Thursday, August 21, 2008

Central Asian Grooves with Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Central Asia

I think it's undeniable that the first two minutes of this video swing; not in a completely conventional dotted-eighth sixteen-note sort of way, but give a listen and try not to move.

And while you're busy moving, remind yourself that The Silk Road Ensemble will be coming to Symphony Hall with Yo-Yo Ma for two performances each with a different program in March 2008-2009. Subscriptions are on sale now. Individual ticket sales begin September 8.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Because it's there


I usually prefer to dwell on the actual achievements of the notable, but I'll make an exception this time and dwell on one of the trappings of celebrity - celebrity grave markers (we have visited this topic before). So for no reason other than it was sent to me (and because, well, you don't see this every day), here is the Moscow grave site of Russian folk dance icon Igor Moiseyev.

Thanks, Janet!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beaux Arts Trio calls it quits after 53 years

The Beaux Arts Trio is wrapping up its 53 year run with its final concert. We presented the Trio's final Boston performance back in April. The final final concert will take place at Tanglewood next week.

David Weininger's piece in today's Globe profiles the Trio at its end and though the headline, Beaux Arts Trio to say goodbye to Tanglewood, implies this is only the group's final Tanglewood performance, it is indeed their final performance anywhere:

"Not every ensemble merits this question when its demise is in sight,
but this one undoubtedly does. The trio played its first concert at
Tanglewood in 1955, and it will play its final American concerts there
next week. In the intervening 53 years, it has taken its place as one
of the 20th century's foremost chamber-music groups, and has set a
standard for trio playing that will persist well after the group's end."

Read all of Beaux Arts Trio to say goodbye to Tanglewood.

A video is a virtual mockery of any chamber music performance, but I  would feel remiss if I didn't give you something  in the way of sound from the great Beaux Arts Trio. This video is the first movement from Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio performed in San Francisco's Herbst Theatre about two weeks after their final Celebrity Series performance:


David Weininger writes that the Beaux Arts' original plan to end at Tanglewood has been changed since they last visited Boston:

Thanks for noting the column on the Beaux Arts on the blog. You write there that the headline is misleading and that the Tanglewood shows will be "their final performance[s] anywhere." I think that was the original plan, at least back when they came through Boston in April. Apparently they reconsidered, though, because there are a number of dates scheduled in Europe after Tanglewood:

I believe their last concert is at the Lucerne Festival. If you go to the festival's calendar:

and click on September 6, you'll see a listing for the concert.

It all checks out, of course. Thanks, David!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday... Magic Johnson. He's 49 today.

Braindead Megaphone to get Sedaris' nod


George Saunders

Those of you who have seen author David Sedaris do readings know that he picks a favorite book to tout, rather passionately, on each tour, even going so far as to ensure it is offered for sale alongside his own work (those of you who have never been to a Sedaris reading, well now you know).

This season's recommended book is The Braindead Megaphone, by George Saunders. For the impossibly up to date who must own this book before Sedaris comes to Boston in October, here's a link where you can buy The Braindead Megaphone. And here's George's web site.

Turns out, Mr. Saunders teaches at Syracuse University, which gives us all another reason to recommend beautiful Syracuse, New York, besides Dinosaur BBQ, The Orangemen, the swell locals, the fine sledding, and SU's now extra-huge record collection.

Monday, August 11, 2008

AileyCamp Final Performance slide show

The Celebrity Series celebrated its 9th annual AileyCamp Boston Final Performance last Thursday at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University. Here is Flash slide show from last Thursday's rehearsals and performance:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yogi Berra, meet Eugene Ormandy

In his autobiography, Perfect Pitch, Nicolas Slonimsky passes along this compendium of conductor Eugene Ormandy's mangled syntax and meaning collected from rehearsals of the Philadelphia Orchestra by an orchestra member. I mean no disrespect to the great conductor, it simply wouldn't be as funny if it were someone of lesser stature:

"[Ormandy] spoke English with considerable mobility, but for some reason lapsed at rehearsals into a lingua franca - sans syntax, sans grammar, sans sense. A disloyal member of the Philadelphia orchestra collected a priceless anthology of Ormandian sayings:

'It is not together, but the ensemble is perfect.'

'Suddenly I was in the right tempo, but it wasn't.'

'This is one bar you should take home.'

'There is a number missing, I can see it.'

'Please follow me because I have to follow him and he isn't here.'

'I need one more bass less.'

'I don't want to confuse you more than absolutely necessary.'

'We can't hear to balance it yet because the soloist is still on the aeroplane.'

'Something went wrong. It was correct when I studied it.'

'Who is sitting in that empty chair?'

'He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife.'

'I told him he would have a heart attack a year ago but unfortunately he lived a year longer.'

'It's difficult to remember if the notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.'

'The moment you slow down you are behind.'

'The tempo remains pianissimo.'

'The soloist was so sick he almost died for three days.'

'I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to.'

'Even when you are not playing you are holding me back.'

'If you don't have it in your part leave it out because there is enough missing already.'

'Thank you for your cooperation, and vice versa.'

On another Slonimsky note, check out the images of signatures from his guestbook here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Slonimsky in the Summertime


Nicolas Slonimsky

Like many blogs, Aisle Be Seeing You reflects the tastes, shortcomings and discoveries of its author. With your permission, gentle reader, I would like to introduce you to a recent discovery (the tastes and shortcomings are, surely, already on display). Among my summer reading selections is Perfect Pitch, the 1988 autobiography of the composer, conductor, musician, music critic, lexicographer and author Nicolas Slonimsky. I recommend it highly.

Slonimsky crossed paths with an astonishing number and variety of people from the music world and beyond, and is just the writer to do justice to the resulting anecdotes. He delivers stories of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's widow (at a dinner party), Serge Koussevitsky, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Eugene Ormandy, George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak fame), Leonard Bernstein, Mike Wallace (as host of a TV game show), Edgard Varese and Frank Zappa (Slonimsky performed with Zappa in 1981 and named his cat Grody-to-the-Max, a nod to Moon Unit Zappa's Valley Girl lexicon), among many others.

Many know Slonimsky today for his work editing Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (which is named for Theodore Baker, its original editor, whose work was complimented, then eclipsed, by
Slonimsky over decades) or for his Lexicon of Musical Invective, which chronicles horrible reviews of famous musical works (more fun than it sounds). I had used Baker's for some time before I read its delightful (there's no other word for it) forward, written by Slonimsky. That discovery has lead me to Perfect Pitch.

If I haven't convinced you yet, here's a wee snippet from the book jacket:

"It was discovered early in my life that I possessed the precious gift of perfect pitch, which enabled me to name immediately and without fail any note played on the piano or other musical instruments. My maternal aunt, Isabelle Vengerova, later to become a famous piano teacher, took me under her wing, and on 6 November 1900, according to the old Russian calendar, gave me my first piano lesson. I was exhibited to admiring relatives and friends for whose pleasure I rendered the popular tune, 'Little Bird, What did you do? I drank vodka, So did you.'"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Soweto Gospel Choir's "African Spirit"

I'm a little late in getting the word out, but the Soweto Gospel Choir has released a new recording (new is a relative thing, it was released in 2007) called African Spirit. You can purchase African Spirit here.

For something a little out of the ordinary, here is the group's happy birthday message to Nelson Mandela on the South African President's 90th:

The Soweto Gospel Choir pays a visit to the Celebrity Series of Boston this coming November 30 at Symphony Hall. For tickets you can subscribe to the Celebrity Series now at or you can purchase individual tickets at the same URL after September 8.