Friday, September 30, 2005

Taking over the World, classically!

Have you seen this?

He Saved Opening Night: Tenor Mark Thomsen Triumphs as Last-Minute Substitute in Chicago Lyric's Carmen
By F. N. D'Alessio

Graves, D'Arcangelo and Rost also score successes in John Copley's production.
Associated Press - 25 September 2005
Bizet: Carmen
Graves, Rost, Thomsen, D'Arcangelo, et al.
Orchestra and Chorus of Lyric Opera of Chicago
A. Davis, Copley
24 September 2005 - Ardis Krainik Theatre, Civic Opera House, Chicago
CHICAGO — Don José finally got to be a hero — or at least the tenor singing him did.
As the male lead in Bizet's Carmen, American Mark Thomsen not only made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut Saturday, but he did it on the season's opening night — and as a last-minute substitute for the billed Neil Shicoff, who was recovering from laryngitis.
Thomsen began the evening facing a firing squad during the last bars of the overture, and he ended the night riddled with rifle bullets as the curtain fell. In between, though, he scored a personal triumph.
Thomsen had sung the role before, in Dallas, so he had to be aware of the character's shortcomings. Don José, after all, is a soldier who only makes it to corporal before he deserts. He then becomes a most halfhearted smuggler before winding up as homicidal stalker. Even as a lover, he doesn't quite work out. What sort of tenor loses the girl to a bass-baritone?
Don José does get to kill her, though. And he gets to sing, beautifully, in Thomsen's case, particularly in Act II's "Flower Song."
Thomsen is also young enough to play the role effectively, and handsome enough to account for why Carmen, the tempestuous Gypsy, singles him out for her attentions in Act I.
In the Lyric production, Carmen is sung by American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, who has made the role her own in recent years. There are many reasons why, and Graves demonstrated them all Saturday night. Her flexible voice, intriguingly throaty at moments and capable of Eartha Kitt purrs, is all but perfect for the character. And it's beautifully matched by the movements of her dancer's body.
And to add to Carmen's erotic arsenal, Graves has two other seductive weapons: humor and intelligence.
The humor has always been there, in the libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, but few recent singers bring it out as well as Graves does under the direction of John Copley. She knows the phrases to accent, the facial reactions to use, and how much leg to show and when. And it's never overdone, which is one place where the intelligence comes forth.
Graves plays Carmen not as a slave to passion, but as a lover of total freedom. It's evident from the Act I Habañera, where love (and Carmen, too) is a wild bird that will not be tamed, right through to the fatal duet with Don José in Act IV.
Graves and Thomsen get good support from the secondary players in the current production. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, a Lyric favorite, is a good fit for the bullfighter, Escamillo. And another bass-baritone, New York-born Christian Van Horn, used a commanding voice and his impressive height to accentuate the crucial, but often overlooked, role of Lt. Zuñiga.
And Hungarian soprano Andrea Rost brought a real depth to Don José's village sweetheart, Micaëla, who sometimes comes off as saccharine. Rost played her as tiny, but brave, and drew loud cheers with her Act III soliloquy and prayer for courage.
The conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, was obviously having a fine time leading the orchestra through one of opera's best-loved and most melodious scores.
The entire production is sumptuous, but smoky. The products of the cigarette factory where Carmen works are very much on display, and many characters on stage puff away on them with apparent enthusiasm. One almost expected some audience member to stand up in Act I and shout, "Hey, you're singers, do you want to ruin your lungs?"
None of the principals, however, appeared to be inhaling.
Lyric general director William Mason said Shicoff's throat was improving and he should be able to sing the remaining seven performances from September 28 to October 21. Further productions are scheduled for March with a different cast.
But credit for saving opening night went to Thomsen. When a large bouquet came flying over the orchestra pit at the curtain calls, Graves picked it up, extracted one red rose and presented it to the tenor. It was an echo of the action in Act I, but it was also a way of saying "Thank you."

I saw it Wednesday and passed it along to Norm Clarke, the “gossip” columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal. So I was happy to see it in his column today!
I met Mark while in Las Vegas, a very talented singer, and nice guy to boot. If you get a chance to hear him, do so, and stop by his website:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Get to the Guitar

Reading this blog, I'm sure you understand the importance I place on classical music and on live performance. If not, let me be "clare", I mean clear about it - GO SEE LIVE CLASSICAL MUSIC. SUPPORT THE ARTS, BUY A TICKET TO A CONCERT AND TAKE A FRIEND!

Now that is out of my system, allow me to recommend a few happenings.

Ernesto Tamayo, the Cuban guitarist, is playing tomorrow evening in Lancaster, PA at the Fulton Opera House. It will be exquisite, I promise. It's also the release of his new CD, the Cuban Guitarist, with music by Bach, Tarrega, Rodriguez, and Ernesto himself.
I caught Ernesto's Carnegie Hall debut a few years back, it was sold out, and that same weekend I proposed to my girlfriend in NYC. Well, at least I'll always enjoy Ernesto's playing and have that memory! (My fiancee and I did not get married. (Not really a blog topic!)
A bit about Ernesto, yes, he is from Cuba and came to the states - studying with Manuel Barreuco - the guy famous for playing in the Lexus commercials - when I interviewed Manuel for the Wichita Symphony years ago, I asked him if he was also driving, which got a laugh!
Ernesto and I talked about his latest album, which will appear in a European Guitar magazine, as well as an audio file on my website, ClassicallyHip dot com.
Go see Ernesto Friday if you can, tickets are affordable and it will be fun. Come up and introduce yourself to me. And to Ernesto, he loves to meet folks!
There's more on his website, The Cuban Guitarist dot com.

Also this weekend is another artist I interviewed around her debut...Leila Josefowicz. She plays Sunday afternoon at Market Square concerts, in the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Lately Leila has been championing contemporary composers, which is not only awesome, its an artistic necessity these days. If you haven't heard her John Adams' album, run out and get it on Nonesuch. Adams speaks very highly of her.
Her program will have everything from Beethoven and Ravel to a new work by Esa-Pekka Salonen. It's basically her latest cd out on the Warner Brothers label (another charming 2 disc set!) You could purchase the disc and then go see her, and get it autographed!
Leila has a great site (just google it or type in her name with dot com!) to learn more.
That concert is Sunday afternoon, October 2nd at 4pm. I'll be there after I fill in at WITF that morning/day. Again, say hi if you go, and take my suggestion!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Join up!

I sent in my membership today to the American Music Center (
I've been meaning to for quite a while (no doubt the reason I took out a 2 year membership!) and had told Augusta Read Thomas that I would (when we interviewed for 20/20 Hearing she had told me she was the president-elect. Now mind I had good intentions before Gusty told me that!)
The AMC are the folks who own and manage NewMusicBox besides many other great resources for composers. Do yourself and new music a favor, join up too!!!
Tell 'em John sent you. John Cage that is. Or Augusta Read Thomas, whatever or whoever, just, as that certain sports gear company would say, do it!

Best o Britten

There's a new recording of Britten's Violin Concerto, a wonderful performance of Lorraine McAslan with the English Chamber Orchestra and Steuart Bedford. It made me revisit the concerto, I knew the old Britten recording with Mark Lubotsky. And a few years ago the amazing recording of Maxim Vengerov really stunned me.
Well, for the price, the new naxos wins. And for the repertory on it as well. Lots of charm and imagination with the Canadian Carnival and Suite of Catalan Dances.
But for sound and interpretation, I have to go with Maxim Vengerov's EMI disc.
HAHA - as I'm writing this, I'm seeing the new naxos is an old Collins Classics cd.
Well, it's new on naxos. ;)
And its a bargain to boot, with good rep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Done it again

It's a hit. Perfect, just right.

Hilary Hahn's new Mozart cd is a must have...perfect for the Mozart year. In a word, Magnificent.
Take a look and hear for yourself: DG website (
or you can go to her website (

In short, these sonatas are tasteful, charming and speak to the soul. The balance is excellent and the phrasing exquisite. I'm looking forward to hearing them again and again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Silly Link

A friend sent me this link, and I had to share also:
What Alban Berg piece are you?

In a related link, recently the BBC featured all of the music of Anton Webern, another of the Second Viennese School.

PS- Turns out "I am Berg's final and perhaps greatest masterpiece, his opera "Lulu", unfinished at his death at 50 from an insect bite. I am dirty, sexual, amoral and free to do as I please. I carry several diseases."

New Bio

Needed a bio for an upcoming talk at the Frederickson Library (two talks on Russian Music - should be a blast!) So I decided to update it, and what the hay, post it here.

John Clare is a classical music enthusiast. A broadcaster for National Public Radio, Voice of America, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and stations in Kansas, Nevada, California and Pennsylvania, programs and interviews by John have been heard around the world. In 2004 Mr. Clare received the Electronic Media Award for Best Radio Show in Las Vegas, and the same evening, the award for Best OnAir Talent. This year, John is a finalist for Best Radio Show and for Radio Manager of the Year.
He has played the violin for twenty seven years, from New York to Nevada, including performances with tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. He has also been a member of the Nevada Chamber Symphony, Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, Glen Willow Symphony Orchestra, Shreveport Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic and Wichita Symphony Orchestra. An avid chamber music lover, John founded the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society in 2004.
John is a Polish Music Scholar and also a webmaster for musicians including,, and the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society website (
When he is not smoking a cigar, watching hockey or women's tennis, drinking bordeaux or aged cognac, John loves to travel or catch a concert.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bar lines

Lovely concert last night with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Wonderful audience reaction for Chris Theofanidis' Rainbow Body, and the composer was present. The orchestra played it well and also shone in the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. In between pianist Stewart Goodyear played a charming Gershwin Concerto in F. The star of the evening was no doubt Stuart Malina, the energetic conductor who was not flashy but delivered a nice program. Kudos!
Afterwards I opted to not drink with the orchestra, but went back to the place I went Friday after the Concertante concert...and ran into some coworkers - a great time! I think Vegas changed me a bit with bar scenes...perhaps confidence and a healthy happy life take part in that too, but I'm certainly looking forward to hanging out more, and if the flirting/smiles/dancing stays the same, who knows, I may not even have as much time to blog!
More to report in the future, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Spot on

I saw Concertante last evening at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg.
It was certainly one of the great concerts I've heard.

Lou Harrison's String Trio kicked things off, a short work from the 60s, and while it was interesting, it was too short (which I shared in the discussion afterwards they had with the audience.)
Next was Frank Bridge's String Sextet. I hadn't heard this piece, and was glad I was introduced to it. A stellar performance of a well crafted and charming work. I need to explore more Bridge.
After intermission, Brahms' Opus 18, the First String Sextet, made the night perfect. I am a sucker for the 2nd movement, dark and yet brilliant variations, extremely well played.
I probably could have heard the scherzo as an encore instead of the concert "discussion" afterwards. Or perhaps talk in between works (the evening started with Rachel Shapiro talking on and on about the Harrison, it could have been much more the discussion afterwards.) Maybe that is part of the broadcaster in me, get to the point and make it compelling.
Another point of focus should be marketing. The attendance with maybe 50 folks in the theater, especially for the high quality of music making, is sad.
Don't get me wrong, Concertante made some of the best music I know, with stellar interpretations, fabulous phrasing, and the right amount of excitement.
I'll be at their other performances here in Harrisburg, and tell friends in NYC to catch them if they can!

Friday, September 23, 2005


I adore NewMusicBox. These folks do great stuff:
In fact, I oftern try to add something to the discussion. To wit:
You raise a delightful topic (as per usual). Not to overly simply things, to me it is "does the end justify the means?" The basic question arises, though, is the thought of being revolutionary the genius or when it is revised, the end product make the piece revolutionary? And how about the compositional journey that the composer comes to to get there. Verklarte Nacht is still a masterpiece even though later Schoenberg wrote his Piano Pieces, Opus 11 - and if he would have revised either, would that change them in your eyes?
Then there are all the ancedotes about Brahms changing a note here and there, very slowly, and it is well crafted. Does the end (of The Rite of Spring) justify the means? By the way, I think we should start planning now for the 100th anniversary of the Rite, with an "original instruments" performance - authentic with a crowd yelling and riot, recorded digitally!!!
Anyway, back to the topic, if a composer "admits" to the later revision, doesn't the cloud of revolution disapate?
I've had an interesting conversation with Alvin Singleton about composers basically working on a single piece their entire career, always trying to find "that" solution...

I finally met Frank Oteri this last February at a radio conference...and hope to knock around ideas again as I make my way to Manhattan much more frequently.

PS-Be sure and look at their "Ask the internet" discussion, I haven't laughed so hard at a graphic in years!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Virtuoso Violin

I recently heard a recording of a violinist playing a concerto. And I have to say I wasn't impressed. It was out of tune and sounded like a bad case of nerves. We all have bad days, and I know, ye who casts the first stone. But it just wasn't that good. The recording quality was alright, it wasn't the mic placement, and I have to say the orchestra sounded alright. I have to say all of my teachers wouldn't have accepted this level of playing...and again, I'm not saying that I am at a higher level. But then again, I don't claim to be god's gift to violin either (ignore the great eskimo violinist tag at the title of this blog!) ;)
I will continue to go and hear this violinist. But I won't be running to the concerts, as I might for say, Gil Shaham or Hilary Hahn (who I think are the world greatest living violinists!)

Anyway, it made me go back to the origins of violin virtuosi - Nicolo Paganini.
Every era has great violinists, and there are many ways to figure out and decide who is the best. Of course, there is no right answer. But there are plenty of wrong ones! See folks like the former concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony - they have plenty of opinions of who is suitable and who is not. So I encourage you to look into the great violinist of his time, and probably all time!
Paganini Website (


"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good and just and beautiful." -- Plato

Useful Links

I check these daily for classical music news:

For humor:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The list

Folks I'd like to interview (for radio, my website, etc):
[in no particular order)

Anne-Sophie Mutter
Rachael Ray
Carmen Elektra
Jennifer Garner
Michael Chabon
Oscar Goodman
Peter Maxwell Davies
Ricardo Muti
Rachel Podger
Christoph Eschenbach
Dick Wolf
James Levine
Itzahk Perlman
Janine Jansen
Brett Hull
Joe Sakic
Patrick Roy
Matt Groening

Those are off the top of my head, I'm sure there are more. And who knows, maybe one day I will get to meet them/interview them.


No doubt, I'm a classical music fan. And when it is live, I really think it's at its best. Since seeing Itzahk Perlman at an early age and picking up the violin, I'm been a fan of live classical music, even before being a member of AFM. (Last year I got to tell Perlman's daughter that he was responsible for my playing/love of music. A sweet girl, but she's no Itzahk on the piano. And I did give her some slack for 1.playing Chopin's 2nd Concerto - fluff! and 2. for being rather pregnant!) While I've heard Itzahk live since, I haven't interviewed him yet - one on my list (that's another blog! Musicians/personalities to interview...) BTW, have you heard his first album? It was released last year by RCA, it had been held back for a flashier concerto release, but has him in fine shape! These days Perlman is a better conductor I think, but still, what a sound!
Anyway, it shouldn't be a surprise that Friday night and Saturday evening you'll find me at the Whitaker Center and at the Forum hearing Concertante and the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, enjoying live classical music.

So why live music? I can hear all the works that these groups are doing at home, on my stereo. Why go out?

Well, first of all, it's supporting the groups. While ticket sales aren't always the bottom line, it doesn't hurt.
Moral support. A good thing - who wants to play for empty seats?
The excitement. Why go to a sporting event when you can watch it on tv? Same sorta concept - the environment, seeing others who enjoy the performance... Watching performers can be highly interesting!
The sound. While cd players and various sound systems reproduce music, it's not the exact same thing - really! Reproduced music is not the same EXACT sound as being there. (another topic should be making the sound and hearing it as the performer!)
The visual aspect of the music performance. By that I mean, how music is conveyed visually - literally. Take Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos...the first time I saw it performed (I had heard it with a score several times [another topic - listening to music with a score!] before seeing it live) you get the idea that Poulenc was having fun with the violins playing with the 1st soloist (all on the right side of the stage) and the cellos playing with the 2nd soloist (both on the left hand side of the stage) Visually and musically its stunning. Composers sometimes also include things like this in a score - if trumpets are off stage, or how they should be positioned. (another topic, the visual aspect of scores!)

Well, take my word and advice. See and hear classical music live. And you may even bump into me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Live life

What a great morning - and productive to boot!
I put together the ArtBeat for this Friday on WITF, it's a preview for the HSO's concert this weekend. Stuart Malina is a real gem and I'm looking forward to hearing the orchestra.

Just before completing that, I interviewed my friend Ernesto Tamayo - who is performing in Lancaster (pronounced LINK-kister around here!) on Friday, September 30th. More on that later!

Been looking more into concerts I want to attend in Philly and NYC. Invited coworkers to join me for Hilary Hahn's concert in November at the Kimmel Center. So many good things to see and hear.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Music, music and more music!

Friday I experienced for the very first time, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Violin Concerto. It's from 1998 and I'm sorry I haven't heard it before! I'll definitely be getting a score - the new recording with Pamela Frank on Naxos is adorable. It is one of the real gems of recent violin concerti, and get this, it's based on Bach's Chacconne! It's a piece I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Yesterday I made it to the St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Schaefferstown for the opening of their chamber music series, run by Carl Iba. It was charming and in a delightful setting. The church was founded in 1730 and this church built in 1765! Bach was good, the Rebecca Clarke charming, the Honegger Viola sonata different, and the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante alright. Star of the afternoon was Randy Day, the accompanist, who also I'm told plays violin. I was skeptical about hearing the Mozart with piano accompaniment, but Randy really brought it life and charm.

Today is International Talk like a Pirate Day. Really! I had no clue, until last week, when the WITF staff made a promo and passed along the idea/website about it. So in the 2pm I'll be joined by Polly Tonal, a wisecracking Parrot (his favorite conductor? Andrew Parrott of course! his favorite restaurant? Arrrrrrrbys! his favorite WITF program? Arrrrrrrtbeat!) Silliness will ensue. Or we'll walk the PRANK!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Music and thoughts...a good memory.

I just played a recording of David Golub - a charming pianist playing Rachmaninoff. The cover of the disc, Humoresque, has him in a b&w photo lighting a cigarette ala the old movie.

I met David when he came to play with the Wichita Symphony. I interviewed him on a Friday night for KMUW-FM and afterwards mentioned having a cigar. He had said something about doing taxes and lots of forms...he'd also recently just recorded a Handel opera, and felt tired.

The riverfront had a new hotel and in it, a grand smoking room where I would often go and enjoy a cigar with a tasty tidbit and drink. So I invited him, heck I even had cigars on me, proudly showing off the Padron Anniversarios in my leather case.
David said he would meet me there, but the cigars would be on him.

Well, was I in for a treat. I called another friend, who's family was visiting from Seattle - his Dad smoked cigars too, and joined us.
David Golub brought Cuban cigars, ones he got in Italy, where he lived. We talked and laughed, had a great time, me not worrying about whatever girl I was chasing or job at the time; David relaxing from the aforementioned taxes, performance with the WSO and life. Craig and his dad could say they hung out with the symphony soloist the night before (I think we all went the next night, to tell the truth I can't remember what he played!)

But I was sadden a few years later when David died (perhaps not surprisingly of Lung Cancer.) He was such a joy to talk with and what a musician.
I often think about that night and the fun it was. Especially when I see or hear one of David's recordings.

It's bittersweet, but a good memory.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blair Bombs, Tindall Dull

Well, finished Mozart in the Jungle by Blair Tindall. It was somewhat entertaining if smutty. Imagine an open book of your sexlife with some name dropping and facts about the music industry added in the most clunky manner imaginable. Blair Tindall writes some good stories but they are interupted with facts. Now mind you, I am interested in the music business and to some degree with sex, but if you're going to mix the two with a book on music, far more finesse is required.
I know, by reading and looking at this blog, who am I to talk?
I'm just sharing that there are very few transitions in the writing, and if hearing about affairs and sexual encounters bother you, this isn't the book for you.
Then again, it's her first book and maybe after more writing she'll improve. But I wasn't impressed - nor do I think it deserved all the press it got. Kudos on that!
*note I did read this quickly - not as fast as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - but want to pass it along to some coworkers!

Now I can recommend another musical book, and I really think is some great writing too!

Tony Faber's Stradivari's Genius is not only a bit of history of violin making and of instruments, it's a nice story with facts and assumptions. I'd like to think I'm fairly knowledgable about violins and have to say I learned quite a bit reading this. Again it is a first novel, but it's night and day compared to Tindall's book. We don't hear who Tony slept with (or Stradivari either really!) as Blair wrote in her life story, but there is drama, fact, and charming transitions.

It's kinda like listening to an orchestra - their interpretation of a Brahms Symphony can be elegant, or they can screw up the transitions. It's still good music. Same with Mozart in the Jungle...good story, lousy interpretation. Faber's book is a well played masterpiece, that is a gem for collectors and for anyone.
Mozart in the Jungle is the LaserLight $2 disc you see at outlets - of the book world that is.

So, if you're into musical books, or just looking for something worthwhile to read, I'd go with the fiddle than with the oboe. (If you need both, put on Hilary Hahn's recording of Bach's Concerto in c minor with Allan Vogel!)

Soundtrack of my life or Music you can't get out of your head or...

I listen to a lot of music. It's my job, and it's my passion.
I even compose.
But I thought I'd share two tunes lately that I've been listening to over and over again.
Maybe it all started when I got into a minimalist kick on Monday, with two pieces by Philip Glass and one by John Adams. But I've been sampling these two tunes for a while now, and find myself drawn to them again and again, literally over and over.
Here's Let it die by Feist.
And the March with Ethel.
What do you think of them?
(They're mp3 files - I ripped them from my discs quickly fairly low grade, no point in any lawsuits!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A.L. & R.

Art, love and reading. (No, not the town in Pennsylvania, but the verb, like a book!)
No, I haven't fallen off the bike, smoked too many cigars, or died. Just been busy.
Quickly, I adored the 17th annual Gallery Walk this last Sunday. Fell in love at first sight with a young lady, now if I can just meet her. I feel like Charlie Brown with the "little redhead girl." More on both of these later.
AND I'm reading Blair Tindall's new "Mozart in the Jungle." And trying to do so and pass it along to coworkers.
So I'll do some more writing as I can, but wanted to post something, because there is something to post! but just not in great length at the moment.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Been a lovely weekend around here. About to get ready for the 17th Annual ArtsWalk in downtown Harrisburg, should be sweet. Anxious to see local artists and galleries.
Got my digital cable & internet yesterday. Yowser! Nice to have a speedy connection at home. Even did some work, downloading 252 tracks (about 13 classical cds) of new releases from Universal classics. I did that in about an hour, whereas the previous attempt to download a single 4 minute track of Magdalena Kozena took 45 minutes alone.
Updated Walter Mays' website and bookmarked several sites I hadn't been to in awhile. Plan to add some of those to this one, where you can see where I keep up to date with the classical world.
Did some cooking, experimented with chicken garlic and rosemary - nothing too crazy with rice - even some leftovers for tonight or tomorrow.
Listened to Arvo Part's Mirror in Mirror and Ralph Vaughan-Williams' The Lark Ascending - now have to figure out the rest of the program. Perhaps Mozart's Adagio, KV 260 and Andrzej Panufnik's Hommage a Chopin. Rachmaninoff's Vocalise is a real contender too. Oh, and John Corigliano's Red Violin caprices.
More on all of this later!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Some broadcast news

Well, you may remember last year (2004) was a great success at the Electronic Media Awards. It was a delight to win Best Radio Show and Best OnAir Talent in Las Vegas.

*pictured right - a celebratory cigar and both 2004 EMAs!*
Yesterday afternoon I received confirmation that this year (2005) I am a finalist for Best Radio Show and for Radio Manager of the Year.

The awards are October 21st, 2005 and we'll hear the outcome then - not sure that I can make it back to Las Vegas for it - but friends say they'll accept for me!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cigar smoking

I've tried two new cigars, one last evening and one the night before that. Both were enjoyed with a tumbler of cognac. Wow. Nice, spicy and strong cigars. One brand I knew of and its maker, Rocky Patel, so I bought three of the same size - I'll smoke the other two soon, this time with port, and the other without a drink.

The other brand, Africa, I didn't know much about so I just bought a churchill and robusto, to try. Now I'll go back and get a few more, and also see if they have a torpedo size.
There's such an art of cigars, and a real relaxation to it. I love being on the back porch and just thinking, smoking and relaxing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


One of those days that seems to breeze through easily - do you know the feeling?
Arrived to work early. Got my own bills/mail done, then LVCMS work done before I finished my first cup of coffee (and before I would normally BE at work!)
Then proceeded to get cds and playlists organized, discs pulled for shifts. Even time for a little joke for this afternoon's staff meeting.
Also on tap today Franck's Piano Quintet. Now that would have been a killer cool piece on the Gretna program last Sunday (see post below)
Looking forward to this weekend already - Saturday I get my digital cable and internet (woohoo - 90s technology - that fact pointed out by my PD) and Sunday is the Gallery Walk in Harrisburg down, mid and uptown. They're mailing me a map.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Not really a Monday

But sort of seems that way after a holiday...well, not for me, I did work. But hardly anyone else was around!
Going to do a little cooking tonight, a new Rachael Ray recipe, articoke hearts *sigh* I typed heart and Rachael Ray in the same line - oh I did it again. hahaha.
Started carpooling today, nice to be off the bus - will definitely get my bike chain fixed now so I'll still get some exercise! Weekends I will totally be on the greenbelt (see previous post) and I want to start going down to the Reilly Midtown - its an arthouse movie theater/art gallery/coffeeshop/ice cream place. Think it'll be great to meet new folks, and a fairly easy bike ride downtown.
Oh! This weekend is an artwalk on Sunday. I'm so going.
Good productive day at the station so far, more than 150 discs entered into the library, which lets us make better playlists, or at least its easier for me if I can look up a disc in the computer rather than looking for it on the shelves and then manually adding it to the playlist.
More later if I get a chance. Perhaps after dinner!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Concert & celebration

What a delight to catch the 30th anniversary of Gretna Music and their 2005 Summer Season finale.
Labor Day weekend had the place very full, we got a pretty good parking place - the drive out was pleasant, about a 45 minute jaunt from Hbg. Coming back it was especially cool to see the Hershey Planetarium lit up. ( I just spent 1/2 hour looking for a link about it, with no luck. Trust me, it is a highly cool sight! Just no sites, hehehe)
So back to the concert...a fairly standard performance of Mozart's Flute Quartet in D major. I played it with friends in Wichita years back - perhaps one of Mozart's great slow movements, with the flute taking the melody and the strings merely plucking the entire way. The flutist was the founder, and I admired that he did really well - his day job is as a surgeon.
The next work, Beethoven's Ghost Trio, probably should have been last on the program - more on that in a bit. Anna Polonsky really led the group and the Audubon's second violinist played really well, as did the cellist, Clyde Shaw. I knew recordings of the Audubon, and this was my first time to hear them live. Good musicians, honest interpretations, and nice showmanship. Anna, played the keyboard perhaps better than she looked, which is a hard task, she is as beautiful as Beethoven's music.
The intermission featured myself, Dick Strawser and Cary Burkett in a MetOpera style quizshow. It was a total blast, with help from the audience and gags from us. We didn't know any of the questions in advance - honestly! Since it was the first time for me at Gretna (btw, the playhouse reminds me of a miniature Brevard or Aspen Music Festival setting - an outdoorsy wood hall open on all the sides - I guess the original playhouse was destroyed by snow one winter - I like this one.) no surprise that the only question I got "wrong" was one about the Gretna Music festival. It was fun.

After intermission, the entire quartet (leader Ellen Jewett locked herself out of the dressing room before we started the quiz at intermission- there was a joke about me getting into a violinist's dressing room, but I won't repeat it here, hahahaha) was joined by Anna Polonsky (have I mentioned that she was stunning, musically and in her red top? And her accent!)

for Giovanni Sgambati's Piano Quintet #2. This is a long, romantic work that meanders and wanders musically. It's pretty, but nothing of substance exists. I understand that the Quartet has appeared often, and that they probably have done the Brahms, Schumann, Shostakovich, et al Quintets many times. So I totally understand programming a different work - I had never heard this work. And really, they played it better than the music deserved. So I really think musically the Beethoven is such a great piece, that the program should have been Mozart, Sgambati and then the Beethoven. But the audience loved it - there was quite a crowd - great to see!
And the players did a great job with mediocre music.
As I told several folks, it was my first time to Mt Gretna, but certainly not my last!
It was nice meeting some of the musicians, WITF listeners, and Mt Gretna staff afterwards. Their winter season starts in October in Elizabethtown.
All in all a wonderful evening.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Well today was about as much of a holiday I get this weekend. And that's ok. I'm still amazed I get paid to program, listen to, and occasionally show up to classical music concerts, as the case is tomorrow. Of course, there is work involved don't get me wrong.
But back to today, a lovely day, got some shopping done (food for two more Rachael Ray recipes - one with artichoke hearts!), watered plants outside and did a little more unpacking. I grilled (and ate two) several burgers, - and put some in the fridge for lunches this week. Oh and did some posters for the LVCMS. I'll update the website for them soon-ish.
Tomorrow I'll do some more chores, but definitely sleep in, make a yummy breakfast - an omelet, biscuits and maybe pancakes. Hey it's Sunday. I may even make mass. We'll see. Then the Gretna Music concert. It's their 30th anniversary and Mozart, Beethoven and Sgambati are on tap. Then work Monday. :)
Been listening to Howard Jones and Poe this evening...part of the unpacking, found my 80s and 90s cds...Howard Jones, holy cow. Great memories of a high school girl friend there. And Poe. OMG, if I had a nickel I listened to that cd. Angry Johnny indeed. hehe.
Alright. Gonna go set up the coffee maker for the morning. 'Night!

Friday, September 02, 2005

The little things

Just updated my friend Hal's website...he had sent an email yesterday about helping out the musicians affected by Katrina, and I offered to put up a link for it. Glad I did.
Another friend passed along an article from LA about a story involving a violinist stranded and his attempts to ease survivors by playing Bach. It was very touching.
WITF has an excellent list of ways to help, and we're airing stories from listeners affected...on the music side, we're carrying on, playing music as we can, and always do, to inspire, soothe and as a break.

Busy weekend, including a trip to Mt. Gretna for their 30th anniversary of concerts. And I'm working Monday, so if you're looking for cool music during your barbeque or when you're waking up from sleeping in - be sure to tune in to WITF-FM!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Enriching lives

Just got out of an all company meeting. While there was typical job stuff, it started with talk about Katrina and what we can do about it, as well as our responsibility as broadcasters.
Earlier today I talked with a coworker about the onair sound, how not to sound - and how much to be geniune without being overtly somber.

Anyway, back to the meeting, there was a re-showing of the video from our groundbreaking - a sort of history of WITF/gearing up for the new facility, that preceded a fairly brief computer IT presentation, and service awards - wonderful to see people with 5 years of service recognized and one 20 year service for an employee. On that topic, not recognized today, the most senior guy, Mike, is a great person and real gentleman, over 40 years at WITF. He's given me many pointers on travel and events - and we've talked Las Vegas.
Oh! And back to Saturday, above and to the right is a shot of myself with Ellen Hughes, (another real gem at WITF) while we were onair in York for Yorkfest.
I'm glad to be at WITF...Engaging Minds. Enriching Lives. Uniquely.