archives :||

Archive for

Always phrase your requests carefully

I can’t believe this method of page-turning never took off.


Chop chop

I took in a drama course my senior year of high school and wrote a brief play based on T. S. Eliot’s poem “Portrait of a Lady,” a poem in which Chopin figures prominently. The girl I cast as the titular lady said “Chop-in,” and was surprised when I corrected her. (This paragraph is meant to illustrate how I can be a pretentious twit sometimes. Discuss!)

Currently, the middle school girls at my ballet studio are dancing to a piece by Chopin, and they wrote character sketches to fuel the expression of their steps. The spellings have been creative — Chopan, Shopin, and my personal favorite:


She’s gone from suck to blow!

Q. What’s the difference between a violist and a vacuum cleaner? Continue reading

A Concert Roundup is a Joy Forever

That’s all… something something, and all you need to know. Or whatever. Mary Poppins only says the first bit so I don’t remember.

  • This week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Arabella Steinbacher proves she has excellent taste, assuming she made the call to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. If that isn’t enough for you (weirdo), perhaps you’ll be swayed by Weber‘s Euryanthe overture and Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony (that’s number 3). April 26 at Strathmore; April 27 & 28 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Why we’re on the subject of the BSO, the annual Decorator’s Show House opens April 29. Wander through a fully decorated home and pick out what you want like some kinda high-class Ikea, only instead of sending your money to the Swedes a portion of the proceeds will benefit the BSO. [ See it! ]
  • No National Symphony Orchestra concert for a couple weeks as far as I can tell.
  • This week at Strathmore, we’ve got Turkish music, gypsy jazz, Tin Pan Alley jazz songs, Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra with Yuri Bashmet and Mischa Maisky, Sarah Chang playing everyone’s favorite Mendelssohn violin concert (personal note to concert violinists: CEASE AND DESIST), and more. [ See the calendar! ]

Composer Cagematch! Round 4: Brahms vs. Stravinsky

And so goes the final match of round 3, as I predicted: with Brahms the winner. But Grieg, sir, let it not be said that you didn’t put up a valiant fight. In deference to your heroic effort, we are throwing Brahms directly back into the ring. Immediately! Without rest! Against one hell of a competitor!

Hold on to your hats and glasses, folks, because in this corner, he sent Grieg on a long walk off a short Peer! It’s


And in this corner, he subjugated Bartok! (‘Cause, y’know, the USSR took over Hungary, and… shut up. The Peer one was good.) It’s


Well? Are you a romantic at heart, or are you ruled by new and modern sensibilities?

“Sorry, just pointing”; subtitled “AAAAAAAH!”

Beethoven is very layered and complex.

A problem-free philosophy

Yes, I know, it seems like a gimmick, but I can assure you it ain’t no passin’ craze.

Funny Captions - Music Director Meerkat leads choir
see more Funny Captions

The First Law of Tuning Robotics

Q. How do you get a violist to play A flat? Continue reading

One Concert Roundup More

Who cares about your lonely soul? We strive toward a larger goal: awesome music.

  • You know what musical theater version of a character really rubs me the wrong way? Marius Pontmercy. What a wishy-washy starry-eyed compound-word-drip. And yet I love Les Miserables (the musical) (the book was okay) just the same. Enjolras gets my seal of approval. And that is why I applaud the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra‘s BSO SuperPops for this week’s concert, which is all Les Miz, all the time! April 19 at Strathmore; April 20 – 22 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • If your small child isn’t ready for really sickening declarations of love and French people killing each other, skip Les Miz and stick with Babar. Yes, the elephant! Apparently his life has been scored by Poulenc. Who knew? April 21 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra, by contrast, remains strictly classical this week, with Rachmaninoff‘s first piano concerto, Elgar‘s first symphony, and a suite by Bridge. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore, William Bolcom and Joan Morris hang together and assortment of pop stars and jazz vocalists swing on by. [ See the calendar! ]

Here is a list of my demands

I don’t work in the hospitality department at the music center, but I’m just a few cubicles over from the people who do, plus we share a refrigerator.

Sometimes I open said refrigerator and see impressive-looking foodstuffs labeled with an emphatic “DO NOT EAT.” Right now there is a fruit pie bearing these very words. This means that the food is intended for a visiting performer.

I hear some interesting stories about the requirements built into artists’ contracts, not just in the area of food but also the layout of the green room and the behavior of the audience. I’m going to be super-lame here and not name any names in the interest of not getting in trouble with The Man, but here are some anecdotes:

  • One pop star stipulated that the green room must be stocked with multiple specific types of alcohol, including some very expensive bottles of wine. She mostly didn’t drink it.
  • A combination actor-singer consented to a meet-and-greet before his concert, but he refused to take photos with individuals — groups only — and made one girl change her homemade fan shirt as it was dubbed a bit too amorous (okay, fair enough).
  • I’ve heard about quite a few performers who absolutely refused to allow anyone to enter the hall once the concert had started; anyone who was late would have to wait until intermission to take their seats.
  • Other requested items: black and white pillows, halogen desk lamps, a “comfortable” space (er, yes, but in what regard? No further details provided)

I may sound a little snarky, but it’s mostly just salt — no one ever asks me what kind of baked good I want when I arrive in a new town; of course, the only thing standing between me and acres of bread pudding is a dearth of talent and charisma. But it also makes me giggle, because somewhere out there is a musician who receives a fruit pie everywhere he goes.

All right, professional musicians and performers of all stripes, I know you’re out there in my sea of readership. Give me the list of your demands! And how about those who cater to the whims of others — what are the most ridiculous requests you’ve fielded?