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A howling good musician

I don’t understand why those chihuahuas won’t join in the chorus.


Emergency preparedness

Q. Who’s better off in a snowstorm: a violinist or a violist? Continue reading

It’s the Easter Concert Roundup, Charlie Brown!

A light load, what with Easter and all.

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has no concerts going down this week, but I am SUPER DUPER EXCITED about the ones they’re offering next week…
  • Meanwhile the National Symphony Orchestra marches gamely on, bringing you violinist Arabella Steinbacher and BEETHOVEN! Also Blacher and Richard Strauss, but as far as I’m concerned, BEETHOVEN, who has always struck me as very Easter-y, somehow. March 28 – 30. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreThe Arts and the Brain series continues with a discussion of imagination, health, and medical avatars with Virgil Wong; vibraphonist Chuck Redd plays movie music; Emmylou Harris is sold out so don’t event think about it. [ 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!: Vaughan Williams vs. Hindemith

Well! That was interesting!

See, I thought you’d all be like, “ADAGIO FOR STRINGS!!!!” with a vengeance and Barber would skip off with the round, but indeed no – Ives crushed him. Maybe you all enjoy making pianists yodel as much as I do? Regardless, Ives advances!

And now we turn our attention to the next match, in which we shall straddle both sides of the Atlantic at once, because in this corner, he’ll beat you with five variants! It’s



And in this corner, oh, Susanna! It’s


I’m staying well out of this one, as I have a bias against one of the composers that is not entirely his fault. I shall say simply this: do not let the fact that Vaughan Williams is holding a cat sway you. Clearly that makes him a clever and wise man, but we’re judging music here.

I think I hear a ghost

My grandmother doesn’t see very well, and as such one of her favorite pastimes when we’re together is to request that I look things up one my iPhone. During my visits we’ll watch old movies, and she’ll say “Look up when this person died” or “I wonder if he was ever in anything else; look that up.” So I fire up the browser app, head over to Wikipedia, and find out.

Our most recent sojourn was through The Sound of Music, and as the first nuns appeared I remembered that Marni Nixon got some actual screen time in the film, as Sister Sophia. You know about Marni Nixon, right? She was the ghost singer to the stars, working for Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, and Marilyn Monroe, among others.

Curious about her current whereabouts I looked her up of my own accord, and was fascinated to discover that she recorded vocals for such great composers as Schoenberg, Webern, Copland, and Bernstein. I had no idea! Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to locate any real footage of these performances, but I did find this fascinating interview, wherein she talks about how she just dubbed as a means of paying for her singing classes, and more. Find out what it was like for classically trained singer back in the day, where if they found it you dubbed, you were finished!

A suggestion

And now for an installment of People You Didn’t Expect to Hear from Here.

The drawbacks of child locks

Q. Did you hear about the time the string quartet went to a gig and the violinist accidentally locked his keys in his car? Continue reading

Concert Roundupslistlieder

At least read until you get to the bit with the condoms.

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra chooses to go with a whole lot of Rachmaninoff. Not sure what they’re thinking there, but there it is. But no worries – they’re getting pianist Simon Trpceski to play it, which is a much butter decision in sheer quantity of consonants alone, and then finishing up with Shostakovich‘s eleventh symphony. Much better! March 22 & 24 at the Meyerhoff; March 23 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, wins my heart forever by choosing to present a live version of that Classical Kids favorite, Tchaikovsky Discovers America. All your favorite Tchaikovsky pieces woven into a storyline that doesn’t pander like so much children’s education does (assuming, of course, it’s the same as my beloved old cassette tapes). They ought to all be hanging out on a train. If they’re not on a train, we’ve been lied to. “And just a touch of raspberry!” March 24. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreClassical guitar with Mattias Jacobsson, Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway, and – I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE – UrbanArias. I’ve seen the program and the comic operas will include, among other things, “Craigslistlieder,” actual Craigslist postings set to music. Among the selections: “Half a Box of Condoms” and “For Trade: Assless Chaps.” How could I help but 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.

The thingamabob that does the job is bibbidi bobbidi boo

All riiiiiiiiight! It’s time once again for my absolute favorite kind of post – the WALT DISNEY WORLD PHOTO RECAP!

I’m sure you recall that a mere few weeks ago I was traipsing about the most magical place on earth, being thoroughly happy to be alive. I tweeted merrily along the entire way, so you can read back through that if you like – there are some additional pictures to be had in that way. Below is the main collection, and as always, I put a distinct emphasis on music related shots, but I’ve decided to throw a fair number of just-because-I-feel-like-it pics too. Because who doesn’t want to maximize the amount of WDW in their lives? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

For example, allow me to clue you in on step one of successful Disney packing: do NOT tell your cat you’re doing it.


Okay, let’s get down to the music business. Have I mentioned me debilitating addiction to The Festival of the Lion King? It’s madness. I can’t go without it. Also a monkey acrobat rapped me on the forehead.



Speaking of musical productions, here’s the one for Finding Nemo! The puppets are incredibly well done.


There are you are, strolling through the Animal Kingdom, minding your own business, when all the sudden you walk straight into a Bollywood dance lesson.


Pianist at the Grand Floridian – very classy.


These colorfully attired individuals perform a song-and-dance routine all the way down Main Street.


IMG_0382 I’ve mentioned this calliope from The Haunted Mansion before, but this is a MUCH better shot of it. Who here plays the squidpipes?


Percussion… strings… winds… WORDS.


Fantasmic includes clips from Mussourgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain!


A piece of historical recording equipment from the Aerosmith Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. I strongly encourage you to click on the larger image and read the label.


Why, this set from the Streets of America almost looks real!


Apropos of very little, we are princesses.


Apropos of even less, this is the most elegant and refined I will ever be. That’s it. I’m tapped out.


This Mission: Space console picture is here just so I can shout FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!!!!


Speaking of fire in the hole, I successfully finished the Princess Half Marathon! My time wasn’t that great (this was tweeted as I went), but hey, done is done! If you’re pondering your own half marathon, I cannot recommend it enough, and it was HIGHLY musical – at mile 2 we had a marching band, at mile 4 a taiko drumming group, at mile 7 an accordion ensemble of all things, and at mile 12 (this is my favorite) a gospel choir. Just to get you to the finish, you know. AWESOME.


This is the happiest girl in the world.


And this is the happiest goat.


Okay, that’s it for now!


Music, aquatic

Dilemma! If you’re crawling through the dessert and come upon a glass harmonica, is it destructive to drink from it?