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Arts Review: Lully – Te Deum, for Double Chorus & Orchestra performed by Les Arts Florissants

Hola. ¿Qué tal? This is a wonderful performance and it should help lower blood pressure, ease gastritis and maybe help with other problems. Below is a performance excelente by Les Arts Florissants (desde Francia/from France) of the Te Deum for Double Chorus and Orchestra by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) conducted by William Christie. It’s very fortunate they recorded this performance and it’s superbly recorded.

William Christie is the founder and director of Les Arts Florissants. There’s an interesting story about him. He was born in the Imperialistic Empire (los Estados Unidos/the US) but moved to Francia to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War because he vehemently opposed it. And he’s been in Francia ever since. He was asked in an interview:
“What was your big breakthrough?
His answer: Breaking out of the US in 1970. It was more for personal than professional reasons – I was very much against the Vietnam war. I went off to Europe, and nine years later, I founded the ensemble Les Arts Florissants, which has been my baby, my life’s work, ever since.”

So his biggest breakthrough was breaking out of the US in 1970. Good idea.

Don Jean-Baptiste Lully is considered the master of the French Baroque style. And for those who may not know, Te Deum settings are used in the Roman Catholic, the Anglican Communion and in some Lutheran liturgies. And no, I’m not promoting religion. I’m an Anglican atheist and this performance is not a liturgical performance. It’s performed in a concert setting.

A Double Chorus is one Chorus divided into two Choruses. The choral score of a work for Double Chorus will indicate “CHOEUR I,” and below that “CHOEUR II.” The choral writing often has each Chorus answering one another. With a Double Chorus, there’s at least 8 choral lines for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) in the score and often more than that if each part is divided into first and second (such as first and second soprano, for example). I always enjoyed works for Double Chorus because there is so much more going on. There are so many more parts and more harmonic lines involved and I enjoyed listening to one Chorus answer the other. It’s also very enjoyable to perform, just as in this performance of the Lully Te Deum. Usually, from my choral experience, each Chorus is divided into two equal-sized groups but in this performance that’s not the case. I think that’s done for effect where conductor William Christie wanted the Chorus on the top level up near the audience to sound at a distance, which they do (they are not mic’ed) whereas the Chorus on the stage is mic’ed (but that may be only for recording purposes), but without hearing individual voices. Sometimes a work will be for Double Chorus and in the performance the Chorus is visibly split into two (such as in Händel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt or his oratorio Solomon, for example) or in Sir William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast (one of my favourite choral works) where the Chorus is not visibly split usually.

This is one of the best performances I’ve ever heard. I’ve watched it many times and I now know the piece well. The Chorus of Les Arts Florissants consists of 28 voices. The Chorus on the upper level consisted of 8 voices, with the larger Chorus being on the stage behind their orchestra.

Nearly all of the soloists were perfectly chosen for this performance, and I rarely say that since I’m usually turned off by soloists. I would have chosen a different bass soloist — I would have chosen Birger Radde who performs with the Octopus Symphony Chorus in Brussels — but that’s my personal preference:

• Amel Brahim-Djelloul: soprano
• Emmanuelle de Negri: soprano
• Toby Spence: tenor
• Cyril Auvity: tenor
• Marc Mauillon: tenor
• Alain Buet: bass
Les Arts Florissants

I had not heard this work until recently and it’s now one of my favourite pieces, at least the way Les Arts Florissants perform it. Why isn’t this piece performed more often instead of Händel’s over-performed Messiah? This is much shorter than “warhorse” Messiah. There are a few pieces I’m tired of hearing because they’re so over-performed and among them are: Messiah and Beethoven’s Ninth, and these days some Symphony Choruses seem to be screaming their way through the choral finale of the Ninth. I heard a clip of one a few weeks ago with the UK’s City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus — I usually like the CBSO Chorus — performing with their orchestra (the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) at the BBC Proms. In the short clip I saw, they were screaming more than singing beautifully. And they looked like a bank of robots because they were performing without their scores like the Tanglewood Festival Chorus does. What’s up with that? The orchestra and conductor use their scores so why shouldn’t the Chorus use their vocal scores? We always used our scores in the Orchestra Choruses I sang in. Oh, don’t get me started on the many silly, ridiculous and duplicitous outdated traditions in the classical music field, particularly the one about who can use their score and who cannot, according to some silly “tradition.” (A brief aside: Pianists: use your scores when you perform — if you want — even if you’re pressured by some idiot concert manager not to use it. I’ve been to so many piano performances where the pianist had memory slips and I felt sorry for the artist, which s/he wouldn’t have had if s/he had used the score. For pianists in particular, this nonsense of “playing from memory” is such a stupid tradition. Not everyone plays their best “from memory.” Everyone is different and everyone does not have to do nor should be expected to do what god Liszt did.)

Les Arts Florissants (they use their scores) have a stellar reputation within the classical music tradition. I believe they are considered authorities on music of the (French) Baroque period.

A little bit more about the soloists: I especially like the three guys who sing individually and together. Check out the second section of the piece from 27.00 on in the video to see what I mean, especially the Miserere section. Unlike other soloists such as in opera and oratorio, these soloists don’t bark, scream or screech but rather sing with a lovely musical tone. They sing beautifully.

Mi amigo/My friend who has watched this piece many times with me asked: So where did this loud screaming come from that one hears in opera or choral performances where they drag in some well-known opera singer to bark through the solo passages? Regardless of where it came from I don’t like it and never have. In most cases, I think that the soloists should come from the Chorus — assuming it’s a well-trained Chorus — so that the soloists “match” the sound of the Chorus instead of having a completely different sound than the Chorus where the soloists have this glass-shattering, wobbling heavy vibrato and where the soloist seems to be asking: “Guess what pitch I’m singing?”. As I said earlier, I much prefer the solo singers here. And the Chorus of Les Arts Florissants is absolutely superb and a pleasure to listen to. There is no shrill, screeching or fluttery-wobbling sounds as one hears, for example, in the soprano section of Boston’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus. (They need some work!). And recently I heard the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the first time since Margaret Hillis died in 1998 and was a bit disappointed with them. One of the major Symphony Choruses I used to train my “choral ear” years ago was Margaret Hillis’s Chicago Symphony Chorus. I listened extensively and closely for years to every choral work they recorded under Margaret Hillis, including all of their Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance. In my opinion, the Chicago Symphony Chorus is not quite as good today as they were under Hillis, which was disappointing. Just like with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, I heard some screeching and wobbling vibrato sounds in the top register of the soprano section in their Beethoven’s Ninth performance, something I never heard under Margaret Hillis. They have a superb tenor section and I heard no cracking/breaking tenor voices as I did in the performance by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC) for their Beethoven’s Ninth at the end of the 2014 Tanglewood Music Festival. Chicago’s diction was precise (unlike some of TFC’s). Just like with the TFC, the Chicago Symphony Chorus seemed to be over-singing in the Beethoven. Nothing seems to stay the same does it? — it usually gets worse — and I think that the Chicago Symphony Chorus has a completely different group of choristers now than when Margaret Hillis was alive. I was surprised by the number of young(er) choristers in the CSOChorus. From my research since Ms Hillis died, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won only one Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance under the current Chorus Director, Duane Wolf. Under Hillis, the Chicago Symphony Chorus regularly won Best Choral Performance under Founder/Chorus.

My only complaint with this performance by Les Arts Florissants was the sexism at the end of the performance where las flores/the flowers were only given to las mujeres/the women. Why no flowers for the guys? Las flores are only for women? Nonsense! Los muchachos/guys like flowers too and the guys sang beautifully so they should have been given las flores as well. But they weren’t given anything and it looked rather odd with them just standing there receiving nothing while las mujeres held their bouquet of flowers. In Britain, I noticed that they finally started giving las flores to both men and women soloists at the BBC Proms. Not that they changed their policy because of something I said but years ago when they had their BBC Radio 3 message forums I asked why the male soloists were not given flowers like the women soloists? I pointed out it was sexist. But at the BBC Proms these days, from what I’ve seen all soloists receives flowers I’m glad to see. And in some performances I’ve seen from Europe they also give las flores to the conductor regardless of gender.

I can’t imagine this work being performed any better than Les Arts Florissants perform it. Enjoy. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Yes on I – Luxury Condo Moratorium (San Francisco)

San Francisco has an AFFORDABLE housing crisis. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco today is over Four-Thousand US Dollars a month. There’s nothing AFFORDABLE about that! The reason? GREED.

Hola. I hadn’t planned to say anything about this upcoming (s)election in San Francisco. But I am sick to death of seeing the saturation of lies and Newspeak from the conservative basura/trash in San Francisco who are spamming every fucking website I’ve been on (including my e-mail and G***leTube) with their “No on I” lies campaign. I’m sick of it! And this article is my counter-protest to these corporate scum.

Vile Class Warfare

One of the things that has disgusted me with the GLBTQ population in San Francisco is that the wealthy GLBTQs and their conservative corporate political organisations support the current Class Warfare Agenda of the San Francisco Oligarchy and its policies. Their’s is an anti-gay agenda. It’s as if some GLBTQs have completely flipped out. The wealthy, conservative GLBTQs supported the sanitising of The Castro (the former Gay Mecca in San Francisco) to make it “Family-Friendly” (ugh!) to cater to the precious “straights” moving in and taking over The Castro. (I never knew that “straights” had priority or Queers in the minds of some GLBTQs). The sanitising of The Castro was led by the totalitarian conservative merchants basura and (at that time) their new conservative “messiah” politician (that piece of work is from New Jersey) whom they seem to see as “The Holy and Indivisible Trinity” with their gushing praise for anything that conservative prude piece of work does. These wealthy conservative GLBTQs support the building of more Luxury Designer Condos (Dahling). They’re for the continued gentrification and eviction of non-wealthy Queers from San Francisco. That’s what makes their’s an anti-gay agenda. They prefer to live among young, white “straight” techie basura — since that’s who is moving in here and raping this city — instead of living among other (non-wealthy) longtime Queer residents, who are being evicted from San Francisco.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE (these wealthy GLBTQ trash)? Are they completely bankrupt of any conscience at all? Historically, I just don’t remember gay people being so fucking shallow and superficial as these wealthy GLBTQ basura are. It seems that dinero/money is all that matters to these wealthy scum, some of whom have become obnoxious sports jocks in their desire to be like the “straights” and heteronormative (is this a case of gay self-hate/shame?). If these wealthy GLBTQs wanted to live among young, white “straight” couples why the fuck didn’t they stay where they were decades ago instead of moving to the (former) Gay Mecca? Because decades later (meaning today) these wealthy GLBTQs have become the same conservative prudes they ran from when they moved here. Now they’re hell-bent on making San Francisco a super-wealthy version of that culture-less, homogenised, conservative hell hole where they came from. I don’t understand them at all. At least here in San Francisco and The Castro, something mentally seems to happens to most people when they become homeowners/property owners. They flip out. They become the opposite of who they were. And their hypocrisy is that some (if not all) of these people were renters/tenants when they moved to San Francisco during the Gay Mecca Days. Today, they hate on and despise renters and rent control. They don’t seem to remember their own past. They are such fucking hypocrites.

So if you’re planning to take part in this corrupt sham/charade called an “election” en noviembre 2015 in San Francisco, vote YES on I. This proposition is intended to put a 18-month pause/moratorium on the construction of new/”market-rate” (I can’t stand that term) Luxury Designer Condos (Dahling) en el Distrito de la Misión de San Francisco, a barrio that has been completely disrespected of its Latino/Hispano/Mexicano/Chicano (et al) culture and has been wrecked by the techie basura and their millionaire/billionaire-owned companies which receive generous corporate welfare from the San Francisco Oligarchy. Not that I think this pause/moratorium will accomplish anything in the long run, I’m just encouraging people to VOTE YES ON I out of spite and as a counter-protest for these conservative scum who are saturating the internet with lies, distortions and Newspeak.

We already have more than enough of these sterile goddamned overpriced and underwhelming luxury condos — with their blindingly white interiors — all over this city, not just en la Misión. Luxury condos have been popping up like mushrooms under this corrupt Ed Lee/Ron Conway Regime which has destroyed this city in less than 4 years to the delight of the conservative trash — some of whom don’t even live here — and their Real Estate Industrial Complex and their Corrupt LiarsTM, including the bougi elite pretentious homeowners.

The Empire’s (US) federal government in the District of Columbia is an Oligarchy (politicians working for their corporate owners):

“A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has found that the United States’ government more closely resembles an Oligarchy or a Corporatocracy than a Republic or Democracy…The researchers write, “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”—Source: Princeton and Northwestern Universities’ study (2014)

The same is true for San Francisco today — and most governments in the US from the local level to the federal level — with self-serving parasitic politicians who work for their corporate owners. That’s why I refer to the “San Francisco Oligarchy.” The current el alcalde/mayor is the not-so-bright empty puppet of his billionaire venture capitalist owner. The billionaire venture capitalist is the real mayor.

Everywhere I look ignoramuses are talking about a “housing crisis” in San Francisco. We don’t have a “housing crisis” in San Francisco, you fucking idiots. We have an AFFORDABLE housing crisis in San Francisco, which is a very different thing. But the rabid conservative agenda in San Francisco is to spread lies and disinformation. Only one website I’ve been on uses the word “AFFORDABLE” to describe our AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS. All others that I’ve seen omit the word “affordable,” even so-called “progressive” sites.

*roll eyes*

An AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS is very different than a “housing crisis.” Even local pseudo-progressives and housing activists — who are nothing but fucking party-line Dembots when it comes time to vote — are repeating the conservative’s/developers’ lie by omitting the operative word “affordable”. They’re repeating the lie that we have a “housing crisis.” The conservatives deliberately mislead the public and omit the word “affordable” so that greedy developers can continue to build Luxury Designer Condos (Dahling) in San Francisco which will do absolutely nothing to solve our AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS. The ultimate goal here is to make San Francisco a city for the wealthy, which is already becoming the case. A city of haves and have-nots, with nothing in between which we’re already seeing. We’re quickly becoming a city of snooty, snobby wealthy (mainly white) trash assholes where wealth is all that shallow and superficial people are concerned about.

The reality is that there is no shortage of homes for the wealthy basura in this city. As I’ve advised before: Go to any major corporate website for the Real Estate Industrial Complex and their Corrupt LiarsTM in this city and look at the listings and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The wealthy have their choice of any $1MILLION PLUS USD overpriced dump that they want. These wealthy snots are so stupid in that they love throwing their dinero/money away on overpriced condos/homes and other things and paying way over-asking just because they can. They get some sort of cheap thrill out of that. Then these shallow and superficial wealthy trash brag to their shallow and superficial friends about having paid well over-asking. That’s important to them? Yes, they love to put on airs of wealth and pretentiousness to impress — pretending to be “sophisticated” (Dahling) — while they’re trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” (I would out that people who are secure with themselves allow the Joneses to keep up with them) and “Keep Up Appearances” (Dahling). In this new Conservative Lobotomised Techie city, shallow and superficial are “in,” along with fucking stupidity.

I’m sick of the lies and Newspeak from the thoroughly corrupt conservative politicians of the San Francisco Oligarchy and the corrupt corporate scum they work for.

If any lobomotised conservatives, pro-developer, pro-Lee-Conway, pro-Real Estate Industrial ComplexTM trash leave a comment below it will be my pleasure to delete it. Don’t even think of commenting here, assholes. You Class Warfare trolls have the run of any local site out there and that’s where you spam your condescendingly arrogant, smug, bullying, elitist, conservative Class Warfare agenda. One local pseudo-progressive gives you full reign of his blog to help promote your conservative agenda while he uses you to pimp for traffic for his site. He knows damn-well what he’s doing. He’s part of the Establishment while he pretends to be a fucking “progressive.” Ugh. You’re not going to use my site for that. I despise what you scum stand for and have done to this city. You and the scum you support have ruined what took decades to create and put in place in San Francisco while you eat the upper colon of the worst planning department this city has ever seen. (How much have those corporate parasites been paid off by bribes?) And I don’t want your lies and Newspeak on my site. So FUCK OFF ALL OF YOU. You can scream “free speech” all you want. If you want “free speech,” create your own damn blog, corporate assholes. I’m sick of all of you, including troll/bully corporatist “Sam.” The only people I’m inviting/welcoming to comment below are my regular commenters and they all know who they are. Chau.—el barrio rosa

The Classical Music Snots

“It was a very convincing reading,”
“a very sublime performance”

Hola, the Classical Music SnotsTM (CMS) are a piece of work and those two phrases above are what I say to amigos whenever I mock the CMS because those two phrases are what the CMS predictably say to describe a performance they like.

I can see them now speaking both phrases with their nose in the air and the corners of their mouth down and with Queen’s English trying to be pretentious and elitist. But with the CMS, it’s only “a sublime performance” when the performance is by some big-name/international artist. And por favor, don’t ask me what they mean by, “a very convincing reading.” Convincing of what? That the artist knew the piece and was able to play it? And I would point out that when an artist is not using his/her score and playing “from memory,” s/he not “reading” anything.

The CMS are these mostly conservative, self-appointed, self-righteous assholes who think they are authorities on all matters of (slowly dying) classical music.

The CMS try to come off as “poetic.” Here’s an example of that I found:

“How fortunate that I, a mere mortal, can have such sublime balm bestowed upon me. Genius composer…superbly gifted playing!”.

Sublime balm? WTF? There’s their signature “sublime” word again. They love using that. The CMS also try to come off as philosophical, “cultured” and “highbrow” (Dahling).

Then there’s this asshole here. I’m not sure what he expected to accomplish by writing this to an artist:

“Although technically convincing (as one could expect from Berezovsky), i can’t stand this interpretation: too many unexcusable errors both in misreading notes (not just error caused by a live performarce, i don’t really care of those…) and in most of the composer’s indications written in the score.”

“Technically convincing” of what? That he can play the piece? Why don’t you useless assholes find yourself a thesaurus — you do know what that is, don’t you? — and come up with some new troll material instead of constantly talking about something being “convincing.” (I guess you couldn’t work in the word “sublime” because you didn’t like the performance.) Ugh.

Pretentious basura is what these arrogant assholes are.

Some (if not most) of the CMS are also anti-gay and some are sexist. They make comments about female performers — some guys go on about how beautiful she is and how they are in love with her just from watching her play and then comes the, “would you like to get married with me?” question — that they never make about male performers. These sexist, heteronormative guys I’m talking about make baseless assumptions about the female’s sexual orientation — they assume she’s “straight” even though she may be una lesbiana. I’ve not seen this sexist behavior from females to guy performers however. It’s just one-way from guys to female performers. I sometimes wonder if los muchachos had intended to go to a “straight” sex video site and by mistake ended up at a classical music video. Also, some of the CMS claim to have degrees in music, but from my experience the most humble and down to Earth musicians with degrees in music don’t feel the need to shove their degrees in other people’s faces. I’ve known some DMAs (Doctor of Musical Arts) who referred to themselves by their first name rather than as “Dr.”

Contrast the CMS with classical music performers. They are two very different groups. From my experience and with few exceptions, classical musicians are very informal, down-to-Earth, not snooty, not pretentious nor do they try to put on airs of superiority. I often think that the CMS are people who wanted to be musicians but just didn’t have it! They didn’t become a musician for a lack of talent or skill level. And online they sit around with their snooty nose in the air and write these pretentious-sounding comments as High Authorities on all matters of classical music. They try to emulate so-called “professional” music critics. They’re such know-it-alls. They’ll go on about how the artist missed the C# in measure so and so and had other wrong notes. I’m thinking: Don’t you assholes have anything better to do with your time than to go on at length about one note in some measure or to do a measure-by-measure critique of someone’s playing? And whenever it’s a performance by a not-so-well-known artist, the CMS feel the need to say, “well it’s okay, it was good but I much prefer the performance by [name of very well-known international artist]. They love to drop names and genuflect to well-known international artists. I suspect they think that gives them credibility and makes their opinion more valuable than that of other people. They’re doing their own “Keeping up Appearances” routine. That was funny when actor Patricia Routledge did that as Hyacinth Bucket (“it’s Bouquet”) in the British comedy “Keeping Up Appearances.” The CMS make a point of talking about a piece being too slow or too fast — in other words, played differently than the way they’ve always heard it — and other critical comments.

The Classical Music SnotsTM really ruin classical music for a lot of people. They turn many people off to classical music and they give classical music a bad image in many people’s minds.

As a musician, I don’t like to criticise other musicians and I rarely do so because I know how it can feel to have one’s playing/performance criticised by arrogant assholes such as the CMS. I feel sorry for artists who have to listen to locos/crazies going on about this was wrong (according to them) and that was wrong after the artist spent so much of their time learning the piece and/or re-preparing it and performing it well, but just not identical to some big-name artist that the CMS worship and adore. For example, if a pianist’s posture is terrible — if the pianist is all bent over with their face almost on the keyboard — and not sitting up tall/supporting their back which makes my back ache just watching them play, I say nothing to the artist. That terrible posture/position is the way s/he was unfortunately trained and I’m not getting paid to correct their posture. I would think s/he would have back problems at some point being so consistently hunched over and not supporting his/her back at the piano. Or, if I don’t like someone’s playing or a performance, I don’t say anything because why bother? The performance is over and it is what it was, so why make the artist feel badly because someone didn’t like something about the performance? If there were real problems with the performance, maybe the artist had an “off” day. Or their performance was their interpretation of the piece. But with the CMS, if someone plays something even slightly differently than they’ve always heard it played (by some big-named artist), with their nose in the air arrogance they start in on the artist with their self-appointed authority. El culo.

I watched a performance the other day from Alemania/Deutschland/Germany of Sir William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, one of favourite works for Chorus and Orchestra. I enjoyed their performance. Because of my choral training, I pay special attention to choral diction. I thought the diction from this Chorus was splendid. It was a Chorus from Deutschland singing in English, which is not easy for them to do. I suspect they brought in an English-language coach to help train the Chorus on pronunciations, as was the case for the Orchestra Choruses I was in. Well, some of the CMS felt the need to whine about some of the diction and how they pronounced certain words, such as the word “eunuchs.” I noticed a few subtle things with some pronunciations such as the text “tasted the wine” which they sang (what sounded like to me) “tasted the vine,” because the “w” is a “v” sound in German. I thought it was sorta interesting to sing it that way and I didn’t have any problem with it. I felt empathetic to them), but overall I thought their diction was superb. They were a very well-prepared Chorus, despite the CMS and their snide-assed remarks. Belshazzar’s Feast is a difficult work with all those choral and orchestral dissonances.

Then with hesitation, I was reading the comments the other day under a video for an outstandingly superb concert organist. Some CMS asshole felt the need to say this to the organist (although this is a tame comment for the CMS):

“I would enjoy this more if you left out the juvenile and vain exaggerated movements. Your music doesn’t need it.”

*roll eyes* Ugh.

Then another CMS asshole showed up to wash that assholes back and wrote:

“I agree, it’s rehearsed – not natural. He is very talented, but too young as well – and by too young I mean he doesn’t realize it is okay to sit still and let the music do the motion.”

Sigh. Now what did those two pieces of basura expect to accomplish by telling this organist that and being critical of his body movements during his performance? I noticed his body movements and I’ve seen similar body movements on occasion from other organists. They didn’t bother me. His body movements looked quite “natural” for him whether they were “rehearsed” body movements or not. Some people would call his body movements his “theatrics.” That’s his style and if you (CMS) don’t like it, then go watch somebody else that you do like if you can possible find somebody you do like.

I have a suggestion for you: Why don’t you obnoxious assholes record this piece yourself to show us all how it should be done (according to omnipotent you)? How’s that? And instead of whining about other people’s performances, record each piece yourself that you come across and don’t like of someone’s performance, okay? So when can we expect to see your videos uploaded on YouG**gleTube? I should point out that usually the CMS have no videos at all of their own that they have recorded themselves. None. They just like to sit around and whine about other people’s performances.

At one local piano performance years ago, I went over to tell the pianist that I enjoyed his playing. El hombre in front of me told the artist, “I think there was too much pedal in the Brahms,” and then proceeded to list other problems that he supposedly heard with the performance. I was standing there thinking to myself: I can’t believe what I’m hearing. What a jerk! I’m standing behind a Classical Music SnotTM. The pianist responded: “Well, maybe I need to work on those things.” I was shaking my head and thinking: No, you don’t need to work on those things. You’re dealing with a inconsiderate person here. The CMS finally walked away after completing his critique and I greeted the pianist. I knew him to some degree anyway and I said: Your pedaling in the Brahms was fine and ignore all that other basura. He laughed and said, “You know, some people think they know everything don’t they?” I said yes they do. I told him: You played beautifully and I enjoyed it. Muchas gracias.

Then at another piano performance, I went to tell the pianist that I thoroughly enjoyed his Rachmaninov Etudes-Tableaux. I like him very much as a person and his playing. He had a few problems in one or two of them (no big deal) and he mentioned the problems to me when we talked because he knew I knew the pieces. I said, “Oh forget about it! You played beautifully. Those pieces are very difficult and I thoroughly enjoyed them and muchas gracias to you for playing Rachmaninov. I hope you play them again.” He looked so pleased and relieved. He went on to say that they are such beautiful pieces — which they are — which was his way of making it all about Rachmaninov and making Rachmaninov the center of attention, and not him and his playing, which I especially liked. Very humble.

The Prudes of Classical Music

The CMS are most assuredly the prudes of classical music, as one might expect. They remind me of the constipated conservatives around San Francisco’s Castro barrio with body-image issues who have sanitised San Francisco’s conservative Castro (the former gay mecca). The CMS try to give the impression they don’t have bodily functions. They’re above that, you know, just like the elitist techies. (By the way, I’ve heard that these lobotomised techies think they need several expensive apps on their smart stupidphone to instruct these alleged geniuses on how to go to the bathroom using a smart toiletTM and smart toilet paperTM).

Awhile back, I noticed that a publication in the District of Columbia was comparing two of the Orchestra Choruses in the District. The article began with something to the effect that the DC area has “a shitload of Choruses.” Well, down in the comments the CMS had to lash out at the writer for using the language “shitload.” The CMS prudes just couldn’t deal with that. I thought it was funny and fortunately the writer didn’t change it to pacify them.

Ugly Nationalism in Classical Music

The CMS are also unfortunately nationalistic in that, for example, they think that only someone from Russia can play Rachmaninov well or authentically. Las chorradas. So it doesn’t matter how beautifully a non-Russian artist plays the Rachmaninov Second or Third Piano Concerto, because the artist is not Russian his/her performance can’t be as good as someone born in Russian, which is ludicrous thinking! What idiots comes up with this stuff and then the unthinking CMS sheeple mindlessly repeat it? Humans! The country one happens to be born in has nothing to do with how well the artist can play a piece. It has to do with many other factors including his/her talent, one’s ear for music, their training and other factors. But using the CMS’s thinking, only people born en Alemania/Germany can play Bach well or the way Bach was intended to be played, or only los Mexicanos can play a piece authentically by a composer born en México. Nonsense. I read a comment on one video saying, “Russia produces good pianists and violinists.” Well, Russia produces some good pianists and violinists as well as many other things just as many other countries do. Also, some things are culturally-based such as Sergei Rachmaninov being very influenced by Russian church bells in his music.

Feminism and Masculine Interpretations of a Piece?

I never knew that pieces/interpretations had a gender, did you? Apparently they do now. I was reading the comments under a video for the Rachmaninov Third (Piano Concerto No. 3) awhile back and someone wrote, “here we have a nice feminine interpretation of this concerto…” I listened to parts of it — I’ve worked on that concerto — and it sounded no differently to me than when a guy plays it, so I had no idea what la loca meant by a “feminine interpretation” other than the pianist performing was una mujer/a woman. Staying on that same crazy train of thought, I’d like to ask that person this: Since Rachmaninov was un hombre/a man, shouldn’t the interpretation of his piece be “masculine” for it to be the closest to authentic, hmmmmmmmm? (That might have them thinking for awhile). Humans are getting more loco by the day.

I’ve noticed that the CMS also rush to defend some Anglican churches and cathedrals with trebles (boy choristers) who don’t have video webcasts of their liturgies. The CMS say that these churches/cathedrals should not broadcast their liturgies online because of child molesters who could be watching the webcast. LOL. As loco/crazy as that sounds, you might be thinking I’m making this up, but I’m not. That’s what I’ve read from them. That’s curious because I know of one cathedral church of the Anglican Communion that has been broadcasting their webcasts of their liturgies for years showing the Men and Boys of the Cathedral Choir and they’ve never had any problem. And I would point out that if any treble/choirboy is going to be molested, the molester would likely come from within the church (as in the clergy). I’m unclear on this thinking of how someone would walk in off the street and molest a choirboy? Loco. I’m an Anglican Atheist, but from my Anglican experience, the choirboys were/are kept quite isolated. They arrive at the parish or the cathedral church with their parents and go immediately to the Choir Room. From my experience, even the Men of the Cathedral Choir had no direct contact with the boys. The Men would rehearse separately in the Choir Room and then the boys would come in as a group and sit in front of the men for the full rehearsal during the weekday rehearsal or before a Liturgy on Domingo/Sunday. Or the Men and Boys would rehearse together in the Quire stalls in the Cathedral. So even if a child molester were to attend the Liturgy it would be impossible for a molester to have any contact with a choirboy. And I would like to point out the following:

“Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances, such as “friends” of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. [Source: Child sexual abuse]

You know, it’s too bad that the Classical Music SnotsTM can’t find something else more constructive to do with their time. They desperately need a new hobby. They need something to polish to occupy their time. How about something tasteful with hand-engraved cut-glass fingerbowls, no? Or, oh I know, how about flower arranging, no? Chau.—el barrio rosa

Matt Damon and Gay Actors

Hola. I think I should stop reading any articles with the word “gay” in the title as these days I come away from the article infuriated by people’s stupidity. I’m well aware that stupid is “in,” and it’s “cool,” to be stupid here en Los Estados Unidos/the US. But still, you’d think there might be the occasional exception to that, no?

Actor Matt Damon says that a person is a better actor when the viewer knows little or nothing about the actor. He claims that one’s sexuality is a major part of that, whether one is “straight” or Queer. He’s of the thinking that the viewer should know nothing about the actor’s sexuality, so as to leave one’s sexual orientation a mystery.

*roll eyes*

Well Matt, to begin with, as with any artist, what people know about you should have nothing to do with your acting ability or performance. Your acting ability should be consistently superb regardless of what people know about you if you’re secure as a person, secure with your sexuality and secure as an artist/actor. And why are you limiting this nonsense-thinking to just actors? Why don’t you apply this to anyone before a camera?

Secondly, don’t most actors play a “straight”/heterosexual role? (Yes they do). Even Queer actors play “straight” roles. The problem with Matt’s thinking is that in our society most people assume that an actor is “straight” to begin with. And that’s the case especially if the actor is “good-looking.” (I know “good-looking” is subjective, but hopefully you know what I’m talking about). Over the years I’ve read comments from people online asking the question if some actor or musician is gay. The response is typically, “No, he can’t be gay because he’s so hot and good-looking.” Sigh. Of course that is bigoted and pathetic thinking. It implies that gay actors/musicians are not “good-looking.” Some people also respond to that question by saying, “No, he’s not gay. He has a wife and kids,” which is another ignorant thing to say since there are thousands and thousands of closeted gay guys who are married to females and have children. Many of whom come out of the closet years later and that’s when one hears the standard:

“Honey, we need to talk. I’m gay and I’ve always been gay. When we got married I was just following the Family’s Script for me — because I knew I would get hell if I didn’t — by getting married to you. Then came the, “When are you going to start a family?” nagging from our families so I thought about guys when I was having sex with you. I now want a divorce. We can deal with the house and my child-support and visitation rights for the kids in court. I’m leaving now to move in with my longtime boyfriend. I’ll see you in court. Have a nice day.”

Also, with the internet it’s very easy to find out something about actors, or anybody else for that matter. A lot of people research actors and want to know more about them. I look up actors who are in telenovelas to learn a bit more about them and what s/he was previously cast in. I find it interesting. Only once or twice have I regretted looking up something about an actor and learning something about him or her that I wish I hadn’t read. So who takes this “blank slate” approach to an actor where the viewer wants to know nothing about the actor that Matt Damon is talking about? Who does that? Loco./Crazy.

And with all of these chisme/gossip shows celebrating “celebrity culture” (all about actors and musicians) on nearly any network and in gossip publications, is there any actor out there that the public knows nothing about? I wouldn’t think so. And I would think that the public would say that all of these actors are “straight.” They would automatically assume that because we live in a heteronormative fucked-up society.

So in my opinion, it is important that Queer actors come out of that moldy closet and let it be known that s/he is gay (GLBTQ), because otherwise the public will assume that the actor is “straight.” And why is that the case, class? Because, again (for the thick people), we live in a very heteronormative society where the majority of people are allegedly “straight.”

As I’ve pointed out many times before, look at corporate network programming. It’s all heterosexual-based, and I’m sick of it. Queer people I know are sick of it. Some GLBTQ idiots have said that, “Gay is now Mainstream.” Luducrious! Not on my mainstream television it’s not. I don’t know what drugs these idiots are on or what corporate network they’re watching but my mainstream television screen is not saturated day and night with Queer people and Queer couples making out. Instead, I’m constantly seeing “straight” make-out scenes, “straight” besos, “straight” hand-holding, “straight” emotional meltdowns where la muchacha is always crying about something (Get. A. Grip!) and “straight” sex scenes (before the camera moves away… thank goodness!… I don’t think I could take that when he looks like he should be with a Queer boy and she with una lesbiana), and so on. I see only heteronormative programming on television.

In fact, while writing this I walked by my television and I saw an ad for solar panels and apparently that company only wants “straight” white couples buying their solar panels because they showed the typical “straight” white (required) hand-holding couple walking through a field of grass.

A 3-way with a Car?

Then the other day, I saw a commercial (presumably) for a car but the commercial seemed to be more about promoting “straight” sexuality. The commercial was more about this “straight” young, white couple and their affection for each other and their required hand-holding than it was about the car. At one point in this ad, the camera zoomed in on their locked hands down at their side. Now I don’t know what the fuck that had to do with buying this car. At the end of the ad, we see this couple leaning up against this car and looking fawningly at each other. I was asking my television: So what are you trying to sell here? I’m confused. Are you trying to sell this “straight” young white couple, OR that car they’re leaning up against? I know people are into all kinds of things sexually so maybe this is an ad promoting a type of 3-way with a car. Do young, white “straight” couples have 3-ways with their car?

But one thing is certain: In commercials I happen to see, “straight” white (usually young) couples with their mandatory hand-holding are always walking somewhere. That’s one of the major marketing requirements for ads it seems. Or el chico has his hands and arms around her waist and as they’re walking in lockstep he seems to be pushing her forward as if she were a wagon. (Women’s liberation is dead; we’ve gone back to the time where women are subservient to men from all indications I see). It’s obvious that these companies don’t want any business from GLBTQs because we don’t exist in their ads. That’s how “mainstream” we are. Oh some programme on the odd occasion may have una lesbiana couple on discussing their problems with some anti-gay family bigots, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I think one should dismiss what Matt Damon says. Since a “straight” actor (Matt Damon) in a heteronormative society is suggesting this. Consider the source.

Queer actors should come out of that closet and let it be known that they’re Queer so the viewing public does not assume they’re “straight.” Unless Queers have decided to stay in that unhealthy closet or go back in the closet for whatever reason. And if that’s the case, that’s just another indicator of just how “Gay is now Mainstream.” Yeah right. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Pianists: Use your scores. Screw these outdated traditions.

Pianists: Use your scores, if you want to, and feel more comfortable while performing. It’s interesting that the musicians who have the most notes to play and who don’t perform on an instrument they are accustomed to — pianists specifically — are required to memorise their repertoire for a performance, according to outdated tradition.

Hola. The screwed-up classical music tradition dictates the following for pianists:

When giving a solo performance, a pianist should not use his/her score. S/he is to play “from memory.”

Why is that? I reject that. I say do what you want to do.

Tradition also dictates that when giving a performance as soloist with a lot of musicians (meaning an orchestra) for a piano concerto the pianist should not use his/her score.

And why is that? Just because someone wears the label of soloist for a performance they can’t use their score? What nut dreamed that up? I reject that too. It’s nonsense. Again, I say do what you want to do.

Screw this tradition nonsense as it pertains to “soloist.”

But. Tradition also dictates that if the pianist is performing with four other musicians (a piano quintet, for example) it’s perfectly acceptable to use your score.

Oh. So it’s okay then to use the score? Well I agree with that one, but how is that any different than performing with an orchestra? It’s not. There are just more musicians on stage with an orchestra.

This twisted thinking seems to be:

The more musicians on stage = the score is not allowed.
The fewer musicians on stage = the score is allowed.

That’s because the piano is the featured instrument/“soloist” (there’s that word again), whether it’s a piano concerto (with a full orchestra) or a piano quintet (with four other musicians).

This thinking is absolutely loco/crazy.

Tradition also dictates that if a pianist is performing with one other musician — meaning the pianist is accompanying a “soloist” –, the pianist can use the score in that case.

How nice. And I agree with that.

Whenever this topic of pianists using their scores comes up and I have the opportunity to explain this to non-musicians, while I’m explaining it to them they look at me as if I’m crazy because — as they say (and I agree with them) — what tradition dictates doesn’t make any sense using basic logic. True. I’ve been asked many times: Why is using the score okay in one situation but not in another, and who cares that you use your score?!

There’s a whole group of busy-bodied people who do care. They’re called traditionalists and the Classical Music SnotsTM. But I’m not one of them. I generally reject tradition(s). Not all traditions, but most I would say. For example, I can’t stand the holidays. So many traditions make absolutely no sense at all when one applies critical thinking skills to them — such as these outdated tradition about pianists using their score. It’s so trivial.

Also, over the years when I’ve asked people (again non-musicians mostly) how they feel about a pianist using their scores, literally everyone said to me: “Oh it makes no difference to me whatsoever whether a pianist is using their score or not. I’m there to enjoy the music and I’m not concerned at all about whether they’re reading music or not.” Some people have told me that they prefer to see a pianist use the score because it gives more of a “chamber music” feel to the performance. I understand that. That’s because, as I pointed out earlier, with chamber music the pianist is allowed to use the score, according to tradition.

So where did this silly tradition come from of when and when not to use a score for pianists and “soloists” in particular? It came from a tradition started by people’s messiah god Franz LisztTM back in the 1800s. El chico, Don Franz Liszt, played very well and did some things in performance that nobody had ever done before — so that caused some sheeple to ooooh and aaaaah over him (you know how the sheeple are) and because of that he became and continues to be some people’s “messiah” in the stuffy and orthodox classical music field. Conductor William Christie, founder and director of Les Arts Florissants, talked about the classical music tradition a little bit in this article.

There are some idiot traditionalists who say, “using the score makes the artist look unprepared.” *roll eyes* What nonsense! Does an orchestra and conductor look “unprepared” because they have their scores before them on music stands? No. And what intelligent person prejudges an artist based on how they “look” before the artist has play the first note to determine whether the artist is prepared or not?

Who’s unprepared in this scenario:

One pianist performs without the score and has memory slips during the performance.

Another pianist performs with the score and plays the piece in its entirety and very musically.

Who’s unprepared there? In reality, both pianists may be completely prepared, despite how the artist looks and despite the memory slips from the first pianist. It’s really best not to prejudge the artist based on superficial “looks.” Give the artist the opportunity to perform before making baseless conclusions about him or her. But often (conservative) traditionalists — known as the Classical Music SnotsTM– with their many prejudices like to prejudge people.

These days I’m seeing more pianists perform with their scores (see video at the bottom of the page, for example) and I’m pleased to see that. Pianist Nelson Freire used his score for a concerto performance at the BBC Proms. I guess the traditionalists had a diarrhea episode over that. I can hear them now: “How dare Nelson Freire use his score for something as important as the BBC Proms.” Oh, por favor!

In an interview, international concert pianist Cristina Ortíz said that she used her score when performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra many years ago. She had just learned the Stenhammer Piano Concerto and hadn’t had time to memorise it, so she used the score. She said, “who cares if you use the score?!” Apparently no one did in Chicago.

One local solo pianist I’ve seen for years is now using his scores, or at least he was in the video I saw of him performing. He was also casually dressed which was very good to see, although still in funeral-black. He rarely used his scores in the past, although when I talked with him after one performance about it he said, “I have no problem with a pianist using his/her score. It should be left up to the artist.” Exactamente. This pianist always played “from memory” in part because he told me, “I like to get out of the score and for me the score can sometimes get in the way.” Well, that “from memory” routine can get pretty old and tiresome too for pianists.

I’ve seen so many local pianists over the years have memory slips — it made my stomach ache each time — and I felt sorry for them because I know how that can be. One pianist I went to hear left out most of the second movement of a Beethoven sonata because she couldn’t get back on track following her memory slip, so her performance of that sonata ended much sooner than it would have been had she played the entire piece. She looked like she felt like crawling under the piano when she took her bow after the Beethoven. I felt empathy for her. She played well, even though we didn’t hear all of the sonata. Had she used her score, we would have heard all of the second movement.

Some people don’t seem to understand that one’s mind can do any and all kinds of things during a (solo) performance. Even someone who is thoroughly prepared and can “play the piece in their sleep” can have memory problems with their mind messing with them during the nervousness and stress of a performance. It does not matter how much someone has drilled a piece/rehearsed it or even if they have performed it hundreds of times before. The artist can still have a problem with the piece if their mind starts to create problems for them or if the mind wanders or is distracted for some reason (like someone walking by the piano during a performance as happens locally on occasion at one concert venue). There can also be very tricky places in a piece which can throw the pianist off when playing “from memory” no matter how much they’ve drilled that particular place in the score.

I went to hear a pianist from the University of California at Davis School of Music perform Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux (they are very difficult pieces). She played “from memory.” I enjoyed her performance very much and Rachmaninov is one of my favourite composers (along with Anglican composer Herbert Howells). She played beautifully but during one of the pieces she had a memory slip like most everybody else I’ve heard at one time or another. I was sitting in the second row and I heard her say, “Oh shit” rather loudly during one of the Etudes. LOL. She kept going. I think she automatically skipped to another section in the etude. Even though we’re taught to say nothing when something goes wrong, she did voice her memory slip. I thought it was funny, not that she made the memory slip but her response to it.

There can also be a first and second ending which can be very similar in a piece and if playing without the score the pianist can have a memory slip when approaching the second ending and get looped back around into the first part of the piece again until the pianist is able to remember the second ending correctly from memory and go on. With memory slips, hopefully the artist can improvise in the style of the piece to try to remember how to go on. Sometimes that’s impossible as the pianist doesn’t have the ability to improvise.

Also, if a pianist (or any musician for that matter) makes a mistake or has a “slip of the finger,” it’s best to immediately forget about that. But some pianists can’t do that so they start obsessing/thinking about that mistake they just made and that their performance is now not “perfect.” Sigh. Well, doing that then causes the musician to make another mistake — because their mind is not on what they’re currently playing sort of on automatic pilot — so then there’s two mistakes to obsess over. Then another slip happens and another and at that point the musician feels like starting over but can’t do so. When I was teaching, students were constantly asking me, “can I start over?” My answer: No, keep going. You can’t start over in performance so don’t start over here. Don’t get in that bad habit.

None of the above that I’ve just described that can happen during a (solo) performance has anything to do with an artist not being completely prepared. But all of this can effect an artist’s performance wherein the artist may appear to not be prepared from the perspective of the audience.

Most instrumentalists play just one note at a time. How difficult it is to memorise single-note lines?

Here’s a sample of a violin score

Here’s a sample of a Bass Clarinet in B Flat score

Here’s a sample of a flute score

Yes, most instrumentalists play one note at a time. But pianist have notes in both hands — and lots of notes in both hands in some cases — look at Rachmaninov’s beautiful huge chords of his Sonata No. 2 for solo piano, for example:

Here’s a sample of Rachmaninov’s Sonata No. 2

Here’s a sample of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3

Here’s a sample of Henri Mulet’s Tu es petra (toccata) for pipe organ

Of these six examples, which one would be easier to play and memorise?

I’d go with the violin, bass clarinet and flute as being much easier. From having worked on the Rachmaninov Sonata No. 2 and the Third Piano Concerto, I know from experience how difficult they are. They’re nothing like playing or memorising a single line of notes.

I’m not trying to make this a competition between instruments and what instrument is more difficult. That’s not the point here. I’m merely pointing out that from experience I know that it’s much easier to memorise a single line of notes than thick textures with handfuls of notes which both pianists and organists play. Pianists and organists also play the “single note line” (which is usually the melody) plus we play all the accompanying notes/texture too. That’s much more difficult and complicated than what other instrumentalists play and have to memorise. And in the case of pipe organ, organists have the pedal work to master which is the same as playing another keyboard (so that’s 2-3 keyboards/manuals at a time in the case of pipe organ). Organists also have registration changes while they’re playing, unless one has a registrant. But I can see why some musicians apparently embrace this tradition of memorising for someone wearing the label of “soloist” when s/he only plays one note at time. Yes, that would be very easy to do coming from a piano and organ perspective. I know for me, a piece by JS Bach seems easy after playing Rachmaninov or Scriabin. I should also point out that organists don’t seem to have this rigid requirement that pianists do. From my experience, it’s acceptable for organists to use their scores or not for solo performance.

Some years ago, concert pianist John McCabe in the UK began using his scores for piano concerti. He told his concert manager that for his engagements with orchestras to please request a page turner. He started using his scores because of memory slips during concerto performances. He said he knew the concerto he was playing with an orchestra perfectly well from memory. He told the interviewer that the reason he started using his scores was because in one performance he got distracted. He missed his piano entrance because he said he heard someone in the orchestra play an entrance that he had never heard before. Well, his mind began thinking about that and he forgot to come in with his piano entrance. He said that this happened again. So in his case it was a matter of being distracted, which can easily happen.

At the school of music where I trained, a pianist had a major memory slip during the student soloist competition concert. She was playing the first movement of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with our Symphony Orchestra. (She should have used her score no matter how well she knew the piece.) When she began her memory slip, that caused the violin section to fail to come in because they didn’t get their cue from the piano (or apparently from the conductor either). The conductor was trying to deal with the pianist and her memory slip to get her back on track, somehow. Then part of the wind section missed their entrance because they didn’t get their cue from the violins. Then the brass section failed to come in because they didn’t get their cue from the wind section. Well, the whole thing almost shut down. It sounded rather bare at one point with just a few instrument playing something. I guess the conductor didn’t think to pick up his conductor’s score and go over to the piano and show her the score and whisper to her kindly: “This is where you are, mi amor. Play something, por favor! Let’s get this thing started up again.” LOL. Fortunately, the pianist played something and that part of the concerto gradually got back on track, but it was slow-going and tense there for awhile. Here’s an interesting article: When memory fails, great musicians have ways of coping: Some keep playing.

Except for Pianists, don’t most instrumentalists perform on their own instruments?

Yes they do. So strings and winds, for example, perform on the exact same instrument they prepare their pieces on, which means they play the same instrument all the time even in performance. Pianists and organists don’t have that luxury. Other than Vladamir Horowitz, pianists can’t haul their piano (and piano technician) around from one performance space to another. The piano one is required to play in a hall can very much effect one’s playing, especially the action of the piano. (I’ve played on some pianos with terrible action.) I remember international concert artist, Cristina Ortíz, asking on her blog, “Is it just me, but does no other pianist have a problem with the piano in Queen Elizabeth Hall (in London)?” It’s a concert grand piano (I presume), but apparently it’s inferior to the grand piano that Doña Cristina has in her home. She also says the placement of the piano on the stage or with an orchestra effects her playing. The piano has to be just right for her to feel completely comfortable in performance. Doña Cristina much prefers the Hamburg Steinway piano which we don’t have here in The Imperialistic Empire/the US, and that’s one reason she does not like to perform en Los Estados Unidos/the US. (Who in their right mind would want to come here anyway, for any reason?) From what I know about the New York Steinway and the Hamburg Steinway, the main differences are in the action. The New York Steinway manufactures their own action whereas the Hamburg outsource their action to the highly-regarded Renner action manufacturer en Alemania/Deutschland/Germany. The Hamburg Steinway tends to have a thicker soundboard. Another reason Doña Cristina does not like to perform here is because of the piano placement for piano concerti where the piano is stuck out like a what-not on the stage in front of the orchestra rather than being more inside the orchestra (as part of the orchestra, the way it’s done in Europe for concerti performances). She said that she only needs a few seconds with a Steinway to tell whether it’s a Hamburg Steinway or a New York.

Also, every piano is different and it’s different than the piano one prepares one’s repertoire on. The acoustics of the room are different. That effects one’s pedaling. When I was teaching, some students would often ask me to write in pedaling. Instead, I taught them to listen closely to themselves while playing and pedal accordingly, and veer on the side of “dry” rather than “wet” when pedaling. Any pedaling I might write in their score would only work for the room I was teaching in and that acoustic. Usually a pianist has little time to adjust to the new piano in a recital/concert setting and the room’s acoustics before a performance and s/he has to deal with that while trying to play “from memory.” That can be very stressful and difficult. Whereas most other instrumentalists come out on stage and play on the instrument they’ve rehearsed on for years (depending upon how long they’ve owned their instrument) and they are completely comfortable in that context because they’re playing their own instrument. Again, that is not the case with pianists (or organists, other than church organists giving a performance in their own church).

I once asked a local pianist if he enjoyed performing. He said, “I have mixed feelings about it. You can be thoroughly prepared and know the pieces inside-out and able to play them in your head away from the piano. I play these pieces just fine at home, repeatedly. Then you get into the performance environment and “the fingers have a mind of their own.” I’ll make some slip of the finger or some mistake that I’ve never ever made before and depending upon how drastic it is that can send me into a tail-spin. My memory disappears temporarily, in part, because I’m on a new piano or a piano with not-so-good/bad action and my pedaling is different now because of the acoustic of the room, and I have to start improvising in the style of the piece until I can get back on track.” That’s a lot to deal with. I said: Yes, I completely understand. Well maybe you should use your scores in performance. He said, “I’m leaning more and more towards that these days.”
Good idea. More pianists should, because isn’t the best performance the ultimate goal? Regardless of these ridiculous and outdated rules that some nut(s) came up with about using or not using the score depending upon the situation. Ugh.

When I trained, all pianists were required to “play from memory” and I did so (but never felt completely comfortable with it), and since then I’ve rejected this memorisation nonsense after giving it a lot of thought and from teaching students.

I also now see this performing “from memory” routine as being a bit pretentious and trying to put on airs of superiority. It looks pretentious, as if the person or group performing without their score(s) is trying to give the impression to the audience that, “We don’t need our scores” (spoken with nose in the air) and “We’re better than those other musicians who do need their scores.” (Oh really?….and then you proceed to have a memory slip!) I’ve seen videos of some choral groups perform “from memory” and I really didn’t like the looks of that at all because they look like a bank of statues (literally) regurgitating the score on cue on auto-pilot while all staring motionless at the conductor. Without their scores, their bodies gave no indication they were even getting into the music. (Whereas musicians who hold their scores often move around a bit which I like to see, especially with a well-trained Chorus). To me it looked artificial when you have that many people in a group looking frozen in place with only their mouths moving while singing. I noticed that when the camera focused on a certain chorister on occasion that his/her mouth would not be moving as if the person were having a memory slip.

Often when I accompanied instrumental soloists, they came out on stage or in the performance area with a music stand to hold their score. The “soloist” hadn’t memorised their single note lines?

Everybody is different. Not everyone needs to do what almighty messiah god Liszt did. I don’t really care what he did, so I don’t feel this need to emulate him. From what I know about him, he was considered the “pop culture” of his day. *roll eyes* I don’t worship people and feel the need to do what somebody else does. I’m very independent and I do what I want to do. And there should not be some Declaration from on high in the style of a congressional resolution about what classical piano artists/soloist should do.

Now, when are they going to get rid of that outdated funeral-drab black and white “formal” performance attire that musicians have been wearing for generations in the classical music tradition? What nut created that tradition of wearing “formal” attire for performances? How about having everyone — Orchestra, Chorus and “soloists” of all varieties — in beautiful bright Latin colours. Put some vivid colour on that dull, drab, conservative stage. Why is the slowly-dying classical music field so afraid of colour? You’re not at a funeral or a memorial. Speaking of that, I have noticed that it’s improved slightly in Britain (for the Proms) and in Caracas with Orchestra and Symphony Chorus members wearing open black shirts and black pants/black dresses. They’ve at least buried that tired white shirt tradition. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Below is a brief clip — I’m sorry it’s not longer but it’s all I could find of this — of a performance from the Salzburg Festival. You’ll see that everyone is using their score including pianist Martha Argerich. Doña Martha has a page turner. I especially like this orquesta desde Caracas, Venezuela: Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. They’re superb. You can also hear them in this performance from Caracas.

[Note: One of my commenters, Conservatory student, contributed to this article.]

Folsom Street Fair (2015)

Hola. ¿Qué tal? Mi amigo went to the Folsom Street Fair (FSF) this past Domingo/Sunday and below is his report:

When I arrived, I asked what is going on here? For the first two hours of the fair there were a lot of straight couples there. I saw some straight make-out scenes and hand-holding. I’d never seen this at the Folsom Street Fair before. It doesn’t happen. At one of the booths, there were two guys making out and one of the guys had his hand in the other guy’s pants. Nothing unusual about that at FSF. However, three straights couples saw these two guys making out and one straight couple said to the others with bugged-out eyes and with their hand covering their wide-open mouths in shock:

“This is just wrong. This is disgustingly wrong.”

I began to wonder if Folsom Street Fair were turning into a bigoted straight fair. Witnessing this anti-gay bigotry quickly brought to mind what you and I have talked about many times and that’s the “Gays Can Now Live Anywhere” lie that GLBTQs have been repeating after each other, because this anti-Queer bigotry was happening right in front of me in San Francisco at a traditionally Queer event.

Soon after that incident, the straights seem to leave and the usual FSF went ahead as usual. The weather was extremely hot and humid for awhile, unusually hot. The hot temperatures may have helped to drive the straight bigots away. I was wondering why they were there? Were they residents of the luxury condos that have sprung up in the area? Did they just happen to be leaving their luxury condos at the time that the fair was getting underway?

There were more females taking part in the FSF this year. I’d say 40% of the people there were females. I saw some phone addiction but nothing like it was at Dore Alley 2015. I arrived early and when I first arrived I noticed that the straights were already drinking beer, but the gay guys were not. It took probably at least an hour to slowly walk the entire length of the fair. There were lots of nude females or partial nudity and partial nude guys with their dick hanging out of their jeans. I only saw one of the original naked guys there. Maybe he’s the last holdout of that small group of nude guys that we somehow needed a permanent city-wide nudity ban for, even though it was just a temporary flash in the pan that the conservatives made such a big deal about.

The main word I heard people speak at the fair was the word “like.” The word “like” was epidemic. I’ve never heard it that bad. That’s all I heard there. I heard people say:

I’m like
She’s like
It’s like
He’s like
I was like with him like

The stupidest sounding people. They can’t talk with each other without constantly saying the word “like.” By listening to people’s conversations, you’d conclude this is the dumbest country on the planet.

Going to the fair from the Castro and coming back I had expected the metro to be packed. It wasn’t. It looked like the people who went to the fair either live east or west of the Castro. Other than a few people that got on at Castro, it was as if no one from the Castro went. Or there are very few gay people living in the Castro now, or they’ve become too conservative to go to FSF. The metro train I was on coming back was packed, but they didn’t get off a Castro. Sometimes you and I see long lines at some of the gay bars in the Castro, but as we’ve suspected before they’re probably visitors and don’t live here.


Muchísimas gracias mi amigo: First, just to remind readers that San Francisco’s backward, ridiculous and prudish city-wide nudity ban — authored by a conservative gay asshole with body image issues — does not apply to the Folsom Street Fair.

My question about these “straight” assholes is: (Sigh) Why were they there and had they never heard anything about San Francisco and its past reputation before they moved here? (Assuming they live here). Where the fuck have they been not to know what goes on especially at the Folsom Street Fair? And do these bigots expect the Queers now to change to accommodate their bigoted way of thinking? The Castro has already been sanitised by conservative assholes and their merchant friends. Do they want to sanitise this one-day-a-year event too? They can fuck off! I can’t stand scum like them.

As for the “straight” make-out scenes (UGH!) and their perfunctory required hand-holding routine, I have to say they consistently look so insecure with themselves and their “relationship.” Tall him and short her have to pause on the sidewalk — in the middle of the sidewalk in people’s way — because she demands attention and affection right then and there. And they love to put on a show for people (especially for Queer boys). With these “straight” couples, the self-absorbed, needy and subservient-behaving chauvinistic female (she’s always walking one-half step behind the dominant guy) needs her hand held 24 hours a day by the guy (who she sees as daddy?) otherwise she goes ballistic and into a public emotional meltdown complete with a tsunami of tears followed by being an emotional wreck, and usually over something very trivial. The “straights” certainly have been well brainwashed with that behaviour haven’t they? (Yes, they have.) I and mis amigos see it all the time, unfortunately. As I’ve said before, corporate television is also full of heteronormative programming where that behaviour I just described is saturated in programmes.

By contrast, from what I’ve seen, we Queers aren’t that desperately needy or insecure with each other and our relationships. And Queers are also usually around the same height (we don’t have this tall (him)/short (her) thing going on). But these “straights!” UGH. Chau.—el barrio rosa


Chauvinism in The Castro (San Francisco)

I wouldn’t do well as a “straight” person

Why many GLBTQs resent “straights” coming to gay areas

What’s the problem with GLBTQ “assimilation?”

Is it GLBTQ or LGBT?

More of “Gay is now Mainstream”

The Anti-Gay Agenda in San Francisco

GLBTQs: Stop supporting heteronormative companies

Coming Soon: The Trinity Wall Street Praise Band

How long before praise bands appear at Trinity Wall Street?

Hola, after hearing The Trinity Choir perform, “Same Train” (*roll eyes*) for the 20 de septiembre Liturgy, mi amigo asked me:

“So, how long before a praise band shows up at Trinity Wall Street?”

Yeah. I understand his point. And the week before that they performed, “This Little Light O’ Mine.” I recently wrote about churches here in The Imperialistic Empire dumbing-down and bringing in praise bands to pacify their sheeple.

Nearly every time I check in with Trinity Wall Street (TWS), the Trinity Choir is singing spirituals/gospel-type music. Or there’s spiritual/gospel-type music for the Sequence Hymn (the hymn before The Gospel reading). Or there’s spiritual/gospel-type music for the Communion Hymn. That’s often accompanied by Julian playing that grand piano they have parked in front of the High Altar.

For the 2015-16 season, I see they have lost a few excellent choristers, maybe only temporarily (Dashon, Steven CW, and Matthew come to mind). The Trinity Choir has quite a revolving door. They have a core group of choristers but other than the core group one never know who’s going to show up. The thing that stays the same about this Chorus is the name: The Trinity Choir.

I’ve often said that it seems that Dr Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street, is in the wrong denomination. I think he would be much better in a Southern Baptist church instead of an Anglican parish because of his strong interest and affection for spirituals and gospel-type music. From my experience in Anglican parishes and cathedral churches, spirituals and gospel-type repertoire are not used.

From time-to-time, I’ve kept up with what The Trinity Choir has been performing since I stopped watching their Liturgies. I stopped watching their Liturgies mainly because of their annoying camera work. They love to show parishioners receiving Communion — there’s not much to look at with that since it looks the same each week — instead of showing viewers the Communion Anthem being sung by The Trinity Choir. Their camera people have this deep devotion to their ceiling. Oh they do so love their ceiling and they want all viewers to see their ceiling repeatedly. (It’s an ordinary ceiling.) From the ceiling, the camera slowly moves down to the stained glass windows and then to the High Altar, none of which changes from week-to-week. I think the intent is to give the impression that one is sitting in the Nave and looking around the church. But when The Trinity Choir is performing shouldn’t the person sitting in the pew be looking at them rather than off looking at the ceiling or the windows? And because of their camerawork, you’ve missed seeing The Trinity Choir perform a part of their anthem because la producción think they know best and think you the viewer must look at the ceiling, windows and High Altar. For some time, I’ve sensed that the camera people view the music at TWS as secondary or background to the Liturgy. They show The Trinity Choir intermittently. They’re mostly shown from back in the Nave. With their camera work, the thinking seems to be the same mentality that the corporate media have here in the US which is, “Keep that camera moving for the no-attention span sheeple.” Well, I would think that anyone who goes out of their way to watch a Liturgy from TWS would have a bit of an attention span, no?

Another reason I say la producción see the music as secondary is that viewers no longer get to see the organist play the organ voluntaries as used to be the case. They apparently removed that camera from the left side of the organ console where it used to be. So while the organ voluntaries are being played — and I should point out that the organ voluntary is still part of the Liturgy so parishioners should not be yapping/talking over it — the viewer is shown the Nave and people standing around talking and disrespecting the organ voluntary. Some parishioners are doing a “show and tell” and showing each other their phones and they’re sharing in their smartstupidphone addiction (smartphones are transforming have transformed society into a sea of stupid). Ugh. Sadly, some people can’t even be in church these days without engaging in their phone addiction.

The Trinity Choir that I listened to when I was watching their Liturgies regularly during the 2013-14 season (when Dashon and Steven CW and Matthew were in the Choir) excelled at Renaissance music. They were superb at music of the Renaissance period, which is not just for Lent. And it pissed me off when TWS deleted those superb performances from their website, which told me that they don’t really have an ear for music or consider the music that important, because the performances they deleted were extraordinarily superb. Renaissance music sets a very different mood for a Liturgy than spirituals and gospel-type music. The Trinity Choir of the 2013-14 season reminded me of the superb Chorus of Les Arts Florissants en Francia. There are many churches today doing spirituals/gospel type music without Trinity adding to the pile. English Cathedral choral works; however, as performed as superbly as The Trinity Choir is known for performing them are not that often performed by comparison. Mi amigo says, “Julian has The Trinity Choir in a gospel and spirituals rut.”

They have a new rector at TWS and hopefully he’s better than the greed-based luxury condo parasite they had before. El hombre was all about greed (NYC’s Trinity Wall Street Selling Luxury $12M Townhouse After Exit of Ex-Rector Accused of Extravagant Spending). Their new rector seems to be no different. He requires: “a 2,300-square-foot Battery Park City apartment with three terraces and riverfront views, according to the post. The rent was advertised at $15,000 a month.” What? He requires a place that costs $15,000 USD a month? I’m an Anglican atheist but from what we’ve been told about jesus, I can’t see jesus requiring some Luxury Designer Condo (Dahling) whether it’s called an “apartment” or not costing $15,000/month. That’s outrageous. Why doesn’t this rector set an example for his parish and others by living more simply, and ride a bicycle?

Trinity has stopped posting their service leaflets. So anyone who wants to worship online — maybe no one does that or they don’t get any hits, I don’t know — can’t do so because no service leaflet is available now. And as has always been the case with their site their videos are extremely slow to load and sometimes skip when playing.

The Trinity Choir has been moved to either side of the High Altar instead of being in front of the High Altar where they were. (Nothing is supposed to be in front of the High Altar). I like that change. Now, they are seated in the standard Anglican English Cathedral/parish seating style with the Choir split facing each other on either side of the High Altar. That’s the way it should be. But there’s still a slight problem. Why do Julian and Avi conduct standing in front of the High Altar? In an Anglican cathedral church or parish church it’s customary for the Choirmaster to conduct from the side. S/he stands on one side of the Choir, usually on the organ console side. Other than Julian’s excellent High Church organ improvisations, from what I’ve observed from him he comes off to me as very Low Church, which is another reason I think he would fit in very nicely with a Southern Baptist church.

It’s very odd that when Trinity Wall Street was built that they built no Quire area. And as much la plata/money as that church has they could afford to buy several pipe organs, so it’s very curious that they went with that digital organ they have. (I bet there’s a story there).

Considering the new placement for The Trinity Choir as of septiembre de 2015, the much larger Family Choir couldn’t possibly fit there, so maybe/hopefully the Family Choir has been relegated to the basement permanently.

Other than the superb music at St Thomas Fifth Avenue, Anglican church services these days are mostly dull and uninspiring at least for me. Fortunately, there’s no gospel music or spirituals at St Thomas Fifth Avenue and one is not about to hear any there either as they are still High Church.

At TWS, they seem to try to be “all things to all people” — I can’t think of any place where that silly concept has worked anywhere — so you have “Low Church” (spirituals) back-to-back with “High Church” (incense during the organ improvisation into the Doxology). It’s such as clash of styles. Doesn’t anyone notice, or are people too busy with their faces buried in their phones?

Julian is music director for the 200-voice The Washington Chorus in the District. Would Julian programme spirituals/gospel music on the same programme with Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony or the Berlioz Requiem or Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis when The Washington Chorus performs in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall or at Wolf Trap? I think not. But that’s essentially what he does at TWS. Why?

Down at Washington National Cathedral in the District, their best organist, Benjamin Straley, has been sanitised and apparently ordered — by Michael McCarthy? — to “keep it Low Church” since that’s how he plays now. Even his improvisations after The Gospel reading are subdued. I remember when they used to be “grand and glorious.” Based on his playing these days, apparently someone at WNC does not appreciate his (former) signature High Church style of organ playing one heard and appreciated when he first arrived there. At that time, I had nothing but positive things to say about Benjamin’s playing. He was a pleasure to listen to and watch. That was then. Today, especially with his hymn playing, he’s now as boring, dry-as-dust and “by the book” to listen to as that other stagnant “plain Jane” organist they have, who I now refuse to waste my time listening to. Note to church musicians: It’s dull and uninspiring to hear every verse of a hymn played the same damn way as if you’ve never seen the hymn before and are sight-reading it. But I guess that’s what they want at WNC, to appear dumbed-down Low Church (ugh). When he first arrived at WNC, Benjamin used nice organ interludes which he improvised in between hymn verses on occasion. Interludes spice up a hymn. But I no longer hear those. He’s been sanitised. Also, at Washington National Cathedral they seem to sing the same hymns all the time, and they’re mostly the dull hymns that I didn’t enjoy playing when I was an Anglican church organist. I suspect if one went through the service leaflets week after week at WNC, one would keep seeing pretty much the same hymns repeated over and over.

At the rate TWS is going with Julian and his strong interest in spirituals/gospel music, how long before they drag in or form their own Trinity Wall Street Praise BandTM? Chau.—el barrio rosa


If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing The outstanding Trinity Choir, you can hear them below in these videos from YouGoogleTube. As I’ve said before, they’re not your typical church choir by any definition. I heard them perform the first half of the Bach during the 2013 season (I think) for the Communion Anthem. This recording is not from that performance. I suspect it’s from a recording session. It’s a very peaceful and lovely piece, and Julian is conducting. Two examples of Choral Excellence. Enjoy. Chau.

Bach: O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118

Known as “the oratorio of choruses” and for Double Chorus (one of my favourites). I saw a video of their live performance of this in TWS (that video has been deleted, unfortunately). I think Julian took a slightly slower tempo for this final Chorus in their live performance than he does here:
Händel: Israel in Egypt – Sing Ye to the Lord (Solo and Chorus)

Now we have fucking tech ads wrapping Muni buses

¡Fuck the techie basura!

Hola. It’s bad enough that the data-mining Tech Surveillance-State Industrial ComplexTM has raped San Francisco and helped turn it into this increasingly “straight,” increasingly wealthy, white city with the complicity of the San Francisco Oligarchy (bought and paid for corporate parasitic politicians who work for their corporate owners). And it’s bad enough that these wealthy techie companies with their millionaire and billionaire venture capitalist owners receive corporate welfare from the City & County of San Francisco. But now, we have their fucking tech ads completely wrapping our Muni buses.

Muni (which stands for Municipal) is the name of our public transport system in San Francisco which includes the electric buses, our metro, the hybrid-electric buses, the cable cars and the vintage street cars. (Will they ever change the name of our system to Metro the way it in the District of Columbia, Los Ángeles and many international cities?)

I and mi amigo were waiting for one of Muni’s electric buses, and on one of the adjacent streets along came this Muni bus completely wrapped in a Y***o! ad with huge blue font letters covering the entire length and side of the bus. Tacky. It was that techie company’s logo wrapping the bus, excluding the windshield (I’m surprised they don’t cover that too!). I pointed it out to mi amigo. He said he noticed it but thought it was a mobile billboard that went by. Well it might as well be, and the only way I knew it was one of Muni’s buses was because it was connected to the electric wires above the street. Otherwise, you’d never know it was a Muni bus because I didn’t see the word “Muni” anywhere on the bus or Muni’s colours because from where I was standing that was completely covered up by this tacky/gaudy tech ad. Mi amigo said: That’s really a slap in the face to those in this city who have opposed the techie gentrification. Yes, it is. To those who don’t know, the techie gentrification he’s referring to has caused (and continues to cause) nasty class warfare with thousands of evictions of San Franciscans. I said to mi amigo: Well it’s interesting that Y***o! doesn’t wrap their own white luxury 2-story tall Gentrification and Eviction shuttles in that big-assed tacky ad. No, it’s just the Muni bus that gets the tacky ad while Y***o! and other private techie companies use the public Muni bus stops for free. Did Y***o! get a discount for advertising on Muni?

Speaking of gentrification and how the city has changed drastically: While we were waiting for our bus, mi amigo told me: That place over there that’s all boarded up is going to be another coffee place. I was just delighted to hear that [sarcasm intended] — not that it makes any difference to me one way or the other — because that’s just what we need! We are thoroughly saturated and awash in coffee as well as booze around here. And from what mi amigo heard at his new gym, two more bars are opening up near the gym. One of the gym employees said: “What does that give us now? Around 50 bars in a 3-block area?” Something like that. There is little imagination in this New Lobotomised and Sanitised City. So what does one find here other than drunks and stupid people with their face buried in their phones? You’ll find: Coffee, burgers/fries, booze, nail salons, coffee, booze, nail salons, burgers/fries, bars/booze and coffee.

And at least 5 businesses in The Castro and Duboce Triangle areas have gone out of business in the last couple months, including two restaurants and one Italian chain food store.

From what I’ve observed, the coffee addiction goes along with the cigarette and smartphone stupidphone addiction.

And just before posting this, I saw another Muni bus completely wrapped in a dark blue-purple Y***o! ad with that corporation’s name in gigantic white font letters. Fuck Y***o! What an useless company. Chau.—el barrio rosa


Evict Mayor Ron Conway and Puppet-Mayor Ed Lee