Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rites of May...

Summer is so close to being a reality - but, as has become my late-May custom, there's still grading to be done. Even though my last exam was more than a week ago and graduation was last Saturday, our school is quite generous in giving faculty until May 31 to submit grades. A thoroughly mixed blessing. So, once again my May is filled with red ink-stained exams, endless piles of papers, and rows and rows of numbers on spreadsheets. Thus, this is a more of a placeholder than a substantive post, a promise that I'll be back blogging soon...but probably not until next week.

A few scattered items:
  • I blogged a couple of times about working on an article called "Rites of Spring," but never got around to posting a link when it was done. You can read it here. I have to admit I tend to prefer the long, messy, unedited world of blog posting, so it's kind of funny to me to read a more tightly constructed piece of mine, complete with tidy wrap-up, etc. I suppose it's a good discipline to submit to that kind of constraint (discipline via constraints is a subject of the piece), but I always want more words - and more multimedia.
  • Although our Piano Hero series has been on hiatus for this academic year, we had a chance to do one celebratory year-end event on Monday. The short program featured mostly music we'd done before in what turned out to be a sort of Americana program: the Overture to Bernstein's Candide (arranged for two pianos by Nathan Skinner, my co-conspirator); the Saturday Night Waltz and Hoedown from Copland's Rodeo; a new hybrid composition/arrangement/mashup by me (I am an American, after all); and an eight-handed version of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which of course was written to commemorate the 4th of July. I had always thought that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, but I guess it didn't really happen until 1812. Anyway, I'm looking forward to writing more about my little mashup arrangement soon...
  • Oh, and maybe you missed that my little virtual Pierrot is now reciting in German and French - a good chance to remind you that operamission's upcoming "chamber theatre" double bill of Pierrot lunaire  and L'histoire du soldat is well worth supporting, even if you just want to kick in a little. I'm still trying to figure out a way to get to NYC for one of the performances (June 3 and 4); these iconic works of Stravinsky and Schoenberg are perfectly suited for the intimate setting of the Gershwin Hotel. As I tweeted recently: "...Iove the idea of Pierrot hallucinating and the Devil mischief-making within the Gershwin Hotel's deep red walls." (Cool. I only just noticed that, in shortening that tweet to the 140-character limit, I accidentally conflated the words "I love" into "Iove" - depending on the font, you might not even notice the difference, but love is spelled with an 'i.')
  • I've also learned, via operamission's Jennifer Peterson, that probably my favorite LP ever, a Boston Symphony Chamber Players recording of L'histoire du soldat featuring John Gielgud, Ron Moody, and Tom Courtenay, has finally been released on CD. I digitized my LP years ago and had considered  posting my bootleg version online since DG didn't seem interested in releasing it; but I'm still ordering the CD and would highly recommend that you do the same. The playing by Joseph Silverstein et al. is amazing and Gielgud and Moody are unforgettable. The translation by Michael Flanders and Kitty Black is also endlessly delightful - reminiscent of Dr. Seuss at times. In fact, I'm going to to ahead and post three sample tracks (second one features Gielgud/Moody) - I can only think that they would encourage you to want to buy the whole thing:
"Ah...that seems to arouse your in-ter-est..."

That's all I've got for today... (Somehow, it still ended up being a longish post. Hmm, I wonder why my grading never seems to get done...)

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