Saturday, July 12, 2014

Perigee Full Moon

The moon is in perigee, closest orbit to the earth.  When full and near the horizon, it is large and golden.   I took this shot at dusk, about 5:30 am.   This photo - at 5x zoom, you can see the detailed features on the moon - even with this cheap pocket camera.  Of course the moon always looks bigger in real life, than in photos.

Moon over Lost Cove, Sewanee, TN - 7-12-14

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Photos from the tree house

Playing with my camera again....

Weather was nice enough to sit out on the deck all night and practice.  Rarely see a mosquito.  Sometimes it doesn't occur to me to put my clothes on.

Weather has been great... cool for July.   In the last week, the daily high temperature topped out below 80º for 5 of the last 7 days.   The week's temperature range was 57º -  83º.    I have yet to see a day over 90º the entire 21 months I've been here in Sewanee, TN ... remarkable since we're in far southern TN.   I guess you could say it's the 'Deep South'.... just a dozen or so miles from the Alabama state line.  I have yet to use my air conditioning, my electric bill was $37 last month.

Found some good GA peaches today in Tracy City and on the way back, I helped a turtle and large black snake to cross the road safely.

Sunset after rain - in fairy land

moon over fog in Lost Cove  - wee hours of the morning

Monday, July 7, 2014

A brief "non-history" of the guitar at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival

I rarely bitch about anything on this blog anymore, but.... I'm naming (some) names in this one.  I thought about writing this as an editorial in the local paper, but no... I'll just put it on my blog.  Now as a resident of Sewanee, and a guitar professor of 25 years, I have some interest, history, and perspective on this issue.

First, I need to make it clear that I have no interest in participating in the Sewanee Summer Music Festival as an employee, as it conflicts with my position as Director of Guitar Studies at the TN Governors School for the Arts.  At this point in my career, after 25 years as a Music Professor at MTSU, I enjoy time off in the summer to prepare for fall concerts.   So, my concern on this subject is really for the sake of my graduates, (many of whom are very qualified with Doctorates from prestigious Universities), and for the general standing of guitar in my community - because I love the guitar and I know others do as well.

But, there was a time when I was interested in guitar at the SSMF ... when I first came to TN, I made an inquiry to the Director and Founder, Martha McCrory ... thus, the story begins, approximately 1990 - '91.  

My conversation with McCory went something like this:  

Yelverton:  I'm interested in starting a guitar program at the SSMF.   
McCrory: Sorry but this is an orchestral and chamber music festival and there is no chamber music for guitar.   
Yelverton (stunned):  Well, maybe I should notify my chamber ensemble of that fact.
(conversation ends quickly)
McCrory also mentioned that she had been asked about this repeatedly in the past.

Yes, as a founding member of the MTSU Faculty Chamber ensemble, the Stones River Chamber Players, I was pretty stunned at this lack of perspective... saying it as kindly as I can - with all due respect to McCrory, whose musical contributions to this area are immense.  After 25 years of chamber performances, 2 European tours, commissions, and a few CDs, I can assure you, there is plenty of quality chamber music for guitar.  Everyone knows this.  

Fast forward 15 yrs to 2006.   I just happen to have a friend of a major donor to the SSMF, and was asked if I would like to attend the 50th anniversary concert - seats up front in the VIP section.  So, we attended.  There was an emotional speech by Mr. Savage, the Managing Director of SSMF, I think a plaque was dedicated to McCrory or a conductor's podium or something.  Guess who I happened to be sitting next to?  Martha McCrory.  I politely congratulated her upon her honor and mentioned I was an MTSU Music Faculty member.  She asked me what instrument I played and I said, 'classical guitar'.  She turned her away and never looked at me or said another word to me.  

Later I asked the donor if he knew Martha McCrory, he said, "yes ...  for a long time."  And  I said, "what's with her hostility toward the guitar?"  His reply was revealing.   It was suggested to her numerous times in the early years to have a guitar program and once she responded, (citing the popularity of the guitar  - paraphrasing), "If we had guitar, no one would want to play orchestral instruments."

After the concert, I went backstage and talked to both James Paul, and Mark Savage, the directors of the SSMF.   Both were enthusiastic about having a guitar program, they said they "loved the guitar" and asked me to submit materials with the idea that perhaps we could offer a guitar program in the future.  I did, and as expected, heard nothing.  

To be fair, Sewanee really doesn't have much of a Music Dept.  I think they have about 5 full time faculty, I think only 2 with Doctorates.  (MTSU by contrast - 34 full time faculty - nearly all have doctorates).  From people I know who teach adjunct at Sewanee, their impression is that it's rather lax in procedure, even lazy.   One person I talked to had to keep reminding a chair to submit paper work just to receive a hard earned adjunct paycheck.  A number of MTSU faculty have taught adjunct at Sewanee in the Music Dept., now we just send our grads to teach there, for experience, since you can't make a living as adjunct (or even for some who are called: "Visiting Professor").

There seems to be little accountability, transparency, and organization in the University.   There are people who have been teaching full time for more than a decade without ever being tenured.   University websites are poorly organized with outdated versions still up, and confusing to anyone looking for information. (The University once received an F rating for transparency in the College Sustainability Report Card, but they have improved a bit recently).   As an athlete who trains at the track, I noticed it took the University a month to put away all the lacrosse equipment, netting and goals left after the school year had ended.   This would never happen where I work, where people are held accountable, procedures are followed, and a professional way of doing things is the norm.

Case in point, I played a concert at St. Lukes in '09.  Very well attended, a professional presentation, all credit due to my colleague Don, a professor at the college (not in music) who helped organize it.  But ...when I played this last Feb., the Dept. never really followed up, or advertised the concert as they said they would.  An outside group (SLIM / WCDT radio) tried to organize it but put the wrong date in the local paper.  We even had to call campus police to open St. Luke's because the Music Dept. didn't even remember or care to unlock the door!  A bit insulting as I was donating my time and efforts to give this free concert.  We did it for a very small crowd and then the next day, people showed up to hear the concert on the wrong date.  I said screw it, and booked a concert at Otey, which was a nice experience and decently attended.  

In my experience, it's sort of a recurring theme: 'It's almost impossible to get anyone at Sewanee to lift a finger for someone else.   Kind of like that song, "I'm all right Jack, keep your hands off of my stack."   Complacency rules.  I feel really sorry for young guys trying to get a program of any kind started at this college.  It's a 'good ole boy network' of sorts.

When I say 'good ole boy network,' it was never more apparent than several years ago when they hired some guy to play the Aranjuez Guitar Concerto with the Sewanee Orchestra.  The guy got the gig because he knew a faculty member there, apparently not even in music.  This guitar soloist was so inept he couldn't play the entire concerto, so they eliminated the last movement.  Can you imagine?

Finally, one of my graduates was hired as a visiting professor of guitar at Sewanee.   I hoped he would become full time this fall, as he was led to believe would be possible, but no.  Doesn't look like that will happen.   He has worked his ass off this year for adjunct pay, even putting together a great guitar festival, playing a concerto, and doing a load of community work.   But still, no benefits and just adjunct pay.  He is extremely qualified.  Well, maybe it's at least it's a glimmer of hope for the future.  I hope it will develop into something.  

The undeniable fact is that guitar in popular.  The Sewanee Artist Series has twice presented the LA Guitar Quartet, and both times - it was one of the best attended concerts on the series.   (I was asked by the series director about advice on stage chairs, to which I responded ...  even offering to bring artist benches).   People LOVE the guitar.  At least the community does.  (The Artist Series seems always poorly attended by students - go figure).

It's funny, SSMF programed a "flamenco" piece for double bass and harp this season.   They are having Bela Fleck - banjoist perform a concerto and new work.   About as close as you come to having guitar... with no guitar.   Close, but no cigar.   

You would think that since more prestigious summer music festivals like Tanglewood, Aspen, Chautauqua, and Brevard have guitar, Sewanee might get a clue and follow suit.  But no.  Change happens slowly in "the south" ... especially at the University who carries that namesake.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

6-8-14 dawn

Good Sunday morning.

Beautiful cool morning on the bluff after a rainy night.   Some nice fog in the cove.  Wish I had brought my camera but had to settle for a cell phone photo...
Time lapse video below...

Some fog in the center of Lost Cove came to a peak and caught the sunrise.   A fognado, or fog-volcano?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tennessee Guitar Festival 2014

Tennessee International Guitar Competition Results:

FIRST PRIZE - Jesus Serrano (Mexico): $1200 + Glenn Perry, guitar
SECOND PRIZE - Jeremy Collins (USA): $750
THIRD PRIZE - Celil Kaya (Turkey): $500
FOURTH PRIZE - Stephen Lochbaum (Canada): $300

All prize winners received strings and accessories from D'Addario.

Thanks to the Tantalus Quartet of Stephen Mattingly, Lynn McGrath, Adam Foster and Kris Anderson who joined me in residence at my home for 5 nights... and to Stanley Yates, Silviu Ciulei and Chad Ibison.

And wow... the parties.   Not only did the Tantalus Quartet bring a wonderful judges panel to the festival, we also had a wine sommelier in residence with Adam Foster.

Friday night pasta...

Prize winners, judges, performers... friends

Saturday night paella...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tennessee Guitar Festival 2014, May 29-31

Another great festival shaping up for next week.   We're pleased to have the Tantalus Quartet in residence as well as Stanley Yates, Silviu Ciulei, and Chad Ibison.

In addition to the $1200 First Prize for the TN Guitar Competition, the winner will receive a Glen Perry concert guitar valued at $7000.

The event is open to the public.  The Thurs - Sat schedule of event is here.

There will be 3 rounds of competition, 3 evening concerts, 2 lectures on guitar education, 2 masterclasses, and 2 great dinner party receptions.

All single events are $10, or all  festival event are $30.   Registration is available in the lobby of MTSU's Wright Music Building at any festival event.

What keeps people coming back to this festival are the good times.   Join us!   Paella anyone?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Moon view from the treehouse

The tree canopy is back!  And this time of year is great for porch sleeping.  A constant southern breeze and mild temperatures made the porch futon a slice of heaven.  No bugs or mosquitos, it was perfect.

The moon over Lost Cove was tremendous this early week.

Canon A2400 - pocket camera - 5" shutter speed

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sewanee arts and nature touring

A wonderful 5 nights in Sewanee enjoying the beautiful spring ... arts, athletic competition, training, hiking, and a party at Ellis's place.

After waking up to and watching the Boston Marathon on Monday, we went to visit Ed C. at the Iona Arts Gallery.   Ed gave us a lengthy and generous tour.   He's wonderful fellow with a very interesting spiritual and mystic connection to his art.  We'll be seeing him again soon I expect.  A super artist and interesting person.

We also visited the University Gallery, named after Ed.   Lastly, we visited the fine art of nature on the bluff.

Artist Ed C., explains his work at IONA art barn

Roya at the University Gallery
KA Point

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thumping Dick hike

Today, we saw a new site on the Sewanee Domain for the first time.  I was joined on the hike into Thumping Dick Hollow  by Roya and Nancy.

The hike was very steep along Thumping Dick Creek as we descended to the two caves.   Near the second cave we found numerous interesting flower species.   Jack-in-the-Pulpit was my favorite.

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit), is an herbaceous plant that lures insects into it's center for pollination.   Unlike the 'pitcher plant' ... it is not carnivorous, as some believe, although, it frequently kills small flies that get lured in because the plant contains toxic oxalic acid.

Awesome spring weather, one of the best times to be in Sewanee.


the mouth of a jack-in-the-pulpit

Roya at Solomon's Temple Cave - Thumping Dick Hollow

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From 70ºs to snow

Waking up on April 15 to snow on the mountain.   The north wind was blowing the  snow sideways.  I can't recall a later snowfall in TN, although it was just a dusting.   It's already been 80º in Murfreesboro and my pool is open with all the plants out... and guess what?  A freeze warning issued for tonight with temperatures expected in the upper 20sº.   Great ... I know what I'll be doing after work tonight.

Saturday was a picture perfect warm day, although a bit windy.  Thursday through Saturday brought mid 70sº and then ... wham.

I would have bet we were done with freezing weather weeks ago.  But, I can confidently say ... this will be our last snow of the season.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Family photo with my cousins and Aunt Betty in Louisville.

Betty, Theresa, Lorinda, Mary
Marcia, me, Susan

I also saw cousin Daniel.  A nice visit, good conversation.  Wishing the best for uncle Flory who was in the hospital.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Snow to wildflowers in a week...

This photo of a snow squall was from 3/25/14 ... but just one week later, 70º and wildflowers blooming in Shakerag Hollow, Sewanee, TN - and many more to come.  

Ahh...the South Cumberland in spring.

Snow squall - March goes out like a lion

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)

Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)  

Trout lily (Erythronium americanum)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Exotic trees in FL

I love trees, especially big old trees.   Here are some beauties.  

Kapok Tree (Ceiba Pentandra) native to South and Central America - at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art.   And below... a Banyan Tree (Ficus Bengalensis) national tree of India - near the bay, St. Petersburg, FL.  

Roya by the trees...

Monday, March 3, 2014

MTSU alumnus Silviu Ciulei wins Schadt String Competition

$8000 First Prize - It's surely one of the largest prizes ever won by an MTSU Grad.

The Schadt String Competition is the annual national solo string competition of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. I had a feeling Silviu would win.   He played the Giuliani op. 30 Concerto.  He first learned it in high school in Romania.  This was a stunning win due to the level of competition.  He competed against a very competitive group, GFA Prize winners, the previous 2nd Prize winner in this competition, etc...  but there was no doubt.   He received the judges unanimous decision as well as the audience ballot.

Dr. Silviu Ciulei will return to perform a concerto with the Allentown Symphony next season, as well as a series of solo concerts.

I met Silviu 10+ years ago after I performed a concerto in Constanza, Romania with the Black Sea Philharmonic.   I'm glad he decided to visit me backstage after the concert.  I immediately recognized his ability.  I tried for a year to get the MTSU upper administration to offer some help for him to come to MTSU, to no avail.  But, it was former MTSU School of Music Director, George Riordan, who recognized Silviu's talent in about 10 minutes, and later approved an unprecedentedly large scholarship package.   Without Dr. Riordan's help,  Silviu may not have been able to come to study in the USA at MTSU.

Silviu is an old-school type player... plays with a big sound, lots of rest stroke.   My type of player.

Dr. Silviu Ciulei has earned a place for himself in the US due to his extraordinary gifts and contributions.  I certainly hope the immigration system does the right thing and grants him a green card.  If anyone has earned it, he has.

Congrats gitano.

Friday, February 28, 2014

MTSU alumnus Matt Palmer at Carnegie Hall

Matt Palmer was selected with short notice to perform on the prestigious D'Addario Carnegie Hall Performance series.  He received a standing ovation:

This concert came about when a Taiwanese guitarist was unable to make it, the D'Addario Foundation had to scramble to find an American virtuoso to fill the bill.  Most people spend years preparing for a NY debut in this, the most hallowed concert hall in the world, but Matt pulled it off with three days notice, and from all reports, rocked the house.

Even more remarkable for me as a teacher, I had heard that it came down to 2 main choices: both MTSU graduates!  Silviu Ciulei was the other person they had contacted.  Silviu told me today that Michael Newman, a prominent NYC guitarist had contacted him about a 'possible concert in NY' ... not hinting it was Carnegie Hall.  The Foundation President told me she had a hard time deciding between the two.   I told her to consider Silviu for next year.  Silviu this weekend is competing in the Schadt Concerto Competition.  God, I hope he wins it.  $8000 first prize.  He took 3rd last time.

I don't know if there is a higher honor for a teacher to have a student receive a standing ovation in Carnegie Hall ... save for perhaps 2 students.   Next year, Silviu.

Matt demonstrates his nail sanding technique in between pieces in Carnegie Hall

Matt getting ready to bring it - the Green room selfie, Carnegie Hall

Matt has come a long way from the days of heavy metal and working on cars in the tiny east TN town of Fall Branch.   Here's Matt pulling an engine from a Chevelle...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sewanee snow - updated

Kinda jealous I wasn't there this morning to see it.... but my webcam did!


Much of the snow may be gone by tomorrow, but I will be there tonight, on my way to a race on Friday.  Murfreesboro didn't get a lick of snow.  Supposed to hit the 60sº next week but one more chance of snow Friday night.

Here's the dawn timelapse video of that morning

Monday, February 10, 2014

Concerts and fireplaces

I really loved playing at Otey Parish in Sewanee.   Everything felt good ... the room, the guitar, the music, the people... it really took the edge off for my upcoming faculty recital at MTSU tonight, Feb. 10, at 8pm.  

Last Monday, I did a radio concert / interview for a station in Winchester.  It was unfortunately advertised incorrectly by the local newspaper - wrong date, so only about 20 people showed up.   It was fun to talk about my music influences and background.  But it made it difficult to focus on playing after talking several minutes in between each piece.  It went ok, but no where near as well as the Otey concert.

It's time again for the winter Olympics.... I really love the games.  Watching the Olympics makes a great backdrop for practicing guitar and lute.   I almost forgot how great my wood burning fireplace is at Cedarcrest log house, about three times the size of my fireplace in Sewanee.  I have the last of my split red oak that has now seasoned almost 5 years and wow, does it crank out the heat!

Heading back up to Sewanee tonight after the concert, so I can train indoors at the Fowler Center because it's supposed to be very cold and snowy tomorrow.  Work week starts after 4 on Tuesday. Track meet on Friday in Birmingham.

Otey Parish concert

St. Lukes radio performance / interview

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guitar Concerts in Sewanee

William Yelverton in concert
Sewanee, TN - Free concerts

Feb. 3 - 7:30 PM
St. Luke's Chapel, U of the South
Artist showcase, radio interview / performance
WCDT FM 106.9 (Winchester, TN)

Feb. 9 - 3:00 PM

Otey Parish

Music of:
Handel, Dowland, Reiss, Albeniz, Gismonti and more

The program will be 1/3 historical repertoire including a set of Elizabethan Lute Music, Spanish Vihuela pieces, and a Handel Suite.  The remainder will be Brazilian and Spanish with an ending set of American fingerstyle.  

Groundhog day - end of winter in sight?

It's been a cold winter, lots of cozy fires and snow in Sewanee.  Today, the tables are turned and Nashville/Murfreesboro is expecting snow tonight and just rain on the mountain.  This afternoon, Murfreesboro was at 37º and Sewanee, a much warmer and foggy 51º.  

While forecasts don't show any terribly cold weather in the near future, early March usually gives a late season snow before it's all over.  

With several over night lows in the single numbers and two, below zero, I think this has been the coldest winter since 2009-10.   I'm really happy that Sky Castle in Sewanee has proven to be a very efficient and cozy cold weather home.   Electric bills never higher than the $140s, however, I fear what the next bill will bring in Murfreesboro.  I expect it could be pushing $400.  

Here are some photos of the recent bitter cold.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold serenity

The snow falls hard and don't you know,
The winds of Thor are blowing cold. 

Snow showers blow through the cove, 4º at sunset

The quote from one of my favorite classic songs, in my mind while on the bluff for this, the coldest weather in my experience here in Sewanee.  My weather station recorded a low of -3.7 F.  Lets call it  minus 4 degrees.

I planned to come up after my track meet on Sunday, but I had to change out a breaker at my Murfreesboro house, a bit nervous about leaving there during this severe weather.  The roads that night were treacherous and TEMA declared a State of Emergency.   I stayed in Murfreesboro Sunday night.

Sunday was a wild weather event.  58º Sunday afternoon in Murfreesboro.  Then it dropped 25º in a few hours and it was freezing rain and then a dusting of snow on top.  I was standing outside with the service tech working on my HVAC unit during the freezing rain.

Sewanee got barely 2 inches of snow, Murfreesboro, a dusting.  By Monday morning it was 10º and dropping!   Sewanee only reached 8º as a daytime maximum.   Today it stayed in the teens and may likely hit 10º tonight.

Standing on the bluff at sunset last night was an ethereal experience.   It was a clear beautiful sunset and very quiet, except for the distant roar of Laurel Branch.   I could distinctly hear the sounds of animals, probably deer, crunching through the snow in the wilderness below, although I couldn't see them.  Maybe it was a wild cat.

Last night, I went out for a brief walk in the sub zero temps during the wee hours.  The stars were brighter than I'd seen since Canada, and Orion was looking right down at me, seeming very large and close.  I slept in front of the fire.

Taking some time off from running to focus on music.