Last night the Blue Cross Arena was transformed with the glitter, lights and elegance of a Viennese Ballroom, while Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra delighted the audience with a spectacular show of waltzes, opera and musical favorites. Rieu's showmanship exudes energy and enthusiasm, and flows through each member of his group.
The audience, which filled the Blue Cross Arena about two-thirds full, swayed in their seats, and danced in the aisles when the traditional Blue Danube was played. By the end of the evening the audience had been completely transformed into (as Andre referred to Rochester) "the happiest audience in the world."
Singers and audience members expressed mixed emotions before Madrigalia’s final concert of the season. It was the last one conducted by the choral group’s long-time music director, Roger Wilhelm. He received a standing ovation before anyone sang a note.
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.
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.
Regular readers may recall that when I started this blog, I was the choir director and organist at a small town Episcopal church in Upstate New York. I loved the creative work and the core singers whom I now consider some of my dearest friends.
But certain aspects of the job were tedious. I used to spend a fair amount of time cajoling volunteers into showing up for choir practice. Palestrina is sunk without participation, and you can’t pull off Mozart’s “Ave Verum” without at least a couple of basses and tenors. So I used to compose a weekly e-mail, such as:
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.