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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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Okay, I Lied

Louise Slaughter won't be on tonight.

Her scheduler called late yesterday and postponed. I'm still hoping to interview her before she heads back to Washington next week. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we still have the interview with GOP Congressman James Walsh. During the 2006 election, he was opposed to setting a deadline for American troop withdrawal from Iraq. He said the U.S. still had an obligation to train Iraqi security forces.

Now, he says, the training has been done. He says the majority of American soldiers need to be back on U.S. soil by the end of 2008.

After he talks about that and several other issues, we'll talk about Governor Spitzer's 2008 State of the State address with Rochester Business Alliance President and CEO Sandy Parker.

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Reading material

[On Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”] “It is music of physical release, even of sexual orgasm, as Vaslav Nijinsky demonstrated in his undulating dance of the Faun at the Ballet Russes in 1912. ‘I hold the queen!’ Mallarme’s faun exults.”
- from The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

“By [20th] century’s end, intellectuals had deserted classical music; compared to the theater, cinema, or dance, it was the American performing art most divorced from contemporary creativity, most susceptible to midcult decadence.”
- from Classical Music in America by Joseph Horowitz

“Since Jazz music is a laid back genre of music, students will wear jeans with no holes, a solid colored shirt (long or short sleeve) and sneakers will be okay.”

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