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Rough Rhodes to Success

October 23, 2011

 I’ve wanted to write something about classical pianist James Rhodes for a while, but haven’t really known what to write.  On one hand I find him a fascinating character; on the other hand his heavily promoted “bad boy” image is pushed enough to make my eyes roll.  Yet, his agenda is a hard one to fault – reaching broader audiences, putting a fresh spin on the classical concert experience, and playing “proper classical” without a huge stick up his, ahem, arse (- his words, not mine).  Classical world can probably use that right about now.

I’ve watched several of Rhodes’s YouTubes, and while I wouldn’t label him as the definitive interpreter of the composers he plays, his playing is respectful, engaging, and smart.  As are his chats with the audience explaining the pieces.  

I’d love to hear from someone who has seen him live and get their opinion on him.
Any of my UK readers maybe?? 

Talking about reaching a broader audience, this teacher, Mr. B (David Bodeman from Mohawk Country Day School in White Plain, NY), is educating a new generation with creativity, and by the looks of it, a ton of fun.  He even has his own fan page.


Tiny Tuxes and Pint-Sized Podiums

September 17, 2011

 He’s not tall enough yet for most of the rides at Disneyland, but put him on a podium and he could very well be a giant in the making.  You might remember Jonathan from a previous posting here on sonicgypsy.  If you’re new to the site, take a few minutes to check out the link.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you see.

In short, the video shows Jonathan – then 3 years old – conducting the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, with a glee and panache and innate ability that we can only hope is a harbinger of things to come.

Fast forward 1 year.  Jonathan is now getting invitations to conduct orchestras.  The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin (Moscow), the Chandler Symphony Orchestra (Arizona), Arizona Musicfest, and the St. Petersburg International Music Academy (SPIMA) Orchestra (Connecticut) are among the first to have come calling.

Here’s an outtake of his February 2011 debut with the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, on tour in California at the time.

To get some of the background scoop on how this opportunity came about, click here.

Lastly, I include this video too just to remind us that despite all the early and rightfully deserved attention, he still has some learning to do.  But by gawsh, he’s only 4! 

Flying Bach to the Future

September 12, 2011

I stumbled across this YouTube clip on the weekend.   It’s select excerpts from the Red Bull Flying Bach European Tour that has been making its way through Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, and Turkey from August through to end of December.  Backed by the energy drink superstar (hey, if Red Bull sponsors something this cool and innovative and grand, I’m glad to give their fine product a shout out), it pairs breakdancing with Bach’s preludes and fugues 1-12 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Part I.

Here’s the synopsis from the website:
High culture meets urban art: In the clash of cultures Red Bull Flying Bach turns the international classical world upside down. Their creative performance visualizes and revives Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier crossing the borders of serious music and youth culture. Note by note. Step by step. With piano, harpsichord, and electronic beats.

Trust the Europeans to pull something like this off – to sold-out crowds and standing ovations no less.  Sadly, the tour doesn’t seem to be crossing the water any time soon.  Would it even fly with N.American audiences?, or have we grown too musically illiterate to appreciate something like this?  What do you think?

Here’s a longer clip
from their Eurovision 2011 performance.  Fantastic interpretation.  Worth the watch.

Bzzy Bzzy Bzzy… or Not

August 26, 2011

What started out as a brief pause to pack up my life and move has inadvertently turned into a summer hiatus.  My lazy procrastinating fault.

So, to distract you from this glaring character deficiency of mine I give you Yuja Wang playing fast.  Really. Really. Fast.

To the Survivors

July 23, 2011
 Like everyone I’ve spoken with today, I’m feeling the numb disbelief over what has happened across the world in Norway within these last 24 hours.  You’re never prepared for these kinds of things.
Deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those whose lives were so senselessly lost.
Aase’s Death from Peer Gynt, Suite 1 by Edvard Grieg.
“To the Survivors” – by Henrik Ibsen

Just Mugging Around

July 4, 2011

 Remember the time Igor Stravinsky went gangsta?  Mind you, the guy’s “Rite of Spring” did cause a riot, so maybe the mugshot isn’t that surprising.

But arrested for this?!  It’s not even atonal?

Find out the story behind the mugshot.
You can also click here for a choral arrangement.

To all my American friends, happy 4th of July!

Chillin’ Cellos

June 25, 2011

  With all the other stuff that’s been going on around me lately, keeping up with the blogs I follow has mostly fallen into the temporary abyss of yeah-it’s-not-happening.  But today has unfolded as one of those lovely, lazy Saturday stay-in-bed mornings where the world stops for you while you soak in the luxury details of life.  Which for me has meant catching up on some of my favorite internet haunts. 

I copied both these videos from Daniel Stephen Johnson‘s blog.  Great blog to check out.


(Give this one a few minutes for the guy to really get into it.)