Friday, October 31, 2008

Philadelphia freedom

On Phawker, Goodbye Garden State, some thoughts on moving out of the New Jersey suburbs and into the city. It's an auspicious time to be doing so.

No concert coverage this weekend; the demands of moving, unpacking and copious revision of another assignment forbid it. Look for an update from the new, cozier digs on Monday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pre-electoral tension

Today on Phawker, the latest Paperboy entry. Pretty obvious album reference in the title, of course, but there's a slightly more obscure one in the text. First one to find it wins a prize of some sort.

Forthcoming: a reflection on moving out of the New Jersey suburbs and, at long last, into Philly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Other people's words

Philadelphia's Orchestra2001 took the George Crumb work that they premiered (and which I reviewed) in September to Carnegie Hall. The Times' Allan Kozinn reviewed it as part of a program also featuring "Vox Balaenae" and "The Sleeper." Saith Mr. Kozinn: "Mr. Seeger’s plaintive antiwar text has never sounded more grim." Amen.

Two more reviews of the program I sang over the weekend with the Choral Arts Society have surfaced. The Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reviewed Saturday night's show at Daylesford Abbey, and Tom Purdom of the Broad Street Review wrote about our program on Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia Cathedral.

I'm most awed by Mr. Stearns' kind words, especially since the weather and the travel to Paoli were so horrid on Saturday, making both choir and audience somewhat out of sorts. I disagree, though, that a retrospective concert for a composer under the age of 40 is premature. Some composers certainly deserve such treatment, and Carnegie Hall seemed to agree (Bernard Holland didn't, but no matter).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend triumphs

There was this. Oh, and this. Owing to a late start and an even later finish to Game 3, both victories actually took place on Sunday.

But outside of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, there were other resounding successes this weekend. The Philadelphia Orchestra gave an excellent concert Friday night, which I reviewed for the Bulletin. The Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns might have put it best in his lede: "What a fun concert." I agree.

Nestled between the end of the Eagles' game and the start of the Phillies' yesterday was a concert by the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia. Reporting from my spot in the tenor section, I think that the concert was a success, and I can assert that there was no coercion on my part with regard to Lindsay Warner's review in the Bulletin.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A kaleidoscope blooms

A whole new 'Light.' A preview of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony's performance of this year's Made in America commission, written for The Courier-Post. October 26, 2008.

Based on a performance of "Ancient Runes and Incantations" I heard with Orchestra2001 in Philadelphia, I characterized Joseph Schwantner's music as "mystical" during my conversation with Maestro Gaylin. He assured me that "Chasing Light..." was "rooted in the natural world." If that means no gongs being immersed in water as they are struck, I will be sorely disappointed.

Also of note: the Bay-Atlantic's performance of "Chasing Light..." will be the only one in the Philadelphia area until mid-2010, when the University of Delaware Symphony will perform it. Keystone State performances are being held in York and Williamsport.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whirled Series

For the rapidly descending Mid-Atlantic temperatures, there's piping-hot Paperboy today on Phawker. I declared PW the winner this week - I'm a sucker for a Dogfish Head mention, wherever it occurs - but the real winner is the Phillies, not just for their win last night, but for uniting and igniting the city after tough times (the violent death of a police officer, budget shortfalls, and general economic uncertainty) in the early fall.

One PW oversight: no preview of Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer at the Kimmel Center. The classical offerings at KC often get the short end in PW, but there's no reason to have missed this one. C'mon, BMac.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy birthday Dizzy Gillespie

Composer Shulamit Ran, too, but she was never on the Muppet Show. John Birks Gillespie is one of many notables born today, sharing the date with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Nobel, and Carrie Fisher.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Roger Murtaugh edition

The latest on Phawker: A review of a jam-packed punk lineup at the Electric Factory. I was in the rare position to review an event scheduled to be repeated - in this case, tonight. Last night show wasn't perfect - Alkaline Trio's sludginess sometimes came off as sloppiness, and the Gaslight Anthem's occasional use of disco hi-hat made them sound like a sub-par All-American Rejects cover band - but riding the high points of each band's set made for a wild, Warped Tour-esque romp.

Also, another edition of Paperboy, one whose title I did not and do not approve. I suggested "Drop Beats Not Pucks," in light of the Republican vice presidential nominee's recent visit to Philly. I would have put up a more spirited defense, but my editor called when I was already at the aforementioned punk show, and high levels of volume and exhaustion would not allow it.

Re: today's title, Roger Murtaugh is the character who famously exclaimed "I'm getting too old for this shit" in the movie "Lethal Weapon." The 15-year-old me (or even the 18- or 19-year-old me) certainly would have been in the pit last night, but the almost 24-year-old version knew better. After more than 10 years of punk show attendance, I think it may be time to phase out that preoccupation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Swing and two misses

A couple of dumb mistakes in the Inquirer's review of Anthony Braxton's concert. First, the late Karlheinz Stockhausen is bafflingly referred to as "Markus." Anyone familiar with Braxton's music (or anyone who read David Adler's thoughtful preview) wouldn't have gotten that important detail wrong.

Also, Braxton did not play "contrabass sax." The large, throaty instrument he played was clearly listed in the program as "contrabass clarinet." This also means that the earlier characterization of Braxton playing "a battery of saxophones and clarinet" is not entirely correct either.

The writer, A.D. Amorosi, is a frequent contributor to the Inquirer and a prolific writer and gadabout for City Paper. I'm too much of a newcomer to recognize him by sight, but we were definitely in the same room on Friday night.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quick hits

Q&A with Girl Talk, published in advance of his Thursday show. I'm told it was quite the affair.

The usual Paperboy column. Even as a Gentile and a recent transplant to Philly, the cover stories this week more than held my interest.

Review of saxophonist/extraterrestrial Anthony Braxton, who was inscrutably brilliant. That bassoonist was kind of doggin' it, though. Photos of his graphic scores courtesy of my cell phone.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Classy and cosmopolitan

Title comes from an ad for Symphony in C, formerly the Haddonfield Symphony, seen at PATCO stations throughout Philadelphia and South Jersey. Alliteration sells, don't ya know. I haven't yet had a chance hear to this orchestra, which is led by the estimable Rossen Milanov, but I'm trying to work my way into another regional media outlet, so hopefully more to come on the Fabulous Philadelphians' Camden counterparts.

A new wrinkle in my writings for Phawker: classical and new music! I wrote a wrap-up of this weekend's programs at Kimmel Center. My suggested title: "Tuxedo Junction: Bustin' Loose at Broad and Spruce." Another attempted reference to DC go-go music foiled. I know ALM feels my pain.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Editions, early and late

I let Thursday and the weekend go by without putting forth my latest Paperboy column for Phawker. Great offerings all around last week, and I was especially pleased that a link to one of my favorite writers, Mark Singer, was appropriate to include. John Hall and his biker-gang memories did indeed haunt my dreams last week. Even more troubling: Hall now apparently lives in Central Pennsylvania, though I haven't been able to track down precisely where. Could he have been just around the corner during my time at Bucknell? I shudder to think.

Also, my review of the Philadelphia Orchestra's Opening Night gala appeared in today's Bulletin. The flashy dress I mention in the last paragraph was indeed daunting; I turned up at the concert in jeans and an untucked dress shirt. My plan, if I was met with any glares, was to say I was just coming from an important meeting with The Boss. I came to Saturday afternoon's rally a decided (and registered) voter, but I imagine that many others left converted.