Brenda Tremblay's blog

From the Top

Hearing so much about NPR’s “From the Top” this week has filled me with parental angst. Why aren’t MY kids writing symphonies, knocking off Chopin etudes, or sawing at the cello like little Yo Yos? What magical pills are other parents giving their kids to make them WANT to practice?

To dig deeper into these mysteries, I randomly polled my colleagues at WXXI, asking, “How hard do you push your kids to do well in music, arts, and sports? How do you encourage your kids to succeed?”

Here’s a sampling of responses:

J.P., mother of three, writes:

“I don't push, AT ALL. They hate that.

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Jane Austen on WXXI/PBS

"The one claim I shall make for my own sex is that we love longest, when all hope is gone."
— Anne Elliot in Persuasion

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A Brahmsian Scoop

The recent post on Jon Nakamatsu's new Brahms CD sparked this revelation from violinist Edward Klorman,
Executive Director and Co-Artistic director of the summer's Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival. He writes,

"We're not officially announcing the summer programs for a few months, but I'll let you in on a secret... Juliana [Athayde] and Jon are indeed playing Brahms, the Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, Op. 78. It's an extremely tender work, and they'll play it beautifully together. The finale quotes Brahms' famous "Regenlied"(Rain Song), and this concert is all about music inspired by water. As for the rest of the program, well, I'll tell you more later on!"

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Maestra Barbie

Barbie’s promoting symphonic music.

If you have young children, you’ve probably seen the animated movies starring Barbie with classical soundtracks based on famous orchestra works such as Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The first release came in 2001, when Owen Hurley directed an intelligent, charming adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King with music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet.

But it was all downhill from there.

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A subtly shifting balance

I have always loved Johannes Brahms’s clarinet sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 and was therefore delighted to see pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s name on a new recording of these works with another h-less Jon's, clarinetist Jon Manasse's.

In Sunday’s New York Times, James Oestreich describes the appeal of the Brahms thus: “the clarinet and the piano are thoroughly, sensuously intertwined in a subtly shifting balance.” If you listen, you'll know exactly what he means.

(Scroll down for the full review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/arts/music/13reco.html?_r=...)

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Reading material

[On Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”] “It is music of physical release, even of sexual orgasm, as Vaslav Nijinsky demonstrated in his undulating dance of the Faun at the Ballet Russes in 1912. ‘I hold the queen!’ Mallarme’s faun exults.”
- from The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

“By [20th] century’s end, intellectuals had deserted classical music; compared to the theater, cinema, or dance, it was the American performing art most divorced from contemporary creativity, most susceptible to midcult decadence.”
- from Classical Music in America by Joseph Horowitz

“Since Jazz music is a laid back genre of music, students will wear jeans with no holes, a solid colored shirt (long or short sleeve) and sneakers will be okay.”

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Let's Imagine

The RPO’s Annual Meeting, Having Been Held in Rochester’s Opulent Eastman Theatre, Later Discussed by The Busts of Bach and Beethoven Over the Exits

Johann: Grüß dich! That brass quintet, sehr gut! Don’t you think, my old friend?

Ludwig: Ja, ja, I almost heard it! I think it was almost as compelling as the players’ rousing performance of The Firebird by the Russian Wild One, Herr Stravinsky. (He pauses, leans over, whispering) But I believe the young man who spoke afterward, Herr Owens, may have a Napoleonic complex. Did you catch all his mumbling about fame and glory, making the RPO famous around the world?

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music news miscellany

This afternoon at 4:00 p.m., the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra reveals artistic and financial data during an annual meeting. Check back for more on this later.

The U.S. government issued a 2007 patent for colored polymer instrument mouthpieces for brass players, and these are starting to pop up in instrument cases all over Western New York. Prices range from $21 for a trumpet mouthpiece to $32 for a tuba mouthpiece.

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The Kite Runner

I walked out of a movie the other night.

The movie was The Kite Runner, based on the book by Khaled Hosseini. My sister invited me to see it with her at the Little, Rochester’s independent movie theatre. She’d read the book: I hadn’t, and I refused to let her talk about it because I wanted to be surprised. I was.

(Spoiler warning: you might wish to stop here if you want to be surprised, too.)

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Heartbreak

When Beth Wilhelm awoke on the morning of Christmas Eve, her husband’s breathing sounded funny. “I tried shaking him awake, but he didn’t respond,” she said. “He was turning gray.”

Panicked, Beth called 9-1-1 and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Soon, paramedics arrived to take Roger Wilhelm to Strong Memorial hospital.

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