Unexpected non-standard cello techniques

non-standard-cello

Several years ago I came across George Dennehy, the boy who played the cello with his feet because he was born without arms and hands.  Every once in a while I’d take a look to see what other differently-abled* folks are doing with the cello (or other instruments) since I have a driving curiosity to learn about alternative string techniques.

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All Opera Companies in the US

Carmen-Met

This is just a short post about the new list I’m compiling of all opera companies in the US that I started a couple days ago. While it’s nice to see how much activity is being done in the opera scene since 2000, this won’t show us the overall trajectory of opera in the US and that’s something in which I am just as interested. Since starting this list of all companies I’ve also come across another 10 companies formed since 2000 bringing the number of companies formed in the 21st century to over 110.

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Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Classical Music, and why you might not want to follow your passion…

Carrey-ComSpeech

I’m sure most of you have seen the recent Jim Carrey commencement speech (or at least the shortened clickbait version).  If not, here’s the short one:

While it is inspirational and uplifting if we put aside some of the issues of privilege in Carrey’s situation which I’ve been having discussions about with some folks elsewhere, this Salon.com piece, Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre), by Tim Donovan reiterates what I’ve talked about regarding Survivorship Bias in two previous posts. Interestingly, Donovan’s piece isn’t specifically a response to Carrey’s speech as the post was published two days prior to the Maharishi University of Management Graduation.

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Opera in the 21st Century

Pic from the Thompson Street Opera Company dress rehearsal of "Ile" by Ezra Donnner. photo by Chelsey Jackson

This is an update from my post about New Opera organizations formed since 2000 a little over a week ago and the list I’ve been compiling since then. To date I’ve found over 100 organizations which produce opera.  Most of these are actual opera companies with a handful of what look like festivals or presenting organizations or new music ensembles which commission operas for performance by the group.

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New Music for Kids!

Jon Silpayamanant teaching an "Alien Music workshop for Kids" at Cyphan Science-Fiction Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

A recent piece by Kenneth D. Froelich at NewMusicBox has spurred some interesting discussion on my facebook timeline here. I posted it with the following quote from the piece:

Then she played Steve Reich for them.

The response was, in a word, astonishing. The students began tapping along and became actively engaged in their listening. They asked questions—questions!—about the music (which, in of itself is a pretty remarkable feat). Whereas Mozart was boring, Reich was exciting! It was new—something they did not expect, especially in the context of “classical music.” They wanted to hear more! Several times after my wife played them Electric Counterpoint, they asked for it again, even over popular music examples that she had played.

While Steve Reich might be a composer that we would expect younger students to engage with, what was more surprising was the response she received when she played them Pierre Boulez. Admittedly, the students reacted with confusion at first. However, as the music played they wanted to hear more. They wanted to know where this “crazy noise” was going. Once again, the music engaged her students on a level that neither Mozart nor Tchaikovsky ever did. They became active listeners. The music was unique and didn’t sound like “stereotypical classical music.” Like Reich, her students asked to hear “that weird Boulez music” again—many times over, in fact.

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