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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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Half Way There

You may be perplexed as to why I would entitle a January blog entry as "Half Way There". Half way to what? is what you are most likely wondering. The answer for your students or your children, is that they are just about half way to the next grade.

Now, I realize that if you do the actual math that this is not completely accurate, but with the end of the second grading period drawing near and the knowledge that Regents exams take up a good portion of the end of the year, I feel that "half way there" is called for.

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WXXI-FM Seeks new 6' Baby Grand

WXXI-FM 91.5 is putting out feelers regarding how we might get a new (or next to new) 6' Baby Grand piano to enhance our productions.

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A subtly shifting balance

I have always loved Johannes Brahms’s clarinet sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 and was therefore delighted to see pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s name on a new recording of these works with another h-less Jon's, clarinetist Jon Manasse's.

In Sunday’s New York Times, James Oestreich describes the appeal of the Brahms thus: “the clarinet and the piano are thoroughly, sensuously intertwined in a subtly shifting balance.” If you listen, you'll know exactly what he means.

(Scroll down for the full review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/arts/music/13reco.html?_r=...)

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