Brenda Tremblay's blog

NEA Institute Day 4: what's in your head

You grab your ipod. Get in the car to go to work or drive your child to school. There's music in the car as you're hurtling through time and space at 60 m.p.h. You're shuffling your ipod. Your taste is kinda eclectic. k.d.lang. J.S. Bach. Dave Matthews. Whatever. As you move along (maybe stopping at Wegmans on your way) you inhabit multiple acoustic spaces in your head. You hear Bach played in a resonant church. Norah Jones in a shoebox-sized studio. A rock band recorded live in a huge stadium.

NEA Institute Day 3: Agrippina!

Tonight, I saw Handel's Agrippina at New York City Opera, and I have to tell you, a desperate 2008 U.S. presidential hopeful would be reassured to have an Agrippina working behind the scenes. Part Karl Rove, part Machiavelli, the real Agrippina manipulated the Roman political scene to gain the throne for her infamous son, Nero. She maneuvers, she plots, and she truly existed.

Did anyone see it at Glimmerglass?

NEA Institute Day 2

NEA Institute Day 2

Monday, October 15

My head is spinning.

I absorbed hours and hours of debate about music in classes that spanned topics from the newspaper industry to music theory. There's way too much to cover in a short blog, so I'll skip to my favorite bits.

NEA Institute Day 1

NEA conference Day 1 – Sunday, October 14

Arrived in NYC before 10:00 a.m. Still summer here. 70 degrees, people in shorts, clouds of midges in Central Park. It's all green and leafy and feels like July.

I met my fellow Fellows tonight. What a range of personalities, ages, and experiences! There's an Italian polyglot classical guitarist from Hawaii, a Spanish media editor from Texas, an ex-CIA man from Oneida who dove headfirst into opera midlife at Glimmerglass.

I'll learn a lot.

The man with the bionic ears

The Rochester Oratorio Society (ROS for short) sings A Sea Symphony with the RPO this Thursday and Saturday nights. I’m thrilled to be part of it! As a member of ROS since 1991, I’ve sung under Roger Wilhelm, Mark Elder, Robert Bernhardt, Peter Bay, Uriel Segal, David Effron, and Christopher Seaman.

Last year, the ROS hired a new conductor. I wrote a profile piece that never saw the light of day. Long story. The short of it is, this seems the right place to share with you my first impressions of the new guy.

Eric Townell

On Tuesday, Eric Townell, the director of the Rochester Oratorio Society, broke his arm. This is a bad thing for a conductor. All of the singers (myself included) are sad for him.

Books are your friends

As it gets darker and colder, you might have more time to settle down with books related to classical music. These are some gems I've enjoyed. I'd like to hear about your favs, too.

1. The Time of our Singing by Richard Powers.

From apple country to the Big Apple

A week from this Sunday, I’ll be off to New York City for the NEA’s 4th annual Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera. It’s an 11-day workshop in classical music and opera at Columbia University.

I read about the conference at artsjournal.com, and it got me thinking, whatever happened to regional music critics? Terry Teachout’s recent “Wall Street Journal” article on the fall of the credentialed critic and the rise of the dilettante blogger summarizes fears that regional newspapers have given up on covering the arts.

I heard Voices

and they weren't just in my head.

Voices is the name of Rochester’s newish professional chamber ensemble directed by William Weinert. He also directs choral activities at the Eastman School of Music, so I had high expectations Sunday afternoon when I walked into the Third Presbyterian Chapel on Meigs Street. It’s an acoustically live space bathed in colored light.

The group performed three pieces by French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. He lived in the days when respectable men wore wigs, stockings, and high-heeled shoes.

What I can't see, I think of often

A new RPO season kicks off Saturday, October 6th, and this got me thinking about Eastman Theatre and my own sense of the place. A couple of years ago, I got a tour of the performance hall built by Kodak magnate George Eastman. I had been there many times before, both as an audience member and a performer. But this was different, and I was pretty excited.