i'm the christmas unicorn
December 24, 2012
Okay, so I'mma start this off by saying that, despite the fact that I'm not a particularly religious person, I friggin' love Christmas music, you guys. I love it. I'm not exactly sure what it is. Maybe it's the fact that there are very few tunes that seemingly everyone knows and these melodies are among them. Maybe it's that I'm associating it with how much I loved getting presents when I was a kid and I'm just carrying that optimism forward. Maybe it's that one time I got to go caroling with the guys from Cantus and we ended up shoveling some lady's driveway for her whilst jamming out on “Good King Wenceslaus” and that reminded me of how awesome it feels to do good deeds and then it was Christmas-themed and also there was booze. Maybe it's the rampant consumerism. No, it's definitely not that. In any case, I love Christmas music...and two really, really good albums-of-it got released this year that I've really been enjoying.
So have you guys all gone out and obtained (via Spotify, iTunes, or whatever) the new album by The Singers? It's called Dulci Jubilo: Christmas with The Singers, and if you don't have it yet you need to get on that right-quick because this thing is really, really good.
In terms of Christmas-themed albums that choral ensembles put out, I feel like there are generally two types, the first of which is an album full of music "for the time." In other words, there are arrangements of traditional carols mixed with pieces that are appropriate for the Advent and Christmas season. The first album that The Singers put out, Shout the Glad Tidings, is one of these. They've got Jocelyn Hagen's (brilliant) arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” just a few tracks away from Arvo Pärt's blistering, minute-long setting of the “Bogoroditse Dyevo” text. Seraphic Fire's newest album, Silent Night (which Paul Carey reviewed beautifully, btw), also falls into this category.
The second type of Christmas choral album is the kind The Singers just released and one, I think, pioneered by The Dale Warland Singers in their Christmas Echoes volumes: a whole mess of carols in a bunch of new arrangements.
And The Singers knock one out of the park, IMHO. Abbie Betinis's arrangement of “In The Bleak Midwinter” is brittle and triumphant at the same time, Timothy Takach forms a section of the simple “'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” into this beautiful, running tableau of counterpoint that I can't get enough of, and J. Aaron McDermid takes a carol I have always hated—“I Wonder as I Wander”—and crafts something I actually really enjoy out of it.
However, Artistic Director Matthew Culloton's contributions to the lineup are, for me, the absolute standouts. Especially the title track, the traditional Norwegian song, “Kling No, Klokka,” and his transformation of “Angels We Have Heard on High” from the familiar, pedestrian melody that everybody mindlessly sings into a piece which gives grateful service to the poetry in the text. That is incredibly difficult, you guys...especially for such a familiar piece.
For me, his arrangements seem to fiercely (but optimistically) argue for the relevancy of traditional music like this in the context of modern society. Or I might be reading into that. I don't know.
In any case, here's one of Matt's arrangements that somebody sent me a few days ago which isn't on the album—his arrangement of “Still, Still, Still”—premiered by The Singers with the man himself at the podium. It's intimate but not precious...and that harmonic turn around the 1-minute mark always gives me some good, old-fashioned Midwestern nostalgia for some reason (perhaps because it's "winter" in Austin and it's currently 80 degrees).
But seriously, you guys, Dulci Jubilo: Christmas with The Singers is incredibly beautiful music sung with the laser-like precision and emotional weight that the ensemble brings to “serious” stuff like their gorgeous album of Morten Lauridsen's work. You should all rush out and get it. I ordered a copy direct from the ensemble before I found out I could just search it on Spotify. But then I was like, “Whatever. That's actually great because I just contributed to an organization that I absolutely love.” Maybe I should order it on iTunes as well just to be, like, consistent.
The other Christmas album I'm digging at the moment is Sufjan Stevens's's new release, Silver & Gold. It's a five-disc compilation so there is a ton of music on it and it's all vintage-y, banjo-y, oft-introspective-y Sufjan. But he can be damn funny too, you guys. He gets all up in a vocoder for “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and the first release was a song called “Christmas Unicorn” which is hands-down my favorite thing on there.
It starts off slowly with the personification of the holiday all darkly talmbout itself (“I am hysterically American/With a credit card on my wrist”) but, around the the six-and-a-half-minute mark, it explodes into this beautiful, optimistic anthem (“I'm the Christmas Unicorn/You're the Christmas Unicorn/It's alright...I love you”) that had the crowd jumping around and singing along at the concert here in Austin that I went to. Here, check out this cel phone video of said song in which Sufjan is dressed as the unicorn and totally fucks up a lyric.
It was just a giant, fun, sing-a-long party (entitled “The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice”). See that thing behind him? It's called the Wheel of Christmas. Audience members got to intermittently go up and spin it to see which carol we would all sing together.
All that fun eventually dissolved into some of the intimate, confessional songs that Sufjan does so well. Check out “The Owl and The Tanager” from the All Delighted People EP if you don't know what I mean. My friend, Mary, was with me and during “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” I started crying. She's never been to a concert with a weepy composer before so she got all concerned and was like, “Oh my gosh, Josh. Are you okay?” I was like, “Oh, yeah I'm fine...*sniffle*...I just cry a lot at concerts is all. I'm not sad. This shit is just so damn beautiful.”
Happy holidays, you guys. Go give your Christmas Unicorn a hug or something.
beautiful new recording + 80s hair
August 11, 2012
Last December Austin's own Conspirare performed the arrangement of "Where is Love?" I did a few years back and I finally got a chance to listen to the new live album from that concert series. Christmas at the Carillon is sort of a local tradition and I'm honored that Craig found a spot for my little piece amongst some other really, really great pieces that range from an incredibly intimate reading of Björk's "All is Full of Love" (which is probably my favorite song of her's) as well as Mela Dailey's beautiful performance of "Vaga Luna."
The program itself was one of the ensemble's signature "collage" concerts in which all these different musics sort of mingle with each other--sacred and secular; "pop" and "classical"--in this really beautiful universal way. I never really get tired of hearing how Craig puts it all together and this was no different. He leads into "Where is Love?" by having Matt Alber sing a short, restrained verse from "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem".
Photo by Hornaday Design
One of the other pieces they did for that concert series was Craig's arrangement of Carly Simon's "Let The River Run." Do you guys all know this piece? It's from the soundtrack to that Melanie Griffith/Sigourney Weaver/Harrison Ford movie from the 80s, Working Girl. Check out the video from the 80s. There be some crazy 80s hair up in there.
I was watching that with Jocelyn Hagen one time and she was all like, "My mother used to have hair like that...and I loved it." All joking aside, though, it's a great song. My mom was crazy about it...and had similar hair...and used to play it in the family minivan all the time. When I heard the choral arrangement of it for the first time all I could think about was hairspray and that wood paneling on the side of our van.
December 22, 2011
It's been way too long since I've posted anything here but it's been an incredibly busy last 6 months. Luckily, that means there are some exciting things that will be coming down the pipeline and the stable of bloggable nonsense will be cleared in fairly short order.
Some incredible albums have come across my path since I last posted here. I don't know if you guys have all gotten hooked up with Spotify yet but, if not, it is definitely worth checking out. It's a bit easier for me to get all down with it since most of my music consumption happens while either working at my desk or out hoofing it at various speeds in the city of Austin.
Do you guys all know the Bedroom Community label out of Reykjavik? I first heard about it when a friend hipped me to Nico Muhly's album, Mothertongue, but they've got an entire roster of really incredible artists as well (Sam Amidon is one of my other favorites). In any case, they just released their first collaboration with a new artist named Puzzle Muteson. He's a singer/songwriter from the Isle of Wight and his first album, En Garde, has some of the most intimate music I think I've ever heard (this side of Doveman). Listen to "Glover" when he sings, "I swear...I'll find a gun," and you know he's probably not talking about using it on somebody else (or at least that's what I'm reading in to it). It's weird to hear that notion spoken out loud but it just goes to show that he's willing to let you all the way into his psyche. Nico provides orchestrations which work to lift the sometimes-bleak lyrics into a hopeful optimism and the album as a whole is really good.
The Fleet Foxes finally came out with a new album, you guys! But...damn...it was worth the wait, right? The title track for Helplessness Blues contains maybe some of my favorite lyrics ever:
I was raised up believin' I was somehow uniqueLike a snowflake distinct among snowflakesUnique in each way you can seeAnd now after some thinkin' I'd say I'd rather beA functioning cog in some great machineryServing something beyond me
June 26, 2011
My architect mother and I get into debates about Gehry's work on a fairly regular basis. I am of the mind that it's interesting to look at and she is of the mind that you can't find your way around inside one of these things. We are both right. I legit got lost inside this building and had to Hansel and Gretel my way out of there. I've had similar experiences inside the other three Gehry buildings I've been in (Walt Disney Hall in LA, the Experience Music Project in Seattle and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis) but I still love these things.
Here's the venue for our concert in Cambridge. I forget the name...but it's a church. If you've seen one you've seen almost all of them. Nice space to sing in, though.
The next stop on the tour was a very brief stay in New Haven. I think I had maybe 90 minutes of free time so I didn't get to see a damn thing or, more importantly, go to Pepe's. When I told my friend, Andrew Davis (a Yale grad and brilliant composer), that I was headed to New Haven, he got all up in my face about this pizza and how it was sort of a moral imperative that I go there. I guess it was the first pizzeria in the United States or something.
I had wanted to see the two buildings on Yale's campus designed by Louis I. Kahn but, unfortunately, didn't make it so that Gehry business I was just talking about will have to be the sole entry which speaks to my fetish for interesting architecture (of which there is a dearth here at UT...sorry, Longhorns).
After a stop at a hipster bar in Williamsburg called Barcade (they have a shit-ton of old arcade games, you guys!), I witnessed a massive Times Square advertising fail. I'll wager spell check is to blame.
One of the things I realized whilst walking around Manhattan is that I had never been to Central Park so, in that interest, I took about five hours and fixed that situation. I basically just walked the entire southern part of the park and listened to the new Gaga album as well as get my phone call on with Jocelyn Hagen for a solid 45 minutes (with a brief guest appearance by Dan Nass). It was a relaxing--and free--way to spend a morning.
While I was walking around the park I stumbled on a shoot for Law & Order: Criminal Intent but, unfortunately, the pictures I took were too blurry to include here. You'll just have to take my word for it that I awkwardly scrambled up some rocks and took a few pictures of Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe shooting a scene.
I had the lobster bisque (it was so good) and was like, "Wow. That's definitely something that's really associated with New York. That's pretty lucky that I saw it."
Now that's some New York shit for you. I didn't want to bother her because (a) she was talking with someone and (b) that's rude. What I did do was hang back and take this creeper picture of Yoko and her companion. I was able to rationalize this act because there is no way in hell that anyone would believe me if I didn't.
So...thank you, New York City. I basically just walked around and ended up in a bunch of situations that most of America would identify with that locale. They all had to do with pop culture but, still, it wasn't not cool (double negative and all).
From the church I headed down to Greenwich Village to meet a friend of mine from my summer at Interlochen. We ate good food and drank a lot of good beer at the Blind Pig on 14th Street. Here ist some photographic evidence. I like to call this picture, "Josh + Kristen: You Just Got Sexy-Faced."
I had never been to Washington Square Park. Check it off the list.
Next stop: Washington DC. I sang a gig there back in 2003 with the Luther College Nordic Choir (Go Norse!) but we didn't get very much time to do anything...and it was January (read: winter). Consequently, I only got to see the National Gallery and the National Air and Space Museum (both awesome). This time around I had almost two entire days free to explore the District and I saw a bunch of really cool stuff which partially satisfied my fetish for The West Wing.
Most Americans have been brought up with images of these really iconic places in DC but, honestly, seeing them in person is something which shouldn't be lost on anyone. It was interesting to note the obvious cross-section of US citizens parading through these places which, although they're commonplace in the imagery of America, are best seen in the flesh.
One of the more interesting places I went was the National Museum of the American Indian. This thing was still under construction when I was in DC in 2003 but it has been since completed and is now open for business. The architect is the Canadian Douglas Cardinal who, according to Wikipedia, is a University of Texas alum. Hook 'em!
The impression I got of this place is that it's a museum still very much trying to find its place. There's certainly a huge part of it that's about the history of Native Americans (Does anyone else find it weird that it's called the National Museum of the American Indian?) but there's also a huge portion of the museum dedicated to the current state of those particular cultures...and it's fascinating. One part of the exhibit has a movie being projected on a wall of white feathers which, in person, is beautiful and strangely delicate.
Afterwards, I hit the National Museum of American History. There was an exhibit on the inaugural dresses of all the First Ladies dating back to Mamie Eisenhower and, since I have a mild addiction to presidential trivia, I took a walk-through so I could peep the gowns.
Since I moved to Austin, Texas I've been rigorously educated on just how much she did for this particular city (they renamed a lake after her) and, subsequently, I went to the LBJ Presidential Library which, coincidentally, is across the street from the music building here at UT. I seriously don't know why I have this mild (very mild) fixation on this particular former First Lady. I guess I just sort of love her name or something (her given name was "Claudia"). During one of the first cab rides I took here in town the cabbie and I talked about Lady Bird. He called her "a mean, old bitch" (he had what could be called "personality") but I refused to believe it.
You see, she liked to have a "To Do Pile" on the floor near her desk and the museum goes to great pains to illustrate this. I happen to subscribe to the same method of organization as the former First Lady and, having seen this, Brian declared me to be Lady-Bird-like.
But enough about her. How about a sculpture of George Washington looking all ripped and Greek and what-not? I like to call this "George Washington: Rad-to-the-Power-of-Kickass." There's a history behind this piece, I know, but irony won't allow me any further than one of the quote-unquote Fathers of Democracy in a toga. That's just ridiculous...and kind of trashy...and I love it.
Also contained within the walls of the museum is an exhibit about transportation in America and, amongst other things, there was this example of a mini-van. When did wood paneling go out of style? The Shank family circa 1989 totally had one of these things and, in a tribute to National Lampoon's Vacation, we called it "The Family Truckster."
Like most tourists who visit DC, I spent the majority of my free time walking around the National Mall. I have a sappy sense of patriotism (in contrast to, say, a militant one...which is useful in a different way) and seeing all these monuments is something I'm glad I had a chance to do. The World War II Memorial was particularly moving what with all the families wading into the pool (which you're sort of not supposed to do).
All of the things in these pictures are, of course, nothing new to people who have spent the majority of their lives in the US. I include them here to say only that I am incredibly grateful that the University of Texas paid for me to come out here and see these things in person. I've seen pictures of these places in textbooks and historical photographs for as long as I can remember but to see them up close is entirely different and inspiring in a way completely devoid of the political divisions that create so much drama and distance between people. That's a pedestrian observation, I know, but I rarely get to rise above my own politics and, for me, that's a special thing.
Unfortunately the Capitol Reflecting Pool was undergoing maintenance but I suppose that just means there's still something left on the Mall I haven't seen yet. Despite that, it still made for a good picture (props to the weather at the time!).
My dad and I are both sort of mutually obsessed with history so I ended up texting him pictures of pretty much everything I was seeing and, by the time I got around to the Lincoln Memorial, all I got back from him was one word: "Jealous."
That night myself and a few of the Chamber Singers went out to see a great show at Twins Jazz. Before the show, I stopped next door at Al Crostino for this incredible salmon filet which, while good, wasn't near as amazing as the grilled vegetables that accompanied it. As a vegetarian who eats fish every now and then (yes, I know that makes me a "pescetarian"...that just feels pretentious when I say it), I'm always impressed when a chef can make something as simple as grilled vegetables taste crazy good. Wow.
The act playing that night was Ramzy & The Brothers Handsome and, as it turned out, they were recording a DVD. If they had more material available on the Web I could show you how amazing they were but, for now, you'll just have to take this abbreviated trailer and my word for it.
After the final concert in DC (an evensong appearance at a local church) we headed to Vapiano in Chinatown for some great Italian food. It's a chain restaurant but one of the singers had a connection which resulted in better seating or something. Nonetheless, it was fresh pasta with made-to-order sauce...which is just about the best thing ever. Seriously.
They also do this rigamarole where they halt you as you walk in the door and hand you this credit-card-looking thingy which is used at every station (pasta bar, pizza bar, booze bar, etc.) to charge you for That Which You Have Consumed but, honestly, the hassle is completely worth it because it was some kickass food. In the end, my favorite thing about Vapiano is that it's a German chain (headquartered in Beethoven's hometown...holla!) specializing in Italian food which the UT Chamber Singers dined at in the capitol of the United States. Try not to have a seizure from the irony all up in that.
I don't have many pictures of us and, in fact, I'll thank Caity Anderson-Patterson here for the use of a few pictures she snapped that are about to show up. Here you've got alto Sam Miller and I posing in Times Square. We had a great time together that day and, since it was Fleet Week, the person on the other side of the camera is a US Marine (Semper Fi!). Sam just adopted a beautiful little girl from Russia (who I still have to meet...Hi, Micah!) and I'm grateful to have been the one who distracted her whilst all the paperwork was going through.
Here's a gaggle of UTCS peeps at a Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium. The classiest baseball fans in the world!
Finally, here's what Caity dubbed "The Incorrigible Eight" (although three are missing). Our connecting flight from Dallas-Fort Worth was cancelled so the airline routed the 21 of us in the ensemble from Baltimore to Houston to Austin in three separate groups. I was a member of the third group to leave the Houston airport and we were supposed to have close to a 6-hour layover...and it only takes something like 3 hours to drive the distance between Houston and Austin. Taking that into account, the university rented us a bigass passenger van (church camp style!) and we drove it to get back home before Group #2 even touched down at ATX. Here we are in the Enterprise station about to leave for Austin.
Caity's caption says it all: "On our mission trip to Awesome. Fighting transportation adversity at every turn."
To be a musician of any stripe is to be given these occasional opportunities to see the world--oftentimes with a bunch of other people alongside you--and these 10 days will be a cherished memory.
currently listening: June 2011
June 03, 2011
How many times have you had to sit and and get all Barococo with one or more of Vivaldi's Four Seasons? At least an annoying amount, right? Max Stoffregen told me about this Il Giardino Armonico album a couple of months ago and, although I was skeptical at first, he wasn't kidding around (I should know this about Max by now...he's brilliant). I don't know exactly what kind of strings the ensemble is playing on (I'm assuming gut, maybe?) and, due to the ubiquitous nature of this music, I haven't studied the scores for these pieces but--damn--whatever they did here makes them actually interesting; like the first time you heard The Black Album or The Rite of Spring. The second movement of the winter concerto is especially different than anything I've heard. There are sul ponticello effects all over this entire album which lift the music out of any of the quotidian nature its acquired. Or I could be wrong about all that and it just turns out that I'm woefully unlearnéd about this type of string playing. Either way this album effing rocks.
On the sophisticated side (at least with regard to the hyper-literate lyrical content) I'm in love with The Decemberists' new album, The King is Dead. This might be their last album for a while and it's a good one. "January Hymn" reminds me of growing up in the Midwest ("How I lived a childhood in snow...stuffed in strata of clothes") and "Don't Carry It All" is loaded with positive vibes ("A neighbor's blessed burden within reason becomes a burden born of all and one"). They just announced that keyboardist Jenny Conlee has been diagnosed with breast cancer so here's hoping she'll be back to the stage soon.
Julius Eastman, you guys! He was a singer/composer/provocateur (1940-1990) who wrote some proto-minimalist stuff back in the day and then died penniless and destitute way too early.
"Stay On It" is an exercise in this really bubbly vibe that persists for almost 25 straight minutes. And then there's this crazy piece called "Gay Guerrilla" for four pianos which is even longer. So far there is only one anthology of his work out there called Unjust Malaise (thanks in no small part to Mary Jane Leach) and you should definitely check it out. Eastman ran in so many seemingly disparate circles it's ridiculous and, if you have some time, his Wikipedia entry is worth a read.
jocelyn hagen kicks amASS
May 31, 2011
Daniel Catán (1949-2011)
April 30, 2011
That’s when I scrolled down to the section where it listed all the operas he had written. There, listed amongst the others, was Florencia en el Amazonas; the opera I had seen by pure coincidence in the summer of 2006. The composer of that piece (whose name I had long forgotten) was Daniel Catán.
For the uninitiated, I feel I should say that sometimes music lessons can devolve into a sort of empirical hegemonic exercise whereby a student is instructed by a master but, every Wednesday at 3pm, Daniel made it known through no uncertain terms that he considered his students equals and this was the position he wanted to talk about my music from. He would often lean forward, point at various measures on my chicken scratch manuscript and gently ask, “What are you trying to say here? I just want you to talk for a bit and I’ll listen.”
He was gracious and he was challenging but, above all, he was nurturing. Not every composition student needs this but, in my case, it helped me to get work done because I didn’t dread showing my music to him (and I hate presenting my music to other composers). We would often just sit and talk for a while; spending maybe 10 minutes of the hour on actual music I brought in. We talked variously--and for no apparent compositional reason--of a Norwegian dessert called rømmegrøt I had recently made for a dinner party as well as the different ways he felt Musetta could be played in any number of productions of La bohème (clearly he was the one who was on-task). At one point he found out that I played banjo and grilled me on notation for that instrument because he had planned on using it in the opera he was working on.
Everyone--even the singers and stage directors and opera administrators--liked him. Critics and some important people in the music business were put off by Catán’s unabashed neo-Romanticism, but no one had a bad word to say about him. His students adored him. He always struck me as someone who cared about people and who cared about music and had no intention of letting one form of caring obstruct the other.
robert henri + i'm dating an old model
February 24, 2011
"Know what the old masters did. Know how they composed their pictures, but do not fall into the conventions they established. These conventions were right for them, and they are wonderful. They made their language. You make yours. They can help you. All the past can help you."
"It is not enough to have thought great things before doing the work."
dalla$ + currently listening
February 20, 2011
January 23, 2011
- A moon rock.
- LBJ's bowling ball.
- The teletype hotline thing used between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War.
- A portrait of LBJ etched out on a whale tooth (what presidency is complete without one of those?).
- Racist signs.
- The presidential limousine.
- The fumbly animatronic version of LBJ which tells jokes (and creeps you the hell out).
- The Great Hall where all of the archives are kept.
- The insanely un-stylish furniture in the Oval Office at the time. The replica is at 1/8 scale for some odd reason and kind of claustrophobic to walk around in.
January 15, 2011
The last entry from the electronic front is Minneapolis dubstep prodigy, Vaski. He entered the scene at what seems to be the exact right time because it blew the hell up pretty much immediately after he started making records. The title track from the World On Fire EP is absolutely incredible but his other EPs are pretty good too.
jay brannan @ lambert's
December 19, 2010
Thanks, Jay. Hurry along with a new album, will you?
November 27, 2010
verdi + jónsi OR not a bad month for kickass shows
November 11, 2010
November 09, 2010
one of the more unique premieres i've had
October 31, 2010
One of the funnier things that happened over the course of the underground tour was that Bernard told us that he had mysteriously never been to a Starbuck's and, because of this, he wanted to go to one in Seattle because it didn't feel like selling out. Consequently, we made a stop off so the Englishman could have a tea.
(p.s. I win the competition for who has the most pockets. Don't mess with Texas.)
a thought on musicians and haircuts + Steven Bryant brings the thunder
October 28, 2010
currently listening + process
September 16, 2010
My two favorite songs are "White Blank Page" and "I Gave You All." In the former they do this really cool switch between 6/8 into 3/4 near the end. It's a subtle change but it adds something beautiful before the band sings the last phrase a cappella. Go get it!
all-state stuff + Samuel Barber and I are in a fight + currently listening
September 14, 2010
All that being said, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the young men and women of the choir for giving such an incredible performance, the 4 pianists for dealing with my...uh...four piano parts, Angie Broeker for taking a risk on a new piece for such a weird instrumentation (to her credit she jumped at it) and the people with the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Music Educators Association for calling on me to write this piece. It was a blast!
Seriously, speak that out. My score has the tempo indication of "Allegro" (What, there were no metronomes in 1940?) but a recording I've got has this at about quarter note = 136.
Now I'm willing to forgive the absolutely ridiculous notion that eighth notes shouldn't be barred together when listed in a traditional time signature because I choose to blame that on the conventions of publication but what I can't get past is the totally idiotic way he places the text within each bar.
And you might say, "Maybe he was going for emphasis on weak syllables as part of the piece." Then you'd probably bring up a bunch of Poulenc's choral works (which I loooove) as an example. To which my answer would be, "Not according to any of the other music contained in this or the other two movements."
See? Now isn't that better? The motives are even broken up so you can visually see what's going on a bit more. I'm certainly not saying I'm a better composer (because duh) but, seriously, go back and look at Barber's original now. Based on where the beat emphasis is you'd think the guy had never spoken a lick of English before. Or, at the very least, he had no idea how to write for a choir.
August 31, 2010
10 recordings OR is this overkill?
August 27, 2010
- The shortest (4'04") is by the Scholars Baroque Ensemble and the longest (5'26") is with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Both of these versions, coincidentally, are the ones where no soloist is listed for some reason.
- The majority are in the notated key of B-flat major but, predictably, the ones by conductors that are all up in some period performance practice (Christopher Hogwood and John Eliot Gardiner, for example) are in what we would consider A major instead.
- Then--and here's where I need some help from my musicologist friends--there are some wildly different variations with regards to simple and compound time. The only version I've ever laid eyes on is in simple time where the runs are made up of 16th notes but there are more than a few in my new cache that are in compound triplets for the duration. I'm aware that Handel made a kajillion different versions (read: arrangements!) of Messiah as a whole but it's amazing to me to think that he would've changed the music in such a seemingly profound way.
the disadvantage of liking a lot of music...
August 18, 2010
things i'm going to miss about living in the Twin Cities: aquatic edition
August 17, 2010
From north to south you've got Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and lake Harriet.
definitely one of the most fascinating things i've ever seen
August 11, 2010
(p.s. If I were to try to tell you what this movie is about I would probably come across as more of a nitwit than I usually do so, for now, jump over to Wikipedia and find out for yourself. You will have no choice but to watch and be completely intrigued by it.)
things i'll miss about living in the twin cities: kitty edition
July 29, 2010
Although, since Seattle just got voted the most caffeinated city in America by The Daily Beast (the Twin Cities got 14th) and that's where this particular ensemble is based, perhaps it was just life imitating art. Either way, The Esoterics will give a fantastic performance of my new piece, songs about most of my friends, next October and, should you be in the neighborhood, you should stop by.
On the domestic front, I'm just about through packing up my place in Uptown Minneapolis so I can move to Austin. One thing I will miss is this little cat who was always in the first floor window before I left for work. Here's a camera phone picture I snapped of this thing at something like 6:40am.
I don't know what its name was but the consistency with which it was there seeing me off was impressive:
"Meow-meow-meow I'll miss you too meow-meow-meow."
And then, just for good marks, here's a picture of the Twins' beautiful new stadium, Target Field. A friend threw free tickets at me recently so I enjoyed an $8 beer, a surprisingly good veggie burger and a victory by the home team. Boo-yah!
trying to work...don't bother me OR monochromatic cat blog to distract me from writing
July 04, 2010
I like to spread out a lot when I have staff paper to work with but there's a cat-sized spot on the bench where I'm sitting that I can't put my sheets of manuscript. Here's a photo of him from my phone:
I should say that Jack showed up after my tenure under the Shank roof and, frankly, we've never really gotten along all that well (he bit the hell out of me a few years back)...but he's calmed down a whole lot in the last few years and, for some reason, he seems to like music.
My old cat, Max, used to do stuff similar to this. He was never a lap cat of any sort unless I was writing at my desk.
Just surfing the net? Nope. On the couch.
Working on correspondence? Sorry. Sleeping in the rafters somewhere.
However, if I was intently engraving music with headphones on and coffee in hand he was in my lap purring. It was the weirdest thing.
Rest in peace, little buddy. Your investment into my creative process will be missed.
san juan islands
June 18, 2010
There aren't many opportunities to experience the nautical culture here in Minnesota (although we do have more than our fair share of lakes) so any time I get to ride in a boat that is used for transportation as opposed to recreation it's a unique experience. The Washington State Ferries are one of the largest fleets of their kind in the world and have been fully incorporated into the state's highway system. How cool is that?
The villages at the edge of the water remind me of the little towns on the fjords I saw in Norway way back in 2003 (travel reference!).
Sacred to The Memory of William Taylor, Aged 34 Years
Who was accidentally shot by his Brother, January 26, 1868
This tablet is erected by his Sorrowing Brother
Thanks for the memories, San Juan Islands. I will now tie myself to my desk and finish this piece for The Esoterics. Summer is fun but, at a certain point, I'm just ignoring my responsibilities. Mahalo.