Posts Tagged: Pierre Monteux School

Travel diary, pt. 2

I’m writing from a place called Matamoros, PA, because my car just broke down in nearby Port Jervis, NY.  If I were to walk a mile away from my hotel room (and trust me, I am not) I would come to the exact place where Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York share a border.  I can’t vouch for the details, but one intuits very quickly in the Matamoros region that one of these three states does allow fireworks while the other two do not, because there are some serious firework emporia up in this neck of the woods.  There are also approximately five hundred ‘cigaret shoppers’ here, so if anybody needs like 20 cases of Camel Lights, just send me a text.

I’m coming from Hancock, ME and heading to Cincinnati, OH.  I just spent another fruitful 6-week stint at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductorz & Orchestra Musicianz playing the viola, conducting the orchestra, running seminars, swimming in lakes, eating lobster, etc.  I got to premiere a new piece, a narrated viola concerto about Cinderella with my super cool friends Maija and Matt (violist and narrator, respectively).  We played to a sold-out house bethrong’d with little kids who were like SO into it.  Then I wrote the score for my friend Will‘s new movie.  It was a crazy time.

[I should mention that the above cover page was drawn by my super cool and incredibly talented friend Anna who, by no coincidence, happens to be with me in Matamoros, PA and is being a total trooper about this whole car issue.]

One of the perks of my position at the PMS is that I get a charming little house in the cutest village in Maine all to myself.  The house was built over a hundred years ago by a ship’s captain, but the family that still owns it descends from one Frank Olmstead, who apparently ran the advertising department for Kellogg’s cereals in the 1930’s and ’40’s or something like that.  I don’t know exactly what he did, but there’s a copy of David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on Advertising floating around the house, which I’ve now read no less than four times, and which I must recommend to everybody.

And then there’s the vintage 1930’s and 40’s adds hanging on the walls around the house.  Let’s just say, I think the buying public had a very different response to visual stimuli 70 some years ago.  For example, this ad, which hangs just above my summer sink, is in fact TERRIFYING:

These little girls are at least 3,000 times more frightening than the Children of the Corn and the twin girls from The Shining combined.  I would never attempt to sell a breakfast cereal – or, in fact, any consumer product – with their images.  Here is the headline on the top of the ad:

which I can only presume replaced the original headline, “All in Favor, Summon Your Inner Daemonry!”  I mean, look at this little girl – LOOK AT THIS GIRL:

I have now spent a sum total of four and one half months of my life waking up every morning and having this little girl stare me in the face as I prepare my morning repast.  No wonder I switched to toast for breakfast.

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.