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Q. What kind of calendar does a violist use to keep track of his gigs?

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Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it’s Cinderelly

This week’s BSO concert is Off the Cuff, which means that before she conducts her chosen material, Marin Aslop talks to the audience about the history, context, theory, etc. behind it. This may sound dull, but I assure you it’s not — Alsop is actually a pretty entertaining speaker, and she has the orchestra demonstrate little bits of the music as she discusses it before playing the work in full. Besides, music history courses were always my favorite in college; I wish I could’ve taken more of ’em.

For this particular Off the Cuff, Alsop tackles Prokofiev’s Cinderella Suite with the help of writers from Johns Hopkins University (are they going to rewrite the story? I’m suspicious). Alsop could go anywhere with the history, but from the concert description I suspect she’ll be diving into the motifs for each of the characters from the Cinderella tale. Composer Cagematch! results not withstanding, I harbor much love for Prokofiev; I’m pondering going myself. Performances are Friday, April 1 at 8:15 pm at Strathmore and Saturday, April 2 at 7 pm at the Meyerhoff. And hey, I can offer a discount!

$10 Advance Student Rush Tickets!

Login to BSOmusic.org using Promo Code STUDENT to purchase your discounted tickets to Off the Cuff: Cinderella Suite. You must login before adding tickets to your cart to view discounted ticket price. This offer is for online purchases only.

Updated to add another discount!

12-Hour Sale, $20* Tickets
The madness begins TODAY (Wednesday, March 30) at 6 p.m.
and ends TOMORROW (March 31) at 6 a.m.

Login to BSOmusic.org using Promo Code 16101
during these 12 hours to purchase your discounted tickets to Off the Cuff: Cinderella Suite. You must login before adding tickets to your cart to view discounted ticket price. This offer is for online purchases only.

If you prefer a more traditional orchestral experience… well, you’re SOL this week, but you do have an alternate option. You can hear the Cinderella Suite along with John Corigliano’s The Pied Piper and the world premier of a BSO Commission by David Rimelis called “OrchKids Nation” on Thursday, March 31 at 8 pm (Wine Night!), or on Sunday, April 3 at 3 pm, both at the Meyerhoff. This will be sans explanatory lecture, but OrchKids children will be added, playing the flute and drums on the latter two pieces. I’d go Off the Cuff if I were you, but please yourself.

Oh, and for those of you who listened to last night’s UM Mahler live broadcast, I have been informed that there will be a rebroadcast with cleaned up audio available here. Enjoy!


Props for Mahler

Bonus! I received this email from a nice lady at Classical Music Broadcast:

I read your blog regularly, and thought you might be interested in this live video webcast we are doing on Tuesday. The maestro is combining 2 orchestras for a 92-chair violin section and a total of 141 musicians for Mahler’s 6th Symphony.

It is free to watch – would you be interested in maybe live blogging it or at least giving us some props on Ain’t Baroque?


Count me in! I may do some live-tweeting of the concert, but only if I feel I have something helpful to say — “They sound really good!” gets repetitive after awhile, y’know?

The concert, which combines the University Symphony Orchestra and University Philharmonia Orchestra, will be conducted by Kenneth Kiesler, director of orchestras at the University of Michigan, and kicks off at 8 pm ET. You can access the live broadcast here.

Composer Cagematch!: Rimsky-Korsakov vs. Mussourgsky

The Eric made you do it, I think.

Yes, while at the beginning of the Holst-Britten match up we were looking at a tie, by the end of the match Britten had gained a solid lead and Team Benjamin took the victory, sending Team Gustav off to a lonely corner that is forever England. I’m not saying reader Eric’s campaigning swung the vote, but he’ll probably tell you it did. Don’t worry, Gustav, I like you.

Next — infighting in The Mighty Handful! In this corner, he’s so good at orchestration his texts on the subject are still read today! It’s


And in this corner, he’s so good at composition he gets others to orchestrate his work for him while he drinks vodka! It’s


(Okay, in terms of sheer syllabic size Rimsky-Korsakov wins. So don’t let that sway you.)

This is an hard one, no? I mean, Russian Easter Overture. Freakin’ Scheherazade. But then again, Night on Bare Mountain. Freakin’ Pictures at an Exhibition. And between the two of them, Khovanschina. A mighty handful, indeed, so you’ve gotta drop somebody — who’ll it be?

As always, Twitter and Facebook will give fair warning as to the voting deadline, and use the comments to try to sway voters into your composer camp.

Dangling a carrot in front of the audience

Okay, but is that vegetable soup really sanitary?


Some people just don’t have good peripheral vision

A conductor became deathly sick one night just a few hours before a big concert. The orchestra needed a substitute, fast — and the only person willing to step in was the last chair violist. He conducted the concert, and it was a massive critical success. The next day the conductor was STILL sick, so the violist conducted again with the same smashing results. By the next concert, however, the conductor had recovered. He retook his place at the podium, and the violist went back to his seat. As he sat down, his stand partner glanced over and said,

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Where do which instruments feature? Just listen to teacher

You could argue that it’s because I’m going back to Walt Disney World in June (yes I’m an addict; no, I don’t want to get better), but I’ve actually had this topic percolating in my brain for quite some time, and for the precise reason I’m about to give you. I want to talk about orchestration, and I want to talk about it because of The Lion King.

I have a bunch of The Lion King songs on my iPod, because I am eight forever. My favorite is “Be Prepared,” as Scar is awesome, plus the hyena’s line “Why, is he sick?” makes me laugh hysterically for some reason. But what most impresses me about it from the musical standpoint is, weirdly enough, the use of the bassoon (contrabassoon? I don’t know my woodwinds so well). The bassoon has a running commentary under the melody that I find utterly perfect, a case of brilliant instrument selection. The depth is menacing, befitting Scar’s sinister evil, but the tone has a comic edge that’s just right for the hyenas. I love it.

And to balance it out with some actual classical music, can I mention Prokofiev’s use of the flute? Because I’m not a flute fan. Sorry to flutists, but it doesn’t do much for me. Except when Prokofiev busts it out — in Lieutenant Kije and Romeo and Juliet especially. In Prokofiev’s hands, the flute becomes a vehicle of fantasy and purity, yet… almost an underlying darkness. Prokofiev makes an instrument that usually bores me intriguing.

So I ask you: which instrument in which piece is, to you, inspired casting? Which composer knows how to do it right? And which composer could’ve done with a refresher course?

The spirit of Norvay has alvays been and vill alvays be adventure!

Because you can’t talk about Grieg without talking about Norway, and you can’t talk about Norway without talking about the Maelstrom. Well, maybe you can, but I definitely can’t.

As you might have inferred, this week’s BSO concert is “Grieg’s Piano Concerto.” I quite like Grieg, myself, but I’m not familiar with his piano efforts. Which evidently makes me weird, because Wikipedia claims it’s one of the most popular piano concertos out there. It says lots of other stuff too, the most important being that this piece KILLED SIMON BARERE. Yes. It’s a KILLER PIANO CONCERTO. You better watch it, Orion Weiss.

Everyone knows that entertainment is better when someone might die. But if the possibility of death by Grieg isn’t enough for you, the concert also offers Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and a concerto for orchestra by Lutoslawski (no word on whether this concerto is also dangerous). See it on Thursday, March 24 (Wine Night!) or Friday, March 25 at 8 pm at the Meyerhoff, or Saturday, March 26 at 8 pm at Strathmore. I hope you live to tell the tale.

P.S. This is just a reminder that you have until this Friday to vote in the Composer Cagematch!

Happy birthday, dear Johann! Happy birthday to you!

Intrepid Explorer Extraordinaire Rebekah made this. It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

I’m not sure what the red stripe is supposed to represent. I bet it’s fertility.