John Graham

The year of musical thinking

In a recent interview, American writer Philip Roth told a story about his Romanian friend Norman Manea.

“Under Ceausescu, Norman went to an older writer from the Party to complain about his readership. The man said, ‘Norman, all a writer needs are eight readers. Think about it. Why do you need more than eight readers? That's enough.

[Pause.]

You, unfortunately, have only three.’”

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Viola sketches


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.”

More tonight.

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In like a lamb

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.

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Yes, we have no Endangered Bananas

I must say, it’s fun to walk into a concert hall with no expectations.

On Tuesday night, I entered Kilbourn Hall with my fashionable friend Carin, a notebook, and two kids: I told my children to sit wherever they wanted to and draw pictures. They hopped up to the back row.

We went to hear Ossia (pronounced “oh-SEE-ah”), the student contemporary music group based at the Eastman School with a time-honored tradition of omnivorous, unpredictable programming.

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