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Curiosity killed the vibrations

I guess if the strings are missing from the outside, the most logical first place to look for them would be the inside. Ya know?

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Reasons to wince

Q. What’s the difference between fingernails scraping on a chalkboard and the sound of a viola? Continue reading

Concert Roundup Lite

There aren’t too many concerts this week. I guess everyone’s on spring break, which is fundamentally wrong because I don’t get a spring break. Therefore no one should. Sulk mode activated.

  • NO BSO CONCERT FOR YOU. Or for anyone – there’s no BSO concert this week.
  • But I must admit the National Symphony Orchestra‘s NSO Pops made this week’s concert extra awesome to make up for the void. Guess who’s headlining? Guess! Why, it’s none other than Wayne Brady! And if you ever saw a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Greatest Hits segment, you know he can in fact sing (although my favorite ever Greatest Hits was the time Colin and Ryan made up a song title so hysterical Wayne just cracked up the whole time he was supposed to be singing. It kills me that I can’t remember which episode it was; if you can find that video for me, I will love you forever). Program is apparently of “the Sammys,” by which they mean Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Cooke, not sandwiches. More’s the pity. Steve Reineke conducts this one. March 29 – 31. [ See it! ]
  • Over at Strathmore this coming week there’s a lecture called “Arts and the Brain: Music Cognition and Perception,” which you clearly need to attend; also Patti LaBelle, Afropop by Elikeh, and gypsy jazz vocalist Mary Alouette (think Django Reinhardt as a girl). [ See the calendar! ]

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Copland vs. Tchaikovsky

Triumph of the American spirit!

I’m not going to beat around the bush, so to speak — it was a tough fight, with both parties taking the lead at times, but ultimately Gershwin eeked it out over Verdi. People, THIS is what the Composer Cagematch! series is all about. I have seen Verdi listed on a number of top 10 great composer lists, and Gershwin none. If pressed, I bet even a lot of the Gershwin voters would admit that, technically, Verdi is the better composer. But Gershwin! Gershwin, it seems, is the composer you love. And that’s why he proceeds to the next round.

Well done, George, you scrappy little American, you. You’ve done your country proud. Can you brother in citizenship do the same? It’s time to find out, because in this corner, he pushed Britten over a cliff! It’s


And in this corner, he stabbed Rimsky-Korsakov with a spindle and sent him to bed! It’s


I don’t think anyone’s going to argue over who’s the better composer (although who knows?). But! Who. Do. You. Love?


Because whoever heard of a man named Camille?

Everyone knows about my extreme loyalty to Disney, but I gotta say, Warner Brothers sure has done classical music proud. Ya got your golden magic slingshot, your three little pigs, and now a, shall we say, singular production of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. Which, if you didn’t know, he was rather ashamed of. I wonder if this is why?

You’re so weird

I hijacked the crosswords while at my grandmother’s house a few weeks ago. And so I made this serendipitous discovery: the Asbury Park Press still prints For Better Or Worse. Behold its wisdom!

Edited to add: I forgot to tell you guys — Chris McGovern wins the CC! prize. But you should still vote — poll closes at midnight tomorrow!

Easily manipulated

Q. How do you get a viola section to play spiccato? Continue reading

Fanfare for the Concert Roundup

Buh buh baaaaah… buh bah baaaaaah… baaaah baaaah buuuuuuuh… BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH. (I speak fluent onomatopoeia.)

  • Get ready to [insert alcohol joke here], because this week’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert is “Tchaikovsky’s Fifth.” Colin Currie will leave my apartment long enough to solo on your two favorite fanfares: Copland‘s Fanfare for the Common Man and Tower‘s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, plus the premier of a Higdon percussion concerto. And then you purists can have your eponymous Tchaik. March 22 at Strathmore; March 23 & 24 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Not concerts in the strictest sense, but of note: the BSO‘s subscription packages for next season are now available. They’re also accepting applications to audition in the 2012 O Say Can You Sing? national anthem competition, and if you don’t sing, maybe you play? The BSO Academy is still taking applications.
  • The National Symphony Orchestra believes you should hear Dvorak‘s Stabat Mater and ONLY Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. You may do so on March 22 – 24. [ See it! ]
  • No, wait! The NSO is just kidding. The NSO believes that sometimes your Dvorak should be fortified with some vitamin Janacek. Get your weekly allowance with Dvorak serenades in D minor and E major; then add a Janacek concertina and capriccio. March 23. [ See it! ]
  • This Week at Strathmore! Piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick (if you come to that one, stop by the concierge desk and say hi!), a heavy metal cello ensemble that isn’t Apocalyptica, an all-Mozart program (blehhh), a soul electric guitarist, a Russian military and folk song and dance troupe. [ See the calendar! ]

Andre Watts, Colin Currie, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet are always hanging in my apartment

Fun fact: Andre Watts, Colin Currie, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet hang in my apartment all the time.

HA! See what I did there?

You’ve just been afforded an exclusive glimpse into the Baroquelair, where loot stolen from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra graces my walls. Of course, when I say “stolen” I mean “Benevolent Dictator Jamie told me I could have old posters back when I was a BSO intern” but I’m trying to build up a mystique here.

What I like about the three I was given lifted in a clever heist is that they all feature a concert I attended – in the case of the Watts poster, I saw Brahms’ German Requiem; I saw Colin Currie perform Incantations and  pissed off Hannu Lintu with my thoughts on his tempi; and I saw Jean-Yves Thibaudet in “Demons, Drama, and Dance”. (I’ve linked back to my reviews for all of them, so go nuts!)

As an added bonus, check out this old playbill I legally purchased from the post office gift shop at Colonial Williamsburg.

The Beggar’s Opera! This old-timey comic opera was cause exceeding great joy in my musical partner-in-crime Bekah and I when it appeared in our undergrad listening tests. It is truly an inspiration to every parent who has ever wanted their little girl to grow up to be a prostitute.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what’s on the opposite wall:

Yeah, I know. You’re so surprised.

* Note: My deepest apologies for the deplorably shoddy cell phone photo quality on display above. It’s a super-cloudy day, I lack sufficient lighting in my apartment, and I suddenly remembered that I’d left my SLR at my parents’ house. If I haven’t replaced them with GOOD versions in a couple weeks, just poke me about it. Sorry So Sloppy!

Pulsating with Gershwin

Speaking of current contender Mr. Gershwin, remember that epically awesome post about the “Rhapsody in Blue” segment of Fantasia 2000 I gifted to the world like two years ago? Of course you do; it was epically awesome. And now: here’s what it would look like as a live action sequence with the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.