WXXI Classical Blog

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.


At Glimmerglass, the alarm is on love

The first and only time composer Richard Wagner saw his opera Das Liebesverbot performed, things did not go well. The orchestra stumbled. The singers ad-libbed. The leading tenor sparked an affair with the leading lady, whose husband eventually stepped in with a left hook. Bloodshed ensued. When it was all over the composer complained in an 1836 letter, “They are all shit-heads [Scheisskerle] here!”


Summer Frost

A few weeks ago, vandals struck the side of the old Lipton soup factory in Albion, New York, proving Robert Frost right.

"Poetry is what gets lost in translation."



Off to Glimmerglass to see Wagner's Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love)


just between you and the notes

"You have this very close relationship with this thing that you’re bringing to musical life. It’s just between you and the notes and the musical ideas and a kind of imaginary (in some cases) ensemble of musicians that are making the music. And it’s a world I love to be in, and you need time for that. You need quiet space for that. You need to be kind of in the zone for that, and it’s very difficult to do that when you all lead busy lives." - American composer Joseph Schwantner


Gigs to watch out for at Eastman

The other day, a friend warned me to avoid the new Facebook game, Scramble. Too addictive, he said. If you use the online social networking site Facebook, you know it contains many such delightful ways to avoid work.

But it’s useful, too.