On Saturday night, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra opened with Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano, a short piece based on a famous repetitive passage by Ludwig van Beethoven (the second movement of Symphony No. 7.)
I loved it, but others reacted differently.
A Rochester blogger who went to the concert with her husband wrote,
I’ve been busier than usual at work and pretty happy about it.
This week I filed a feature story for NPR, interviewed guitarist Sharon Isbin, and listened to about forty audio tributes to homicide victims. The last thing was not at all fun, and I still have ten more to go. I’m preparing to interview photographer Will Yurman, who spent 2007 documenting the lives of all the murder victims in a single year in Rochester, NY.
Imagine. Everytime someone was murdered, Will drove his gear to the neighborhood, the house, the cemetery.
People who know me, know I'm rarely early to anything. Punctual, yes. Late, sometimes. Early, nope.
But WDKX's Liz Medhin and I finished up shooting a promo for Brizard: Square One in record time yesterday (despite a few extra takes - all my fault) and I hit all the green lights going over to the Democrat & Chronicle offices for a meeting. The parking gods were on my side, guiding me to an open spot not too far from the front door. Heck, I had 15 minutes to kill.
I decided to stay in the car for a few of them. I didn't expect it to be a particularly insightful experience; I just didn't feel like feeding the meter any more nickels than I had to.
But then I saw him. The drug dealer on Broad Street.
“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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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.
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.
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?”
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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