Looking to Tap into the Zeitgeist? It’s in St. Paul, Tonight!

Zeitgeist New Music presents
Night Singing: Music by Andrew Rindfleisch
October 7, 8, 9, 7:30 p.m.
Studio Z, 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul MN

A week ago, I was wishing for a couch, but this week I’m upping the ante: what I really need is a private jet to get to all the concerts I’d like to hear! Hey, I can dream…

PhotobucketIf I were in St. Paul this weekend, I would check out Zeitgeist, an ensemble with a 30-year history of promoting and performing music by living composers. The group features woodwind player Pat O’Keefe, pianist Shannon Wettstein, and percussionists Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd. Three of the four (Pat, Shannon and Patti) are former grad school colleagues of mine from U.C. San Diego, so I’ve had the honor of hearing them many times (they’ve even played my music!), and they are fantastic. They’ll be joined this weekend by violinist Alastair Brown, flutist Jane Garvin and cellist Jim Jacobson. Here’s an audio preview of what they’re playing.

PhotobucketThe concert is both a season opener and CD release celebration for a disc of music by composer Andrew Rindfleisch: Night Singing, on Innova recordings. Andy lists grave-hopping as a hobby, and I can attest to that, as he and I both attended a composition seminar in Prague many summers ago which included a side trip to Vienna’s Central Cemetery, where several great composers are laid to rest.

Here I am paying my respects to Arnold Schoenberg:


Speaking of Schoenberg, I think he would endorse Zeitgeist’s mission to present the music of our time! So if you’re in the Twin Cities area, go hear them, and tell them Miss Music Nerd sent you!



Opera Shorts in New York!

Well, music nerds, I know that experiments in human cloning are sort of frowned upon in most sectors, but dang it, I need more than one of me!

I’m slated to attend two concerts here in Boston this weekend: the BSO season opener Saturday, and Cantata Singers’ program of songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams on Sunday.

PhotobucketMeanwhile, I heard it through the Twittervine yesterday that New York-based group Remarkable Theater Brigade is presenting a program of 10-minute operas at Carnegie Hall tomorrow night. How cool is that? I am seriously contemplating hopping on a Bolt Bus to go see it. All I need is a couch to crash on in the NYC area… Anybody?

I just love the combination of title and graphic, too. Keep your shorts on, opera lovers – Opera Shorts is almost here!


Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit!

New Music Detroit
Strange Beautiful Music IV
Saturday, September 25 at 6 p.m.-1 a.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit MI


It’s not every day that Detroit figures prominently in Arts and Entertainment media, but a random confluence of news items have recently flown over the transom here at Music Nerd Central, and I know, dear reader, that you’re counting on me to sort it all out for you. I live but to serve!

Why Detroit, you ask? Well, McDoc and I lived there for two years, so I have a soft spot for it, and being contrarian by nature, I enjoy having concrete evidence to counter the ubiquitous "Detroit sucks" meme.

I have the pilot episode of Detroit 1-8-7 on my DVR; a busy week of rehearsals for Saturday’s 30 Days Project in Concert have kept me from watching it yet. (Yes, Miss Music Nerd has a latent fondness for police procedurals. It’s just one of my many dirty secrets!)

One of my loyal informants has informed me that the Detroit Symphony players may go on strike if a contract dispute is not resolved soon. I used to live two blocks from the hall where they played, and enjoyed many wonderful concerts there, so this news saddens me. I hope negotiations go well.

Here’s the really important item that you’re less likely to have heard about, though: New Music Detroit presents Strange Beautiful Music IV!

New Music Detroit is a contemporary music group that I had the honor of meeting and working with a little bit while I lived in the D. In fact, it was quite serendipitous for me; before McDoc and I moved to Michigan, I searched online for contemporary music ensembles in Detroit and found none. I figured I’d be driving to Ann Arbor a lot. But not long after we arrived in the summer of 2007 — in fact, we were still sitting on folding chairs and living out of boxes — I heard a radio announcement NMD’s very first concert, and I delightedly hightailed it on down. Kismet!

Read here about my experience performing on their very first marathon concert back in September of ’07!

They are fantastic musicians who always put on an impressive show. The event this Saturday is their annual marathon show. Just $8 gets you as much or as little cutting-edge music as you can handle! If you’re in the Detroit area, check it out, and tell ’em Miss Music Nerd sent you!


The 30 Days Project, Live in Concert!

I have exciting news, Music Nerds!

If you’ve been following the adventures of Miss Music Nerd for any length of time, you’ve probably heard mention of The 30 Days Project. Back in the summer of 2007, I wrote a short piece of music every day for 30 days, and posted digital recordings right here on the blog. I made the recordings using my digital piano and MIDI sounds provided by my resident ensemble, the All-Electron Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ever since I was in the thick of the project, it has been my dream to have all 30 pieces performed as a live concert at some point. It’s a logistical challenge given the number of instruments involved. But the starts and planets eventually aligned in just the right way, and I made the acquaintance of a group of talented musicians from New England Conservatory who were itching to tackle interesting new music projects. They call themselves the Inter-NEC Ensemble. Finding the musicians was the hardest part, but I also needed a venue. That’s where it helps to be involved in organizing a concert series at the church where I’m the Minister of Music!

So I am very pleased to announce that a dream three years in the making is finally coming true!

UPDATE: I almost forgot, I’m also planning to webcast this shindig, so if you’re not a local music nerd, watch this space for details! (MMN-TV is currently doing quality assurance testing!)

Here are the vital details:

Saturday, Sept. 25, 7:30 pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church
1 Roanoke Ave, Jamaica Plain (Google map link)

JP Concerts Presents:
The Inter-NEC Collective
The 30 Days Project
music by Linda Kernohan

$10 suggested donation • more info: jpconcerts.com


Miss Music Nerd’s Fall Arts Preview: A Far Cry from Boston!

Fall really is upon us, Music Nerds! One minute I was enjoying my Labor Day vacay, and next thing I knew, the concert season was in full swing! For me, it started last night with the [plain] song, in a program being repeated Saturday and Sunday (details here).

photo: Yoon S. Byun

It continues tomorrow afternoon with A Far Cry. Fortunately for you, dear readers, you have three chances to hear this concert as well. However, I strongly recommend tomorrow’s performance, not only because it will be your chance to meet Miss Music Nerd in person, but also because the venue has marvelous acoustics and the tickets are only $10! (Said venue is the church where I am Minister of Music, so yeah, I’m biased!)

A Far Cry: “Primordial Darkness”
September 18 2010 4pm
JP Concerts, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain

September 19 2010 1:30pm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

September 24 2010 8pm
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston

A Far Cry is an exciting young string orchestra, now in its fourth season. They perform conductor-less, with the performers standing up (except the cellos!), which lends an intimacy and excitement to the playing that is very compelling. Or as they put it, “seeking the freedom and flexibility of a string quartet as well as the power and beauty of an orchestra.” In addition to their Boston area performance and outreach activities, they have recently begun taking it on the road, as an article in today’s Boston Globe relates.

The theme for their fourth season is “History of the Night,” and this first concert is titled “Primordial Darkness.” In keeping with that theme, they will play Mozart’s Serenata Notturna in D major. Here’s the full program lineup:

Xenakis: Analogique A et B
Mozart: Serenata Notturna in D major
Cornell: New Fantasias
Purcell: Suite from “The Old Bachelor”
Bartók: Divertimento for String Orchestra

The piece by Boston composer Richard Cornell was commissioned by and written for A Far Cry, so I’m very excited to hear it. I believe it is one of the pieces, along with the Xenakis, requiring the sound system the group is bringing in – I got a sneak peek today when I stopped by the venue to open the door!

So get ready to rock out in a classical kind of way, and tell ’em Miss Music Nerd sent you!


What Miss Music Nerd Did On Her Summer Vacation!

PhotobucketGreetings and Happy Autumn, Music Nerds!

It’s been an exciting summer here at Music Nerd Central! Before I get into the details, I have a few important news items to share.

First off, if you live in the Boston area and you like to sing, you are cordially invited to check out Masterworks Chorale, a group that McDoc and I sing with. We have open rehearsals tonight at 7:30, and next Tuesday, September 21, same time. Click here for location and details!

September brings with it not only the excitement of my birthday (which was the 8th, but I’ll accept greetings all month!), but the start of the classical concert season as well. I’m going to preview what’s on offer this season in the coming weeks – selectively, of course, because covering Boston’s music scene could be a full-time job (for which I’m available if anyone wants to hire me!). Among the groups I’ll be covering are friends of MMN, Cantata Singers and L’Academie, as well as the aforementioned Masterworks.

PhotobucketOn Saturday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m., my 30 Days Project will be performed Live In Concert by members of the Inter-NEC Collective, from New England Conservatory. This will be the realization of a dream I’ve had ever since I completed the digital version of the project, so I’m really excited! Details are here.

PhotobucketAnd finally, I have my first official not-on-any-old-blog writing credit! One day, while procrastinating doing some musical work I really needed to do, I came across an Open Call on Salon.com’s blog network, Open Salon. They were asking for essays on the theme, “Conflicted Carnivores.” I’m more of a conflicted vegetarian, but I got inspired and wrote a piece entitled, “Of Guinea Pigs and Tuna Melts: My Mostly Vegetarian Journey.” It was tapped as an Editor’s Pick, and I was very excited. Then I got an email from the Open Salon editor saying they wanted to post the piece in the Food section of Salon.com itself, as in the actual online magazine, not the place where any schmo can fling their pixels. So here it is, with my real-name byline and everything: A Lutheran turned vegetarian. I like my original title much better, don’t you? Now I know how Milton Babbitt must’ve felt…

In July, I performed Schumann’s Dichterliebe for the first time, with singer Peter Terry, and I believe it was one of the hottest performances on record. Literally. We had to stop in the middle to give the audience a water break. The beautiful old church where we performed has no A/C, and it has fixed windows that can’t be un-fixed, as per the Boston Landmarks Commission. I wore a halter dress that I had previously judged too bare to perform in, but this was the kind of summer that makes you change your mind about such things!

In August, McDoc and I took a trip to Montreal, where I snagged several Keyboards of the World pics. And one evening while strolling through the Parc La Fontaine, we happened to be in the right place at the right time to hear a free performance by the chamber group Constantinople, who performed Baroque music by Marin Marais and Dimitrius Cantemir in the Theatre de Verdure.
Constantinople Ensemble

Toward the end of the month, McDoc’s son visited from Southern California. Son of McDoc is twenty-three (I’m a trophy wife, you know 😉 ) and a connoisseur of Scandinavian heavy metal, so I always learn a lot from him. We forced him to attend the final Masterworks Chorale Summer Sing, because what young person doesn’t want to go to a sing-along Mozart Requiem? He had fun, I think – he pronounced the whole affair “pretty darn nerdy!” So what’s your point? 😀

Finally, I spent the first week of September visiting my family in Northern California, for the first time in over two years! I had a great time, and began a new collection of photos: watch this space for Guitars of the World, coming soon!


MMNFAQ: Producing The 30 Days Project

Hey, music nerds! Want to help me write my FAQ? Send in your question!

Here’s one from LisztNut:

How did Miss Music Nerd make the recordings in “The 30 Days Project”? Specifically, what type of equipment or recording setup was used, who were the performers, how much rehearsal was involved, etc.?

All of the pieces were recorded by me and my All-Electron Philharmonic Orchestra!

My basic rig consists of three pieces of hardware and two software programs:


  • Mac computer (I was using an iMac at the time)
  • Yamaha P-120 digital piano
  • M-box 2 audio/midi interface


  • Finale for music notation and some sequencing
  • Pro Tools for sequencing, recording, processing and editing

For the solo piano pieces, I just connected my piano to the M-box with an audio cable and recorded into Pro Tools. In some cases, there may have been some over-dubbing involved — I can neither confirm nor deny that! 😉 There were a few piano pieces that definitely required more than one track, because they needed three or four hands: Tango-ish and Something Languid. There was even a two-piano, eight-hand piece: On Not Being Stingy.

When I wanted to use other instruments, there were a couple of different ways to do it. Finale has some passable MIDI sounds, so I used them where I could. Sometimes I could just save a whole Finale score as an audio file and be done, but more often I would save each instrument’s track separately and then load them into Pro Tools for tweaking and mixing.

When Finale’s MIDI sounds weren’t enough for me, I turned to Xpand!, which is a virtual instrument plug-in for Pro Tools. It has some fun percussion and keyboard instrument sounds; I especially liked the accordion and jazz organ sounds I used toward the end of Cicadas in Love and the “glassy glockenspiel” in Out of the Loops.

When using Xpand!, sometimes I would play the music into a Pro Tools instrument track through the piano, and other times I would generate MIDI data with Finale and import it, so I didn’t actually have to record it myself. In any case, using more than a few Xpand! intruments at once puts a serious strain on my system resources! I never lost data due to crashes, though (phew!). Someday when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have a top-of-the-line digital audio workstation with the most powerful computer known to humanity (until the day after you buy it, at least!), but for the moment I have to make clever and resourceful use of my mid-range gear. 😉

The cicada sounds, by the way, were the only sounds I didn’t produce myself. I used sound files from University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s website, after the scientists there kindly granted me permission. I did, in fact, have live cicadas singing outside my window at the time, which is where the idea for the piece originated, but I wouldn’t have been able to get the quality and variety of sound files I had access to if I’d had to record them myself.

I’m grateful that we have this new-fangled digital technology, because it’s really fun to get an idea immediately of what your piece will sound like. Also, it’s the only way I could have done something like the 30 Days project.

Still, there’s nothing better than having your piece performed by live musicians. I am hoping to put on a live concert of these pieces at some point, hopefully this coming fall. I won’t have any trouble finding musicians in Boston, that’s for sure! Stay tuned! 😀


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