Friday, October 15, 2010

Why I havent been blogging and have been listening: A recap and mea culpa at the 9 month mark.

Over the past month, the birth of my sons (Twins!) has derailed my formal “Year of Living Classically” experiment but certainly has not stopped me from listening. I have tried to play classical for the boys, sometimes with more success than others. We have found that they really like reggae, although it may be that they just love my singing.

When I began this process, it was intended to help me learn about classical. I do NOT get my 2 hours in a day any longer, but I do make an effort to spend some portion of my day listening to or at least reading about classical music.

I bit off more than I could chew, or listen to. That’s certain. Still it has opened doors and for that I am certainly glad. My guess is that for the next few months this blog will morph into an occasional posting of what my boys enjoyed listening to most. There was a particularly fussy night that began with Glenn Gould, but I do NOT blame Gould. If there is a repeat performance, we will reevaluate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tech & Classical - some thoughts and links

Whether it is with music criticism, studying sheet music or the actual physical product of an album, these 3 people have changed what is available to us as listeners...and have given us new opportunities to participate.

Robert Taub's work has lead to a variety of developments, from a Auto-tune style App called ImproVox to a completely new way to read and practice music. The NY Times did a great profile of him and the work that his company MuseAmi is doing.

Tristan Perich's new digital music making album in a CD case called 1-Bit Symphony from Bang on a Can. Watch the video at 1-Bit Symphony really fantastic...looking forward to getting mine.

Christopher Weingarten gives us 1,000 Times Yes. Music review authorship in the age of Twitter makes for these short poems of music criticism. It is entertaining and informative and lets not forget it is the kind of funny that music geeks love!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Classical music an effective antidepressant

Hi All,
An interesting little tidbit off the Twitter wire: Classical music an effective antidepressant

"The Mozart Effect — the notion that listening to classical music will turn your infant or toddler into an intellectual titan — has been largely debunked. But a growing body of research suggests music can play an important role in certain aspects of health care, including pain management.

A newly published study from Mexico reports repeated listening to certain classical works — including one by Mozart — helps ease the debilitating symptoms of clinical depression."

Friday, July 2, 2010

6 Months & 6 thoughts on a half year of classical

Hello All,
To those few of you who have paid attention for the past 6 months I am most grateful. I have a few thoughts on the state of my year of classical.
6 Month/ 6 Note Recap:
  1. Classical music is MANY things. This may sound like a general statement that lacks depth and very possibly is but still I am learning this day by day. Modern Instrumental music, Opera, Chamber, Choral...subtle differences between and of these and the Classical Music we are all supposed to know a tiny bit about are lost on many. Those of you in the know, please help us. There are many organizations trying to reach out. PLEASE TRY HARDER. People (some people) want to enjoy Opera and Symphony and Phillip Glass. Give them a chance. More free concerts, More free programs. Teach the kids in school in ways they can understand and enjoy. I have never met a small child who didn't enjoy banging a drum or symbol as hard as they can. Consider this my plea to all those who are in a position to do so...give the world more music and they will listen. Otherwise its more of the same.
  2. Opera isn't easy, but it is worth it. I won't say too much on this because I still don't know much. Some Opera is beautiful and lyrically and colorful and catchy and some is ugly and scary and interesting. Don't give up trying to enjoy it, it is worth the work.
  3. Beethoven is everywhere. I mean everywhere. Enjoy it, listen to it, but too much Beethoven is too much.
  4. Live music is unbelievably different than recorded music. Go see as much live music as you can. I used to see so much music (yes yes, I followed Phish) and it always trumps recorded music.
  5. It is good to set goals. I am very happy I am doing this. That said:
  6. Variety is the spice of life as they say, so be careful of trying to do too much of the same. I have spent the last few months doing less than my 2 hrs of allotted classical listening (shame on me) and trying to fill in with some InstantEncore, and Pandora when I had the time. Still, I have a need for my favorites. Reggae, R&B, and good old Rock & Roll music that I cant live with out. I crave these tunes and these make sure to branch out but take it slow. Its not like you need to do it all in one year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beethoven. Master. Period.

I didn’t want to upstage the New York Times review of Missa Solemnis at the New York Philhamonic, so I left this post until after press time for the Friday paper. I love that rag and wouldn’t want to hurt their sales anymore then I already do with my massive readership.
Last night I saw my first true live classical music performance of this experiment. This seems strange to say as I am nearly 6 month in and that most of my listening experiences have been solitary (if you don’t count my iPhone as a person). Alan Gilbert conducted a new composition, Al Largo, created just for the event by Magnus Lindberg and Beethoven’s devotional Missa Solemnis.
I felt much the way the NY Times reviewer Tommasini did regarding Lindberg’s composition. I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a film score and like the title implies, out at sea without my bearings. It flowed and floated and crashed beautifully, but there was no context for me to connect with. I imagined the oil spill, growing and ascending on beach heads and marshes, coating the sea in its darkness. Ultimately it was an appetizer for the Beethoven.
Missa Solemnis is another story all together. It is a beautiful, rousing piece of music that while religious in subject seemed much more like a meditation. Rather than an awe inspiring Mass, it was a beautiful piece of music with the added richness of voice. This is probably a simplistic way to see it, but I am not a seasoned reviewer. I loved seeing the performance, all the bows stabbing at the air and the subtle wave of horns and woodwinds creeping out from behind them. If I have ever seen such an expression of true composition in person, it has most likely been in some film or epic painting.
For me the part that comes together when you see those maestros and concertmasters and position players all on the stage at once is an overwhelming sense of the composer’s mastery. Beethoven and Lindberg both used every color on the spectrum and every note that could be offered. Beethoven built a cathedral of music, maybe a bit too ornate at times, but requiring all the skill an architect can muster.

Katie Commodore's thoughts on our evening at The Philharmonic can be seen on her blog right here!

(Full Disclosure, tickets provided by the NY Philharmonic)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dropping some knowledge on Tonight's NY Phil Performance

I listened to an
excellent podcast this morning about the 2 pieces of music I will be hearing tonight at the New York Philharmonic. Magnus Lindberg composed A Largo just for the occasion and it refers directly to the Missa Solemnis. Here is a painting of Beethoven that supposedly shows him writing the Missa Solemnis, but I imagine he was probably just thinking about when he could put on his flip flop's and spark up the BBQ. Ok, I'm projecting...