WXXI Classical Blog

Mr. Oboe

Am I the only person alive who thinks Chester Pitts (a.k.a. "Mr. Oboe") might have a happier life if he rejects the NFL and plays the oboe instead?

Yeah, I guess I probably am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPLX_ckw0G4

The incredible shrinking schools

My high school alma mater may drop its Latin program next year. That’s not a huge deal to most people, I know, but if you think of it an indicator, it signals change in the rural school districts around Rochester: a significant drop in the population of young people in small towns.

There are fewer kids in rural schools. Batavia Daily News reporter Tom Rivers (and, in the name of full disclosure, my brother-in-law) describes the changes in a thorough report below, posted with his permission.

As you’ll see, Tom’s story focuses on sports and science programs and the effects smaller classes may have on what schools can offer. Schools such as Elba, Byron-Bergen, and Oakfield-Alabama might have to team up to offer certain classes and sports programs.

Cellist wonders what to do next

I discovered a blog kept by a cellist living in Houston, studying at Rice University. He's preparing to audition in Rochester for a spot with the RPO. He writes:

Who let the dogs out?

If you walk your dog in Toronto’s Jean Sibelius Square, take a leash.

As of January 1st, unleashed dogs were officially banned from the park named for the famous Scandinavian composer, Jean Sibelius. The centrally located park lies near Bathurst and Dupont streets.

Dogs’ rights aside, the park underscores the incredible popularity of Sibelius, who lived from 1865-1957. I can’t think of a composer alive today so universally revered. I’ve been reading about Jean Sibelius, and my appreciation for his music is moving beyond “Finlandia” worship. He loved nature, birds, and drinking. He was a homebody, full of self-doubt, despite his fame.

Winter garden

Last week, I started complaining about the muddy, colorless winter weather. Today, I’m delighted every time I glance outside. The garden is etched in black and white, transformed into an Escher lithograph. Balls of ice-encrusted bee balm sway on brittle stalks. Privet bushes hunker down, nearly smothered by the heavy, wet snow. Cardinals flit, electric red. I declare this the loveliest winter weather ever, especially if you like shape and form and contrast.

Days are where we live

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Last week I mentioned photographer Will Yurman’s show at the George Eastman House. Yurman spent 2007 documenting the lives of all the murder victims in Rochester, NY.

Having seen and heard his work, I have a deep sense of admiration for his dedication, skill, and artistic sensitivity.

Will Yurman’s multimedia project is here:

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AI...

Everyone should see it. If you're short on time, skip to Norman Williams' picture in the lower left corner and just listen to his mother, Alpha.

If you live in Western New York, you can see an interview with Will on WXXI TV’s "Need to Know" tonight at 9:00 p.m. or Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. on channel 21 or cable channel 11.

Jerry Springer: The Opera

The Jerry Springer show -- that mesmerizing, down-market, slugfest -- has inspired an opera, and the first reviews are in: it’s good.

In today’s New York Times, Ben Brantley writes:

“If the real “Jerry Springer Show” turns its rowdy, angry guests into objects of sneering sport, 'Jerry Springer: The Opera' sees them as figures of passion, whose impulses, however base, translate into song that reaches for the stars.”

Reach for the stars and read more:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/theater/31springer.html?_r...

Facebook is evil?

My friend Carl Pultz pointed me to The Idler’s website. Tom Hodgkinson (a.k.a “The Idler”) writes about his efforts to -- as he beautifully puts it -- “return dignity to the art of loafing.” But I don’t believe Tom is a great idler. He’s too productive. His recent article about Facebook in The Guardian newspaper is long and well researched. It explains why Tom despises Facebook, the online social networking site with 59 million current users and 2 million new ones each week.

facebook is evil

I was going to write a blog today that started with the line, “facebook is evil.”

But I need more time on that subject. Check back later.

Instead, here's an interesting news item about the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Less than 1 percent of the repertory that orchestras played last year was composed by a black or Latino composer. The RPO has joined a new, national consortium of orchestras to commission major orchestral works from minority composers.

It’s enigmatically named the Sphinx Commissioning Consortium.

Read more here:

http://crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080128...

Reactionaries

On Saturday night, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra opened with Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano, a short piece based on a famous repetitive passage by Ludwig van Beethoven (the second movement of Symphony No. 7.)

I loved it, but others reacted differently.

A Rochester blogger who went to the concert with her husband wrote,