29 November 2005

Why Punctuation Matters

A woman without her man is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

picture credit

24 November 2005

Thanksgizzle, Rapper Style

Rappers have a lot to be grateful for around Thanksgiving. I mean, they've probably got their money on their mind, and perhaps, if they're lucky, maybe even two turntables and a microphone back at the house. I think that as a gesture of kindness and goodwill, they should give back to the community, maybe by donating to their favorite charity. I mean, I'm sure a lot of them do already. But, for those that don't, they can just start of small. You know, even a check for 50 cent can go a long way.

21 November 2005


For that panda-loving person inside us all.

17 November 2005


Beginning in September, the major department stores kindly reminded us with large Christmas trees, dancing present boxes, and festive music, that the holidays were fast approaching. There's a lot to reflect about this time of year: being grateful, helping others, new beginnings, going home, memories...

...For me, one such memory was when I informed my friend Jeffrey Tucker that Santa Claus didn't exist. We were in the third grade and riding the bus home around the holidays. My grandfather had finally confirmed my strong suspicion that Santa Claus was a hoax, and I was so delighted to tell someone the news. Ruthlessly, I told Jeffrey when he gave me the run-down on his Christmas wishlist.

"...So, that's what I asked Santa for", he beamed.

"Um, you mean what you asked your parents for?" I questioned.

"Noooo, it's what I asked Santa for." he replied.

"Yeah, Santa doesn't exist. My grandfather told me so, and he knows everything."

Oh, the glee in my heart, I was so happy to tell someone my newly acquired information. I really had good intentions; I just wanted my friend to know the truth about the secrets of the universe, which at the time, consisted of slap bracelets, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus. Suddenly though, he started crying. His two older twin sisters were on the bus glaring at me, and I knew I was in trouble. Feeling so bad, I reassured Jeffrey that I was "only kidding".

I know, I was a ruthless kid.

Photo credit - The picture above is of Zach, the amazing baritone I have the honor of accompanying. Here, he is pictured with a Santa Claus that graces his apartment - Mardi Gras beads, shades, and all.

15 November 2005

Tower of Power

In the same vein of yesterday's post, check out this article on composer Joan Tower in the Kansas City Star. You may have to create an account to view it.

Some highlights from the article :

“My music is about a kind of visceral communication,” she has said, “a kind of sharing. It’s colorful and accessible. I want it to be heard.”

Music itself is neither masculine nor feminine, Towers argues. It’s either good or it’s bad.

“Everything in music goes counter to what we think of as feminine or masculine,” she said. “It just doesn’t apply.”

14 November 2005

Next Thing You Know, They'll Let Women Vote...

Via Daniel Felsenfeld's awesome new blog :

"Finally, at long last, and to much hoo-hah in the press, a woman will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, a famously stubborn all-male holdout organization which had the grace, a few years back, to finally admit a female to their orchestral ranks--a harpist, of course. But hell, this is progress!"

Please join me as I shamelessly plug the Women In Music Festival (WMF) at the Eastman School of Music. Designed to celebrate and promote women involved in all aspects of music, including composition, performance, teaching, scholarship, and administration, it was a great hit last year - its inaugural season.

It was much fun co-founding the festival - from creating the logo and image*, to formulating the mission statement, and formatting the layout of the concerts, etc. It will be nice to focus more on programming and Libby Larsen's visit, among other things, this time around. I'm thrilled to serve as the assistant director of the festival again this year; the director, Dr. Sylvie Beaudette, is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.

*I really had a blast with the festival's logo. My seed ideas consisted of doing something along the lines of MU[women]SIC (get it? women in the word "music"?!). Finally, I designed the concept of a half note combined with the female sign. I picked orange and grey because I think those colors look nice together, and we wanted to dispel the idea that anything related to women had to be pink. Nathan, my amazing graphic designer friend, saw the potential desperately trying to peek out of my feeble attempts forged in the deep dark files of Microsoft Word, and actually made logo look cool (see above).

12 November 2005


So, last week, I missed one of my favorite classes in the whole world. And the reason? To finish my midterm project for that very class. Meanwhile, I showed up at the end of class, turned it in, and proceeded to talk to my dear professor about how much I loved the project, which was actually true. Clearly though, I enjoyed it so much that I missed his lecture for it. Um, that's really tacky. It rivals the time that I missed Meg and Ben's wedding ceremony and showed up for the reception. I really didn't mean to; I left plenty of time to get there, actually, a whole hour and a half extra. There was just an unrealistic amount of traffic in New Hampshire. Still, I was a no-show for the most important part of their wedding. TACKY.

09 November 2005

The Periodic Table of Elephants

I think this is fabulous.

07 November 2005

The Death of the Death of Classical Music, An Addendum

A beautiful example of the power and broad appeal of classical music. With no stuffy halls or $190 tickets, the music was free to communicate to a wide variety of people...And look at the results! :

ArtsJournal, citing The Washington Post : "13,000 people packed the Mall in Washington, D.C. last weekend to watch a simulcast of Washington National Opera's production of Porgy & Bess on a huge, 18-by-32 foot video screen. 'When Angela Simpson sang Serena's lament My Man's Gone Now, the applause was thunderous. And the cheers were repeated for almost every song from Indira Mahajan as Bess and Gordon Hawkins as Porgy. And for once, the cheers and the notes weren't trapped by the chandeliers of the Opera House but floated off into the blue sky over the Mall.'"

06 November 2005

The Death of the Death of Classical Music*

*The title is a quote by Alex Ross. See the penultimate line of this entry for its context.

Those who say that classical music is losing its popularity in today's society may be probing at a deeper issue: that our methods of musical communication might have to be continually evaluated as we embrace new cultural changes.

I believe that classical music is as relevant today as ever. Its place in our society is largely centered around how we communicate it and make it pertinent to the culture around us. I don't mean that we should "dumb it down" so to speak, but I do think that we should evaluate how to make it accessible via ticket prices, performance venues, viable programming to relate to audiences, online streaming, etc.

I point you to a great posting by Alex Ross, for more thoughts on the issue:

"Drew McManus directed me toward some startling statistics on orchestra ticket prices, which appeared in a recent piece by Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer. To quote:
If interest in classical in waning, why then, when BBC Radio 3 offered Beethoven symphonies online a few months ago, did Beethoven draw an astonishing 1,369,893 downloads? How can we downgrade classical to esoteric when the Philadelphia Orchestra drew an estimated 8,000 listeners for its neighborhood concert at Montgomery County Community College in July? That's three times the capacity of Verizon Hall. What these two happy events have in common is a characteristic that's inconvenient for classical music presenters to consider: Both were free....

Given the escalation of ticket prices for orchestral concerts in the last few decades, plus the expanding number of entertainment options, the mystery in classical music is why times aren't even tougher than they are. Quite by accident a couple of months ago, I came across a routine Philadelphia Orchestra press release from Nov. 23, 1975, announcing a subscription program. Tickets were listed at $2, $3.50, $4, $4.50, $5, $7, $7.50, $8 - with the top ticket price a big $8.50. A complete listing for the season shows the highest ticket for a regular subscription concert was $10.50. Converted into 2005 dollars, that would mean the top ticket price to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra today should be $39.33.

Of course, it's not. The highest ticket price next season will be $122 - an escalation three times the inflation rate.
The whole piece is worth reading. Dobrin acknowledges the difficulty of bringing ticket prices back down, but urges that something be done to make concerts more affordable. Expensive marketing ventures might turn out to be utterly unnecessary if people had to pay less. See Marc Geelhoed for broader thoughts on current orchestra issues."

Now for a personal experience. In July, my Schumann quintet performed once at our music festival on the "rising artist" series, and then again at a local nursing home. It was the latter that proved the most fulfilling for me and for the ensemble. We were not on a stage, but rather in a living-room like set-up, the way that salon concerts were back in the day. Much to my excitement, the audience clapped when they felt moved (in between the first and second movement). The reception that followed afforded us oppurtunities to talk with the audience about music and life. They were very inquisitive folks. Their questions ranged from asking if I was the "director" of the quintet from the piano to where we were from. In many ways, the time afterward was just as important as the concert itself. The audience wanted to engage in some sort of communication.

As a poor student, I fully understand the difficulties in only performing concerts of this sort, that is, concerts with the sole purpose of engaging the listener and communicating ideas, regardless of pay or benefits. I think the ultimate goal is to somehow incorporate this idea into a career or lifestyle. What if orchestras centered their core values and goals around artistic integrity and communication? Might financial concerns be cared for if the community (through who much of the grants and donations is generated) was more engaged in orchestral affairs? The community at large seemed to be engaged in classical music in previous years, perhaps a function of both the composers and the public. Bach only composed in German, in the vernacular, the language of the people, to much success. Haydn and Beethoven's music moved the public so much that they ascribed programmatic names to some of his works. The fact that we would care enough about the music and care enough about others to want to communicate it, I believe, is so powerful.

Another awesome entry from Alex Ross on the popularity of classical music:

"Via ArtsJournal, a good piece by Marc Shulgold on classical downloading. Shulgold writes: 'Naturally, we're not talking huge volume here: According to [Naxos's Mark] Berry, classical downloads account for only about 6 percent of the total of all music downloaded on the Internet.' But note: classical music has had 3 percent of the CD market in recent years. So it's twice as popular on the Internet, and growing. The death of the death of classical music continues. By the way, Naxos's $19.95 offer — which gives you Internet access to their entire catalogue for a year — is quite a deal."

02 November 2005

Halloween Costumes

Deciding what I wanted to be for Halloween was somewhat of an ordeal this year. Inspired by someone last year who had the brilliant idea of attaching sponges to himself and being "self-absorbed", the wheels started turning.

I thought of covering a plate with tin foil and wearing it around my neck. Then, I'd be "silver plated".

I was also thinking of wearing a black postage envelope around my neck and being "blackmailed". I thought it'd be really cool if my hot black male friend, Carl walked into the party with me. I could be "blackmailed" and he could be a "black male."

These plans were foiled, as Carl ended up dressing as a thug, and I as Deb from Napoleon Dynamite (see picture above). My friend Jared was Napoleon.

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