Something to listen to: The Fifth

Beethoven mask

Life masks: when being self-important just isn’t enough.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is pretty popular, which you may already know. It is the most perfect musical work ever written, which you may already know. Combine those two notions in your head and it leads to a simple question: what the hell do you do with this thing? It’s already been performed to death, recorded to death, and damn near every man, woman, and child alive knows more of it than they think they do. It is the most ruthlessly efficient demonstration of symphonic form that exists, yet it’s full of genuinely musical ideas. The greatest conductors and orchestras in the world have had their go of it for 200 years now, so what’s left? Continue reading

Five random thoughts from a very random walk

Kansas City

As the T-shirt says: Missouri loves company

Yesterday, for the first time in God knows how long, the weather in Kansas City was palatable. It was so palatable, in fact, that I decided to wander the streets with no real purpose or intention. I took my headphones, my wallet, and an appalling sense of fashion and set off from my apartment in Midtown. Here are five things I learned on my journey:

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On concertmasters and center fielders

Capitalism

Over the last few weeks, two major American orchestras have been publicly facing the budget crunch. In Atlanta, the board locked the musicians out of the facility and stopped paying them. In Minnesota, the board is proposing pay cuts by as much as $40,000 per year. The debate about the role of the arts and culture in a community and their value to the population has once again been stirred up, and with it come the two common and ultimately retarded arguments that re-surface in each and every one of these situations. In fact, I touched on this before when the Detroit Symphony was going through their own situation. But I’d like to dive a little deeper into these two arguments because I feel strangely qualified to weigh in, and if you know me at all, you’ll know why. Continue reading

I’m still clinically alive

Thank you to those of you who have expressed concerns about my health and/or safety. I want to assure the zero of you that I am fine, just busy and stressed from the workplace. I’ll be back with more uninteresting shit to say real soon. In the meantime, here’s a song that sort of sums up my emotions for the last three weeks. Thank you, relatively-near-death Johnny Cash!