Delphi Blog: Beats and Eats!

August 24, 2015

After a jam-packed competition schedule, Delphi is so pleased to announce that we were the third prizewinners in the Orlando Festival. After the 3rd round, the finalists were announced and off we all went to Heerlen to compete in a final concert round. Delphi played Saint Saens’s Trio No. 2 in E Minor. Other groups played Ravel’s Piano Trio, Schoenberg’s Verklartenacht, and Shostakovich. The level of the groups that competed was extremely high, and all the playing was so beautiful. We were so happy to be a part of such a great experience.

The first round for Delphi was Haydn Trio in C Major, followed by the next day’s round of Mendelssohn C Minor mvt. 1, Schumann F Major mvt. 2, and Jalbert’s Piano Trio “Life Cycle.” The third round was the commissioned work by Dutch composer Sam Wamper, which each group played in succession. What an interesting concept to play the same piece– it was such a wonderful and diverse juxtaposition of the styles of the groups. Overall, the competition was a hearty dose of high-level playing, standard and non-standard repertoire, and real spirit.

Now Delphi is back in the thick of it, playing masterclasses and coachings with an exciting set of people, and having body-awareness and EFT classes, as well as sessions with therapists. We are learning a lot! Both about music and about ourselves as an ensemble.

For example, this morning we coached with Vincent Coq, who gave us spirited and inspired advice about Schumann’s Trio in F Major. Afterwards we saw Elizabeth Williams, an amazing body and posture coach, who gave us critical advice on efficiency of movement and also on how to take care of ourselves. We will see Jeanine Crombe next, an expert on EFT, and tonight, we will perform in the 8:00 concert here at Rolduc, playing Mozart’s Piano Trio K.502. We will continue this kind of full schedule until Saturday night, so please stay tuned as we update here on Delphi: Beats and Eats!

August 19, 2015

We have arrived! The Delphi Trio is officially in the Netherlands, and ready to perform wonderful masterworks in both the Orlando Competition and the Festival. There are exciting performances and coachings in store for us here, and in fact we will be playing something every day. We will also be attentively watching our colleagues perform in concerts every day.

Our first agenda item is of course, participating in the Competition. This competition runs from Thursday (tomorrow) until Saturday, and each day will feature one round. Saturday will feature two rounds, one of which will be the finals after 3 out of 7 groups are chosen to advance. Rehearsal and performance begins now! We are very excited and honored to be part of it all.

In case you were curious of our doings in the past few days, we had a great travel day, followed by a couple days of jetlag adjustment, coaching, and a generously provided rehearsal space, which we also were lucky enough to use as a performance space for a house concert. See below for the play-by-play summary!


We packed our music carefully into our carry-on luggage so as not to risk losing it in transit.


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Chester the cello is seat-belted and ready to fly. All cellists know about this special companionship on airplanes. (He snores so loudly!)

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We arrived quite early because of favorable winds. Hello Amsterdam!


The train system is very easy to navigate. The isles are quite narrow, but we fit snugly into the compartment.


Rolduc is so beautiful! This ancient abbey is our site for the Orlando competition and festival. We will be performing in the Aula Major Hall.


We were literally given antique keys to lock our rooms. We were so amused!


Lastly, of course, a sampling of some traditional Dutch food. A croquette, or a fried potato dumpling with beef or shrimp inside. Alongside is some mustard, fresh radish salad, and a bitter lemon soda. It was delightful.

August 11, 2015

Start the countdown- we’re off to the Orlando Competition and Festival in the Netherlands on Saturday- four days left to rehearse, pack, complete cycles of empowering self-talk and  abject despair over one’s instrument, and most important, allow time for the body and mind to process, breathe, relax, process, breathe, relax etc…

Preparing the amount of music required for a competition and festival is a bit like bringing all the dishes of a large meal to the right temperature at just the right moment. Nothing can be undercooked, but overcooking can lead to dryness and lack of flavor; so too with music. Each composition has a different life force of its own and knowing how to prepare each one takes a lot of experience, trial and error. Haydn relies on quick changes, spontaneity, humor, and ….. timing. Mendelssohn needs to be swept away rather than driven, light and limber but tonally substantial. Saint-Saens needs patience, color, big plan thinking.

The properties of each work do not fully reveal themselves until one has performed the piece in front of an audience, and ideally, listened back to the recording. There are times when what feels borderline out of control is just right and what feels just right, dull. Sometimes a tempo wants to pull back, sometimes it pushes forward. Each performance is another chance to participate in the unique energy of the piece and better follow its trajectory on that given day, only to follow it to a completely different destination the next.

Perhaps that is the essence of ‘planned spontaneity’ – a strong yet flexible architecture, one that holds up under stormy conditions but allows the fresh air of inspiration to pass through its windows.






July 30, 2015 – Rehearsal Diary, Commission Edition

We leave for the Netherlands in 16 days! After all of our various workshop teaching in July, we have jumped in the deep end with our rehearsing, leaving no note unturned, no phrase unexplored. We are overall very well prepared for our performances in the Netherlands – almost all the works we’re performing are old friends, and we are enjoying having the opportunity to revisit all of these favorites.


Today's bow hair graveyard.

Today’s bow hair casualties.

A regular tradition with competitions is to have a round where all groups perform a work commissioned specifically for the competition. So we have a newcomer to our musical family – a trio by Sam David Wamper, a young Dutch composer. It’s an interesting and playful work, but it is also extraordinarily challenging on all fronts. We’re all grateful that we learned so much new music this past spring; we have a lot of aesthetic and technical starting places figured out that would have taken us a lot longer without that experience.

Even so, it’s a lot of hard work. Mich’s FitBit is keeping track of just how much we’re sweating. Higher numbers mean we’re getting better, right?IMAG0439





July 15, 2015- Crowden Youth Chamber Music Seminar and Orlando Prep

Greetings from Berkeley! We are deep in the midst of an amazing two weeks of coaching young musicians, ages ranging from 9 years to 20 years, and we are loving it! The music is literally flying around as we watch our young chamber musicians play Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Tartini. We are also playing freshly composed pieces by the young composers of the John Adams Young Composers program, held concurrently with the YCMS. The ink is drying as we speak!

We have had the privilege of working amongst amazing faculty at the Crowden School. Eugene Sor, the Alexander Quartet, the Baumer String Quartet, Pei Ling Lin of the Telegraph Quartet, Jory Fankuchen from Musical Art Quintet, Natasha Makhijani from the SF Chamber Music Society, amazing composer and pianist Arkadi Serper, and Ariana Kim from the Knights. Three more concerts to go!

In other news, as we prepare for our very first time in the Netherlands for the Orlando Competition, we are working hard on old and new repertoire. It’s so exciting– so much of the repertoire we know so well already is taking on new shape, aging much like a great wine, and we know it speaks of the true inherent integrity of each masterpiece we work on. We are so honored and thrilled to be having new insights every day!

August 6, 2014- Bear Valley Music Festival and the Grill


Medium Rare Steaks on the grill, spice rub with thyme, oregano, herbes de provence, lots of paprika, honey, salt and pepper. Check out the grill marks- does it taste better because of them? Jeff thinks so.



Jeff grills up some green chile burgers, assertively seasoned ground beef, lots of herbs, minced poblano peppers, mushrooms, and a little honey

Well, we had a wonderful time at our second consecutive summer as guest artists at the Bear Valley Music Festival. Having been fortunate enough to stay in the same gorgeous home as last year, we knew our way around the kitchen, and maybe more importantly, the grill. As you can see in the photos above, Jeff looks very content with this method of cooking, and thankfully, the results reflected his optimism!

Bear Valley Music Festival is a great combination of high level artistic performances from all different genres of music and the approachable, laid back, California getaway kind of town. Added bonus- the grocery store is 45 minutes away, forcing everyone in the town to shop at the same place. We are actually recognized in this store by random members of the public, getting us as close to movie star status as we have come thus far.


Launching the Official Delphi Food Blog!!!!

As you may know, our ensemble was founded over lunch. Many lunches, in fact. From the beginning, it became clear that Delphi was a family, and meals are an important part of any family. Each rehearsal begins with an hour of sharing a meal together and discussing latest events and business before moving on to musical work. It has always been that way and it never occurred to any of us that this might be unusual. In retrospect, it is clear that the many meals that we shared together helped to shape the ensemble that we are today. Without that organic (pun intended) development of trust, we could not explore the far reaches of human experience in the music that we play, music that demands a limitless range of expression.

We hope that you will join us on our food journey, which is actually the same journey as the rest of our work together. In celebration and consolation, pre-concert and post-concert, and times in between like intermission, Delphi Eats!



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