(courtesy of Hai Zhang-Olefsky)
At 11 a.m. Monday, June 10, 2013, the Butler School of Music’s Bates Hall, 2406 Robert Dedman Drive, is providing a memorial service for former faculty member Paul Olefsky. Attendees can park for free at the San Jacinto Garage, 2401 San Jacinto Boulevard; parking tickets will be validated following the service.
Dr. Paul Olefsky, a retired music professor at University of Texas at Austin and accomplished cellist, passed away on June 1, 2013. He was 87 years old.
Among his many professional accomplishments was becoming the youngest principal cellist in the history of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall under Eugene Ormandy.
In a concert review of Olefsky’s appearance at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times wrote, “Unquestionably, one of the finest cellist before the public today.”
He released many acclaimed recordings as concert cellist and conductor for the Amatius Classics; Americus Record, Monitor; Musical Heritage Society; Voice of America; and Vox labels.
In 1974, Olefsky landed at UT, where he spent nearly four decades mentoring students such as Louis Lowenstein, John Sant’Ambrogio, Carolyn Hopkins and Stephen Gates. Olefsky spearheaded an innovative chamber music program for UT’s Plan II, one of the first intensive fine-arts courses for the famed UT honors program.
(courtesy of Hai Zhang-Olefsky)
Olefsky’s UT students continue his legacy, teaching at premiere universities and music conservatories throughout the world and holding important positions in major symphony orchestras. Austin Symphony principal cellist, Douglas Harvey, was a protégé of Dr. Olefsky. His widow, Hai Zhang-Olefsky, also a UT alumna, is assistant professor of cello at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX.
Olefsky also created the first Feuermann International Cello Competition at UT and became an emeritus professor at the Butler School of Music in 2002. During his lifetime, Olefsky and his wife were members of the Littlefield Society and the University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council.
To honor his former teacher, Mr. Olefsky’s former student, Gregory L. McCoy, established the Paul Olefsky Cello Scholarship, an endowed scholarship that was approved by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System in 2012. The scholarship benefits The University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music.
In lieu of flowers and remembrances, contributions may be made to the Paul Olefsky Cello Scholarship fund to the following address: The University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music, 2406 Robert Dedman Drive, Stop E3100, Austin, TX 78712-1555, Attn: Development.
John B. Hedges
Though he has worked with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern and the New Jersey Symphony, John B. Hedges remains a bit of an unknown.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, Nathan Williams, Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, and Colette Valentine, Butler School of Music Lecturer of Collaborative Piano, will perform a Faculty Artist Recital at Jessen Auditorium. The evening will feature a piece by Hedges, who’s been a blues and rhythm-and-blues head for as long as he can remember.
“It’s been a part of my daily life since my dad first sat me at the piano and showed me how to move my hands from a I chord to a IV and to a V,” writes Hedges in the program notes for Gumbo, a clarinet sonatina that Williams and Valentine will present during the Tuesday-night concert. “And though the music has informed in various ways much of my own concert music, I had never conceived of transplanting my own piano playing overtly into a piano work in any ‘classical’ context.
“Playing R&B was something I did for myself, spontaneously. More of a friend than an idiom or style. Something to be enjoyed, not analyzed. Played, not composed. Plus…I always feared that it wouldn’t work,” continues Hedges.
Hedges, a graduate of Westminster Choir College and the Curtis Institute of Music, writes that his clarinetist friend Jose Franch-Ballester helped him to ditch his fears.
“One August evening in Philadelphia, after hearing me play and sing a rolling shuffle-style version of Rufus Thomas’ ‘Walkin’ the Dog,’ Jose, who is always looking to expand the already diverse musical world of his repertoire, immediately asked if I could write a concert piece for him that used that kind of American R&B feel.”
Long story short, the two improvised a bit and established some launching points for Hedges’ piece. He finagled with it some more and eventually premiered the composition at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival in June 2008.
“Since then, several other clarinetists and pianists have taken up the piece,” writes Hedges, who has also collaborated with fiction author Aimee Bender. “It’s immensely gratifying to know that the spontaneity of the piece seems to translate from player to player. It makes the challenge of the composition well worth it.”
About Gumbo, a shout-out to New Orleans-style grooves à la Professor Longhair and the Funky Meters, Hedges writes that the first movement is “a crab-like sonata form where the recap occurs in reverse, is a fast rolling, melodically-driven work, slipping in and out of a series of slightly varied rhythmic grooves with athletic lines and a cool sense of humor.”
Later, the piece transitions to a second movement that’s “a slow, deliberate quasi-chaconne, where the repeating chordal pattern is continuously developed in tandem with a lyrical clarinet line. The piece, vaguely reminiscent of a jazz funeral dirge, builds to an emotional fever pitch, the clarinet wailing over piano exclamations, before settling uneasily back into its meditative opening.
“The third movement is about raucous rhythmic play. The disjointed opening gives way to its more straightforward counterpoint as the piece takes off over the piano groove that inspired the whole work. Oscillating between that Professor Longhair feel and a Funky Meters groove as a second theme, this sonata-rondoish movement lays down a harmonic field on top of which the piano and clarinet throw improvisatory lines at each other.”
Wow. Do we really have to wait until Tuesday to hear it??
Nathan Williams and Colette Valentine will perform the works of Sergei Prokofiev, Robert Schumann, Butler School of Music Professor of Composition Dan Welcher and John B. Hedges at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at Jessen Auditorium, 21st Street and University Avenue.
For more information, visit the Butler School of Music calendar event page.
Tagged: Butler School of Music, Colette Valentine, Jessen Auditorium, John Hedges, Nathan Williams, Professor Longhair, The Funky Meters
The Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music and Austin’s Cultural Campus present a Cultural Campus Concert Crawl. On April 6, students from the Butler School of Music will perform short, informal chamber music concerts in five museums from Austin’s Cultural Campus. Each mini concert will feature a variety of chamber music masterworks, specifically chosen to respond to the art and ephemera exhibited at each museums. Concerts begin at 1 pm, and will repeat continuously, on the hour until 4 pm. Travel from museum to museum, and enjoy an inspiring afternoon of music, history, art, and fun.
Concert Details below:
Blanton Museum of Art: Founded in 1963, the Blanton Museum of Art is one of the foremost university art museums in the country and holds the largest public collection in Central Texas. The Blanton is particularly well known for its collection of modern and contemporary American and Latin American art. Inspired by these collections, musicians from the Butler School are presenting the enchanting Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by the famous twentieth century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, along with other sumptuous works for classical guitar and bassoon.
Address: 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Harry Ransom Center: The Harry Ransom Center is cherished in Austin for offering fascinating exhibitions of literature, photography, film, art, and performing art. This spring they present a major exhibition of Arnold Newman’s photographs of innovators, celebrities, and cultural figures. One of Newman’s most iconic images features Igor Stravinsky at a grand piano. Taking inspiration from this photo, the Butler School of Music moves one of its priceless Steinways to the Ransom Center for a collection of chamber music pieces with piano, including the classic masterpiece “Arch Duke” trio by Beethoven.
Address: 300 West 21st Street Austin, Texas 78712
The Visual Arts Center: The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is a place where art exhibition and education intersect, drawing together a uniquely diverse community of students, faculty, guest artists, and creative voices from around the world. Situated in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin, on April 6th VAC visitors can explore the popular, annual exhibition of UT student work. The Butler School of Music also presents a concert of music by UT student composers. Come hear lively, colorful, fresh-off-the press chamber music, and discover a new generation of brilliant, young Longhorn artists, composers, and musicians.
Address: 2300 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78712
Texas Memorial Museum: Natural history with a Texas focus! Texas Memorial Museum is the place to see Texas dinosaurs and fossils, wildlife, and gems and minerals. Marvel at the 30-foot mosasaur that swam here when the area was covered with a shallow sea. Wonder at the Texas Pterosaur – largest flying creature ever found, with a wingspan of 40 feet. Gather beneath the Pterosaur on April 6th, as the Butler School presents a concert features musicians as archeologists, preforming 17th century music on replicas of antique instruments.
Address: 2400 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78705
LBJ Library and Center: The LBJ Library houses the historical documents, telephone recordings, video, artifacts and photographs of President Lyndon Johnson to let researchers and the public render their own verdict as to his place in history. The Library features three floors of interactive exhibits to educate visitors about legislation passed during LBJ’s years in the White House. To celebrate LBJ’s heroic legacy for African American civil rights, the Butler School presents a concert of jazz from the 1960s. Enjoy famous tunes by Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, brilliant African American composers that overcame oppression and segregation to change the history of music and American culture.
Address: 2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705
Classical Reinvention founder Jacqueline Perrin has made some progress in breaking down preconceptions about classical music’s sometimes formal and off-putting format. But there’s still work to do, says the University of Texas at Austin senior.
This could be a reason why she’s going all in with Synthesis, which might turn out to be Classical Reinvention’s swan song.
While the future of the two-year old concert presenting organization is up in the air, there aren’t any questions about the uniqueness that will be displayed during Classical Reinvention’s and Dance Action’s Synthesis, scheduled to debut Tuesday, March 26, during the Cohen New Works Festival at the Harry Ransom Center.
The production will feature a collaboration between musicians and dancers, including a horn quartet (Katie Evans, Reese Farnell, Megan Marshall, Michael Mikulka) playing two Claude Debussy pieces alongside movement artists. Afterwards, the singers of Collegium Musicum (co-directed by Phillip Bernard and Matt Jackfert) will present Guillaume Dufay’s Ave Maria Stella and Thomas Tallis’ O Nata Lux. Both performances take place in the HRC plaza.
From there, Synthesis moves to HRC’s side atrium, where Sam Johnson will run through selected movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major, followed by Ethan Greene’s electronic music-centric Inventions and Interludes in Iron for stereo fixed media.
The concert finishes with Zach Singer’s interpretation of Michael Mikulka’s To Summon Rain, Wind, Snow and Thunder inside of the HRC theater. Archival images from the center’s collection, including work from the current Arnold Newman: Masterclass exhibit, will be displayed alongside Mikulka sonic piece.
Perrin tells Polyphony that it has been a challenge organizing a production that will feature approximately 50 musicians and dancers. “It was a culture shock for many of the participants,” says Perrin about Sunday’s tech rehearsal that took five hours to complete.
“I’ve tried to present Classical Reinvention concerts that are structured more like popular concerts with classical content,” says the Butler School of Music piano performance major, who’s still in the decision-making process with her post-graduation plans (thus, the up-in-the-air status of Classical Reinvention). “I think the mission has stayed true since the beginning.”
Synthesis takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, and Friday, March 29, at the Cohen New Works Festival at the Harry Ransom Center, 300 West 21st Street. Tuesday’s post-concert program includes a talk-back session. For more information, check out the Classical Reinvention event page.
Happy Birthday John Cage!
John Cage was born 100 years ago today, September 5, 1912.
As we start a new school year of music making, students and faculty should reflect on these thoughts by John Cage.
“Good music can act as a guide to good living”
This list of rules for teachers and students, originally written by Sister Corita Kent, was utilized and popularized by John Cage throughout his career. Good thoughts at the beginning of a new semester…
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.
Please share your favorite Cage creations, quotes, inspirations…
AUSTIN, Texas –
Subito Bones, a chamber ensemble at The University of Texas at Austin, recently won first prize in the trombone quartet competition at the International Trombone Festival in Paris. The ensemble, comprised of two seniors and two spring 2012 graduates (Alex Glen, Josh Balleza, Matt Carr and Daniel Fears), was the only ensemble from the Americas selected to compete in the final round of competition.
“I believe that Subito Bones is a stellar ensemble,” said Brickens, one the ensemble’s coaches. “They clearly represent UT’s finest and they have done much to provide service, honor and distinction to our great university. Being labeled as the world’s best at any achievement is a remarkable accomplishment.” Subito Bones is also coached by UT Professor, Charles Villarrubia.
The University of Texas Trombone Choir toured Europe as well, performing in Germany, Switzerland and France to enthusiastic response, at times playing to audiences of over 30,000 people. The UT Trombone Choir specializes in performing original music written for four to 16-part ensembles of trombones. They were joined in Zurich by UT alum, David Garcia. David, presently Solo Trombone for the Zurich Opera Orchestra, was the featured soloist with the UT Choir for its Swiss performance.
More information about the UT Trombone Choir
By Austin Ferguson
The Guild of Student Carillonneurs is a select group of students dedicated to carrying on the tradition of playing the Kniker Carillon, commonly known as the “Tower Bells” on the UT Austin campus. The guild performs weekly mini-concerts throughout the school year, as well as various full concerts and individual recitals. I’d heard people talk about how they wished they could hear music that they knew coming from the Tower, not just, as one student put it, “clangy bell music”. I thought about it and decided what music would better bring together an entire 50,000+ student body better than Disney?! I talked it over with my superiors, and they were all for it; thus, the UT Disney Carillon Concert was scheduled and ready to go! I’ve spent the past three months getting ready, so I’m hoping people are pleased.
The link to the Facebook event is
and you can always check out
and www.guildofstudentcarillonneurs.webs.com for the latest Guild updates.
See y’all Saturday! (Just for the record, the Malls by the Main Building are the best listening spots).
This evening the Butler School presents the final Jessen series recital of the 11-12 season. Please join us for a concert featuring Marianne Gedigian, flute, and Colette Valentine, piano, performing many contemporary works by Butler faculty composers and other 21st century luminaries.
After the break…
preview the concert by reading program notes Jane Mathieu, a doctoral candidate in musicology at the Butler School of Music. These program notes are made possible by the Program Notes Fund.
[Read more →]
This Saturday the Butler School will present two fascinating and fun free concerts, featuring music from diverse cultures.
First: 7:30 pm
Middle Eastern Ensemble, “Bereket”
Featuring special guests: Transitions Armenian Ensemble
Bates Recital Hall
Then: AFTER PARTY,
World-wide chamber Collage
Featuring music by Debussy, Nielsen, Piazzolla, de Falla
2222B Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78705
In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, this installment of our on going “Listen List” series profiles Professor Jeff Hellmer, Director of Jazz Studies.
Prof. Hellmer brings a wealth of experience as an educator and performer to the UT jazz program. He maintains an extremely active performing and teaching profile, appearing frequently on the central Texas scene as well as throughout the United States at venues ranging from the Litchfield Jazz Festival to the Idyllwild Arts Academy. Twice named a finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, he has performed, taught and adjudicated jazz throughout the United States as well as in Russia and Taiwan. His recording, Peak Moments, was declared an “exciting addition to the modern jazz piano catalog” by the All Music Guide. He has been a soloist and guest conductor with the Dallas Wind Symphony six times, and has recorded with classical saxophonists Dan Goble and Harvey Pittel.
Under his direction, the UT Jazz Orchestra performed at the North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals, won a 2005 Down Beat Student Recording Award, and appeared with jazz master Kenny Garrett. In 2009, Professor Hellmer was named to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, one of the highest awards given for teaching at the university. His current and former jazz piano students have garnered impressive recognition for their creativity and individuality. He is co-author of the textbook Jazz Theory and Practice, published by Alfred, and his compositions for jazz ensemble are available through UNC Press and Concept Music.
Come hear Jeff Hellmer lead the UT Jazz Orchestra, this Saturday, April 14, 7:30, with special guest John Clayton. More info…
Here’s our interview with Jeff…
This Saturday, you and the UT Jazz Orchestra are presenting your annual Jazz Fest, this year featuring special guest artist John Clayton. Do you have a special history with any of the tunes on the concert?
Four of the songs on the first half are originals that have been recently completed by members of the Jazz Orchestra, so the only “special history” I have is knowing the musical personalities of each of these outstanding student writers: Gabriel Santiago and his Brazilian influence; Michael Sailors and his embracing of the jazz tradition; Marcus Wilcher’s colorful journeys; and Alex Heitlinger’s thought-provoking, starkly beautiful music. John Clayton will bring out the best of the “swing factor” with the Jazz Orchestra, as his arrangements and compositions, much like Mike Sailors’, are steeped in the big band jazz tradition. It is a true treat for members of the Jazz Orchestra to share the stage with such a wonderful performer and writer. It should be a great evening for all.
The Listen List
Favorite record from music school days:
(tie) Heavy Weather by Weather Report and Three Quartets by Chick Corea. Two of the finest pianist/keyboardists in jazz history (Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul), two of the greatest saxophonists (Michael Brecker and Wayne Shorter), two fantastic drummers (Peter Erskine and Steve Gadd), and Jaco Pastorius had the freshest, largest, and most amazing bass sound I had ever heard.
Newest item on playlist:
Miles Davis Quintet: Live in Europe 1967. Recently released unavailable live concert performances with Miles’ second great quintet. Any newly discovered music by this group is like finding buried treasure.
Maxwell BLACKsummers’night. Great groove, production, and arrangements.
Changed my life:
Chick Corea’s Light As A Feather. It opened the world of improvisation to me when I was in middle school.
Dear student: you need to hear this:
Oscar Peterson Trio: The Sound of the Trio. One of the hardest-swinging records I have ever heard.
Stranded on a deserted island:
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis; Keith Jarrett’s The Koln Concert; John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme; Bill Evans’ Portrait in Jazz (if I can take three).
Road Trip Mix Tape:
Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
Billie Holiday He’s Funny That Way; What A Little Moonlight Can Do
Kenny Garrett Songbook
Sinatra at the Sands with Basie
Bill Evans Portrait in Jazz
Steely Dan Aja
Michael Brecker Don’t Try This At Home
Keith Jarrett Tokyo ’96
Miles Davis Workin’; Steamin’; Cookin’; Relaxin’; The Complete Concert 1964
Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage
Horace Silver Greatest Hits
Joe Williams Sings and Count Basie Swings
Tagged: Jazz Appreciation Month, Jeff Hellmer, John Clayton, Listen List, UT Jazz Orchestra