Saturday, December 29, 2007


Thanks for visiting! There have been visitors lately from Kansas City (family in Independence- hi there!), Reno (friends - hello!), Las Vegas (more friends - hey hey!), and all over the world, including Spain, Netherlands, UK, and more. Popular still are my Christmas quiz, Chris Thile review, and Janine Jansen interview. I can also recommend my Helene Grimaud interview here.

Here's something very interesting, before Facebook was a social network, the website url was a business, About Face. Here though is their first college site. Wild and wacky. Thank you Wayback Machine!

Sing along

The words are "Ah!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A spoof for Christmas

An unpublished story from the “Tales of Joan at Bard” from the final spoof, Harry Partch and the Deadly Hockets: Der Leiermann seht die beiden Loreleiamfernsehermensch (The Organ Grinder who watched Gilmore Girls)

At the edge of Hollywood Bowl village near Hogwoods, Grant-Lee Phillips plays a hurdy gurdy. None of the students pay attention, jinx him, and even Serious Gerard Schwarz in canine form, barks at him. But he continues to perform, and our Harry Partch decides he too, might do well with some improv. The parallel fifths and awful quodlibets pair well with the poor online sales of Phillips, and concludes the cycle with an eerily unfinished feel perfectly in character with the lonely wandering of the musician.

Der Leiermann seht die beiden Loreleiamfernsehermensch (The Organ Grinder who watched Gilmore Girls
Over beyond the Hollywood Bowl village
Stands an organ-grinder,
And with numb fingers
He plays as best he can.

Barefoot on the ice,
He totters here and there,
And his little plate
Is always empty.

No one listens to him,
No one notices him,
And Serious growls
Around the young man.

And he just lets it happen,
As it will,
Plays, and his hurdy-gurdy
Is never still.

Strange man,
Shall I go with you?
Will you play your organ
To my baton with a tail feather from Drumandbuglecorps's firebird, Igor?

For another fine edition of Danse Macabre

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 numbers

In the spirit of last year's numbers, here are some stats for 2007:

The number of interviews I've already done for the next season of Composing Thoughts, starting March 23rd, 2008.

Vistor #25,911 (please no Guiliani jokes please about 911)
Dec 24 2007 8:51:31 am Hastings on Hudson, NY from

The number of personalities interviewed in 2007

Composers (43)
John Harbison
Roxanna Panufnik
Lisa Bielawa
Libby Larsen
Robert Pound
Tigran Mansurian
Ralph Lehman
Peter Schickele
Jennifer Higdon
Derek Bermel
Eric Ewazen
James Brody
David Little
Richard Danielpour
Victoria Bond
David Chesky
Sebastian Currier
BJ Liederman
Daniel Asia
James Primosch
Robert Capanna
Daron Aric Hagen
Steven Stucky (seen right)
Scott McAllister
Mark O'Connor
Robert Beaser
Karel Husa
Andrew Bishop
Lukas Ligeti
Avner Dorman
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR)
Yehudi Wyner
Krzysztof Penderecki
Pero Šiša
Peter Boyer
Buzz Jones
Chris Whittaker
John Orfe
Pierre Jalbert
Jeremy Gill
Augusta Read Thomas
Mark Hayes
Scott Eggert

Conductors (11)
Donald Runnicles
Gerard Schwarz
JoAnn Falletta
Jose Serebrier
Rossen Milanov
Shizuo Kuwahara
Zlatan Sržić
Norman Nunamaker
Lewes Pedell
Robert Natter
Stuart Malina

Musicians (38, 41 if you count multiple interviews)
Janine Jansen
Helene Grimaud (below left)

Lisa Batiashvili
Christopher O'Riley
Karen Gomyo
Andrew Russo
Paul Neubauer
Andre-Michel Schub
Andrew Janss
Daniel Matsukawa
Elvira Galioulline
Elinor Frey
Neva Pilgrim
Chee Yun
student Alexander Englert
Ara Gregorian
Harold Robinson
Clipper Erickson
Claremont Trio (twice!)
Alison Balsom
Joshua Bell (twice!)
Quartetto Gelato
Arnold Steinhardt
Rolf Smedvig
Lucy Parham
Fry Street String Quartet
Gerard Reuter
Ernesto Tamayo (twice! on air and onstage!)
Lincoln & Shari Mayorga
Nathan Gunn
Simone Dinnerstein
Daniel Phillips
Jennifer Frautschi
Newstead Trio
Audobon Quartet
Five Browns
Wu Han
Kings Singers

Other personalities (5)
Alex Ross
Klaus Heymann
Paula Poundstone
poet Deborah Larsen
Sensei Tony Stultz

Seven Musical Questions

Derek tagged "musicians" who read his blog, so here goes...

1. What inspired you to play your instrument?
See number three, it was the sound of hearing Perlman playing that made me want to play violin.
2. What was your first instrument?
A Sears and Roebuck student model from Senseney Music. Basically a box with strings.
3. Were you inspired by any particular musician?
Itzhak Perlman, who came and played a recital at Century II.

4. What was the first song you learned how to play?
Something out of Muller-Rucsh book I...other memorable solos include the Russian Fantasia #1 in a minor by Leo Portnoff and Accolay's Concerto.
5. Do you remember your first gig?
Hehehe, it was for the officer's club at McConnell Air Force Base with a string quartet. We played Dvorak, Mozart, Bach and the Beatles.

6. What was your most memorable performance?
There are many. One of the most moving was playing viola in Brahms' German Requiem. Most recently a pop gig at Harrisburg's ArtsFest was especially memorable and fun. Paul Zavinsky and friends were spot on for a full 50 minutes, ending with "Can't You See?"

7. What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin playing your chosen instrument?
Practice. Have Fun.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


A good time was had by all and all were had by the good time last night at ZaZa's Cucina.

Steve, Izzy, Jann and I started with drinks and snacks at Steve's apartment and then went to dinner. The wines were notable, especially the Newton 2002 Chardonnay, and the red Sassicaia from Esa-Pekka. Unfortunately the Barolo was past its due, but was great in its day.

Food and service were excellent, and afterwards we had some single malts and Preferidos from La Aurora.

Read about my previous adventure at Zaza's here.

Soaking up relaxation

I'm enjoying some time off in upstate NY. (Yes, not only do I love Manhattan, but the other regions of NY as well! Read about some of them here.)

Yesterday I had a good morning doing a few errands and then took a casual drive up to Ithaca. I didn't take the highway this time, rather a leisurely roadtrip straight north through PA and NY. I'll follow a similar route home.

So I met up with friends for drinks, dinner and afterwards, scotch and cigars. It was spectacular (pictures to come soon) to say the least.
I'm currently at the Inn on Columbia, where I'd stayed previously. The couple who own it are charming and have a wonderful place/great eye for decor. I always seem to get an upgrade at no extra charge and its close to everything I want to do in Ithaca.
If you get a chance, hang out there sometime. Its mondo relaxing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nose for the arts

It's been many years since I've enjoyed theater on Broadway. I was once actually a firemarshall for an off-broadway show, Ram in the Thicket, and lived in NYC for six weeks in my youth. But no doubt, you've read about the numerous concerts I hear in NY and around the east coast - so it is not too wild that I went and saw Cyrano de Bergerac. Call it a Christmas present to myself.
You also may remember me hearing ads about Cyrano on the radio while in awful traffic in October. So I was excited when the strike ended and Cyrano would be running again. But then I was panicked, because it became THE show to see, and very popular. I was lucky to find a ticket though, and actually plan to go again with some friends before it closes.
You see, live theater is just like live music, very special - very breathing - and something that should be savored. Cyrano is no exception, especially with this cast.
I originally was excited because Jennifer Garner was Roxanne. And getting her autograph and speaking with her briefly outside the stagedoor left me so euphoric that I ended up driving back to Harrisburg because I knew I couldn't sleep - I was very hyped and wired and happy, and drove back that night instead of staying at a friend's apartment.
Truth be told, Kevin Kline is the true star of Cyrano, not that Jennifer wasn't good, because she was stunning. The play though is after all called Kevin's character Cyrano. I should say that the whole cast is special and just right. But Kline delivers the lines with depth, humor, sadness and a plethora of emotions. And his staging is magnificent: swashbuckling, pratfalling from the moon, and heartbreaking in his death.
Garner portrays innocence, beauty, strength, and love with her smile, voice and natural abilities. Signing my playbill, I asked how she was doing. She replied, "I'm wiped! That final scene is so much!" I replied it was emotional and I cried. [uh, that is during the last scene, not while she was signing my program. ;) ] She is perhaps more beautiful in person than she is on screen if that can be believed, and her voice is such a hoot. I had been in the second row of fans, and she had been by once on our side and three of us moved up to the barrier to get autographs, as she was signing at the end (pictured on the right), she was about to go to the other side, the new folks at the barrier called out "Jen!" I said pleadingly, "One more?" She replied, "Oh, did I miss some?" She was sweet and came back over. She then went over to the other side for her fans and I went to drive back home.
At intermission, I had asked one of the ushers about autographs, and he directed me where to go, and I also asked if the cast was good about signing, and he smiled and nodded. I marvel at Jennifer who has family, just performed a 2 hour play, and then spends time talking and signing programs for fans on a cool NYC winter night - what a sweetheart.
Anyway, the production is stellar and I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top concerts of 2007

These for me are the most memorable concerts for me over the last year...

10. Orchestra of St. Luke's Chamber Players @ Chelsea Art Museum.
An amazing festival from Joan Tower with the composers in attendance and the audience on their feet applauding, in a captivating space - who could ask for anything more?!
9. Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk @ Verizon Hall.
Wonderful, dazzling recital with new music by Edgar Meyer.
8. Claremont Trio @ Gettysburg College.
All out playing by a vibrant ensemble!
7. Soprano Vira Slywotzky and composer Yehudi Wyner @ Songs of Innocence and Experience in Christ & St. Stephens Church.
Charm, humor and great communication set this performance in my mind.
6. Blair McMillen @ Italian Academy, Columbia University.
Technique was an afterthought, and musicality at the forefront with impeccable virtuosity in a completely modern program. Almost every composer on the program was in attendance, and in awe!
5. Kiri TeKanawa Farewell Recital @ Verizon Hall.
Hearing Kiri live, and in some of the most beautiful Strauss songs ever is hard to beat. Her encores were to die for!
4. Maria Bachmann & Jon Klibonoff play the Red Violin cd release party @ Merkin Hall.
Awesome playing, stellar interpretations and live composers, h00t!
3. Cellist Elinor Frey @ Casanovia Counterpoint premiering Steven Stucky's Dialoghi.
Charming, riveting solo work with touching, expressive lines.
2. Christian Tetzlaff, James Levine and the Boston Symphony @ Symphony Hall.
Perfect concert.
1. Helene Grimaud and NY Philharmonic members @ the Metropolitan Museum.
Stunning, passionate performances with flair, playing Brahms and Schumann chamber works.

Just in time for the holidaze

Happy Holidays!

I recently spoke with two of the King's Singers at WITF while on their US Tour, they performed at the Majestic in Gettysburg.

They'll be back to celebrate their 40th Anniversary in 2008, and going to be in Annville, PA, so keep an eye out. But for now, enjoy this interview!
Interview [MP3 file]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hi Mom!

Thanks to the over 25,000 folks who have stopped by ClassicallyHip!

And for new arts tv, check out what the Boston Pops are up to:

Classical Clare

I'm on today and tomorrow from 9am to 3pm, if you're in the Harrisburg area, be sure to tune in to 89.5 FM. It's all Clare all the time, h00t!

Happy World Atonality Day

Just in time for World Atonality Day, ClassicallyHip Productions presents Copying Penderecki.
Tubist Phillip Black (left) portrays the Polish Composer Krzysztof Penderecki (above) in the new music movie about the decision to title an avant garde work with the help of a woman, played by Roxanna Panufnik (right), who previously scored music for Ed Harris (below) as a deaf musician/emotional abstract artist who drips paint and violently attacks Viggo Mortensen.

The story is loosely based and orchestrated with basses. Think of Walk Hard meets the Schoenberg Code.
Copying Penderecki also stars Tom Hanks as Arnold Schoenberg's ghost, who warns Penderecki about the highest possible note.
F Murray Abraham portrays a Polish communist leader attempting to poison Penderecki and take his Threnody as his own.

Nastassia Kinski is Penderecki's young lover who's father objects to their relationship.
Judy Davis also appears as the cigar smoking poetess who is inspired by Penderecki's music. Jonathan Pryce and Sarah Wynter are a troubled Vienese couple who influence Penderecki, but not as much as Bruckner does. Robert Powell has a smaller role as Pryce's twin brother and Georgina Hale plays Sarah Wynter's twin sister - both rather dreamy and metaphorical.

Stranger yet is an appearance of Wierd Al as a tv programmer who invites Penderecki to a new show on Channel 62, Polish Idol, where each week contestants play and sing cluster chords.
Catch Copying Penderecki at a computer near you!

You also might enjoy this Harry Potter/Partch spoof...

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I was blessed with three interviews this week in Manhattan! I talked with Helene Grimaud

and Alex Ross already, and meet up with Jose Serebrier this afternoon.
I am also hearing Helene tonight at the Met Museum in Brahms & Schumann chamber music, after hearing her in Ravel's Concerto last night @ Lincoln Center.

Note the street signs

Where I'm staying in Manhattan...

Pre-concert cigar

At Lincoln Center Saturday night.

Friday, December 14, 2007

St. Louis Holiday video

The York Symphony Orchestra director is also in St. Louis and has shared this wonderful video, which you might see on NBC quite soon!


I'm always bummed when there isn't a posting by Molly Sheridan on Fridays, one of many great things from the American Music Center's New Music Box. (or as it kinda looks by what is supposed to be an unsmiley face, I'm mustached when there isn't a post)
When the Friday Informer does return, no doubt she'll include Dr. Dick's latest writing on Bach, fugues and cars - too clever and funny!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Upcoming Organ in the new year

From David S. Messner:
Peter Lea-Cox, an English organist, will give a recital, beginning at 7:30 on Friday, October 10, 2008 at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Harrisburg, PA. Margaret and I have heard one of his recitals. He opened with English Baroque music, including Handel, Greene, Thomas Arne, etc., then transitioned smoothly into elegant English Romantic Period music, such as Elgar, Howells, Finzi, Stanton, Ireland, and the like.

Margaret and I thoroughly enjoyed his recital on a small but (as always) distinguished Taylor and Boody tracker pipe organ. He's so ingenious with registrations, that he made this small instrument sound like a considerably larger instrument with more tonal resources than the instrument actually has. He is professionally deeply interested in English Baroque music, and plays it extraordinarily well.

We really would like to get a big turnout for his recital. So, tell your friends and invite them to put it on their MS Outlook calendars, and then as the date approaches, give them a bit of friendly harrassment to remind them.

Holiday spirit

Thought I'd share some posts from holidays past, sort of a Dickens-esque haunting if you will, for your enjoyment!

Christmas Quiz (with answers!) - very popular from 2006

LV Brass Band playing and singing "Baby its cold outside." from 2005
(Thanks Pete for the Christmas tree pic!)


This is cute, via Yahoo:
Hotel chain offers free rooms for Marys and Josephs at Christmas
A hotel chain Tuesday said it was offering couples called Joseph and Mary in Britain, Ireland and Spain free accommodation this Christmas on proof of marriage and name.
Hotel chain Travelodge said husbands and wives matching their criteria would get a night's stay on the house, but with more home comforts than the humble stable of the Christian Nativity story.
The offer, appropriately, runs between Christmas Eve (December 24) to Twelfth Night (January 5, 2008).
"The phrase 'no room at the inn' is something that resonates with us in the hotel business," said Travelodge operations director Jason Cotta.
"Therefore this year we have decided to evoke the true spirit of Christmas and invite Mary and Joseph couples as our guests."
A Travelodge spokeswoman told AFP couples will have to be married and provide proof of identity and register their names at a special e-mail address.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Nine minutes

A great way to spend nine minutes, this is a hoot, especially if you're a Bill Murray fan. Its a new short, Fact Checkers Unit.

R.I.P., Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)

Stockhausen always made a strong impression on me, and I'm sorry to hear of his passing. My friends and I in college would listen to Gesang de Jungelinge over and over. Most recently I downloaded Gruppen from the DG Webshop and enjoyed the Harmonia Mundi release of Stimmung out this fall. Several of the days from Licht are also among my favorites despite the odd views of the man, Stockhausen's music was excellent and creative.

News of his death via The Rest is Noise.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I enjoyed a good cigar and a drink with my friend Ernesto tonight in Lancaster. We'll often meetup after he has finished teaching and grab dinner, or a drink. Tonight we got a snack and order an appropriate drink to accompany some cigars I picked up to celebrate his new cd, Artistico. We had gone to a reception Sunday after his recital, but tonight it was just us - time to catch up and just be ourselves.
These La Flor Domincanas were beautiful, a perferido classic shape (like you see in cartoons, that look a little like a flying saucer) called Mystico. They were tasty and delightfully mild. As the night progressed we finished our soup and had a fruit and cheese plate, again, a delightful accompaniment with the cigars.
As I ordered some coffee, and I admit, lit another cigar, I asked for the check. Our waitress came by and took my credit card. As she left and went to the register, we heard, "OMG! John Clare. Like classical music, John Clare. I listen, OMG! I'm waiting on John Clare!"
Ernesto immediately started laughing, he always likes to introduce me as the famous radio host and here he was, hearing a waitress exclaim it to the entire restaurant. I smiled back and turned to her. "Yeah, that's me."
It was her turn to blush as she realized we all heard it. Later she was telling friends of hers at another table and motioning to us. It was a hoot. We talked about some shows, fundraising and how we both are enjoying WXPN increasing their signal in the midstate - good music and competition are good things I believe.
It was fun to have a "spotlight" moment - actually earlier Tuesday a very good patron of WITF came by the Public Media Center and waved to me in the booth (read Dr. Dick's adventures in MCR from Tuesday here) and I went out and spoke to her. The sweetest thing she told me and one of our Development staff was how much she enjoyed seeing me at all the area concerts - which I said I'd see her at more soon.
All in all, a really nice day today, and made me remember similar moments in Philadelphia and a couple at Carnegie Hall!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I'm at a Starbucks in Baltimore, just down from And Die Musik, where I'll emcee/interview Ernesto Tamayo in concert - looking forward! Tuesday you can hear his latest album, Artistico on WITF, as well as video of Ernesto in the studio playing live!

Last night was the Local 213 Apreciation/Holiday dinner - a fun time was had by all.

I'm very happy that the snow/sleet/ice that was predicted was just rain, making the trip down much easier today. I had time to go to Trader Joe's and get some of my favorites and some presents for friends/family.

(Photos of John in Baltimore enjoying a cigar near the city monument and by a instrumental music store.)