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Give the gift of hope 24 December 2009

For their Christmas appeal, ChildFund International commissioned this fund-raising television commercial for broadcast in New Zealand.

Composer Bella Erikson created the soundtrack, and commissioned me to arrange and record the strings. It was an emotional project to work on, as our brief was to convey the true sadness of this desperate situation while underlining the hope viewers’ donations will bring.

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Formerly known as Christian Children’s Fund, ChildFund International works in 31 countries, including the poorest regions of the USA. They assist over 15 million children and their families without regard for religion, race or ethnic group, with the mission that all children have the right to love, laugh and hope without fear of abuse.

To donate, please go to http://www.childfund.org/

Thank you, and wishing you a very happy and healthy Christmas.

It’s raining 9 December 2009

I’m in the middle of a freelance downpour, rising for air to let you know what’s flowing. When it rains, it pours…

I delivered some additional strings for my friend Anton Sanko’s soundtrack for HBO’s Big Love, which by the way has a stunningly beautiful trailer that I recommend you watch by clicking here.

I’m completing something for Billy, who released his first song from the new Smashing Pumpkins album this week, which is deep and extraordinary (of course). Get your free download here.

I’ve been in the studio recording strings and an opera singer for six projects. Firstly, there are a couple of tracks for movie trailers, more news on them when there’s more information to share. But for now, imagine what happens when I’m let loose with the brief to make an epic string arrangement for a major movie release… Start small, get bigger, becoming huge, then ending massive, emotionally progressing from small to ginormous. So, two of them.

And then there’s string arrangements for two really lovely songs, one by Alexis Harte in San Francisco, and the other by Mark Abis in the UK. Alexis’ song is full of summer, light-hearted and carefree, and Mark’s is a moody, jazzy Parisian number, all coffee and cigarettes.

And of course one of the feature films I’m composing the score to deadlines on Sunday, namely The Owls. That makes seven projects I think.

Oh, and last night I played a show at Eve on Nemo, a beautiful new space round the block from The Troubadour, and on Friday I’m playing a show with Queen Kwong, who’s just been snapped up by Dave Navarro’s management company.

Come hear!

Live at Eve 8 December 2009

Here’s a photo from the Eve show.

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My pick up line (in) 5 November 2009

Violinists are as geeky as the next musician, and one of the things that geeks us out most is pick-up systems. So you can imagine I’m geeking out today as I await my new Fishman V-300 pick-up for my acoustic metal violin, named Tristan. Tristan has had a few pick-ups in the sixteen years since he came into existence, and all of them have been piezzo bridge ones. The first was great for the time, but it was fitted with a little 1/8″ mini jack which always sucked a bit in terms of fidelity. When the day came that it broke, I decided to go with a tiny clip on microphone from Sennheiser, which I clipped onto the bridge.

Years later, and I had a new piezzo bridge fitted with a 1/4″ carpenter jack. I’d hoped it would be more robust, but it’s had to be re-soldered more often than I’d hoped. I’ve thrown in the towel, seen the light, and gone ahead and ordered a new Fishman V-300.

I’ve been very happy with the Fishman V-400 on my viola for a while now. It was fitted earlier this year, and came with me on tour with the Spirits in the Sky this summer. It was totally happy with the rigors of the bus, multiple temperature changes and jacks being pulled out of it a few times a day. Not a moment of solder unhappiness the whole time.

I’m confident Tristan will be pleased with his new V-300 tomorrow night. And this will give me the freedom to play live, secure in the knowledge that there will be zero ground noise and exceptional clarity and tonal range with no need to re-solder for many years to come.

In memory of Amy Farris 25 October 2009

Amy Farris was a violinist and string arranger living in Silverlake, the same neighborhood as me. She was a passionate member of the small worldwide community of people who love strings as much as we do.

A vibrant, beautiful woman, Amy passed this month, many moons before her time was due. I am saddened by our loss, as is everyone she touched with her talent and dedication.