Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday night is also all right for opera

Last night we went to see Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera. I hadn't been to the Met in almost two years, though I'd seen the first act of Butterfly on TV in Times Square last fall. The production was much more impressive on stage than it had been on TV. Despite sitting at the extreme rear of the orchestra, under the balconies, we could see the entire stage and hear every note, which wasn't the case outside in Manhattan's busiest intersection. I was particularly interested in this production because they used a Japanese bunraku puppet to play the part of Butterfly's child. Three puppeteers controlled the puppet, one moving the feet and legs and the two others handling the arms and the head. The puppeteers appeared onstage with the puppet, but once they started interacting with the actors, I barely noticed their presence. While I knew and could clearly see that this was not a child, the performance was so amazing that it was hard not to think of the puppet as a real person. The entire production was beautiful and tragic, and I have to admit the room got a little dusty at the end. I didn't know this opera that well before last night, but I think I need to buy a recording of it. It was a fantastic evening.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cooking for one? Never heard of it

I'm still trying to figure out why I decided to make a huge baked ziti last night for dinner. I wasn't all that hungry but I made enough for six people anyway, and that left me with lots of leftovers. And because of the time it took to assemble and bake, I didn't eat until almost 10 PM. I guess I haven't gotten out of the habit of cooking for a group on Sundays even when the group isn't there. At least I'm all set for dinner tomorrow night before the opera and for lunch later in the week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

To be a Guitar Hero, one must act like a guitar hero

I just have to read Slash's autobiography and I'll learn everything I need to know to succeed at Guitar Hero and life. Apparently success involves inviting your contractor to do lines of coke with you at 8 AM. Steven Adler kept his coke in his refrigerator's butter tray.

I have never been to Toronto

I am not responsible for this. But I applaud this mystery tagger's devotion to one of my favorite composers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The reviews are in...

...and last night's concert was another NYRO triumph. The dress rehearsal on Thursday night had been a little rough (as they tend to be) so I was a bit worried about the performance. But I looked over my music before the concert and I suspect most everyone else did as well. All of the pieces came off beautifully. The Hindemith in particular stood out as one of the best works I've had the pleasure of playing with NYRO. I didn't like it when we sight-read it the first night but it grew on me during rehearsals. While playing the triplet runs in the last few minutes of the piece I saw little clouds of rosin flying off my bow, which meant I was really enjoying myself (or that I'd used too much rosin). I had a few friends in the audience and they all enjoyed the performance immensely.

After the concert most of the orchestra went to O'Neal's, our usual post-concert watering hole. My friends and I were the first ones to arrive, and we went to the 65th St. side. Usually that side of the restaurant is empty, but last night there was a soprano singing a song from "Candide" to a room full of occupied tables. My father was right: the overture is the best thing about that opera. The four of us waited a few minutes, but when it was clear the show wasn't going to be over soon, we led the rest of the NYRO crowd to the other side of the restaurant on 64th St. As it happens with my friends at these concerts, it was an occasion where new friends met old friends. Everyone got along splendidly, which is always good to see.

So now I'm experiencing a bit of post-concert letdown. I have this week off from rehearsal, so I have to find something else to do with my Thursday night. I can't wait to get back next week and start on December's program. For those who want to mark their calendars now, the next concert is December 8, and will feature the music of Wagner, Shostakovich, and Haydn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

seen on last night's commute home

I got on the 4 train at Fulton St. There was a little girl hanging onto the pole in front of me, and she was swinging around and bumping into me and a few people around me. I moved to the center of the car to get out of her way and went back to reading the TMQ column I'd printed out for the ride home. After another stop I moved further into the car, and now I was standing in front of this little girl (who was sitting down) and her (I assume) sister and grandmother. Grandma was in the middle, and the two girls were on either side of her. The first girl kept bouncing up and down and bumping the lady next to her. Then she started saying "Excuse me!" to the few people standing up in front of her, including me. It seems she wanted to tell me something important about her sister. I had my headphones on and did my best to ignore her. After another few minutes of this, she swatted her sister a couple of times, reaching across Grandma to do so. Grandma didn't seem to care. This girl was also sucking on some hard candy and coughing a lot, so I turned around and faced the other way after another stop. At 42nd St. a kid selling candy stepped into our car. The girls wanted candy, so he stopped in front of them and they spent a few minutes picking out Snickers bars and Skittles and begging Grandma for money to get more candy. Now these girls were clearly hopped up on enough sugar already, and didn't need any more, but Grandma didn't care. To her credit, she told them they could only get two candy bars each from the kid. Girl #1 broke into her bag of Skittles as soon as the transaction was completed. I got off the train at 86th St., glad that I didn't have to find out how much worse those kids would be by the time they got to their stop.

OK, so after I wrote that it's hardly the worst thing I've endured on a subway ride home. And I admit I don't have kids, so I don't know what's involved in keeping them from bothering other people. But Grandma should have known, and done something, but she was practically asleep while these kids were jumping all over the place. I see this kind of behavior all the time on the subway (and the city, for that matter). Parents let their kids run around on the trains or on the sidewalk, and I have to dodge them to keep from knocking them over. I imagine that if I ran into one of these kids by accident, the parents would blame me for not looking where I was going. And who knows what would have happened if I or one of my fellow commuters had tried to tell Grandma to get her charges under control last night.

Mostly, I just hate people. They're the worst.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

NYRO's season opening concert: Saturday, October 13

In case you don't read my e-mails (or aren't on my concert e-mail list), here are all the details on my next orchestra concert:

Dear Friends of the New York Repertory Orchestra,

Greetings! I hope you had a wonderful summer and that you are, as I am, looking forward to another great season with the New York Repertory Orchestra!

2007-2008 promises to be another wonderful year as we continue our tradition of bringing you great music, fantastic soloists, and the exciting music-making of the New York Repertory Orchestra - New York's leading all-volunteer, community-based orchestra!

Our first concert of the season will be a delightful program with music by Janáček, Mozart, Beethoven, and Hindemith. Our soloist (back on our stage by popular demand) will be soprano Bernadette Fiorella. We look forward to seeing you the 13th!

Here is more information about the concert:

When: Saturday, October 13, 2007 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Good Shepherd-Faith Church @ 152 West 66th St. (between B'way & Amsterdam)
Admission: FREE

  • Janáček: Suite for Orchestra
  • Mozart: Exsultate, Jubilate / Beethoven: Ah! Perfido – Bernadette Fiorella, soprano
  • Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis [of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber]


Here's more about the music we’ll be playing:

The major work on the program will be the Symphonic Metamorphosis [of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber] by Paul Hindemith. Taking some obscure melodies of 19th century composer Carl Maria von Weber, Hindemith transforms them into a rousing and colorful tour de force for the orchestra – really a concerto for the entire ensemble. Full of fun and good spirits, the Symphonic Metamorphosis has been an audience favorite since its premiere in 1944.

The concert begins with the charming Suite for Orchestra by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. This delightful (and little-know and rarely-played) collection of Moravian dances and songs was written in 1891, but not performed until after the composers death in 1928. By turns rousing, introspective, vigorous, and mournful, these miniatures look back to Janáček’s connection to his folk-music roots and point forward to the mature voice of one of the great composers of the 20th century.

Also on the program:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his ever-popular Exsultate, jubilate in 1773 at the age of 17. This virtuoso piece for soprano and orchestra is a both a great example of the teenage composer’s prodigious talent and a dazzling display for the soloist.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s concert aria Ah! Perfido (a dramatic scene about the proverbial “woman scorned”) runs the gamut of musical expression from gentle pathos to murderous outrage. It’s like a full night at the opera compressed into 15 minutes!

Endowed with a pure and radiant voice, soprano Bernadette Fiorella returns to our stage this season. NYRO audience members of the last several seasons will fondly remember Ms. Fiorella’s luminous performances of Britten’s Les Illuminations, Griffes’ Three Poems of Fiona McCloud, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. Ms. Fiorella is active in opera (a member of the New York City Opera since 1991), as a concert soloist, and chamber musician. should be a wonderful concert and we hope to see you there.

Best regards,
David Leibowitz, Music Director
New York Repertory Orchestra <>


And here’s what we’ve got planned for the rest of the year!

December 8, 2007
Wagner: Prelude to “Parsifal”
Haydn: Symphony No. 104 (“London”)
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 – Christina Castelli, violin

February 9, 2008
Schreker: Overture to “Ekkehard”
Farberman: Concerto for Jazz Drummer – Tim Froncek, drums
Sibelius: Symphony No. 3

March 29, 2008
Strauss: Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
Ellington: Suite from “The River”
Dvorak: Cello Concerto – Eric Jacobsen, cello

May 17, 2008
D’Indy: Suite from “Karadek”
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor – Anna Polonsky, piano
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)


All Concerts are performed at:
Good Shepherd-Faith Church (152 West 66th Street)
Admission: FREE - 8:00pm