WXXI Classical Blog

ode to autumn

When I was in New York City for the NEA Institute in Classical Music and Opera, I wrote that I missed my backyard.

This is why. Trees. Grass. Earth.

I love fall.

Especially on sunny, cool days.

Come back for these upcoming posts:

Singing, (almost) the greatest physical pleasure
Alexander Zemlinsky. Who he?
Behind the scenes at the RPO.
Confessions from Skitty.

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In praise of exquisite writing

I love this line from Bernard Holland’s October 30th New York Times’ review of Angela Hewitt playing Bach in Zankel Hall.

“The “Well-Tempered Clavier” is, more important, an encyclopedia of the heart, every shade of extroversion, privacy, happiness and desolation thoroughly described.”

See for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjs9olYaXxc

Read the whole review. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/arts/music/30hewi.html?_r=...

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The lunar tundra

About once a year, a recording seizes my hand and pulls me into a labyrinth. Once there, I want to wander around forever. I spent much of 2006 meandering through a CD called Cloudburst by Polyphony, an English choral group.

I played the song 'Sleep' over and over and over.

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.

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What you are about to read may stun you. Or not.

What news would really surprise you?

At a party last year, I posed this question to a rocket scientist from the Rochester Institute of Technology. (He's a physicist with a specialty in rocket technology.) His response was, “I'd be surprised to learn someone's discovered a real fuel alternative to gas and oil. That would truly stun me.”

What news would surprise you?

I'd be surprised to hear we'd been contacted by aliens. Surprised, but not stunned. Carl Sagan imagined such an event in his fantastic novel, Contact.

On a more trivial scale, I saw or heard two things on my recent trip to New York City that surprised me.

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NEA Institute: sketches

My friend Dave Perkins, who teaches at Houghton College, went to Europe this summer. He didn't take a camera. Instead, he took a sketch pad, a paintbrush, and a tiny tube of paint. He came back with a notebook filled with exquisite little watercolors of scenes from England to Italy.

He inspired me.

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NEA Institute Day 9: Thanks to Ruth Phinney et. al.

Tomorrow is my last day at the NEA Institute in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University, and I'm already thinking about what I can bring back that'll help me in my work at WXXI. I have 3 notebooks full of scribbles and sketches. I feel a little overwhelmed.

What have you done after a conference to imprint what you've learned?

Today we heard pianist Jeremy Denk perform Charles Ives' "Concord Sonata," a musical portrait of four famous authors who all lived in Concord, Massachusetts 150 years ago. The concert was given on a barge at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Facing the Manhattan skyline, we listed and pitched on the river while the pianist ripped through Ives. Boats chugged by. The sky darkened. Buildings lit up.

Beautiful.

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NEA Institute Day 8: A Walter Mitty moment.


Hello from the top of The New York Times! We got a tour of the new building today from editors and staff. The view is spectacular. I have much to relate to you. But I'm beyond tired. Walking through the glittering canyon of Times Square completely sucked the life out of me, so I'll keep this short. I know you've been waiting to hear what Times music critic Anthony Tommasini said about my review of the Mahler symphony.
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NEA Institute Day 7: Cats vs. dogs. You decide.


Your tax dollars are being put to good use. The NEA Institute is relentless. I'm still in NYC at the music conference at Columbia University. I've seen three orchestras in three days. Cleveland. The New York Philharmonic. (I was pleased to note that the tenor in last night's concert, Anthony Dean Griffey, is an Eastman grad.) London.
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NEA Institute Day 6: Big wow!

It rained yesterday. Still hot, New York City is officially tropical, and the gloves I bought still sit in my hotel room with the tags on. The NEA whirlwind continues. On the subway, we lurched from the Brooklyn Academy of Music to Carnegie Hall to the Met, where we met with Peter Gelb. We got a tour of the Met, stood in the diva's dressing room, and explored the wardrobe, backstage, and costume areas.
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What happened to the afternoon news and traffic?

Missing the afternoon local news and traffic reports?

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