I Am Sitting In A Room

Commentary and thoughts on (mostly) classical music.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cliburn Competition

The Van Cliburn Competition starts today. Like the previous competition in 2005, they are streaming live video. I'll probably get sucked into watching quite a bit, though there are almost *no* really intriguing programs posted. Oh, there's the occassional rarity from the peripherary of the 19th- or early 20th-c. canon, but my cursory glance didn't notice a sudden uptick in Ligeti etudes (for crying out loud, these should be canonic by now) or anything like that.

In the second round the competitors have to program one of the four pieces in the running for a composition prize, the American Composers Invitational. The composers are Mason Bates, Derek Bermel, Daron Hagen, and John Musto. The partial glance I made through the programs suggests that the Hagen piece will get the most play.

One of the most entertaining things about the last Cliburn was following the blog and its comments. The latter are everything you could expect -- earnest, snarky, penetrating, backstabbing, etc. Conspiracy theories abounded (especially about whether a particular professor had undue influence over the fate of her many affiliated students).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Congrats Steve Reich!

Along with the rest of the music community, I offer my sincere congratulations to Steve Reich for (finally) receiving a Pulitzer Prize in music. You can hear the entire piece at Carnegie Hall's Commissions Page, played by eighth blackbird. There are no performer credits on the page or in the pop-up window (blech), but click on "See Details" for a piece and the information comes up.

I saw 8bb play the piece over the summer, and though I enjoyed its energy, I got a feeling of general rather than outstanding quality from it. So the argument that the Pulitzer was a lifetime-achievement recognition has some legs in this corner of the blogosphere. Maybe I'll change my mind after a few more listens.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The Orchestra: "Defiant Cockroach of the Post-Nuclear Cultural Wasteland." Thank you, Matthew Guerreri! (Matthew's blog.)

Take a Friend to the Orchestra month reminds me that I haven't been getting there enough myself in the past two seasons. (To say nothing of not blogging when I have gone*...I'm a crappy blogger.) Recent Cincinnati Symphony-related links: Cincinnati critic Janelle Gelfand contributes a TAFTO article; Conductor Paavo Järvi was sentenced yesterday for operating a vehicle while intoxicated--hate for negative publicity to be the only way to get the symphony in the news. I can imagine all the tut-tutting going on in response to this, but I say if he keeps conducting like he has been while we've been in Cincinnati, let 'im drink all he wants. CSO is world-class, especially when Paavo's conducting. It's one of the things I'll miss most about leaving town.**

* PS - Radu Lupu & Yefim Bronfman were great this season. Bronfman's Brahms 2nd Concerto was huge; I've never heard such a big sound with so many different colors--even more impressive in cavernous Music Hall.

** This blog is Jacksonville-bound in August. What's going on musically there? Don't know yet. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nat'l Lefty Day

August 13 is National Lefthanders Day! Both I and the better half (upgraded to "the wife" as of July 5th) are lefties, so are various family members.

The clerk at our little nearby post office celebrated with cake and made all of her customers sign their credit card slips left handed. The samples she showed us were pretty entertaining.

Thanks to Steve Smith, I now know that Kaija Saariaho is a lefty, too. I like the anecdote Steve has about her troubles writing manuscript scores--they sound familiar. If you haven't read it yet, follow the link on his post to his recent NYTimes profile of Saariaho. I'm still hoping to be in the vicinity of a performance of either opera or La Passion de Simone someday.

The better half shows off her left hand, new rings and her mussels (in Nice!).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Smetana Urquell

I ♥ Smetana
I ♥ Czech beer

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Playlist "80"

My brain made the connection between two opus 80s in F minor: the Prokofiev Violin Sonata and the Mendelssohn Quartet. Naturally I would collect other 80s into a playlist:

  • Bach, Cantata 80 "Ein feste Burg"
  • Prokofiev, Violin Sonata, Op. 80
  • Mendelssohn, String Quartet, Op. 80
  • Beethoven, Choral Fantasy, Op. 80
  • Britten, 2nd Cello Suite, Op. 80
  • Brahms, Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
  • Haydn, Symphony #80 in D minor
  • Faure, Pelleas & Melisande, Op. 80
  • Myaskovsky, Divertissement for small orchestra, Op. 80
  • Sibelius, Sonatina for violin & piano, Op. 80

    That will keep me occupied for a while. I was surprised how many familiar pieces cropped up in the Bs.

    PS - if you don't know it, the Prokofiev is a very good thing.
  • Monday, August 20, 2007

    Pictures? Why not?

    My orchid just finished blooming for the first time in 2 years. I wish it would bloom more regularly, but then it probably wishes it were fertilized once in a while.

    Sometime a couple years back I searched in vain for pictures of Royal Poinciana trees. They grow all over Miami and bloom beautifully, but this is the first time in a long while that I got home during the blooming season. This one's on the University of Miami campus. To get the idea of full bloom, image the orange-red blooms covering the whole canopy like a blanket.

    Also on campus, ibises! Which makes sense--the school's mascot is an ibis. Quoth the UM website: "Folklore maintains that the Ibis, a symbol of knowledge found in the Everglades and Egypt, is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane and the first to reappear after the storm."

    One more...The hippest looking beer I know is Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale. The better half just ran across a web reference to it (on Cafe Aman), so at the local liquor emporium we picked up a bottle. Proceeds go to the T. Monk Insitute of Jazz. Drink and support music education? Alright, I will!