archives :||


This tag is associated with 22 posts

2 Concert 2 Roundup

See, this is why you are loyal to Countess Classical Music — she never abandons you. And neither will I — holiday weekend or no, you shall have your Viola Joke Thursday and LOL Friday as usual. And concerts to attend!

  • At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this week… well, the BSO doesn’t actually play. But a dude named Michael Feinstein will sing Frank Sinatra tunes at the Meyerhoff in their place. Okay, so I guess the Countess did, technically, abandon you here, but as I’m sure you’re aware Sinatra could really sing, so if they’re letting this Feinstein character approximate him, he must be good. I hope he does the “Susie” song from Anchors Aweigh. November 25 through 27. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, over at the National Symphony Orchestra, it’s… a tribute to Nat King Cole. Forget what I said about the Countess. But at least the NSO Pops actually play in this one, while guitarist and vocalist George Benson tackles the main Nat King Cole bit. Randy Waldman and Steven Reineke conduct. November 25 & 26. [ See it! ]

Concert Roundup: This Time It’s Personal

My apartment building is so weird. Sometimes HALF the power is out. This morning all my lights worked, my TV and Xbox worked, my chargers worked. My fridge was off and my internet, while recognizable, wasn’t usable. I only just got it back, and that, my friends, is why today’s concert roundup is late. In other words, please address all your complaints to the building manager and I’ll forward them along. Thanks!

  • I’m a little puzzled by this week’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert. It’s called “The Music of Elton John and More.” It doesn’t say what the “more” is and it doesn’t say the BSO isn’t playing, so I guess it must be accompanying the Michael Cavanaugh vocalist/pianist person. Who comes with a Broadway resume, apparently. If you really like Elton John — and I understand many do — you’ve got nothing to lose. October 13 at Strathmore and October 14 through 16 at the Meyerhoff. See it!
  • The National Symphony Orchestra is also going poppy this week with a concert devoted to Rodgers and Hammerstein. I have already proudly announced my love for The Sound of Music and distrust for those who dismiss it outright, so I think we all know where I stand on the R&H issue. Plus they’re featuring a whole bunch of Broadway-types too, in addition to The Washington Chorus. At the Kennedy Center concert hall, October 13 through 15. See it!

Leslie Caron would have made a fine Commander of the Grey

Author’s note: This post is only tenuously related to music, let alone classical music, but since it mentions Gigi and I occasionally dabble in musicals, and also because I find this story hilarious and want to share it, and also because I seem to have wrangled the coveted music-and-also-general-issue-nerd demographic and this totally taps in, here it is. I originally sent the story in an email to my friend Elizabeth, who is one my only friends who can match my knowledge of old school musicals and has also played Dragon Age. Whatever; it’s a bonus post. Read it.

So I started a Dragon Age: Awakening game last night (that’s the expansion you can play after you finish the main game). I chose to create a new character this first time rather than import, which meant that my new guy had the background of an Orlesian Warden. Since Orlais = France, I decided to give him a French name, which OBVIOUSLY meant I should borrow a name from Gigi.

I was going to name him after Louis Jourdan’s character, but I couldn’t remember the name; when I looked it up and saw it was Gaston I realized this would not work unless I felt like spending the entirety of my gameplay singing about how when I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs every morning to help me get large. So then I thought I might go with Honore, but I thought — hey! I could name him Leslie after Leslie Caron! It’s a legit guy name! Leslie Nielsen made it work!

But then I thought, no, I like the name Honore. Also, Leslie is totally a girl’s name, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding [cue hoard of angry guy Leslies]. And Honore already sounds girly enough (for the juxtaposition, I went with Elizabeth’s “make a burly dude” paradigm, although hers has cornrows while mine has a shaved head).

You may be aware that, while you can change your first name, the game auto-sets your last name based on your background. I’ve never really paid much attention to this, since outside of the noble origin it hardly ever comes up. I did not pay attention this time either.

Flash-forward, oh, about an hour. I’ve just met a new character, and am given the dialogue option to introduce myself. My last name is populated.

It is Caron.

Such an opportunity squandered there.

(I realize now that this is one hell of a lot of exposition for dubious payoff, but I still think it’s funny! :D)

Doesn’t seem very traditional to me

This week’s BSO concert is a tribute to John Williams. As such, I deem it Not Quite Classical Music Week. And as such, here’s something so Not Quite Classical, it’s not quite a Broadway musical. Like this one! That Gwen Stefani is a roof fiddlin’ card.

The hillllllls are aliiiiiiiiive

But I’m not telling you with WHAT.

Alternately: in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be.

Alternately: You’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all of those who your relatives hate; you’ve got to be carefully taught.

Alternately: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plaaaaaaaain!

But mostly: High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, LADYODLELADYODLELAY-HEE-HOO!

Not that you could tell or anything, but this week’s BSO concert is a Pops affair entitled “Rodgers and Hammerstein and the Movies,” featuring music and movie clips. I think this largely speaks for itself (not that I let it), but I do want to issue a warning:

There are people out there who harbor an irrational hatred for The Sound of Music. These are mostly boys. Girls, these boys are soulless jerks. Don’t date them.

But maybe they deserve a chance. If you want to give them one, try showing them this:

And when you’re done, see it at Strathmore on Thursday, May 19 at 8 pm, or at the Meyerhoff on Friday, May 20 at 8 pm, Saturday, May 21 at 8 pm, or Sunday, May 22 at 3 pm. And enjoy being a girl.

Good artists borrow; great artists steal

You may recall my previous mention of the 40’s musical Anchors Aweigh, in which I pointed out that the movie ganks from Tchaikovsky all the frickin’ time. Well, here’s some proof. Oft-mentioned, musically savvy Bekah and I were watching this together, and when this song started we turned to each other with expressions of ???

Although in fairness, the other day I heard a piano and cello duet of variations on a song from Mozart’s The Magic Flute BY BEETHOVEN. Ludwig! You don’t need him! Now go to your room and write me ten original melodies or no dessert for you.

Who is Handel? Hialeah! Hialeah!

I wish, I wish, I wish there was a way to post a Dr. Horrible video, but try as I might I just can’t swing that around to classical music or even the old-time musicals I sometimes sneak in. So instead I present to you the best of both worlds. But first, a story!

One of the most pleasant nights I ever spent was back in high school, Easter eve. I was staying at my grandmother’s house, and had a room to myself with cable TV (!!!). I tuned to TCM and watched the following: Easter Parade, Brigadoon, Bells are Ringing, and The Pirate. By 6 am it was The Singing Nun, which I figured was a good time to head to sleep.

The point is, it was on this time I was introduced to what I think is an unfairly lesser-known musical, the delightful Bells are Ringing with Judy Holliday. So delightful it is that I actually intended to take a nap while it was on until The Pirate (which I had never seen and has Judy Garland AND Gene Kelly; how is it then that the movie is decidedly eh?), and yet somehow I ended up awake for the whole thing. This explanation is getting really long and we haven’t even gotten to the important bit, so I’m going to say simply GO RENT IT.

Okay! So the reason I’m telling you about Bells Are Ringing is because classical music plays an integral part in the plot. Y’see, apparently back in the day before answering machines, people employed answering services to take phone messages for them. A bookie therefore hatches a clever plan to use an answering service to take bets without them knowing, and the following song ensues. Unfortunately I can’t find a clip from the movie; indeed, this is the ONLY rendition of the song on the entire internet if Google video search is to be believed.

Right! The following is technically a spoiler, but if you’re watching an old school musical for the plot you clearly don’t understand what they’re about; I’m going to tell you anyway. The turning point of the movie? Someone attempts to place a bet by asking for Beethoven’s tenth symphony, but the telephone operator finds out that there isn’t one so she changes it to the ninth! And the wrong bet is placed! Thousands of dollars are incorrectly routed! Ha ha!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the importance of culture in our society. You can’t devise a betting system without it.

Updated: Here’s a version from Broadway! No video, but very clear audio. Enjoy!

Sometimes one piano is simply not enough

I watched Anchors Aweigh with some friends last week (an interesting dichotomy of stars: Gene Kelly is the dancer but sings only competently; Frank Sinatra sings beautifully but simply can’t keep up with Kelly in dance). What really got me was how liberally the movie sampled from classical music. I mean, Sinatra sings lyrics to Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto, for heaven’s sake.

Almost as good? Jose Iturbi leading 18 pianists in a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody. Check out the curve of his fingers as he plays – I’m no pianist, but something tells me that’s not standard form.

Update: Sorry, guys, turns out this video isn’t embeddable; you’ll have to click the link provided when you hit play. I can’t seem to find another version! If anyone out there can, please email me! There’s a Medal of Violar in it for you!

It’s summer and thou shalt not be blah!

No excuses today, folks. I’m late because I’ve had a tremendous time getting up the motivation to post. I’m draaaaaggin.’

In my defense, I spent much of yesterday at a callback interview, which was awesome but strangely exhausting. And then I met a friend in DC and we ended up hanging out longer than I intended and I came home late-ish. And then I did my usual up-at-6:30-am-for-the-7:28-train routine. And Benevolent Dictator Jamie isn’t here this week, and nobody is sending me any web updates to do, and I already finished organizing all of next season’s concerts by composer, and I already made myself a list of potential apartments should I get this job, and in short: blah.

But never fear! I have mentally slapped the metaphorical cheeks of my sleepy brain into something akin to alertness, and I’m ready to talk about the BSO’s summer season. Like those popsicles at Walt Disney World, itzakadoozie.

First you have your “Star-Spangled Spectacular” on July 3 and 4 at Oregon Ridge. Ya got your Sousa, ya got your 1812 Overture, ya got your national anthem and lawn chair and barbecue.

Next up is “Planet Earth Live,” wherein clips of the documentary will be projected onto a screen while the BSO plays the soundtrack conducted by the composer. I find this decidedly nifty and am looking into attending. It’s on Thursday, July 8 at 8 pm at Strathmore and Friday, July 9 at 7:30 pm at the Meyerhoff.

Then we have “Rising Stars Perform Tchaikovsky Concertos.” The BSO is bringing in two fifteen-year-old prodigies, one on the violin and one on the piano. They will play – get ready – concertos by Tchaikovsky. Oh, and the program also includes his Capriccio Italien. That will be on Saturday, July 10 at 7:30 pm at the Meyerhoff and Saturday, July 17 at 8 pm at Strathmore.

Next! A Michael Jackson tribute! Yup, orchestral versions of his works, plus a Jackson-esque vocalist. That’s on Thursday, July 15 at 7:30 pm at the Meyerhoff. You can’t make this stuff up. Nor can you make up the Eagles tribute concert at Pier Six in the Inner Harbor on Friday, July 16 at 8 pm. I rather like the Eagles and I’m not afraid to admit it!

This one’s free! Soprano Rachel Gilmore joins the BSO for a concert at the Meyerhoff on Saturday, July 17 at 2 pm, gratis.

Not gratis but (if you ask me) even more exciting is the Porgy and Bess Gershwin concert on Thursday, July 22 at the Meyerhoff. They’re playing An American in Paris too! I love that piece! Especially that really swingy slow bit on the solo horn that gets picked up by the whole orchestra and then syncopated, if you know the part I mean.

And if all that wasn’t out there enough for you, how about some Philip Glass and Frank Zappa featuring beatboxer Shodekeh? That’s on July 23 at 7:30 pm at the Meyerhoff.

And finally, you can head back to Oregon Ridge for a “Broadway Melodies” concert on July 24 at 8 pm. “From My Fair Lady to Jersey Boys!” the brochure avers. I’m afraid.

For more information and to purchase tickets to any or all of these concerts, click here. Tomorrow: the frenzy the above have stirred on Facebook!

The case against logic and reason

It’s a BSO Pops concert week, which is more than enough excuse for me to break out the musical!

The modern musical is a very different animal from the classics from the golden era of Hollywood. Now, don’t get me wrong – I liked Chicago, I liked Hairspray. I love a good Disney musical. I did not like Moulin Rouge!, but all those songs were stolen so whatever.

But the musicals being produced today are pretty slick and tightly plotted. Sure, the odd WTF? moment pops up, but there are at least attempts made to cling to logic. Indeed, Chicago goes so far as to actually try to explain why people are bursting into song and busting out dances by filtering them through Roxie’s imagination.

And that’s just plain silly, trying to make musicals not so silly. I like the old musical, the kind that is saturated with hyper-bright colors and costumes that may or may not actually reflect the period, old barns are easily converted to fantastic stages, water ballet is the most elaborate thing this side of a DNA spiral, and Gene Kelly can choreograph an entire dance around a creaky floorboard and a piece of paper. To say nothing of any of his dance sequences in Singin’ in the Rain.

Which is why I am delighted to share with you a favorite post series from the boys at Project Rungay, entitled “Musical Mondays” (to find them, scroll down to the bottom of the page; the drop-down menu will be in the far left-hand column).

Some Mondays T and Lo are kind enough to grace us with a somewhat cynical, MST3K-style rundown of a selected musical. Sometimes these critiques are loving, sometimes scathing, and I don’t always agree with them, but they are invariably hilarious. Frequently I wind up gasping a protest even as I giggle (“HEY! I LIKE Brigadoon!”), but who can resist such cuttingly brilliant witticisms as:

  • “Our story starts with Howard Keel as Adam Pontipee, an ignorant backwoodsman who opens up the movie by sauntering through the tiny Oregon town of Backlotsville, loudly singing that he wants hisself a wife and obnoxiously pointing out the physical flaws of every woman he passes on the street. This is meant to endear us to him.” [“HEY! I LIKE Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!”]
  • “Broke and in trouble with the law, they do what any of us would do. Sing and dance inappropriately for little boys in the street. Was this code for something?” [“HEY! I LIKE Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!”]
  • “He spends a little time moodily wandering the streets of Paris, backlit. We keep hoping that bands of thieves will come upon him and beat him to death, but no such luck.” [“HEY! I LIKE Gigi!”]

I should note that T and Lo do not hold back, and their language might be considered ever-so-slightly NSFW, but they’re not being vulgar, just catty. It’s allowed!

Anyway, “Musical Mondays.” Peruse the archives. Whether you love or hate musicals, you’ll get a kick out of it.