As part of her ambtious Syrinx Journey project – in which Stillman, a Yamaha Recording Artist, plays Claude Debussy’s Syrinx every day for a year – Mimi walked up to the balcony of the Music Department, unpacked her flute, and serenaded the unsuspecting public. Everyone looked up from their books and screens to find the source of the music drifting from above. Check out the video below!
Mimi Stillman was the youngest wind player ever admitted to the Curtis School of Music at age 12, and currently leads the Dolce Suono Ensemble. She’s recorded for EMI, played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and has even recorded a film score with Kevin Bacon, among many other accolades. The Music Department was pleased she chose them as the venue for her 81st performance.
You can read more about her meeting with the Music Department – and see where she’s at with her Syrinx Journey project – over on her blog.
On July 26, 1775 – 237 years ago today – the first Post Office was founded right here in Philadelphia, with Ben Franklin at the helm as the first Post Master General. But not even Ben could’ve predicted that, from that point on, the musical floodgates would open for countless songs about stamp collecting, love letters, and waiting on that ever-reliable Mr. Postman to be written.
Let’s take a look at some postal-focused illustrations from the Music Department’s historic collection of sheet music. Some are even older than the Civil War!
The Stamp Galop (1861) / composed by Arhur O’Leary. Boston : Ditson
Beatrice Fairfax Tell Me What to Do! (1915) / words by Grant Clark and Joe McCarthy. New York : Leo Feist Inc.
Letter from Those You Love (1907) / words by Frank Melvill, music by Robt W. Edwards. New York :F.B.Haviland.
A Letter from no man’s land (1918) / by Harold B. Freeman . Providence, RI : Harold Freeman Music Co.
This World War I waltz focuses on a mother “dreaming alone” until she gets the letter from her son in the army. Choice line: “Perhaps all the words were not spelled right, or the meaning was not very clear. A frayed little scrawl but she read it all, it started with Mother Dear.”
Bring Me a Letter from Home (1881) / words by Geo M. Vickers and Adam Geibel. San Fransisco : Mathias Gray.
The Lover’s Letter Box (1857) / composed by H.A. Wollenhaupt. New York : William Hall and Son.
The Free Library Music Department’s Sheet Music Collection – consisting of over 250,000 titles from opera arias to show tunes, pop standards, and blues and folk from different eras and countries – is one of the finest in the nation. If you’re hunting for a particular song, we have guides in musical anthologies and in collections. Stop in today!
We could write a billion posts about Philadelphia musicians who’ve taken their instruments to new heights. Grover Washington with his sax. Lee Morgan on trumpet. But, as far as playing the bass goes, no one can pluck, pop, slap, and really innovate on the low end quite like Stanley Clarke -- born on this day in North Philadelphia, 1951.
While he was still a student at Roxborough High, Stan joined the All-Philadelphia Senior High School Orchestra, first on violin, then cello, and finally settled on bass. In those early years, Stan loved jamming around Philly with his friends. But at that point he didn’t even own an amp. So he was able to get his friends to lend him theirs… but that led to a very peculiar status around the city, as he told Guitar Player magazine in 1980:
“I used to have this reputation in Philadelphia for being the loudest bass player in the world. Every time I’d borrow an amp from somebody, I’d blow it up. And to this day, there are guys that still talk about it in Philly.”
After three-and-a-half years studying string bass and composition at the Academy of Music, Clark joined Chick Corea in the fusion band Return to Forever. He released his debut solo album a year later. And the rest is history!
If you’re interested in learning more about Stanley Clarke, we’ve got tons of cd and vinyl including his solo works and collaborations with other artists. We even have a lot of the films he’s scored on DVD. And it’s all free with your library card!
Here’s just two of our favorite resources here at the Parkway Central Library’s Music Department. You can click the links to view the catalog record or place a hold.
Now you can play like Stanley Clarke! Includes how to play the slap-and-double stop chug of School Days. And it’s got a cd and notation for 15 of his other bass lines. What’s your favorite Stan Clarke line?