Opera San José will be doing a rather new opera in December. It’s also “young” … the composer is eleven or twelve at this point, I believe.

I just landed on this documentary. Fascinating.

The opera is being presented by the Packard Humanities Institute and Opera San José.

Victoria: Requiem: Agnus Dei
Ensemble Corund; Stephen Smith, Conductor

Paul Basler: Alleluia
Vandegrift High School Chorale (Women); Michael Feris, Conductor; Instrumentalists are sadly not named

(Sorry the YouTube page requires you to go directly to their video. I didn’t realize that until the day of the posting!)

My mother was a singer and my father was a composer, musicologist, and string player. My father was very analytical, so I had really good training in that way. I started playing the Bach Suites—the first suite is all about patterns and change—just little snippets at a time, two measures a day. By connecting them, you actually are figuring out in a pretty substantial way, what are the patterns? So in a short time, I was able to learn a lot of music. A little bit is doable. It’s not Mount Everest—it’s a mole hill. My father would say, “If there’s something that’s very difficult, split it into four parts where you can actually solve a problem by first solving little problems.” That was an unbelievable time-saver later on. And my mother really addressed the idea that you acquire technique in order to transcend it. Because the point of music is to be moved. Just because you can play a piece doesn’t mean you’re reaching deep inside somebody else.

But there’s so much more. Do read it all!

I was just watching and listening to a video of a very talented group of young(ish) musicians playing in a conductor-less group. I ended up having to just listen and not watch.


Nearly every musician was beating time with his or her instrument. It was so very distracting. I understand the need to keep time. I understand wanting to count carefully when there is no conductor to help with the pulse, but to pretty much pound out every beat is, for me, a distraction and also starts to make one lose the horizontal line of the work.

When I only listened it wasn’t quite so bad, but I could still sense they were beating that pulse out much of the time.

Maybe it’s just my problem. I wonder.

Side note: I love watching younger (and when I write “younger” now I am mostly referring to forty or below) musicians at work. It’s also difficult for me, though: it makes me feel quite old, and perhaps a bit obsolete. That’s especially the case when a group implies they have the answer to what is frequently called the death of classical music. (Key phrases: “break down the barriers”, “collaborative”, “for the people” and one they don’t frequently use but I will “will pay for tips”.) Unfortunately most of these groups that tout the answer aren’t making a living wage off of their frequently wonderful and well-played music making. So perhaps they have the answer to the death of classical music but they might, as well, be bringing on the death of classical music as a profession.

I wonder.

I don’t mean to be snarky here. I just worry that if you give something away for free or nearly free you are telling the world — or at least the current audience — that the value of your work is worth next to nothing or even nothing at all, aside from applause.

Excerpt: see complete video at www.idrs.org (multimedia)
Richard Killmer, Johanna Cox, Celeste Johnson – Oboe and English horn
Three 3-part Inventions, J. S. Bach (1685-1750) Arr. Tustin

To get tickets go here and click on the Così “Order Now” link.

This is a bit longer than my normal Sunday evening music. Set aside 14+ minutes for it when you get the chance. I really enjoyed it!

John Leavitt: Missa Festiva
National Taiwan University Chorus; Fang-Pei Trace Lien; Hsin-Jung Hsieh, Pianist

Maurice Duruflé: Notre Père (Our Father)
Ensemble Corund; Stephen Smith, Conductor

Easy … right? ;-) (Thanks to Jose Simbulan for bringing this to my attention.