VocalEssence: The Twelve Days of Minnesota

Our friends at VocalEssence, with help from Target, are ringing in the season with a new take on an old carol:

Twelve trucks a-towing,

Eleven plastic Santas,

Ten thousand lakes,

Nine warming houses,

Eight skaters skating,

Seven Snoopy statues,

Six loons a-laying,

Five hours of sun,

Four Fargo jokes,

Three salt bags,

Two “ya, you betchas,”

and a giant cherry on a huge spoon!

BTW, Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence join Kerri Miller December 2nd at 10a on MPR News. They’ll broadcast from the Maud Moon Weyerhaueser Studio with a sneak preview of their “Welcome Christmas” concerts which begin this Sunday. And I’ll be doing pre-concert conversations with this years’ carol contest winners before the Welcome Christmas concerts on December 6 and 13. And of course we’ll broadcast our annual Welcome Christmas holiday special on Classical MPR December 16 at 7pm. But if you want to listen early, it’s already online here.

Meanwhile, the CPI is out: the Christmas Price Index.

Each year PNC Wealth Management tallies up the price all the items in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This year, the bad economy is good news for your true love; the Christmas Price Index increased by a modest 1.8% compared to last year.

The Partridge in a Pear Tree is down 27% percent to $159.99.

Six Geese-a-Laying are down a sizable 38% percent at $150.00.

Four Calling Birds were unchanged, while Three French Hens gained 50%.

The eight Maids-a-Milking received an automatic raise for the third straight year due to another increase in the federal minimum wage.

Rising unemployment held wages steady for Drummers Drumming, Pipers Piping, and Lords-a-Leaping, while Ladies Dancing increased 15% percent to $5,473.07.

The sharp rise in gold prices pushed Five Gold Rings up 43% to $499.95.

This year, buying everything in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol will cost you $21,465.56, just $385.46 more than last year.

You can read the details, and download the complete spreadsheet, here.

Future Classics concert on-line beginning Monday

What will a classic be in 50 years? in 100 years?

The Minnesota Orchestra bets on the classics of the future with their week-long Composer Institute. Hundreds of submissions came in and seven emerging composers were chosen, their pieces performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vanska.

You can listen to the concert plus commentary from the composers at ClassicalMPR.org FOR ONE WEEK ONLY beginning tomorrow.

Don’t miss it: atmospheric music about the seasons, a Satie-esque piece based on “The Little Prince,” as well as a visceral flying experience, fire, obscure poeticals forms and more.

A Trailblazing Music Scholar

The death of H. C. Robbins Landon has just been announced. His name may not be current in every household, but lovers of the Viennese classic composers, especially Haydn, are in his debt for the scholarly work he did. This Telegraph obituary focuses (maybe too much?) on one incident in his career that he no doubt would have liked to forget, but also suggests the range and importance of his work.

Start Your Thanksgiving with Rachmaninoff

Okay, it may be a tad early, but I’m guessing some of you might be up late Wednesday (or up early Thursday for that matter!) preparing for Thanksgiving.

This week’s Euro Classic (bright and early at 12:05am Thanksgiving day!) features Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. The concerto was dedicated to a fellow named Nikolai Dahl, who was experimenting with hypnosis therapy. It was Dahl who helped the composer emerge from depression and a creative funk following the critical rejection of his First Symphony. Rachmaninoff completed the Second Piano Concerto shortly thereafter. Pianist Peter Donohoe joins the Hong Kong Sinfonietta in a concert recorded live in May, 2008.

Saturday night, while you’re enjoying yet another turkey sandwich, we’ll supply a little french pastry with another Euro Classic – Francis Poulenc’s Sept Chansons. I Fagiolini was recorded live last July in a concert from Castle Montabaur in Germany. Be listening around 8:05pm Saturday.

……and good luck in the kitchen this week!

Don't Just Sit There, Do Something!

When you go to a concert, do you want to see the musicians comporting themselves in a dignified fashion, with no more bodily motion than the minimum required?

Or should they really get into it?

At least in a teaching situation, Sir Simon Rattle favors the latter option. Read this account of his master class where he tells the young orchestral players, “You cannot sit there like lumps!”

The Myth of High-Priced Tickets

I was very disappointed to see this comic strip in yesterday’s Star Tribune advancing the myth that “only rich people can afford” tickets to the symphony.

(Especially since I had just read this article about ticket scalpers asking over a $1000 a piece for tickets to an upcoming U2 concert a 2007 Hannah Montana concert.)

Tickets to major orchestras (like the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony or our own Minnesota Orchestra or Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra) are comparable in price, and often cheaper, than tickets to pop/rock acts such as Bon Jovi, U2 or Taylor Swift.

I don’t hold comic strip creators to the same professional standards as reporters, of course, but would a little fact-checking be so bad?

Hear the music of the future!

I looked up “Classic” in the dictionary and it says “serving as a standard of excellence; of recognized value.”

In classical music we might add that it’s something that endures.

Recently, my colleague Ward Jacobson posted a blog about which living composers would be still be played 50 years from now?

I wonder if games like this were played back in Mozart and Beethoven’s day? I’ll bet they were because, for the most part, every concert was all new music.

You can “hear the future” tomorrow night at Orchestra Hall when Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra present seven emerging composers in their Future Classics concert.

I’ll be there hosting, which basically means I get to ask all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask – what’s your piece about? why did you write it? what do you want us to experience? how was writing for the Minn Orch?

Come tomorrow night – or stay tuned the week after Thanksgiving to classical MPR.org when we post the concert on-line.

Melbourne Symphony Wonders: Is Music Director Necessary?

The Melbourne Symphony recently parted ways with its Music Director, Oleg Caetani, a year before his contract ran out.

This fact, and the success of a recent guest conductor, has the orchestra’s president wondering if they need a single music director at all. Wouldn’t a series of specialists be better?

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra asked the same questions a few years ago, and came up with an answer that works very well for them.

And by the way, the SPCO welcomes its newest artistic partner later this month.

Time to Weigh in….

My colleague Julie Amacher shared this entry from Friday’s Arts Journal website.

The question? Which 10 living composers will still be played in 50 years’ time? The Arts Journal site paired it down to five locks: Birtwistle, Boulez, Rautavaara, Reich and Sondheim. Then came the probables, followed by the possibles.

So what do you think? We’d love to see YOUR top 10.