Music in Our Schools Month needs a serious overhaul. First of all, the phrase itself - used to describe a national, month-long festival of in-school performances - generates as much heat as Administrative Professionals Day, Root Canal Awareness Week, and Better Sleep Month combined. It smells like community service. It calls up images of gymnasiums awash with sweaty 6th graders, parents lolling like walruses on a beach. I hereby suggest that music teachers put their heads together and come up with a new title, one that preferably includes the words "righteous," "awesomemest," and "sweet."
I heard a lot of memorable concerts in 2007. One concert I still think about featured a guy with an electric viola. A few months ago, when I heard violist John Graham playing, I wrote,
“Graham moshed his way from a grinding, heavy-metal sound into a yearning, vaguely Middle Eastern mode. I was astonished by the range of sounds he made. He cranked out violent, robotic rhythms. He dug in, stripped horsehair strands off his bow, and played on even more forcefully. Later his instrument broke out in bluesy laughter. “Viola Sketches” proves composer Andrew Colella has struck a rich vein. More from him, please.”
Rochester’s first crazy busy concert week in March begins on a lamb-like day. Tomorrow, look for a cultural announcement from WXXI. On Wednesday, Eastman prof John Graham will pick up his electric viola to reprise Andrew's Colella's powerful Viola Sketches. More later. Tonight, the Rochester Oratorio Society sings at Roberts Wesleyan College in a concert unfortunately named “Choral Triptychs.” I’m singing in it. The music falls a little on the heavy Germanic side with music by Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Rheinberger as well as the flowing, inscrutable Lux Aeterna by contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen.
For quick reference, I've created this handy excitement level ratings chart for you. It's not in chronological order, and the opinions expressed do not in any way represent WXXI, its underwriters, or contributing supporters.
Poet E. E. Cummings goes to Harvard. Makes friends with guy from Rochester, New York. Cummings paints a whole bunch of paintings and gives them to friend.
Cummings dies. Friend dies. 70+ drawings and paintings wind up at local college in 1978. Nobody knows what to do with them. They sit around in a closet (about half a mile from my house) for about 30 years.
Check out this picture of North Korea taken by satellite at night. It says a lot about the country’s insular, repressive regime. This morning I got the chance to interview clarinetist Robert Dilutis of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s traveling as a sub with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Today: Periods of snow. High near 33. Total daytime snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. Excellent day for a nap.
Tonight: Occasional snow, heavy at times. Low around 18. Feed the birds.
Wednesday: Occasional snow, mainly before 9am. Bela Fleck's Blue Spruce at 6:15 a.m. Sunny Mozart at 7:05. Frosty the Snowman in the style of Mozart at 8:55 a.m. Really. Temperature falling to around 14 by 5pm. Wind chill values as low as -2. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Stream it or tune into Classical 91.5 and see for yourself.
For decades, classical DJ Simon Pontin worked in a radio studio with no window. He complained about it. On the air. So the last time WXXI’s radio studios were renovated, he got his window. It looks out onto the parking lot of the Kodak world headquarters.
It’s my privilege to fill in for Simon this week. My alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m. I love feeling ahead of the world, cozy in the dark with very little traffic and the office all to myself.
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