WXXI Classical Blog

North Korea at night

Check out this picture of North Korea taken by satellite at night. It says a lot about the country’s insular, repressive regime. This morning I got the chance to interview clarinetist Robert Dilutis of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s traveling as a sub with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The interview.

No sunshine, yet Sunshine Show slogs on


Today: Periods of snow. High near 33. Total daytime snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. Excellent day for a nap.

Tonight: Occasional snow, heavy at times. Low around 18. Feed the birds.

Wednesday: Occasional snow, mainly before 9am. Bela Fleck's Blue Spruce at 6:15 a.m. Sunny Mozart at 7:05. Frosty the Snowman in the style of Mozart at 8:55 a.m. Really. Temperature falling to around 14 by 5pm. Wind chill values as low as -2. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

Stream it or tune into Classical 91.5 and see for yourself.

A room with a view

For decades, classical DJ Simon Pontin worked in a radio studio with no window. He complained about it. On the air. So the last time WXXI’s radio studios were renovated, he got his window. It looks out onto the parking lot of the Kodak world headquarters.

It’s my privilege to fill in for Simon this week. My alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m. I love feeling ahead of the world, cozy in the dark with very little traffic and the office all to myself.

RPO clarinetist in North Korea

Word on the street is that Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra clarinetist Robert DiLutis is in North Korea with the New York Philharmonic. He was tapped to sub for someone who couldn’t go.

On Tuesday, the orchestra will play in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. This is the first visit by an American cultural group to that country since President Bush lumped it into the “axis of evil.” According to the State Department, President Bush is encouraging the visit.

Secret Confessions from Skitty

Skitty says, “I like High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and the song 'Ruby Blue' by Roisin Murphy."

Skitty would also like to squash the urban legend that the Cookie Monster (seen on WXXI-TV’s Sesame Street) will evolve into the Veggie Monster. Not true, though sources close to the puppet say Cookie is diversifying his diet to include the occasional broccoli spear. Skitty is not sure what to make of Lindsay Lohan posing as Marilyn Monroe in New York magazine. She’s wholly vegetarian, but not for kids.

Clues to a life

Greenwood Books on East Avenue (near the RPO Box office) is slowly selling off about eight thousand books formerly owned by the late composer David Diamond. The books, mostly about music, are on a shelf near the entrance, facing the door. I’ve bought two so far, and the cool thing about them is that Diamond wrote in his books, reacting to what he was reading.

For example, in The State of Music, critic and composer Virgil Thomson writes about the lifestyles of musicians:

Zemlinsky and the Moon

I’m no scientist, but the way I understand it, the Earth’s blanket of clouds, mist, precipitation, dust, and volcanic ash will change the moon’s color tonight. It might turn blood red, orange, or dark brown. The exact shade of the moon will reveal something about the Earth's atmosphere in a particular moment. Seeing it, you might feel inspiration or a spark of madness or the hope of attaining the unattainable. You might become a werewolf.

I’m not actually superstitious, but when a new Bridge CD of classical songs by Alexander Zemlinsky landed in my mailbox yesterday, I felt a stab of something weird. You see, many of the songs are about the moon.

Magic Flutes

“The Queen of the Night vanished into the split rock, the stage lift worked, the prince and the birdcatcher set out on their adventures. The scene changed and in a room in Sarastro’s palace lay Pamina, abandoned and afraid. And here was alchemy again as the quarrelsome, rapacious Raisa became a young girl whose simplicity and seriousness was affirmed in every limpid note.

A rambling post about Vera Clark

The Middle of Nowhere is approximately halfway between Rochester and Buffalo on a windswept ridge at the edge of a frozen wildlife refuge. As in New Zealand, where sheep far outnumber humans, Canada geese outnumber people here by about a million to one. Presently it’s so icy that even the geese have fled. On Saturday afternoon, the only sign of life was a twittering flock of snow buntings on summer holiday from the Arctic Circle.

The Ring and You


My friend Andrew pointed me to WNYC’s special about Wagner's Ring Cycle.

Wonderful.

Imagine This American Life condensing 20 hours’ worth of epic Wagnerian operas into 58 minutes and you get the idea. Smart, fast-paced, and slightly droll in the Ira Glassian style, the hour-long show includes interviews with writer Alex Ross and singer Jane Eaglen, who recently performed A Sea Symphony with the RPO and ROS in Eastman Theatre. It also includes an interview with a guy grocery shopping for Ring-related items.