Monthly Archives: July 2009


Recent additions to the musico-dramatic stage include the eagerly anticipated Moravec-Teachout collaboration The Letter as well as Rufus Wainwright’s Primma Donna [discussed in some detail on this blog already].

Life is so hard for an avid young devourer of high art — I feel a vital need to experience these pieces for myself, yet they are so far away.  I read reviews, but even the reviewers that I trust the most, I trust only so much.  It’s not just opera either — I’m practically tearing my hair out waiting for Los Abrazos Rotos to come out this side of the Atlantic.

Luckily though, there is the internet.  Because of the internet, I can indeed listen to and view scenes from The Letter and so can you.  The authors bill this as an “Opera Noir”.  Hmm… from the scenes on the web site, I’d have to say not quite.  Wouldn’t that be grand though?  My Kingdom for an Opera Noir!!  I had always secretly hoped that Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights would be just that, but after a few days with the score, I think it’s not.

Then there’s Primma Donna, about which I can make no judgement, because there is a distinct lack of media available on the internet.  Ruf — can a brotha get an audio clip up in here??  The only thing I have to go by is this:

My apologies for the embarrasingly long (and grammatically poor) French introduction.  Anyway, based on this, I would say that the opera may be pretty, but there ain’t much there.  Not to mention that it doesn’t sound like Mr. Wainwright is really making use of the full range of the operatic voice in this particular aria.

Now for some Drama much closer to my neck of the woods: Mario Venzago is outta there!  The Indianapolis Symphony dun fired him.  He was supposed to come conduct at my school a bunch this year… I wonder if that’s still on.  I’ve only seen the man conduct once, but admittedly, I was paying more attention to the piece (Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto) than to his conducting thereof.  I stupidly left at the intermission, right before Schumann 4, which I hear is one of his staples.  Whoops.

Ooh, maybe Pedro Almodóvar and Alberto Iglesias will write an Opera Noir.  No… that’s probably asking too much.  Looks like I’ll have to do this one myself.  Perhaps it will be my Reservoir Dogs.

Where to begin…?

The 2009 Summer Season of the Monteux School comes to an end today.  Not before our bitchin’ Pops Concert though — in less than two hours time, I’ll find myself playing cymbals on “American in Paris”.  I’ve also volunteered my services as choreographer on that piece, and without anybody even asking.  That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Other recent highlights have included conducting Bartòk’s “Dance Suite”, about the darkest work that one could imagine with that title, and therefore bad-ass, and taking the role of Sacrificial Virgin-cum-Conductor in Le Sacre du Printemps.  The former activity has me contemplating writing a satire piece called “Middle School Dance Suite”, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In non-musical events, we continued a great tradition of the School Pig Roast.  Please notice the use, by one of my genius Southern colleagues, of mustard-based, Carolina Style BBQ sauce:

oinky expression

I think Maurice would be proud.  As would my South-Carolingian Great-Grandmother.

In other wildlife news, there was a firefly in my bedroom last night who thought he had found his Life Partner when my cell phone’s LCD screen lit up to confirm the completion of my battery charging.  Plus I saw a roach in my kitchen whom I strongly suspect of having been a free-verse poet in a previous life.

Quickly, my vigilant friend Mary pointed out in a recent blog comment that Alexander Bernstein called into “CarTalk”, and I think we’ve really got to sort through this one.  This is the link to the full interview.

We start with this:





So, Dear Readers, will you take the challenge?

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

This past Monday, I did the first of (hopefully?) many children”s concerts that I shall do over the course of my career.  All in all, things went well, though I learned that the worst part of any children”s concert is definitely the children — they”re just too unpredictable.  Plus, there were some real tweakers among the Mainish children to whom I presented.

Philosophically speaking, I would offer a typically Žižekian reversal and propose that Children”s Concerts are truly for adults: the parents and grandparents are the ones listening and learning, and they feel especially good because they”re doing something “cultural” for their children.  Of course, if we take this assertion to its natural conclusion, it should mean that adult subscription concerts are really for children.  Maybe this is not so far off the mark, but only for a certain kind of child – the child who is entranced not only by the music, but by the elusive ritual of adult nightlife — the child who would savor the rare treat of being allowed to share the company of adults on a special occasion.

Anyway, I tried slots to make the whole thing interactive.  Here”s a clip:

God I hate my voice.  I wish it was deep and gravelly, like Lenny”s or Bea Arthur”s.  I could try smoking it down an octave, but the last time I had a cigarette I booted all over the damn place.  I suppose I”ll just have to live with the curse of my clear, beautiful, ringing, natural tenor.

Overall I was happy with the Kinderkonzert, but let”s just say, I don”t think there”s any danger of a shift in my key demographic, as this YouTube Analytics Pie Chart will certainly indicate:

key demographic

Come to think of it, maybe it”s just my Children”s Concerts that are really for adults… or maybe just old ladies.

(Route) 1 is Down (with its bad self)

I have been in Hancock, Maine nigh on a month plus change, Conducting-Associating my little heart out for l’École Perry Montux.  Yesterday, the unthinkable occurred — we experienced our third straight day without rain.  Around these parts, that’s considered a dangerous drought, but I found it so inspiring that I decided to embark on a little photojournalism project to get to the heart of Hancock.

pms chainsaw

Where better to start any trip to Hancock than at The Raye Chainsaw Sawyer Artist? Nightly shows at 7:00 PM feature The Raye Chainsaw himself sculpting masterpieces from logs.  Speaking of logs, next we move to…

pms pine tree

Alden Bunker, Pine Tree specialist to the stars.  What Enterprising young Pine Tree specialist wouldn’t want to establish Hancock as his home base?  The one confusing thing about Alden’s is that the parking lot is always full of school buses, not pine trees.  Rather, I should say full of Handcrafted Pine School Buses, painstakingly designed by Raye Sawyer, nightly.

pms raggedy

It’s true that Raggedy Ann Dolls are not hard to come by — most small towns with populations of 500 or more have entire stores devoted to them.  Thank goodness I came to Hancock though, where Raggedy Andy is given his due.  I just hope that the owner of that 1984 gray Cadillac Sedan isn’t planning to dress his Raggedy Andy doll in any of those American Girl Size clothes.  They’d probably be too big for him anyway, what with some of these obese children I see walking around here.

pms debbies

Never having patronized Debbie’s myself, I can only imagine what sort of Blueberry Ware she has in store for us, but I do know one thing — if you’re sick of those high-end, marked-up Blueberry Ware prices, you can always walk right next door:

pms debbies outlet

Yes, all this plus a Conducting School and a Gazebo await you in beautiful Hancock, Maine.  I defy even Ludwig von Mises to explain this local economy.