Earlier this fall we were thrilled to participate in the Majura Duo Festival in Bucharest, Romania. We had an incredible time celebrating the beauty of the Romanian culture and the piano duo genre, and we can’t wait to return. Check out this short video with highlights from the festival:
After much deliberation and several emotional, sleepless nights of judging, we’re thrilled to announce the winning piece of our New Music New Video composition competition: "Fuga allucinata" by Edgar Ordóñez! 🏆
Our judging criteria was always simple: find the piece that most excites us. We asked for very little personal information from our applicants because we hoped to connect with the winning composer based solely on the music. Meanwhile, our competition administrator made note of the stats she picked up from email signatures and social media.
We found our 46 entrants hailed from around the world, many with impressive resumes and compelling personal stories. The winner, however, is something of a mystery! We're unable to find performances of his music online and only know the minimum details requested in the application.
Edgar’s win is truly all about his thrilling music. “Fuga allucinata” is bold and compelling (and a bit daunting to play 😅). We can’t wait to meet our mysterious music video muse and collaborate together.
We received so many phenomenal compositions that it was extremely difficult to pick a single winner. Kudos to our runner-up, J Diaz (@diazsounds), who overwhelmed us with his intense and haunting "an incomplete autobiography".
Once again, our deepest gratitude and heartiest congratulations to all who participated. We are absolutely floored by your talent, passion, and generosity. Between now and the debut of the music video featuring the winning composition, “Fuga allucinta,” we’ll showcase excerpts from a few of your amazing pieces on social media. It’s been our great pleasure and honor to connect with you all in this way, and we’re only getting started. 😘
-Greg & Liz
The entry period for our New Music New Video composition competition has closed and submissions are in.
Our heartiest congratulations to the 46 composers who participated—women and men between the ages of 18 and 79, hailing from 18 countries spanning 6 continents! Check out the countries represented below:
We received the incredible news while on our most recent music video shoot. Now we’re in heaven playing through the new compositions and can’t wait to share the results. We’ll announce the winning composer on November 15, 2018.
It’s been an absolute pleasure bringing these new works to life on the keyboard. Thank you all for your passion, participation, and support. 😍
Musical Mixology is back with a fun and festive Caribbean cocktail in honor of Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday (this Saturday, August 25, 2018)! A zesty twist on a classic rum punch, we crafted The Mambo's big flavors to match the bold rhythms and sassy kick of the "Mambo" from Lenny's West Side Story.
The sweetness of fresh tropical juices reside at the forefront of this cheery tribute, and they're perfectly balanced by the subtle heat of homemade ginger syrup and Puerto Rican spice. Whether you're looking for a little liquid courage (to help make your way to the dance floor!) or extra pep in your step, a couple quick shots are the perfect accompaniment to your favorite rendition of Bernstein's "Mambo."
Yield: 1 full cocktail (or 3-4 small “shooters”)
- 2 oz Bacardi White Rum (or another Puerto Rican white rum)
- 1.5 oz orange juice
- 1.5 oz pineapple juice
- 0.5 oz lime juice
- 0.5 oz ginger syrup (see below)
- dash grenadine
- pinch adobo seasoning (Puerto Rican spice blend)
Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled glass (or shot glasses, if making shooters!) and sprinkle with a pinch of adobo seasoning. A store-bought bottle of this Puerto Rican spice blend provides plenty of punch, but you can also easily whip up a homemade blend from equal parts of these common ingredients: black pepper, onion powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
Ginger syrup recipe
Add 1/2 cup fresh ginger juice with 1 cup superfine sugar to a blender and blend until sugar is dissolved. Make fresh ginger juice with a juicer or by finely grating fresh ginger, wrapping it in a thin cotton towel or cheesecloth, and squeezing out the juice.
This is the perfect recipe for summer entertaining! It's a breeze to prepare in a big batch for parties and is also delicious as a family-friendly virgin cocktail. By simply replacing the rum with coconut water, you can craft a zippy juice cocktail that everyone can enjoy.
Our imaginations are running wild, conjuring up new worlds inspired by your outstanding New Music New Video composition competition submissions! Keep them coming! (The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2018.)
The creative process is one of our favorite aspects of video-making, and we look forward to collaborating on this with the winner of the New Music New Video competition. Our budget is is usually very small (we're musicians, after all!), and so most everything we do fits within the realm of "Do It Yourself," or "DIY." We turn our dreams into reality by finding creative solutions to the seemingly endless set of limitations that shape our productions. While we've created some wild effects through meticulous editing in post-production, our most beloved music video moments often stem from utilizing unusual techniques and props on set.
The most common filmmaking challenge we face with our tiny budget: the limitations of our venue. We can't afford Hollywood-style sound stages (yet 😉), so we've filmed everywhere from our own homes to our friend's backyards. To transform our less-than-glamorous venues into MTV music video-style sets, we often place a strong light immediately behind us at the piano; the backlighting is super dramatic (yaaas!) and it disguises whatever mess may be hiding in the background. Fog machines can also turn a dour bedroom into a heavenly vision. (Speaking of fog machines, we've used these multipurpose devices to create radiant shafts of morning light!) And in making our Contrapunctus music video, we simply hung black & white bed sheets from the walls to create a high budget, high contrast look.
Another common, recurring filmmaking challenge we encounter: how do we create sweeping shots without the use of super expensive camera trains, cranes, and stabilizing rigs? Our solution has been to recreate the effects by situating our camera crew on roller skates and wheel chairs. In a few instances we affixed the camera to a long monopod and waved the contraption above the pianos. And in a recent shoot, we asked a professional dancer to literally dance with the camera in hand, ultimately giving our viewers the sensation that they are dancing along with our performances.
We love playing with "time" during our video shoots. In our video of Gluck's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits," we tested our pianistic abilities by playing the piece extremely fast—nearly five times fast, in fact. We then slowed down the resulting footage (nearly five times) so that our hands appeared to be playing the music at the correct tempo, but in a dreamy, almost ghostly manner. Similarly, in a few sections of our Rite of Spring music film, we learned our parts backward (an utterly nasty challenge!). We dipped our fingers in paint before filming, and then, with the cameras rolling, we performed the passages (backwards) as our fingers covered the keys in paint. Later while editing, we reversed the footage so that our hands appeared to be playing the passage correctly (i.e. not backwards!) while giving the illusion that the paint was coming off the keys as we played.
Sometimes we go all out with over-the-top, crafty filmmaking effects, like by making use of bugs and bubbles. For a mind-bending look, we've found that we can focus our camera into a flexible mirror and artfully distort the image by warping the mirror. For a hair-raisingly spooky scene, we once used the static electricity from a balloon to make Liz's hair stand on end. (Thank you, grade-school science class. 🤓) And in one extra challenging film shoot, we turned out the lights, donned L.E.D. gloves, and attempted to perform from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring."
In every case of creative DIY filmmaking, our mission has been to enhance the spirit of the music—to accentuate the music's dreaminess, to illustrate the music's decay, to add potent visual punch to the music's most dramatic moments. We reap inspiration from the generous imagination already latent in the music.
The beautiful, surprising, and weird pieces submitted to our New Music New Video composition competition so far all have exciting boundary-pushing potential! There's still time to submit a piece—the deadline for submission is September 1, 2018. We're so eager to see what unusual visuals we can come up with when we put our heads together with the winning composer.
We're all fired up. 😉