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Review time

“She sang equally well lying on her back or kneeling atop her lover. This technique reduced Masetto to an obedient puppy – and probably many Eastman Theatre patrons as well.”
- the D & C’s Stuart Low, writing about Mercury Opera’s recent production of Don Giovanni

What do you want to read about in a review? Background info on the musicians? What about the hall, the crowds, or the color of the conductor’s hair? Critics debate about this stuff all the time. Some say they should stick to the music and only the music. Others want to capture the flavors, sights, and smells of the hall.

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Many New Adjustments

We are making many new adjustments to the site. As a result something that may have worked one way before could start to work differently. If you run into any unusual problems that surprise you, please use our Contact page and let us know or add a Comment directly to this post.

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Cracking the Joseph Schwantner Code

I’ve been trying to cozy up to Joseph Schwantner’s music in preparation for an hour-long, national special I’m producing about the composer. But it’s been harder than I expected, and recent blogs I’ve read about approaching classical music from the outside give me new sympathy for those who can’t drum up much enthusiasm for it.

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My mildly desultory life

The problem with reading so much is that I can never remember where I read what. Or did I hear it on NPR? I can only guess. I guess that I read in Time magazine that 65% of Americans are on a diet. So, since popularity (a phenomenon quite removed from the actual merit of anything, I read somewhere) drives me in the opposite direction of any activity, I recently decided to emulate the life of composer Darius Milhaud, who (I read somewhere) lived a mildly desultory life. I like the sound of “mildly desultory.” Sounds like a plan. Or not a plan, which, when everyone else is sweating it out, sounds appealingly contrary. So I’ve settled on becoming mildly desultory myself.

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From the Top

Hearing so much about NPR’s “From the Top” this week has filled me with parental angst. Why aren’t MY kids writing symphonies, knocking off Chopin etudes, or sawing at the cello like little Yo Yos? What magical pills are other parents giving their kids to make them WANT to practice?

To dig deeper into these mysteries, I randomly polled my colleagues at WXXI, asking, “How hard do you push your kids to do well in music, arts, and sports? How do you encourage your kids to succeed?”

Here’s a sampling of responses:

J.P., mother of three, writes:

“I don't push, AT ALL. They hate that.

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Dinner with the Neighbors

Dan Gundersen, Upstate Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation, didn't hesitate yesterday when I asked him what surprised him most when he started his job in Upstate New York last year.

He visited Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and many other communities. They all had the same general economic challenges, worries, and needs. Yet, Gundersen noted, the cities failed to work together toward significant change, choosing instead to battle one another in Albany for their fair shares.

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy agrees. Not so long ago, he likened the situation to a large family scrambling over a small amount of food.

Now enter Governor Eliot Spitzer carrying a big bag of groceries -- and suddenly regional cooperation doesn't seem so hard.

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Jane Austen on WXXI/PBS

"The one claim I shall make for my own sex is that we love longest, when all hope is gone."
— Anne Elliot in Persuasion

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A Brahmsian Scoop

The recent post on Jon Nakamatsu's new Brahms CD sparked this revelation from violinist Edward Klorman,
Executive Director and Co-Artistic director of the summer's Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival. He writes,

"We're not officially announcing the summer programs for a few months, but I'll let you in on a secret... Juliana [Athayde] and Jon are indeed playing Brahms, the Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, Op. 78. It's an extremely tender work, and they'll play it beautifully together. The finale quotes Brahms' famous "Regenlied"(Rain Song), and this concert is all about music inspired by water. As for the rest of the program, well, I'll tell you more later on!"

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Using Your Civic Sense

Whether Barack Obama wins the Presidency or not, he has already made history.

On February 10th of 2007, Barack Obama announced his campaign for the Presidency. He was speaking before a crowd in Springfield, Illinois. But thanks to 21st Century technology, the entire nation can watch the full speech - unfiltered by the news media or pundits - simply by logging on to Obama's Web site. This includes citizens who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, since the speech is closed-captioned.

Obama was the first Presidential candidate to caption videos on his Web site.

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Maestra Barbie

Barbie’s promoting symphonic music.

If you have young children, you’ve probably seen the animated movies starring Barbie with classical soundtracks based on famous orchestra works such as Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The first release came in 2001, when Owen Hurley directed an intelligent, charming adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King with music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet.

But it was all downhill from there.

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