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A threat

See, my mom is right! Pop music does ruin everything! (I kid, I kid.)

funny pictures - You can either play Cat Stevens or you can play NOTHING!!
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Concert Roundup: Roundup Harder

Here’s what we’ve got this week:

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra repels me even as it tempts me with a concert entitled “Mozart and Debussy.” You’ve got Mozart‘s 31st symphony and third violin concerto, but then you have Debussy‘s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune AND La Mer. What are they trying to do, make my brain explode? Louis Langree conducts this one while James Ehnes violinifies on October 20 at Strathmore and October 21 and 22 at the Meyerhoff. See it!

Nothing at the NSO this week as far as I can tell, so that wraps it up for me because those of you who said “Yes, I have a concert this week!” neglected to send me any info. Remember, send me an informational link with your submissions so that people can be duly intrigued and show up in droves!


I overslept by just enough this morning that I don’t have time to put together this week’s concert roundup; therefore you will gracefully accept your viola joke early. Thanks!

By the bye, this means there’s still time to let me know if you have a concert in the offing. Don’t forget to send a link!

Q. Why did the violist learn his new concert piece by ear?

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Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Stravinsky vs. Debussy

Let’s just say Saint-Saens beasted my boy Khachaturian and leave it at that, shall we?

And that does it. Sixteen rounds we’ve had. Sixteen winners. I bet they’re feeling pretty proud of themselves. I bit they’re throwing confetti made of bits of discarded sheet music and tossing back the Verdi.

Well, they’d best watch out. IT’S TIME FOR ROUND 2.

And so in this corner, he cracked open the egg containing Prokofiev’s soul!* It’s


And in this corner, he goosed Ravel! It’s


Which do you choose — the innovator or the innovator? Le Sacre du Printemps or Le Mer? The French guy or the guy who liked to hang out in France?

* What do you mean, you don’t get it? Fine. Here.

Did you try… shouldn’t it be a bit more…

Last week I had this awesome idea for today’s video, which of course means now I forget what it was. So in the meantime, here’s one of my favorite scenes from Amadeus. I mean, besides the bit where Mozart kicks the bucket.

A look we should revisit

Could someone please reboot the top hat trend? Orchestras already rock tuxes and gowns; that’s just a hop-step-jump away from a top hat and tails, right? Make this happen.

funny pictures history - Only a top hat     For top brass
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Q. How is a violist like a SCUD missile?

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Concert Roundup: This Time It’s Personal

My apartment building is so weird. Sometimes HALF the power is out. This morning all my lights worked, my TV and Xbox worked, my chargers worked. My fridge was off and my internet, while recognizable, wasn’t usable. I only just got it back, and that, my friends, is why today’s concert roundup is late. In other words, please address all your complaints to the building manager and I’ll forward them along. Thanks!

  • I’m a little puzzled by this week’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert. It’s called “The Music of Elton John and More.” It doesn’t say what the “more” is and it doesn’t say the BSO isn’t playing, so I guess it must be accompanying the Michael Cavanaugh vocalist/pianist person. Who comes with a Broadway resume, apparently. If you really like Elton John — and I understand many do — you’ve got nothing to lose. October 13 at Strathmore and October 14 through 16 at the Meyerhoff. See it!
  • The National Symphony Orchestra is also going poppy this week with a concert devoted to Rodgers and Hammerstein. I have already proudly announced my love for The Sound of Music and distrust for those who dismiss it outright, so I think we all know where I stand on the R&H issue. Plus they’re featuring a whole bunch of Broadway-types too, in addition to The Washington Chorus. At the Kennedy Center concert hall, October 13 through 15. See it!

Tchaikovsky, the third grade, and me

I had Mr. Wong for third and fourth grade art. I loved his class; he gave us all sorts of fun assignments and on one memorable occasion a party with soda (I don’t remember why we had the party, but I remember we had soda).

I’m not entirely sure the why of this — I think it was that time we made a self-portrait trading card type thing, and we were making “stats” for the back — but at one point our art assignment was accompanied by a survey of sorts, asking for items like favorite color, favorite food, etc.

One of the categories was “favorite musician or band.” Third grade me labored over this one a bit, decided to take some creative license, and wrote down “Tchaikovsky.” Musician, band, composer — practically reads like a thesaurus, no?

All the kids in the class went up one at a time to read our answers (a popular trope, the getting up and reading in front of the class; I think now this is less about education and more about teachers killing time). When I got to Tchaikovsky, Mr. Wong didn’t challenge me. He just raised his eyebrows and said, “Interesting.”

Maybe he was a Tchaikovsky snob? Maybe he was surprised that a third grader could spell “Tchaikovsky”? But I ponder now not his reaction but my answer to his question. It seems that in third grade, I thought Tchaikovsky was the bee’s knees.

And I still think Tchaikovsky is the bee’s knees, just not the queen bee. For awhile there I was desperately, hopelessly in love with Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” string quartet. Now I think the adagio cantabile from Beethoven’s Pathetique piano sonata might be my favorite. For now.

My point is: tastes change. Obviously. Now cast your mind back to third grade you. Who was your favorite?

Playing with the fish, singular

“I seriously thought you were posting about Hilary Hahn’s fish interview clip when I saw the title,” said the intrepid Chris McGovern in response to last week’s viola joke.

“No,” said I, “but that’s a great idea!”

And it was.