Muppets and Strings and Bohemian Rhapsody, Oh My!

An amazing video has been making the internet rounds recently; I had seen a few links to it, but I just now finally took the time to sit down and watch it. Not that the concept wasn’t compelling, mind you — the Muppets performing Bohemian Rhapsody? Why did I not drop everything and focus on this the moment I became aware of it? Other than my situational ADD, I have absolutely no excuse.


It is indeed a think of beauty, although I have to say that I thought Animal‘s “Mama” soliloquy went on a bit too long; I would have liked to see other characters come in and do more of the real lyrics during that section. But that’s a nitpick. Animal was always one of my favorite Muppets, along with Beaker. I was very happy to see Rowlf the Dog on piano, and I was especially pleased to see Janice taking the guitar solos. Chicks rule! Especially chicks on guitar!

I couldn’t help but be reminded of another cover of this song, one that was part of a momentous occasion in my life. A classmate of mine at U.C. Berkeley arranged the tune for string quartet, and it was performed on our graduation concert (the same concert where my senior thesis piece was played — yay me! ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

It pains me to admit that all of this took place back in the last century, before YouTube and other assorted digital marvels, (I was a child prodigy, okay? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) so I can’t show you any documentation of it.

But I did find a few things that are in the ballpark, in more ways than one! Click Mr. Readmore to rock out, albeit in rather highbrow fashion! Continue reading

Miss Music Nerd Gets Official!

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving, music nerds! I hope everyone is feeling full and happy, and enjoying a relaxing extended holiday weekend.

I have some exciting news to report! I have been asked to be the ‘official’ blogger for classical music for this year’s GRAMMY Awardsยฎ, as part of their Community Blogger Program. I’ll be covering the nominations when they’re announced next week on December 2, and then I’ll write about the award-winners after they’re revealed at the end of January.

I’m also planning to go to L.A. to attend some of the GRAMMY week events. Wish me luck for hitting it big in Tinseltown!

You’ll see a few changes around the blog in connection with this project — don’t worry, though, it’s nothing drastic; I’m still the same ol’ music nerd you’ve always known. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll be following the conventions of the The Recording Academyยฎ Style Book, which is why you’ll see the ยฎ symbol after the first mention of trademark entities. No, I’m not on commission or anything! Oh, and yes, GRAMMY is supposed to be in all caps. I know y’all are sticklers for editorial accuracy, so I wanted to make sure you knew this was intentional and not me shouting or anything!

The other change is one I’ve been meaning to make anyway, and now I’ve gotten the nudge I needed to get my hindquarters in gear. I will henceforth be blogging under my very own domain name:

The old wordpress url will redirect to the new domain, but be sure to update your bookmarks, etc., anyway, because that ‘forwarding order’ may not be permanent. Being the mistress of my own nerd domain is going to be pretty fun, I think!

More to come very soon… I hope you’ll join me! ๐Ÿ™‚


A Little Music for Thanksgiving (before Christmas completely takes over!)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, music nerds!

I was all set to post about what I want for Christmas, but that will have to wait. I mean, what was I thinking? I hate the way Christmas takes over the stores and the radio stations the minute Halloween is over, and here I was about to jump the gun myself — gah!

Don’t get me wrong — there’s plenty of holiday music that I love (and some I hate, but that’s another story for another day, too). But Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday; I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love Autumn, so how could it get any better?

I know it can be a stressful time, though, and some of you may feel that this is the soundtrack of your life right now!

But what about bona fide music for Thanksgiving? Click Mr. Readmore for a pumpkin-pie-spiced playlist! Continue reading

Sara’s Second Act

Today I bring you a story of music, courage and love.

Earlier this week, I came across a link to this story; I’d heard of Sara before, but not lately. Check out the video at the link, by the way — five minutes well-spent!

When classical pianist Sara Davis Buechner had her New York City concert debut 25 years ago, she received rave reviews. Thus began a brilliant career of recordings and performances by the 24-year-old Juilliard graduate.

At that time, Buechner still went by the given name ‘David’. But in 1998, Buechner came out as a transgender woman, having felt from a very young age that she was meant to be a girl.

She paid a steep price for coming out. Suddenly her manager could no longer secure bookings, and her concert schedule dwindled from 50 performances a year to just a handful, though she continued to make recordings. She was able to find work teaching piano lessons, but at a drastic reduction in income.

In 2002, an old classmate from Juilliard happened to hear her play, and felt so strongly that she deserved wider exposure, she offered to work as her manager, with a view to persisting in promoting her where previous management had failed to do so.

That persistence has paid off. Today, Buechner has a heavy concert schedule once again, along with a teaching post at University of British Columbia in Vancouver. On November 11, Buechner played a recital in New York City to mark the 25th anniversary of her initial debut.

And thanks to the marriage laws in Canada, where she lives, she also has a wife — a woman she met and dated before she transitioned.

Pass the kleenex please — I’m a sucker for a happy ending! ๐Ÿ™‚

Visit Sara Davis Buechner’s website for more on her revitalized career!

I’m posting this today, by the way, because it happens to be International Transgender Day of Remembrance. The stories you’ll find at the link didn’t end happily, I’m sorry to say. My hope is that remembering them will inspire us to create a world where violence and bigotry are curiosities of ancient history.

Hug someone you love today — that’s the first step. ๐Ÿ™‚


Musical Brain Surgery!

One of several things I do for money (working for a living is so inconvenient!) is transcribing audio from business meetings, conferences, interviews, etc. It’s a telecommuting job with very quick turnaround times, and that suits me pretty well; I get to work in my Cheeto-stained pajamas, but I still have that looming external deadline that I need for motivation.

I tend to keep the local classical music station playing in the background while I work, because when you’re listening to corporate-speak for hours on end, you definitely need the counterweight of some untarnished beauty to keep your soul from shriveling.

For a couple of days last week, one of the station’s hosts went on Chopin Ballade kick. I mentioned in my previous post how hearing two of them in a row sent me stumbling down memory lane.

The next day, that pesky host just had to go and play the Ballade no. 1 in G minor.

There I was, minding my own business, typing away as fast as I could while some slick suit bloviated in my ear, when outside my headphones I heard a sound that grabbed me the way I imagine a child’s cry seizes the attention of a parent. Whatever I was currently doing seemed insignificant; that sound was not just the most important thing โ€“ it was the only thing that existed in the world in that moment.

Naturally, I was annoyed. I didn’t have time to go to Music Nerdvana! I had a deadline of ASAP!

But I couldn’t help it; as had happened the previous day, a wave of emotions and memories welled up in me in response to that music. I’m no Oliver Sacks, but I know from experience that when you’ve listen to a piece of music over and over, when you associate it with certain events or situations โ€“ sometimes even if you hear it only once but it impacts you deeply โ€“ that music gets stamped onto your DNA, and when you hear it again, it’s as if some crazed brain surgeon stuck an electrode into your brain in just the right place so as to bring up everything you associate with that music.

Who needs hallucinogenic drugs, man? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I don’t want to go off on a tangent right now (I know what you’re thinking: “Why change now?” Shut up! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but I suppose I should write up some of my Ballade-associated stories, by way of explanation. They involve such things as frizzy hair, teenage angst and Gunne Sax dresses โ€” I know the world is breathless to read all about it!

In the meantimeโ€ฆ It’s your turn, music nerds: what music stops you in your tracks?


Musically Verklempt

Musical magic sneaks up on me when I least expect it!

I can be rather jaded and cynical when it comes to music; it’s an occupational hazard, and a common side effect of too many years of music grad school. Depending on how ornery a mood I’m in, a mere second or two of a kind of music I don’t care for can get my eyes rolling back in my head. I can diss that tune in 3 notes, Tom.

So I’m always relieved to be reminded that my cynicism is actually just a thin veneer, and it takes but little to reveal the soft, gooey center underneath. Click Mr Readmore for a few examples.

Mcdoc and me, looking rather elegant in our concert garbLooking rather elegant in our concert garb!
Continue reading

Requiem Mass for All Souls Day (With a Side of Jelly)

Victoria Requiem: Introit

Last night, McDoc and I attended the Solemn Requiem Mass for All Souls Day at our local Anglo-Catholic joint, which we visit whenever we need a dose of good, old-fashioned smells ‘n’ bells.

This church is renowned all over town for its excellent music, and that reputation was ably upheld as the choir performed the Missa pro Defunctis cum sex vocibus (Mass for the Dead for six voices), by Tomรกs Luis de Victoria (1548-1611).

Whenever I attend services like last night’s, I think to myself, “I can understand why some Protestant sects throughout history have objected to the use of elaborate music in worship services.” That may not sound like a compliment, but I intend it as such, honest! ๐Ÿ˜€

Click Mr. Readmore for the story of the jelly! Continue reading

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