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I solemnly swear I’ll be up to no good

And now for an exercise in sheer joy (but not sheer unadulterated joy because that doesn’t happen without Disney parks).

Loyal readers, this is your last blog post until February 1. Why? Because tomorrow morning I am heading to my heart’s homeland — Orlando, Florida. Not — and this is the one circumstance that, to paraphrase The Mikado, modifies my rapture — because I am going to Walt Disney World, but because this time I’m headed to Universal Studios Florida. (Please don’t disown me, Disney! I’m still going to visit Downtown Disney and have lunch on your property! I’ll be back for real soon! <3)

There are a couple reasons for this: 1. Universal is cheaper. 2. They have The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and my friend Elizabeth is a big fan. Myself, I am only a 50% fan (I really liked the first one, then liked each subsequent one less and less as the protagonists got more angsty and by the last book I was ready to bring in Bradbury and torch the thing), but it sounds like the theming is magnificently done and the premier ride, a tour of the school’s castle grounds, is supposed to be a tour de force. We’re even catching breakfast at the Three Broomsticks one morning. Lukewarm as I may be on Potter himself, I’m excited.

I’m not leaving you all alone, though: I invite you to follow me on Twitter, as I will be — as I did during my last Disney vacation — be tweeting away about my musical experiences all through the parks. I will try not to rag on John Williams too much. Look for the hashtag #aintbaroqueFL.

In the meantime, why not vote in the Composer Cagematch!? You have until February 1st to get all your votes in, and I’ve added a nice, comfy radio button poll for your voting pleasure. Right now Stravinsky is narrowly edging out Prokofiev, but not by much — don’t let them decide it without you!

Other alternative activities: browse the archives, or hey, why not see a BSO concert? Brahm’s violin concerto, people, January 27, 28, and 29!

Okay, good. So you’re all taken care of. Don’t forget to follow my escapades on Twitter — I’ll be at it starting at 5 am, and I think that sort of dedication deserves your attention, don’t you?

P.S. “And soon the world’s Muggles will be under my control! LUMOS!


“Piss off, you cellists! Stop following me in the forest!”

After all those pop covers, let’s cleanse the palette with a complete original, shall we?

Here we have Eddie Izzard on horror movie soundtracks, which invariably warn us that Something Bad is About to Happen, and he reveals cellists to be the stalkers that we all know they are, bless their bass-clef hearts.

I’m fairly certain Eddie is not the first to riff on this subject, but it’s still an interesting discussion point: if you could have some poor overworked composer soundtracking your life like mad as you lived it, would you? Or would it give too much away? Could there be such a thing as too much music?!

I… don’t even know what that would sound like…

For The Special Lady In Your Life
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An original

I made this up. It is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY stupid.

Q. What do you call Peri Gilpin playing the viola at the front of the Titanic?

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“Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone”

I am sad.

I am sad because I have this habit of finding great stuff for a topic mentioned on the blog AFTER I’ve mentioned it on the blog. The other day I found a fantastic music gift, and it’s January. I simply do not have the patience to wait till next November to share it with you. So consider this a Valentine’s Day present suggestion, assuming that what you’re trying to communicate is “we share a wonky sense of humor” (good!) or possibly “I am extremely unromantic” (also good if you’re spurning, I guess).

You might be familiar with the below, as I understand it has made the viral email rounds and shown up on a variety of musical message boards and the like. It is by the unparalleled humorist and soothing-voiced radio host, Garrison Keillor.


1 And it came to pass, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain disciples came upon amob that was stoning an organist. 2 And Paul said unto them, “What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?” 3 And the people cried with one voice, “He hath played too loud. 4 Yea, in the singing of psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers. 5 Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and tho’ there be few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops, the Assyrian trumpet stop and the stop of the ram’s horn and the stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths. 6 He always tosseth in the variations that confuse us mightily and playeth loud and discordant and always in a militant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing. 7 Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chastised. 8 Paul, hearing this, had himself picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down and bade the organist come forward. 9 He was a narrow man, pale of complexion, dry, flaking thin of hair. 10 And Paul said unto him, “Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?” 11 And the organist replied, “I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and therefore played the louder so as to encourage them.” 12 And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, “Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone.” 13 And they cast stones for awhile until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organist repent and he did. 14 And Paul said unto him, “Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit.” 15 And afterward, they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unaccompanied and then had coffee and were refreshed in the faith.

Funny, right? I know I giggle every time. But it gets better — you can now put it on your wall!

Great for organists, skeptical pianists, and my dad, in case you need a present for him, too. Your purchase supports NPR, or as one of my arts management professors used to call it, “Communist talk radio.”

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average. Holla!

Speaking of mother Russia…

This week the BSO offers you your choice of how you want your Russian music done. Do you prefer it, shall we say, full-fat or light?

If you’d prefer the heavy version, “Robustly Russian” is for you. It features Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise and his first piano concerto and finishes out with Shostakovich’s fifth symphony (obligatory bah! Rachmaninoff! goes here). You can see that on Thursday, January 20 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff — which makes it a Thursday Wine Night! — or Sunday, January 23 at 3 pm, also at the Meyerhoff.

In the light version, a Rachmaninoffectomy is wisely performed (oh look, I got one in there anyway!) and it’s Shostakovich’s fifth symphony Off the Cuff style — you’ll learn all about what into Shostakovich’s creation of the piece. See it at Strathmore on January 21 at 8:15 pm or at the Meyerhoff on January 22 at 7 pm.

Kirill Gerstein is your pianist, Marin Alsop is your conductor, and this is your student discount:

$10 Advance Student Rush Tickets!
Login to BSOmusic.org using Promo Code STUDENT to purchase your discounted tickets to Off the Cuff: Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. You must login before adding tickets to your cart to view discounted ticket price. This offer is for online purchases only.

Cellists — you can brush their hair, undress them everywhere

After the last few cover videos I’ve put up, I thought to myself, “What else would be hilarious in a classical ensemble? I KNOW!” And I did a search and found this for you.

I demand that someone replicate this for me immediately

funny food photos - You Need to Tune Your Snare
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Texas Viola Massacre

Q. What’s the difference between a chainsaw and a viola?

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Composer Cagematch!: Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky

In all things, comparisons are inevitable. So is the dichotomy of opinion. For example, many consider Mozart to be the greatest composer who ever lived. They are wrong, of course, but my point is that it is inherently impossible to crown a “best” because everyone’s definition of “best” will be different. So let’s try to figure out who’s the best, okay?

Composer Cagematch! will pit two composers against each other in a battle for the reader vote. Sometimes it’ll be a fresh pair of composers who are, in some way, comparable. Sometimes it’ll be a winner against a strong new contender, sometimes winner against winner. When we start to run low on sets or I get bored or you get bored we may have an Ultimate Showdown to determine the overall victor, but I don’t see that happening any time soon so let’s get started, shall we?

It’s a battle royale in mother Russia! In this corner, that philandering alleged inducer of riots,


And in this corner, hailing to Stalin but not really meaning it,


On the one hand, Rite of Spring. On the other hand, Romeo and Juliet. Then again, the violin concerto. But looking at it another way, the piano concertos.

That’s it. That’s all you get. MAKE. YOUR. CHOICE.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Votes must be in the form of blog comments to be counted. Feel free to tweet about your opinions, but if we have votes coming in via two forums it’s going to be too difficult to keep track.

UPDATE: Okay, a lot of people seem to be having trouble with the above rule, so I’ve created a nifty poll for you to use instead. For this match, comment votes will also be counted, but for those of you who fear to comment, maybe a radio button will make you feel more comfortable. Enjoy.