Thursday, January 31, 2008

Asking Questions

The public radio program "Native America Calling"will be producing a Presidential candidates forum live on the air, Monday, February 4th , the day before "Super Tuesday." The program airs from 1-2 pm Eastern time.
"Native America Calling" can be heard on the internet at and Listeners may call toll-free at 1-800-996-2848 during the show.
Thirty Native public radio stations across the country broadcast the weekday program. Because this will be a non-partisan forum, all candidates on the ballots have been invited to participate. Keith Harper, Chairperson for the Obama Native American Advisory Committee and Holly Cook Macarro, Native American Policy Advisor to the Clinton campaign are confirmed from the Democratic side. No Republican candidates are currently confirmed. Candidates will be answering questions relevant to Native people. Host Harlan McKosato will field the questions prepared by the NAC editorialstaff, as well as from internet listeners. Individuals may email theirquestions to: by Sunday night, Feb. 3rd . Because the program is less than one hour, both Democratic andRepublican candidates will have limited time to go in-depth with their responses. Listeners across the country will be able to hear specific questions addressing Native concerns provided by the *only* national radio newsorganization that covers issues of importance to Native listeners.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ah, romance

For those ultra romantic HIMYM fans:
Ce magnifique!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner...

In person backstage and in rainbows

Last fall, Christopher O'Riley performed with the York Symphony Orchestra, French works by Ravel and Messiaen. I caught part of rehearsal, and then talked with Chris backstage at the Strand Capitol. Part of the interview will be aired on WITF Presents tonight, but I thought you might want to hear the entire talk, a nice 11 minutes or so of conversation ranging from returning to orchestras like York, to the new Radiohead album and his show From the Top.
Interview [mp3 file]

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jung and the restless

It's been a nice weekend in NYC, with good times and good friends. Recently Stu proposed to Julia, and they met up with me Friday night for dinner at Mozart Cafe and then crashed at my place in Manhattan. It was cool to figure out the couch, which opens for a hideabed.
{seen left Stu and Julia reading on the A Train}
[seen right, Julia and Stu on the upper west side after brunch]

After some morning tea, donuts and NY News, we began again from "upstate Manhattan." First up, brunch at Le Pan Quotidien with bread, goodies and fun characters all around. Then we met up with Julia's college roommate, Michelle -seen left with Julia searching for wedding items online - who works on a soap opera.

Stu and I walked for a bit while the gals talked wedding, and we all ended up meeting at WNYC, since Stu had some work to do. We looked around the station at its current digs, and look forward to seeing the new place! On to dinner at Excellent Dumpling, and we were off to our separate plans, as I had a ticket to the NY Philharmonic, while back in Harrisburg, my friend and co-worker Dick Strawser was filling in for me at a pre-concert talk for Concertante.
[view from the men's room at WNYC]

Sunday morning, brunch at Max Brenner's was fun, complete with sweets, caffeine and good conversation. Chocolate, crepes and salad were seen on the plates (myself and Michelle pictured right)
Now I'm catching up on laundry, blogging and napping before a Carnegie Hall concert (more on that soon!) and they're off looking at Staten Island.
I'll be back in the city Wednesday for the Elliott Carter complete string quartets! h00t.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Record breaking

Thanks for everyone visiting the review of Time For Three and the Philadelphia Orchestra review of Jennifer Higdon's Concerto 4 3. Yesterday was the all time one day record for ClassicallyHip with over 1300 people visiting from Atrios blog.
Be sure to check out The Singing Rooms review as well with violinist Jennifer Koh that happened a week later, as well as other "Five Things..." reviews.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Join me 9am to 3pm tomorrow as I'm filling in for the morning guy and doing my refular shift on Classical Air tomorrow - then off to NYC for the weekend. Great concerts ahead with the NY Phil, Berg and Carter - stay tuned!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good lit

Fans of Danse Macabre, might really enjoy Hi's Cool, up for a prize at Amazon. Check it out, download for free and feel free to pen your thoughts of it in the review section.
Congrats Adam!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Small worlds

So it was a lovely weekend in NYC, not quite as cold as I thought it would be, yeay.
At intermission of the NY Philharmonic, I hear, "John? John Clare!" and turn around to see Curt Garey. Curt went to WSU (I'm pretty sure I tutored him in theory) and is now living in Brooklyn, playing/teaching drums; and last night, ushering for the Philharmonic when he gets a chance. Sweet.
I gave him a card and said we'll have to get a slice or coffee sometime since I'm close.
The concert was stunning: awesome Brahms 2nd PC from Andsnes and worth it to hear Muti lead Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy. I remember hearing it in Chicago with Muti/Philly on tour in the mid 80s on a school trip.
I'm travelling more this week, and will be back in the city next weekend.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Five Things about The Singing Rooms

I heard the second concert of week two for the Bernstein Festival with the Philadelphia Orchestra last night.

1. The concert began with a spirited reading of Bernstein's Symphony #1. Whenever I hear this work, I ask myself why I don't hear it more often. It is the excellent work of a young musician and a look at the potential of this great composer. Rinat Shaham was stunning, in her performance and in her passion! She couldn't keep still in her chair in front of the orchestra, swaying to the music and rhythm. When she finally did sing, it was exquisite.

2. Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms followed. I died there in Verizon Hall, because Higdon's music and Jennifer Koh's playing were heavenly. The combination of solo violin, orchestra and chorus was perfectly set, with sections allowing each to shine, and to combine for the greatest music I have ever heard.

3. The Singing Rooms consists of seven movements played attaca (back to back without pause) and while they are seemless, they depict the action of walking around a house, starting in the morning, with singing going on in the rooms, and returning back to that first room at the end of the day. Higdon treats the lush poetry by Jeanne Minahan well, and the singing from the Philadelphia Singers Chorale was well done.

4. Jennifer Koh is my hero. She commissioned this work, and also Higdon's String Poetic (a work I am performing a movement this March for Composing Thoughts Live) and I've heard a solo violin work may be in the works for Koh by Higdon as well, making a Higdon violin trilogy (maybe it could be titled TRILLOGY? hahaha) for Koh. This is historic, like the collaboration between Joachim and Brahms, or Stravinsky and Dushkin. I'm so happy to have heard this first performance.

5. The variation and innovation of Higdon's work is tremendous, especially considering a week before, Concerto 4-3 was premiered, and that another Violin Concerto is being written for another former Curtis student, Hilary Hahn.
As for the Singing Rooms, rhythm, orchestration and musical taste were at highpoints. Never was there a moment that you weren't engaged, although there were two tiny moments where you had problems hearing the soloist with all the forces playing.
Performances of Hai-Ye Ni, principal cellist; and concertmasters David Kim and Juliette Kang accented lyric and virtuosic lines of Koh's solo parts. An extended section with Ni was out of this world.

I can't recommend highly enough that you go hear this work, and if you are anyone involved with programming orchestra repertoire, to put this work on your programs. The curtain calls had the audience wanting more!
Read my friend and coworker Dick Strawser's eloquent account of this premiere here.

Hear an interview with Jennifer Higdon here about this work, and learn about a chance to meet Higdon and learn more about her music here.

Fare thee well

Yet another audio assistant may remember the last assistant I had, who has gone on to have many adventures...some quite recently!
Good luck Andrew! Have fun in "MA!"
(seen above with Linda and Amy, his last day at WITF)
Is that a lawnmower in the background?

Neither Rain, nor sleet, nor snow...

Tuesday night I heard the Central Dauphin Middle School Choir and Orchestra, as I teach a co-worker's daughter violin, and it was their winter concert. It was fun to see her and her sister sing, and then to hear her play quite well with the orchestra. Just an hour and a half before the concert, she showed up with her mom, having broken her e string. I just happened to have a spare string at work, and put it on for her, and played a few scales to attempt to stretch it a bit before hand.
Wednesday night I was in Philadelphia, for a song recital with Network for New Music, part of the Bernstein Festival. There was a charming pre-program by Settlement School students in the lobby, where listening I was recognized by new music fans/composers that read this blog and the Composing Thoughts blog. (Indeed the world is getting smaller and smaller, I get recognized and run into friends in NYC these days!)
It was delightful to hear this group play new works by students as well as Jennifer Higdon's Bentley Roses, and David Rakowski's Sex Songs. Network was joined by two excellent singers, Susan Narucki and Randall Scarlatta, who were both stellar. To top it off, Network also had the poets on hand to read their works before the compositions. The entire recital was inspirational, and really fed my creative soul. I left wanting to write and express myself. These sort of recitals are very special and Narucki, Scarlatta, and the ensemble did a great service besides very high art for the community.
Notable was Melissa Dunphy's Black Thunder. Not only is she a friend, it turns out she is a delightful composer, writing very idoimatic for piano trio and baritone, but also with great sensitivity for the words and music.
Last night I was back in Philly to hear the world premiere of The Singing Rooms with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Unfortunately there was a snow storm and despite everything, Dick Strawser and I went - taking our time on the roads to get there. We had a quick bite of Italian food right next to the Kimmel and caught the first half of the concert, before braving the elements to get back to Harrisburg. I'll post a review later today, but the short of it is: I died last night hearing Jennifer Koh playing Jennifer Higdon's Singing Rooms - It was heavenly.
This weekend I'm in NYC to hear more music and see friends, as well as next weekend. Oh and I'm travelling next Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday for some exciting projects - stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inside scoop!

I've heard from a good source about a concert coming up in Sellersville with a wellknown mandolin player. It seems the recent name change his group has gone through, has now decided to change nationalities as well!

Welcome the Punchsky Brothers!
They are going to play a new set based on Borodin's Polvetsian Dances from Prince Igor, which works well translating balalaika to mandolin.
The band says, "You haven't heard Stranger in Paradise until you've heard it on mandolin."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'll have what he's having

Friday we had a night out with Andrew, who is leaving for UMass Amherst.
A good time was had by all, and all were had by the good time.
Left is Andrew and Linda, after a few drinks (Andrew that is!)
Right we have Andrew and Scott the relatively new ATC host.
It's been years since I've learned a "new shot" but I may have tasted, yes just tasted a "left hook," an Andrew favorite. We also bought many other delicous drinks for Andrew...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Five Things about Concerto 4 3

I heard the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Concerto 4 3 Thursday night in Philadelphia. Part of the Bernstein Festival continuing through February 2nd.

1. I was interviewing Jennifer during the first half (watch this space for updates and a posting of it!) so I only heard the first half of Tchaikovsky and Bernstein via speakers, and left after the concerto because I had worked that morning and had to go to work the next day as well. But the program was well varied and it didn't seem that anyone left the second half, which had the world premiere with Time For Three and Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini. Bassist Ranaan Meyer introduced the work briefly, giving the background of how the work came into being.

[The picture above left is at intermission, when we came into the hall - Jennifer was recognized by patrons, students and audience members, but we snapped this quick picture.]

2. The first movement of Concerto 4 3 is short, sweet and busy. It features the Trio prominently, with lots of extended blugrass techniques. Zachary DePue was stellar with his bow scraping in the right hand and bold leaps with his left. I was a little surprised that they didn't have stands or music, the trio played it from memory with flair, panache and let you know they were having fun. Maestro Eschenbach also seemed to be watching them alot and smiling.

3. The central slow movement is the longer of the concerto and certainly lets the orchestra blend with the trio, especially haunting and beautiful is a section with the oboes who melt your heart. Lines come and go, from the trio to the orchestra and back. The whole movement was seemless with the first and featured the trio in a cadenza that blew your mind. Meyer's bass was stunning in melodies, although often his movement seemed over the top.

4. The finale is wonderous and toe tapping. Again, Higdon's brilliant orchestration shines and allowed Time for Three to jam, where percussion leads to brass to the winds and strings, all while the soloists play the perfect mix of classical and bluegrass. Nick Kendall fiddled and swayed with timing just right with his comrades, often melding in unison lines.

5. The audience was on its feet, and shouts of "Bravo" echoed in the hall - you probably heard me whistle and hoot. While I thought perhaps "The Singing Rooms" will make the history books for its unique orchestration of Violin, Chorus and Orchetsra, I think Concerto 4 3 will long be remembered for its groundbreaking freedom of styles. I've never experienced such quality of music in varied styles, and with such tasteful, miraculous execution. Simply a masterpiece.

Stay tuned for a review of "The Singing Rooms" this next week and an interview to be posted at Composing Thoughts!

Read my previous posting about more of Jennifer's concerts here. Learn about her upcoming Composing Thoughts Live here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Da bears

Federal officials say they need more time to decide whether to add polar bears to the threatened species list.
The deadline was January 1st, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it hopes to offer a recommendation to the Interior Secretary in time for him to make a decision within the next month. Dirk Kempthorne had suggested listing polar bears in 2007, giving him a one-year deadline.
Environmental groups argue polar bears need protection because global warming is melting their habitat. If the animals make the list, it could impose limits on man-made developments in the polar bears' territory.
Last September, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded two-thirds of the world's polar bears, including the entire population in Alaska, will be killed off by 2050 because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic.

So cool

I would do this if I were closer to St. Louis...hey NYP, PO, NSO, etc - do something like this!
$99 orchestra pass

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fab Friday

Great day, slightly warmer in the city. Interviews were lovely and the day was good, even fairly relaxing.
Here I am in upstate Manhattan, enjoying a cigar along Broadway and 215th.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cold and busy

Great Thursday here in Manhattan, filled with music and friends.

I started out having lunch with radio folks, Stu and Lauren (with me right). While Lauren and I know each other's work, we had never met. It was a fun time had by all at Max Brenner's around Union Square!

Then my car was almost towed, due to a vandalized sign I had not seen. doh. Craziness and coldness ensued, but I have my car, and it is parked legally. whew.

Next was an interview (my first for 2008, huzzah!) with Alex Shapiro (seen left with a single malt), another charming friend whose music and writing I have known but never met, at the Westin Times Square. Nice combo of chat, laughter, scotch and music. On the way out, we ran into another radio dude, Sylvester Vivic who runs PT. Nice to see him.

Finally off to hang with my friend Elinor (right), who is preparing for auditions. I heard her Elgar concerto, and music from Verdi and Mozart.

Turns out her friend/collaboriting pianist Chris (left with Eli in Elgar) lives a block from where I am staying so I gave him a ride home.

Fun, exciting, tiring day all in all. Off to a similar one today, but hopefully not quite as chilly!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy NEW MUSIC year to you

Here's to a great 2008. More to come.
Had an amazing meal at 809 in Inwood. Yum-o!
For your listening pleasure, enjoy an interview with the New Yorker writer and author/blogger Alex Ross. And go pick up a copy for yourself of the Rest is Noise.