Dick Mace Photography


Italian Experience

Wow, it has been quite a while since I've written a blog post! What better way to rectify that than with a post about music? Specifically, Italian music. I had the honor of observing some professional musicians as they prepared for performances of some works by Amilcare Ponchielli and Ernesto Cavallini for the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Dr. Thomas Nixon, Dr. Katherine H. Palmer and Mr. Johnathan Robinson were kind enough to allow me to photograph their practice session at Arizona State University, which they all attended for their Masters and PhD degrees, as well as their performances at the MIM for their Italian Experience Signature Event.

Ponchielli and Cavallini were both composers and both of the pieces that were performed were written for two clarinets and an accompanying piano. Below, Dr. Katherine Palmer introduces both of the pieces.

The next video is a performance of Ernesto Cavallini's La Bacana.

The following video contains an introduction of a piece written by Amilcare Ponchielli titled "Il Convengo."

In the gallery below are photos of Dr. Palmer, Dr. Nixon and Mr. Robinson preparing for and performing their pieces for the Musical Instrument Museum.

I have always loved watching performances of music but getting to see behind the scenes and getting to know the musicians made these performances more special to me than I had anticipated. It's incredible the amount of practice it takes to perfect one of these pieces and then you have to practice with the other musicians to ensure that everything is in sync and that you're all on the same wavelength. The coordination and professionalism of these artists was incredible. Their musicianship and performance skills were amazing. It was a pleasure to watch, document, and hear the progression of a performance from the very beginnings with the sheet music, to the practice session and, finally, to a live performance. And all of that was for two performances! I'm still reeling from the experience of it all.

Also, If you haven't checked out the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, you are missing out on something special. The Musical Instrument Museum is the number 1 rated attraction in Phoenix on Tripadvisor, is on the top 20 rated museum list for the United States on Tripadvisor and is the only global instrument museum in the world. They host Signature Events quite frequently that often focus on specific countries, their culture and their musical influences throughout the world. Their collection of musical instruments is breathtaking to say the least. Over 6,500 instruments from over 200 countries are displayed in the museum. They use a clever wireless audio system allowing members to simply approach an exhibit to hear selected audio and see accompanying videos. It is incredible and one day is barely enough time to see everything, much less enough time to take it all in. 

Some links of interest for this post are listed below.

Musical Instrument Museum:


Arizona Central's post about MIM's Italian Experience:


Dr. Thomas Nixon's Website:


Dr. Katherine H. Palmer's Website: