On the Air This Week

Highlights from Dec. 6 to 13

Tuesday, 6 pm: Taste of the Holidays

Tuesday, 8 pm: La Nochebuena: A Spanish Renaissance Christmas with the Rose Ensemble

Wednesday, noon: Music with Minnesotans: author Patricia Hampl

Wednesday: Welcome Christmas

Wednesday, 8 pm: 1964: A Child’s Christmas on the Willamette

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Choral Arts Ensemble, Medalist Concert Band, I Cantanti, and Kantorei

Thursday, 7 pm: A Chanticleer Christmas

Thursday, 8 pm: Christmas from Luther College

Friday, 10:30 am: Cantus Live

Friday, 7 pm: Echoes of Christmas

Friday, 8 pm: The Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale perform Handel’s Messiah

Saturday, noon: The Metropolitan Opera: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: For Unto Us

Sunday, noon: From the Top

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Budapest Festival Orchestra, with pianist Andras Schiff

Monday, 7 pm: Advent Voices

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, in Berlioz’s Childhood of Christ

Tuesday, 7 pm: Brother Heinrich’s Christmas

Tuesday, 8 pm: Vaughan Williams: Hodie

What do Billy Joel and Vladimir Horowitz have in common?

Billy Joel

AP Photo/Charles Sykes

The AP reported today that, “Billy Joel is now only the second artist to have his portrait hanging at the New York home of piano maker Steinway and Sons. He jokes he’s not sure how Vladimir Horowitz must feel about having his picture so close to Joel’s. Joel is also the only non-classical performer hanging there. He’s shown wearing a leather jacket, and he says it’s one of the few items of clothing he’s purchased without the help of a woman. He says he wore it for years but his current girlfriend thinks of it as a relic from the 1980s.”

Billy Joel has recently been writing in a more classical vein. He even released an album of his “classical” works, containing quite a range of styles. Below is one.

Bastion wins Best Original Score at Spike's Video Game Awards

And yeah, I’m angry about it. I’m angry that the two best scores of the year didn’t even get a nod (Dead Space 2 by Jason Graves, and Resistance 3 by Boris Salchow).

Don’t get me wrong: I truly adore the music Darren Korb wrote for Bastion. It’s incredible, and it’s right up my alley in terms of the type of music I like to listen to when I’m not listening to classical music.

So let’s just pretend for a moment that I’m not carrying a chip on my shoulder about R3 or DS2. Let’s look at what Bastion and Darren Korb were up against for Spike’s 2011 VGAs: Portal 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Batman: Arkham City.

Of the four nominated, Nick Arundel and Ron Fish’s Batman score is the only OST (Original Soundtrack) that is orchestra-based music. And I’m completely fine with that, if you create different categories to reflect such drastically differing genres of music.

I understand this is asking a lot of the Video Game Awards Advisory Council. But it’s time to… well, get with the times. There are so many games created each year, and so many worthy composers writing great music, there is no excuse for placing Portal 2‘s OST in the same category as Batman’s.

If you, VGA Advisory Council, are serious about awarding someone’s compositional talents, then place them in appropriate compositional categories.

It can’t possibly be that hard.

Seven More Days Until Beethoven's Birthday (More or Less)

A week from today (December 16) is Beethoven’s birthday. As pointed out by Lucy in this classic strip, we don’t really know this. What we do know is that Beethoven was baptized on the 17th of December, and Catholic children were traditionally baptized on the day following birth.

The Peanuts has a online museum dedicated to Schultz and — by proxy — Schroder’s love of classical music in general and Beethoven in particular; including clips of the music played in the comic strips.

Bach Visualization

This is a fascinating visualization of the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suites.

I like how it shows the chordal and melodic structure in a whole different way; the musical line forming the broken chords and flowing into the melody is quite beautiful visually as well as musically.

Here is a video of the entire visualization:

Baroque.me: J.S. Bach – Cello Suite No. 1 – Prelude from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

If you have a recent web browser, you can also use the interactive visualization (written using the HTML5 Canvas for the web developers among you). The developer also has written a blog post describing the visualization.

Celestial Altercation

As we approach the coming of our special event this Friday, December 9th, the New York Polyphony Holiday Concert at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, we will take a look at an original work that was recently commissioned for and premiered by New York Polyphony this past November.

The work is titled Missa Charles Darwin, composed by American composer Gregory Brown and was set to text edited by New York Polyphony’s bass Craig Phillips. You may think this title is counterproductive and contradictory, taking a structural paradigm of the Catholic faith and juxtaposing it with the principle text of evolutionary science. However, the piece seeks to exemplify the creativity and ingenuity of the human spirit, as well as portraying the unique position humans have within our reality.

Even though the composer claims this not to be a political statement, his purpose of exemplifying human language, human’s curiosity into reality and its multi-functional viewpoints is certainly a spiritual and poetic one.

Under this light, this work could be considered one of the most important musical works of our time — perhaps not in a purely musical sense, but as a statement of cooperation among seemingly disagreeable mediums, between spiritual understanding and an understanding based on facts.

As humans we question the world, whether regarding the creation and meaning of our existence or to simply understand and grasp the world around us. This work shows that there is beauty in both the spiritual and the scientific and each can assist the other in the collective human effort to grasp and understand reality!

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Dec. 6 to 13

Wednesday, noon: Music with Minnesotans: artist Tucker Hollingsworth

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: seasonal music, with the Singers, the Zumbro Lutheran Church Choir (Rochester), the Gregorian Singers and the Artaria String Quartet

Thursday, 7 pm: Advent Voices

Friday, 8 pm: The Minnesota Orchestra, with Stephen Hough in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Saturday, noon: The Metropolitan Opera: Gounod’s Faust

Saturday, 7 pm: Carnegie Live: soprano Karita Mattila

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: A French Christmas Party

Sunday, noon: From the Top

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, with violinist Leonidas Kavakos in Tchaikovsky’s concerto

Monday, 7 pm: Hollywood Holidays

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, in music of Faure, Ravel, and Schubert

Tuesday, 6 pm: Taste of the Holidays

Tuesday, 8 pm: La Nochebuena: A Spanish Renaissance Christmas with the Rose Ensemble

Cello Wars!

What do you get when you combine Star Wars, electric celli, and an accordion? This video by the Piano Guys.

Quite a fun arrangement of the main themes from the Star Wars double trilogy. They also have other arrangements as well as some original works.

(waves hand) “These aren’t the violas you’re looking for.” Post your jokes in the comments.

Happy Birthday Mr. Rota

Nino Rota

What can you say about a man whose own name hardly ever is spoken without Federico Fellini’s? Which one was the muse and which the artist? On what would have been his 100th birthday (Dec. 3), here is a sampling of some of his most famous scores, there are so many, with images that transcend the overused word “iconic”. Still black and white photos that are art in themselves, and when you hear the music behind 8 ½, La Strada and the rest, it’s like walking though a museum of fine film art: the marriage of actors, locations, music and light and shadow.

Also included, a performance of his Sinfonia No. 1, a fine example of how classical music informed his film writing and how the films influenced his conservatory training, perhaps. Happy 100th Mr. Rota!

8 ½

Finale La Dolce Vita