Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why performers get a bad rap

You can momentarily see this in my "shared items" list (to your right) as well. I hope people will check this out because it saves me forwarding a billion emails to you all.:-)


"Why performers get a bad rap"

is a distressing bit of information (if true) on all sorts of levels. If I was a performer, a violinist in particular, I'd be seething. Given her rather illustrious career, it does seem that ignorance is truly bliss.

Mind you, there are plenty of non-performing music scholars out there who also have no idea what they're saying most of the time. But that doesn't feed into that given stereotype. Musicologists get the reverse stereotype: It is generally assumed that those of us who spend our time talking ABOUT music, know little of actually PLAYING it.

Oh, and you'll have to read the response to Alex Ross in the comments to know about whom he is speaking (eh, well, writing).

Cross-posted at LiveJournal.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I stopped listening...why?

Ok, I'm not going to talk about the Joyce Hatto scandal seeing as every major music blog has already covered that territory. Suffice to say, even if this doesn't turn out to be the "crime of the century," I do think it will dredge up a lot of darker workings in the recording industry.

Jessica Duchen's blog posts on the topic are a good place to start if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Think "Milli Vanilli meets Classical Piano."

Here's what's on my mind tonight. Chironomy aside, I think Mitsuko Uchida must spend a lot more time listening to music than I do (see video below). I've decided that's a really big problem...I've become a musicologist with a whole lot of "ology" and not a lot of "music." I'm going to work really hard to fix that in the coming weeks. There are pieces in the "standard repertoire" I should know and don't. There are pieces that I've read about extensively but to which I have never listened. What is the point of THAT?

I sometimes feel that all musicology books should come with an accompanying CD of musical examples. Yes, I can usually plunk out melodies and do minimal score reading, but that's not really very helpful in the long-run (and absolutely useless when dealing with a lot of extended techniques in modern music).

It is time to redirect my energies back into music. Academia is the backdrop, but music is the star of the show.

Mitsuko Uchida shows us how it is done.

(Cross-posted at LiveJournal)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Legos on the Beach

Forget puppet we have:


I see a real future for this. Enjoy Einstein on the Beach. I'm waiting for Nixon in China, personally. Thanks to Barnet Bound for this fascinating discovery.

Until I figure out how to actually embed this thing without screwing up the formatting of my ENTIRE blog, here's the URL:

Thursday, February 15, 2007


REVIEW: Dawn Upshaw, soprano Molly Morkoski, Piano
February 14, 2007 Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA 8pm

She walked out on stage, with her bald head, a figure of dignity and joy--joy to be singing once again. She spoke to the audience as she would a friend, apologizing and begging for patience as she cut certain numbers from the program.

But Dawn Upshaw's performance wasn't simply good "for a recent cancer patient," it was downright spiritual. Recovering from cancer and a head cold, to boot, Upshaw graced the audience with pieces as diverse as Stephen Foster's "If You've Only Got a Moustache " to Ruth Crawford Seeger's "White Moon." Upshaw was not a martyr, but instead a witness to her own victory. While frustrated by her own limitations, she knew them (how many people really do?) and carefully selected the pieces that she could sing successfully.
Her power was reserved, but steady. Her work in the lower registers was simply stunning, and she was careful not to push it with the higher notes. Her basic approach to the evening was to do what she could do well, not simply "get through it." Because of this, it was a shorter evening, but an evening of craft and beauty.
Molly Morkoski was a fabulous collaborator. She watched Upshaw with the concern of a friend, but with the respect of a musician. She let Upshaw call the shots and played as if it had been planned that way all along. She graced the audience with a performance of Charles Ives "Alcott" movement from the Concord Sonata. She played with humility, conscious that most of the audience was not there for her, but with a sense that the night was going to be about beauty and the redemptive power of music, from whatever source.
Dawn Upshaw is the consummate performer, but she is also a most sincere artist. She paid tribute to the music as if to say, "thank you for healing me." She ended her program with a number of selections from William Bolcom's Cabaret Songs. Appropriately, her last sung words of the evening were: "...instead of singing Amen, the choir was singing Amor Amor Amor Amor."

Copyright 2007 Rebecca M
(Cross-posted at LiveJournal)


Mostly Musicology, Teaching, and a bit of Miscellanea