20. February 2010 · Comments Off on Final Performance · Categories: Opera

I was walking through the Music building because I love listening to people practice, and I stumbled upon a poster for Opera San Jose: “The Marriage of Figaro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. My first thought was of the Woody Woodpecker sketch where Woody gives a guy a haircut, but he uses a cleaver, and the Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini played in the background. Classical music reminds me of cartoons I watched when I was a kid because the music has repeatedly been used for background music. Tickets are still available for this opera for $51 to $91. It runs until Sunday, but it definitely won’t have anything to do with Woody Woodpecker giving a haircut.

I read it here.

Tomorrow is your last chance to hear Figaro at the California Theatre.

Manfred Honeck, the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, is a Roman Catholic who prays before every concert, sometimes in the company of fellow musicians, tries to attend Mass daily, makes no secret of a desire to perform in the Vatican and had a private chapel built in his home in Austria.

Mr. Honeck, 51, known mostly in Europe before taking over in Pittsburgh last year, made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut on Feb. 9 with performances of Brahms’s Violin Concerto and Mahler’s First Symphony. In a lengthy interview the next day that ranged over his views on Mahler, an artist’s role in society and his family history, he spoke openly of his religious beliefs. Catholicism permeates his life, and has an influence on both how he programs and how he conceives of music.

“It’s a guide,” he said of his religious conviction. “I’m an instrument, to make music better, to make my profession more honest. It allows me to be very deep in my soul. Therefore, the music probably comes very deep from that area of my soul.”

At the same time Mr. Honeck stressed that he did not bring a religious interpretation to bear on music generally, or impose his beliefs on the players. “As music director, you’re the music director, not a spiritual leader,” he said.

Hmmm. Second conductor post today. Just that sort of day, I guess.

I recently was thinking about how my faith influences my playing. I don’t write about my beliefs here, but I’m sure readers notice that I put up Sunday morning and evening sacred music. Faith and music seem somehow connected to me. When I perform, I do try to focus on glorifying God, because of what I believe. But I’m rather quiet about my faith with my colleagues. I do appreciate Maestro Honeck’s openness about his faith.

Read the whole thing.

20. February 2010 · Comments Off on Edo de Waart Doesn’t Just Listen to Classical · Categories: Conductors, Read Online

When asked what he had listened to most recently for pleasure, de Waart answered without hesitating, “James Taylor. ‘Never Die Young.’?”

Calling Taylor a “great American artist,” he said he exchanges Christmas cards with the singer/songwriter and plays his music so often that his young children recognize it after just a few notes.

No James Taylor is on the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra schedule for next season, though.

I read it here.

20. February 2010 · Comments Off on BQOD · Categories: BQOD

I arrived home this evening after work to the musical sounds of my neighbor playing the oboe. All I ever hear her playing is the same scale over and over. And as soon as I heard the oboe playing tonight, my immediate thought was, “how sad, playing the oboe on a Friday night.”

(The writer does go on to say maybe it’s not all that sad after all … but the above just cracked me up and I had to place it here.)

20. February 2010 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

Encore! But without the coughs please

Midlife crisis moment No 25: spending Saturday night at an orchestra recital.

Dear lord, surely I am still too young to be listening to Poulenc’s Stabat Mater at the Royal Festival Hall? Whatever happened to clubbing? And what’s next: backgammon and scones at the Women’s Institute?

If you have never been to a classical music concert, and ever find yourself, like me, married to someone who seems to have become prematurely middle-aged overnight, then here’s a tip: don’t go if you have a cough. So uptight is the classical music crowd that one is only permitted to cough between movements, or whatever the hell they’re called.

Who knew? The consequence of all this repression is that, as soon as the last violin string fades, the entire audience breaks out in a loud, bronchial hack. It’s very disconcerting but also really funny. In the sober world of classical music, you get your laughs where you can.

I read it here.