Radio sucks. That’s my conclusion after spending 11 hours driving back home from Chicago Sunday night into Monday morning. My fellow travelers were sleeping during most of the wee small hours. I stopped several times to top off the coffee but I was still having a few of those moments when the white dashes hypnotize and the rumble strips snap you out of it. I had the radio on and searched for something decent, ideally something to which I could sing along. Belting out the Beatles or AC/DC or Louis Armstrong kept my brain alert and occupied and in the moment, but only for three minutes at a time. Then they’d play dreck or a commercial and I’d be zipping up and down the dial again. I think I may have developed carpal tunnel syndrome from hitting the scan button so often.
We all know the power of the mighty trombone. Noble, inspiring, breathtaking, the trombone has inspired generations of humans to great things. Einstein listened to the "Tuba Mirum" from Mozart's Requiem when he finalized the theory of relativity. Joyce played recordings of Bruckner while he wrote Ulysses. Al Gore went to a Chicago concert right before he invented the Internet.
"Ted Nicolosi & Shared Genes", the shared genes is Ted's dad, Sam, took time to visit our studio Friday. Ted, a senior at McQuaid Jesuit, began playing guitar at 5, and was in coffee shops performing by age 9. He had the great, or daunting, rare opportunity to play a couple of his original songs for Tommy Emmanuel.
"A love for real, not fade away," Buddy Holly sang. It was supposedly the last tune he performed before he climbed into the airplane that brought him down into that cornfield in Iowa 50 years ago. Here in Rochester, the flight paths seem to carry planes over Frontier Field and, if the timing is right, directly into the setting sun. The vapor trails are left to drift in the twilight.
First of all, Eastman Theatre is a MESS, according to Eastman student and WXXI intern Dylan Smith. He poked his head in the other day, and tipped us off to the fact that the School is posting pictures. Thanks, Dylan!
Workers have less than two months to finish major renovations before the RPO opens the new digs October 8th, 9th, and 10th with a performance of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” The Rochester Oratorio Society will sing the famous ending (“Ode to Joy.”) Members of the Society got an e-mail this week announcing the group has been asked to sing Verdi’s “Requiem” next May with the RPO. This is a significant change. The orchestra’s current schedule lists Verdi's “Aida” in concert May 20th and 22th. So now, as it stands, ROS will bookend the season of Philharmonic concerts.
All last week, I was in the small town of Lichtenberg, Germany with my brass quintet, the Emerald Brass. We were participating in an exciting event called "Rekkenze Brass Week." It was sponsored by the Rekkenze Brass, a group of international brass players based out of Hof, Germany. Read on for a summary of the highlights of the trip!
The Emerald Brass on the Marketplatz of Hof, Germany
I'm back from Glimmerglass opera in Cooperstown, New York. (I'm currently working on a print article due next week. But if you're eager to read a review of the internationally-known company's season now, check out Tony Tomasini's excellent piece in Wednesday's New York Times.)
While I was there, I has the privilege of hearing Jonathan Miller give a talk to a small crowd of fans. Miller, a British medical doctor who has become a celebrated opera director, spoke for a little more than an hour, without notes. He described his influences and approach to directing, citing his greatest influences as philosophers and photographers. (Here I was on the edge of my seat.)
John Searle's book Speech Arts teases out the meanings of sentences and explores the notion of context. Take any sentence, Miller said. WHO utters it determines its meaning and weight. Where is it coming from? This makes all the difference.
He described his efforts to work with what he called Jurassic Park singers, who spread their arms and belt, oblivious and stilted. He tries to teach these performers to act naturally on stage. He tunes into people's involuntary acts such as twirling a lock of hair, rubbing the edge of a table, making fluttery hand motions. These are the small, subtle gestures he tries to coax from singers.
Miller takes that one step further, he said. He doesn't want to direct these gestures at all. His role, he said, is to create an atmosphere in which singers invent expressive movements on their own. He also considers the sensibility of the mind which produced a work of art before he presents it to a contemporary audience. For example, when asked to film Alice in Wonderland, Miller didn't call a special effects crew. Instead, he explored what childhood meant during the Victorian era, when Lewis Carroll wrote the book.
Victorians considered childhood a magical time, a time of incredibly vivid experiences. Kids see everyday life with visionary intensity, they thought, something they lose as they grow older. So instead of dazzling his audience with weird scenery and costumes, Miller directed this sequence as though it were a dream a Victorian child might have.
Tim Burton is making a new film version of Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter that's due to be released next year. Miller says it'll probably be filled with amazing special effects. He laughed. He'll go see it anyway, he said.