It’s Not a Song

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am not a stickler type person. I recognize that the English language is a flexible, ever changing colorful source of communication. BUT, I do have a bit of a pet peeve.

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Let's Reclaim the Word Diva!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Merriam-Webster defines diva (Italian for "goddess") as a prima donna (Italian for "first woman"). The dictionary gives two English definitions for prima donna: (1) a principal female singer in an opera, and (2) a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work…as part of a team.

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DIY Recycling and Electric Junkyard Gamelan

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Now in its 15th year, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas is a music, theater, and dance festival that takes place in New Haven, CT's historic courtyards, auditoriums and theaters. Festival highlights include a performances by Brooklyn's Electric Junkyard Gamelan, a percussion ensemble that builds its own instruments from found objects, Phillip Glass' performance of his solo piano music and a concert featuring the chamber ensemble repertoire of Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Christopher Rouse. With the festival's "arts and ideas" theme in mind, EJG founder Terry Dame describes the path that led her toward green instrument building.

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NY Lawmakers Avoid State Government Shutdown

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lawmakers have averted a potential state government shutdown, passing Gov. David Paterson's emergency extension bill. It will allow New York to continue operating without a budget.

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Xenakis on Water

Monday, June 14, 2010

Xenakis expert and contemporary music heavyweight Douglas Perkins will be a participating percussionist for Persephassa, part of the sprawling Make Music New York: Xenakis in Central Park happening on Monday, June 21 at the Central Park Boating Lake. It's a full afternoon of outdoor performances by the trailblazing Greek composer, featuring the bombastic Persephassa, for six percussionists, who will surround audience members experiencing the piece in floating rowboats on the lake!

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Rise and Shine and Go to a Concert

Friday, June 11, 2010

This week at a dinner party I met Pam, who left the get-together early. I'm a night owl myself (on the air weekend evenings, after all), but Pam told us that she regularly gets up at 4 am each day. She feels that rising early lets her "own the day," and gives her invaluable time to think and get things done.

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Robert and Clara Schumann

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

This week marks the 200th anniversary of Robert Schumann's birth, which we've been celebrating all week long on WQXR. Robert Schumann was well known for writing music and prose--in addition to being a composer, he was also a music critic and journalist. But it's clear that Robert Schumann would not have had nearly the success he did if he hadn't married Clara Wieck, a highly talented pianist and composer who served as his partner and muse.

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Says who?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Finding one’s own voice is a journey that every artist takes. And in most cases the very successful ones are those who are able to cast an artistic shadow that is unmistakably their own.

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Brooklyn's Darmstadt: Zach Layton and Nick Hallett

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

ISSUE Project Room's Darmstadt Institute curators, Nick Hallett and Zach Layton, lift the cloak off of their musical and non-musical inspirations for this June festival.

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The Weird Uncle of Instruments

Monday, June 07, 2010

I have a few musical guilty-pleasures--the accordion, the musical saw and certain kinds of close harmony singing among them. But I’m sure the one that most marks me as, shall we say, a bit odd, is--I’m hesitating to say it, actually--the theater pipe organ.

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Uptown World, Downtown Spirit

Friday, June 04, 2010

For the first time after two sold out seasons, the Tribeca New Music Festival moves to uptown host Merkin Hall with a series of performances presented by the New York Art Ensemble. But the festival will keep its downtown feel, featuring the JACK Quartet performing an eclectic concert of six composers, New York Art Ensemble Monsters! performing a work by Phillip Glass, new media artist Luke Dubois collaborating with vocal quartet New York Polyphony, Pamela Z and Bora Yoon and a night of exciting composer/performer acts.

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Computer Chorus

Friday, June 04, 2010

Computers both isolate and connect us. Here's a strange, spooky, but pretty-sounding example of this contemporary condition.

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Toot Your Horn!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Lots of composers put the sounds of Nature into their compositions.  Think of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, or Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. In the 20th century, composers started putting outdoor sounds of a different nature into their work. György Ligeti's opera Le Grand Macabre (which the New York Philharmonic performed so brilliantly last week--you can hear the broadcast June 10 on WQXR), features not one, but two “Car Horn Preludes.” They're scored for twelve bulbed horns (like the kind on a bicycle), each one tuned to a specific pitch. Some of the Ligeti horns were so big and heavy that the percussionists had to stomp on them to play them!

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Brooklyn's Darmstadt: Flutronix

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Throughout June, Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room will host its annual Darmstadt Institute festival, which takes part of its name from the German festival and city Darmstadt. The Brooklyn festival's concerts, talk-backs, lectures and film screenings all offer a varied look into the avant-garde. Darmstadt Institute performer Allison Loggins-Hull of the composer/performer flute duo, Flutronix, talks about the group’s musical upbringing and discusses the internet’s role as a musical matchmaker.

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Music in Summer, No Charge

Monday, May 31, 2010

It’s Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer season. Elsewhere on this website is a guide to great summer music festivals in New York City, the surrounding area, across the country and around the world.  But today I’d like to highlight a few specific performances here in town this week which have the added attraction of being free of charge.

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The Best Things in Life Are (Almost) Free

Friday, May 28, 2010

When my mother was a young woman living in New York in the early 1950’s, she was on a very tight budget. Oftentimes, she would venture down to Battery Park on a hot summer night and ride the Staten Island Ferry for entertainment. In those days it cost five cents. Today, it is free. She also has wonderful memories of buying standing room tickets for Broadway shows. I seem to recall that seeing Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I is one of her favorite memories.

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Ligeti at the New York Philharmonic

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I’m really looking forward to the New York Philharmonic’s production of Le Grand Macabre, by György Ligeti. Ligeti wrote some wonderful, innovative music.  When I was in college, I got to sing his Lux Aeterna (which also put in an audio appearance in "2001: A Space Odyssey"). It was one of the most memorable choral experiences of my life. 

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Looking for a Miracle

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just like I expected Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers to knock off the Boston Celtics, I was hopeful that Gustavo Dudamel and his Los Angeles Philharmonic would knock Bernstein out of the park during their East Coast tour last week. Over consecutive weeks, both superstars appeared mortal.

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Listen to the Children

Friday, May 21, 2010

I have only a few rules in my life and one of them is when asked to host at Carnegie Hall, I always say yes. Such was the case many years ago when I was asked to appear for a few minutes, mid concert, with The New York Youth Symphony. After hearing everything from 1st graders to high schoolers play, I was not sure what to expect. But within minutes of hearing these remarkable young people, I was blown away.

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Young and Old

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Sunday at 4:05 pm, you'll hear the baroque orchestra Juilliard415 join me in the WQXR Studio to perform and chat. Juilliard415 features graduate-level students from The Juilliard School's new Historical Performance program. So these are young people performing on very old-style instruments.

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