Blog Posts on Arts and Culture

A Stranger Here

"Things get bigger when stripped down small, louder when whispered, and truths are illuminated by the tallest tales that a man can conjure."
 
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Classical music to thumb nose at British Parliament

 What do British people do when they get really angry about their elected officials spending hideous amounts of taxpayer money on things like life-size statues of Winston Churchill made out of Legos?  They write an opera, of course.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: MPs' expenses: Queen's composer to write comic opera
 
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Behold the final moments of the Rochester International Jazz Fest!

Every year, retired WXXI classical announcer Mordecai Lipshutz closes out the XRIJF with The Bob Sneider Trio. He usually sings a number at the end of a long jam session, around 2:00 a.m.  I missed him again this year. Thank goodness for reporter Anna Reguero and Youtube.

Blue skies

On a recent Monday morning I walked into the studio of Rochester's classical music station cradling a stack of CDs in one arm and a sheaf of news reports in the other. The news was not good. The sky threatened rain. I slipped a CD into the player and started a Haydn symphony, a cheerful burst of minty freshness. I followed that with Vivaldi's chirpy Goldfinch Concerto, a flashy set of trills inspired by the song of the European goldfinch, (a mouse of a bird that's not even gold, by the way.)
 
The music was sunny. But as the minutes ticked by, my mood darkened. It DID start to rain. More depressing stories poured into the newsroom.
 
At one point I actually thought to myself, “What annoying person picked all of this chirrupy music for a dismal Monday morning?”
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When jazz used to be a four-letter word...

I got an email this week with the subject heading "jass" and this website linked in the body.  This email came from a reputable source, so I knew the link would be at least entertaining, and probably informative.

Festival Guy

If you go to a lot of free concerts in Rochester, you start seeing the same people. There's one guy who looks troubled, even when he dances. His moves are akin to Tai Chi, slow motion poses only occasionally synching up with the rhythm, but he is feelin’ it. The last time I saw him was at the Lilac Festival last year. Some ditz came running down the hill with a camera. She squatted right next to him and started clicking away. After each shot, she’d look back up at her friends and laugh. This went on for several minutes. Eventually I spoke up. “He’s not wildlife, you know.” She scowled at me and retreated and you could hear more laughter up the hill as they reviewed the photos. Tai Chi Guy seemed oblivious.
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Opera: the Final Frontier

A major new TV production company is setting up shop in Rochester. Backers include Peter and Bobby Farrelly (brothers who wrote and directed the film, "There's Something About Mary") and former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly.  All three have joined with CGI Communications to cull compelling content from Youtube and various internet sources for broadcast. 
 
With such weird, interesting material as this out there, how can they fail to live long and prosper?
 
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Classical music goes X-TREEM!

OK, so we all know how cool the MET Opera at the movies is.  And that Sabres game they played outside in the snow was super-sweet.  The San Francisco Opera jumped on these two ideas, and decided to simulcast opera performances in the Giants' baseball stadium.  This all got me thinking about other ways we could supersize classical music...
 
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Two sides of the opera coin

 Young people hate opera.  No, no--young people totally dig opera!  Whatever: young people should like opera because it's good for them.  You're all wrong: opera's just completely dead.
 
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A do-it-yourself diva--and she's normal to boot!

"I'd abolish all music competitions. People should be judged on their merits, not against other people. And I'd like to dispel the myth that high art is snobbish – it just needs a bit of effort on both sides."  With sentiment like that, this diva clearly has her feet firmly rooted on the ground.
 
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