Blog Posts on Music

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!


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.


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.


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.

Strum Fun

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


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.


Pleasure bent again

See you in August.

Close encounters

Percy GraingerPercy GraingerPercy Grainger was born in Australia in 1882.   Until recently, he was pegged as a lightweight because of his folk song arrangements.  Recent releases reveal a more serious side, one that’s funny and sad, reflective and violent.

Out of thin air

Music fans love to meet performers, but I'm thrilled to make contact with composers.  They're making music out of thin air using pure imagination.  One of my fond memories of the late Richard Gladwell is seeing his face suffused with pleasure as he told of meeting composer Ralph Vaughan Williams decades ago at a concert in London.  Williams' music is a cornerstone of twentie


Summer travels

Summer gives you the chance to enjoy music in unusual settings.  Lakes. Woods. Corn fields. Festivals are popping up all over the region.  Last week I had the privilege of seeing four operas at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown and interviewing the incoming director, Francesca Zambello.