Blog Posts on Arts and Culture

Blue skies

On a recent Monday morning I walked into the studio of Rochester's classical music station cradling a stack of CDs in one arm and a sheaf of news reports in the other. The news was not good. The sky threatened rain. I slipped a CD into the player and started a Haydn symphony, a cheerful burst of minty freshness. I followed that with Vivaldi's chirpy Goldfinch Concerto, a flashy set of trills inspired by the song of the European goldfinch, (a mouse of a bird that's not even gold, by the way.)
 
The music was sunny. But as the minutes ticked by, my mood darkened. It DID start to rain. More depressing stories poured into the newsroom.
 
At one point I actually thought to myself, “What annoying person picked all of this chirrupy music for a dismal Monday morning?”

When jazz used to be a four-letter word...

I got an email this week with the subject heading "jass" and this website linked in the body.  This email came from a reputable source, so I knew the link would be at least entertaining, and probably informative.

Festival Guy

If you go to a lot of free concerts in Rochester, you start seeing the same people. There's one guy who looks troubled, even when he dances. His moves are akin to Tai Chi, slow motion poses only occasionally synching up with the rhythm, but he is feelin’ it. The last time I saw him was at the Lilac Festival last year. Some ditz came running down the hill with a camera. She squatted right next to him and started clicking away. After each shot, she’d look back up at her friends and laugh. This went on for several minutes. Eventually I spoke up. “He’s not wildlife, you know.” She scowled at me and retreated and you could hear more laughter up the hill as they reviewed the photos. Tai Chi Guy seemed oblivious.

Opera: the Final Frontier

A major new TV production company is setting up shop in Rochester. Backers include Peter and Bobby Farrelly (brothers who wrote and directed the film, "There's Something About Mary") and former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly.  All three have joined with CGI Communications to cull compelling content from Youtube and various internet sources for broadcast. 
 
With such weird, interesting material as this out there, how can they fail to live long and prosper?
 

Classical music goes X-TREEM!

OK, so we all know how cool the MET Opera at the movies is.  And that Sabres game they played outside in the snow was super-sweet.  The San Francisco Opera jumped on these two ideas, and decided to simulcast opera performances in the Giants' baseball stadium.  This all got me thinking about other ways we could supersize classical music...
 

Two sides of the opera coin

 Young people hate opera.  No, no--young people totally dig opera!  Whatever: young people should like opera because it's good for them.  You're all wrong: opera's just completely dead.
 

A do-it-yourself diva--and she's normal to boot!

"I'd abolish all music competitions. People should be judged on their merits, not against other people. And I'd like to dispel the myth that high art is snobbish – it just needs a bit of effort on both sides."  With sentiment like that, this diva clearly has her feet firmly rooted on the ground.
 

Right Place, Right Time

I love this time of year. The trees have covered their spindly limbs just as we’re all starting to reveal our own. I went to a park in Penfield on that 80-degree day last week, wandered up the creek to where the trail ends and stood there on a log, shirt and shoes in hand, listening to the water, watching the little seed tufts float through the air. I wasn’t there more than 30 seconds when a heron soared over the tree line. It drifted down silently and then pulled up to land on a high dead branch right above me.
 

Beijing's Bird's Nest saved by Puccini?

The Bird's NestThe Bird's NestDuring the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China staged eye-popping public ceremonies in the Bird's Nest, an iconic stadium built for the occasion. Last summer, singers in the Rochester Oratorio Society zipped by the Nest about two weeks before the Games began. It was thrilling to see it in person!Radio host abandons dignity to strike a poseRadio host abandons dignity to strike a pose

Now the Bird's Nest is in the news again. With seating for 90,000 spectators, the Nest has stood virtually empty since the Games ended.  But it may be saved by the arts; more specifically, by a production of Puccini's Turandot.

The fact that “Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou will restage his famous production of Puccini's "Turandot" at the stadium in October comes as a noteworthy development. Zhang's mega-production, which was originally staged at the Forbidden City in 1998, will include new and improved special effects in addition to the cast-of-thousands pageantry that marked its first outing,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

 

Copland House now a National Historic Landmark

Copland HouseCopland House
 
You can walk in, touch, feel, and listen in the space where Aaron Copland wrote his memoirs and a number of major works.  
 
I’m a history geek, so I love the fact that Copland’s house in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., has been declared a national historic landmark by the National Park Service. It’s the only national landmark devoted to a American classical music composer. Copland House now houses a nonprofit organization that runs musical and educational programs. Check out the website. You can see pictures by clicking here.