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But what have you done for me lately?

It’s Papa Haydn‘s birthday today, which means I’m sure you all woke up this morning and said to yourselves, “How can I help Jenn out?” as is traditional. I’m glad you asked!

I want more interview subjects! Who do you know? I’m looking for musicians and composers of all types, and if they can connect back to classical music in any way they’re fair game. That means a classical composer will fit beautifully, but if you know the member of a rock band who played the flute as a kid and wants to talk about how that influences his musical aesthetic, I want to talk to him! I’d also be really interested to speak to a video game music composer if you can rustle one of them up. Send me an email!

Which brings us to my next note: I have an upcoming interview with a contrabassoonist. Do you have questions for this rare breed of musician? Send them to me by next Wednesday, please.

I also want to do a blog round-up post, and make sure that I link back to all blogs linking to me; it’s only courteous. If you know of/run such a blog, pretty please send me the link and any information you would like me to share.

Don’t forget that I want to post your favorite viola jokes. Send ’em in with your name and anything you want me to plug.

And really, if you have ANY ideas, questions, comments, concerns, or things you want to share, pretty please let me know! Heck, I may start a regular user mailbag post if you guys have lots of good stuff to say.

By now I’ve given you so many opportunities to email me it would be rude not to, don’t you think?


Take me out to the Meyerhoff

Okay, guys. By now you’ve probably heard about the BSO’s contract negotiations. Heck, even if you’re not in the area you may have heard about them – it’s an… interesting situation. So very interesting, in fact, that I really don’t feel it would be safe to start sounding off on my opinions while still in their employ, lowly intern or no.* I will, however, present you with a list of links regarding the subject from the two major local papers.

Oh, but I shouldn’t send you away blind. In case you don’t know, last week the BSO musicians accepted a contract that reduced all salaries by 16.6% for the next two years. Read below for the whys and wherefores:

From Ann Midgette at The Washington Post: “Baltimore Symphony reaches new contract agreement with musicians”

From Tim Smith at The Baltimore Sun: “BSO salaries take another hit”

From a Sun blog: “BSO makes the best of a bad situation”

The BSO Facebook page has set a goal of 4,000 fans to show support for the orchestra. If you’re on Facebook, make sure you become a fan!

* Actually, no, I did want to mention one thing. In response to a Facebook posting of one of the articles, a gentleman inquired, “Are the Ravens and Orioles stepping in to help out, since the arts bring more revenue to the city than the sports franchises, and the sports personalities and team owners make substantially more than the artists?”

This is a BRILLIANT IDEA. Seriously, it would be a fabulous PR stunt on both sides for a Raven or Oriole or some such to step up with a big donation. Can anyone get on this?

The Underworld is surprisingly festive

Sometimes every bit of the movie gets a whole new score. Sometimes the score is comprised entirely of classical music. And sometimes a little classical music is thrown into the mix because really, nothing else would do.  Mr. Offenbach, we salute you.

That’s from Stardust, by the way. I bet you really, really wanted to know. The movie’s actually better than the book in some ways, believe it or not.  Not entirely because of this scene, but it helps.

We’ve made it six months! Have half a piece of paper.

Good evening, my lords and ladies, and welcome to Medieval Times! No, wait, that’s not right. Strike and try again.

Good evening, my fine reading audience, and thank you very much for coming. As of today, Ain’t Baroque has been in existence for six months. Huzzah! This is a landmark date, and I think therefore a fitting place to end for my capstone portfolio. Partially because it’s due soon. But also it’ll look nice and tidy and the thesis panel will smile upon it, no? (Incidentally, that means you have until midnight tonight to answer the poll and poll addendum. After that you can still answer, but I won’t be able to count it for my analysis.)

Don’t leave me just yet, though. I flatter myself that I’ve built this blog into a modest little success. Nothing earth shattering, mind you, but I think there is great potential here. My capstone may be completed, but I would like to continue. For starters, my internship with the BSO is not yet finished, and there are all sorts of new and nifty things afoot in that quarter. For continuers… I rather like it. I like to write in my own silly voice, and I like to hear what you have to say. I like music. I like doing this.

Therefore, if we few, we happy few, we band of brothers can stick together, Ain’t Baroque is here to stay. Or to put it clearer way: if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Deal?

I’ve got your April Fool’s joke right here

I understand many white cats are deaf, so use one of those and prank your percussionist. And send me pictures!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

They get no respect

Q. If you’re a stone’s throw away from a violist, what should you do?

Continue reading

On practicing

Confession: I hate practicing. I hate it so much I simply don’t do it anymore, and that’s why I’ll probably never be an active musician. I hate it because I know what I should sound like, and I have never, ever made it there. I spent most of my high school orchestra career, when practicing was a mother-mandatory activity, in the throes of a violent inward frustration. Some day, if I can ever afford it, I want to buy a really cheap violin purely for the pleasure of chucking it through a window. It will be a decade-long fantasy come true. Ah, catharsis.

Now that I’ve finished endearing myself to the musical masses, I have a (hopefully redeeming) observation about listening to someone practicing.

My brother is a freshman at Peabody, and although he’s a violist (hee hee hee) he takes a piano class – I think it might be a requirement? Anyway, he’s taking a piano class and currently working on Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. My mother’s piano is in a room right off the kitchen, and I could hear him working on it as I ate lunch last weekend.

It was a curious experience, and one that I don’t think would apply to all pieces, maybe even all instruments. I’ve also heard him practicing viola for half my life and this is only now occurring to me. My brother has by no means yet mastered the piece and is not a pianist by trade; he’s a musician, so his rendering was competent, but there were decided stumbles and hesitations.

And yet somehow… in this case, it worked. The Moonlight Sonata is naturally pensive, touchingly so in the right hands. These were not the right hands. But they were hands that, in their pauses and tiny hiccups, writ the music’s meaning anew. Rather than darkly brooding, this Moonlight was timid and a little scared, but nonetheless resolute. It was… I don’t know, like Piglet in the trenches. Like an eighteen-year-old kid trying to sleep the night before hitting the beaches at Normandy. Or something.

I don’t know if that makes any sense, but what I’m trying to articulate here is that the practicing transcended itself and became a new interpretation of the piece. Naturally if Beethoven had wanted it that way he would’ve written the pauses in himself, so I don’t recommend that concert pianists all adopt this as a new performance standard. What I am saying is that practicing has its own curious… lens through which to see, maybe?

But don’t mind me – I’m obviously a crazy person. Speaking of, does anyone have a cheap violin they don’t want?

Life is better with music

So says next season’s tagline, and if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you agree.

Which is to say: the much anticipated – nervously anticipated! – BSO 2010-11 season has now been announced, and a Marin Alsop preview available. Once I get my hands on a brochure and can see each program easily I’ll be posting a list of what I perceive to be highlights. In the meantime, feel free to check out the concert calendar and compose your own list of favorites. Midori is coming! Likewise Emmanuel Ax!

Anyway, I’m sure we’re all pleased to see that the metaphorical sun will come out tomorrow.

Dance for the puppet master

This week the BSO is cranking out three subtly different concerts, and I am extremely bitter that my comprehensive exams are preventing me from going to see the matinee performance. But never mind my trials, we have much to discuss.

Benevolent Dictator Jamie is all aflutter over the “Hearts, Cards, and Carnival” program that will be at the Meyerhoff on Thursday, March 25 and Sunday, March 28, and not unjustly. A Barber operetta about bridge? Great! Some signature Gershwin jazz fusion? Best kind! Stravinsky? Stravinsky with dancers? Yup, the BSO is performing Stravinsky’s score to the ballet Pulcinella, and they’re bringing in dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts to perform along with it.

Okay, to be perfectly honest, given what I’ve seen of the stage layout I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to work out. Certainly it can’t go down like a regular ballet performance, unless the Meyerhoff spontaneously sprouts a pit. And even if it does, this is still a symphony concert, with the emphasis on the symphony, and I don’t know how much they want to minimize that in favor of dance. However, they will be there, spinning about in some capacity along the Pulcinella-ish vein, and as a devout fan of the Petrouchka score I wholeheartedly approve.

If you’re not feeling patriotic but still want to get your Russian on, there are two Pulcinella-centric performances on March 27 at the Meyerhoff. First is the matinee performance, a casual concert at 11 am which also features Peter and the Wolf. I don’t think the dancers will be there, but Prokofiev more than makes up for that, I’m sure.

Alternatively, that evening at 7 pm is an Off the Cuff concert for just Pulcinella with dancing intact. “Off the Cuff” means that Marin Alsop spends some of the concert dissecting and contextualizing the work in question. According to the brochure, in this case that will mean a discussion on the juxtaposition of tradition versus “startling modern rhythms” and neoclassicism.

Pulcinella contains a character named “Pimpinella.” Clearly you need to go.

Unless you also have comps, in which case, would you like to come over and study with me? We can sulk to The Rite of Spring and then maybe make a professorial sacrifice. Think it over.

C. P. E.? J. S.? P. D. Q.!

It’s a miserable Monday, is it not? Let’s all cheer up with some P. D. Q. Bach. I should probably do a post on him later, but for now I’ll just say, I had no idea other groups actually performed his music. Not that anyone should hesitate to sit down and jam with this:

I wish I had time to dig for an image of the piece where the staff completely twists around in the middle. Oh, yeah. Definitely doing a post on him at some point. I know I have the book somewhere.

Anyway, YouTube is replete with videos of ensembles performing P. D. Q.’s works, believe it or not. Here’s his Echo Sonata (For Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments). Indeed.