Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

One piano seller in New York has found a great way to promote his instruments: he loans them to musicians who have to agree to show them on request. Everyone wins! The Wall Street Journal has the story.
At any moment, about 30 piano lovers have seen their lives and living rooms enhanced, if only temporarily, by one unlikely musical angel: a 37-year-old former hair-removal expert named Ronen Segev, a classically trained pianist, who runs a used piano business called Park Avenue Pianos.
Mr. Segev recruits helpers, like Mr. Boente, who are lent pianos free of charge, but there’s a catch: they must agree to turn their homes, offices or studios into active showrooms. Their borrowed pianos are for sale, and Mr. Segev will be bringing potential buyers in to inspect the merchandise. (This reporter, whose entire piano repertoire consists of the theme song from “Beverly Hills Cop,” has been hosting one of Mr. Segev’s Steinways since June).
Sadly, there does not seem to be an equivalent program for classical guitars!

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I might have put this up before, but it is such a cool tour-de-force that, what the heck, let's hear it again. Australia's the Axis of Awesome demonstrate that every pop hit ever uses exactly the same four-chord harmonic progression:


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I'm not saying that Rihanna is just another entitled pop star, but she may have the world's largest collection of stolen wine glasses:


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Due to my near-total ignorance of dance I rarely post anything about it. But I was tipped off to this astonishing display of Russian folk/character dancing by the Moiseyev troup:



We tend to forget the remarkable depth and variety of Russian culture, but this reminds me that three of my very favorite 20th century composers are all Russians: Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

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Duet with a quantum computer? Well, it is the 21st century!  Wired has the story.
As Juliette Pochin, the Welsh mezzo-soprano, sang inside the castle-like manor house at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, an Internet connection piped her voice across the world and into the D-Wave machine installed in the University of South California’s Information Sciences Institute in Marina Del Rey, outside of Los Angeles. The D-Wave is a quantum computer. Some question its bona fides, but it appears to exhibit something called quantum annealing. Working with USC professor Daniel Lidar, Kirke built algorithms that could take in Pochin’s voice and feed it through this quantum-ness, producing new sounds. The machine then sent these sounds back to Cornwall, and as they emerged from a laptop in the manor house, they dovetailed with the live mezzo-soprano.
Okaaay... There is a clip of the computer doing "superposition harmonies" at the link, but it just sounds like really dull Brian Eno to me.

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For a lifetime subscription to the Music Salon, without using Google, list the names of all four of Frank Zappa's children. One of them is currently on tour and the name of the tour is: 50 Years of Frank: ******* Zappa Plays Whatever the (bad word) He Wants — the Cease and Desist Tour.


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Here is something just for those gigging musicians out there:  pretty well paying wedding gig. "Wanted: nude cellist for wedding" Well sure, the wedding is at a nudist resort, what did you think?

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Anthony Tommasini has a piece in the New York Times about the size of concert halls: Let's Get Intimate. Big Music Doesn't Need Huge Halls.
Smaller is better.
As classical music continues to deal with longstanding challenges, this observation remains profoundly true. Most concerts halls and opera houses are just too big. More intimate performance spaces have, with reason, become the rage.
Read the whole thing. Of course the trend toward larger and larger halls was a 19th century phenomenon that just continued in the 20th century. The fact is that the receipts are bigger, the bigger the hall which is why rock stars started playing in stadiums. But all the great pieces of music from the 18th and a good part of the 19th century were written for and mostly heard in small halls. Mozart's famous Lenten concerts were a subscription series at which he premiered a number of his greatest piano concertos. The average size of the audience was one hundred and twenty!

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Shopping for classical music: A remembrance is a piece about when we all used to buy our classical records in actual stores. For me it was rather a frustrating experience because I had hardly any money so I usually couldn't buy what I wanted to! 

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The envoi for today is unconnected with the miscellaneous items, but will be the subject of an upcoming post. This is the Violin Sonata No. 3 (for violin and piano) by Charles Ives. The performers are Timothy Fain, violin and Jeremy Denk, piano:


2 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

Am very tired of seeing that there are Celtic (perhaps 'Celtic')/'Lord of the Dance' sorts of acts booked over and over at the Hult Center here, so am glad that after Messrs Trump and Putin sign their Mutual Cooperation Pact next year I'll doubtless be able to get tickets for the celebratory tour that Moiseyev will be doing.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, those Russians look like rather more fun than the Lord of the Dance!