Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tonight Tonight Tonight

The newest incarnation of The Knitting Factory opened in our neighborhood recently. We peeked in a couple times, but finally had the excuse to go to a show there last week when The Prigs hosted a release party for their EP, Bridge Fresh.

The dudes in this band are so adorably fun and upbeat, its really hard to not have a blast at their shows. Especially once the gold star glitter starts flying . . .

image and video via

The Kindness of Strangers

There are some theater moments that are so iconic, so deeply ingrained in our collective cultural consciousness, they eclipse the theater pieces they are from.

In the BAM production of Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Liv Ullman, the talented cast distracted from the anticipation of that moment. A luminescent Cate Blanchett plays Blanche Dubois as a willowy, delusional, dramatic woman, who is slowly unraveling while hiding out from a ruined life with her sister Stella and new brother-in-law Stanley.

And when "the moment" came, it almost was a surprise. A menacing, goose bump inducing surprise.

image via

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When the stars threw down their spears

Proximity to the Wednesdays at One concert series at Alice Tully Hall is one of the biggest perks of my job. This week's concert showcased 5 amazing singers. My favorite was Benjamin Bloomfield, a Bass-Baritone, who performed three pieces that were perfectly matched to his personality and stage persona.

For me, the standout was "Tiger! Tiger!," Virgil Thomson's treatment of William Blake's The Tyger (from Songs Of Experience). The dramatic text divines the origins of an animal with an extremely contradictary existence -beautiful but dangerous. I was reminded of when we studied Blake in high school and I think I will remember this quatrain for as long as I live.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

image via

Make Way for Ducklings!

We are throwing a baby shower for my boss today, who is about to pop with Baby # 2. In addition to the gift certificate we pooled money to purchase (boring), shower guests were encouraged to gift their favorite childrens' books.

After agonizing over my choice, I selected Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, which is the tale of Mr. and Mrs. Mallad's search for a home for their young family around landmarks in Boston, MA.

I hope my boss's little ducklings enjoy the story as much as I do!

You should be listening to records, man

A member of the Jazz Royal Family, Branford Marsalis, spent a couple days on campus leading rehearsals, conducting master classes and generally whipping the school's Jazz Studies students into shape. I accompanied some jazz fans to a master class and witnessed Mr. Marsalis mercilessly pushing his pupils to see beyond the traditional tenants of jazz and music instruction and become thoughtful, intuitive artists.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his session with 8 young saxophonists:
  • If you use a double embouchure, you will bite through your lips.
  • Songs are not vehicles for soloing. Pay attention to melodies.
  • Understand what a song is saying and then craft your solo using the same sentiment.
  • In general, learn more solos. Transcribe music from the 30s and 40s.
  • Flawless technique is not artistry.

One of the students played a snippet of 'Round Midnight that was particularly beautiful. His played with dynamics in a really creative way, which Mr. Marsalis praised. "Thats a very hip instinct," he remarked.

image via