Sunday, November 21, 2010

let's just move on (and keep up the education work)

Everyone keeps talking about how to make classical music "relevant," especially to young people. At the same time, the classical music world is flooded with so many young musicians hoping to make a living as musician. Presumably, these young people love classical music. So what's the problem? I don't see one. The whole world is constantly changing, not just the tiny fraction of it that involves classical music. Deal with it and move on, stop grumbling, just go with the flow! Things will either sort themselves out, or we'll have to move on. Also, I think if we just perform music that we love and in ways that excite us, people will enjoy it. We should stop pandering to what we think other people would like, it just seems artificial to me. There have always been fewer people who like "high" art than "pop" art, that's just in the nature of the two beasts, yet "high" art (in all forms, visual, theater, film, music, etc.) has managed to survive, and I think it always will. It's part of human nature. So let's just stop freaking out. Also, I would just like to say that I like BOTH high art and low art, a lot. Fellini is fantastic, but so is Star Wars. I love Mahler, but I also enjoy Lady GaGa.

On a somewhat related note, I visited YOLA@HOLA yesterday, and introduced their 4th-grade wind instrument students to the oboe. The kids already play flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, and horn. They are hoping to start a few kids on oboe and bassoon in the future. The children were a great audience, they behaved well, were enthusiastic, and asked great questions. I even played the English horn for them. (Harry Potter was a big hit on oboe, they requested it on English horn, as well!!) The kids learn solfege, recorder, and how to read music, sing in choir, and they also learn about composers and music history. They compose their own works from early on (one adorable 4th-grader titled his first (4-measure) composition "Kevin's Symphony No. 1"). They also have a class for parents, so that parents can learn some of what their children are learning, and get an idea of what goes on when their children are at YOLA@HOLA. They also have a class of 1st-graders who are learning violin and viola. They seem to have a really good thing going on, with good teachers. So anyway, I think these kinds of projects, though very difficult to execute quite so well as they are doing at YOLA@HOLA, are excellent and a big part of the future of classical music. Plus they provide a great service to their communities, especially since music has been eliminated from so many schools' curricula these days. I hope to help our program between Crossroads and St. Anne's School blossom into something like that.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

unpleasant surprises

So I was just fooling around on my computer, waiting for the cupcakes in the oven to finish baking. I had on a recording of Carmina Burana with Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony, circa 2001, and was feeling nostalgic for my high school music days in Houston. My sophomore year of high school, I was in the children's chorus of Houston Grand Opera's production of Mefistofele, and I started to wonder if any of those kids were on facebook. I could only remember a couple of full names. There was one friend that I especially hit it off with, Rachel. I was pretty sure I had her name right, but I couldn't find her on facebook, so I decided to google her. What came up: her obituary. She died five years ago at age 21 in a bike accident. That really caught me off guard, and I just needed to share it somewhere to deal with that a little. She was really smart, as well as a fine singer. I thought she must be doing something great by now. What a terrible surprise.

Friday, October 8, 2010

picture books

Wow, this story really annoys me:

My dad insisted that I NOT learn to read until I started kindergarten (childhood is for being a child), so that's what I did. I started out behind some of the kids whose parents had been teaching them to read, but that did not last long. I loved reading from the beginning, maybe because I never felt forced to do it. I certainly do no think that I have suffered educationally or linguistically as a result of learning to read a little bit later than some.

On top of that, picture books are excellent ways to get kids to enjoy reading. Most people enjoy mastering something that they have to make an effort for, but if they have to struggle too much, they stop enjoying it. Picture books are perfect for kids in this way: they have to make an effort to read, but the pictures help them along, and they feel more accomplished for having figured it out themselves. Chapter books are just be boring and frustrating if they're beyond a child's level, and I would think that would turn them OFF to reading, instead of helping them to enjoy it.

And how many wonderful children's picture books are out there? My life wouldn't have been the same without The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Dr. Seuss, the Pinkerton books (about the Great Dane), Alphonse the Loch Ness monster, anything by Tomie DePaola (my all-time favorite: Prince Pazzo), so many excellent books that I remember clearly and fondly to this day! I will always love The Snowman, which fueled my creativity when making my own snowmen, and I also enjoyed the beautiful movie they made of it( In fact, I remember attending a Hartford Symphony performance of it, with the orchestra playing the music to accompany the movie. Or what about the beautiful Father Twilight, or Miss Rumphius? I could go on forever. Anyway, I just had to balance the universe and pay tribute to the wonderful world of picture books, which are apparently not being treated with their due respect these days!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Things have been busy, trying to get the new school year off the ground. I had jury duty for the first time yesterday. A fascinating experience, and actually much less painful than expected.

A lot of people have been sharing this link, and I think it's a good one, so I am, too.

OH, and one more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

summertime pictures

Some pictures of my summer:

dusk in Santa Barbara

Sunset in Santa Barbara

orange moon over Lake Michigan, Evanston

baby bunny munching on someone's lawn, Evanston

moon & Baha'i temple, Wilmette

Baha'i Temple at dusk, Wilmette

Chicago from the Lakefill, Evanston

crazy shoes in San Francisco

which had to be compared to these crazy shoes in NYC:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This SNL skit made me laugh, mainly because it's just silly. Especially the very end.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

backwards reed

Last night I had a nightmare about reeds. I dreamt I made a reed that had a heart that was thinner than the tip and windows. I think I need a vacation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mmm, I just love the sound of lawnmower and violin in the morning. really.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I still don't like earthquakes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Elephant Superhero

This just really tickled my funny bone.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This about sums up all my LOST questions, too:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

studio musicians

Having just watched the final episode of LOST yesterday, I thought Alex Ross's blog posts about one of my favorite film composers today (Alias, Up), Michael Giacchino, deserved a link or two (wish I could read the whole article). I guess Patty liked it, too. Which brings to mind an interesting discussion we had a while back. There are a few sites and even a movie about studio musicians. I also really enjoyed watching Jimmy Kimmel Live last night--they even had a harpist join the band (I think maybe the one who played the score to LOST?).

Friday, May 14, 2010

I just had to fight the urge to correct a facebook friend's status. She said she was now happy to be an alumnus. I really wanted to tell her that she would actually be an alumna. But I didn't. Gabrielle = total dork.

Orchestras: Ladies' Day

Orchestras: Ladies' Day

This article was going around facebook today--very fascinating, makes me so grateful to the women who went before me. Also a little pissed off at a certain older conductor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I actually kinda like those Swiffer ads featuring the anthropomorphized cleaning tools.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

more cons.


I was in Cerritos, about 30 miles southeast of where I live, rehearsing for an Easter gig when it struck yesterday. I felt like I was drunk or dizzy, and it lasted a while. Did not make me happy. Makes me more anxious to leave this place. Some people are like, whatever it's just a quake. Me, I'm like whoaaaaa this is not cool the earth is not supposed to move beneath your feet. The other day one also woke me up out of bed at 4 am and the first thing I thought was OH NO IT'S GONNA BE THE BIG ONE but of course it wasn't. I went to Target the next day and put together an emergency kit anyway.

Also, can I just say that I put at least 120 miles on my car this weekend?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

pros & cons

Good things about LA:
the weather
good food

Bad things about LA:
everything is far apart
hard to meet new people and keep up with friends

What am I doing with my life? I really don't know.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It's a beautiful spring day in LA! I am sitting on my little balcony, flanked by my newly seeded pots (zinnia, sunflower, basil, love-in-the-mist). Now that the round of winter of auditions is over, I'm coming out of my hermit's cave and trying to reconnect with people. I saw Alice in Wonderland last night--I did enjoy it, but I couldn't help thinking that, given the talent involved, it could have been better. 3-D was better this time round for me than it was for Avatar, which bothered my contacts. I think I still prefer regular 2-D, to be honest.

I've been exploring the IMSLP, scouring for good public domain music. There's A LOT! I am particularly intrigued by a certain nonet by Martinu. I still need to do my taxes. Ugh. My room has been cleaned, but the rest of the apartment could use a cleaning. I still have to figure out summer plans. And I'm still not sure what I'll be doing next year.

NYC was great, but I'm not sure it's a place I'd like to live. It was great to reconnect with some old friends, though, and to see the Met and MOMA and the Statue of Liberty and such as a 26-yr old, not 13-yr-old. Wish I'd caught some concerts, though. I like New Yorkers. Very direct and abrupt, but I find that refreshing. And whoever said they weren't nice lied. When I was traipsing around the subways and trains with my huge suitcase, not one but FOUR different people helped me with stairs, of their own volition. They also have great accents. There were also funny little things I remembered from being a kid in the Northeast: the random granite outcroppings that so often have graffiti on them, jaywalking, and the fact that we used to drive over the Throg's Neck Bridge, which for a very long time I thought was the Frog's Neck Bridge, and was disappointed to discover the correct name.

Meanwhile, I should actually get something done. But I am enjoying not feeling as if I have to be doing something productive at all times or else.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a few pictures from my recent trip to New York City. I imagine it must have been so awe-inspiring for (half of) my great-grandparents to arrive in America from Ireland and see:

Isn't she beautiful?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Torchwood can be depressing sometimes--no, make that a lot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What a moving story.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

13.1 miles, 2 hours and 18 minutes!!

I ran the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach today! And I ran it faster than I thought I would! (2:18:07!) It was a great experience, though I will be taking some time off from running for a little. Also, I'm so happy for New Orleans that the Saints won! I don't really watch football, but there were some great plays tonight!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

allegro non troppo 3

I was informed that I neglected to post the last part of Bolero. So here it is!

lots of music

Whew, today is the first free day I've had in quite some time, so I slept in and am slowly enjoying some coffee. Still have lots of errands to do, though. And practicing, of course. This weekend was nuts: on Sunday, I played Act II of Tristan & Isolde with Debut at 4 pm, and Daphnis & Chloe and Bolero with AYS at 7pm. Principal on Tristan, English horn on Daphnis & Bolero. It actually went pretty well--Daphnis was a lot of fun once I stopped freaking out about all the notes and just played. I wonder why it is a clarinet excerpt but not an oboe one. We have the same material.

This weekend I am playing John Adams' Chamber Symphony (eek! so hard! makes Daphnis seem like cake), 3 songs by Radiohead, and Bach Brandenburg #3 arranged for this really cool new group, WildUp. Also on the program (but sadly, no oboe): Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks and Hein's Orlando, He Dead. It's great music and I am so impressed by my colleagues who are playing with me, they are all great musicians. It's at a really cool venue (you can sit and have a drink while you listen to us), and it should be a great show! Not your typical "classical" event. I hope lots of people come!

Oh yeah. And I'm also running a half marathon on Sunday. Gulp.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

people's history

Howard Zinn has passed away. He was going to speak at the school I teach at next week. I was going to try to go. Oh well. Rest in peace.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

allegro non troppo 2

Bolero, part 2

allegro non troppo 1

Bolero, first half

Bolero, neurological disorders

I am playing Bolero next weekend, so I thought I might post something about it. Like that Ravel suffered from some sort of degenerative neurological problem, and that people have been trying to link that to Bolero. I was trying to find the article I heard about a while ago, but I can't seem to. Here is the best I could find on NPR: possibility of Alzheimers, or perhaps another disorder. But the one I remember was not about Alzheimers, but rather, some sort of disease that made you repeat patterns. They were talking about some artists and quilt-makers having the disorder, as well. Anyway, the videos are more from one of my favorite movies, Allegro non troppo, and I quite like them. Hope you do too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Of interest lately:

A strongman.

A good interview.

Planet Earth. (seriously amazing to watch)

The Road (great book! Now I want to see the movie).

I would also like to see Heath Ledger's last movie.

Cooking good food.

Trying to stay on top of things.