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Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Verdi vs. Handel

Well. Part of this complete breakfast, indeed.

In yet another decision I simply cannot in good conscience cosign, Raisin Brahms knocked Mahler right out. Guys, you’re killing me.

But at least Mahler put up a decent fight and no one complained about poor matching. I warned you last week, so believe me when I tell you this — I fear for the last two second round fights. I’m staking out potential hiding places as I speak. Tell me, if an angry mob is as intelligent as the stupidest member’s IQ divided by the number of participants, should behind the couch be sufficient? Keep in mind it’s not pushed against the wall.

So, anyway… in this corner, he wiped the Monte right off his name! It’s


And in this corner, he showed Haydn who’s really Papa! It’s


Okay, look. Verdi excelled in opera. Handel was sorta the father of English opera. Okay? Will you accept this logic? Will you at least admit it makes more sense than pitting either against Gershwin?


Part of this complete breakfast

I think this one provides all the entertainment it can without any assists from me. But thanks to Pam with an assist from CMcGo. GUTEN TAAAAAAAG!

Okay, off to my first day of work at Strathmore. Wish me luck!

Next thing you’ll tell me it’s a pah de doo

Okay. I’ve already told you about my Rimsky-Korsakow thing. If you haven’t seen it, Mr. Clayton provided an excellent comment shedding a little light on the issue. It’s all about transliteration, he says; it’s how many languages and alphabets the composer has been filtered through before he gets to us that determines the spelling.

Well fine. Then who came up with this one? General Tsao?

Tschaikovsky? Tschaikovsky? PETER? ILYITCH? Did he decide to incorporate a tribute to eczema while filing for British citizenship? It’s PIOTR, dammit! PIOTR! ILYICH! TCHAIKOVSKY! I’m going back to bed.

I bet you find violins at Earth’s core, too

Q. What’s the usual makeup of a string quartet? Continue reading

Concert Roundup: Next Generation

Hello! I have exciting news!

Yesterday was my last day at my old job. Monday I start a new job — as a marketing manager at the Strathmore arts center! Ba-DOW! Baltimore Symphony Orchestra! National Philharmonic! Washington Performing Arts Society! CityDance! The mansion! Galleries! High tea! Do you have any idea how much I LOVE high tea?

I will be positively drowning in the arts and I am so totally okay with that. Care to join me? Try dunking your head in one of these this week:

  • This week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, it’s “LIFE: A Journey Through Time.” This is the title of a Philip Glass piece they’re performing, which will be accompanied by shots from National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. Which sounds pretty neat, but not as neat as Beethoven‘s sixth symphony, the “Pastoral.” Not could compare to that. January 27 & 29 at the Meyerhoff; January 28 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • This week’s National Symphony Orchestra concert features the harmonica. I promise you it does. It’s got some piece by Widmann named Armonica and everything. Also a Mozart clarinet concerto and Schubert‘s ninth symphony, but come on. Harmonica. In a concert hall. How awesome is that? And afterward there’ll be a free discussion with soloist Christoph Eschenbach and the NSO Director of Planning. January 26 through 29. [ See it! ]

The pits

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent my Saturday in New York City with some fellow ballerinas. We did the requisite NYC wandering, but our main objective was to see the New York City Ballet perform a series of short works, including The Steadfast Tin Soldier (which I didn’t like because NO ONE MELTED), Le Tombeau de Couperin (which I loved, at least in part because RAVEL!), a Tchaikovsky pas de deux (more on that Friday, kinda), and The Concert (hilarious at the beginning, WTF at the end).

But this is not a post about ballet. This is a post about the pit.

The New York City Ballet performs with a pit orchestra, an increasingly rare luxury in these hard economic times. I’ve never played in a pit, myself, but I can only imagine it’s a very different experience from playing in a regular concert — and not just because no one can see you. Even if your work has been recorded to CD, when someone plays that CD it’s all about you and your music. In the pit, you become secondary, do you not? Important, yes, but not the focus. The conductor doesn’t even get to fully control the nuances of the piece, constantly adjusting to suit the dancers/actors/what have you.

I thought of this particularly because of the Tchaikovsky, the lost pas de deux from Swan Lake. It featured a violin solo, and I wondered — what’s it like soloing in the pit? Of course you still don’t want to make a mistake, but the eyes aren’t on you; hell, most of the audience can’t even see you. Are you still nervous? Do you play it your way, or are you more inclined to play traditionally, to keep things consistent for the dancer? Does it even matter if you snag a solo or not?

And conductors, how do you feel answering to dancers? Does it add an extra layer of difficulty, dividing your attention between the musicians and the performers on stage? Have you ever had a dancer ask for a truly ridiculous adjustment? Have the music and the dancing ever separated, and if so, how did you get it back? Did you get it back?

In short, does playing in the pit take the pressure off, or is it the pit of despair?*

* Don’t even think about trying to escape.

Have you hugged your piano today?

I had an eventful Saturday — I drove up to NYC with some folks from my ballet studio to see the New York City Ballet present a collection of short works, among other things. More on this tomorrow, but for your Monday video I wanted to share a Jerome Robbins piece we saw entitled The Concert. The first scene will be particularly funny for my musically-minded readership, but I would encourage you to watch the whole thing if you have the time (if you can explain the butterflies to me, I would be deeply grateful).

For all those paralyzed by choice

Last week, Miss Music Nerd was kinda enough to link to my viola joke collection (was she mad at her readers or something?). While gazing appreciatively at the post, I happened to notice another, equally beautiful thing, which you may click to enlarge:

In a word: magnificent. According to the chart, since I played the cello I must be hot! And since I played the violin I don’t want to teach children! At least 50% of this is correct, but you’ll have to guess which is the given.

Thanks to Miss Music Nerd for the window into Piesone Art‘s awesomeness.

With apologies to Charlie Daniels

The devil went down to Georgia; he was looking for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind and he was willing to make a deal
When he came upon a young man sawing a viola and playing it hot
And the devil jumped up on a hickory stump and said,
“Ah-HA! This one’s already mine!”
So he took the violist’s soul and got the hell outta there. (Get it? The hell outta there!)

… No, seriously, Mr. Daniels. I do apologize.

Also Sprach Concert Roundup

The people be sprachin’ all over the place.

  • Ooh! Ooh! This week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra it’s Tchaikovsky‘s first piano concerto! Haters gonna hate (HI MOM!), but this piece nestled into my heart like a worm into an eight-year-old apple the moment it opened Tchaikovsky Discovers America. And! Ravel‘s Bolero (won’t he be thrilled?) and Strauss‘s Also Sprach Zarathustra. He certainly did. January 19 & 22 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Did I say Also Sprach Zarathustra? I meant also sprach conductor Marin Alsop, who has much to say on the subject of what is arguably Strauss‘s most famous piece. The BSO presents another concert in the popular Off the Cuff series, which intersperses the music with fun facts from Alsop herself. January 20 at Strathmore and January 21 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, over in National Symphony Orchestraland (which is kind of like Never Neverland only Metro-accessible), Jim Gaffigan conducts. No, wait, that’s not right — James Gaffigan conducts, and as far as I’m aware he’s not a stand-up comic on the side (although that would be AWESOME). Who is he conducting? Why, Ingrid Fliter on the piano, in such works as Mozart‘s Divertimento in D major, Schumann‘s Piano Concerto in a minor, a piece by Glanert I can’t spell, and — wait for it — Mozart‘s symphony no. 41, the “Jupiter” symphony! Holy guacamole, guys, even I like the “Jupiter”! January 19 – 21. [ See it! ]