bunrab: (bunearsword)
Saturday night when we landed in Blythe after some 550 miles of I-10, I was too tired to do a lot in the way of writing.

So where were we? Last time you saw us in any detail, we were in Van Horne. We had to turn on the heat overnight there - altitude sure makes a difference in temperature! We left Van Horn pretty much on time, stopped in El Paso for lunch - Luby's! I do miss Luby's cafeteria. And infinite refills of good unsweetened iced tea before one has to ask. And a huge bin of sliced limes for the iced tea... When we stopped for gas off of I-10 at Rt. TX-178, there were signs for the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. I-10 does run close to the border! We topped off again in Lordsburg, NM, in an attempt to not have to buy gas in AZ - you know I like lots of people who live in AZ, a Denizen or so here, a musician there, but I'm still really peeved at your state for the "Ihre Papieren, bitte!" law. Anyway, we also bought iced tea in Lordsburg, traded places in driving...

New Mexico at that latitude is not very wide, only 150 miles or so. We did note when we crossed the Continental Divide. Whee! (Look it up, people, look it up.) We weren't really going downhill much after that, though - it was still uphill, regardless of drainage basins. And that continuing uphill really started screwing with our gas mileage.

If I hadn't already mentioned this, once one is west of Fredericksburg, TX, the predominant color is tan. Sometimes it's a reddish tan, sometimes as pale as beige, sometimes distinctly taupe, but it's all shades of tan. It got steadily tanner as we went further west, too. More about that later.

Middle of nowhere: pecan orchard. A couple of *miles* of pecan orchard (we knew that was what kind of tree it was by the sign advertising "Pecans, walnuts, wine" at the side of the highway.) Desert, desert, desert, then all of a sudden this huge chunk of green trees in orderly rows. A few blocks of saplings, but quite a few blocks of trees that were a good height - not as mature as, say, Sam's trees, but probably somewhere between 10 and 20 years old, which means someone had successfully been irrigating a huge area for a long time. Then we happened to try the radio and up popped some Dixieland jazz - it turned out to be A Prairie Home Companion, from a station in Tucson, even though we were still more than an hour east of Tucson. That station stayed good reception for quite a ways west - we listened to all of PHC, then it went to classical music, and when that finally started getting fuzzy, we scanned and found a classical station in Phoenix that lasted us for another 100 miles. We also saw lots of saguaro from the highway. I <3 saguaro. (On our previous road trip almost 25 years ago, we had stopped in and taken a tour at Saguaro National Monument on our way back from San Diego to Austin.)

Some of how we amuse ourselves on long drives is making fun of signs. Certainly the signs in New Mexico warning us "Caution! Dust storms may exist." weren't terribly helpful. I mean, we already know dust storms exist; there's a lot of scientific evidence for them, almost as much as for gravity. It would be a lot more helpful to have signs that warned us where and when to expect to meet up with said storms, yes? Other signs we made fun of: AZ has something weird going on, as long after we were past any city, out in the middle of nowhere and its dog, were exits for "339th Ave" and then "411th Ave" - those numbers seem rather high for avenues, even if one were naming streets uniformly across a whole county never mind a city...

We did have to get a couple of gallons of gas in Tempe, AZ - we clearly weren't going to make it all the way across 400 miles of AZ on one tank, given the awful gas mileage we were getting due to heat and a terrific headwind. At the time, we noted that from Tempe to the CA border is about 150 miles, and then on the map, Blythe is a tiny fraction of an inch past that.

We pulled into the KOA in Blythe, CA around 10 pm Pacific, and the guy was still at the desk. Lots of oleander! We ate Connie's tamale pie for supper. Let us note that in fact, the KOA *is* a fraction of an inch past the border - one enters the CA stop-and-deny-having-fruit customs booth right on the border; the exit for the KOA is immediately past the inspection booths, and then the road curves under the highway - so that the campground itself is maybe a bit east of the customs booth, and north of it, hovering directly at the border. The GPS units - all our various phone thingies - all did not seem to sense that anything past the first few feet of Riviera Dr. existed; it took some effort to find that turn going under the highway and spot the sign for the campground!

More later about the last westward leg.
bunrab: (Default)

I crocheted this sweater in less than 2 weeks. In the picture, I haven't done the row of shells along the bottom hem yet, but I did that this evening, after the symphony, while we were watching CSI, so it is truly finished! I might add some small flowers at the neckline in other colors, since spring green isn't actually my best color - figuring to add some orangey-coral and/or aquamarine flowers, should look better at the edge next to my skin.

And it was so easy to make, that while we were at the symphony this evening, I started on the back of another one, and am more than half finished with the back - that's in the dark, in between applauding, reading the program, and whatnot.

The program included Christopher O'Riley, you know, the guy from From the Top. He did two encores, including one of his adaptations of Radiohead, and hey, it sounds at least as "classical" as Philip Glass channeling Brian Eno. Then in the second half, the last piece was Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliet" and some of the audience started applauding at the pause that comes at the end of the section of the duel, where Tybalt is killed. So the guest conductor turns around and motions with his hand to quiet down, and says "Only one person is dead so far; we've got a couple more to kill yet." And they go on with the piece.

And we had supper afterward at Sabatino's. Life is good.
bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:

  • 23:19 somewhere in this noisy diner, someone is whistling the Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon" #
  • 20:18 dem ol' French horn blues done got me. #
  • 20:21 First half of the Canadian Brass concert lots of Bach (and the stuff he stole from Vivaldi). #
  • 20:23 a little odd to be listening to a brass ensemble when we're not surrounded by an auduence of brass players, as we have been lately #
  • 20:24 now S is criticizing my typos; it's a real pain to go back and fix them, on a cell phone. #
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bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:

  • 21:11 very much enjoyed Massimo La Rosa playing Launy Grondahl's Concerto for Trombone & Orchestra (sorry my phone doesn't have the slashed o) #
  • 21:40 Charlie Vernon as much a Legend to trombonists as Gene Pokorny is to tubists. There's a reason Chocago is world-class. #
  • 21:42 out of the 3 concerti I liked the Gro/ndahl best, but the duet between the soloist and the timpani in the Zwilich was fun! #
  • 22:48 Dynamic sign: Avoid I-395 Tunnel. A bit late to tell us that here, people, as our other choiced at this point are: None. #
  • 22:51 The choices of getting back to MD are: Which would you prefer, an anvil on the foot or a poke in the eye with a sharp stick? #
  • 22:57 the ever-annoying jog down 2 blocks of Pennsylvania Ave to get from I-295 to DC/MD 295, w/ poorly designed left turn & ramp combo #
  • 23:22 @fadeaccompli canned coffee can't possibly be good for you,.. #
  • 00:29 Today's travelogue has been brought to you by the Eastern Trombone Workshop, sponsored by the US Army Band, at Ft Myer, VA #
  • 00:42 A couple of my new alleged followers seem to want to help me find a new job. Hint: you're barking up the wrong tree. #
  • 15:33 @common_squirrel Birds! #
  • 19:20 big accident at Route 40 and Ingleside Ave in Catonsville - no thru traffic eastbound. must detour thru shopping centers. #
  • 19:22 at least 6 EMTs working on someone at side of road. 2 fire engines, 2 ambulance 1 EMS supervisor vehicle, several police cars. #
  • 19:43 tonight's BSO program: Dvorak Scherso capriccioso; Chopin Piano Conc. 1; Dvorak Symph 7. Being recorded. #
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bunrab: (bass)
Evelyn Glennie performs barefoot.

Friday evening's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert opened with Wagner - "Brunhilde's Immolation" - yeah, it's Wagner. All the percussion toys for Glennie were already out on the stage at the beginning, so it looked odd. Then after the Wagner, the lights dimmed and we started hearing eerie noises and then Glennie comes creeping up the aisle, hunched over and playing what looks like a bird cage with a drum head on the bottom, using a violin bow on the bird cage bars. Very creepy. And, as mentioned, she's barefoot. The piece was Michael Daugherty's "UFO" consisting of five movements: Traveling Music; Unidentified; Flying; ??? [yes, that's its name, no, I don't know how it's pronounced]; and Objects. The ??? movement consists solely of Glennie and the contrabassoon. A lot of the piece was jazzy - could definitely hear hints of "Mission: Impossible" and Pink-Panther-theme type jazz in it - but a lot of it was just spacey - new agey and gimmicky, the sort of thing that reminds me that one person's "playful and joyous" is another person's "that's not music, it's sound effects!" I wouldn't want to buy the piece on CD, because a great deal of what made it interesting was watching Glennie in action - even though she was looking sort of spacey and new-agey herself - barefoot, long hair, sort of hippie-style loose calf-length dress. Anyway, over all, a success.

The second half was Holst's Planets, a piece I love love love. Mostly it went spectacularly well, although there was one teeny burble in the trumpets at one point. No matter, it is always a gorgeous piece. It also includes a contrabassoon, so the evening was definitely contra-intensive!

Continuing the outer space theme, next week is Mahler's "Titan" - well, Mahler wasn't thinking of Saturn's moon but after hearing The Planets, how could I help but make that connection?

My own apparel was mixed - I wanted to dress up for the opening weekend of the season, and bought* a turquoise sweater and brown-and-turquoise plaid skirt - and then discovered that since we haven't finished unpacking after moving in June, I had no idea where my brown shoes were. I wound up wearing brown ankle boots that looked rather silly with panty hose, but it was that or sneakers, my black and silver band concert uniform shoes, or my motorcycle boots! If I had gotten the turquoise tights to go with the sweater, I think the boots would have looked better, but I didn't. Note to self: for next weekend's concert, either find more of your clothes or more of your shoes, so that stuff matches! And definitely before niece's wedding in November, which is another occasion I intend to wear some of today's clothing purchases.

*Cindy-the-librarian and I went clothes shopping Friday afternoon, to collect some autumn clothing. We resisted more than we purchased, but some purchases were made. I do have several occasions coming up this fall to dress up. I also bought some knee socks just for fun; [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, I think you would be envious of some of them, like the over-the-knee ones that would look terrific with your boots.
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
It has been a musicky couple of weeks. Friday a week ago, we went to a BSO concert. Piano soloist for the Prokofiev was spectacular; it must have been exhausting for the concertmaster just sitting next to her. She did two encores, each one faster: first an arrangement of Rondo a la Turk that sounded like something that Horowitz might have done, and then Flight of the Bumblebee, faster than I have ever heard it on any instrument whatsoever. The second half was Symphony Fantastique, and it was great - the tubas nailed their solo, and they got to stand up and take a bow for it, and the entire thing was just wonderful.

Tuesday night, we got to watch the BSO rehearsing for the upcoming concert - it was the first rehearsal where all the choruses and the orchestra were together, for rehearsing Carmina Burana. It was fascinating watching Alsop's rehearsal technique - and also impressive to see the professionalism of the orchestra; any community band musician will recognize what I mean when I say that when she stops, they stop - if she stops on the first note of an eight-note triplet, NOBODY plays the second note. And nobody starts talking immediately, either. Wish we could get even 1/100th of that into our community groups.

And Friday we attended the performance of Carmina. The first piece was actually a piece of Samuel Barber's Medea, and Alsop gave a short lecture on the plot and had the orchestra play a couple of measures of the meaningful themes. THat is one scary piece - which goes with the plot, yes - if you don't know it, look it up (small hint: she eats her children.) The Carmina went off beautifully. The baritone was slightly more restrained than in rehearsal - he had to be; he had several people cracking up a bit during rehearsal with his gestures to accompany "Ego sum abbas;" there still were gestures that were nicely expressive of the segment, though. He will be worth watching - anyone who can be that expressive and who clearly is having that much fun doing it, while singing well, can probably get work anywhere. The program notes translated "wafna" as "woe." The tenor was an excellent roasted swan. And the soprano wore a red dress that rustled, to go with the lyrics in one of her verses. Alsop also had a Q&A session after the concert - I enjoy those; we've stayed for them several times in the past. Turned out there were people from the Cincinnati Opera in the audience, among other things.

Saturday morning we had a dress rehearsal in Bel Air. I do not rehearse well at 10 a.m. And Sunday afternoon was the concert - it went off reasonably well, though not perfect. The audience liked it. Well, it's hard to go wrong with "Four Scottish Dances" with that drunken bassoon solo, and then the music from the 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

Monday night, Bel Air starts rehearsing for Maryland Community Band Day, and Wednesday night down in Montgomery Village, we have our last Band Day committee meeting, before rehearsal; my part is pretty much finished, except for playing bari sax in three of the eight bands that will be performing! Between those three bands and my committee/volunteer t-shirt, I will have five clothing changes that day...

Oh yeah, we settled on the house, it's ours; the painters and electricians are doing their thing and should be finished by the end of next week, and the windows should be here by then, so we can probably move in right after band day. We haven't started packing yet.
bunrab: (Default)
We are listening to Shostakovich's 5th right now - we had caught the last few bars of it when we got into the car after supper, and decided that we needed to hear the whole thing. And a most peculiar thought crossed my mind: when I hear this piece, I want to be a french horn. NO, not play a french horn, be a french horn.

That probably qualifies me as pervert of the week.
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
Klezmer Nutrcracker Shirim - not only a good chunk of the Nutcracker Ballet, but also Romanian Rhapsody (Enesco), Hungarian Rhapsody (Brahms), lots of Satie, and more, all in a very jazzy klezmer style. Well done, danceable, fun. Definitely not elevator music.
Trombones Under the Tree - I think the title says it all. A trombone quartet plays lots of traditional stuff, and some of the Nutcracker, speaking of Nutcracker. This is the sort of thing that shows up in the houses of people who play low brass instruments for too long.
In a Christmas Mood - the Starlight Orchestra. Swing era big band stuff, nicely done and it moves right along.
A Christmas Tribute to Mannheim Steamroller by the Westwind Ensemble. As if we didn't have enough Mannheim Steamroller by Mannheim Steamroller, here's a tribute band.
Christmas Guitars: A Benefit for the National Coalition for the Homeless - various artists. 18 of them. Lots of nice guitar stuff - a little on the quiet and calm side, but for a good cause.
A Waverly Consort Christmas - another one that Lea probably has too. "From East Anglia to Appalachia" is the description. Stuff that we don't have anywhere else, 13th century English motets, some beautiful shape-note hymns. Instrumental variations on Greensleeves. This is a really beautiful album.
Christmas Island by Leon Redbone - mix a bit of 1920's Palm Court Orchestra, with dobro and slack-key guitar, with imitation 1950's Bing Crosby, and throw in a bit of Dr. John for accompaniment. It works surprisingly well. The title song is fun.
A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Women. Nice arrangement, lots of folk-dancey instrumental things, some unexpected medleys. Sally brought this one with her last weekend - more about that below - and we really like it, a nice addition to our collection.

Sally stopped by on her way from New York to her sister's place in VA, on Saturday, and stayed overnight. Around midnight was when we decided that a trio of violin, soprano sax, and euphonium would be just the thing, and we played Christmas carols by ear for about an hour and a half. Good thing John next door is deaf. Different instruments have different favorite keys they tend to default to, and the easy keys on a violin are not the same as the easy keys on a Bb saxophone, which aren't the same as the easy keys on low brass. We were often playing in three different keys for a full verse before we managed to converge on a common key. We had fun, though. We got her on her way Sunday after lunch at Panera - I almost feel like I should do Panera commercials, 'cause I recommend them to so many people on special diets! It was great to have her visit with us; she had never seen chinchillas take a dust bath before! She'll be back for a short stop on her way back to NY next weekend.

Merry Christmas!
bunrab: (Default)
Christmas with Travelin' Light - Sam Pilafian & Frank Vignola. Light jazz with a tuba soloist - need more be said? Pop and traditional favorites.
The Ventures Christmas Album. Ahh, the sixties. This is pretty funny - and they sneak in bits of their own music, too - a piece called "Scrooge," and little riffs from other pop songs sneak into the Christmas carols. Their "Jingle Bells Rock" sounds more like rock than the original did.
Christmas with the Lettermen. Traditional carols, nice harmony, a bit bland (I say that about a lot of things that don't include LOUD).
Christmas - The Players. Lots of stuff on here. Huge variety of instrumentation - you don't often hear soprano sax and cornetto on the same song, let alone both of those with button accordion and banjo.
Psallite! A Renaissance Christmas - Chanticleer. I'll bet [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 has this one, too. Josquin des Prez, Heironymous Praetorius, William Byrd. A must for early music fans.
Christmas Now is Drawing Near - Sneak's Noyse. Lots of English folk carols. Themed medleys. Some stuff that's not commonly heard in the US.
A Froggy Christmas. Novelty album, needless to say. A little of this goes a long way, so it's best played as part of a shuffle rather than trying to listen to it straight through. The back cover text is pretty funny (one of the performers is listed as Ribbit Goulet...)
A Toolbox Christmas. Likewise a novelty album, same caveat as above. "Your favorite carols performed on your favorite hand and power tools." Some spouses think it's funny to put Froggy Christmas and Toolbox Christmas on shuffle with each other (and nothing else). Some spouses are lucky that I am extremely tolerant.
bunrab: (bass)
I've started writing a Christmas song. Its title will probably be the first line of the song, "We don't need God to have a merry Christmas." Sample verse, draft version (lots of polishing needed yet):
"In the dark, we all hope for light
And so we have the candles burning bright
Candles on the Christmas tree
The candles lit for Hannukah
Candles in the windows
For the travelers from afar."

Recent listening:
The Carol Album: Seven centuries of Christmas Music - Taverner Consort, Choir, & Players. Many unfamiliar items, many foreign language items (Latin, German, French) and Middle English. Interesting listening, and I like the harmonies.
Christmas with the Canadian Brass featuring the Great Organ of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Not only is it bright, loud, brass, but also a large, loud organ. Who could ask for anything more? The Hallelujah Chorus is so good with the organ that you'd almost swear you could hear the words despite the lack of a choir.
Christmas in a Celtic Land by Golden Bough. Like their other album, already mentioned, this has several songs I haven't heard elsewhere, and perhaps more to drink than we associate with modern american Christmas. You can tell it's folk music 'cause it includes an accordion. "Dear Joseph" is something I haven't heard elsewhere, a very pretty tune. "Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake" is a hoot. I really like their voices and harmonies.
A Little Christmas Music - the Kings Singers. I could live without guest soloist Kiri Te Kanawa - I just don't like shrieking sopranos, I'm sorry. Anyway, other than that complain, this is nice stuff. KTK is in the medley of songs done as if by Mozart. I always like the Boar's Head Carol, and sing along with the chorus at the top of my lungs. Ends with Patapan and Farandole - the French carol that everyone here thinks of mainly as the melody from one of the "L'Arlesienne" suites.
Swingle Bells - Swingle Singers. They're sort of out of style now, but I still like a dose of Swingle Singers every now and then. Some foreign stuff on here that one doesn't hear very often, assorted Yule polkas and a bit of Bach.
Christmas Brass - Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. I have this unfortunate tendency to refer to PJBE as Peanut Butter Jelly. But really, they're everything good about brass. A large ensemble than the Canadian Brass and other assorted quintets, and they managed to sound even larger than that; their arrangements are often complex enough that you'd swear there was an entire concert band.
Sing We All Merrily - A Colonial Christmas - Linda Russell & Companie. Older carols, no pop stuff, with dulcimers, mandolin, harp, according, Northumbrian small pipes - very folksy, very nice - Russell's voice gives the group a distinct sound and style.
It's a Spike Jones Christmas. Do I really need to say anything more about this? Actually, yes - there's some perfectly nice stuff, done more or less straight, on here, in between the comedy numbers. But yes, there are all the comedy numbers you expect. It's from Rhino, whaddaya want?
bunrab: (saxophone)
Brave Combo - It's Christmas, Man!
It is possible to turn anything into an accordion polka if you try hard enough. Brave Combo tries very hard. There's also traditional xmas songs turned into cha-cha, ska, sambas... It's fun. The "Christmas Polka" is wonderful.
Therapy Sisters - Codependent Christmas
A Texas group, and a couple songs are slightly Texas-centric. All the songs are original, all are funny. My favorite may be "Abraham's Lament," a combination Chanukah-Christmas song, sort of.
The Brass Band of Battle Creek - Sleigh Bells and Brass, The Sounds of Christmas
It's loud, it's bright, it's brass, it's Christmas. For you concert band fans: it includes Reed's Russian Christmas Music. Good album. Loud.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Yes, this is the third MS xmas album I've blogged. I don't know whether we've run out of them yet.
Dr. Demento presents The Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time
It's starts with the Chipmunk Song and gets worse from there - all your favorites, such as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." My favorite is the Dragnet parody.
The Early Light Consort - Christmas Past. Instrumentals including some less-familiar bits of "Messiah," "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Pachelbel's Canon." Instrumentation includes crumhorns, ocarina, pan flute, lute, and more. Very pretty, very peaceful.
Quink Vocal Ensemble - Carols Around the World
Lots of unfamiliar stuff on this, and some that we know in English translations are in their original language. Some of it's very nice; I don't particularly care for their version of "In the Bleak Midwinter" though - personal preference, I'll take Holst's arrangement every time.
Joan Baez - Noël
She's got a beautiful voice and I like her style. Several less-familiar carols on here, and a couple sung in German.
bunrab: (polkadotray)
I got a surprise package from [livejournal.com profile] elfbiter! A copy of The Kalevala as a BookCrossing book, and a recording of Sibelius, done by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. We had never heard Sibelius' piece "The Tempest" before - neat! Based on this and the one other recording we have featuring the Iceland SO, I think I can safely say that the ISO has a very good, VERY LOUD, percussion department.

Yesterday we got some riding in - more back roads around the Patapsco River valley. Today, it was raining. Of course. Oh well, I got a couple more needlepoint stingrays done.

The bunnies are shedding.
bunrab: (bass)
Since [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet is out of town, [livejournal.com profile] sanada came with me to Thursday evening's Baltimore Symphony concert instead. She did not regret the absence of a tuba in the entire performance the way spouse would have. (Hey, they had a double-valve bass trombone and a contrabassoon in all three pieces, that should be enough, but no, Spouse would want tuba in everything.)

music nerd stuff about the concert )

Re dinner: we ate dessert first!
bunrab: (Default)
We went to the symphony this evening, which was performing Pictures at an Exhibition and Brahms' Violin Concerto. The violin soloist was young, and was wearing what people of my generation would call a Nehru jacket, in black, which looked quite spiffy. However, I was a little disappointed in the performance. I thought that the violin wasn't quite strong enough, that it sounded a little thin and soft. If it were brass, I'd have said he needed an instrument with a bigger bore. Anyway, there was nothing technically wrong with it, and other people didn't seem so picky. After intermission was Pictures, which I enjoyed. There were a few tiny flubs but overall it was good, and loud. I liked the alto sax interpretation, although [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet thought it was a little bit too moderate and should have stood out more (OTOH, he liked the violinist in the concerto just fine). For "Byddlo," rather than the tuba player, the third trombonist picked up a euphonium and played the solo part. He did an excellent job, with a lovely tone. He appeared to just switch the same mouthpiece between the two, which certainly makes it easier to use two different instruments in the same performance! I've never been sure of the difference between a euphonium and a tenor tuba, myself, and I asked [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet; his response was "Opinions vary." In other words, in a blind taste test, even experts can't actually tell the difference; it's whatever the manufacturer claims it is. (Technically, a baritone horn has a slightly less conical bore than a euphonium, but that's another one that if you put it in a lineup, you'd need a micrometer caliper to tell them apart, or else have to actually play them. With the euphonium/tenor tuba pair, even blowing into them wouldn't help.)

Afterward, we went to Sabatino's for supper. They sure have good rum cake!

Speaking of music, Netflix sent us Ice Age II: The Meltdown, which has a hysterical scene of buzzards singing "Food, Glorious Food," and also has Scrat eying the heavenly acorn to ballet music from Khatchaturian (the adagio from "Spartacus, if you're interested), even doing some jet├ęs and spins to it.
bunrab: (bass)
My friend Sally sent me the Big Box o' Mozart off my wish list! Whee! 170 disks, everything Mozart! That's gonna be lots of good listening.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
The Baltimore Symphonic Band concert Tuesday night at Oak Crest went fine. The "Santa Comes to Dixieland" piece is a hoot; I really enjoy the tenor sax part! Oak Crest Village is one humongous retirement community. After rehearsal, we went straight to BWI to pick Cindy up.

Wednesday Cindy wanted to hang out at a library branch, so that's mainly what we did in the afternoon - she's applied for a couple of jobs with the Balto. County library system, and wanted to see what the system is like. The Catonsville branch was as good a place as any to hang out. Found several new books. We also did some yarn-buying at JoAnn's, what a surprise. Wednesday night, Montgomery Village rehearsal (concert for that is this coming Sunday.)

Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet got hit with the worst of this cold we're passing around, so Cindy and I went to the Balto. Symphony Orchestra concert without him. It was all-Baroque - Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann. Meyerhoff is all decorated for Christmas. The guest conductor was one Robert King, who wore a black shirt and black trousers - no tux, no tie, no jacket. Exuberant and cute. Did not use a podium.

[livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet slightly more human today, so we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art for a few hours, and did a bit of holiday shopping in their gift shop. Ate supper at Salsa Grill, a Peruvian restaurant on Security right near the SSA offices. Good food, but the entrees are huge - one has to either split one between two people, or automatically save half for another meal (which then makes the price per meal more in our usual price range.)

Recent reading: The Sudbury School Murders (Ashley Gardner), a historical mystery set in Regency England, part of a series, which I shall probably go find the rest of, since it was pretty good. Hearts and Bones (Margaret Lawrence), a historical mystery set in Revolutionary-era Maine, also part of a series, don't know whether I'll bother hunting down the rest - I haven't decided whether I liked it or not. Slightly harder going than the other one, gorier and perhaps more perverse and more psychological than things really were back then? A couple of collections of SF short stories - one of them, The Emperor of Gondwanaland by Paul DiFilippo, several of the stories are fairly funny, including the title story, and the story that goes with the cover picture, which is indeed a gadget-using, scarf-wearing, giant beaver. Re-read The Light Fantastic - it's been re-issued relatively recently; I shall have to go back and find an old copy as well; it seems to me as though it is now slightly more congruent in details with the later stories than it was 20 years ago, but that could be my imagination.

I think that's all. Tomorrow may be TubaChristmas, if the weather calms down from heavy rain and strong winds as it is this evening.

The Arts

Nov. 11th, 2006 01:26 am
bunrab: (chinchillas)
Since we have sort of "fake" season tickets - we pick and choose some 8 concerts from among all the series during the year, and get a season ticket price for them - we don't always sit in the same place, and in fact, we deliberately vary where we sit from time to time, to try out different places in the hall. This evening we were smack in the center of the rear Orchestra (floor) level, rather than closer up but off to stage left (floor right) where we "usually" are. It turned out to be a good spot for this particular concert, as it happens, but it did bring out one particular observation that I had previously just attributed to being off on one side. And that is, that the violins, on stage right (floor left) are holding their instruments with their left arms, and so their shiny white shirt fronts show up a lot, while the violas, at stage left, their right arms not only have the black jackets on them but, when lifted, block whatever sliver of white shirt might happen to show. So stage left looks a lot darker than stage right, even though it's undoubtedly as well lighted. It seems to me that the stage techs ought to light up stage left a teensy bit brighter, just so that from the audience it appears better balanced. This isn't so much a problem in orchestras where the cellos sit on the outside, rather than the violas, but in Baltimore, the violas sit on the outside. (No telling whether once Marin is fully in charge, she might change that.)

The concert was great. This one was part of the "Explorer" series which does multimedia/artsy stuff, not just play great music. First was "Night on Bald Mountain" which I feel the guest conductor took a little bit too fast, and so the tonguing on the brass parts wasn't as crisp as it could have been. The second piece was a BSO premier of Christopher Theofanidis' "Rainbow Body." The "guest artist," if you will, was astronomer Mario Livio, from the Hubble Space Telescope Institute. What he did was narrate a series of slides, of photos from the Hubble and other space telescopes, before the piece was played, having the orchestra just play a few notes at times to illustrate a theme, a leitmotif for different kinds of novae, as it were. Then, the orchestra played the piece, with the slides going on again, but no narration. The piece was lively and loud, not at all "hearts of space" minimalist stuff, and although it was somewhat gimmicky, it was a really cool gimmick, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. We gave them a standing ovation, including the composer, who was in the audience with his wife and 10-month-old son. (Livio wore a dark business suit; Theofanidis wore a turtleneck and sports jacket.)

After intermission was Beethoven's "Pastoral" (#6), which was preceded by a very brief lecture by Livio accompanied by more slides, relating the major themes of nature that Beethoven was trying to illustrate in the Pastoral, to the birth/formation of new stars. There were no slides during the music, as Beethoven needs no gimmicks. It was an interesting idea, the birth of new starts and the renewing powers of nature.
bunrab: (chinchillas)
Whee! We closed on the houses today - Austin is safely sold, someone else's elephant now. And the house here is ours. We are renting it back to the sellers for 2 days, as it will take them all day Saturday to empty it out and they offered to clean it Sunday, plus we can let some of the smell of their cigarettes air out of it. Monday morning, the phone company, the locksmith, etc show up, and then Tuesday we move in!! Yeeeeeeehah!

So I'll have a bunch of pictures sometime Monday, probably.

Right from closing, we went straight to this evening's symphony concert. Strauss's Metamorphosen doesn't thrill me - I prefer music that actually goes somewhere and has some contrast. Plus, it seems as though a reduced size orchestra sounds particularly thin in Meyerhoff. All that empty stage. The flute transcription of Rodrigo's Gentilhomme was very nice, although again, a bit thin.

Beethoven's 7th was great. Can't go wrong with an odd-numbered Beethoven. It was played at a slightly brisker tempo than I am accustomed to hearing, nice and alert.

Saturday I must practice up for Sunday's concert - there are a couple of places in one piece where the only people playing are me and the bass clarinet, so we better sound good!

House househousehousehouse. Wheeeeeeeeee!


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