The Middle of Nowhere is approximately halfway between Rochester and Buffalo on a windswept ridge at the edge of a frozen wildlife refuge. As in New Zealand, where sheep far outnumber humans, Canada geese outnumber people here by about a million to one. Presently it’s so icy that even the geese have fled. On Saturday afternoon, the only sign of life was a twittering flock of snow buntings on summer holiday from the Arctic Circle.
Imagine This American Life condensing 20 hours’ worth of epic Wagnerian operas into 58 minutes and you get the idea. Smart, fast-paced, and slightly droll in the Ira Glassian style, the hour-long show includes interviews with writer Alex Ross and singer Jane Eaglen, who recently performed A Sea Symphony with the RPO and ROS in Eastman Theatre. It also includes an interview with a guy grocery shopping for Ring-related items.
Alma Mahler interests me. One of the great muses of the early twentieth century, she fell in and out of love with composers, artists, an architect, and a writer. She inspired paintings, symphonies, buildings, and poetry. She even wrote her own music, suffocating artistically when her first husband, Gustav Mahler, asked her to stop.
Bruce Beresford’s 2001 movie about Alma, “Bride of the Wind,” takes its name from a painting of the same name by Oskar Kokoschka.
A new book, “Not Quite What I Was Planning," presents some of the best six-word memoirs culled from Smith magazine. You may have heard Neal Conan talking about this book on WXXI/NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Some of these are quite funny.
I made up a few fictitious memoirs.
“Secret to life: wine, women, song.” - Luciano Pavarotti
“Born in Churchville: conquered the world.” – Renee Fleming
“Got kicked out of the Met.” – Kathleen Battle
On the day that Mitt Romney suspended his campaign to win the 2008 U.S. Presidential race, I sat down and listened to From Afar, a fantasy for guitar and orchestra by Joseph Schwantner. I’m starting to understand Schwantner’s musical language, and I’m beginning to like it, too.
A decade ago, when guitarist Sharon Isbin recorded the lullaby "Cancion de Cuna," by Cuban composer Leo Brower, she wrote that she was in a state of bliss, remembering her experience of "floating down the Napo River in a dugout canoe with piranhas, electric eels, and glistening crocodiles afoot."
This week, when she plays the same piece with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, she'll hear it in a whole new light. Read my concert preview in this week's City newspaper here:
My high school alma mater may drop its Latin program next year. That’s not a huge deal to most people, I know, but if you think of it an indicator, it signals change in the rural school districts around Rochester: a significant drop in the population of young people in small towns.
There are fewer kids in rural schools. Batavia Daily News reporter Tom Rivers (and, in the name of full disclosure, my brother-in-law) describes the changes in a thorough report below, posted with his permission.
As you’ll see, Tom’s story focuses on sports and science programs and the effects smaller classes may have on what schools can offer. Schools such as Elba, Byron-Bergen, and Oakfield-Alabama might have to team up to offer certain classes and sports programs.