I've written a letter of protest about the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber production going on at my school. I'm going to be collecting signatures over the next few days, and I plan to submit it sometime next week.
I like musicals. The highlights of my trips to New York City have been the shows I saw on broadway. However, not all musicals are created equal- which brings me to my current issue.
My university is producing a huge musical revue this semester: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webber is probably most well-known as the creator of Phantom of the Opera, although he's also written other commercially successful shows such as Evita, Cats, and Jesus Christ Superstar.
There's no denying that Webber's been very successful in his career. I'm not the biggest fan of his musicals (neither the music nor the stories are well-written in my opinion), but they've been very successful. Evidently the man for whom the fine arts college at my university is named has a personal connection to Andrew Lloyd Webber, and had the brilliant idea to sponsor this production.
This production has replaced the usual annual large-scale work that the choirs do. We have gone from Mozart's Requiem to Mendelssohn's Elijah to Orff's Carmina Burana... to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Most students in a music school attend that school with the expectation of studying classical music. Voice students are required to be in a choir a specific number of times in their career at the university, and as such they have no choice but to participate in the production.
Rehearsals for this production have lasted up to 5 hours at a time, and the choirs were informed of these rehearsals only three or four days in advance. The production doesn't open for another week, and I see the students involved in this production around me becoming increasingly stressed and frazzled as they try to balance this production on top of the schoolwork, practice schedules, and jobs they already have. Students have complained that they feel exploited, and overworked.
The tickets cost $25 apiece. The singers don't get comp tickets, the get comp dress rehearsal passes. This production clearly exists only to earn money for the university.
Although I'm not involved in this production, I will be beyond happy to see it finished with.
You're a pretentious asshole, and I don't think you know it. You expect everyone to accommodate your every whim, but we get sick and tired of it. You're good at what you do, but you decieve yourself with this latest pursuit. It's a mockery. Further, you need to learn to take criticism without getting huffy and seeing it as a personal attack. My request was not unreasonable, and it was in response to unprofessional behavior. Although I may have addressed you somewhat combatively, your response was condescending and rude. I'm not going to associate myself with your endeavors any longer if you're going to continue to behave this way. There's a reason you find people migrating away from projects you're at the head of, and that reason is your behavior, which can be described with a variety of words, including "self-aggrandizing," "controlling," and "delusional."
There's a set of pieces I'm learning right now called the Danzas Argentinas, by Alberto Ginastera. They're absolutely thrilling. I've got the first and second piece learned, but the last one is a beast. It's got three glissandi in it, one toward the beginning, and two at the very end, one up and one down. Well, I was practicing the piece, and in doing so, I accidentally scraped the skin off of my middle finger during the glissando. I didn't notice until the next time I tried to do so.
One of my piano teachers once said that you haven't truly played a concert unless you've bled a little bit and lost weight in the process. I have now officially bled on the keys of a piano. I feel like a true artist? Maybe? I don't know. It's not terribly pleasant. I don't put much stock in this saying.
I need to figure out a better way to do glissandi, for sure.
I applied for a job at T.E.A. Cafe. I hope they get back to me fairly soon.
I present my platform for FEO tomorrow. I hope it goes well.
I wasn't feeling very good this morning, so I decided to take a nap on the couch outside of the office in Catlett. While sitting there, I heard this loud, piercing sound ring through the building... for a split second I thought I was hallucinating, but it turns out it was just the fire alarm.
A motor somewhere in the building started smoking, and the smoke got sucked into the ventilation system, to be ejected into the library. The smoke alarms went off and everyone got out of class for like an hour. Everything's fine, though.
It got me thinking, though... if the music building burned, what would happen? It's a brick building, so it probably wouldn't take too much structural damage, but there's a lot of valuable stuff in Catlett- All the resources in the Fine Arts Library could be gone, we could lose the two organs, a ton of pianos, and a bunch of other instruments. I wonder what the contingency plan is for the school burning.
Something I've been thinking a lot about lately- why are politicians and politics so geared towards public opinion? I know that the whole concept of democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people... but why are we so focused on that? I don't think the people really know what we're doing half the time. I mean, think about when a complex system or mechanism isn't working right- whether that's your leg, your computer, or your marriage- more often than not, people go to an expert to fix the problem or to get the knowledge to do it themselves.
Why don't we treat international diplomacy, the economy, or public policy the same? As soon as a political issue comes up, everybody becomes an expert and thinks that they simply cannot be wrong because their opinion is what's right. I respect the fact that everyone has a right to their opinion, but that doesn't make them an expert on the issue. I love my roommate very dearly, but every time the economy comes on the news, he starts bitching about how "Obama is handling everything all wrong, and that the best way to stimulate the economy is..." (and that's the point at which I stop paying attention. Something about jobs.)
He absolutely has the right to his opinion. But he's a sophomore in college. I'm not saying he's dumb, or has no idea what he's talking about... but he's a sophomore in college. He's certainly not an economic expert.
I wish people would be more willing to admit that they don't necessarily know everything.
I'm a big fan of the TV show Glee. When I first saw the previews for the pilot, I got really excited that there was going to be a TV show about a show choir, because I was so involved in chorus in my high school.
I was going to post this right after the episode in question, but I decided to wait a little bit to diminish the chance of spoiling it for people who might not have seen it when it aired.
I am not terribly politically active, so I don't talk about gay discrimination very often. I'm aware it exists, and I'm aware it's a problem. I simply feel that the best way for me personally to combat it is to be the best person I can be, and answer whatever questions people may have about what it's like to be gay. I figure that a lot of the opposition that people have against the so-called "homosexual lifestyle" stems from a lack of knowledge. The fact that I'm sexually and romantically attracted to other men doesn't really make me very different from my peers, and I figure that I can demonstrate that better than I can explain it to people- so I try to go about my life normally and not spend too much time as an activist.
That said, it does get lonely every so often. I see my friends go through boyfriends and girlfriends, and I see them enjoy their relationships without thought. I see them walk through a heteronormative world without a thought, and sometimes I envy them. I am very comfortable with my sexuality, and I wouldn't change it even if I had the opportunity, but every now and then it becomes obvious that they don't have to think about some of the things that I do- whether or not PDA will offend someone (and I'm not talking about making out in public, I'm talking about simply holding hands), whether or not they can invite people to their wedding without causing a fight... there are others, but those are two pretty big ones.
One of the things that had kind of bothered me before was the fact that there were so few gay characters on TV. There was Will & Grace, but that show's not on the air anymore. There are Mitch and Cam on Modern Family and although I love them, they aren't exactly characters I can immediately relate to- they've already started a family. There might be others, but I don't watch that much TV, so if there are I had never been exposed to them.
I felt so immensely validated when Kurt came out on Glee. Watching him go through his challenges was a great experience, because having such a prominent character on such a popular show sort of said that gay is a normal thing to be- which is a fairly new sentiment in the public arena.
When Blaine and Kurt kissed in the most recent episode, it was kind of a culmination of all those feelings.
For these reasons, I proclaim Blaine and Kurt to be the Best TV Couple Ever.
One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is the feeling you get RIGHT after you've missed an airplane. This has happened to me twice now.
The most recent one was yesterday. I was supposed to board a plane first thing in the morning to go home for the week, but I got to the airport to promptly find that I'd left my wallet at my apartment, meaning that I had no form of ID on me, in turn meaning that I couldn't get past the security checkpoint.
So yeah. I'm staying in Norman 'til Tuesday morning, because that was the earliest flight they could book me on.
I have effectively halved the amount of time that I get to spend with my family over spring break, just because I forgot to grab my wallet as I walked out the door.
I keep getting invited to this "gas strike" thing on facebook.
It's a stupid idea. People don't fill up their cars every day. The people who were going to fill up their cars the day of the gas strike are just going to fill up their cars the day before or the day after, creating the same total amount of gas sold in the end. It will have absolutely no impact on anything ever.
I've got my third consecutive Monday night concert tomorrow. Second one of the semester scheduled at the same time as a rehearsal I'm supposed to be at.
We had rehearsal this evening for our concert tomorrow. The concert consists entirely of works by the composer David Gillingham, and he's in town for the concert. It's going to be a really cool concert! We're doing the third movements of his Euphonium Concerto and his second Marimba Concerto, and we're also doing his Concertino for Four Percussionists and Wind Ensemble. Rehearsal went well, and the soloists are playing at top notch.
However, it occurred to me during rehearsal today how far I've come as a musician, just in the past few years.
In high school, I would attend honors clinics for band. These clinics would often include a concert given by the Wind Ensemble at whatever college was hosting the clinic, and I would often sit, astounded by the music being played; deeply impressed by the artistry of the musicians in front of me.
Today, it occurred to me that I'm in that role now. I'm the college musician sitting in front of an audience that (hopefully) is astounded by the music that we play or sing. And as cool as that is, it makes me a little sad that I'm a sort of a grown-up now.
But it has its perks: I'm learning a Mozart concerto, with which I hope to win the concerto competition next year. I couldn't have done that in high school.
I found myself in need of two things yesterday afternoon: shampoo and a flashdrive. Since the traffic near my apartment was somewhat ridiculous as I was leaving, I decided to go a different route to Wal-Mart, which took me by a CVS. I figured I'd go in and see if they had the flashdrive, since I knew they'd have shampoo.
A 4GB flashdrive costs $30 at CVS. 2GB was $20.
For those of you who are not tech-price-savvy, the same two objects (literally the exact same products by the same manufacturer) cost $12 and $8 at Wal-Mart. These are not expensive products. I don't know what possessed CVS to charge such exorbitant prices, but needless to say, I did not purchase my flash drive at CVS.
Also, last night my little brother in ΦMA got me hooked on Minecraft. It's this game where you build things out of cubes. Sounds dumb, you say? I dare you to try it for yourself and not get hooked.
As I've been driving around Norman recently, I've noticed a strange phenomenon: spray-painted grass.
I've seen several houses, businesses, and schools with grass that has a strange, unnatural green tint to their otherwise obviously dead grass. The coloring is uneven, and sometimes gets on nearby material, making it more obvious that the coloring is not natural.
Why would you do this? It's not aesthetically pleasing at all. I mean, it looks like someone took a dying Crayola marker and colored in their yard. It's not like you're fooling anybody into thinking your grass is actually alive. And what does it matter whether or not people think your grass is alive anyway? This is Oklahoma. Everyone's grass is dead. That was actually my first impression of the state when I did a college visit here in February of 2009- everything was brown. I was so used to seeing evergreen trees everywhere that I'd taken green for granted, and seeing so much brown everywhere was a bit of a shock. I've gotten used to it now, and I've also seen that there are green seasons here in Oklahoma.
But seriously. There's no reason for you to paint your grass. It's just silly.
In my music history classes, we have looked at the origins of opera. Beginning with operas by Peri, Monteverdi, and the musical trends that preceded them, we have tracked the evolution of opera from its earliest manifestations up to the operas of Mozart. We will be continuing, I'm sure, but so far we have gotten to Mozart. As a vocalist, I think it's fascinating to see the differences in musical style as time progresses, and I'm sure I will continue to be fascinated as I learn more.
I'm especially curious to see how the trends in subject matter progress. In the earliest examples of operas, greek mythology was a prominent subject matter (Orpheus in particular was a popular subject. The earliest operas that we have today were written on the Orphean myth). Today, the subject matter for operas is often more... recent.
That's right. An opera has been written about Anna Nicole Smith. And evidently it was quite the success. If, one day, I become a professional opera singer, I would want to be a part of a contemporary, edgy opera premiere.
I hope that works out. I think singing modern opera would be a blast.
I went to go see OU's production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum this evening. It was hilarious!
I have this problem, where the idea of "going to bed" is often synonymous with "giving up on the day." So I'll be really tired, and not really have anything productive I could be doing, but I still don't want to go to sleep. Maybe once I'm actually in the bed, I'll feel better about going to sleep.
I was looking for a piece of music relating to sleep (other than the Eric Whitacre, which I love, but I was looking for something I'd not heard before). I found this, and I like it.
I posted the videos for the Beatles concerto without having listened to them. Upon further investigation, I don't find them that musically interesting. Oh well. It still illustrates the point I was trying to make.
The word "sensibility" means "the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity" according to my laptop's dictionary. I realized today that I have been incorrect about the definition of this word until today. I thought that the word actually meant the state of emotional restraint and logic. In other words, the complete opposite of what I thought it meant. I'm glad that I know better now. I hope I haven't misused it or anything...
That's one of my pet peeves: when people misuse words.
A lot of composers use the folk-song traditions of their native countries to inspire their compositions, whether they take a popular folk melody or compose in the style of a type of song that is popular at the time: Mozart wrote a set of variations on "Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman" (more popularly known as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in America, or the ABC song); Dvorak, when trying to discover "American" music, wrote several newspaper articles pointing to Native American and African American melodies as the sources that American composers should be using for truly original music; Smetana, Haydn, and Bartok lifted melodies from folk songs and incorporated them into their compositions; Holst and Vaughan williams wrote entire suites based on different folk tunes; Bach wrote cantatas based on Lutheran chorale melodies, many of which were previously taken from popular melodies by Martin Luther himself; and Aaron Copland set African American spirituals for solo voice and piano.
My point in listing all of these past examples of classical composers employing folk music in their compositions is to say that folk music was the popular music of the day. The "folk" melodies were the kinds of things that your everyday citizen might sing to himself as he went about his life.
The popular music of today exists in a very different fashion: most popular melodies today have an original artist attached to them. In a lot of cases, the artist might have a copyright on the song. So, should a composer decide to write a piece of music, and incorporate a melody by an artist with a copyright on the music, would the composer have to pay that artist royalties whenever he sold a copy of the sheet music for that piece?
I know John Rutter wrote the "Beatles concerto" for piano and orchestra, that consists of a medley of beatles songs. I also know that the 5 Browns included a song on their latest album that was a medley of three Disney songs. I just wonder if they have to pay royalties for those... I know these are drastic examples, but they're the only examples of currently popular music being employed in a classical context that I can think of.
I ignored this blog for over a month. For this, I apologize. It was indirectly in response to an event that occurred last semester, in which a person whom I don't care to have communication with attempted to contact me by commenting a post I had written as a letter to that person. Although the format of the post might make it seem like I was inviting this person to respond, I was actually venting here, because I considered it to be a healthy outlet. When I saw her comment, I deleted the entire post, which is against my personal philosophy about things that I write. Everything I had written in that post was truthful, and accurately described the frustration and anger I was feeling at the time, but by deleting that post, I censored myself, as if I were ashamed of what I had written.
If the person in question is reading this, let me make one thing clear: I am not ashamed of what I said; I meant every word. My split-second decision to delete that post about you was out of misplaced frustration that you would attempt to contact me after I made it very clear that I never wanted to hear from you again. In no way was that action a retraction of what I had said.
To everyone else reading: I apologize. Although the content of my blog may not impact your life, I feel that by retroactively censoring what I have written I have somehow let you down. I won't do it again.
PS: I also did it a few weeks ago when I decided to undertake a 30-day writing challenge, got 2 days in, and decided that I didn't want to do the challenge anymore. That was just me getting bored. Again, sorry.
My friend Cat posted that today, and I listened to it, and it reminded me a lot of Sigur Ros, who I've only recently started to get into. However, the unmetered feel to the music puts me into a very serene state. Maybe I should investigate similar creations.
Anyway. We're about to have family dinner at my apartment, which means free food! Life is good.
While doing a little bit of research on Charlie Siem, I found a recording of him playing Manuel Ponce's Estrellita. This song is absolutely gorgeous, but it was originally written for voice and piano. I'm having a bit of trouble locating the sheet music for it, but a request to Interlibrary Loan should help me out there. It's a gorgeous piece, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to sing it sometime in my voice lessons.
My US History class right now is excruciating. I enjoy learning about history, but the graduate "instructor" whose class I'm enrolled in is a less-than-acclaimed lecturer. That said, we have an oral history assignment in the class, in which we are supposed to collect an oral history from someone. I've decided to interview my voice professor about what it was like to be a classical musician during the civil rights movement. I'm pretty sure he was studying at the Metropolitan Opera when Marian Anderson became the first black person to perform there, so I'm hoping that he got the chance to meet her.
At any rate, I've started reading about her. I've checked out Raymond Arsenault's The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America, and Anderson's autobiography, My Lord What a Morning. I've started reading both of them, and so far they're very interesting. It's further inspired me to have a huge music library when I have a house one day: not just a library of recordings and sheet music, but a library of books about music.
I've been wrestling with a dilemma lately: I really love the piano, but I also really love singing. Now that I'm studying under a teacher with whom I have meshed, I'm really interested in continuing those studies. However, I'm also interested in taking organ lessons here, because we've got such a strong organ program. The only problem is that I can't take three lessons at once: it would be overtaxing and I wouldn't ever talk to anybody ever again for learning so much music. The only thing I can think of that would resolve the dilemma is to stop taking piano lessons after my junior year of college to pick up the organ my senior year. This might seem counterintuitive, since the piano is my primary instrument. However, the degree plan I'm on only requires six semesters of lessons on your primary instrument, so I wouldn't be breaking any rules.
Thoughts? I have really enjoyed my progress on the piano over the last year and a half, but I would hate to miss the opportunity to study organ here.
One of my Christmas presents was a subscription to BBC Music magazine, which is like the Entertainment Weekly of classical music. Because I love classical music the way most of my peers like country, rap, rock, and pop music, this was the perfect gift for me. Each issue comes with a CD, and all of the latest news and gossip within the classical music world.
My first issue came the other day, and it has an ad on the front inside cover for Charlie Siem's debut album. That's him above. I am beyond thrilled to see a classical soloist performing in a formal setting dressed in informal clothing. I wrote a whole research paper on the topic for my expository writing class last year, discussing how I hoped that this would become more and more acceptable.
That said, I also hope that we can get past the age of the-complete-works-of. So many recitals and CD's I see now consist of all of the works that a specific composer wrote in a specific genre. And as helpful as that is if you're trying to find a recording of a specific piece, it doesn't make for a very interesting album. My favorite classical albums are very diverse in their selections. I'll write more about this another time, because I want to go to bed soon, and I still have one more thing to discuss...
WHY didn't I learn to play the violin? It's so portable, it's so beautiful to listen to, and there are a bajillion orchestras out there. In another video, Seim discusses how he believes a violinist should be able to take his violin out and perform anywhere he goes. It totally makes sense: spontaneous performance keeps the joy of music alive in a person's soul, and it also helps you prove to yourself that you have prepared your music adequately. Unfortunately, my primary instrument, the piano, is the second least-portable instrument I can think of (the first being the pipe organ). If there's not a piano available to play somewhere, then I'm out of luck. Further, I can't walk around playing my instrument in a whimsical fashion. As much as I like being able to play more than one independent line of music at a time with relative ease, there is that fundamental lack of mobility that irks me so.
Also, boys who can play the violin are hot. Just look at him.