archives :||


This tag is associated with 225 posts

Video Week: “This disturbed me so much”

Guess what?! I didn’t really post this video just now! Guess why?! I’m actually on vacation this week! Guess where?!


I’m not at Walt Disney World, which frankly confuses me. How does one vacation outside of a Disney park? Wait, you mean vacations are supposed to be relaxing? And spreadsheet-free? I don’t… I don’t know how to respond to this…

Well, if loving WDW is wrong, I don’t want to be right, clearly. But I’m giving this whole “Myrtle Beach” thing a shot. I’m really not sure how I’ll handle not having a schedule, but… I get to wear my Esther Williams swimsuits while searching the horizon for shark fins with a heart full of hope, so I guess that’s something? I might even tweet about it!

Anyway, in the spirit of the whole “chill vacation” thing (so you’re saying you’re supposed to chill on vacation? Interesting…) I won’t be keeping up with this blog at all this week. Instead, I’ve scheduled for your viewing pleasure a bunch of videos to keep you occupied in my no doubt agonizing absence. They’re just as good, if not better, I assure you.

To kick things off, here’s a video Medalist of Violar Rebekah sent me recently, accompanied with the title comment as well as other gems like “Maybe this is what the audience felt when hearing The Rite of Spring for the first time” and “I can’t watch it again. It’s too frightening.” Helluva great endorsement, no?

But seriously… are you even allowed to vacation outside of a Disney park? This doesn’t seem right… See you tomorrow for more video fun!

P.S. Check out the BSO, NSO, and Strathmore websites to see what they’re up to this week. Don’t want them to get lonely.

A Concert Roundup In Which I Sing a Bunch of Unrelated Songs

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

A Concert Roundup, Where We Lay Our Scene

  • Look, up in the sky! It’s Tchaikovsky! No, it’s Berlioz! No, it’s PROKOFIEV! Which is my ridiculous and convoluted way of saying that this week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which, if you weren’t aware, is better than anyone else’s. So yay for that! Also a piece by Prangcharoen and Saint-Saens‘ third piano concerto. May 23 & 24 at the Meyerhoff; May 25 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra breaks out the NSO Pops to play with Trey Anastasio of Phish. No. Really. I promise I’m not making this up. Apparently he composes? And there’ll be some orchestrations of Phish songs? Interesting. Hey Trey, d’you feel like being interviewed by a plucky young blogger? May 22. [ See it! ]
  • The NSO is also performing a free Memorial Day concert at the Capitol building on Sunday with the usual assortment of military music ensembles and patriotic music. May 26. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: fiddler Rickie Simpkins; a discussion of arts and their impact on the development of the adult brain. [ See the calendar! ]

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

A Concert Roundup in Times Square

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is replaced by a gaggle of small children. RUN! Okay, actually it’s just the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, and not all the children are small, or even necessarily children; I’m not sure of the exact age ranges, but they seem to follow the popular model of having multiple orchestra levels under one title. Anyway, they’re playing an extremely varied program of everything from Rossini to Holst to Wagner, so if you’re one of those strange individuals who actually enjoys the smiling faces of the coming generations, you’ll want to check it out. May 19 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra is busting out the NSO Pops to celebrate songwriter Stephen Schwartz, who apparently wrote Wicked and some Disney scores? You all know I would never in a million years disapprove of Disney music, so I’m comfortable endorsing this one (even if there is a singer from the Broadway version of Newsies; my God did I hate that thing). May 16 – 18. [ See it! ]
  • Or! Or! OR OR OR OR OR! The NSO has a family concert this week too, and you’ll never guess what it is!!! Guys, did you know Chris Brubeck composed a score for A Cricket in Times Square?! Liverwurst! Insects with perfect pitch! Apocalyptic blackouts! AWESOME! Man, I should read that book again. May 19. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Soprano Kathleen Battle. [ See the calendar! ]

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

Real life is funnier

The truth is stranger than fiction, or at least more amusing – as demonstrated by this true story told by my mother.

I think I told you Scotty [my brother] got into a summer orchestra festival in the Napa Valley of CA. We asked Mr. Field about getting his viola on the plane as carry on. [BSO principle violist and his Peabody professor] Field said that you have to just say it’s an expensive violin. If you say it’s a viola, you’ll have to explain what it is and they might give you trouble. They are used to letting violins in the overhead compartments. TSA will make Scotty open the case to make sure it’s not a mafia machine gun, but what are the odds that one of those agents is going to say “Aha! You lied to me. It’s a viola, not a violin!”

Concert Roundup As Scored By Charlie Chaplin

  • Hey, remember that time I was all surprised that Charlie Chaplin was a composer? Well, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is educating us again with another one of the film star’s scores. This time they’re going with his 1936 movie Modern Times, playing the score in accompaniment to the visuals. The description makes it sound kinda like Metropolis, so that should be interesting. May 10 & 12 at the Meyerhoff; May 11 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra isn’t competing with that. No concert this week as far as I can tell.
  • This week at Strathmore: Gypsy jazz violinist Daisy Castro; Bela Fleck tries his hand at jazz with the help of The Marcus Roberts Trio. I feel like I said all this last week; was I running ahead? Oh well. Nothing like a good musical reminder! [ See the calendar! ]

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

Concert Roundup for Three

  • This week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, awesome violin-violin-bass trio Time for Three swoops in to perform the piece Jennifer Higdon wrote for them, Concerto Four-Three; I caught the premiere of that and it was pretty fantastic if I do say so myself! Notes of bluegrass in classical, plus they always bust out a killer encore. Add John Adams and Prokofiev and how can you go wrong? May 2 at Strathmore; May 4 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, the National Symphony Orchestra brings in cellist Alisa Weilerstein for an Elgar piano concerto (are we in heaven?) followed by Shostakovich‘s fifth symphony. May 2 – 4. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you prefer to take your Shostakovich without the side of Elgar, the NSO graciously offers the same symphony with the alternative sides of Shchedrin and a viola concerto by Schnittke. Ha, viola concerto. May 3. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Gypsy jazz; classical guitar; jazz with the great Bela Fleck with The Marcus Roberts Trio. [ 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 attempt to bolster the confidence of professional musicians

Look, this post is going to be unavoidably a little bit lame; since I’m trying to build self-esteem here, I’m not going to name names. No sense in hurting feelings. (Yet.) But I just wanted to touch on a silly little topic: the matter of musician headshots that are past their prime.

When I was interning at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, I remember hearing a morning-after debrief between two employees who had seen a famous pianist at the previous night’s concert. “She sounded good,” said the one, “but she didn’t look anything like her picture.”

I get it, guys! I really do. Once upon a time a talented photographer raised an expensive camera to his eye and caught you at your best. You were young, you were pretty, and, oh, does society love young and pretty. But that was a long time ago, and now when you walk out on stage you create cognitive dissonance in the audience. You may not realize it, but this is what they’re thinking: that’s not what they looked like in the ad/email/postcard…

I know! I’m sorry! We’re a superficial bunch. We should be here to focus on the music. But that’s actually exactly my point. When you come out looking older or heavier or lighter or grayer or blonder or what have you, it’s a distraction. We ARE here to listen to the music, after all, and we wouldn’t come if our focus wasn’t on what you have to tell us when you play. We won’t stop coming just because you put on a few pounds. We’ve all been there. We probably won’t even notice. Unless, of course, we just saw a picture of you from when you weighed less, and it’s fresh on our minds.

My point here is: updated headshots are your FRIEND. They prepare us for the truth. We know that you are ten years older than you used to be and we accept this because we are all ten years older than we used to be. Unless, of course, you refuse to accept it yourself, and then we get confused and, let’s face it, a little judgmental. Which is what you’re trying to avoid in the first place, right?

So! Professional musicians, why not take a moment to ponder your headshot today? Does it look like you? If not, why not get new ones made? You’ll look awesome, I promise.

The Little Concert Roundup

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has Midori. Need I say more? I thought not, but I will anyway: she’s doing the Bartok violin concerto (praise be to God that it’s not the Mendelssohn!) and then the BSO follows it up with Brahms‘ first symphony. [Some pun about melon liqueur goes here.] April 25 & 26 at the Meyerhoff; April 27 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra counters with a solo pianist: Andreas Haefliger taking on the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1. Plus Tchaikovsky‘s fourth symphony (the “Little Russian” if I’m remembering correctly) and did you know there’s a composer named Wagenaar? Did Wagner know about this? I feel like he would have sued. April 25 – 27. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Jazz drumming; boogie-woogie piano; the Marian Anderson String Quartet. [ See the calendar! ]

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

The Concert Roundup Cycle

  • Spear, magic helmet! This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tackles Wagner and his Ring of Nibelung, the straight ahead way, just music, with good ol’ Colin Currie on percussion. April 18 & 21 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • But! If you prefer, BSO conductor Marin Alsop will regale you with one of her Off the Cuff concerts, diving into the complicated topic of Wagner and his relationship to mad King Ludwig. Did I say he was mad? Hearsay, hearsay. All I’m saying is, I’ve been to Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle and there were caves. Like, just as a room. I’m sure Alsop can explain to us how this is perfectly normal and healthy and I mean everybody’s obsessed with Wagner anyway, right? April 19 at Strathmore; April 20 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, the National Symphony Orchestra takes off in a different, presumably slightly less crazy direction with an NSO Pops concert centered around jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. Anyway he doesn’t look crazy, and they’re promising jazz, pop, AND classical. April 18 – 20. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Exploring the connection between art and neuroscience; Gershwin scion Michael Feinstein. [ See the calendar! ]

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