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Aren’t you a little short for a guard?

The bows are back in town! Yup, the second half of the BSO season starts this week, and they’ve chosen to tempt karma by kicking it off with John Williams’ Star Wars suite. Come on, guys. Aim higher.

Luckily they counterbalance it with the Phillip Glass piece Icarus at the Edge of Time, which is based on a children’s book by physicist Brian Greene. Why, when I was a little kid I loved learning about physics. No, wait, that’s an enormous lie. Happily, the story is about “a young boy’s accidental adventure to a black hole.” Oh, okay, that I can get on board with. Very Star Trek, no? (Scoff not — instead go listen to Jerry Goldsmith’s Voyager theme. Beautiful.)

The program also features Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Ceres, and there are LOTS of expository videos on the concert pages. There are performance on Friday, January 14 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff, Saturday, January 15 at 8 pm at Strathmore, and Sunday, January 16 at 3 pm at the Meyerhoff. Wear your wax wings.

Updated to add: DISCOUNT!

12-Hour Sale, 50% Off Tickets!

The madness begins TOMORROW (Wednesday, January 12) at 6 p.m. and ends Thursday, January 13 at 6 a.m.!

Login to BSOmusic.org using Promo Code 14514 during these 12 hours to purchase your discounted tickets to Star Wars plus Icarus at the Edge of Time. You must login before adding tickets to your cart to view discounted ticket price. This offer is for online purchases only.

NEER neer NEER neer

This video is very personal for me, because I have lived it.

That is to say, two members of my high school orchestra — and I will call them out now because it’s not like I’m accusing you of arson, PAUL AND ERIC — used to play the glissandos in this song ALL THE TIME. It was inescapable, incessant — before class, after class, between pieces, sometimes the second O’Bryan lowered his baton — it was NEER neer NEER neer. Okay, sometimes the James Bond theme snuck in there too, but for the most part NEER neer NEER neer.

Enjoy this getting stuck in your head! Forever.

When you’re in a bind and way behind you might be willing to make a deal

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But Neil Gow‘ll take that bet! You’re gonna regret, ’cause he’s the best that’s ever been!

And we’re back to abusing violists

Because new year or no, some things never change.

Q. What’s the best way to tune a viola?

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As if being closeted wasn’t bad enough

Could someone please explain to me the Tchaikovsky snobs?

Seriously, they’re everywhere — people who hate on Tchaikovsky. I mean, we skipped right over him in my music history survey course. I asked the professor why, and he said, “Tchaikovsky wasn’t an innovator.” Well excuuuuuuse me.

And then my friend’s dad would listen to Tchaikovsky exactly once per year, The Nutcracker score at Christmas, and he would spend half the time declaring acidly that this was the only Tchaikovsky he would allow in his house (he gets a pass, though, for his feelings on Mozart).

There are even traitors among my friends, who decline to get behind Serenade for Strings! I mean, WHAT? How can you listen to the beginning of the first movement without love? Even band people must listen to the beginning of the first movement with love!

Romeo and Juliet — okay, I’ll give you that one: it’s one of the most painfully schmoopy things I’ve ever heard in my life. Sometimes his many ballet scores start to run together. But his first piano concerto! There are snippets of brilliance in those ballet scores! I like the 1812 Overture, and I don’t care what you say!

So tell me — is my taste just that unsophisticated? Or would you be open to the suggestion that you might be a bunch of Snobby McSnobersons from Snobbytown?

Why y’all hating on Tchike, yo?

Imperfect pitch

Today I would like to conduct an informal poll of sorts.

I have really good relative pitch. Once during my college music theory class I was the only person who took down a dictation correctly because I recognized a tricky note as a sharp instead of a whole step. But whoopie for me — perfect pitch is where it’s at. When you can identify a note out of the air without scale context, you’ve got it made, right? If you haven’t got that, well, you’re hardly screwed, but you’ll never be… perfect.

Or is perfect pitch the x factor after all? I ask because of something my mother has said. My brother has perfect pitch, so dictation tests are easy as hell for him — he doesn’t need a base note to work from or even to pay attention to anything but an individual note at a time. And that, says my mother, is precisely the problem with perfect pitch: because he doesn’t need to make the connections between notes to arrive at the correct answer, he has never had to recognize the sinew that holds them together, never had to weigh notes against each other to see how they fall together on a given scale. Being forced to work relatively also forces you to find the thread that runs through a piece; notes are never lonely floaters.

So… what say you, musicians? What say you, music teachers? Does perfect pitch have a crack in its flawless armor after all? Or is this a debatable, even laughable point invented by us relative pitchers (like relief pitchers but with multiple innings) to feel better about ourselves?

Bassoon-o continuo

I apologize for the terrible pun. Wait, what am I saying? No I don’t!

The faithful know that rather than fully abandon you in that free week between Christmas and New Year’s I put up links to “greatest hits” on Twitter and Facebook (click either to see those posts). The last one I put up was the one with the bassoon ensemble performing a medley of Lady Gaga songs and, like its first performance, the encore was an enormous hit. From this I can only conclude that you people dig wacky bassoon videos. Well, ask and ye shall receive.

(Of course points are awarded to the ever-stalwart Dr. Carney for sharing multiple crazy bassoon videos.)