RPO

The Sound and the Fury

O Fortuna! Kodak’s ten million dollar gift earmarked for renovations to Eastman Theatre have sparked two debates. The first has to do with the future renaming of the space “Kodak Hall.” The second centers on whether renovations, scheduled for this summer and next, will actually improve the sound of music.

The morning after the Rochester Philharmonic and Oratorio Society performed Carmina Burana, two rather technical e-mails on the subject landed in my box. They are reprinted below the line.

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“This film should be played loud!”

That instruction precedes The Last Waltz, a concert movie documenting the star-studded swan song of The Band. It’s good advice. You can’t fully appreciate the crackle of Robbie Robertson’s guitar or the wallop of drummer Levon Helm with the sound down low. Same goes for the guest singers. The growl of Muddy Waters, the moan of Emmylou Harris and the yawp of Dylan all benefit from volume.

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Party like it's 1499

Sex is yummy, drinking is fun, and we’re all gonna die, so party like it’s 1499. That’s the basic message in Orff’s Carmina Burana. Since it comes wrapped in Latin, you get a veneer of respectability. Click here to hear conductor Christopher Seaman talk about Carmina and the womanizer that inspired composer Richard Strauss. You’ll also hear Christopher's advice for the pure of heart attending next week’s exciting, final RPO concert of the season.

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Ownership

Starting Monday June 2 at 8:00 p.m., WXXI will broadcast weekly concerts from the 2007-2008 season of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s my privilege to prepare them by writing scripts, editing, hosting, and mixing the performances, which are donated by the musicians after they approve them. I attend each concert, take notes, and then hear it in the studio months later.

I can’t explain why, but performances that electrified the live audience occasionally sound flat on record. In person, the RPO’s Bolero (Ravel) had me on the edge of my seat, even though I’ve heard it a thousand times. On tape, though, it seems a bit ragged.

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Wheel of Fortune

Update: The New York Times has eliminated five full-time jobs in the culture department. One name stands out -- that of long-serving and much-beleaguered classical critic Bernard Holland. He's taken a buyout and is on his way out. His last day will be May 23rd. Read more.

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Yo-Yo Ma takes your questions now

Thanks to Gerry Szymanski, Andrew Galbraith-Ryer, Christoph Sahar, Eric Fundin, RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman and my mom for coming up with great questions for superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma. I asked him all of your questions, and you can hear his answers in this interview.

Yo-Yo Ma talks about losing his cello, the upcoming Beijing Olympics, and playing with a robot conductor next month. He was warm, funny, and forthright. He’ll appear with the RPO on Monday, May 5th.

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Yo-Yo, Robot

After Yo-Yo Ma leaves Rochester next week, he’ll play under the baton of a robot with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, according to Wired magazine.

A robot might have done a better job than guest conductor Alexander Mickelthwate, who made his first appearance with the RPO this past weekend. The D & C’s Stuart Low got it right: the hot, young conductor from Winnipeg was boring. Unnamed sources say local musicians concurred.

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Portraits

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.”

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Random stuff

Did you see Andre Rieu on TV Tuesday night?

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New RPO season announced!

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra released its 2008-09 season yesterday. I'm sure the local paper will publish all the dates and details.

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.

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