Blog Posts on Music

Purcell's coded lament

In June, BBC’s Radio 3 polled listeners on their favorite aria.  If you’re into opera, you might guess Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” or "Un bel di” soared to the top of the list, or maybe “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto.  But the winner surprised everyone; it was a three-century old song from a relatively obscure opera by Henry Purcell.  Officially, England’s most

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Miracle Fish

I guess we owe some kind of grudging debt to the underhanded business manager that stole Leonard Cohen’s money a few years back. That betrayal plucked the songwriter from his Buddhist retreat on Mount Baldy and sent him back out on the road to refill the coffers. A lot of people have had a lot of pleasure in a lot of concert halls because of what that guy did. Leonard’s one of them, actually.

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The light of day

The mine was dark, damp, and chilly.   When I came to the surface, I had dreams about it. Bad dreams.

 

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Why does this man have a collection of chickens?

RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman has returned to Rochester after summer travels to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. The big question is, what's with the chickens? Find out this Thursday morning on Classical 91.5 . . .

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How not to get to Carnegie Hall

No one taught me how to practice. Just do it, they said, which is how I honed my amazing ability to daydream while moving my fingers. I can play a Bach sonata and keep a running commentary in my head: what’s for dinner? I must send flowers to Aunt Margie (ooops! skipped a note!) Are my favorite jeans in the dryer? Get cat food!

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What I did on my summer vacation, part 1

I whooshed past a field of goldenrod today. A blur of yellow.  The summer itself feels like a blur, a grainy Polaroid with indistinct lines and a few dabs of color. 

In July I spent four days at Glimmerglass Opera (read my review of the season here).  It’s a hobbit-y part of country, a slightly tamer, more cultivated hollow of the Finger Lakes.   The hills cradle you close, and the lake echoes the blue stillness of the skies.  I’ve been going to Glimmerglass for several years, and this time I was thrilled to discover (in addition to a newly-opened coffee shop across the road from the Young Artists’ headquarters) a small nature preserve behind the Alice Busch Opera Theater.  A trail leads to a raised boardwalk through the marsh where green dragonflies, blue herons, and flying squirrels dart through the trees. Enchanting.

There was another surprise.   I stayed in a small motel on Lake Otsego.  Across the street sat a large, grand white inn with a huge, wrap-around porch and a “For Sale” sign sticking out of the weeds.  Sumac trees jutted out of the garden beds. The roof was caving in.  The paint, peeling.  I couldn’t resist, so I walked across the road, climbed up crumbling concrete stairs and past the yawning cellar door onto the porch. It was as quiet as an Egyptian tomb. I peered into one of the front windows, into a vast room filled with light.  At first, I thought it was totally empty; no pictures on the wall, no furniture, no stuff. Then my eyes fell on a metal cage in the middle of the room and a very-much-alive black and white rabbit looking back at me, calmly munching pellets. I loved that rabbit.

Sometimes the best things happen when you peer past the facade.  Part the curtain and look.

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A Woman's Face

Rufus Wainwright was on The Tavis Smiley Show last night. He recently set some of Shakespeare's sonnets to music. Here he is singing number 20.

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Stayin' Alive

Hi! I'm back from vacation. I just finished a feature with a dynamic piano duo, Anderson and Roe, and I thought you'd enjoy this. You can hear them talk about their work in a podcast . . . coming SOON.
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Strum Fun

Here’s another old LP cover. I had never heard of Eddie Peabody, but a little online research revealed plenty.

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Turn, Turn, Turn

A wiry 90-year old man steps to a microphone in front of 9,000 people. He explains that he doesn’t have much of a voice left, but he’ll provide the lyrics so everyone can sing. Then he starts playing the guitar and reciting from the Book of Ecclesiastes. He tries to sing a bit anyway. It comes out wobbly. His breath fails.

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