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Must’ve run over something sharp

Sometimes these headlines just write themselves.

Not that size matters

Q. Why do violists have walnut-size brains? Continue reading

Concert Roundup Has Beef Jerky

I know this is a lot to get through. If you get hungry later, I have beef jerky.*

  • Oh! Oh oh oh! Yes! Good! The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is performing Saint-Saens‘ organ symphony this week! I love that piece, especially the bit where it’s in Epcot! Plus an organ concerto by Poulenc and the famous Dukas Sorcerer’s Apprentice. March 14 & 17 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or! If you’d rather just the Saint-Saens‘ organ symphony, the BSO presents another one of their Off the Cuff concerts, wherein conductor Marin Alsop and the organist, Felix Hall, go in depth on the history and musicality of this super-amazing piece. March 15 at Strathmore; March 16 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • If you’re in the market for something lighter and more holiday-themed, the National Symphony Orchestra busts out the NSO Pops this week for a concert with The Chieftains, who I am assured are Irish so it all fits thematically for the weekend. “The Wearing O’ the Green” is part of the program so I believe it. March 14 – 16. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreJazz singer Integriti Reeves; Bach Choir of Bethlehem performing Mendelssohn‘s Elijah, cutting-edge classical ensemble NOW Ensemble; choral music by the Eric Whitacre Singers. [ See the calendar! ]

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

* This is an inside joke with my IRL friends and you can feel free to ignore it. And/or wish you knew me IRL so that you, too, could enjoy off-handed comments about dried beef.

Composer Cagematch!: Barber vs. Ives

Hmmm. Well, yeah, I guess I see where you’re coming from. As a Gilbert and Sullivan loyalist, I’m not sure I’d come from the same direction, but I understand why you selected Puccini over Sullivan in the last match. I get it.

Now let’s hop across the pond for an All-American match, because in this corner, his adagios are the slowest! It’s


And in this corner, he hasn’t gone to meet his fate quite yet! It’s


I have harbored an irrational love of Ives ever since my college History of Western Music class, when he made a pianist yodel. His pieces really capture the culture of the time, no? But then again, Barber’s Adagio for Strings is legendary, and I loved his Knoxville: Summer of 1915 in concert more than the requiem it prefaced.

Well, patriot? Whaddya say?

A great pianist can come from anywhere

You know how in Ratatouille the big chef guy keeps insisting that anyone can cook, thus allowing for a rat gourmand? Well, it turns out that anyone can play the piano. Hell, I could’ve told you that.

How is an orchestra like a car dealership?

No, I’m asking.

What is it good for?

Q. What’s the difference between a war and a solo viola performance? Continue reading

Concert Roundup (Snow)flakes Out

Hey, you know how it was supposed to snow today? Well, it IS! Right now! As I type! You could knock me over with one of those long tickly things that birds use for insulation and flight. Nevertheless, music marches on undaunted! At least so far. Check individual symphony websites for inclement weather schedule changes and what have you. Okay, onward!

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra knows how to get on my good side; they’re playing the best. Symphony. Of all time. OF ALL TIME! Yes, it’s Beethoven‘s Seventh, with a side of Debussy‘s Petite Suite and the Strauss (Reek-ard) oboe concerto. But mostly Beethoven. Always mostly Beethoven. March 7 & 8 at the Meyerhoff; March 9 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra isn’t going to give this week to the BSO without a fight, though. They promise Mahler (ooh!), Schubert (OOOOH!!!!!!!), and … Mozart (oh). But it’s Mozart’s Requiem, so it’s actually kind of awesome, and among the Schubert lieder they’re busting out? “ERLKONIG!” I LOVE “Erlkonig”! Good times. March 7 – 9. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreChinese acrobats, a piano/sax jazz combo, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. [ See the calendar! ]

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

“The Mother Thing sang to me and I understood”

And now it’s time for another round of Music In Books Not About Music! In case you’re curious, previous entries have included Welcome to the Monkey House, All Creatures Great and Small, I Am Legend, Good Omens, and A Fine and Private Place. And now for an author near and dear to my heart…

If you ever want to see me REALLY ANGRY, all you have to do is mention the movie version of Starship Troopers. I love that book with such a fervor that I am constantly having to replace my copy, as I can’t shake the habit of forcing people to borrow it. Even knowing the return rate on books tends to be poor, I want to spread the love.

But that movie. UGH. THAT MOVIE. I refuse to dignify the director by looking up his name, but he clearly didn’t even read the thing. Never mind the deletion of the mobile suits – how could they take out the classes in History and Moral Philosophy?! It isn’t Starship Troopers without the classes in History and Moral Philosophy!!!! And Johnny Rico is Filipino and Dizzy Flores is a GUY who dies at the end of the first chapter and NONE of the aliens can fly OR suck out your brains and –


Thanks! I needed that. Now where were we? Right, Heinlein. I love Heinlein. I love Starship Troopers, I love The Door Into Summer, I am confused by I Will Fear No Evil but love it just the same. And I really love The Star Beast, ostensibly written for children but exhibiting some of the most sophisticated and clever examples of diplomacy I have ever read in a novel. So, having taken great pleasure in his children’s literature, I picked up another: Have Spacesuit – Will Travel.

And saw this:


The aliens speak in song!


Well, not ALL the aliens; there are several kinds in the book. But the main alien, the protagonist alien if you will, communicates entirely in song, although it is overlaid with something akin to telepathy that allows the listener to understand even if they don’t speak the song-language.


Heinlein stops adding bars of music every time the Mother Things speaks after a chapter or so – gotta save those trees – but every once and awhile it does pop up again, making my want to prop open the book against a piano and figure out what she’s saying, exactly. The whole thing is just begging to be turned into the world’s most avant-garde opera. C’mon, composers of the world, make it happen!

So yeah, that’s my beloved Robert Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit – Will Travel. Until next time I ferret out music where I don’t expect it! (Have any suggestions in that area? Pass them along.)

Sending musicians out to pasture (even those named Maggie Smith)

Oh, hey! Do you watch Downton Abbey? I do! Is your favorite character Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess? Mine is! And I recently convinced my mother to watch it too, the end result being that she is now just as obsessed with the show and loves Maggie Smith just as much as I do.

As such, it took FAR too long for it to occur to me to share with her the trailer for Quartet, a Maggie Smith movie wherein she plays a former opera singer who goes to live in a retirement home specifically for musicians. It came out way back in January, but as my mom discovered it still playing in one of our area independent theaters, I figured it might not be too late to show it to you, too.

Has anyone seen it? What did you think?

Also – Billy Connolly! Remember this?