Friday, March 23, 2001

Happy birthday to Tom: The mastermind behind Freaky Trigger has caught up to me in age. Another ten months will go by before I leave him in the dust again in the never-ending cycle that is aging.

Waxing poetic in the most embarassing way possible is a sign that I should go to bed. G'night.

CONCERT REVIEW: Tanglewood Festival Chorus/Boston Symphony Orchestra - 22 March

Memorizing music is never easy. It's even more difficult when the piece in question is Ravel's "Daphins et Chloe", a stunning ballet that clocks in at just under an hour and contains no words. Those unfamiliar with the piece might think the lack of words would make it easier to memorize. Oh, how those people are wrong. I never noticed how much I associate text with musical phrases until I was faced with this piece, where we "ooh" during the soft parts, "ohh" during the medium parts, and "ahh" during the loud parts. Throw in fluctuating meters (the piece at various times is in 4/4, 3/2, 7/4, 5/4, and 2/4) and a vocal score that has helpful passages like, "Chorus tacet from rehearsal 56 to rehearsal 82"* and you've got a chorister's nightmare. Fortunately, it's also a gorgeous piece of French Romanticism, filled with moments of sparkling beuaty, blatant sensuality, and fierce exultation.

On the flipside, you have Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms". This piece was written for the BSO and is considered to be one of their signature pieces. The choral part has a ton of words in it all in Latin, but having the extra phonetic cues makes it much easier to remember which pattern comes when in the song. The piece itself exists in a very cold place sonically, with a lot of brittle, clashing harmonies mingling with passages of forlorn loneliness and frantic agitation. On some levels, it's a very foreboding, frightening piece, yet it also has a strong allure. It's classical music for the goth set, and pretty freakin' brilliant.

We performed both of these pieces tonight under the direction of Principal Guest Conductor Bernard Haitink. Haitink is a very economical conductor, by which I mean his style doesn't include much extraneous movement. Every gesture is a controlled cue to part of the orchestra, highlighting where the horns should come out, where the violins should soar, where the chorus should sing the softest, gentlest sound you've ever heard. It's amazing to behold. Both pieces went extremely well, with the Stravinsky coming across as more convincing from the choristers' perspective. I'll be missing the next two concerts, but I'm very glad I was able to pariticpate in this one. We'll be performing these pieces out a Tanglewood theis summer, as well as taking them on the BSO's European tour, so I will get to sing them again. (For anyone living in or near London, Edinburgh, Lucerne or Luebbeck, I'll post information on dates and venues as they become available.)

* For those unfamiliar with musical scores, rehearsal numbers do not correspond to measure numbers. They are labels for places in the piece, usually where a major thematic change occurs. If a vocal score just cuts out all of the measures between two reherasal numbers, you have no idea how many measures are missing. Generally, this is not helpful if you are trying to memorize the piece.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Dan's most anticipated releases of 2001: There are several albums due to be released this year that I'm really looking forward to:

I've heard some mp3s of this one. It's absolutely brilliant. Words cannot describe how good this album is going to be. They've kept some of the sparse texture of Ultra while adding in a slightly bleaker vibe reminiscent of Black Celebration. If there is justice in the world, this album is going to be HUGE.

LAMB - tba
According to their website, a new album is in the works for 2001. Check out the movie clips of them playing with the New Cool Collective Big Band to see why I'm so excited, particularly the brooding, dememnted version of "B-Line".

ORBITAL - The Altogether
I've heard the Plump DJ's remix of "Funny Break (One's Enough)". Add to that a studio version of their take on the Doctor Who theme plus the fact that everything they put out is brilliant and I'm sold. As a bonus, they sample Tool. ROCK.

TOOL - Lateralus
Speaking of Tool, they've got an album coming out this year. Clearly, I'm all over that.

S Club 7 apologize for being "very stupid": Sadly, they aren't talking about their insipid music. My kingdom for a pre-fab TV group that's as grand as The Monkees were...

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Fred rocks: Not too long ago, when "vain, selfish and lazy" was still known as "steal this blog!", Fred invited a group of people to guest-blog on the weekends. We attempted to create a convivial, anything-goes atmosphere with snappy repartee and blazing wit. We ended up with some incestuous rambling and far too much blather about Wimbledon. Oops.

Fred has apprently forgivien me for filling his archives with Cure links, since he linked my fledgling blog. Bless his heart.

Something like this happens to me everytime someone puts me in charge of the music at their party. Perhaps things don't always go to this extreme, but MAN do I understand what Sterling is talking about. Sometimes it's hard to be the DJ...
Madonna's controversial new video is slightly less controversial than a fuzzy kitten. Yes, even after reading the description, I fell for the hype and taped the damn thing. I've seen more violence on an average subpar action series. (Say, for example, "Nash Bridges".) Scratch that; I've seen more irresponsible violence on the MTV shows "Jackass" and "The Andy Dick Show". The entire thing screams "thinly-veiled PR stunt" to me.

Oh, you want to know if it was any good? Surprisingly, it's great. The remix has nice phase effects, great beat, interesting (if banal) sample, and some lovely swooshy trance-synths. Plus, most of the lyrics have been excised in favor of the overall sound collage. The video itself is hilarious. Madonna on a controlled-fury binge is very entertaining to watch, particularly when she's nonchalantly strolling up to the hapless man at the ATM machine with her taser all aglow. Another funny thing (which every news story failed to mention) is that Madonna has an aged female relative in the car with her as she goes on her rampage. Perhaps the funniest moment in the video is a flashback to this woman preparing for Madonna to pick hey up by strapping on metal shin guards and a breastplate underneath her clothing. However, the best thing about the video is the complete lack of a cowboy motif and absolutely no dancing Madonna. This alone makes this the best video she's done since "Bedtime Story".

DAN'S RATING: The video is GRREAT! The media circus is GRRATING.

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

It's my secret weapon: Call me small-minded and wrong, but the last time I checked, songs about pulling your "giant tickle feather" from your pants and bothering children with it could get you thrown in jail.

Many thanks to Ned, who has certainly made me giggle and shout with glee at this one.

Thank you, Big Brother! I have now completely sold my soul to the demons of blogging: I've got a Site Meter! I sense you all turning green with envy. (When I say "all", I mean you, Mom and Dad.)

Monday, March 19, 2001

CONCERT REVIEW: Concordia Society - 18 March

The first half of our Newburyport concert was full of frightening, awful moments, ranging from an inability to keep any of the pieces in the same key they started in to a complete meltdown in the middle of "Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf" that necessitated a complete cut-off and a new pitch. In many ways, it was every single one of my choral nightmares come true; we weren't together, we weren't watching the conductor, we were making egregious, awful mistakes... When we got to intermission, I stormed out of the church and slammed my folder to the ground, then stomped off and fumed in the parish house. I was so angry and embarassed at our performance that I didn't want to go back out on stage.

When I came back, I was FURIOUS when I realized that people in the group were laughing and making jokes about our first half. After all, this was a concert that we were hired to perform. The church gave us the venue and took care of promotion and ticket sales. All we had to do was show up and sing, and so far we'd failed dismally. It infuriated me that some of the other members of the group weren't taking this concert as seriously as I was. I had no faith in our ability to put on a good second half.

Then, we got on stage. We sang a couple of Montiverdi madrigals and sang them beautifully. Then, we did an absolutely gorgeous piece by Norman Lockwood called "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" and did it well. This was followed by a couple of lovely French songs and a couple of even lovelier English songs. By the time we did our encore, I was mollified that we'd done a good second half, but I was still seething about the first half. Then, after we left the stage, the most remarkable thing happened; everyone in the audience came up to us and told us how much they had enjoyed the entire concert! People were even picking songs out of our first half which I had considered to be dismal failures (most notably Arvo Pärt's "Maginificat") and saying how wonderful they were. Most of all, people were thanking us for coming to their church and performing for them. It was... humbling. The perfectionist in me was getting in the way of my love of singing.

I've come to terms with the fact that it wasn't the best concert I've ever done. I'm just thankful that I have the chance to perform like this on a semi-regular basis. Now, I just have to memorize that damn Ravel and Stravinsky piece for the BSO concerts at the end of the week, because we just had rehearsal for that tonight and I REFUSE to make that many mistakes at the orchestra rehearsal Wednesday...

Why Rolling Stone is a minion of Hell: Look at the poll they're passing off as a "Battle of the Bands". Crazy Town vs. O-Town. GRR. Clearly they need to pay more attention to what Duel! is doing. Bilious commentary makes everything palatable.

While I'm on a linking frenzy, a big shout-out goes to Tom, who has become the first person I know of to link my site. Tom is currently guest-blogging at Wherever You Are. You my true dog, yo. (To my three concerned readers: I will try to avoid doing unconvincing slang in the future.)

New Breeders! You know, I don't own any of their albums, so I can't really call myself a fan. However, I'm extraordinarily excited about the prospect of a new Breeders album. They were far and away my favorites of The Pixies' offshoots . I hope they make a huge splash with this one, flipping throug h the side of the charts like cannonball hit by an invisible man with a divine hammer. (Sorry...)
Good God: You really can find just about anything on the web if you try hard enough. I'm very impressed that they've managed to stay up and functional for over two years.