Port-a-Pod

More about iPod, and podlike things.

Seems everybody thought that podcasting (generally defined as downloaded content, available by subscription and played back on a portable listening device)was all about its portability. Get your latest ‘cast, and listen to it on the iPod. Right? Not so much. According to the research firm Bridge Data, 80% of podcasts aren’t played back on iPods or other portable mp3 players. People are listening right there at their computers!

The author of this article suggests maybe it’s time to redefine what we mean by podcasting. This is only the first half of the article. They’re soliciting YOUR feedback to help write the second half, which will be published this Thursday.

MN at the Met: Coda

An update on the Met Finals:

Sunday night, Minnesota Opera Resident Artists Seth Keeton and John Michael Moore were among nine singers to perform at the finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Alas, neither of these wonderful singers took top honors, but I heard they were both happy with how they sang and thrilled to just be there. And the exposure they received performing at the Met will be a huge boost to their careers. The only down side of this is the likelihood that as their careers flourish, they’ll be called away from Minnesota Opera more often. To get a sample of their voices, hear their studio performances recorded here at MPR, and tune in May 3 at 8pm for a broadcast of all the finalists. Congrats to Seth and John!

Brush up your Wagner

Wagner’s huge operatic masterpiece, the Ring of the Niebelungen, has a convoluted plot based in Norse mythology. If you want to acquaint yourself with the stories and characters a bit better before your next trip to the opera, you might want to check out Dark Kingdom on the Sci-Fi Channel tonight at 8:00 CST.

According to this morning’s New York Times review:

“By far the best thing in “Dark Kingdom” is Brunhild, played by Kristanna Loken, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nemesis in “Terminator 3,” who was a molten, shape-shifting cyborg that most often assumed the form of a blond hottie. In “Dark Kingdom,” with her furs, her blond dreadlocks, her martial-artsy way of wielding a spear, she’s fierce and sexy

"…and let's have another piece of pie."

“Brrrrrandy, More Brandy!” shouted Jack Lemmon in “The Great Race” as he was hit in the face with a particularly delectable pie. Let’s talk about those delightful, unsuspecting surprises…I was just hit in the face by a lutheal.

I was talking about a CD containing the Suite populaire Espagnole by de Falla, played on violin and lutheal, a word I’d never seen before. Apparently Mirriam-Webster had never seen it before either, because it wasn’t in the dictionary. Wikipedia had it though, a piano-like instrument with registers, one of which sounded like a cimbalom. The sound was plunky and lute-like and delightful, and I was happy to have been blind-sided by a new experience.

I felt the same way the other day listening (really listening) to an early Haydn symphony. It’s so easy to think you’ve heard it all, and then you hear something new in something quite old. Now I’m going to see if the record library has Henry Mancini’s “Pie in the Face Polka,” and see if I can throw it at you sometime!

RIP Enrique

It was 90 years ago today that Catalonian/Spanish composer/pianist Enrique Granados lost his life trying to save his wife. They had been in America, enjoying the success of Granados’ opera Goyescas at the Met in New York, and then delayed their trip back to Spain to accept an invitation from President Woodrow Wilson to visit the White House.

That delay was fatal.

After an uneventful Atlantic crossing, they were in the English Channel when their ship (SS Sussex) was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Granados jumped out of his lifeboat to save his wife and drowned with her…90 years ago today.

John Milton, the author of the highly acclaimed novel about Granados,

The Fallen Nightingale, sent me a poem honoring the occasion this morning. (see extended entry)

Continue reading RIP Enrique

rrrrrrrrrRING!

BBC Radio 3 broadcast an unscheduled premiere last week. During a live interview with Steve Reich, listeners unexpectedly heard one of his new pieces, which turned out to be the ringtone on his cel phone. It took several moments for the embarassed composer to fetch the phone from his coat pocket.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on how the ring tone phenomenon is branching out. Joining the hip-hop stars are some less likely names — like Sibelius. Orchestras and classical-music publishers want a piece of the $600 million dollar ringtone business.

Boosey & Hawkes, a major classical music publisher, offers more than 300 songs from its catalog as $3 ringtone downloads on its Web site, www.booseytones.com, and the London Symphony sells ringtone versions of its recordings at www.lsoringtones.co.uk In addition to Steve Reich, downloads include:

-Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze; good if you