CSO Sessions Episode Ten: Home for the Holidays

Today, in a break from my ongoing discussions of that ongoing coup attempt here in my country, I bring you not-quite-a-review of CSO Sessions Episode Ten: Home for the Holidays! Because why do holiday music until they’re all over with, am I right? The program starts with Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, so named because, as Robert Chen notes, there’s an inscription on the manuscript saying … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Ten: Home for the Holidays

yes, Virginia, history does change

I don’t know what the hell to write, what to say, and so, for this moment, I’m going to write a little about collection development, and reading history, and the importance of understanding—or trying to understand—what came before. We mythologize the hell out of the past, you see. We lie to ourselves, about our families’ pasts, about what made us who we are, about what … Continue reading yes, Virginia, history does change

nor riot nor protest nor demonstration but treason

There is a danger to false-naming, to false information, to coddling, to bothersiderism. I think we knew that already, long before armed terrorists incited by sedition committed insurrection and treason in my country’s capitol yesterday, and attempted (and failed) at the same in state capitols across our land. But we’re still seeing it in newspapers, aren’t we? And hearing it on the news? They are … Continue reading nor riot nor protest nor demonstration but treason

CSO Sessions Episode Nine: A Little Night Music with Dvořák, Mazzoli, & Mozart

I listened to CSO Sessions Episode Nine with a kitten alternately jumping and combing my hair with little kitten claws, which may perhaps have something to do with its striking vitality. Our program starts with Antonín Dvořák’s vibrant Serenade for Winds in D Minor, Op. 44, introduced by principal horn David Cooper. He tells his listeners that this is one of his favorite pieces, and, … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Nine: A Little Night Music with Dvořák, Mazzoli, & Mozart

hey so Gatsby isn’t exactly celebratory

January 1 is Public Domain Day, and this year we got rather a windfall of books published in 1925, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Now, I really love The Great Gatsby. (Actually, I’ve loved nearly everything Fitzgerald wrote—he was an alcoholic asshole, but he sure could write.) I love The Great Gatsby, and I have very strong opinions about The Great Gatsby—and so, … Continue reading hey so Gatsby isn’t exactly celebratory

2020: Taking Stock of a Year of Plague

How does one even take stock of a year like this? Is it in deaths? My neighbor, who was a loving grandfather to the neighborhood, and one of our first losses to COVID? My sweet Siamese, my mother’s baby, claimed too soon by cancer? The hundred or so of my mother’s colleagues who lost their lives to COVID? The coworkers of mine whose lives were … Continue reading 2020: Taking Stock of a Year of Plague

CSO Sessions Episode Eight: Tower, Walker, Milhaud, & Tchaikovsky

CSO Sessions Episode Eight, available through tomorrow, starts with a triumphal blast and moves into a series of pieces both tender and vivacious, a lovely way to end this troubled year. My only complaint about Joan Towers’ tiny but monumental Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman is that it’s awfully short: I’d have liked more, please. In her introduction, percussionist Patricia Dash tells us it’s a … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Eight: Tower, Walker, Milhaud, & Tchaikovsky

CSO Sessions Episode Seven: Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale

The titular soldier of Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (aka L’Histoire du Soldat), performed for us by James Earl Jones II as the narrator, the Devil, the soldier, and other assorted characters and by seven remarkable musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the precise baton of Erina Yashima, is, in the immortal words of that Shrek song, not the sharpest tool in the shed, … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Seven: Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale

CSO Sessions Episode Six: Prestini, Perkinson, & Mendelssohn

This weekend has been awful, here. Unremittingly awful, dripping with loss. It made CSO Sessions Episode Six even more special, in its way: a reminder of the beauty to be found around us, as it were, an invigorating mix of music old and new. The program starts with Paola Prestini’s G-Force, for Mickey. It’s for string quartet and vibraphone, and, as in Caroline Shaw’s Boris … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Six: Prestini, Perkinson, & Mendelssohn

why are we still fetishizing the past?

I mean, it’s 2020, for gods’ sake. We’re in the middle of a plague. We’re struggling through the turbulent last months of a demagogue’s ascendancy. If there is any time in post-Berlin Wall history when we should be glaringly aware that the past is present, and is also horrific, it should surely be NOW—and yet, in this year of hellscape 2020, there are still people … Continue reading why are we still fetishizing the past?

CSO Sessions Episode Five: Rossini, Dahl, & Prokofiev

CSO Sessions Episode Five will head into the digital beyond tomorrow, and so we watched it today: Gioachino Rossini’s Sonata No. 6 in D Major for String Orchestra (except it really isn’t string orchestra!), Ingolf Dahl’s Music for Brass Instruments, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet, arranged for brass by one Andreas N. Tarkmann. Rossini’s Sonata No. 6, written for two violins, cello, … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Five: Rossini, Dahl, & Prokofiev

CSOtv Episode Four: Mozart, Shaw, & Brahms

Today’s virtual concert was CSOtv’s Episode Four: Mozart’s String Quintet in C Minor, K. 406/516b, Caroline Shaw’s Boris Kerner, and Brahms’ String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The Mozart String Quintet was, you know, Mozart. It’s light and airy and lovely, exquisitely performed. If you love Mozart, you’ll be thrilled! (I like Mozart well enough, but, it turns out, I like something … Continue reading CSOtv Episode Four: Mozart, Shaw, & Brahms

looking beyond the great white men of classical music

Today is Fanny Mendelssohn‘s birthday. Maybe you’ve heard of her: she’s Felix’s sister, and his equal, in genius, in musicality. But more likely you’re only familiar with her as Felix’s sister, if you’ve heard of her at all. You may know Clara Schumann‘s name, too—but you may not realize that she was one of the greatest pianists of her day, or that she, too, was … Continue reading looking beyond the great white men of classical music

my neighborhood celebrated this weekend

This is the sort of Family Neighborhood™ that is basically trademarked in the American psyche, filled with, you know, kids, dogs, and cats sitting in the window. There are birds everywhere and lots of open space and it is kind of disgusting, in that very cute suburban way. I am not from here, not really. I’m from Chicago, but I’ve now lived out here for … Continue reading my neighborhood celebrated this weekend

Chicago Humanities Festival’s Chicago Neighborhood Check-in: Arts and Neighborhood Development

I covered the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Neighborhood Check-In: Arts and Urban Development panel for Third Coast Review, and now that my review has made it into print, I get to talk about it a bit here too. Beforehand I assumed that this panel, like What’s Next: Wealth, Property, and Inequality and Art in the Moment, would be essential, but also emotionally difficult—draining, even. Turned out … Continue reading Chicago Humanities Festival’s Chicago Neighborhood Check-in: Arts and Neighborhood Development

americana, again: some books I’ve loved

Americana isn’t the right word, probably, but I don’t know what else to call this, a booklist of a very few books that have brought me joy and reminded me of the beautiful, impossible, sometimes terrible wonder of the U.S. I’m not going to lie: I’m terrified. I think a few of my students thought I was about to die in front of them today, … Continue reading americana, again: some books I’ve loved

CSOtv Episode Two: Mozart & Tchaikovsky

Today’s virtual concert was Episode Two: Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 for Winds in E-flat Major, Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence. One piece for winds, one for strings—which is, of course, my sort of piece (I wish Tchaikovsky had thought to include bass, but we can’t have everything). I’ve said before that I’m not much a one for winds and brass, which is probably an understatement. I … Continue reading CSOtv Episode Two: Mozart & Tchaikovsky

uncanny tales

Halloween, the Day of My People, is basically my favorite of all time, and isn’t going to be quite itself in this year of plague. I’ve written a very little about Halloween before—about Tam Lyn, and Samhain, and the thin veil and the wandering dead—and so this year I thought I’d do a very short booklist instead, of a few books that I have read … Continue reading uncanny tales

CSOtv Episode One: Gershwin, Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos, Gabaye, & Nielsen

Now that it’s almost gone from CSOtv, I finally watched Episode One, or, the one with pieces arranged (or written) for wind ensembles by George Gershwin, Astor Piazzolla, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Pierre Gabaye, and Carl Nielsen, and it was an absolute delight. The Gershwin was a pleasure, as Gershwin always it, though for me (I am not much of a wind or brass person) it was … Continue reading CSOtv Episode One: Gershwin, Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos, Gabaye, & Nielsen

Barkskins on Hulu: The Turtle King

Everything is awful today (except for the snow showers earlier, I liked those), so I finished up episode two of Barkskins: “The Turtle King.” It’s a great episode! There’s a lot that felt really accurate to me, and I truly appreciated that the chracters stayed dirty once they got dirty—or they were just grubby all the time. (That works, too.) I still think Goames is … Continue reading Barkskins on Hulu: The Turtle King

Barkskins on Hulu: New France

I finally started watching the television adaption of Annie Proulx’s eponymous novel, Barkskins, yesterday, and I am really not sure why on earth I waited this long to do so. It’s pretty obviously my sort of content. I should start this with an acknowledgement: I haven’t read the source material! So I have no clue how closely this adaption (originally on National Geographic, who’d have … Continue reading Barkskins on Hulu: New France

CSOtv Episode 3: Stravinsky, Saint-Georges & Dvořák

In the face of ongoing COVID restrictions, as cases spike into a second (or third?) wave, the Chicago Symphony has returned to the (virtual) stage, in performances taped live at a Symphony Center empty of all but a few musicians and stage crew members. We started with episode three: an Igor Stravinsky octet (for winds and brass, not usually my area), the Chevalier de Saint-Georges‘ … Continue reading CSOtv Episode 3: Stravinsky, Saint-Georges & Dvořák

Chicago Humanities Festival’s Art in the Moment

I wrote about the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Art in the Moment panel, a co-production of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Art Design Chicago Now and the CHF, for Third Coast Review. I did not, of course, mention there that I cried my way through the panel: it was, and is, deeply moving—perhaps especially to me, as the daughter of a musician and granddaughter of … Continue reading Chicago Humanities Festival’s Art in the Moment

Touching Up Timelining Caravaggio

I started this blog when I was in grad school, loosely as part of a school project. (By then I’d already been the webmaster on another school project website, which still hangs around because why not, amirite?) It was, at the time, tied intimately to a class called Museum Informatics, taught at the University of Illinois’ iSchool (then GSLIS) by Michael Twidale. It’s a great … Continue reading Touching Up Timelining Caravaggio

Chicago Humanities Festival’s What’s Next

I covered the Chicago Humanities Festival’s What’s Next: Wealth, Property, and Inequality for Third Coast Review, distilling something like ten pages of notes (all typed frantically on my phone—Google makes a good device or it would have melted) into this review, which I hope comes close to doing that remarkable panel justice. I’m not going to review the panel again here—I already did that, after … Continue reading Chicago Humanities Festival’s What’s Next

The Dragon and the Pearl

I’m continuing through Jeannie Lin’s back catalog (it’s wonderful! and rich! and amazing!), and I moved quickly through Butterfly Swords to re-read The Dragon and the Pearl. At this point I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it, or chunks of it: I absolutely love The Dragon and the Pearl. Both the hero and the heroine show up in Butterfly Swords, and, for … Continue reading The Dragon and the Pearl

even more books about structural racism, protest, & brutality

I’ve written essentially the same post over and over and over again, and it feels pretty futile, to be honest, but here we are. (I should probably write something about the rise of fascism, too, but I have a migraine and so that won’t be happening this evening.) I’m going to link out to a few of the other versions of this post that I’ve … Continue reading even more books about structural racism, protest, & brutality