WXXI Classical Blog


My friend Sharon got me interested in waterfalls last summer when she took a bunch of us hiking down a dirt trail to the edge of a 60-foot drop. It was late July. Dry. A single ribbon of water dropped off a shelf, past moss and shale, spilling into a pool at the base. We clamored past warning signs to splash and gaze.



Today, leapblog.
Tomorrow, waterfalls.


Consumer culture

My friend Dave isn’t buying anything this year besides food, soap, and various personal necessities. A friend of his from Philadelphia read a book, “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping” by Judith Levine, and she wanted to chip away at debts, so she asked Dave to commit to a year of thrift with her. They started January 1st, 2008.


Carmina Burana, page 1

My score of Carmina Burana is pretty gross. Coffee-stained, marked up, dog-eared. Once I left it on the kitchen counter and made enchiladas, so it even sports a few tomato stains. I’ve been using it for about a decade, and I think I’ve performed Carl Orff's work about eight times.

Maybe I’ll trade it in someday and start with a fresh copy. But for now, this one is a well-loved map of a favorite country. A smutronstalle. A wild strawberry place.

I sang Carmina Burana with the Rochester Phil and Rochester Oratorio Society last May, and that concert will air on Monday, September 1st at 8:00 p.m. on Classical 91.5 FM.

Being a radiohead, I love the sound of sound, you know? Recorded sound. In this case, I admit the broadcast has nothing on the live experience. But it’s still worth a listen.



Eric Townell, Music Director of the Rochester Oratorio Society, just announced he’s forming a new choral group called RESONANZ. (I’m not sure how to say this. REH-sonance? Reso-NAHNZ? Reso-NAANZ? He's spelling it with all caps.)

He’ll be holding auditions on Monday, September 8th.

It’ll be a 40-voice choir, roughly the same size as the Lyric Chorale, the Bach Festival Chorus, the Eastman Chorale, the Irondequoit Chorale, the Rochester Gay Men's Chorus, the Rochester Women's Community Chorus, and the Gregory Kunde singers.

“Its purpose will be twofold,” he wrote to Rochester Oratorio Society members in an e-mail. “a) to increase the ROS's earned income through singing for hire, and b) to increase public awareness of ROS by performing a fresh mix of lighter music, seasonal music, Americana and event-specific music in non-traditional concert settings.”

Townell says two people have made leading contributions to fund the start-up, the music has been ordered, the room reserved, and the gigs lined up. The mind boggles. He's a busy guy.


Renée Fleming & “Met at the Movies”

This morning’s Democrat and Chronicle reported that Sweden’s King Gustaf has awarded the 2008 Polar Music Prize to Rochester native Renée Fleming. You have the opportunity to see and hear Renée on the Big Screen in the very first Metropolitan Opera Live in HD theatre presentation on Monday September 22, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.


Office talent

For starters, Chris Van Hof plays trombone. Professionally.

Simon Pontin draws funky cartoons. Julia Figueras sews her kids' clothes for the first day of school and Halloween.

The deejays you hear on Classical 91.5 are incredibly artistic people on -- and off -- the air.

My friend, classical host Gerry Szymanski, entered his photographs in a public contest which ends in three days, and some of the shots are quite good. You'll have a chance to decide which of Gerry's pictures might be included in a future coffee table book if you click here.

Jack Ertle plays piano. Jeanne Fisher sings alto. Ruth Phinney crochets. I can play "Chopsticks" with my toes. I'm not sure what John Andres and Marianne Carberry do for fun, but it's bound to be something surprising. Music lovers tend to be especially creative people.

As you well know.


Genetic code

Cancer sounds like music. Or something. Click here to hear for yourself. A Harvard researcher, Gil Alterovitz, translated the genes of cancerous cells into music by giving consonant sounds to healthy cells and dissonant ones to unhealthy ones.

It also sounds like something composers Morton Feldman and Karl Stockhausen might have liked.


Olympics Closing Ceremony

The music heard during this complex bit of political theater intrigued me, especially the techno-pop version of “Greensleeves” accompanying the arrival of a double-decker London bus. Even more interesting were the national anthems. Let's face it. The “Star Spangled Banner” is just too hard to sing. One and a half octaves. Can you do it? Other countries have it much easier. During the Kenyan anthem, played when Sammy Wanjiru received Kenya’s first gold medal in the marathon, I think I counted all of five notes. Very simple. The Brits have the sweetest anthem of all, “God Save the Queen.” And didn’t you just love the giant, green, unfolding London bus transformer thingy with pop-up singer?


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.