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That would explain the sense of entitlement

I kid, I kid. (Mostly. You know who you are.)

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An honest mistake

A violist just got plain fed up. He was sick of the jokes and the lack of respect, and he decided it was time to switch to a different instrument. So he went down to the local music store and browsed around. He wanted something so far removed from the viola that no one would ever remember he had played such a silly thing. After much deliberation he finally settled on it — a big old accordion sitting in the corner.

It seemed like a big improvement to the violist, so he went over to the shopkeeper. “Hi,” he said. “I’d like to buy the big accordion in the corner over there.”

The shopkeeper looked at him. “I’m sorry, sir, which accordion?”

“The big one, in the corner.” He pointed.

“You’re a violist, aren’t you?” said the shopkeeper.

“Yes,” said the accused, surprised, “how did you know?”

“Well,” said the shopkeeper, Continue reading

Concert Roundup

Okay, those who chose to share their opinions informed me that not only do they indeed like my weekly BSO concert post, they believe I should expand it to include other concerts in the area. So let’s round ’em up like particularly melodious cattle. I tried to bold the most pertinent information for scanning purposes; do tell me if it makes you want to vomit.

  • On October 1 & 2, both times at the Meyerhoff, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra offers “Tortelier Conducts Mozart,” conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier, if you can believe it. Horacio Gutierrez hits the piano for a program that includes Sibelius’ fifth symphony, Mozart‘s Piano Concerto no. 19, and something by Elgar called In the South. See it!
  • How about we start checking in with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center? From September 29 through October 1, Rafael Fuhrbeck de Burgos will conduct Beethoven‘s eighth symphony and Orff‘s greatest hit, Carmina Burana. A collection of vocalists including the Washington Choral Arts Society will be helping out with that. See it!
  • @TerpsMusic informs me that the University of Maryland Wind Orchestra will be presenting a program entitled “Music of Prague” on September 29 & 30. Appropriately enough, the feature piece is Karel Husa‘s Music for Prague 1968, plus Robert Kurka‘s Suite from The Good Soldier Schweik and Lubos Fiser‘s Report. See it!

Are you in or do you know of a concert or other classical music event coming up next week that I should highlight in the roundup? Let me know!

Challenge!: No notes needed

I remembered this instant message conversation the other day, and THEN I remembered that Elizabeth had saved it on her online journal (back in the day we all had journals), and THEN I thought it would make a good blog post. But then to find it I had to go traipsing backwards through said journal because I had no idea when it had happened. Turns out it was December of 2008. To Elizabeth: apologies for stalking you backwards through time. Everyone else: prepare to be impressed with my grasp of onomatopoeia!

Elizabeth: JENNIFER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Good heavens, dear child, whatever is the matter?
Elizabeth: Do you remember when we played this piece back in high school that I think was a from an opera?
It might have been called intermezzo or something.
Me: Cavalleria Rusticana?
Elizabeth: Maybe! Let me find it on iTunes!
Elizabeth: I heard it and I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS CALLED.
Elizabeth: Hahahahahahaha, yeah!

I don’t remember typing like a pretentious snot… but I can believe that I did.

Okay, let’s see what YOU can do. What am I singing? I’ll give you some hints: 20th century Eastern European, part of a movie soundtrack. Ready?

BUH ba da duh duh da ba duh da duh duh da da da DAH duh-DAH duuuuuuh

Whaddya think? Tweet at me if you need another hint!

An organ fit for a king — or at least Philadelphia

I had never heard of the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ until PBS educated me with a mini-doc (they sucked me in with a ballet to “Pictures at an Exhibition” first, those clever little monkeys). I can’t seem to locate the documentary on YouTube — possibly because it’s buried under tons of tons of videos of people playing the thing — but I did discover that sometimes the organ gets a day all for itself. Enjoy a REALLY ENORMOUS INSTRUMENT.

Oh, and: if you want to have any say in the frequency which I vote about upcoming concerts, vote by tonight — I’m going to have to make my first reactionary post on Wednesday and I may need time to prepare.

Ha! I know this joke!

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The pragmatic approach

Q. How do you get two violists to play in sync?

Continue reading

Turn the tide of blog posts!

Ah, yes. Fall is here. School starts, the weather gets nippy — it’s awful, isn’t it?

Good thing the BSO season gets rolling too, or we’d have nothing to lift our desolation. This week cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins Marin Alsop in her rightful place on the conductor’s podium in a program entitled “Tchaikovsky and Dvorak.” A little prosaic, but certainly descriptive — the program features Dvorak’s cello concerto and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” symphony. Oh, and this: “Baltimore-based James Lee III’s Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan depicts Harriet Tubman’s yearning for emancipation, drawing on Negro Spirituals to express her journey from slavery to freedom.” Interesting! See it at the Meyerhoff on Friday, September 23 at 8 pm, at Strathmore on Thursday, September 24 at 8 pm, and then again at the Meyerhoff on Sunday, September 25 at 3 pm.

Okay, I’m rushing through this one a bit ’cause I have a question for you about these upcoming BSO concert posts. I’ve been doing them for almost two years now, and when I was an intern there it tied in perfectly and played right into my blog thesis project. Now that the scope has widened a bit, I want to know — do you like them? Do you read them? Do they interest you, even if you’re in no position to go? Tell me please!

Composer Cagematch!: Bartok vs. Shostakovich

In the words of the great Bob Kelso: daaaaaaamn, Turkledawg!

Liszt had it in the bag. He really did. He was winning forever. And yet somehow…

A tie happened. Then Liszt pulled ahead. Another tie. Liszt pulled ahead again. Then another tie. And when the poll closed, Chopin took it by one. Crazy times!

We’re entering the home stretch now, guys. Just two more matches to go in round 1. And yet I ask you to travel with me again to familiar ground — we’re barreling headlong back into eastern Europe, because in this corner, ethnomusicology FTW!


And in this corner, apologies to Stalin FTW! It’s


Ha! And you thought these matches were so easy! How you like me now, sucka? This awesome dude or that awesome dude? Awesome folk tunes or awesome Jewish tunes?! Clearly this is awesomely hard.

If you haven’t figured out I’m a dork by now…

Say, when’s the last time I totally geeked out on you guys? Let me check… why, not since May! So we’re well past due.

To fulfill the quota, here’s the opening theme to Star Trek: Voyager, composed by no less a luminary than Jerry Goldsmith. And to make it even more legit, here’s a story: I took some lessons with an accomplished violinist who was a Voyager fan. Whenever he watched the show, his father would come in, sit for the theme, and then leave. He just really loved the opening. And why not? It’s sweepingly awesome!