Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I started playing the flute comparatively late, at 14. My first instructor was the man who taught woodwinds in the Teaneck Public School at that time; I remember what he looked like and sounded like, but not his name. (This might swim up in my memory, or might not.) I switched to private lessons within a year. I believe that my parents asked around about good teachers and were told "Paige Brook, Julius Baker, Frances Blaisdell." Brook wasn't accepting new students, and I doubt they tried to get in touch with Baker, who was then the principle flutist of the NY Philharmonic and an instructor at Juilliard.
They called Miss Blaisdell, who also did not have openings, but she directed my parents to her student Judy Liederman, who taught at her parents' in Teaneck, where I lived. This lasted a year, until Judy moved away. (I believe she both married and got a job out of town. We met again when I was a student at Stony Brook, where she was the music librarian.)
My second teacher was BeverlyRadin, who gave me the best advice I ever got. Beverly had studied with Miss Blaisdell at the Manhattan School of Music. By the time I applied to college, Miss Blaisdell had moved west to teach at Stanford, and my parents wouldn't let me go to school that far from home.
I cannot for the life of me remember if I ever met Miss Blaisdell; if I did, it was briefly and in passing. I think she may have been involved with my search for a better instrument after my first flute, a Gemeinhardt, fell apart, because my parents were able to find a used Haynes with amazing speed.
In any event, the Times obituary told me a great deal about Miss Blaisdell's career, about which it seems I knew almost nothing: being taught by her father, her pioneering career in the New York area, starting in the 1930s, her studies with Barrerre, Moyse, and Kincaid, and so on.
Farewell, Miss Blaisdell, and thank you, for your whole marvelous career and for two excellent teachers.
Friday, March 27, 2009
OTOH, I hear from another source that she didn't have the role memorized by the start of the rehearsals, and La Cieca has a relevant posting.
I have no idea who to believe.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Via La Cieca; I cannot find the news on the Met web site, but I trust La Cieca.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and I promised to write a blog posting about a woman in technology. My subject is Miriam Liskin.
Back in the 1980s, in the comparatively early days of the desktop computer revolution, dBASE II and dBASE III were the basis for many, many custom business programs. If you were a dBASE programmer, it's likely that you owned one of Miriam's books. She wrote a number of huge books about programming in the dBASE environment. These books didn't just teach syntax. They walked you through the whole process of interviewing the end users, developing requirements documents, design docs, and UI docs.
She also had widely-read columns in more than one publication, a consulting business in the Berkeley/Oakland area, and taught programming classes.
I took a dBASE class from her around 1987 or 88. I learned enough from her to work as a dBASE programmer for a couple of years. (Free-lancing was never my thing, really.) Her class and her books were the best possible entry into the world of IT.
She profoundly influenced how I think about users and their needs. As a technical writer, I follow her principles every day: keep the users' needs first and foremost. Talk to the end users whenever you can, meaning the people doing the data entry, not their bosses. (In my current line of work, this means talk to administrators rather than data entry workers, but you see the drift.)
I haven't seen Miriam since the late '80s or early '90s. She moved out of the Bay Area some years ago and is now at Tradition Software in Sacramento. Her books are readily available used, and still make a good introduction to basic programming structures, how to go about designing an application, and so on, even though languages such as dBASE have been eclipsed by object-oriented languages such as C++ and Java.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
- Switchboard Music Festival, San Francisco, is next weekend, on March 29, with performances by many luminaries.
- San Francisco Opera is offering new subscriptions for the 2009-10 season.
- Los Angeles Opera presents Walter Braunfels's opera Die Voegel from April 11 to April 25.
- Augusta Read Thomas is curating this year's Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Last year's festival was a monumental series dedicated to one composer, centenarian Elliott Carter. This year's is an extravaganza presenting music by nearly 40 composers. The festival runs from August 7 to 11.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
- Nazzareno de Angelis Vol. 2, on Preiser. One of the great bass voices on record, an absolutely solid, deep, dark, magnificent voice. The recordings on this set are all from 1907, when the singer was in his mid-20s, and they are of varying artistic skill, but the voice is a marvel throughout. There's plenty of him on YouTube if you want to check him out. Try this Italian recording of Wotan's Farewell, for example. "Addio, mia figlia!" indeed.
- Ignace Tiegerman, on YouTube. A great, little-known pianist, he fled Europe during the 1930s and settled in Cairo. Alan Evans had some fabulous stories about how he ran down some of Tiegerman's performances for an Arbiter CD devoted to the pianist.
- Raoul Koczalski, Polish pianist, student of Karl Mikuli, who'd studied with Chopin; an extremely beautiful player, with gorgeous tone and true 19th century rubato, also on YouTube.
- Béla Bartók on piano. I presume he needs no introduction; the composer was also a great pianist - he wrote the first two piano concertos for himself - and his recordings of his own and others' music are well worth seeking out. Again, he's on YouTube.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Molly, Matthew (Soho the Dog) Guerrieri, and Marc (Deceptively Simply) Geelhoed have posted their initial comments. I'll have something up today or tomorrow.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
There's only one chance to hear this choice program:
Date: Sunday, March 22, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: First Congregational Church, Dana & Durant, Berkeley
Tickets: $20/$18/$10, available at the door, or in advance from me or over the internet at http://choranova.org/concerts.htm
I hope to see you there!
The All Allegri Concert - March 28, 29 & April 5
Join us for this concert featuring the music of one of the most popular composers of the Late Renaissance, Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652). For contemporary audiences, Allegri is primarily known for his legendary Miserere but during his life time he was a prolific composer writing numerous masses, motets and other works. In addition to the Miserere, other music he composed for use by the Vatican during Holy Week including his Missa che fa oggi il mio sole, a parody mass based on the madrigal of the same name by Luca Marenzio, his Lamentations of Jeremiah and several motets will be performed.
March 28 - 7:30 pm
Seventh Avenue Performances
1329 Seventh Avenue
March 29 - 7:30 pm
All Saints Episcopal
555 Waverley Street
April 5 - 4:00 pm
St. John's Presbyterian
2727 College Avenue
For tickets, visit http://www.sfrv.org/credits.html.
An Early Sacred Music Concert
Tallis, Byrd, Victoria, Desprez, Dufay, Frye, Gregorian chant, Medieval polyphony
3:00 p.m. Sunday March 15
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
7:00 p.m. Saturday March 21
St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church
500 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
3:00 p.m. Sunday March 22
Mercy Center Chapel
2300 Adeline Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010
Friday, March 13, 2009
I've heard some of Biber's choral music as well, a performance of Missa Christi Resurgentis by Manze and the English Consort. Hoo boy!
You can hear Cal Bach in three excellent venues; tickets are $25/18/10:
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I felt this way about his Mozart piano concerto series back in the 1980s, too. I really don't understand how he does it. I admire the tone and touch on the Beethoven CD, and I can hear that he's trying for some interesting phrasing, but....zzzzzzzzzzz. He just can't hold my attention. How does he do it?
I need a good stiff dose of Kovacevich now. Or St. Artur, or Eric Heidieck, or Yves Nat or Bruno Gelber or Annie Fischer or....you get the point.
You should be aware that archived content hasn't been migrated to the new content management system, and all the links to SFCV articles and reviews in my sidebar are now broken (sigh). But here's the URL to my Takacs Quartet review. And I'm quoted in Chelsea Spangler's article on choral singing. Just guessing, but I assume I'm the black belt mentioned in the teaser.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
It is my belief -- a belief undimmed by its obvious foolishness -- that this is the single greatest piece of music ever written, by anyone, ever.That's Joshua Kosman, in the comments to a posting on The Standing Room. At the point when I first read his comment, I had not yet heard the quintet. When I did, I fell over. No, not really, but close enough.
Yes, I guess it is foolish to deem any particular work the single greatest piece of music ever written, by anyone, ever....but I challenge you to hear the Schubert Quintet live, in any reasonably competent performance, and not reach the same conclusion. Me, I've been lucky enough to hear two much-better-than-competent live performances.
Tristan und Isolde! you say. And so do I, at least after seeing it performed. But the Schubert...transcendence in forty-five minutes. Truly, there is nothing better.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
- Berkeley Opera, the steampunk Tales of Hoffman
- San Francisco Symphony, Martha and the Ligeti. That would make a good name for a band. I am hoping to find a ticket to this one, having missed the boat multiple times.
- Stanford Lively Arts, Paul Dresher's Schick Machine, with the genius percussionist Steven Schick
- Takacs Quartet, if you're lucky enough to have a ticket.
- Other Minds Festival
- January 26, 2009: " I am writing to tell you that the Board of Trustees met today and voted to close the Rose Art Museum."
- Later in the January 26 email: "Today's decision will set in motion a long-term plan to sell the art collection and convert the professional art facility to a teaching, studio, and gallery space for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty."
- February 26: "Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation circulating in the media regarding the Rose. The facts are: 1. The Rose is NOT going to close. The Board of Trustees voted to keep the Rose open as a teaching and exhibition gallery that is even more fully integrated into University life and the academic enterprise. 2. The Board of Trustees voted to authorize Brandeis to sell a limited number of pieces in the collection -- if the need arises in the future. Nothing will be sold into the currently depressed art market."
President Reinharz, spare us the crap. The Board voted to close the museum; it's not going to be functioning as a museum, so just stop. We all know how to read, and we all have your past email to refer to. Stop pretending the press got it wrong.
- Martin Bernheimer is displeased.
- Anthony Tommasini is skeptical about the concept, vague about how good the vocal performances were (but I agree with him in general about Florez), and hilarious on one aspect of the updating: "When the villagers in Bellini’s opera discover Amina asleep in the count’s room, they are scandalized. But why would Amina’s colleagues be so shocked by a little backstage hanky-panky? What kind of urban opera company is this?"
- Jonathan Wellsung had a great time.