Category "Music - of all kinds"

July 19, 2005

Open Ears

Heard a great spot on Minnesota Public Radio on the way to work this morning: "Open Ears." Chris Roberts has asked local musicians to identify a favorite piece of music that is from a genre OTHER THAN the one they typically perform. An intriguing idea. I'll be borrowing this rubric now and then, but here's a link to this morning's spot.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:09 AM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

December 21, 2005

JSB on the BBC

Thanks to "Music Notes" for the reminder this morning that BBC3 is currently broadcasting the entire works of J.S. Bach, running from December 16 through Christmas Day. The special web page for the extravaganza is here. It also includes contests, trivia, and the place to tune in. Enjoy!

Posted by hgroteva at 9:46 AM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

January 12, 2006

Mozart's Manuscripts Re-united at the British Library

The BBC World Service program "The World" carried a fascinating program today about two halves of a manuscript by Mozart that have recently been re-united at the British Library. After his death, Mozart's wife Constanza sold the two halves separately. The upper half has been in the British Library since 1953, but the lower half was only recently acquired. Listen to the radio program here. It contains excerpts from Mozart's piece, written when he was 17.

You can also go to the British Library site and see "Mozart's Musical Diary," a part of their innovative "Turning the Pages" collection. It provides a fascinating view of the diary - you can turn the pages or look at them with a magnifying glass. You can also hear 75 musical excerpts from Mozart's work. I wrote about some other books in this collection (such as the Lindisfarne Gospels) after my trip to the UK last summer. See my blog post from June 24, 2005. (Note: You will need to scroll down to the June 24 entry.)

Cheers to The World and the British Library for bringing us such great stuff!

Posted by hgroteva at 11:42 PM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Wolfie!

Mozart.bmp

Today is Mozart's 250th birthday - Happy birthday!! To celebrate, classical MPR (99.5 KSJN) is playing "all Mozart, all the time" today. Tune in and enjoy. Here's a link to the website; you can play the broadcast from here.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:25 AM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Choral Music"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

March 19, 2006

Transported by Music

Some people go to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break. Well, I stayed here and went to concerts instead -- no sunblock or plane tickets needed. I attended two wonderful concerts this weekend. Last night was the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. It was particularly interesting and fresh because of the audience and the energy generated between the orchestra and the audience. The SPCO has been working hard to attract a younger audience, so that once all of us grayhaired folk pass on, there will be bodies to fill the seats. I was pretty cynical about their attempts, but last night I saw that it is working. There were families, young adults, kids, teens, and people in comfortable clothing ... but all truly loving and appreciating the music. Although there were no standing ovations, each piece brought several well-deserved curtain calls.

Last night, they were truly acting as a chamber group (not just a small orchestra). They opened with the Bach Violin Concerto #2 in E, featuring their own Dale Barltrop as soloist. He gave an energetic rendering of the concerto and reminded me a bit of Nigel Kennedy as he was doing so. The second piece was especially impressive -- just a few hours before the performance, one of the key soloists became ill, and so they had to pull something off the shelves - which worked marvelously. It was a Mozart concerto for piano, viola, and clarinet - very engaging, and full of synergy in the trio. A "new" feature is that all the strings (except the cellos) stood during their performances. I think it enhanced what they usually do - there was a lot of energy and focus. Anyway, there was good chemistry within the group and between the group and audience that left us feeling really good ... and very fortunate to live in a city where such concerts are so excellent, accessible, and affordable.

This afternoon, I heard the St. Mark's Cathedral Choir perform two pieces I especially love ... maybe in part because I've sung them, but I actually appreciate the music and find the texts deeply moving. The first was Charpentier's "Le Reniement de St. Pierre" - The Denial of St. Peter. An appropriate Lenten piece with strong solo contributions. They closed with an all-time favorite which I have written about here before - Herbert Howells' Requiem. He started the piece in 1932 and completed it in 1936 after his son Michael died of spinal meningitis. The piece was not published for 44 more years -- until the last two years of his life, Howells found the piece too painful to hear (from the program notes). It is an ethereal piece , full of spooky and transcendent harmonies. It is a Requiem of reassurance and peace, not of divine wrath. I was really moved.

There aren't many places where I could have had such wonderful musical opportunities back-to-back on the same weekend. They are to be treasured.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:29 PM | Choral Music | Music - of all kinds

Category "Life"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

Category "Technology"

Category "Travel"

April 11, 2006

In the Blogosphere ...What Goes Around, Comes Around

I was surprised and delighted to receive an e-mail this morning from a completely unexpected source. Sherrie, the owner of Malibu Moo's Frozen Griddle in Fish Creek Wisconsin, had run across my blog entry (08.28.2005) about our trip to Door County last summer and wrote me a note. She was pleased to see how much I enjoyed their ice cream (especially the vanilla with Door County cherries folded in), and said that hearing such wonderful things about her place made those 18 hour summer workdays worthwhile. I'm glad! Turns out we are also both musicians and love to travel, so we have struck up an e-mail correspondence about that too. I don't know if we'll make it to Door County this summer or not, but in fond memory, here's the picture I posted in August. Summer is just around the corner - and not a moment too soon!

Hal at Malibu Moos Fish Creek-b.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 6:13 PM | Life | Music - of all kinds | Technology | Travel

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 13, 2006

Music and the Brain Co-Evolved

NPR had a fascinating segment last Saturday (hear it by clicking here) about music and the brain. McGill University neuroscientist Daniel Levitin was planning to take physiological measurements of Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, along with 5 musicians and 50 audience members, to measure their responses to different types of music. I found myself very intrigued by Levitin's closing comments, which I have transcribed here:

"Music is a unique human quality. it is characterized by its ubiquity and its antiquity. [What a great line!] There is no culture that we know of that lacks music. For all of recorded history, music has been part of our species. The human brain apparently evolved along with music; music and the brain co-evolved. Learning about one can teach us something about the other."

It makes perfect sense that music touches something very primal in us and satisfies deep needs that, at times, seem inexplicable. I'm very intrigued and look forward to thinking and learning a lot more about Levitin's assertion that music and the brain co-evolved. I recently discovered a book on my shelf that's been patiently waiting to be read; I look forward to digging in after the semester winds down.
Jourdain, Robert (1997). Music, the brain, and ecstasy: How music captures our imagination. New York: Harper Collins.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:55 AM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Life"

Category "Minnesota"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

February 12, 2007

Give Me My Radio Back!

I'm a big NPR / MPR fan, EXCEPT during those infernal times of the year when they have their pledge drives -- like now. The latest one started last Thursday. I just can't bear to listen during it - it's so irritating and distressing. (I know they need the money, and I guess they keep being reinforced for doing the pledge drives, because people do respond. I make sure to send in my membership fee at OTHER times during the year.)

In the Twin Cities, we had a good thing going when WCAL, a classical music station not owned by MPR, conducted its pledge drive at times when MPR stations weren't. So when MPR was doing its drive, I could listen all the time to WCAL, and vice versa. Now that MPR bought out WCAL, all 3 of the MPR stations do their fund drives simultaneously. There's no escaping. To top it off, the pledge drives seem to extend longer each year.

I feel sorry for the announcers who have to go on and on begging for money. I suspect they're muttering "This is not what I signed up for!" But they seem to weather it with relatively good humor.

I've been tuning in to some "commercial" stations - but AACK! This morning, one of the stations was telling the story of Anna Nicole Smith meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates. I can't tell you how many different ways that was revolting!

Well, that's enough of a rant for this Monday morning. It felt good to get it off my chest. But give me my radio stations back!

Posted by hgroteva at 9:22 AM | Life | Minnesota | Music - of all kinds

Category "Life"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 9, 2007

On Awareness

Today's Star Tribune reported the following:

""HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by," wrote Gene Weingarten for the Washington Post. Almost all of them were on the way to work. "No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made."

Here's a link to the full Washington Post story, complete with some videos.

Although the story itself is quite a jolt, it says a lot to me about how un-aware we have gotten. I've mentioned earlier that the undergraduates in my class have their iPods plugged in until the minute class starts and plug them back in the minute that class ends. When people are walking on campus, they seem totally oblivious to their surroundings - the people, the birds singing, and yes - even Joshua Bell playing that amazing violin.

I predict that 10 years from now, there will be a great epiphany about "awareness" - people will be re-discovering how important it is to be in tune with their surroundings. In the meantime, I'll be paying close attention to those magical moments -- like the time I heard the invisible (to me) chorus rehearsing in the residence hall at King's College, or the time (while on the way to another concert) we stopped on the Washington Mall for a performance of Porgy and Bess being simulcast to the crowds outside, or to the time the Minnesota Women's Chorus was performing in the lobby of the Guthrie. Music is everywhere and needs to be performed and to be heard.

But this is about a lot more than music, isn't it? In what other ways are we oblivious to the amazing things around us??

Posted by hgroteva at 8:06 AM | Life | Music - of all kinds

Category "Movies"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

June 5, 2007

Once

once.jpg

It's funny how even the best movie reviews often trivialize their subjects. I've read several reviews of "Once," (all positive), but wasn't fully prepared for the deeply satisfying film I saw last night. Of course, it'a about musicians, so what's not to like? But the characters are just "real" people. They don't even have names in the film, and I didn't notice until the closing credits. I was just drawn into their lives immediately. After the final scene, no one budged until the closing credits had all run. Now that's a very good sign, indeed. And did I mention how great the music was? I'm going to get my copy today. I won't add to the drivel or even try to summarize or "review" the film, but hey - go see it. Feel free to comment once you have.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:54 AM | Movies | Music - of all kinds

Category "Movies"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

June 13, 2007

Once Twice

Busker.jpg

I saw "Once" for the second time tonight. What a gem of a movie. Why am I so drawn to this film? Well, it's about music and musicians. And about spontaneity. And about joy in living. And joy in making music. And about simplicity.

Once - band practice.jpg

And it's about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And it's about people being decent to each other and doing great things together.

Marketa + Glen.jpg

And it's about passion - doing something you really care about with other people you care about. And being surprised and in a state of wonder and not jaded.

Here's a link about the movie, including the soundtrack that will play for you. I've got the CD and highly recommend it.

Posted by hgroteva at 11:29 PM | Movies | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

Category "Society"

June 18, 2007

Healing Power of Music

Baker from Fergus Falls.jpg
"Steve Baker worked on an amplifier knob at Fergus Music in Fergus Falls, Minn., on Thursday. The store serves as headquarters for Operation Happy Note" (from Startribune.com)

The Strib this morning carried an uplifting piece about Steve and Barbara Baker, from Fergus Falls, who have been sending musical instruments. especially in the guitar family, to soldiers stationed in Iraq. The article showed a picture of crew members from the USS Nashville with their instruments. Apparently, they have a list of 150 musicians waiting hopefully for instruments.

Here is some further information provided by the Star Tribune:
"Operation Happy Note is a volunteer effort to send musical instruments to our deployed service men and women throughout the world. Steve and Barb Baker from Fergus Music started Operation Happy Note after their son was deployed to Iraq. They had sent him a guitar and then a buddy wanted one. These soldiers were so pleased with having these instruments over there that Steve and Barb wanted to find a way to get more instruments to our troops, hence “Operation Happy Note?. Since March of 2005 we have sent hundreds of instruments including guitars, mandolins, banjos, violins, harmonicas, and accessories. Steve also wrote a lesson program with CD for those who don't know how to play.“ We can’t stop now!? says Barb just because her son is now back home with his family. There are just too many requests that keep coming in, these soldiers need the joy that music brings to them. "

soldier with guitar.jpg

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a plane next to a soldier on leave from Iraq. The conditions under which these folks are working are every bit as bad as we can imagine from the media. He talked of 130 degree days, walking around with a 70 pound pack, full combat gear, and wearing gloves because you can't touch anything without being burned. If a few guitars can help these folks keep it together, I'm all for it.

Contact information for Operation Happy Note:
122 E. Lincoln Ave. Fergus Falls MN 56537 | info@operationhappynote.com | 218.736.5541

Posted by hgroteva at 8:11 AM | Music - of all kinds | Society

Category "In Memory / In Honor"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

September 10, 2007

"Nessun Dorma" Sung by Pavarotti

The world lost an incredible tenor last week when Luciano Pavarotti died. I have never been a huge opera fan -- a close friend of mine whose family listened to the Texaco Hour every Saturday while she was growing up once commented that it is an "acquired taste" - and I have to agree. But I do love some of the famous arias. And my most favorite is "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot. It was one of Pavarotti's signature pieces.

Courtesy of YouTube, here he is singing it at the Torino Olympics in 2006. I would swear that during one of his rests towards the end where the orchestra is swelling, the audience is singing it in the background. The whole thing gives me goosebumps!! Enjoy...

Posted by hgroteva at 8:28 PM | In Memory / In Honor | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

September 29, 2007

The Jazz Image - Cheers to Leigh Kamman

Leigh Kamman.jpg

I'm listening to the last broadcast of The Jazz Image on MPR -- hosted by Leigh Kamman.

Here is a link to his farewell message to those of us in the audience.

I've enjoyed the show for years. There's something both exciting and soothing about his theme music from Alice Babs -- she hits those sweet high notes just like butter. His show provided my broadest and deepest exposure to jazz, and I am thankful for it.

Jon Bream's column in the Strib this morning noted that Leigh was the "Voice of Jazz" for 6 decades. Now 85, Kamman has interviewed countless jazz musicians and played their music on his weekly show. Now that he's signing off of the show, he plans to return to writing a book he began in the 1970s. Good for him!! Congratulations and godspeed! and thanks...

Here's a site where you can contribute your memories of his program and read what others have said.

And now, back to listening....

Posted by hgroteva at 9:30 PM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Movies"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

October 5, 2007

Blast from the Past

"Across the Universe" was quite a trip, on a number of levels. Of course, the Beatles songs were excellent and brought back so many memories. The scenes of the 60s demonstrations and riots catapulted me back to all the unrest about the (other) war. "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

With characters named Jude, Lucy, and Max, there are bound to be schlocky moments. But on the whole, it was a great nostalgia interlude in a serious week. Some of the psychedelic camera work was excellent. And I could feel the pain and exhilaration and ambivalence in all the leads. Go with an open mind, and let it take you where it will.

Posted by hgroteva at 9:03 PM | Movies | Music - of all kinds

Category "Moving"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 12, 2008

Musical Farewells

Even though much of my time is being taken up with preparing to move, I've had two wonderful musical adventures in the past few weeks. I'll talk about the most recent one at this sitting. On Thursday night, Mark and I went to hear Anoushka Shankar at Orchestra Hall. Click here for the program notes. I first heard her on 89.3 The Current several months ago, when they played a piece from her 2007 CD "Breathing Under Water." I loved iits mixture of classical Indian sounds and contemporary western beats. I've listened to it quite a few times; the tunes stay with me.

Breathing Under Water.jpg

Ms. Shankar is 26 years old - she is the daughter of Ravi Shankar and the half-sister of Norah Jones. She has been performing publicly for half her life. Her official website is quite visually appealing - take a look.

Thursday night featured horrible weather -- we were in the midst of a spring snow / slush / ice / sleet / rain storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning (Minnesota's famous "thundersnow.") I thought Orchestra Hall would be thinly populated, but I think it was full, or almost so. The ensemble included 5 folks: Anoushka Shankar on sitar, Tanmoy Bose on tabla (incredible!), Sanjeev Shankar on tanpura, Leo Dombecki on piano, and Jesse Charnow on drums. A spectacular group.

This was her first appearance in the Twin Cities. At one point, she said "What's with this weather?" - and people understood. (She said she was heading back to San Diego -- the American city with the most perfect climate, IMHO.) The audience was what I would call "slow to warm up" - but maybe it was the weather. By the end of the evening, however, people were smiling, shouting, bravo-ing, and applauding loudly - it was a love affair.

Many of the pieces they played were ragas. According to Wikipedia:
"R?ga (Sanskrit, lit. "colour" or "mood"; or r?gam in Carnatic music) refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music.[1] It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is founded. In the Indian musical tradition, ragas are held in different times of the day. Indian classical music is always set in raga. Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs sometimes use ragas in their compositions." The entry is much longer; for further information click here.

All in all, it was a delightful evening. It was Mark's first time at Orchestra Hall (not that he hadn't been offered opportunities before), and he truly enjoyed it. He talked about coming back down for Sommerfest. I asked if he had thought about playing an instrument, and he said he'd prefer to be a sound technician - he'd be great.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:27 PM | Moving | Music - of all kinds

Category "Moving"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 27, 2008

Old Friends

I've been putting off this decision for a long time, and today was the day to make it. Shall I leave my LPs and turntable behind, or drag them along on this move? I've gotten pretty good at pitching stuff in the past few weeks, so I felt ready to confront the decision. When the time was right, I was rested, and the light was good, I sat down next to the cupboard where the LPs are stored.

And what did I discover? Many old friends! Many that brought a smile to my face or a memory to my mind's eye. Just as with the coffee cup collection in my office, I can tell a story about most of the LPs that remain. It wasn't a difficult decision to make - I'll be taking my friends with me. (If I had time, I'd get an LP to CD converter and digitize them, but that is simply impossible for now.)

As a nod to my need to trim, I identified about 50 LPs I can let go of. Some are ones I had purchased CDs of, and others are ones that I'm just not interested in any more. A few I have on "greatest hits" CDs, but there's something about the memory of the songs in their exact order that brings that smile. It's odd, but when I hear a greatest hit CD, I get disoriented when the songs are in a different order than on an LP I played a zillion times. (This happens rarely, and only about certain LPs I care a lot about or have very vivid memories attached to.)

Do I have eclectic tastes? Judge for yourself. Here are a few I didn't want to part with.

Phoebe Snow.jpg

Phoebe Snow, "Second Childhood" (1976). This may have been her first album. I love her unique voice.

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Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg "Twin Sons of Different Mothers" (1978). A wonderful collaboration (flute & guitar). Fogelberg died in December of prostate cancer at the age of 56.

Zeffirelli Romeo Juliet.jpg

Soundtrack to Zeffirelli's "Romeo & Juliet". I loved this movie and the score - it really made Shakespeare accessible. And Olivia Hussey was a great Juliet.

Missa Papae Marcelli.jpg

Palestrina, "Missa Papae Marcelli" - This was a Deutsche Grammophone Archiv recording - It always felt like an extravagance to buy these, but it was worth it! This sealed my love of sacred choral music.

Zodiac.jpg

"The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds" -- 'celestial counterpoint with words and music' The back cover says "must be played in the dark" -- Hey, I went to college in the 60s!

Howdy Doody.jpg

"Howdy Doody and Santa Claus" This is a 78 rpm set from my childhood (1953) - How could I let go of this friend?
Why does all the world look bright
On this very merry night?
All because of Santa Claus,
Hurray for Santa Claus.
From his wrinkley nose
To his twinkley toes
Hurray for Santa Claus!

Where would we be without friends??

Posted by hgroteva at 12:06 PM | Moving | Music - of all kinds

Category "Life"

Category "Massachusetts"

Category "Minnesota"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

June 29, 2008

Tanglewood, Garrison Keillor, & Good Friends

The title really says it all. I spent yesterday at Tanglewood with a friend of 40 years, celebrating our friendship at the live broadcast of the Prairie Home Companion. Lots of meaning packed into that sentence; all good.

Of course, brought to you by Powermilk Biscuits, in the light blue box with the stain on the front that indicates reshness. Heavens, they're tasty!

Powdermilk2.jpg

Tanglewood has been on my MUST DO list for this summer for quite a while. It is as idyllic as its name suggests. Nestled in the Berkshires, its lush campus invites relaxation and camaraderie, even with total strangers. It's the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a venue for summer music institutes, and a place with an amazing summer music series. (Chanticleer and the Shanghai String Quartet are performing together next month -- stay tuned for that...)

Thanks to my colleague here who told me about the performance. We got 2 of the very last tickets in the Shed -- 3 rows from the back -- but who cares, it's a radio show! I just pretended I was listing on NPR, like I do almost every weekend.

Stage from inside Shed.jpg

We would have gotten Lawn tickets (great fun - people bring elaborate picnics and hang out), but the weather threatened rain, and it actually did rain for a time during the performance. I'll do that another time...

On lawn in rain.jpg

I've seen PHC live once before -- in the mid 1970s when I was in graduate school. It started broadcasting in 1974, so I must have been to one of its first shows, when it still had a small, local following. Now it goes out to millions every week. It was a great show -- excellent music, and poetry from the Poet Laureate of the U.S. (Where else would the Poet Laureate perform??) Turns out, he is from New Hampshire, not too far away from here.

Keillor clearly draws energy from the crowd. This was most evident after the broadcast was over. I expected a polite encore (the audience was very enthusiastic), but he and the rest of the cast stayed around for more than a half hour. They did some of their things, but mostly led the audience in a love-fest sing-a-long. What an unexpected pleasure! Singing can bring total strangers together.

Sing-a-long.jpg

The woman in the white blouse, second from left, was swaying to the music on her cane, along with her son in the red shirt. It was very sweet.

My feeling is that the Greatest Generation all knew a lot of songs in common, but that seems to be vanishing. Yesterday, we sang things like "Summertime," "Good Night Ladies," "Amazing Grace," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," ... you get the idea. What songs will the next generation of young people know in common? I really wonder. I could tell Garrison especially loved turning the audience loose in some a capella verses -- from stage, I'm sure it just felt like energy rolling right at him.

It's such a pleasure to live close to Chris after all these years. We were college roommates for 2 years and then went separate ways geographically. We've always stayed in touch, but visits have been infrequent. That will be changing. Tanglewood is just about half way between us -- a real bonus. (It's about 1 1/2 hrs west of here.) We talked and talked and talked, as always. Before heading home, we stopped at a funky Indian restaurant in Lee, MA. The staff seemed a bit pverwhelmed by the larger-than-usual crowd. Tha lamb I had was good, but I'm sure it was swimming in a sauce I will react to. I took as little sauce as I could. At the end, we both ordered coffee, but got tea. interesting.....

But overall, what a special day. A great way to start my life here. Maybe things like that happen when you CTRL-ALT-DEL.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:22 AM | Life | Massachusetts | Minnesota | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

November 8, 2008

"Terra Aria" by Giovanni Sollima

My thanks to Cynthia for e-mailing me about the music of Giovanni Sollima -- the Sicilian cellist -- and his piece, Terra Aria. She had read enough of my blog entries about my musical preferences to know that I would probably like his work - and she was right. Here is Terra Aria played as part of an interview with Dutch radio. I find the music hypnotic, soothing, mysterious, and energizing all at once. I'm not a huge fan of minimalist music in general - but this piece is in its own class. I look forward to learning more about his work. Be sure to listen to the entire interview with him - it's quite fascinating. Although he says he is connected to minimalist music, he sees his work much more broadly -- connected to ritual, influenced by the Spanish, the Incas -- and even the songs that the Sicilian fishermen sing all night long.

Here is a link to Sollima's official website.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:10 PM | Music - of all kinds

Category "Music - of all kinds"

Category "Technology"

November 30, 2008

Music and Technology - NPR series

During November, NPR's Weekend Edition has had a fascinating series on music and technology. Today's program featured two kinds of software that permit at-a-distance musical collaboation: e-jamming, which allows for playing together in real time, and Indaba Music, which facilitates asynchronous collaboration among musicians across the planet. Fascinating stuff. Here is a link to the series. Enjoy!

Posted by hgroteva at 10:01 AM | Music - of all kinds | Technology

Category "Family"

Category "Identity"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

March 17, 2009

Once, Again

Busker.jpg

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, it's time to listen once again to the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies of all time: "Once." Such a great story, and such great music. I'm listening in memory of the Irish side of my family, especially my beloved grandfather, Leo Francis Ryan. He died suddenly of a stroke when I was about 8 - I wish I had gotten to know him as an adult - my sense is that he was quite a guy. He's the second from the right.

Floyd Ed Leo Jim painters 1955.jpg


Here is a link to the soundtrack
- enjoy!

Posted by hgroteva at 8:58 AM | Family | Identity | Music - of all kinds

Category "Massachusetts"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

August 9, 2009

Evocative Music Summer

I have absolutely no right to complain about missing music here. This summer has been a real treat. The special joy is that the pieces I hear evoke wonderful (usually) memories of ways I've interacted with them before.

I'll start with last night. We joined Chris at the Saratoga (NY) Performing Arts Center to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra. The first piece was Valses nobles et sentimentales by Ravel -- a real treat. I'm a sucker for Ravel, Debussy, and Impressionist art - so there. The second piece was Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto played by Joshua Bell. Serendipitously, he was interviewed on NPR during our drive to Saratoga - sounds like the kind of guy you'd enjoy meeting and having a casual conversation with. It was fascinating to hear him talk about his Stradivarius and how getting his new instrument a few years ago felt like divorcing one partner and taking on a new one with more vivid colors and life. As much as he loves the new instrument, he said he might replace it if just the perfect one came along. He is an amazing violinist. I had heard him a number of times with the SPCO and have several of his CDs. After watching calm violinists playing away in their orchestra seats, it's always such a contrast to see the physicality of a soloist like Bell. (He's also close to being a pro tennis player - it shows.)

Seeing performances like that always ramp up my dedication to whatever I have going on. ("Seeing" isn't the right word. Although I'm sitting in the audience, I'm much more engaged than "seeing" or "hearing" would imply. I wonder what the right word would be?) The final piece, Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (from the New World) was a special treat. It brought me back to high school. I was participating in summer band camp at UT Austin and we performed the 4th movement in symphonic band. We worked very hard and pulled it off. It was especially challenging and fun, because we clarinets had all the great parts that the violins would otherwise have gotten. Anyway, the Phila Orch played with great passion and energy. I must say, the conductor drove me crazy. His beats (such as they were) were all over the place. As a seasoned orchestra would, they mainly ignored him and followed their collective internalized conductor, and it worked just fine. In person, I suspect he is as pretentions as his program notes made him sound. They stated, "Mr. X has traveled and visited ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD." (caps mine) ... Really??!! C'mon! Give me a break. Anyway, it was a delightful evening.

Earlier visits to the Berkshire Choral Festival last weekend (for the Rachmaninoff Vespers) and Tanglewood (for Stravinsky's Rites of spring and the Brahms Violin Concerto) were equally enjoyable. Even though each of these venues is a 2-hour drive away, the countryside is beautiful and the journey makes it really feel like summer. Life is good.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:52 AM | Massachusetts | Music - of all kinds

Category "Massachusetts"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

October 24, 2009

Musical Encounter - All Kinds of Strings

We had an unplanned musical encounter last night at a place I've been wanting to visit for other reasons - but what fun! S saw an announcement about a concert being given at the Montague Book Mill, featuring the duo of Cheyenne Brown (on celtic harp) and Seylan Baxter (on cello and vocals). Seylan is from Scotland, and Cheyenne is originally from Alaska, but met Seylan in music school in Scotland. Anyway - cello and celtic harp is quite a felicitous combination. The Book Mill is in an old mill house, complete with creaky floors and doors and lots of atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed the cello-harp concert and look forward to listening to their new CD. Here is their website.

Following their set was Jozef van Wissem on baroque lute. A pretty interesting guy, but he never let fully loose with his playing. Most of his pieces sounded similar, more like etudes than the real thing. But the real treat came at the end, with 2 early 20-something guys who look like the most improbable duo you could find. There were only 2 of them, but in the course of their one (long) set, they played bass clarinet, violin, sleigh bells, other bells, a small keyboard powered by blowing, a gadget that looks like a castle with a keyboard, a small piano played by bellows, and I'm sure I'm forgetting at least 5 other things. The piece lasted about 30 minutes and was surely improv - but they made some interesting sounds and had some nice points of contact. And oh yes, they had 3 small casette tape recorders and did looping -- recorded snips and played against their recordings, becoming ever more complex. One of the guys told me they were from Brooklyn, but I didn't catch their names. They were in their own world, totally absorbed ... Flow personified.

The encounter was largely unplanned and unexpected - a welcome respite to a month that has been very highly structured with commitments and deadlines. Montague is 45 mins north of here, but there are lots of little places like it (well, not really like it) tucked away here in western MA. I look forward to exploring many of them!

Posted by hgroteva at 2:33 PM | Massachusetts | Music - of all kinds