jazz, big band, opera, and Asian folk and theatrical music, has sadly passed away on April 12 after battling metastatic colorectal cancer for the last 8 years. But it is very interesting to note that Fred Ho continues to keep his legacy going through his protégés, one of them his last student, composer Marie Incontrera. I heard about him when I interviewed her about the premiere of one of her works, and sure enough, I had the brief pleasure of meeting Mr. Ho that night at the show. Marie and I later spoke of interviewing Fred to preview a concert of his, but by that time, he’d become too ill to do an interview. Continue reading

THE GLASS SHŌ ~ Cindertalk on His New Single and Playing Glasses


Jonny Rodgers, now going by the moniker Cindertalk (Jonny explained that there were too many other noted personalities that have the same or similar names, thus the reason he uses this as a handle at present) sat down with me to do an interview for The Glass Shō. I asked him about the upcoming single titled “Spero”, which will be available to purchase on Record Store Day (April 19th) to benefit the charity Love146, which is an organization dedicated to ending child trafficking and exploitation (By the way, you can get involved with their cause as well by clicking on the link)
Below are excerpts from our chat, but you can hear the full interview on the links for the Glass Sho episode on the bottom or at the top right of this page.

Spero 7

“This song I did called ‘Spero’–it’s a song I wrote after doing a benefit. Basically, I’ve done a lot of spokesperson stuff for an organization called Love146 for years, they combat child sex trafficking, and my wife is a co-founder of the organization. I’ve partnered with them and other groups for a long time, and at one point they did a benefit where I did some music, and I was placed at the same table with a couple of young survivors that came to tell their stories. Talk about feeling like you’ve met a rock star–They’d been through some hellish, harrowing things and have courageously come out the other side and told their stories to all of us without flinching. Horrific stories and amazing resilience from these survivors, and that’s the fundamental basis for the song, lyrically–It’s based upon the Latin paraphrase ‘Dum spiro spero’, which means ‘While I breathe, I hope’”

I also asked him about playing glasses, his second instrument to guitar.

“The glasses–I built the case I play now, and there was a pretty big shift in my playing–It used to be a case of 9 notes, and it2013_Jonny-Rodgers was really as supplemental filler for a 9-person ensemble. I still do that kind of thing, but it was always standard that I played with 9 people, and the case was always a small part of that. Now I use 19 notes, it’s enough that I can do anything harmonically that I want to, and small enough that I can wheel them through an airport–Those were my 2 biggest criteria for the upgrade.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 3 (Cindertalk & Michael Vincent Waller)

the glassshoA1

Cindertalk (
Cindertalk (Bandcamp page)

The Glass Shō ~ Debbie Chou on “Little Prince” and its video


Singer-songwriter Debbie Chou sat down with me again to do another great chat, this time for The Glass Sho, and we spoke about her current single “Little Prince”. I had been sort of letting her know that in my mind, her music and the rich, passionate alto vocal of hers is comparable to some of the best early 80s artists like The Motels or Siouxsie and The Banshees, and she responded to that thought in this excerpt from our podcast chat (which you can listen to in its entirety on the link below or at the top right of this page).

“It’s funny you mention the 80s aspect–when I first wrote [Little Prince], I had the drum track first–I wanted that beat, and when I was done with that tune, I realized I had written an 80s-feel pop tune. You hear a lot of 80s elements in indie-pop tunes today, and those songs stick out to me, so I thought this was a good time to release the song! Even the chorus with the harmonies at the end of the song–Someone told me it reminded them of the chorus in Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels”, and I said ‘That’s exactly what I was going for!’, so I’m glad it turned out well!”

Official video for “Little Prince” (Director of Photography: Chloe Lee)

I also asked her about the making of the video and whose concept it was. Before the video was launched, she had been posting many images of her dollhouse and its figures on her Facebook page.

“I had the idea of shooting it in a dollhouse, so I ordered the set online, and built it at home. It’s easy to become obsessed with dollhouses and small things–I was almost there, and I started collecting stuff for shooting the video, and while posting the pictures on Facebook, I was giving hints to everyone saying ‘Hey, this is a dollhouse, stay tuned, there’s going to be a video’, so this is what came out of it!”

The Glass Shō: Episode 2 (Debbie Chou)

the glassshoA1

Click here to purchase the “Little Prince”/”Waterfall” single

Click here to purchase her newly-released Songs From Rockwood EP