Blog Posts on Arts and Culture

International Women's Day...there and here

March 8. 2011 marks the centenary celebration of International Women's Day.  Each March 8, for the last 25 years, I have programmed a veritable festival of women in music.  I did this for rock, I did it for jazz, and these days, with the help of interns from the Eastman School of Music's Arts Leadership Program, I do it for classical. 

Gold box

Chris Van Hof lent me a copy of the book "Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music" by Angela Myles Beeching. Violinist Philip Ying calls it “the ultimate Swiss army knife for the young musician,” and the more I pour over it, the more I think it contains a lot of good advice for anyone working in a creative field.

Beeching oversees the career center at New England Conservatory of Music, and in this volume she summarizes the counsel she offers aspiring musicians, including tips on practical matters such as web-site design, managing money, and using social networking tools.  As a professional church musician, I found this tip helpful; “Avoid playing more than twenty-five minutes without a five- minute break.” (Okay, I can do this if that five minute break includes chocolate!)  Beeching also extends this advice to any physical activity: gardening, typing, sports, etc.  Take breaks, she urges.  She recommends daily exercise, soaking in the beauty of nature, and carving out time for non-musical activities.

Here’s some general advice she gives career counselors working with musicians: “Look for the light in the eyes.”  Your eyes reflect your true passions.  

Finally, this gem. Israeli composer Lio Navok’s compares the artist’s creative internal fire to a small, gold box.  “It’s something absolutely personal and irreplaceable in each of us that we need to safeguard,” he says.   I have a gold box.  You have one, too.  Hold it close.

All that wrath and a bunch of chips

Superbowl advertisers turned to classical composers to help them sell carbonated beverages (with Rossini's William Tell Overture), a new TV series (cue Carl Orff's Carmina Burana), cars (via John Williams' The Empire Strikes Back) and bright orange chips which may not be the healthiest thing for you or your dog.  In my opinion, the juxtaposition of Verdi's Requiem with a slow-motion, runni

Between the Lines

"What are men compared to rocks and mountains?"

Jane Austen wasn't talking about the Super Bowl when she wrote that, but I imagine she might enjoy the prospect of her characters doing battle with the Packers and the Steelers this Sunday.

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In case you missed this

Four Eastman students have made classical music station WQXR's list of Top Five Viral Videos of 2010. When the quartet Breaking Wind performed a fully choreographed Lady Gaga medley in wigs and sunglasses, “it wasn’t just funny; it was inspired,” writes Amanda Angel. One of these players is interning at WXXI, but so far, she’s left her blonde wig at home.

AS YOU WISH, the top classical music stories in Rochester in 2010

Let’s recall the top classical music news stories in 2010 in Rochester, New York, with a nod to the Rob Reiner film, The Princess Bride.

NOT UNEMPLOYED IN GREENLAND     RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman announced his retirement at end of the 2010-2011 season.  Norwegian conductor Arild Remmeriet will step up as RPO’s new music director in 2011. Glimmerglass Opera announced that Francesca Zambello will be new executive director in 2011.

MUCH NICER THAN THE FIRE SWAMP   Eastman School of Music opened a new wing with dramatic atrium, recital hall, rehearsal spaces, and eye-popping hanging glass sculpture.

INCONCEIVABLE!   Rochester entrepreneur Tim Enright launched Virtuoso Television, or VTV, an internet service for musicians to record and store music lessons online for reference in future practice sessions.

HELLO, MY NAME IS “GIBBS AND MAIN”     Rochester chamber ensemble Quartsemble changed moniker.

NEVER GO AGAINST A STRING PLAYER WHEN DEATH IS ON THE LINE    RPO principal violist Melissa Matson stepped on needle, performed Harold in Italy with injured foot. RPO principal cellist Stefan Reuss fell and injured ribs and wrist, missing first few weeks of concert season.

A GREAT GIFT FOR RHYME    Baritone Jonathan Beyer earned Rochester Oratorio Society’s annual Classical Idol top prize with compelling performance of aria from "Nixon on China." Composer Cary Ratcliff gets oratorio "Ode to Common Things" published. Composer Amanda Jacobs won national award for "Mass for the Living."

HER APPEAL IS UNDENIABLE    Soprano Renee Fleming released “Dark Hope,” a collection of pop covers of songs by groups such as Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie and Leonard Cohen. Rochester chamber choir Madrigalia premiered new work by Libby Larsen; Larsen visits.

NO ONE WITHSTANDS THE MACHINE  Michael Daughtery piano concerto, “Deus Ex Machina” co-commissioned by the RPO, earned 2010 Grammy nomination.  The Eastman's Ying Quartet was also nominated for a Grammy.

ANYBODY WANT A PEANUT?   Several Western New York public schools named “Best Communities for Music Education” in the United States by the non-profit NAMM Foundation; Albion Central School District, Brighton, Leroy, Pittsford, Royalton-Hartland Central School District, Rush-Henrietta, Webster, West Irondequoit.

Congratulations and Happy New Year!

Sixth sense

One day in middle school, walking out of the lunchroom down a long, sunny hallway, I saw my father emerge from the band room where he taught instrumental music. He spotted me and pivoted, approaching with another music teacher alongside and holding a thick, green glass Coke bottle in his hand. It was half full.

If It's Magic

There aren't many better ways to access the magic and mystery of existence than dreaming. My all time favorite came to me this summer. I was out behind a farmhouse somewhere at twilight. A cow grazed in a field. He wore a vest made of acorns. Girls in uniforms wandered past, offering loaves of warm bread. A dog in a harness pulled a wagon filled with sleeping fawns.

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