Friday, October 31, 2008

NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo

I have no time for this, but, yes, I have signed up for both again this year, as well as my own personal PracticeCelloEveryDayMonth. I would love to hear from others involved in either event, or two or more.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Secret Life of the Cellists

We saw "Secret Life of the Bees" last night. Alicia Keys plays cello in it, not, in my opinion, entirely convincingly, but a cello is enough to get me to any movie.

I loved the book of the same name, and the movie is the best movie adaptation of a book that I have seen in a long time. It really captures the book, and the era (1964, as the civil rights movement was growing).

But, for now, just the cello part. Zoe Keating is the actual cellist in the movie, and, as the credits flipped by, I noticed that Alicia Keys had two cello coaches, one in New York and one in North Carolina, where, apparently, the movie was filmed. I didn't catch their names, and was checking the Internet for additional information, when I came across a query: "Was that cello piece the same one as the one in that commercial?"

Yes, it was the prelude to Bach's first suite for solo cello, the same one featured in numerous commercials from dog food to automobiles, apparently the identifying cello piece. Amazing Grace was also played, quite beautifully, I thought.

Just found an article about the North Carolina cello teacher. There is a video too, but I am in a motel in the Atlanta, Georgia area right now, one with a very slow Internet connection, so I can't watch it.

Here's another video, maybe the same one; it's hard to tell without being able to see them. It starts off by saying she learned the cello in 4 weeks. I guess she looks pretty good for four weeks!

I loved the fact that there was a cellist in this movie and there were quite a few scenes in which the cello played a supporting role. Alicia, however, played a character who was a bit unfeeling and unwilling to take a chance on love, perhaps someone who focuses all her emotions on the cello. So, you kind of want her to lighten up, put the cello aside, and go outside and play.

Oh, one other tiny complaint. This movie features Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, and only gives us little snippets of singing. Ok, you can't make this book into a musical, but it would have been nice to hear more.

Still, in all, a great little movie, even the non-cello, non-musical parts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Russian Animation-Камаринская-Kamarinskaja

Laura found this wonderful animated version of Glinka's Kamarinskaja on Youtube; we are playing it in our newly founded orchestra. We are giving two concerts on November 14 and 16.

I love this piece, which is based on two Russian folk songs, and the cellos have lots of great lines.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"The Soloist" Release Delayed

I was disappointed to read today that "The Soloist," the Jamie Foxx movie in which he plays a homeless, schizophrenic cellist, will not be released on November 21 as planned. The release has been delayed until March 9, 2009.

A story in the Los Angeles Times provides more information on the politics of the decision. Click on the movie poster image above for that story, which says, in part, that the movie is of "particular interest to those of us here at the L.A. Times, since it is based on a series of gripping columns by our own Steve Lopez about his relationship with a homeless musician grappling with schizophrenia." One of the concerns is that this change eliminates the movie from Oscar contention. Hard to figure why they would make that decision.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maybe a novel, maybe not

I participated in National Novel Writing Month last year, and actually wrote a 50,000 page novel, some words of which are memorable. But, honestly, I haven't even looked at it since I finished it last year. This was partly because, almost immediately after writing it, I applied for a job as a editor/writer with the local paper, and have since been up to my ears in writing, not only for the paper, but for another blog.

Do I have time to write a novel this year? Probably not. But I visited the nanowrimo site, just to see what was happening, and I seem to have accidentally signed up.

The first web badge simply calls attention to the event, the second one indicates I am a participant. I shall ponder, over the next two weeks, which one to keep.

Last year I also participated in the blog-every-day-for-the-month-of-November event, NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I am pondering that one too. It was a lot of fun last year, and I met a lot of great bloggers. But this is also a huge time commitment, especially when you do both at the same time. There is a NaBloPoMo every month now, actually, but November still seems to be the official month.

Neither one of these endeavors really promotes quality in writing or blog posting, but sometimes quantity is better than nothing. And nothing promotes writing like a deadline.

I shall ponder for a little while longer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

Now, this is the way it should be done--complete with cellos!


I saw the Beatlemania Classical Mystery Tour last night with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. The audience loved it. The singers looked somewhat like the Beatles, and the various costumes (changing over the years) were fun.

I was not enchanted though, wanting the Beatlemania people to be more like Beatles: sound more like them, move like them, be quirkier, and call each other John, Paul, George, and Ringo, not their real names, to heighten the fantasy. I also wanted the sound to be more balanced, as in this video. Live, the amplified guitars seemed too amplified for me (a common complaint of mine), and the orchestra's contributions were sometimes obscured. Jung-Ho Pak looked great in his Sgt. Pepper jacket, though.

A fun night (the crowd went wild, responding with three enthusiastic standing ovations), but not exhilarating, at least for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Steps Back can be useful

Dissatisfied with my intonation, tone, expression, musicality, you-name-it, I decided to go back to the beginning, cello-wise. More than two steps back, really. I wanted to play simple scales and exercises really well and be more confident about shifting, positions, bowing, etc.

My teacher suggested we start with Piatti, book one. After initial distress (why not book two, at least?), I calmed down and have been serene about cello playing and cello progress ever since.

Still, finding time to practice is not always easy. I have two very demanding, deadline-based, but otherwise unstructured jobs, family, friends, rehearsals, and "occasional" Internet time.

I was thinking of Marisa today when I went in for my lesson, trying to think of an excuse for not practicing that sounded different from previous excuses. My last-minute practice session late last night must have helped though, because all went well. I had a great lesson, and more important than that, I had a great time playing and loved playing those simple, now very musical duets with my teacher.

Isn't the cello lovely! (Maybe I will manage a little more practice time this week.)