WXXI Classical Blog

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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Honey sweetness

The Rochester Oratorio Society is rehearsing Carmina Burana, the secular cantata by Carl Off, composed in the 1930’s. It's based on a thirteenth century manuscript discovered in a Bavarian monastery. Beloved by singers and derided by critics for its lack of polyphony, Carmina celebrates spring, sex, love, and drinking, all while bemoaning the vagaries of fate. It’s fun stuff. In the upcoming May performance, the conductor has decided to use the “Coro Piccolo,” that is, to have a small chorus sing some of the sections instead of the full choir singing everything. This doesn’t please those left out, and during last night’s rehearsal, a few confessed to feeling resentful. “I KNOW that part,” said one soprano chosen to sit out during the small chorus sections.

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World Made by Hand

I just finished James Kunstler’s new novel World Made by Hand. It’s the best book I’ve read in awhile. Years ago, Kunstler’s anti-suburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere greatly influenced my thinking about urban planning, architecture, and public spaces. In his later non-fictional The Long Emergency, Kunstler imagined what our lives will be like (yes, he says, this WILL happen) when we run out of oil. The new novel is an apocalyptic, fictional telling of the same story, set a few decades from now in a small town in Upstate New York that mixes elements of Mad Max with Little House on the Prairie.

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Stravinsky’s favorite instrument, etc.

You'll like blogger Jeremy Denk's riff on composer Igor Stravinsky. Revelatory!

More opinions pour in on renaming Eastman Theatre "Kodak Hall" in two separate articles by Democrat and Chronicle writers Matt Daneman and Anna Reguero.

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The what at where?

This morning University of Rochester President Joel Seligman announced that Eastman Theatre will be officially renamed “Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.”

It’s all about money. The Eastman Kodak Company is committing $10 Million to an on-going renovation project that includes the construction of box seats and a larger lobby. When renovations are complete, “Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre” will seat 2,250 and be less of a cave.

The question is, will the new name stick?

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Big announcement tomorrow

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman will host "a major and historic announcement for the community" tomorrow (Friday) at 9:45 a.m. in Eastman Theatre. No one in our newsroom knows what it'll be about. Or they're not admitting it.
Guesses?

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New look for music

Not your traditional notation.  Part of the musical score from Steve Wanna's "Abeyance."Not your traditional notation. Part of the musical score from Steve Wanna's "Abeyance."

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Mind and heart

"Why, when safely seated and merely listening, should our hearts beat faster, our temperature rise, our toes start tapping, our minds start racing after the music, hoping it will go one way and watching it go the other, deceived and disgruntled when we are unconvinced, elated and grateful when we acquiesce?

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Met at the Movies

On Saturday I went to see the Met at the Movies, a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera projected in high-definition in an Upstate New York movie theater. It was my first time watching opera in my jeans and sneakers, and I was extremely curious to see Franco Zeffirelli’s famous production of Puccini’s La Boheme.

Earlier in the week, when I’d gotten two tickets, I couldn’t find a date. Everyone was busy, and the one dyed-in-the-wool opera fan in my family, my dad, had to work. I tried to convince one of my kids to go.

“You mean,” echoed my nine-year old son in faint disbelief, “they sing the WHOLE TIME?!”

I went alone.

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It's not you, it's your music

Rachel Donadio’s essay in Sunday’s New York Times (“It’s Not You, It’s Your Books”) explores the touchy subject of reading habits in romantic relationships. Say you liked Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” or “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand and you find out your date didn’t. Poof. Instant turn-off factor. The disclosure causes the same illogical deflation as the sight of someone clutching a fork like a shovel. Some habits aren’t sexy. With books, it’s a matter of taste, so it’s even more important.

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