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Not Without My Concert Roundup

But first! A personal plea.

The nonprofit arm of my ballet studio, Performing Arts Repertory Company, is in a DC-area fundraising competition. For November 9 only, Give To The Max will track how much money is donated to PARC, as well as how many individuals donate. Depending on our ranking in both categories, we could win additional funds, which would go toward dance scholarships, workshops, and education and outreach programs, among other things. A noble cause — so you want to help, right? Donate now, before you forget — it’s tax-deductible!

I give you this concert recap in thanks for your donation. If you didn’t donate, I hope you feel really guilty right now.

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra likes to be in America — this week’s concert features Copland‘s Appalachian Spring, in addition to Old American Songs. A solid work, one people will come out for, except in this case what I’m sure they’re actually coming for is Gershwin‘s An American in Paris overture. Edward CollinsTragic overture is also in the mix. Marin Alsop to conduct, William Sharp to baritonate; November 10 & 13 at the Meyerhoff.  [See it!]
  • This week at the National Symphony Orchestra it’s The Return of Leonard Slatkin! On the conductor’s docket: Clyne, a Rachmaninoff symphony, and a Saint-Saen cello concerto performed by Gautier Capucon. November 10-12. [See it!]

Updated to add: Got this from Benevolent Dictator Jamie:

Emerson String Quartet
Baird Auditorium
Natural History Museum
November 19 at 6 PM

This concert offers an exclusive opportunity to hear the quartet
perform in an intimate setting with excellent acoustics.

Metro Stop: Federal Triangle
Walk south on 12th Street, and cross Constitution Avenue to the Natural History
Museum on the left. (NOT on the National Mall side.)

Ticket prices for students: $10*
Rush tickets are available for purchase starting at
5:30 p.m. on November 19th at the door
*Valid student ID required when purchasing and redeeming tickets.  Two tickets per student ID, per concert.  No refunds or exchanges available.  Subject to availability.

Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Copland vs. Britten

Whew! That one was a real nail biter. And I’ll tell you the truth — I paired Stravinsky against Debussy thinking, hey, no one’s going to get much of a foothold against Igor, but Debussy will probably manage to garner a few votes so it won’t be a boring sweep.

Well. It was not a boring sweep.

At first it all proceeded as I expected — Debussy had some followers, but Stravinsky had over twice as many votes. But somehow — and I think a Twitter plea may have had something to do with it — Debussy inched up. And then overtook his competitor. And he was winning by one when I tweeted a last call for votes.

When I closed the poll, Stravinsky had taken back the single vote lead. Photo finish! Well done, Team Igor. Go back to the locker room and drink some water; I’ll call you back for round three.

This week, it’s time to party like it’s metaphorically 1779, because in this corner, he made Dvorak a Bohemian dissonance! It’s


And in this corner, he knocked down Holst like he was Pluto!* It’s


It’s like a Boston Tea Party for you MP3 player!

* Ironically enough.

** I can’t remember — did I already mention Britten’s resemblance to Rowan Atkinson?

Gala review (a conversation piece)

Note: The below post has been slightly modified from the text as it was originally published. If you’d like to see the full version, email me.

Last Saturday my dear friend Rebekah and I hiked over to the Meyerhoff to take in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening gala. I could just straight tell you what I thought, but I figured why not switch it up a bit? So here’s Rebekah and I indulging in a little post-concert discussion. Rebekah is a cello teacher and Peabody musicology grad student, so she’s more than qualified to weigh in. Two opinions for the price of one — how can you resist?

Jenn: First of all, I want to say that the absolute best part of the concert was when David Little almost knocked out Hilary Hahn by accident.

Rebekah: The surprise on her face was the best part because it was so genuine and she seems so nice.

J: Like a little elf!

R: I think she looks adorable!

J: The concert opened with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which is of course a seminal work, and it always kinda gets me. I’m a documented sucker for horns. Alsop took the opening a little fast for my liking, but those horns were gold.

R: I actually… well, when you say fast, you mean she took it fast or she started the concert fast?

Continue reading

For your anticipation

The BSO summer season is over, but before we let them fly free on their weeks of hiatus, here are some upcoming season facts and events so that you can be prepared:

So there you have it — everything you need to ready yourself in the coming weeks. If you want to know more about the upcoming season but don’t feel like messing around with the BSO web site, here’s the post I did with a rundown of all this season’s concerts. Wait, scratch that. All this season’s concerts that I think look interesting.

Now that there are no BSO concerts for me to hype for a few weeks, you can all look forward to a bunch of posts featuring My Thoughts And Opinions. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Composer Cagematch!: Interlude

Hi! I know we’re due for a match this week, but I’ve pushed it to next week; let’s talk shop, shall we?

Let’s talk Composer Cagematch! Philosophy. What is a Composer Cagematch!, exactly? Is it a fight between equals in popularity? In style? In country and time period? Is it a fight between equals at all?

I ask — and hope to elicit some healthy discussion and maybe even dig up a shred of clarity — because of this excellent comment from Classical Music Broadcast on the most recent match:

Jenn, I know you think all I do is whine about bad matchmaking…

This is like putting a middleweight in a super heavyweight match, where Gustav is wearing 4 oz, and Rick-ard is wearing eights.

Wagner wrote operas, so that automatically gives him a weight and reach advantage.

RW wrote the Ring cycle – so Mahler loses points on his ground game, but gains on his standup (6th Symphony and a BIG freaking hammer, anyone?)

Cara Fleck – great point regarding the harps – Wagner buried his and Gustav let his shimmer elegantly.

From round one, this match will go to the cards. Gustav got my vote, because I think Wagner should go mano-a-mano against another opera composer.

I would have liked to see a Mahler/Beethoven matchup.

Jenn, I don’t think Beethoven/Wolfie is a solid, because early Beethoven *is* a lot of Mozart recycled. The 1st & 2nd are flat-out tributes. Even the 4th has a lot of Mozart in it.

and I love both of those guys, so thats no insult to Ludwig.

Points well taken (except of course that Beethoven is clearly > Mozart, natch). Perhaps I have not always been the finest matchmaker. My own mother was horrified by my Dvorak-Copland fight — and even more dismayed when Copland took it by a point. But isn’t that interesting? That Copland bested Dvorak? They aren’t from the same time period or even the same country. So why did I match them? Because Dvorak tried to tell Americans how to compose, and Copland was an American who composed. To me it was a good hook. How did the voters choose between them, then?

Well, what sort of contest are we running here? Is it a question of popularity? Is Copland more popular than Dvorak? Is Mahler more popular than Wagner? Have you all been choosing based on artistic merit? One person commented that he had voted for Prokofiev over Stravinsky ultimately because the former appeared more often on his iPod. The reason I think Beethoven/Mozart is a valid match has less to do with music and more to do with musicology  — as a general rule, the top 3 composers on virtually every ranking list ever come down to Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart — but the order changes. I want to know less “Who’s the better composer?” and more “Who do you love?” I don’t believe the one necessarily implies the other.

So that’s how I’ve been approaching it. Now I want to open the forum up to you, the voters. Tell me about your voting philosophies. What works for you about the Cagematch!es? What doesn’t? Who should fight next? And can someone please start Claymationing these for me?

Composer Cagematch!: Britten vs. Holst

Was it patriotism?

I’m not gonna lie — I’m surprised. Dvorak was in the lead for… almost all of it, really. And then in those last two days Copland came up from behind to battle back and forth before ultimately taking it by one point. I, for one, did not expect to announce Team Aaron the winner, but maybe you did.

Having chalked up a win for the colonies, let’s check in with the motherland, shall we?

In this corner, a modern (natively) English reboot of Handel — it’s


And in this corner, a modern English reboot of Vivaldi — it’s


I always say that if you want proof that God loves gay people, listen to the “Sentimental Sarabande” from Britten’s Simple Symphony. And if you want to get really angry at John Williams, listen to “Mars, the Bringer of War” from Holst’s The Planets, and then listen to the rest of The Planets because OMGTHEPLANETS. I once brought someone over to classical music by the power of “Jupiter” alone. But then one can’t exactly discount Peter Grimes, can one? Toughie…

Composer Cagematch!: Dvorak vs. Copland

WELL. THAT was certainly exciting.

First it was Debussy! Then Ravel! Then tied! Then Debussy! Back and forth and back and forth it went; at one time Debussy was three points ahead, only to have Ravel come from behind and take a one point lead a few days later. But when the polls closed, Debussy had clawed his way back to the top by a mere one point himself.  So don’t think your vote doesn’t count, dear public.

Next we take a departure from the countryman-against-countryman theme and branch out a bit. Get ready to think outside the box, people, because in this corner, talking all kindsa smack about American composers, it’s


And in this corner, countering with an Appalachian Spring to the face, it’s


“From the New World,” or actually from the New World? The rustic energy of Rodeo or of Slavonic Dances? The stirring bombast of Fanfare for the Common Man or the classic beauty of Serenade for Strings? Don’t look at me; I’m not allowed to vote. Get to it.

Adventures in hashtaggery

Yesterday evening I made an amazing discovery by way of the lovely @NaxosUSA: the Twitter hashtag #budgetclassical. These tweets are all terrible puns and mockery of classical music titles as they might have been had they been composed on the cheap. Since I spent something like two hours addicted to making and reading these, I’m tossing out the usual LOL Friday image format to bring you all the ones I made up myself. The hashtag is still happening; read ’em here and submit your own! (And when you do, make sure you add @aintbaroque so I can see.)

And now, in reverse posting order, one of my greatest strengths: horrible, horrible puns!

  1. Dies Felinae
  2. Flesh Wound on Tenth Avenue
  3. The Ambivalent Widow
  4. Transgendered Night
  5. Stars and Stripes for a Pretty Long Time
  6. Serenade for String
  7. Escape from the Questionable Massage Parlor
  8. The Wiccans’ Sabbath
  9. About Halfway Down the Steps of Central Asia
  10. March to the Lethal Injection from Symphonie Just Okay
  11. West Side Tweet
  12. Nopetha
  13. Music for the Sparklers in the Backyard
  14. Rhapsody in Teal
  15. What the Wildflowers Refuse to Tell Me
  16. Doctor Subatomic
  17. Saunter of the Valkyries
  18. The Beggar’s Opera (oh, wait…)
  19. Snapping Music
  20. Haydn’s Very Little Warning Symphony
  21. Three Little Swans and a Duck
  22. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2: the “Embryonic Russian”
  23. Ives’ Chuck Rutlage
  24. Khachaturian’s Shuffle of the Rose Maidens
  25. Saint-Saen’s Petting Zoo of the Animals
  26. Mendelssohn’s Sicilian Symphony
  27. The Love for Three Clementines
  28. Polevtsian Marking the Steps
  29. Crash Landing of the Bumblebee
  30. Officer Cadet Kije
  31. Thus Whispered Zarathrustra
  32. Pete & Pete Grimes
  33. The Civil Ceremony of Figaro
  34. Pavane for a Princess Who’s Feeling Under the Weather
  35. Madama Caterpillar
  36. 4’33” of White Noise
  37. Smetana’s The Loaned-Out Bride
  38. Mozart’s The Regular Old Flute
  39. Appalachian Puddle
  40. The Bach Single
  41. The Brandenburg Concerto
  42. Gilbert and Sullivan present Lady-in-Waiting Ida
  43. Die Maus
  44. Die Bieberflote

Wow, I had no idea I did so many. I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed.