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So sporty!

Q. How is playing the viola like throwing shot put blindfolded? Continue reading


Concert Roundup at an Exhibition

  • Ooh! Ooh ooh ooh! Guess what the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is performing this week? Why, it’s Mussourgsky‘s Pictures at an Exhibiition, of course! Then they try to ruin my beautiful “At the Great Gates of Kiev” with a Mozart piano concerto (Orion Weiss on the piano if you’re wondering) and some Hindemith (stupid Hindemith), but my man Modest is just too strong for them. January 31 & February 1 at the Meyerhoff; February 2 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • No National Symphony Orchestra concert this week.
  • This week at StrathmoreThe China National Symphony Orchestra is coming, and I have it on good authority they’ll be performing the world’s most perfect piece of music. What’s that? You’re not sure what I mean? Um, Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 7, obviously. What is wrong with you? [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

The cracks in the universe where the arts live

A long time ago, while generating ideas for blog posts, it occurred to me that it might be good to write about what makes each art different. And then I thought, no, that’s stupid – what makes each art different is that it’s a completely different art. Obviously. But there was something I was trying to get at there beyond the superficial differences, and last week I figured out what it was.

I was at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert, the one with the Rachmaninoff. I’m not even a huge Rachmaninoff fan, being raised to look upon him with a suspicious eye, but all the same. Garrick Ohlsson was playing these beautiful chords, and the orchestra was unspooling its notes gently behind him, and I thought to myself – there are places classical music can go that nothing else can. There are things classical music can express that nothing else can. Classical music can do things that nothing else can do.

And then I thought, okay, classical music snob, if that’s the case, why do you listen to so much indie rock? Hmmm? Missy? If classical music is so darn transcendental, what do you need with a bunch of clever lyrics and a bass line?

Good question, good question. And that’s when it hit me about the cracks in the universe.

Let’s say the universe is riddled with crevices, filled with emotions and truths. There are crevices only classical music can ever hope to enter, and facts about life that only classical music could ever hope to dig out. And inside those little holes there are bits that only Rachmaninoff himself can get to, next to the divots solely Beethoven could ever hope to go. The better the composer, the better the music, the more and deeper the cracks, of course, but there it is. That’s why we need classical music, to go the places only it can.

But! There are other cracks, that indie rock can access. The same – dare I say it – for pop music, with its bounce and feel-good fun. And then cracks that a painting can pick at where music could never hope to fit. Cracks just for dance, cracks just for actors. We need them all if we can ever hope to explore as much of the universe as we can. If we let any one of them die we lose our avenue to its portion of life.

So that’s what I think about during a concert, in case you were ever wondering. Cracks in the universe. Maybe I read too much Heinlein.*


* This is impossible.

Heeeeeeeey, sexy violinist!

I suppose this was inevitable.

Clawed Debussy

In the end, he was a wise man.

That and the facial tattoos

We already know violists bite.

Q. What do violists and Mike Tyson have in common? Continue reading

You Can’t Stop the Concert Roundup

  • GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE! This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra‘s BSO Pops bring in none other than Baltimore’s favorite son John Waters to narrate a semi-staged version of his musical Hairspray. Miss Baltimore Crabs, anyone? January 24 at Strathmore, January 25 – 27 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra counters with Mozart (fifth violin concerto performed by Dan Zhu), which is just silly until you notice that the program also features Beethoven (Gross Fuge) and Bartok (Concerto for Orchestra). January 24 – 26.[ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, progressive soul. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Composer Cagematch!: Delibes vs. Respighi


Look, I know I told you it was okay if you voted for John Williams in the last match. And it was. It was okay if you did that. It’s just that MORE of you were supposed to vote for Jerry Goldsmith. Seriously, guys, how did you not get that? Where was the breakdown of communication? I want to know.

Anyway. Williams took Goldsmith. Bah. Whatever. Let’s try this again, shall we? Take yourself out of the modern American movie mindset, because we’re going back to Europe and back in time.

In this corner, his music was so good it brought dolls to life! It’s



And in this corner, his music was so good it made whales fly! It’s



I’m excited for this match – it’s time to stretch a little! Do you go with the prolific Frenchman with the ballet soul? Or the scrappy Italian with the penchant for Rome? Show me who you love!

Would you watch this, could you watch this, won’t you watch this opera?

Guess where I am? Pittsburgh! Guess who was from Pittsburgh? Mr. Rogers! Guess who wrote an opera? Mr. Rogers!

I know, I know, it’s a whole entire Mr. Rogers episode and you’re not seven – except YES YOU ARE. You ARE seven, on the inside, where you’re actually kind of interesting. Anyway, it’s a holiday – so let’s make the most of this beautiful day. SPEEDY DELIVERY!

Itz-rock Perlman

Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman in the HOOOOOOOOUSE!