One of my most important personal mantras is "Do not take yourself too seriously." In this spirit, I present to you Recession 2008: "Which Classical Composer Would Hypothetically Survive and Who Would Need a Government Bailout, The Tournament."
A British newspaper is reporting that Chinese authorities are banning or tightening controls on performances of sacred classics such as Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem. Even Carmina Burana has fallen under suspicion. (The Rochester Oratorio Society's repertoire came under Chinese scrutiny over the summer. Only a few weeks before the group's trip to China, conductor Eric Townell got an e-mail saying all of the music had to be vetted. His strategy? He sent translations with the word "Lord" spelled with a small "l" in hopes authorities might miss it.) Read the article here.
On our last morning in Shanghai, I found myself in the hotel lobby with a dozen or so Rochester singers waiting for the bus to the airport. With our suitcases collected by the glass revolving door, others drifted into the gift shop or hotel Internet center. Three of four Chinese businessmen sat smoking and chatting on their cells. The Chinese smoke pretty much wherever they want. Bored, I wandered over to a baby grand piano draped in a red velvet cover. I pulled the ruffled fabric away and sat down in front of a heavily lacquered, black Yamaha. I touched a few keys. Perfectly in tune.
There’s a cartoon I want to show you, and I can’t find it, so I’ll just have to describe it. A single panel shows a child slumped at the dinner table, his face cupped in his hands, a portrait of utter dejection. His mother hovers over him, patting his shoulder and saying, “I’m sorry, dear! I remember when I met my first radio deejay, too.”
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.
“The Queen of the Night vanished into the split rock, the stage lift worked, the prince and the birdcatcher set out on their adventures. The scene changed and in a room in Sarastro’s palace lay Pamina, abandoned and afraid. And here was alchemy again as the quarrelsome, rapacious Raisa became a young girl whose simplicity and seriousness was affirmed in every limpid note.
My friend Carl Pultz pointed me to The Idler’s website. Tom Hodgkinson (a.k.a “The Idler”) writes about his efforts to -- as he beautifully puts it -- “return dignity to the art of loafing.” But I don’t believe Tom is a great idler. He’s too productive. His recent article about Facebook in The Guardian newspaper is long and well researched. It explains why Tom despises Facebook, the online social networking site with 59 million current users and 2 million new ones each week.
“She sang equally well lying on her back or kneeling atop her lover. This technique reduced Masetto to an obedient puppy – and probably many Eastman Theatre patrons as well.”
- the D & C’s Stuart Low, writing about Mercury Opera’s recent production of Don Giovanni
What do you want to read about in a review? Background info on the musicians? What about the hall, the crowds, or the color of the conductor’s hair? Critics debate about this stuff all the time. Some say they should stick to the music and only the music. Others want to capture the flavors, sights, and smells of the hall.
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.