Last night we were fortunate to see the wondrful Zoë Keating and her layered cello music. I've mentioned her before. Her music is haunting and beatiful and to see her in a dimmed cavernous church was an amazing treat. I was able to capture these images with available light using a Nikon CoolPix P7000. For the geeks out there these were at ISO 3200. It was dark in there. The results are quite surprising.
Photo by Lane Hartwell
I had the good fortune to discover Zoë Keating while listening to a Radiolab podcast earlier this year. She is a musician and her instrument is the cello. The Host of the podcast Jad Abumrad seemed quite taken with Zoë as he interviewed her and discussed her music and the process by which she creates it. Zoë played during a live performance of Radiolab where hosts Jad and Robert discussed the making of the famous radio show "War of the Worlds." She supplied the interim and background music for the performance. Let me assure you that this is not classical solo cello that you would hear at a salon in a friends home.
I was immediately struck by the amazing sound and layering she creates as she plays. She uses a piece of computer technology that allows her to record or sample bits of music and then via foot pedals she can replay or loop that piece continually or for just a few repetitions. The affect is both mesmerizing and transcendent. I was immediately transported as I listened to the music she was creating. She uses not only bow and string to produce the sound but may also pluck, scrape, strike or pat her instrument to add percussive ingredients to her music. The part that still perplexes me is the precision that the music and recording are able to be laced together in a live performance.
I purchased her CD and was also able to download other music of hers only available digitally. She also has a new CD coming out soon. While exploring her site I discovered Zoë's Incredibly Interesting Blog and her performance schedule. To my surprise she was playing at MIT at an upcoming conference and it was open to the public. I jumped at the chance to witness a live performance and demystify how she is creating all those magical sounds. After watching her perform I am still confused but more impressed. She was nice enough to sign my CD and talk briefly.
I want to urge you to go to her site and listen to some samples of her music because you have to experience it for yourself. It will be well worth it. She has been one of the top classical music downloads at iTunes which is no small feat considering iTunes is now the largest retailer of music in the country. I'm sure this will not be the last you have heard of this wonderfully talented artist.
Last night we attended the debut performance of the Boston Beijing Opera Association. We learned about this concert from a co-worker and friend of mine GUO Jingfu, or as he is known at work, Jeff Guo. Jeff is a very accomplished Jing erhu musician. The erhu is an ancient and traditional two stringed bowed instrument. It is similar to a violin, but played vertically and with the hand tensioned bow threaded between the strings. Jeff and several other traditional musicians accompanied a plethora of performers all singing in the unique style of Beijing Opera. This special opera was created about two hundred years ago and ascribed to specific forms created for the opera. Best to go here to get a more authoritative and expert summary.
The entire performance was in Chinese and the MC also spoke in Chinese. We were still able to enjoy the universal communication of melody and tone and appreciated the specific style of this art form. Rather than a specific single story, the BBOA chose to debut their organization through a variety show, featuring a dulcimer ensemble, solos, choruses, dance and instrumental pieces. We were also treated to two traditional costumed performances.
Attending this performance opened the window a little wider into a culture as a whole I think we know little about. Since I work closely with a team in China, I am always looking for ways to gain insight into this emerging culture. This years olympics gave us a more open look into the Chinese culture that I think many have never been exposed to. It is always far to easy to slip into accepting the stereotypical representations that we have seen most of our lives. Going deeper and interacting with native Chinese citizens as well as fellow workers has given me insight into the depth and pride of the Chinese people. I have also learned that they have a very joyful outlook on life and enjoy a lightness of heart one would not expect from outward appearances. This was displayed last night in the excitement of the performers as well as the audience. It was a great moment for the Chinese American community to share an intimate part of their culture with their local community.
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I just got this greeting from Naxos and I wanted to share it with you. There is a free download of the song too! Naxos also has a great podcast if you want to learn more about classical music. Their goal is to record and distribute, at a reasonable price as many classical works as possible. Only a very tiny percentage of all the classical music written has actually been recorded. I think this is a very worthy goal.
This is the year of the Earth Rat. May your Rat be healthy and prosperous!
Happy Chinese New Year!
Photo by Charan Devereaux
Today I received a copy of Linda Sharar's latest mixes from her upcoming album, Everyday. The album is in the final stages of being mixed. It's very exciting to get an early listen to what is going to be a wonderful new release. This will be Linda's third CD. She has previously recorded two other titles Participate and Any Second Street. Linda is also a coworker as well as a friend. To work with talented people like Linda is such an honor and a treat. I have known Linda since I became a software engineer. She is a wonderful and warm person with many talents. She always puts so much into everything she does and it really shows in these new songs. I remember a while back she had a twinkle in her eye and I knew something was up. I was right. She had told me she was going back into the studio to record another album. Everyone was extremely excited, since this would be an album that would be an outpouring of experiences and emotions following the birth of her daughter and her entrance into motherhood. Following the end of sleep deprivation and the terrible two's, she was now ready. There was a lot of hard work done in the studio and she also assembled a wonderful group of artists to help with the project. We got periodic updates and listed to snippets of the tracks that were being put down all during the process. Her enthusiasm and excitement as the project progressed was contagious. This album will be well worth the wait. The tracks are done and final production is in full swing.
Linda is also doing something special with this album she is donating a portion of the proceeds from the album to help cover the cost of special therapy equipment for her nephew with autism. You can read more about that and sign up to pre-purchase a copy of the CD here.
I've listened to the tracks and can't wait to listen again. As a special treat, Linda has allowed me to upload one of the songs to my blog. I've picked one of my favorites, Round the Corner. Click the link below to listen. You can also hear more songs from Linda's MySpace page. Enjoy!
Listen to: Round the Corner