Friday, February 29, 2008

Slow month, blogwise

This has been my slowest month, postwise, since I started this blog. This will be my ninth post this month, much fewer than usual. It's not that I don't have anything to say; it's just that I have no time to say it. Or maybe that I have nothing bloggable to say.

On the other hand, according to Sitemeter, this shortest month is my highest month ever, in terms of people dropping in to read what I have to say. Perhaps there's a strategy there. Thanks for reading!

A quick update on my musical activities: I have a cello recital coming up soon. My good friend and violinist Laura is playing piano for me and coaching me, and I thank her!

My flute performance at church went well (the one where I slept through the rehearsal). I have another flute performance at another church (my own) on Sunday. This time, I am accompanying the choir, which I love to do, but I have not gotten all the entrances down yet. There is a final rehearsal just before the performance, when, I am sure, everything will fall into place. We have a wonderful conductor, and I need to rely more on him instead of my thus-far-ineffective combination of watching him, the vocal line, the flute line, and counting. (I don't have separate flute music for this, so am reading off the vocal score.) Going with the flow is the best option for this piece, about caring about the person whose hand you take at church.

There is a women's fiddle session on Saturday. I enjoy these because we are working on a limited number of tunes, we allow sheet music, and we generally play slower than with the larger group. It gives me a chance to try and work out some appropriate cello lines, though I never have enough time.

I need to practice! But, first, back to work....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Yesterday's papers

The cover of the current (February 25) issue of the New Yorker shows a year in the life of a book ("Shelf Life" by Adrian Tomine). A young woman writes it in winter; it is sold to a publisher in the spring; a young man reads it in summer and tosses it out in the fall, when a homeless person picks it up. In the winter, he burns it to keep warm.

The life cycle of a newspaper is much briefer! No sooner have you finished writing an article than it is on its way to the recycling center. Fortunately, the Web gives articles a longer life span and makes them more widely available. So, for those who are interested in reading my reviews, previews, and such, and those of others who write for the paper, here is the link to my newspaper's entertainment section.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"The Swan" game

A friend sent this:

It is a little game in which you bow your way through "The Swan." It's fun, if you can keep your eyes off the cellist's left hand, wondering how he is playing "The Swan" in first position.

Music Preferences of the Candidates

I signed up for Facebook the other day, just to see what it was all about. I have no friends on Facebook, so I looked up the presidential candidates, specifically the musical preferences of presidential candidates. I think it's clear who should get the cellist's vote.

Hillary Clinton: Carly Simon, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, U2 (Hillary also lists her favorite tv show as American Idol, which is sort of music-related.)

Barack Obama: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites), and The Fugees

John McCain: no musical preferences listed

(Mike Huckabee does not seem to have a Facebook site, though there are many pro-Huckabee sites and more anti-Huckabee sites).

The number of Facebook supporters each candidate has is also listed:
Obama: 601,000
Clinton: 121,102
McCain: 69,925

It's pretty clear who has the youth/technology vote.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bow hair cleaning

I have heard many different opinions about whether to clean your bow hair or just get it rehaired. I have always just gotten it rehaired, but the problem is not that I don't have enough hair, just that the hair is dirty, especially near the frog.

I have gradually become convinced that washing could be a better option. It's horsehair after all, a washable substance. My bow hair was looking particularly gunky this weekend, not only near the frog, but in a thin row of hair along the edge, the entire length of the hair. I decided to wash it, feeling I had nothing to loose--if it didn't work, I would just get it rehaired.

I didn't want to mess with alcohol, since everyone seemed to have a different opinion on what to use and how to use it, and whether it will dry out your bow hair.

So, feeling cautious, I started with just water, then added a touch of mild liquid hand soap. (I might have used shampoo, had I thought of it.) I scrubbed the hair with a new toothbrush to get the gunk off. I didn't wash all the hair, just the gunky stuff near the frog and along one length of the hair. I also protected the wood with a couple of layers of towel.

I dried the hair with a towel and let it air dry for a few hours. Then, I applied rosin, and tried it out. I was very happy with the results--the cello sounds so much better, and it just feels good, looking at that nice clean bow hair!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I woke this morning at 10:30 to the sound of a ringing phone. It was the woman I was supposed to have met at 10 am to rehearse with. She was understanding, and we finally got together about an hour later. It took me some time to find the music she wanted to play, since, well, I am always in the throes of reorganizing my sheet music. It went well though. This was flute, for a church performance on next Sunday.

But I am tired! It's been a great week of concerts, events, writing, and other work. I have about three jobs at the moment, including my freelancing (I like to call it consulting), which means I have multiple clients at any one time, and it is hard prioritizing everyone.

So, I thought, wow, Saturday! Time to sleep in, then go to breakfast at this lovely little coffee shop with my husband. We didn't have time. Monday, for sure.

Another concert tonight, which I am looking forward to, but I really have to make more time for cello practicing, as it is getting lost in the rush. Tomorrow, for sure.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

I am listening to the radio today (WUMB), and a woman just said, "I'm so excited about it being Valentine's Day today because that means tomorrow all the Valentine's Day candy is one-half off."

Ah, my sentiments, exactly, but the times, they are a'changing. I went into the grocery yesterday to get some V. candy for the family. The Valentine's Day candy was already gone, displaced by Easter candy.

And my husband brought home St. Patrick's Day cupcakes. At least there is plenty of sugar.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Orchestras, Exuberantly Folkish

I went to two concerts this weekend: the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Both had folk-themed programs. Both were vibrant and compelling, and both had people on their feet clapping, and, in the CCSO concert, singing along and shouting Yeah! A bit untypical for your standard orchestra performance.

The NBSO concert, called Postcards from the Americas, featured 20th century works by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez and Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, as well as Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, and a multimedia art show, composed by Stephen Paulus. The works by Chavez and Ginastera featured native musical themes and structures, complicated rhythms, and powerful percussion. This was challenging music, but the orchestra did an excellent job.

The CCSO concert featured fiddler extraordinaire Eileen Ivers and her band Immigrant Soul, as well as some stepdancers. What an experience! These people are possessed by the music, and they communicated their joy and energy to the audience, who were delighted with the jigs and reels, slow airs, bluegrass tunes, and Riverdance medley. And something they called Pachelbel's Frolic, which turned the standard canon into an improvisational fiddle fest. I think the cellos got stuck with the same part they always get though. The conductor made a brave effort to stepdance, and I was impressed with the orchestra's ability to handle bluegrass.

Two wonderful concerts! As the NBSO conductor said, it's good to expand your cultural horizons a bit.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cello, folkish

I went to an acoustic folk concert last night (violin, mandolin, guitar, string bass, ukelele, voice). It was fun, and the instruments were all equal contributers. I was thinking, again, that it would be nice to play in this sort of a band, just 4 or 5 people: cello and other string or folk instruments, where all instruments are equal and the cello can take the lead on the melody as often as the other instruments, assuming one's cello playing is up to par. I am not sure who would want to play this sort of music with me, or when I would have time for it. It was inspiring though, and I think I will start working on Abby Newton's Crossing to Scotland and fiddle camp music again, my favorite folk-style cello music.