I'm getting ready for my annual Prez Day Bash, which I inherited from a very talented and very funny Andy Ball back in 2004.
This is the 13th Bash—the Fillmore—so I hope less goes wrong than in previous years. The first ten ran from 1995 to 2004, then the 11th came back in 2015. (I suppose that means the 21st will be in 2035?)
I'll post more if I get a lull in preparations.
Things will be a little low-key today owing to the snow falling on London right now, even though the temperature is rising as a warm front pushes through. The forecast calls for rising temperatures and rain all day, which I guess isn't all bad.
So I'm taking some time to do long-overdue chores for the Apollo Chorus (de-duping our master database, setting up ticketing for our next two concerts), and I've started yet another book (Harold Nicolson's beautifully-written 1939 polemic Why Britain is at War). Yesterday I read John Le Carré's The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, cover to cover.
My plan today really was not much more than to read, walk around if the weather permitted, check out two pubs I've never seen, and—oh yes—see Richard Strauss' Salome at the Royal Opera tonight.
Back home tomorrow.
As a choir nerd, I encounter all kinds of interesting arrangements of music. Take this, for example: "Hide and Seek" by British songwriter and experimental musician Imogen Heap:
It turns out, she made a choral arrangement. Here she is with the London Contemporary Voices:
This makes me and my fellow choir nerds so happy.
A meme is going around Facebook: change one letter of a musical's name to ruin it.
Some of my favorites so far:
- On A Clear Day You Can Pee Forever
- Big Liver
- Legally Blande
- The Wound of Music
- Babes in Farms
- Sweeney Toad
One musician friend posted this on his wall and got over 200 responses.
There is one musical play, out of all of them, that I loathe more than any other. My hatred of this play far exceeds my antipathy towards Mitch McConnell, such that I would gladly prefer an evening reading his floor speeches than to listen to one single song from this abomination. Rogers and Hammerstein, you should be ashamed.
Way back in May 2011, Melinda Taub wrote a gem for McSweeney's that suggest she agrees:
Dear friends, family, and Austrian nobility,
Captain Von Trapp and I are very sorry to inform you that we no longer plan to wed. We offer our deepest apologies to those of you who have already made plans to travel to Salzburg this summer.
Those of you on the Captain’s side of the guest list are probably aware of the reason for the change of plans. I’m sure by now you have received that charming “Save the date!” card in the shape of a mountain goat from the Captain and his new fiancée, Maria.
I must confess to being rather blindsided by the end of our relationship. It seems Captain Von Trapp and I misunderstood each other. I assumed he was looking for a wife of taste and sophistication, who was a dead ringer for Tippi Hedren; instead he wanted to marry a curtain-wearing religious fanatic who shouts every word she says.
The first time I read the line about "the eldest daughter, who seems intent on losing her virginity to the mailman" I snorted tea out my nose.
Brava, Ms Taub. Brava.
The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came to America on 1 June 1967, and changed the world.
As one might imagine, most news organizations have articles about it:
As for me, I received a copy of the LP as a gift probably in 1981, and bought a copy of the CD on 3 November 1988 for $12 (about $25 today). It remains one of my favorite musical compositions—and yes, I'm comparing it to Mozart's Großemesse and Orff's Carminia Burana. And I'm going to listen to it again today.
If you're in the Chicago area, today is your last chance to see the Apollo Chorus "American Masters" concert.
We're performing Jeff Beal's "Salvage Men," with Beal himself in attendance (and playing flugelhorn on his "Poor in Sprit" later in the concert). Tickets are still available, $35 at the door ($15 for students), this afternoon at 3pm at Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston.
Things to read today:
And finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article on our concert this weekend, and composer Jeff Beal performing in it:
"I suppose it might have been DNA asserting itself," said Beal, who will be in Chicago May 5 and Evanston May 7 when the celebrated Apollo Chorus includes his "The Salvage Men" and "Poor in Spirit" as part of their 145th-season-ending spring concert, "American Masters," in Chicago and Evanston. "It's true that [my grandmother] passed on her love of improvisation, but there's also something almost eerily similar about what she did, watching a screen and creating her own musical accompaniment, and what I do in my day job."
[H]e had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Though he took seven years to process the news before beginning to write "The Salvage Men" in 2014.
Serendipitously, that was about the time that Apollo Chorus music director Stephen Alltop, who studied with Beal at Eastman, got back in touch to praise Beal's work on" House of Cards" and suggest the possibility of doing a concert together. Which explains why Beal and his new choral works are appearing in Chicago directly after their debuts in London and Los Angeles. Beal also will perform solo trumpet over the comparatively simple text of his "Poor in Spirit," — it consists entirely of one repeated phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" — much as he often plays trumpet over the score of "House of Cards."
Tickets are available through the Apollo Chorus website. It's going to be an amazing concert.
This is what I saw last night:
As a singer who's performed the original Messiah about 10 times, I pronounce Too Hot to Handel amazeballs, and I will be in the chorus next year.