WXXI Classical Blog

The Rest is Noise

I had the privilege of interviewing writer Alex Ross of The New Yorker last Friday. His new book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a cultural history of music since 1900, was named one of the top ten books of 2007 by The New York Times and various other publications. He’s a clear and vivid writer, and I will die happy if I ever write something one percent as illuminated and coherent as his book.

Hear the show here: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxxi/.jukebox?action=viewP...

Bus ride home

Last night when I got on the bus, four or five middle-aged women were singing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” They were sitting toward the front of the bus, smiling at each other, wearing puffy coats, and hugging their purses.

"All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games!"

I was tired, hungry, and distracted, and the singers cheered me up as I passed them on my way toward the back.

"Rudolph with your nose so bright
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Their heads bobbed back and forth. I sat down and pulled out a newspaper.

sheep's guts

Welcome to our first International Reader! Bruce Leslie is a friend and visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge. The SUNY history professor is also a devoted fan of WXXI hosts Simon Pontin and Richard Gladwell. In a recent e-mail, Bruce writes that he was streaming Richard’s show “With Heart and Voice” on Sunday morning, and he sent a picture of his residence in East Anglia with an 11th century Saxon church in the background. Inside the church, he says, is a plaque to the American airmen from the nearby base who died during World War II.

Clash of the Choirs!

Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!

Unto your TV set will be born a reality show that will bring peace and goodwill toward men. This will be a sign to you: you will find the show broadcasting on an NBC station, marked by the peacock logo. It’s called “Clash of the Choirs.” Based on a series from Scandinavia and produced by the BBC, this show sends musical superstars back to their hometowns to form amateur choirs. Lo, a great company of the heavenly host, including Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland and Blake Shelton, will descend on O Little Towns with cameras and producers and all the company of heaven to prepare a host of amateur singers to compete live in studio for the title of “America's best choir.”

Attachment

Several years ago, my friend Nina was walking into the art building at Houghton College when she noticed something lying on the ground. It was a clay head—sculpted, fired, and then, apparently, despised and rejected. Nina studied its flat features, twisted lips, and Medusa-like hair. She asked around. Nobody claimed it, and so she carried it home and planted a snake plant in the open cavity on the top of its head.

The plant thrived in its dirt brain for a couple of years until my friend accepted a new job teaching at Bowling Green University in Ohio. While we were packing up, she yanked out the plant and stuck the head in a heap of junk to throw away. I noticed it.

“I’ll take it,” I offered.

Cary Ratcliff: Who He?

He’s a composer.

And he’s having a good year.

In this picture Cary Ratcliff is preparing the Hochstein Youth Singers for Saturday’s premiere of a set of songs called 'Goops and Hula Hoops.'

He’s currently writing an opera for children's chorus and chamber orchestra that will be performed in San Diego in the spring.

Also this spring Concentus Women's Choir will present 'Song of Woman,' to poetry by Rochester poet Francesca Guli.

RPO, Grammys

Jeff Tyzik must be bummed.

The RPO’s excellent Gershwin CD didn’t make the list of Grammy contenders announced today in Los Angeles. About pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s 2007 much-praised collaboration with the RPO, my colleague Mordecai Lipshutz said, “At least they’re selling well.”

"That's not right!" exclaimed my friend Carl Pultz when he heard the news that the RPO had been left off the list. Carl says this proves the nominating system is "corrupt."

Dust in the wind

Every now and then I think of him.

The last time was Friday on my way to the Plum House, a Japanese restaurant on Monroe Avenue. I swung by his old house, curious to see if the new owners had ripped out the hulking evergreens blocking the front porch, the bay windows, and the lights within.

They hadn’t.

Before he died, composer David Diamond said he wanted his ashes to be spread between the graves of his parents in Mount Hope Cemetery. His long-time friend and former neighbor Sam Elliott did that for him, with some of the ashes. But Sam got an idea. He divided the remaining ashes into thirds and poured them into three 6-inch plastic vials with screw caps.

Classical 91.5 features local groups in holiday specials

Classical 91.5 is featuring lots of local groups this holiday season!

If you'd like to enjoy all the riches that Rochester has to offer this season, but you don't want to go out in the cold and blowing snow, just tune to Classical 91.5 or 90.3 FM for these local holiday specials:

Wednesday 12/5 - 12:10 p.m. - Live from Hochstein features "Holiday for Horns" with the Eastman Horn Choir under the direction of Peter Kurau.

Sunday 12/9 - 1:00 p.m. - RPO Holiday Pops 2006. Join RPO Pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, the Festival High School Chorale and vocalist Steve Lippia for this annual holiday tradition. (Repeats 12/25 at 10:00 a.m.)

Apologize

"And I need you like a heart needs a beat
But it's nothing new - yeah
I loved you with the fire red-
It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late whoaa ohhh . . . "

- from the song “Apologize” by Timbaland

How many times can you listen to the same song over and over again?

A commercial radio station in Philadelphia had faith that its listeners wanted to hear Timbaland’s song “Apologize” 123 times. In one week.

That’s a record, according to Jeff Leeds’ recent article in the New York Times. “Apologize,” by the modern rock band OneRepublic and producer Timbaland also broke the national record for the most plays of a song on Top 40 stations in a week. It played more than 10,000 times.