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#19 allan atlas

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:51 PM

For viruoso performance in the classical realm look no further than Douglas Rogers. In English tradition I think of John Kirkpatrick, Alistair Anderson and Dave Townsend. I'm not an expert on Irish music, but those who are will list virtuosi until you cry for mercy, I'm sure.

Chris


Having recently heard Allan Atlas in concert I'd add him to the list of virtuosi. His was a performance of Victorian parlor music--yet a different genre than those listed above. If the chance comes up, go hear him.



DEAR LARRY: thank you very much for those very kind words..........glad you were able to be there...........Allan

#20 Dieppe

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 04:54 PM

What about Juliette Daum? Yeah, she's young, but she plays a darn fine concertina, if you ask me. Maybe I'm just baised? It is a fine instrument she's playing though..


Patrick

#21 m3838

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 06:00 PM

What about Juliette Daum? Yeah, she's young, but she plays a darn fine concertina, if you ask me. Maybe I'm just baised? It is a fine instrument she's playing though..


Patrick


She's good. Very good indeed.
A bit far from a virtuoso though. We have to have some perspective. One thing is to be the best English concertina player among 100, another to be in company of Rostropovich, Yasha Heyfetz, Glenn Gould and the rest of the Olympus.
If anybody cares, of course.

#22 njurkowski

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:00 PM

What about Juliette Daum? Yeah, she's young, but she plays a darn fine concertina, if you ask me. Maybe I'm just baised? It is a fine instrument she's playing though..


Patrick


She's good. Very good indeed.
A bit far from a virtuoso though. We have to have some perspective. One thing is to be the best English concertina player among 100, another to be in company of Rostropovich, Yasha Heyfetz, Glenn Gould and the rest of the Olympus.
If anybody cares, of course.



I think Michael's quite right with this. She's a great player (far better than me and 99% of concertinists out there, I'd imagine), but I think a virtuoso really has to break down the walls of what was thought possible on the instrument. There haven't been too many knock-your-socks-off performers on the English concertina since its decline in popularity, which has hurt the development and instrument.

I agree with Danny that the instrument doesn't have the potential to replace the piano or violin as a solo instrument, but I don't think that's a problem - the instrument can still have a niche. Piazzolla had a lot of success using the Bandoneon in chamber-type ensembles, where the unusual timbre can create interesting combinations with the other instruments. I would like to see more modern composers using the instrument in chamber ensembles, but of course, any concertina is difficult to write for unless you have a decent familiarity with the instrument. Sort of a catch-22 - there aren't too many amazing performers because there isn't a large body of work for the instrument and no one is that familiar with it, and no one writes for it because there haven't been performers of a high enough profile to attract composers' attention. The concertina may as well be an ophicleide or glass harmonica.

Also, I constantly see people reporting that Berlioz hated the concertina. In his treatise on orchestration (which is where I assume people are getting this) he doesn't so much rail against the concertina as against the tuning system it used at the time (kind of using the concertina as a jumping off point to grind an axe with the proponents of just-intonation). Since just-tuning has given way completely to equal temperament, most of his criticisms no longer apply. As a matter of fact, he says "The timbre of the concertina is penetrating and soft at the same time; in spite of its weakness it carries quite far. It combines well with that of the harp and piano-forte." It's not a glowing review, but it certainly isn't condemnatory. Much of the rest of the entry is vitriol aimed at "the old presumption of acousticians to impose the results of their calculations upon the practice of art." This is where I imagine people have gotten the idea that he hated the instrument, unless there is another source where he explicitly derides the concertina.

#23 allan atlas

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 08:15 PM

the last posting was on the mark. . . .Berlioz rails only against the tuning and the acousticians who would saddle the instrument with it. . . . . . . .as far as i know, that is his only statement about the concertina. . . . .and it is in the treatise on orchestration...............we might note that his remarks about the instrument were written just a few years before some of the mainstream english composers turned their attention to it. . . . one can only wonder if he (Berlioz) ever came to know the music by Macfarren or Molique or Benedict, for example. . . . .allan

#24 stella24

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 10:49 PM

I feel that what is in order here is a true definition of virtuosity. I'm sure many of you can come up with a very good definition. To me, it would include brilliant technique, a large amt. of expression and emotion and musical intelligence regarding interpretation. i truly don't think the technique takes first place. There are artists out there that fit this definition whether they play irish trad or not.
Their subtle takes on the basic tune, the pure history feel when you listen to even what at first seems simple style of Mary M. and Jackie Mc., well. Attend a Noel H. class and hear the free form just flowing out of him as he plays for the class and the picking apart of a tune and putting it back together; you sit in the presence of musical genius.
Addressing directly you mr. Ratface/Danny: What do you think you are saying? Music affects me emotionally if it is truly played well. whether on piano, cello, or concertina. When you, Danny, play Micheal Turners waltz on utube my eyes start to tear and your mr. rat does the same.
Emotion. Rhythm. Interpretation. Last technical prowess. There. i got it out. w.

#25 Mike Pierceall

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 11:56 PM

I don't remember when I first heard the concertina played, but to me it had a whimsical, yet melancholy sound I could never forget. Even the desafinado has its charm. It has a beauty all its own. I think it's incomparable in that respect. Pauline de Snoo has performed some very touching pieces. Mike

#26 Dan Worrall

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 01:35 AM

the last posting was on the mark. . . .Berlioz rails only against the tuning and the acousticians who would saddle the instrument with it. . . . . . . .as far as i know, that is his only statement about the concertina. . . . .and it is in the treatise on orchestration...............we might note that his remarks about the instrument were written just a few years before some of the mainstream english composers turned their attention to it. . . . one can only wonder if he (Berlioz) ever came to know the music by Macfarren or Molique or Benedict, for example. . . . .allan


Well, Allan, far be it for a rube like me to disagree with you on matters classical.....but Berlioz didn't like the instrument he saw at the time. He called the scale of the English concertina 'barbarous', and to my mind it doesn't 'count' that its temperament was 'fixed' later....he didn't like what he saw and heard, and said so. Berlioz also called it 'annoying', as in :

The different tuning of a part of its scale becomes still more annoying if the concertina plays together with an instrument with movable tones such as the violin. .....To effect strict unison, the violinist would have to adapt his tones to the fixed ones of the other instrument; he would have to play off pitch. THis is actually done, but to a lesser degree-unconsciously and without offending the ear-when the violin plays with a pianoforte or with other well-tempered instruments.

I think it is commonly understood (but then I could be equally commonly wrong) that orchestral violins very subtly change their pitch to make things sound sweet....like making more perfect thirds... when such things are needed, something which strict adherence to ET does not allow. Beyond simply its 'barbarous' scale, I don't think Berlioz liked the fact that the concertina was another fixed tone instrument brought into the orchestral mix, where some instruments were still well tempered (like pianos) when the emerging ideal was ET. But as always, I bow to your greater knowledge....I am not too schooled in all that.

All this discussion brings to mind the following bit of 1889 English doggerel I recently unearthed, parts of which apply to the EC, and perhaps mostly to the GC. Enjoy!
Best,
Dan

[attachment=3842:Noisy.png]
edited to add italics

Edited by Dan Worrall, 10 July 2008 - 01:37 AM.


#27 m3838

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:30 AM

I feel that what is in order here is a true definition of virtuosity. I'm sure many of you can come up with a very good definition. To me, it would include brilliant technique, a large amt. of expression and emotion and musical intelligence regarding interpretation. i truly don't think the technique takes first place. There are artists out there that fit this definition whether they play irish trad or not.
Their subtle takes on the basic tune, the pure history feel when you listen to even what at first seems simple style of Mary M. and Jackie Mc., well. Attend a Noel H. class and hear the free form just flowing out of him as he plays for the class and the picking apart of a tune and putting it back together; you sit in the presence of musical genius.
Addressing directly you mr. Ratface/Danny: What do you think you are saying? Music affects me emotionally if it is truly played well. whether on piano, cello, or concertina. When you, Danny, play Micheal Turners waltz on utube my eyes start to tear and your mr. rat does the same.
Emotion. Rhythm. Interpretation. Last technical prowess. There. i got it out. w.

.a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public."
The defining element of virtuosity is the performance ability of the musician in question, who is capable of displaying feats of skill well above the average performer. Musicians focused on virtuosity are commonly criticized for overlooking substance and emotion in favor of raw technical prowess. Despite the mechanical aspects of virtuosity, many virtuosi successfully avoid such labels, focusing simultaneously on other musical aspects while writing and performing music.

Or from Webster
1: an experimenter or investigator especially in the arts and sciences : savant
2: one skilled in or having a taste for the fine arts
3: one who excels in the technique of an art; especially : a highly skilled musical performer (as on the violin)
4: a person who has great skill at some endeavor <a computer virtuoso> <a virtuoso at public relations>

A genius is a person of great intelligence, who shows an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work. Geniuses - or genii (see Etymology) - always show strong individuality and imagination, and are not only intelligent, but unique and innovative.

We started bringing names, and none of those names fit the above requirements, unless we are easily amused, probably due to our incomplete exposition.
You want to see true virtuoso?
Here they are:
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=inLlNdjKgTQ
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=R7cCKx2gZjM
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=RQ5iifpA6xI
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=ZuOl3w8qOXw
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Ve_EhkMVbFY
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related including Hebrew joke (the times!)
Anyone on concerrtina up to the level? Both artistic and technical?
Let's find them.
May be a sub-topic "Concertina Virtuosi" should be created.

#28 Fergus_fiddler

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:56 AM

Or take the Spanish guitar: until a few decades ago, it was a folk instrument that had been a fad with high society at one time, and had a few shallow, composed pieces written for it, but it was not a "serious" instrument. Since Segovia, musical public opinion has changed radically. The guitar is now a conservatoire instrument, like the simpler violin.


This is a very funny statement. Here in my own country, classical trained virtuosos of guitar arenīt by far valued as the flamenco virtuosos. A good example of how the "folk" music can beat to some stiffy classical musicians.

And in my opinion, is not as bad with concertina as with fiddle. There's no traditional spanish music for fiddle, so when you take it out of the box, everybody expects you to play some classical piece - unless, of course, you're in the pub having some pints with the chaps :P -.

#29 hjcjones

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 03:17 AM

Dan, that cutting is an absolute gem!

#30 david_boveri

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:18 AM

erroneous perception that the Concertina is not in fact a 'serious' musical instrument.


I don't think that this perception is erroneous, when the concertina is compared to other instruments:

It doesn't have any where _near_ the variation in tone, pitch and (probably) volume control of the bowed string family. There simply is no comparison here... the concertina makes up for it a little in being able to play multiple notes at once more easily, but why listen to a concertina playing 4 notes when you could hear a cello playing just one?!

Same argument as above for almost all wind/brass instruments, though there are a few instruments that don't really rise much above the concertina (in my opinion... without naming names!) - this is when comparing the best players of the instrument (and, in the case of the concertina, trying to imagine what it's really capable of).

The guitar beats it, imo: it has a similarly rather uninteresting sound, but there is more tone control available to a guitarist, and, multi-part music works so much better being able to control the volume of individual notes that are playing simultaneously. I think this beats the concertina's advantage of being able to change the volume of a note after it starts.

Keyboard instruments beat it in terms of the complexity of the music that they can play - all concertinas limit the note combinations more than piano-type keyboards, I think. Piano obviously has the individual note volume advantage. Harpsichord doesn't have this... but then many would not consider it too seriously either (wrongly, imo). Concertina is more portable... but that's not consolation when it comes to being "serious".

Another problem with the concertina is that it is _always_ out of tune - not only can it not adjust to subtle pitch changes when playing alongside other instruments, but the pitch changes with pressure and there's no way to compensate. In terms of tuning there's the horrible expression "good enough for folk".... in this case perhaps true.

The advantages it does have maybe explain why it's generally an "amateur" instrument - it always plays in tune (well, sort of), it doesn't scratch/squeak like a fiddle, it's portable, it can play multiple notes at once so self-accompany etc. However, these aren't the properties that are needed to make instruments "serious".

In terms of virtuosity, I don't think that there are any players that have anywhere near the virtuosity and total command of the instrument that you find on other more standard instruments. There are some very good specialists (especially in Irish music). I've played the cello since age about 10 and even so there are some cellists that make my eyes/ears bulge in wonder and I know that I could never reach their level in terms of technical and musical mastery. I've never got that feeling with concertina - it's all just pushing buttons and squeezing, and honestly it's not that hard. I don't know if that's because there simply aren't many full time professional concertina players, or if it's just that there simply isn't much that you can do with the concertina... but I suspect both.

For me the concertina is a "fun" instrument, and the cello is serious (and immensely fun too!). When other people (outside the concertina world) see it that way too, perhaps they're not wrong.


i think the limitations you speak of are what make the concertina such a perfect candidate of being capable of virtuosity. virtuosity is so remarkable because of it's difficulty, not despite it. look at this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=4gFdX1__zNc it is a virtuoso performance because of it's difficulty, and how the player has mastered this difficult to create something beautful. what is even more amazing is that she is able to show such a wide range of expressiveness while--in effect--not using any dynamics besides terraced dynamics.

the same goes for this video of matt molloy: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SHcDY76a_eY . you cannot tell from the video, but the flute he is playing is a very difficult instrument. i have an antique flute just like it, and it is extremely out of tune, difficult to play, and finicky. if you do not adjust every note on the flute, each note will be anywhere from 20 to 100 cents off from actual pitch. what makes matt molloy a virtuoso is that he makes it seem so easy, as if it is nothing, just like the harpsichordist, wherein reality both instruments are much more difficult to play than their modern counterparts.

wille clancy was a virtuoso of an instrument which has none of the virtuoso-capable qualities you specify: http://youtube.com/w...feature=related . the uilleann pipes have no dynamics and the accompaniment notes are limited to short, stoppy, regulator notes. however, when he and other great pipers play, it seems like there is something missing from musicians who have the full gamut of expression capabilities in their instruments.

what makes players on the concertina virtuosi, like noel hill, is that they are able to take an instrument which is so limited, as you describe, and pull multiple tone colors out of it, and variations in pitch, dynamics, which you contend to be missing from the instrument. noel hill, http://youtube.com/watch?v=MWosPa3SuNM , does all the things which you specify a virtuoso as needing to do--which is very little, as you say they must only vary tone, pitch, and tone color. the video i have shared of noel is very good, but i have seen him many times very recently, and he is even better now than he was then. i will talk about noel because he is the concertina player i have spent the most time listening to, both in person and on cd.

noel does things that are highly virtuosic--many complain, even, too virtuosic. sometimes he cups the palm of his hand, and i kid you not, is able to mess with the resonance of a reed in his hand to make it sound like he is getting a full glissando from f natural to f sharp, by seeming to create the missing pitches between the notes, making it therefore irrelevant that the instrument is missing natural glissandi that the violin or cello have. this may seem hard to believe, but i saw him do it, saw him explain how to do it, heard the results, and have been unable to replicate it.

just as willy clancy (and other pipers) was able to make it sound like he was using dynamics (if you have never noticed it, there is a psychoacoustical effect that makes changes in note length sound as if they were slight changes in dynamic), noel and other good concertina players can trick your ears into hearing a sound, tone, or pitch that your ears do not in fact hear. through altering note length, dynamics, adding notes in the upper harmonics, you can make an accompanying note sound as if it is quieter than the melody, even though it is not, or make your listener hear a note your are not playing (this last one, again, is a psychoacoustical affect; you can drop a note in a harmonic series, and the listener hears it as if it is still there. this is how opera singers are able to sing over the orchestra: they dont. as i understand, you just hear the top harmonics and your mind fills in the bottom). as far as pitch variation, the reeds in a concertina only stay in pitch within a certain range. players such as tim collins, noel hill, and mrs. crotty purposely hit notes to make them flat, which changes the tone colour, which makes them sound in tune.

it is precisely because the concertina is so difficult that it can be a very serious instrument. i play the flute, which is intensely difficult to get a sound out of, but i view the concertina as being much more difficult, overall this is because, as you state, the concertina can be so easy to play--you just pull and a note comes out. the ease soon disappears, however, as one tries to gain control over the bellows, and to learn how to control the tone color of all the reeds (all 60 reeds act differently, and need to be treated differently to coax a different sound out). i find it much easier to sit in front of a mirror for a few hours and figure out how to get that new tone color out of your flute than to figure out how the heck to use your arms and shoulders to make a concertina produce that new effect, when all it seems to do is want to play the same sound, regardless.

i would like to say that your idea of virtuoso is very limited and moot. if someone is only a virtuoso because they have more variations in pitch, tone color and dynamics, than classical violinists are not as virtuosic as hindustani musicians. i think, for example, that heifetz playing the paganini caprices is very virtuosic, http://youtube.com/watch?v=vPcnGrie__M , but according to your criteria, i would say that ravi shankar's playing-- http://youtube.com/watch?v=4gWCiLexilY --is much more exemplifying of virtuosity, as ravi uses much more variations in pitch, tone color, dynamics, rhythm, and melody--in fact, ravi is using notes and variations in pitch, microtones, which do not even exist in classical music. however, your definition of virtuosity is inaccurate, as heifetz's music does not require him to go for the same constant fluctuation of pitch and expressiveness. heifetz is amazing, just as ravi shankar is, because of the effect that they can create in the instrument, through their limited instruments and limited styles (if heifetz started to do some of what ravi was doing, he would sound horrible, because it would be inappropriate, and vice versa). when you get right down to it, willie clancy, noel hill, heifetz and ravi shankar are all equally expressive, equally virtuosi, equally moving, and equally complex, if you look beyond the mere technical aspects and look at the feelings they are trying to express, the amount of time, passion, and dedication they have given to their arts, and the sublimely profound effect they have on their audience.

seeing ravi shankar live was overwhelming. barely unable to walk, he was able to take several thousand people and get us all on the same wave length, entwined in his sense of tension and emotional story telling, only using his instrument. beethoven's 9th symphony had the same effect on me, and in my opinion, hearing noel hill play tabhair dom do lamh live is equally overwhelming and emotionally impactful--i want to burst into tears every time the piece ends, because i dont want it ever to stop, just as i want the 4th movement of beethoven's sympthony to last forever. this is because the true virtuoso is not constrained by their instrument, but transcends it, to reach directly to the listeners mind through his or her ears, and play with the expectations and reactions of the audience like it is putty. great painters do it. great musicians do it. great actors do it. great authors do it. the medium is irrelevant.

that being said, i dont even thing virtuosity is important. perlman is a virtuoso, but not my cup of tea. i prefer joshua bell or heifetz, regardless of who is the better violinist. in fact, most times, i would really prefer to listen to a nice old lady from ireland, scratching away on a fiddle, and telling me stories about her life than listen to a virtuoso of any sort.

there http://youtube.com/watch?v=4gWCiLexilY

#31 david_boveri

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:20 AM

I feel that what is in order here is a true definition of virtuosity. I'm sure many of you can come up with a very good definition. To me, it would include brilliant technique, a large amt. of expression and emotion and musical intelligence regarding interpretation. i truly don't think the technique takes first place. There are artists out there that fit this definition whether they play irish trad or not.
Their subtle takes on the basic tune, the pure history feel when you listen to even what at first seems simple style of Mary M. and Jackie Mc., well. Attend a Noel H. class and hear the free form just flowing out of him as he plays for the class and the picking apart of a tune and putting it back together; you sit in the presence of musical genius.
Addressing directly you mr. Ratface/Danny: What do you think you are saying? Music affects me emotionally if it is truly played well. whether on piano, cello, or concertina. When you, Danny, play Micheal Turners waltz on utube my eyes start to tear and your mr. rat does the same.
Emotion. Rhythm. Interpretation. Last technical prowess. There. i got it out. w.


hear hear!


EDIT:
it seems my previous post is a cross post with m838. same basic idea.

Edited by david_boveri, 10 July 2008 - 04:27 AM.


#32 David Levine

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:21 AM

Oh, who gives a rat's ass?
As the original post said,

...does it really matter so long as we are all happy?

#33 david_boveri

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:34 AM

Oh, who gives a rat's ass?
As the original post said,

...does it really matter so long as we are all happy?


i do. and a couple of others. we're just having some fun, is all! why do you give a rat's ass if we give a rat's ass?

and, no, it doesnt matter as long as we're all happy! i myself am unable to sleep, it is 4 am, and i need to do something to pass the time. why not over-analyze the minutiae of italianate words? t.v. got too boring.

#34 Robin Madge

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 06:32 AM

I'm a bit late quoting Ratface from yesterday but:
"but why listen to a concertina playing 4 notes when you could hear a cello playing just one?!"

You obviously don't have the same preferences as me:)

How many vituoso guitar players are there compared with the total number of guitar players? I would hazard a guess that the proportion is lower than the equivalent calculation for concertina players, if only for the reason that it is so much easier and cheaper to obtain a guitar.

Robin Madge

#35 rmerris

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:59 AM

I would like to return to the comment of Irene S.--that even a Jews Harp player can be a virtuoso. Charles (aka Carl) Eulenstein was an early-19th-century Jews Harp virtuoso (trained by an even earlier Jews Harp virtuoso). He thrilled audiences, playing one or more Jews Harps at one time, until it wore out his teeth. He went on to classical composition (including music for concertina). The earliest known German (later, German-Anglo) concertina has a handwritten inscription of Eulenstein. He made other types of musical instruments, and may have made the concertina, or it was made for him by someone else (probably Uhlig). (The concertina is owned by Stephen Chambers.) Later, someone made him a set of dentures, and he was able to return to captivating audiences with his Jews Harp playing.

#36 chiton1

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:59 AM

I would like to return to the comment of Irene S.--that even a Jews Harp player can be a virtuoso. Charles (aka Carl) Eulenstein was an early-19th-century Jews Harp virtuoso (trained by an even earlier Jews Harp virtuoso). He thrilled audiences, playing one or more Jews Harps at one time, until it wore out his teeth. He went on to classical composition (including music for concertina). The earliest known German (later, German-Anglo) concertina has a handwritten inscription of Eulenstein. He made other types of musical instruments, and may have made the concertina, or it was made for him by someone else (probably Uhlig). (The concertina is owned by Stephen Chambers.) Later, someone made him a set of dentures, and he was able to return to captivating audiences with his Jews Harp playing.


Of course! Virtuosity has nothing to do with the kind of instrument you play (it could be just two rocks or the most elaborate instrument ever made). It has to do with your complete mastering of it and you musicality and capebility to move people.




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