archives :||


This tag is associated with 36 posts

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.

“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?

Composer Cagematch!: Puccini vs. Sullivan

Okay, guys! Ready to get back in the swing of things? Me neither. But we’re just going to have to suck it up.

First, to review, as our last match was awhile ago. If you recall, it involved Schubert and Vivaldi, and it left the Red Priest in the dust. Dang. Let’s move on quickly before he gets too embarrassed, shall we?

We’ve got a new fight to turn our attention to, anyway, because in this corner, he is the very model of a modern English opera composer! It’s


And in this corner, he lives la vie Boheme! It’s


Well, what’s your pleasure – some happy, light opera, or some good solid verismo? I’m awfully fond of Gilbert and Sullivan, myself, but Puccini has some awfully impressive realistic repertoire. I guess that’s the question: are you an optimist or a realist?

Would you watch this, could you watch this, won’t you watch this opera?

Guess where I am? Pittsburgh! Guess who was from Pittsburgh? Mr. Rogers! Guess who wrote an opera? Mr. Rogers!

I know, I know, it’s a whole entire Mr. Rogers episode and you’re not seven – except YES YOU ARE. You ARE seven, on the inside, where you’re actually kind of interesting. Anyway, it’s a holiday – so let’s make the most of this beautiful day. SPEEDY DELIVERY!

And now for another round of: Sh!t Clift Sends Me!

In case you need a refresher course – check out the first Sh!t Clift Sends Me here and the second here. Got a lot of video for you this time around. And don’t forget to look for a bonus piece of Sh!t Rebekah Sends Me, because you won’t want to miss it!

  • Here is Stephen Fry explaining exactly why classical music remains relevant to today’s youth, even if he does open with “Dubstep is my life.”
  • This Richter clip should be labeled ‘organ porn.'” Duly noted!
  • Here, as the narrator informs us, Siegfried’s death scene.
  • Here’s a fascinating article from the Montreal Gazette about the rising rock star status of the conductor and his current role in an orchestra.
  • Here’s an article from Scientific American pointing out that even a small amount of musical training is beneficial to your brain.
  • Here’s Don Giovanni and a condom. I don’t understand why you’re so surprised.
  • This article begins thusly: “I’m going to start with Bach the rebel. The badass.”
  • And let’s finish things off with some jazz.
  • Here’s your bonus from Rebekah! And it is beautiful, beautiful. Its source is a parody website lampooning right wing religious types, which hopefully does not offend, but COME ON: “Violins were invented by a homosexual devil worshipper.” Call your school board and shut down your child’s orchestra program before it’s too late, everybody!

This concludes this edition of Sh!t Clift Sends Me.

* “I fully expect you to include this as a footnote,” said Clift. Done.

Even Wagner could only take so many Wagnerians

Hi guys! Didja miss me? I had a delightful time at Universal Studios, one of the highlights being listening to Mussourgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain while riding the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. It’s part of the seeeeecret playlist, so if you’re riding the coaster and you want to try it yourself, you’ll need to hold down the logo on the music selection screen for 5 to 10 seconds, then enter to code 904. Trust me, it works!

Since you’ve all been waiting so patiently for me, I’ve found you a very special video. Enjoy!

Further adventures in the land of good taste

If I had titled this post “Cockblocked,” would you guys have been offended? I’m just trying to find the line here. (Thanks Rebekah for the submission.)

The king sure can pick ’em

You know who we haven’t heard from in awhile? Why, the King’s Singers, of course. What do you have to say for yourselves, boys?


In a word: YES.