Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday follies

Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, "Visions of America," reviewed for the Bulletin. Jan. 30, 2009.

Tonight, I'm seeing The Inverse at Doc Watson's. I've never been to this club before, but a friend of mine from high school plays bass in this band. Funk has been much neglected in my music coverage of late; tonight should more than fulfill my RDA.

On Sunday, I make my triumphant return to church singing in the choir at St. Mark's Church (16th and Locust). This is my first venture into high-church music, complete with chanted psalm settings, and I'm filling in for both the 11 am High Choral Mass and the 4 pm Evensong. Leighton, Howells, Elgar and a variety of 16th century composers will be featured.

Oh, and I'll probably watch a little football after the 4 pm service. Teams from western Pennsylvania and the Phoenix suburbs will be featured.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


With rough weather the last couple days, I've only left the apartment to pick up the papers, all so I could bring you today's Paperboy. For the rest of the last week, I've just been huddled up, covers over my head.

Just kidding. I've been to a couple concerts (one review coming tomorrow), landed a prospective assignment from a widely-read and respected periodical, and interviewed soprano Ana Maria Martinez about performing with Plácido Domingo, whose Feb. 16 concert will be the subject of my next big feature. Not even snowy, icy nastiness will halt my ambitions.

Also, any experts on Dutch music (or Dutch music experts) out there? I'm looking for some insights for my next next big feature.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Valhalla, I am coming

Today on Phawker, the latest Paperboy. I linked to a video of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," and fortunately I didn't have to resort to measures like those seen below.

My non-Paperboy output has dipped a bit, but I'm working on landing a few interviews for upcoming shows at the Kimmel Center. Stay tuned for some of this, and maybe even a little bit of this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural follow-up

Some other thoughts on John Williams' piece for the inauguration here. Pretty much right on - shameless populism strikes again - but there were a few moments (some low rumbles in the piano, some criss-crossing lines that took the cello up high and the violin rather low) that were very nice. It could have been more, and it certainly wasn't Messiaen (I can wish), but the lineup of performers reflected the best of America.

What might have been

They got a cellist, a violinist, a pianist and a clarinetist together to play a John Williams piece for the inauguration. Top-flight musicians all: two legends, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, and two young performers poised for greatness, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. How could they assemble this specific instrumentation and not do Quartet for the End of Time?

Oh, right, the apocalyptic overtones. Don't want to herald a new era with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. It's still awesome, though. The above recording by a chamber group from New Mexico is mislabeled (it's actually the sixth movement, the "dance of fury, for the seven trumpets") but pretty good. Dig this, from Messiaen's preface to the score:

"Music of stone, formidable granite sound; irresistible movement of steel, huge blocks of purple rage, icy drunkenness."

Stone and steel for the nation's new resolve; purple for a country that is neither blue nor red; icy drunkenness for all the revelers waiting in the cold today. It would have been perfect.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pre-inaugural post

Singers and symphonies, preview of concerts by the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and Symphony in C. The Courier-Post, Jan. 18, 2009.

Eschenbach returns, a review of the Philadelphia Orchestra with their former conductor on the podium. The Bulletin, Jan. 19, 2009.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In brief

From today, Paperboy. From Monday, orchestra review. Doing another one tonight.

I was in a room with someone very famous today. Hint: his last name rhymes with "Flamingo."

Coming up: a preview of two orchestra concerts on the other side of the river, plus an article on that Flamingo guy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back to slinging mud

First issue of Paperboy in the New Year after a two-week break for Christmas and New Year's. During the interim, I was baffled to find myself on the Letters page of CP (third one down), bringing a typo to the their attention. I figured they'd run a "regret the error"-type notice, but they probably needed one more short letter to fill out the column.

On the horizon: several Orchestra reviews (Philly the next two weeks at least, plus a Cleveland appearance in early February), another orchestra preview for the Courier-Post, and a visit from my parents.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It is time

A review of the Crossing, an excellent, forward-thinking chamber choir based in Philly. The wait for their first concert of the year was worth it, and I believe that a second wait for their "Month of Moderns" in May and June will be similarly rewarded.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Wrapping up

Various year-end lists featuring my writing surfaced in the last few days. For Phawker's The Music We Loved in 2008, I wrote up TV on the Radio's "Dear Science" and Man Man's "Rabbit Habbits," as well as the "Punk Rock Moment of the Year," Amy Poehler's Sarah Palin rap on SNL.

For the Bulletin, I contributed notes on Charles Dutoit's arrival as chief conductor in Philly and on Jason Moran's stellar Art Museum concert. The Dutoit entry is more forward-looking than retrospective; his work with the Orchestra will likely only grow stronger in the New Year and for several more to come.

Once again, I have chosen new music over football. Better to support local arts than a non-local team. Look for the concert review on Monday. Go Vikes.