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Q. What’s the difference between a violist and a government bond? Continue reading

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Concert Roundup Cool

  • Hey, remember that bit in Amadeus where Salieri pretends to be Mozart’s dead father and Wolfie freaks the hell out and composes a requiem and then dies? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does! So they’re playing Mozart‘s Requiem, which even I, an inveterate Mozart skeptic, admit is pretty darn good. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society helps out with the singing; Part‘s Tabula Rasa rounds out the program. February 28 at Strathmore; March 2 & 3 at the Meyerhoff. It looks like they might also be doing some version of it at the Weinberg  Center in Frederick on March 1. [ See it! ] [ See it in Frederick! ]
  • Or! If you tend to feel jazzy in the morning, the BSO is offering a matinee performance on March 2 centered around the African American influence on music. Specifically mentioned: Duke Ellington, Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue, and a tap master. [ See it! ]
  • This week the National Symphony Orchestra gets glacial, chills out, cools it, and other puns about cold with an all-Nordic program, featuring SibeliusLindberg, and Saariaho. Even the solo violinist is Nordic – the awesomely named Pekka Kuusisto. February 28 – March 2. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreViolinist Jennifer Koh explores the farther reaches of Bach, Parisian jazz, a snazzy marching band. [ 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!: Puccini vs. Sullivan

Okay, guys! Ready to get back in the swing of things? Me neither. But we’re just going to have to suck it up.

First, to review, as our last match was awhile ago. If you recall, it involved Schubert and Vivaldi, and it left the Red Priest in the dust. Dang. Let’s move on quickly before he gets too embarrassed, shall we?

We’ve got a new fight to turn our attention to, anyway, because in this corner, he is the very model of a modern English opera composer! It’s

SIR ARRRRRRRRTHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUR SUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLIVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN

And in this corner, he lives la vie Boheme! It’s

GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAACOMOOOOOOOOO PUUUUUUUUUUUUCCIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

Well, what’s your pleasure – some happy, light opera, or some good solid verismo? I’m awfully fond of Gilbert and Sullivan, myself, but Puccini has some awfully impressive realistic repertoire. I guess that’s the question: are you an optimist or a realist?

This is NO time for music

SIGH.

THIS isn’t Walt Disney World.

Do you know where I was yesterday? Walt Disney World.

SIGH.

This real world is dark and cold and unfriendly and I DON’T LIKE IT.

And in honor of my sadness, my bitterness, my loneliness, my desolation, here’s a sad and bitter video from the esteemed Louis CK.

(Don’t worry; I’ll be posting a photo roundup like usual! From Walt Disney World. Where I currently am not. SIGH.)

The Happiest Concert Roundup on Earth

Here are your concerts for while I’m away. Be good, Baroccos!

  • This week with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: They won’t stop ’til they’re a star on Broadway! Or at any rate on Ashley Brown‘s Broadway, which includes hits from Chicago, Victor/Victoria, Mary Poppins, Kiss Me Kate, and more. Apropos of Victor/Victoria, I would like take this moment to point out that Julie Andrews is the greatest human being who every lived. Thank you. February 21 at Strathmore; February 22 – 24 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • This week with the National Symphony Orchestra: OH GOD IT’S THE BLEEDING MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO A-FRICKING-GAIN WHY DO THEY ALWAYS DO THIS WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! Okay. Okay. Deep breaths. Okay. We’re moving on now. Also a piece by Henze. Also Brahms‘ fourth symphony. Also, violinists of the world, may I respectfully suggest that you LEARN ANOTHER CONCERTO? I mean, I like Mendelssohn! Really! I do! But if this keeps up we’re going to have to redefine the meaning of “ubiquitous,” and it’s so hard to keep the dictionary current as it is. Anyway. I’m sure it’ll be great. Just think about it, okay? February 21 – 23. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreTraditional chamber repertory from Aviv Quartet, including my beloved Schubert “Death and the Maiden” string quartet; electric rock; jazz singing classes; electric cello with Wytold. [ See the calendar! ]

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

In which I use a lot of shouty capitals

marchingband

I know, I know; this isn’t the Composer Cagematch! you expected. Suck it up, kid, you can wait until next week – this is WAY better. For me, anyway. Have you guessed yet? I left you clues on Twitter all week and in the post yesterday! Anyone? Anyone?

That’s RIGHT! I’m going back to my very favorite place in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. I’m going back to WALT DISNEY WORLD! Like that one time! And that other time! And that other time! And that other time!

But this trip comes with a SUPER DUPER EXCITING twist – I’m running the WDW Princess Half Marathon! This is my first ever half marathon, and sure to be the most picturesque; I’ll be running AROUND CINDERELLA’S CASTLE and THROUGH EPCOT! Take that, other half marathons of the world! It’s going to be AWESOME.

My last full 13.1 mile practice run clocked 2:26 and they give you 3:30 to finish, so I’m feeling good about grabbing that finisher’s medal. If you’re curious about my times, I’ve set it up so that my split times will be posted to Twitter. Feel free to cheer me on, as I’ll have my iPhone and may even be able to check Twitter while I go! The race starts Sunday morning around 6AM in the Florida dark. Where, incidentally, there are supposed to be highs in the 80s. AHAHAHAHA, WINTER IN THE MIDATLANTIC! YOU’LL NEVER GET ME ALIVE!

Anyway – as always, I’ll be Tweeting through my entire trip, with special attention paid to musical experiences, of which there are invariably lots. From Broadway-style shows to street musicians to simple background music, Disney invariably delivers, often even on the classical front. So follow me now – you won’t want to miss it!

I leave tomorrow mid-morning and return laaaate Sunday night, so your next regularly scheduled post will be coming atcha on Monday morning. Fear not, however; I’m not abandoning you quite yet. I’ll post your Concert Roundup for the week this afternoon, as I’d hate for you to miss a perfectly good concert while I’M AT WALT DISNEY WORLD YESSSSSSSSSSS!

Ahem. Right. Yes. Meet you back here in a bit. Carry on!

Saxophomeo and Violiniet

Two households, both alike in dignity. Sort of.

Another gift for violists

This could SO EASILY have been about you, violists. But it wasn’t. You’re welcome.

Happy Valentine’s Day, violists!

Awww, poor violists. Week after week we berate them here, and why? Because it’s funny, that’s why. But I do think it’s important to know thy enemy let all sides explain themselves, so on this day meant for sweetness, we shall check in on how the other half lives. I went straight to the source: my friend Elizabeth, who is (gasp!) a violist. GUEST POST!!!! I said to her, and she obliged, entitling her essay “Sense of humor required.”

I wanted to play the violin.  You had three options at my elementary school: violin, viola, or cello.  Cellos were too big and bulky for my taste, and what the heck was a viola, anyway?  When I told my mother, however, she told me she thought it would be better if I chose a less popular instrument, so I “would get more individual attention.”

I don’t know who suggested this idea to my mother, but it actually backfired.  It turned out there were so few students who chose viola or cello, that they combined us into one class, which meant that our instructor had to divide his time between teaching two instruments during a single period.  I stuck with it, though: it turned out playing an instrument was kind of fun, and eventually everyone but me dropped out and I was the only viola.  At this point I realized the true, often-overlooked appeal of being a violist: very often, you end up first chair by default.

Of course, there’s much less prestige linked to be first-chair violist, and you have to put up with a lot of jokes.  In fact, the word processor I’m using to type this doesn’t even recognize “violist” as a word, and asks if I meant “violinist.”

And yes yes, I know about the whole stigma about violists only being second-rate violinists who couldn’t make the cut, and switched to an instrument where no one cared if they sounded terrible.  This was not my experience, however.  In fact, since I often represented the entire viola section in my school orchestras, my mistakes were that much more obvious.  I was never an excellent player, but I did take pride in knowing that my directors depended on me to complete the orchestra.  My high school orchestra director sometimes referred to me as the “sherpa,” which I suppose was meant to me a compliment, and it was true that no matter how well I played, I was never going to get to play the melody or stop having to explain what my instrument was (a viola? isn’t that like a miniature violin?).

So if I could go back and explain to my 8-year-old self why she should choose the viola over the violin, I’d tell her that at least she’ll get to sit close to the conductor.

Thanks, Elizabeth! Certainly your insights are witty, well-put, and valuable. I’m going to keep posting viola jokes, of course, but all the same, well done, you! Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. 😉

Concert Roundup is for Lovers

  • It’s Valentine’s Day week – does your idea of passion involve waving your arms around while belting out your love at the top of your lungs? Then this week’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert is for you – it’s all Wagner! That’s right, it’s a whole concert of selections from Wagner’s operas, including Meistersinger, Tristan und Isolde, and that perennial favorite, Die Walkurie. I hear there’s even a $10 student ticket and after-party for college kids. February 15 & 17 at the Meyerhoff; February 16 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra loves you very much but has a headache this week. No concert for you.
  • This week at Strathmoreflamenco, electronica, and our annual free open house on President’s Day! Come on by if you’re in the area and say hi – I’ll be there! [ See the calendar! ]

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