Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Last week we finally made it out to one of the Bainbridge Island Waterfront Park concerts. We've loved attending these concerts in past summers because they are great ways to see and catch up with people, and there have been some great bands that have performed as well. As we walked down into the park proper, I heard the end of an all female, very tight harmony rendition of "I'll Fly Away". I love tight harmony, so that got my attention in a big way. The band that day was Late Tuesday, and they were great. As we were getting settled into a spot I saw a friend down at the stage shooting some pictures. I had brought my camera with just the "short" walk-around lens, so I went down and I started shooting some pictures too. I really enjoyed the music, so by the end of the night I was really kicking myself that I hadn't brought my camera bag -- a lesson for future events. I did capture a few good moments, like when these young men were negotiating with Jocelyn Feil to get up on stage.
This afternoon I took Abigail to a recital to benefit student scholarships for the local piano teachers association. The performer was Dr. Jody Graves, and the program theme was "The Romantic Piano". We had a very enjoyable time listening to some excellent piano performances. Unfortunately for us, we arrived only a few minutes early so we ended up with seats where we couldn't see Dr. Graves' hands. Nonetheless, the music was gorgeous, and I learned about several composers that I was unfamiliar with, including Edward MacDowell, Carlos Guastavino (I'll definitely be looking into this fellow some more), and Alexander Scriabin.
There were lots of piano students in attendance, and there was some educational and entertaining commentary on the various pieces. One of the best came because we were going to run a little bit over, so Dr Graves gave the audience it's choice of what we wanted to hear. A girl around Abigail's age was sitting in the row in front of us, and her hand flew up immediately. She wanted to hear Rachmaninoff. When she was asked why, she curled her lip in thought, and then announced, "Big Dynamics". And Big Dynamics she got, by way of the Prelude in D Major, Op. 23, No 4.
As we drove him, I was talking with Abigail about the concert, explaining a few things about concert etiquette (standing ovations and encores), and trying to gauge her reactions. It's very important to me that she really be enjoying music and having opportunities to hear live performances, because I feel that the appreciation and enjoyment of music is a powerful inspiration, especially during those moments when music study is more frustrating than enjoyment. Her favorite (as was mine), Debussy's L'isle joyeuse - The island of joy.
Last week when I was walking through the kitchen, Julie stopped me so I could see the blog of Seattle-based classical singer Anne-Carolyn Bird (website). I popped the url into Firefox, but it has taken me a while to get to it. Anne-Carolyn's blog is a window into the life of an aspiring classical singer. It was pretty interesting to read her accounts of auditions, rehearsals, performances, and interactions with others in the music community. Via her blog I've found (but not yet gotten to) the blogs of a number of other classical musicians.
There's a hook for me personally, because I did my humanities concentration in college in music, and I spent a lot of time in classical singing, albeit nowhere near the level of someone like Anne-Carolyn Bird. As I've recounted previously on this blog, I spent some time playing the violin when I was younger, but quit at what I now consider to be a premature age. Somewhere in junior or senior high school (during those years when the male voice is a dicey thing to begin with), one of my friends told me that I just couldn't sing. This of course, cured me of singing for quite a long time. The situation was remedied because a sister of a classmate heard me singing behind her in church one day, and she managed to convince me to try signing in a little singing group that had started out as part of the Spanish curriculum. From there it was the chorus and the school musical, and a few other things -- I even took some voice lessons from the choir director at our church.
The year that I was admitted to MIT was the first year of a course for singers, Vocal Repertoire and Performance. The format was pretty simple. Five or six students, with a teacher, covering both vocal technique and the classical vocal repertoire. The teacher when I was there was John Oliver, who was (and is) the conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Since John was the conductor of the MIT Chorale, I joined that, and got to sing some very large famous choral works, like Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, the Verdi Requiem, the Bach Mass in B minor, and a few others. The MIT Chamber Chorus got started during the years that I was around, and I sang in that as well.
I have very fond memories of all of that learning and performing, and I'm surprised that 20 years later I still remember parts to pieces that I have sung. As I read Anne-Carolyn's blog, I was reminded of experiences that I had during those years. When I read how she was working on arias, I remembered the various Lieder that I and my classmates worked on. Her accounts of working with voice teachers reminded me of they way that my teachers would say something that I didn't quite follow.
Having read her blog, now I'm really curious to have a listen. Anne-Carolyn is moving into coloratura land this year, and I have a fondness for coloraturas in any range. When we did pieces for the MIT Chorale, the soloists were always professionals or folks like Anne-Carolyn. In particular, when we did the Messiah, John brought a soprano from Princeton whose voice was to die for. I distinctly remember him saying (at the end of the dress rehearsal) that "if she kept singing like that, she wouldn't be around very much longer". It sounds like Anne-Carolyn's signing is coming to the same place.
We got our first CD from yourmusic.com today. $5.99 per CD, free shipping, but you have to do a 1 CD per month deal -- It's the old BMG CD club revived. They don't have all the very latest CD's, but that's fine by me. For a while we haven't bought many CD's at all, so we're several years behind on music of many genres. The CD's are cheap, I can rip them for iTunes/iPod at a high MP3 bitrate, and it's still cheaper than the DRM'ed iTunes Music store if you like at least half of the disc.
But the best thing you can do is keep your wallet in your pocket. No matter how much "law" the RIAA may claim to have on its side you have the ultimate power. If you don't like the terms and conditions under which a product is offered to you, don't buy it.There's one other thing he left out that we could do. Find a way to support artists who are producing music outside of the RIAA.