Brenda Tremblay's blog

The RPO, Musical Chairs

It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was mildly surprising.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra switched the positions of the cellos and violas the other night. The cellos are now sitting in the center of the orchestra between the violins and violas, and the violas are closest to the audience on the conductor’s right side.

“[Pinchas] Zukerman had the Orchestra sit that way when he guest-conducted here,” Music Director Christopher Seaman explained via e-mail. “The string principals and I thought it would be worth trying again. The Cleveland Orchestra sits that way (I think), [and so does] the Baltimore Symphony, the Melbourne Symphony (Australia), Columbus Symphony, and many others.”

Seaman added, “No seating is perfect for every section or all repertory.”

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No Music Day

If someone asked you to give up music for a day, would you? Could you?

Writer and former rock star Bill Drummond wants you to try. Tomorrow, if possible. He’s declared Wednesday, November 21st “No Music Day.”

His point? To get us to think about the unwanted, sometimes-god-awful music we’re forced to hear in public places such as lobbies, restaurants, and shared office spaces. His point is to get us to listen mindfully.

To support Drummond’s mission, BBC Radio Scotland will eliminate all music November 21st, including the short clips before the news. Thousands of people have promised to live in silence for the day on the No Music Day Web site, http://www.nomusicday.com/home.html.

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Running with Steve Reich

I started running eleven years ago, and I’ve run essentially the same four-mile route from the start. The first mile follows the Erie Canal, then jogs south. There’s a long, upward slope, a left by the college sign, and then a loop around the campus of the State University of New York at Brockport. The route winds through arches, down brick walkways and through a tunnel of locust trees. At the end, I huff up a staircase to a place where someone’s sprayed “REPOMAN” on the concrete wall of a bridge. At the end of a run, I’m always glad to see Repoman.

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Behind the Scenes at Backstage Pass


9:59 a.m. Friday, November 16th. Backstage Pass, WXXI's live studio music show, airs in about 3 hours.
Host Julia Figueras is still not sure what guests Juliana Athayde and William Preucil will be playing. Since the two violinists had a student-teacher relationship, Julia decides to focus the interview on the subject of mentoring. 10:15 a.m. Julia shows her list of interview questions to intern Hannah St. Marie.

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Secret Confessions from Skitty


Skitty says, “I like Andrea Bocelli.”

Skitty purred when she heard that Bocelli sang at the Metropolitan Opera earlier this week. But the purring stopped when someone explained to her that he was only testing the acoustics. Bocelli, the blind pop star tenor whose reedy voice is much-maligned by classical music critics, is friends with Met general manager Peter Gelb. Bocelli might perform an out-of-season recital.

How bad can he be? Well, he’s no Elvis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btfBQQNk8Q8

Read on for miscellany.

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pattern recognition

“So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” - Brenda Ueland

My colleague Simon and I slipped out for coffee the other day.

Heading out the back door, we nearly tripped over a tropical plant sticking out of a plastic bag.

Who would throw out that nice plant? I wondered to myself. Did someone get fired? Is it dead? Would it fit in my car? I should adopt that plant, no, wait, I kill houseplants. Maybe it’s still alive. I don’t want it, but it’ll die out here . . .

While I was running down this maternal track, Simon whipped out his camera phone.

“What a great shot,” he said.

He crouched down and snapped a picture.

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the classical flipside

Quartsemble's new album, TangoQuartsemble's new album, Tango
Today a few Rochesterians will go hear string quartet Quartsemble perform in the Hochstein Performance Hall.

Next month, others will hear the same group -- in a bar.

WRUR’s Scott Regan tipped me off to the fact that Quartsemble has been playing a monthly gig at the Flipside Bar and Grill. (Next time they’ll play is December 16th. http://www.flipsidebarandgrill.com/)

A lot of classical musicians, impatient with the clunky cultural trappings of the traditional scene, are popping up in unexpected places.

Baltimore-based saxophonist Brian Sacawa writes about his experience playing bars,

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After the Ball

I went to the ball and came home with both slippers firmly attached.

The ball was the annual Viennese Ball in Wilson Commons at the University of Rochester.

David Harman’s U of R Chamber Orchestra sounded glossy and polished playing Strauss classics such as the “Radetsky March,” “The Blue Danube,” and “Tales from the Vienna Woods.”

Harman even conducted a surprisingly elegant version of "The Chicken Dance." People flapped and clucked.

Upstairs, Irina Georgieva led the U of R Chamber Singers in a delicate, incisive rendition of Johannes Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes.

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the savage breast

Monday night. Off to Oratorio Society to practice singing Handel’s Messiah.

I’m not alone. Hundreds of local singers all over Western New York are preparing for what’s become a holiday ritual. Adding up the performances from my group, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, The Publick Musick, and dozens of smaller choirs, you could probably hear Messiah live twice a week until Christmas. Beats shopping.

In a feeble effort to live a more mindful existence, I recently started taking notes during rehearsals.

My notes look like this:

“Altos flat.”
“All WL Sheep like NBC theme.”
“Poor Eric w/ broken arm!!”
“Gates have no heads.”
“Hallelujah. UGH.”

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Oh, Canada

You may be planning more summer trips to Niagara.

According to today’s Toronto Star, the National Arts Centre (NAC) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) plan to establish a major new summer music festival. Presently, they’re calling it Project Niagara. The Shaw Festival folk are thrilled.

The performances would be held on a covered stage area with lots of seating on the lawn.

From May to September, this “Tanglewood North” would be a place to hear the NAC Orchestra conducted by Pinchas Zukerman and the TSO, led by Peter Oundjian.

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