Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poem for a Sunday

On The Ning Nang Nong

 On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!! 

Spike Milligan

Monday, September 27, 2010

to James F. Smith: Rest in Peace

James Smith, chairman of the classical guitar department at USC for over 35 years, and my old teacher, friend and confidant, passed away peacefully in his home in South Pasadena, CA on Friday September 24th at 7:36am.

Jim had been battling a brain tumor for the past two years. After his first surgery his prognosis was promising. He continued teaching, performing and being the family man. But after the tumor returned a few times, the doctors having put Jim on some of the strongest and most aggressive treatments available,  they were finally unable to operate any further. During his last weeks at home, he continued to receive guests, hear music, play music, and maintain a positive attitude, inspiring all of us who saw him or spoke with him.

Jim radiated his enthusiasm about music and life like a bright floodlight. He made it one of his many missions to unite all the faculty of music by starting the "James Smith and Friends" concerts, which he presented at USC for the past couple of decades to a sold out hall. He also founded the "Wednesdays at Noon" concert series at USC's United University Church, and instituted outreach performance programs for all classical guitar students. He cared about community in music, and one rarely made a social visit to Jim's home without playing a piece of music for him or sightread through piles of music with him. Music was the driving force in his life.

Speaking for myself, I miss Jim deeply. We had our arguments, usually at his insistence (he LOVED debate!), but we also had many more moments of profound connection. I must admit that I found myself becoming hopelessly nostalgic in the guitar studio today, and couldn't concentrate at all. Looking around at Jim's music cabinets, his books,  trinkets given to him by decades of students lovingly put atop shelves and any other available flat surface, it started to hit me that he wouldn't be back. Ever. The thought even now makes me pause...

Those of us who mourn are lamenting our own emptiness. Selfish? Maybe. They who pass on are in a better place, or at least I choose to believe so. This being the case, Jim is already occupying himself with organizing musical soirees, and sight-reading through duets for cherubim harp and guitar. And, Gabriel, if you're blowing your trumpet up there in heaven,  Jim will find you bringing duets to read. And he will probably scold you for being out of tune.

So, Jim, as sad as I am at losing you here on earth, I console myself with my belief that I'll see you again one day. "As I am now, you once were; as you are now, I will be". The circle of life is endless and beautiful. I'll bring my guitar, old buddy.

Please visit:

(taken with the USC guitar department on August 27th, 2010. Jim is in the back row by the wall, 3rd from the right.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Concerts Just Added!

The most unfortunate situation with Stepan Rak having to cancel his upcoming Southern California appearances due to visa snags has lead to me filling in for him. There are two concerts coming up:

Friday, September 24th at 8pm, Cal State Fullerton's Meng Concert Hall.

Saturday, September 25th at 8pm for the American Guitar Society (AGS) at the LA VAlley College Recital Hall.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hersbruck Festival

It was great to be back in Hersbruck, Germany, for the guitar festival there. It is different from the other, perhaps more popular, guitar festivals that are scattered through Germany in the summer, in that it's committed to diverse guitar styles other than just classical. It is organized by guitarist Johannes Tonio Kreusch, and local city official Petra Hoffman. Keep their website in mind for the future:

Here I am with organizer Petra Hoffman and mayor (bergermeister) Robert Ilg.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cheltenham Guitar Festival, July 26, 2010

I apologize for the shaky video and the small sound, but I played in this chapel last night, and loved it so much that I had Geoff from the festival film me with the iPhone 4 during my "soundcheck". Amazing room to play in. This is the Prelude from Weiss' Sonata No. 35. For those who insist on knowing such things, the guitar is by Philip Woodfield (although this video doesn't do it justice).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recent MPR spot for the LAGQ

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coming up Soon!

May 16: (with LAGQ) Southbank Centre, London,UK
May 17: (with LAGQ) Heilbronn, Germany
May 19: (with LAGQ) Beverungen, Germany
June 22-27: GFA Convention in Austin, TX (party, concerts, party, party, etc.)
July 12-16: Guitar week at the Hartt School, Hartford, CT
July 25-27: Cheltenham Guitar Festival, UK
August 4-7: (with LAGQ) Nurtingen Guitar Festival, Germany
August 10: (with LAGQ) Rheingau Musikfestival, Germany
August 15-17: (with LAGQ) Iserlohn Guitar Festival, Germany
August 18-21: Hersbruck Guitar festival, Germany
August 29-September 4: NGW Workshop, Montana USA (link:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'll be performing at Boulevard Music Saturday, March 6th at 8pm. Hope you can make it! Here's the link:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Extra Photos from China 2008

Just cleaning out my photos and came across these. Lots of great experiences in Beijing, summer 2008.

In the Great Hall of the People for the final banquet.
In front of the Great Hall of the People.
Outside the national concert hall.
On the Great Wall, already getting dizzy.

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