Alex Ross

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Tonight’s presidential debate will exclude discussion of cultural policy, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Cleveland, a long-time classical music critic was
removed from his beat
after criticizing the Cleveland Orchestra’s conductor, Franz Welser-Most. Rochester classical music critic Anna Reguero launched her own website. Writer Alex Ross won a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. So did 30 year-old violionist Leila Josefowicz, who’s coming to Rochester on January 29 and 31 to play Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the RPO. (Both Ross and Josefowicz will each receive $500,000 over five years, to spend however they wish.) New York State has a state muffin. RPO clarinetist Robert Dilutis just released a solo CD. RPO concertmaster Juliana Athayde announced her engagement to the RPO’s principal oboist Erik Behr. So nice to see young people getting along!

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Road sign

Here's a sign you don't see every day. It signals the entrance to the Alice Busch Opera Theater, where Glimmerglass stages operas every July and August. The theater near Cooperstown is a world-class destination about 3 hours east of Rochester and 4 hours north of New York City.

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Reunited

and it feels so good!

Hey, guess what? I found my copy of Alex Ross’ “The Rest is Noise” buried in a laundry basket, of all places. In such moments I think of Thoreau’s stint on Walden and wonder if I should jettison some stuff. But not Alex’s book. I’m very happy, and I apologize to my co-workers for suggesting one of them might have lifted it off my desk.

Now that I think about it, what a wildly optimistic notion. Not everyone is so crazy about 20th century classical music.

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Alex is missing

I think someone took my copy of The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. Right off my desk. I want it back. After I get my book back, I shall lock the thief in a dark room for a week with only Cheetos, Yanni, and warm diet cream soda.

I am seriously displeased.

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Who’s afraid of the big, bad 20th century?


I finally finished Alex Ross’s book, The Rest is Noise, and it’s got me fired up for 20th century music. Ross traces the threads of music woven into the fabric of politics, technology, history, and society. It’s an absorbing, brilliant book, densely packed with lively writing, vivid anecdotes, and sharp insights.

Ross connects the dots.

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The Ring and You


My friend Andrew pointed me to WNYC’s special about Wagner's Ring Cycle.

Wonderful.

Imagine This American Life condensing 20 hours’ worth of epic Wagnerian operas into 58 minutes and you get the idea. Smart, fast-paced, and slightly droll in the Ira Glassian style, the hour-long show includes interviews with writer Alex Ross and singer Jane Eaglen, who recently performed A Sea Symphony with the RPO and ROS in Eastman Theatre. It also includes an interview with a guy grocery shopping for Ring-related items.

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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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Christmas Eve Post

I've been so busy with the holidays that I missed the fact that Alex Ross named the RPO's new Gershwin CD one of the best of the year! (Read more here: http://www.therestisnoise.com/) Finished The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand last night. Today I'm playing my last services as the choirmaster and church organist at my Episcopal church. I have barely enough time to wipe away a tear of bittersweet relief before the whirlwind of visits begins. Wednesday, off to Ohio to visit a college friend. I hope to post a few times over the next week, including Things to Look Forward to in Rochester in 2008. Merry Christmas to you!

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The Rest is Noise

I had the privilege of interviewing writer Alex Ross of The New Yorker last Friday. His new book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a cultural history of music since 1900, was named one of the top ten books of 2007 by The New York Times and various other publications. He’s a clear and vivid writer, and I will die happy if I ever write something one percent as illuminated and coherent as his book.

Hear the show here: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxxi/.jukebox?action=viewP...

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The lunar tundra

About once a year, a recording seizes my hand and pulls me into a labyrinth. Once there, I want to wander around forever. I spent much of 2006 meandering through a CD called Cloudburst by Polyphony, an English choral group.

I played the song 'Sleep' over and over and over.

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.

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