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Little is as little does

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That’s what Alicia de Larrocha always said, I’m sure.

Viola jokes, now with visuals!

One of my lovely Twitter followers sent this to me. I award him the Ain’t Baroque Medal of Valor the Well Played! Ain’t Baroque Medal of Violar. CP is SMRT.

See it in its natural state here.

Why write when you can hit things and make loud noises?

Back in November and December I did a recurring feature of holiday gifts for music people. I cannot possibly be expected to hold these for next time. Besides, Mother’s Day is coming up, and I guarantee you your mom wants these:

They’re drumstick pencils! Drumstick! Pencils! Why not play Mom a lengthy percussive solo? Means more than chocolate! Also perfect for your theory professor, band director, and the hyperactive fifth grader who isn’t going to write anything anyway so you may as well keep him occupied. They’re ten bucks for a set of two and you can get them here.

(Note to my mom: this is not what I got you for Mother’s Day. Although I can if you want some.)

Pros and concierge

The BSO’s new Musicians’ Concierge page is now up and ready for you! That’s the program wherein you fill out a form indicating your musical preferences, and a real, live BSO musician constructs a list of BSO concert suggestions upon which you can base your season package purchase. The form asks logical questions like your favorite composer, genre, period, etc., and you can even pick which musician you want to assemble suggestions from an available list.

I think it’s a nifty idea, so I’m gonna hijack it. Well, not really. I’m only creating one list, and it’s not made especially for you. If it’s ‘specially for anyone, it’s ‘specially for me. Still, I’m sure you’re intrigued by My List of Concerts From the BSO 2010-11 Season I Think Look Awesome:

Which is not to say the other concerts aren’t awesome, but I had to narrow it down somehow. What are your picks?

From Russia with love

This week’s BSO concert is entitled “Russian Perfection,” because, let’s face it, where classical music is concerned it usually is. The program starts with a new piece by a Baltimore composer named Jonathan Leshnoff, then Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. But the best is saved for last: the Stravinsky Violin Concerto performed by Gil Shaham.

Fact: Stravinsky is awesome in both the modern and ancient senses. I like what he has to say about how he approached the solo in the program notes:

The Violin Concerto in D is a shining example of the spirit and manner of Stravinsky’s neo-classical period. In full revolt from late Romanticism and his early folk-Russian style, the composer since the early 1920s had espoused a rigorously abstract aesthetic inspired by the forms and musical language of the 18th-century Baroque masters. In creating his Violin Concerto, he dismissed the standard concertos as models and harkened back to Bach. “The subtitles of my Concerto—Toccata, Aria, Capriccio—may suggest Bach, and so, in a superficial way, might the musical substance. I am very fond of the Bach Concerto for Two Violins as the duet of the soloist with a violin from the orchestra in the last movement … may show. But my Concerto employs other duet combinations too, and the texture is almost always more characteristic of chamber music than of orchestral music.”

He liked Bach. A wise man.

The full concert is on Thursday, April 29 at 8 pm at Strathmore and Friday, April 30 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff. There’s also an Off the Cuff concert on Saturday, May 1 at 7 pm with just the Rachmaninoff if your taste runs that way, but I think you’re silly to skip the Stravinsky.

Up we go

I watched Up last night, and was struck once again by the brilliance of a movie scene paired with classical music. So I dug it up, and was delighted to discover at the top of the video’s comments the following message:

(WDanai) Great filmmaking to seamlessly incorporate such a phenomenal piece of music. With Habanera’s motif starting in a minor key (after the sadness of Ellie’s passing) and progressing into a major optimistic tone, I think that shows the strength of Carl to carry on, stubbornly. This transition is so important for the film.

My work here is done, and I hardly even had to do any work.

How did he get IN there?!

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Viola alone

Q. What do you say to a violist in a three-piece suit?

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“Play it, Sam. You played it for her and you can play it for me.”

Don’t say I won’t go above and beyond the call of duty in the name of a post, because last week I overcame my natural shyness just to bring you guys the following image:

I was wandering Columbia Mall waiting for Lenscrafters to make my awesome and way overdue new glasses when I came across this guy in Nordstrom’s. I summoned all my courage to stand around awkwardly while waiting for him to finish the current piece and then awkwardly asked if I could post his picture to my classical blog. He noted that he was playing jazz standards, not classical, but I hastened to assure him that this was of no importance. Then I walked out of the store, awkwardly.

It isn’t important what he was playing, because my idea here is less about the music itself and more about changing practices. Look, maybe old movies are misleading me, but my understanding is that pianists in stores and restaurants used to be de rigeur. Now you almost never see them. Or I don’t. Maybe I’m not frequenting fancy enough establishments.

Should we bring this back? Or should music clearly intended to fade into the background in the first place be allowed to fade entirely?

It’s time to face a dead cabbage

Here are some things I think are nifty.

  • If you buy a BSO subscription package, you could win a luxury cruise from Symphonic Voyages, which is exactly what it sounds like: a cruise with concerts.
  • I was going to post a link to the BSO’s new Musician’s Concierge program, but as it turns out the form isn’t ready so I’ll have to put it off for a bit. Here’s a teaser: BSO musicians choose your season for you.
  • This old Dave Barry article popped into my head the other day. Having finally thought to post on it, I can’t think how I ever didn’t think of it before.

Something is causing Americans to chant “air ball” in F. But what? I believe that the most logical explanation – you probably thought of this – is: extraterrestrials. As you know if you watch the TV series The X Files, when anything weird happens, extraterrestrials are almost always responsible. In this case, beings from another galaxy are probably trying to communicate with us by transmitting powerful radio beams that penetrate basketball fans’ brains and cause them to “spontaneously” chant in the key of F. I imagine that eventually the aliens will switch the fans to another key, such as A, and then maybe C, and so on until the aliens have musically spelled out some intergalactic message to humanity, such as “face a dead cabbage.”

Read the whole article here and rejoice.

  • Here is a joke just risque enough to be placed behind a cut. It is ever so slightly dirty, but it has not failed to elicit delighted laughter and a wild need to pass it along from a single person I’ve told it to.

Q. What’s better than roses on your piano?

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