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Darwin Shen: Blog

Heifetz, Irving Berlin and Me.

Posted on December 23, 2016 with 0 comments
I spent the better part of December working on a project.  I had started the project last year but there is nothing like a deadline to get something done.  And Christmas was my deadline.  
Years ago Jascha Heifetz recorded White Christmas for Decca records.  It was a great recording and wonderful arrangement which was unfortunately unpublished.  What does that mean to me?  That means that I had to sit down and write it out.  It turned out that after writing it and filming it, I felt the need to put finger to keyboard and post something about it on violinist.com.  Strangely enough the post got traction and the good people at violinist.com put it on their front page...
here is the archived article http://www.violinist.com/blog/DShen/201612/20902/  
What I did't realize was the amount of people who were interested in this arrangement.  It is indeed a great Christmas song.  I did my research on the piece.  I asked around for favorite [...]
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The Demise of the Video Store

Posted on March 1, 2015 with 0 comments
The demise of the video store.
Over the last couple of weeks, one of my favorite haunts has been have a closing sale.  Media Wave in Fairfield is closing its doors.  The owner Paul is someone who I have known for many years and as a matter of fact I knew his uncle who had a HUGE video store in Stamford called Video Hut in Stamford back in the mid 90’s. Video Store?
Its very name is an anachronism.  The area paper did away with the “best” category for the video store?  Why because when was the last time you went to a store and borrowed a VIDEO?
Hell, do you own a VCR?  Do you still have video tapes?  Decaying pieces of archaic technology that gather dust. Usually such things are family keepsakes of past trips or moments.  Most have been transferred onto these little silver discs….have you heard of them?  Those have then been ripped and transferred to the cloud. 
We live in ever changing times.  Technology that once [...]
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a return to writing

Posted on February 21, 2015 with 0 comments
I used to write a lot but once it got to be popular to pollute the internet with ones own shortcomings in prose, I decided to stop.  The sum total of my writing became my short spurts of outrage or joy on Facebook, but now I have decided that I do need the outlet of writing.  So excuse me as I write about the things that interest me, the things that bother me, and perhaps most worrying the things that I think about. 
I have worked in the music business for longer than I care to admit. When I wasn’t working in the business, I was working AT the business so go figure that one. 
If you ask people who have worked with me on a regular basis or hang out with me they all have a story about me.  Usually the story starts: “one time Darwin and I were in a restaurant.”  My friend Krista Adams-Santilli has one which starts “one time Darwin and I were in an airport, looking for a restaurant.” 
It is simple.  Musicians are extremely [...]
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It is a new year.  I sit at my computer with my violin in the corner and my viola on the table.  I think that nobody would believe that I was playing the viola.
 
Yes, in 2011 I started performing on the viola.  I thought it was time to branch out and expand my horizons.  Not to mention the fact that the viola is just plain easy.  Don’t believe what they tell you.  The viola literature can be sight read in an afternoon.  If anyone debates you tell them that a third of their rep is arranged from the violin, a third is arranged from the cello and the rest is unfortunately “ORIGINALLY” for viola.
 
Harold in Italy was written for the violinist Niccolo Paganini.  Upon seeing the music he complained there was nothing for him to do.  Yes, the viola jokes started early.  Upon being told that I was playing the viola, a friend commented, “does that mean your IQ drops 50 points when you hold it?”  I don’t [...]
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Here we have two pianists. Both are famous, both have cult followings, however Lang Lang, or as I prefer to call him BANG BANG, has reached into that stratosphere of musical celebrity reserved for the Beatles and the such.
Why? Honestly, I am not quite certain. Lang Lang as a pianist reminds me of the very worst of Horowitz. The large drops in volume, the excessive portamento, the extreme velocity and the extreme BANGING. Mind you, Horowitz went through this after having his own personal demons and issues. When Horowitz came through this in the mid 1980's he was a completely different pianist as well....satisfied to let his incredible gifts serve the smallest of musical pieces...indeed pieces that a talented amateur could play
One thing Horowitz never did was ape for the public or the camera.
Kissen is another matter....this is a strange man but with a power and ability at the piano that makes one wonder what deal he has made to play so cleanly. I heard him live in New [...]
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