A Punch That Could Kill a Donkey

Today is St. Cecilia’s Day, Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Music. Once upon a time, it was a day for music making and celebration. Considerable celebration, if this St. Cecilia’s Day Punch recipe is any indication. Click here to listen to a very funny interview with conductor Nic McGegan about the life of St. Cecilia, and read below to make a punch that Nic says “could kill a donkey!”

Charleston St. Cecilia Punch

6 lemons

1 quart brandy

1 pineapple

1-1/2 pounds sugar

1 quart green tea

1 pint heavy rum

1 quart peach brandy

1 gallon champagne

2 quarts carbonated water

Slice lemons thin and cover with brandy. Allow to steep for 24 hours. Several hours before ready to serve, slice the pineapple into the bowl with the lemon slices, then add the sugar, tea, rum, and peach brandy. Stir well. When ready to serve, add the champagne and water. 80-90 servings.

Brave New World

Here’s an article that’s making the rounds: advice to classical musicians on how to remake themselves to compete in the new marketplace. For starters, don’t plan on lifetime employment with a major orchestra. The full story, and readers’ comments here.

Minnesota Orchestra's Microcommission Launched

Not all commissions are created equal. Some are large, some are small. But the notion that only those with “disposable income” could afford a new piece is meeting its demise with Minnesota Orchestra’s Microcommission. Announced today on the orchestra’s blog, Judd Greenstein will be the first composer to be commissioned by, well, anyone!

The concept of microdonations has blossomed in recent years through websites like Kickstarter, where anyone can give any amount to a project, artist, film and other artistic endeavors. Principal conductor of pops and presentations, Sarah Hicks, thought the concept would be perfect for a commission. She writes on the orchestra’s page about wanting audience members to “feel a tangible connection to the work they are helping create.”

Is this the future of new music? The future of financing new art in any medium?

Dudamel on the Big Screen

By a funny coincidence, two of the day’s most emailed stories in the New York Times have to do with what could be loosely called the visual side of music.

It seems like an unlikely concept, but obviously it’s popular.

One story is on a music publisher’s archive, the other –and this has a bigger classical connection — is about showing orchestral concerts in movie theaters, using High Definition technology.

Would you go to such a broadcast? How much visual sizzle would it need to have?

While you’re pondering those questions, here’s a pretty famous combination of music and video, from the pre-HD days.

Question Time

I’m not sure why it took out station so long to have Artists in Residence–seems like a logical enough idea. Now that the program has been in place for a year or so, we can say it’s been a fantastic experience.

Members of the male choral group Cantus will be in the studio on Thursday, answering your questions and playing requests. If you have one (or both)–let us hear from you!

More Cancellations in Detroit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled three additional weeks of concerts due to the musicians strike, beginning with four classical performances Thursday through Sunday that were to have been conducted by music director Leonard Slatkin.

In addition, Pops Series concerts next week and an additional weekend of classical concerts Nov. 26-28 have been canceled. A total of 27 concerts have now been canceled since the five-week old strike began Oct. 4.

Read more about it here.

Meanwhile, Viktoria Mullova plays Beethoven this week with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Bill Morelock's Autumn Reflection

A shorter version of this gorgeous reflection on the season by Bill Morelock is in this week’s e-newsletter coming out on Wednesday. Here’s the full-length original. Enjoy!


All summer long, after midnight, Jupiter played tag with the moon. The latter, whimsical, would occasionally change the game to hide and seek, and disappear for days at a time.

It was a pleasant entertainment after evenings on the air. I felt less like a modern than an ancient devotee of Diana, noticing, affected by, even irritated at the moon’s absconding. “The inconstant moon!” Bach preludes still echoed from hours earlier, or the strangeness of a medieval plainchant.

As I sat on clear nights and watched the show in a burgeoning, greening garden of corn and potatoes and beans, I was treated to a rare thought. The moon was personified, unreliable, and I missed it when it wasn’t there. I’d slipped the noose of the impulse to accuracy. The need to be constrained by mechanics, the obligation to realize the moon is, after all, reliably unreliable.

This was an intimation of something ineffable. Yet, why could I feel my feet beneath me more solidly than at any time during the day? Music, the earth, the sky. All phenomena. All studies. But for a few moments I felt five thousand years old, when their magic was science. Not a place one can stay for long, but the impression, a truism, sticks: our Understanding, essential to our existence, has come at a price.

Now the potatoes are dug, the corn’s in the freezer, and the black beans are soup or next year’s seed. There’s a gratitude for this beyond good compost and sufficient rain. And if this weather hangs on I might be able to to keep watch for the vagrant moon’s return one more time. Maybe Rusalka, in her song, can bring it back the sooner.

I've Got a Little List

In the news: the historic Savoy Hotel in London has been renovated and newly re-opened, in the presence of the Prince of Wales and other notables.

For music lovers, its name will always be associated with the adjacent Savoy Theatre, the home of Gilbert and Sullivan. In honor of the occasion, here’s a clip from a Savoy opera, as they’re called–although the star performer here comes from a different performing tradition. . . .