When soprano Allyn Van Dusen walked into the Hochstein Performance Hall, I half-expected she’d be wearing a full-length antique wrap that had belonged to her grandmother. (She’d mentioned it when we'd talked about her appearance on WXXI's weekly live radio show, "Live from Hochstein.") Instead, she appeared in a metallic sleeveless top, a casual, fringed broomstick skirt, and jeweled sandals. Her appearance hinted at the exotic influences in the music: Ravel’s “Sheherazade,” for example, unfolds in tri-tones to evoke the sight of a bejeweled Persian queen.
Ten random strangers are willing to judge you, based exclusively on your looks, when you upload your picture to Facestat.com. The site uses Amazon Mechanical Turk, an automated web service named after an 18th-century chess-playing mannequin, which turns artificial intelligence on its head by making requests of humans. On Facestat, people judge faces. Among other things, they’ll estimate your intelligence, relationship status, and whether or not you were drunk at the time the picture was taken.
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.
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.
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of opera lovers at Victor’s Regal Theatre missed significant chunks of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” during The Met at the Movies HD broadcast. The video broke up and the sound dropped out at the beginning of the second Act. We watched distorted faces and heard digitized squawks for about a minute. Then the screen went blue. We waited. A staff member rushed in and said they were working on the problem. About ten minutes later, the sound came back and the singers reappeared. Then it happened again. Audiences members groaned, since things were getting really interesting with the shocking disclosure of the Duchess’s illegitimate daughter!
I made the questionable decision to bring two nine year-old boys to work with me yesterday, based on the idealistic assumption that exposing them to the world of music and ideas would fire their imaginations, expand their horizons, and change their lives.
By the end of the day, I needed a shot of whisky.
First, we set off for the suite of Entercom-owned commercial radio stations across the street, where my son and his friend met a bunch of charming, funny deejays. One guy put them on the air. This act turned out to be hard to beat.
This dynamic young woman from St. Louis has a sparkling personality and a clarity of voice that was captivating. Her voice changed from powerful to beautifully sensitive as she expressed the changing character of the music. Photo by Gerry Szymanski