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Archive for December, 2007

2007 » December

America Everywhere, Again

December 24, 2007 by  

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The sun cast a fractured shadow at the end of the pool. The shadows looked like lined-up carrots, each of them an oddly-twigged shape that lay side by side, row by row. The crystal blue water looked ten degrees cooler than when I had fallen asleep. How long had it been exactly? An hour, two, maybe longer? I felt goosebumps along my upper right arm. I rubbed my eyes with the knuckles of my index and middle fingers the way a ten year child does after a nap. No, not a nap, after she wakes up from a long car ride on a lazy summer day. I had been to Mexico before but not this far south. Despite my global escapades to more than 2,000 destinations, I had never ventured below Baja, as if Mexico didn’t count as a foreign destination in my mind. Like Canada, it has always felt like an extension of America even though a Canadian or Mexican would shudder at that comparison. It’s not as if they are not extraordinarily different and ardently foreign in countless ways, but the notion of staying so close to American soil when you simply didn’t have to always seemed so…

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Ode to Beethoven

December 22, 2007 by  

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Last Sunday was Beethoven’s birthday. Listen to his Ninth Symphony.  It was written less than three years before he died, long after he had gone completely deaf.   More than an hour in length, it is best known for the pealing Ode to Joy theme of the final movement, and the first two movements have much of the thrust and momentum for which he is famous, but the heart of the symphony is in the third movement adagio. He gives you all this forward motion and then after the big BAM at the end of the second movement he opens up the third with a wide, calm canvas on which he places a series of single notes from the woodwinds, separated like stars in the night sky and that the violins then tie together with a long, peaceful sash.  After all the racing that came before it is as if he stopped in an eternal meadow at night to give us a stunning glimpse of the entire universe, a musical firmament that extends below the horizons, guiding us to the far edge of our spiritual capacities, in the way that only music can.    Beethoven’s later works…

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All Things Change and That’s a Good Thing!

December 5, 2007 by  

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If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve.
–Lao Tzu


Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress

December 4, 2007 by  

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I’m more of a theater buff and musical follower than an Opera lover, yet I’ve seen several around the world over the years, including London, Sydney, Boston, New York, LA and San Francisco. Now that I’m a west coaster, I’m tuning into the upcoming SF Opera House season, where Rake’s Progress opened Friday night, simultaneously playing with Macbeth. Madama Butterly starts next week and I already have tickets for Handel’s Ariodante in June. Two days ago, the San Francisco Chronicle gave Rake’s Progress mixed reviews and I couldn’t have felt more at peace with the fact that he thought soprano Laura Aikin, the main female character, gave a sensitive but small-toned performance as the main character Anne. Says the Chronicle, “she dispatched her show-stopping Act 1 aria, “Quietly, night,” with tender precision and (in the ensuing cabaletta) blazing athleticism, but too much of her performance bordered on inaudibility.” I sat there thinking, “polite.” While she gave us a glimpse into what her voice was capable of, her delivery was emotionless and bland. Lepage and co-director Sybille Wilson transplant Stravinsky’s 18th century England original to the 1950s American West. Lead Tom Rakewell, played by William…

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What Are Our Dreams Worth?

December 3, 2007 by  

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We are young………
Wandering the face of the earth…..
Wondering what our dreams might be worth…..
Learning that we’re only immortal for a limited time.”
–From Rush’s “Dreamline”