Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'music' category

LotR dancing across the London stage

August 21, 2007 12:00 am

If you’ve been watching Slashdot more closely than I have, you might have noticed this blurb. Or this one. Or even this one.

I didn’t, though, so I only just tonight ran across the home page for London’s musical theater production of Lord of the Rings.

It looks amazing in terms of production design and pure spectacle, and the video clips are worth a gawk or two. I have to wonder, though, how LotR is being staged without turning into a nine hour production, a la Wagner.

(Not an inappropriate comparison, come to think of it. In fact, a Slashdotter notes, “Just watch, LOTR, the musical, will be released in Germany under the title ‘Das Rheingold’. I think most of the adaptation work has been done on the German version by some guy named Wagner.”)

From what you can hear on the show’s website, though, I’m not sold on the music. I’m too much in love with Howard Shore’s soundtracks for the LotR movies, and this music is a re-imagining more along the lines of Le Miz or Wicked. And I like the music from those shows, but each of them has a very different atmosphere from what I associate with LotR. There’s a clash of styles.

…but if I were in London right now, I’d go anyway. See the note on the show’s page that says it looks great from the 15 pound seats way up in the balcony? That would be me.

(Actually, I think LotR is currently in the theater where I saw The Producers. Which was awesome from the balcony.)

Loreena’s latest

April 27, 2007 12:41 pm

When Loreena McKennitt’s latest album, An Ancient Muse, came out last Novemer, it was the first new material she had released in nine years. I don’t think she’s done a real tour in that time, either, so happening to be on the tour route has pretty much made my month! A singer, instrumentalist, composer, and lyricist who records under her own label, Loreena is a real inspiration and I admire her a great deal. So take any criticism that slips in with that in mind.

An Ancient Muse is perhaps not her strongest album to date (mind you, I have three candidates for that title), but it does have many lovely pieces. The style and sound are the Loreena we know and love, mixing the Middle Eastern influences she has explored since 1994’s The Mask and Mirror with the expressive Celtic palatte that marks all of her music. Muse reminds me of Mask and Mirror in that it seems to be set in a more Eastern atmosphere than recordings like 1997’s The Book of Secrets, which stays mostly in western Europe (”The Mummers’ Dance,” “Skellig,” “The Highwayman,” “Dante’s Prayer,” etc.), but looks to the East a few times along the way. Muse seems to live in Greece, Turkey, Arabia: the first track is called “Incantation,” but it seems also to be an invocation in the Homeric sense of calling for guidance from the album’s eponymous muse. Homer is more directly referenced later in the album through “Penelope’s Song,” a haunting call from Odysseus’s patient queen, and in between we visit “The Gates of Istanbul,” walk “Beneath a Phrygian Sky,” and water our camels at a “Caravanserai.” We only leave that space a couple of times, going to the Scottish border in “The English Ladye and the Knight” and putting on our yarmulkes to dance a “Sacred Shabbat.”

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Spring news

April 25, 2007 10:14 am

I realized that I have posted almost no actual news in the last month! It’s all been a bit mad.

My roommate and spent the middle of March apartment hunting, under the impression that we would have to move when our lease ran out on June 1. Our current building is gradually being rennovated and sold as condos, but as it turns out, that process is going more slowly than the owners anticipated (as I understand it, real estate is a buyer’s market right now), so they’re letting us renew the lease for another year. So that means I don’t get to be rid of our stained carpets, stained countertops, and finicky shower, but I am very glad to not have to move. Besides, I love the area around us, so I’m glad not to leave just yet.

School is almost finished for the spring — my last class is next Tuesday. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Research Paper Land, Group Presentation Land, and Final Project Land, but the end is in sight. Of course, there’s still a last paper, project revisions, and poetry revisions to do in the next week, but still — light, tunnel, yeah.

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Music meme that everyone’s doing

March 19, 2007 12:35 am

Set your favorite mp3 player wander randomly through every song in your collection. Pick your favorite lines from the first 20 songs that play. Post and let everyone guess the song and artist. And oh yeah…don’t use Google. Cheater.

So of course iTunes is bringing up some of the strangest things in my collection. But a few should be gimmes. Have fun!

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Apparently, it’s all in my head.

February 21, 2007 11:44 am

I was greatly disappointed by my poetry class last night. Situation was that I had to turn in a paper, give a presentation, and submit a poem for discussion, so rather than stress about three things, I used a poem that I wrote for the poetry class I took a year and a half ago. It was a piece that I didn’t think all that highly of, but which my professor liked, so I had some confidence in it, but I also knew it had problems. So I sent it off to my classmates and went to work on the paper and presentation which didn’t go all that well, I thought, but I’m just glad it’s over. Yik.

This particular poem is a description (of sorts) of a night at Furman when I was walking to my apartment one evening, probably going home at ten from a CCLC shift. It was a foggy night and I came around the corner into a slightly wooded area around the apartments and a little way ahead of me was this girl who was practicing for a kickline or something — literally taking three steps and then throwing a leg up over her head, three steps, kick, three steps, kick.

Well, strange thing that my brain is, it comes up with the Saggy Baggy Elephant, who goes around the jungle dancing one, two, three, kick! one, two, three, kick! Is this ringing a bell to anybody?

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For the E

July 28, 2006 11:02 pm

I think your new theme song for your troll experience should be Blink 182’s “What’s My Age Again?” – casting your troll as the singer, of course. (I believe it’s on Consus if you don’t know it.) It just keeps going through my head and it seems appropriate! Other suggestions, gang?

Have you got the twit blocked yet?

Some slightly dated Harry news

July 21, 2006 8:39 am

I’ve been staring at this for a few days now in case I changed my mind, but I still think it’s a bad idea:

Composer wants to create a Harry Potter opera cycle.

Okay, give the lady credit. From the quotes in the above article, it sounds like she wants to use HP’s immense popularity to revitalise opera and make it interesting to kids. But I just get the feeling that some things should not be set to music. They talked about making a Star Trek musical at one point, after all. Not to mention the fact that opera singers are stereotypically middleaged and overweight for a reason: the voice doesn’t finish maturing until you’re about thirty and opera music is demanding. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. But I don’t think it would be a service to the stories. The composer likes that HP is “pure epic” — but I don’t think epic and opera are as analogous as she would like to make out.

Fortunately for all involved, both J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers have denied permission for the project.

In other Harry news, I really want someone to remind this guy ['Harry won't die' says literature expert] that JKR has explicitly told us that Neville is NOT the chosen one. Voldemort made Harry the chosen one when he tried to kill him as a baby…because he percieved Harry, not Neville as a future threat.

I also think that the first point quoted in the article is bogus. YES, like in Dickens’ work, good has to win in the end, but that doesn’t require Harry to survive the book. He just has to take Voldemort with him if he does die.

I think what really gets my goat about that article is the way Prof. Krasner talks about Harry as though he’s got all the answers. Snape is “really fighting for good despite all appearances,” he says. Well, yes, the thought has crossed most of our minds, now hasn’t it? No call to sound presumptuous about it.

Butterflies, Bones, and Bluegrass. Also, Unitarians.

July 13, 2006 4:26 pm

The title line refers to last Saturday.

Pug and I spent the afternoon at the Florida Museum of Natural History, which turned out to be considerably bigger and cooler
than I expected. One of their big attractions is a large butterfly
enclosure, very nice, and we managed to be there during their butterfly release at 2pm. Since there are so many species, they just don’t have all the right plants that the various butterflies want to lay their eggs on, so nearly all of them are bought from “butterfly farms” and shipped to the museum as chrysalises, and a cageful of new butterflies are released into the main enclosure every few days.

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Not dead yet!

May 21, 2006 12:10 am

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

Reports of my graduation are still premature. (I have three more days of class. I get my piece of paper on June 3.)

So hello again! Carmen can stop frothing (geez, get a rabies shot!) and perhaps my rabid fans will be appeased.

Charlie Brown went off pretty well. Out first performance was out in the amphitheatre as planned — the forecast had been scaring us all week, but the only possible back-up location was already booked that first night. But the show went on! In fact, it did drizzle a little during the first act, but it cleared up after five or ten minutes and then it was lovely. Miraculously, the crowd didn’t leave!

Since we did have McAlister reserved for Friday and Saturday, we went ahead and moved to the auditorium Friday afternoon — and it did rain off and on all weekend, so we were glad we did. The show went better inside anyway (depite the fact that we were thoroughly turned around at first), so that was good. And there it was, my exit from Pauper Players. Sort of…I had set up a couple of video cameras during the last show, so I’ve been editing and burning copies of the video ever since. Finally got the last of those done this afternoon.

I also sang with Furman’s oratorio chorus (basically all the choruses combine to do a major work at Christmas and again in May) for the last time. I hadn’t been in women’s chorale since sophomore year (partly time constraints, partly personalities), so it was fun to be in a big chorus again. The performance was the day Pug arrived up here after his exams, so he got to come!

It was great fun to have my boy up here for a week, and he insists that he had a good time, despite the fact that he had to entertain himself while I went to class, worked at the CCLC, and wrote a research paper. I guess I even believe him, since after all I had a lovely time, despite going to class, working, and writing a research paper…

Some Linkages:

The Plains of Abraham: There is a Canadian classicist whose specialty is the performance aspect of Homeric poetry. So what does he do but write his own epic in the Homeric style about an event in Canadian history. And he goes around and performs it! He came to Furman the week between Charlie Brown and the oratorio — really cool!

NY Times on Da Vinci: Whatever you think about The Da Vinci Code, book or movie, check out this movie review from the New York Times. Harsh — but very funny! I thought the book was a good read and want to see the movie sooner or later, but it might wait for video. We shall see.

Speaking of movies, the group that brings films to Furman has been doing well this spring after performing way sub par for most of the year — they spent about two months advertising Saw 2 this winter. Ewww!! But now I’ve seen nearly everything I kinda wanted to see over Christmas but didn’t get around to:
Pride & Prejudice: pretty good; worth seeing for cheap; hated the final scene they wrote in.
Brokeback Mountain: I like it. And I think it’s really cool that they can make a tasteful movie about gay cowboys. Really cool.
The Producers: good funny! Though some scenes feel constrained, as though the blocking was pulled straight from the stage version and the camera angle is too narrow.
Good Night and Good Luck: I love black and white. Required viewing for anyone who thinks the Constitution is being trampled on. It doesn’t actively draw parallels between McCarthy and anything modern, but its very presence suggests them. Possibly just me. Also really neat to see the movie and then see a clip of the real 1950’s newscaster who is the main character of the film.

Those of you who remember a certain tenth grade English project may be amused to know that my Shakespeare class is doing something very similar! This time, though, we have to stick to the plot as given, though we may pull from multiple scene or overlay bits to make a point, provided that the point is substantiated by the text in the first place. My group is doing Richard III, a play I didn’t know much about until a few weeks ago. (However, now I can tell you if you don’t already know that the film of Richard III from about ten years ago starring Ian McKellen is phenomenal and you should all see it. So creepy!!) Anyway, I was experimenting with costume bits for this, and then I started playing with my camera and the mirror…ending up with this, which is kind of fun…
Odette casts magic missile.

Took long enough…

May 26, 2004 9:48 pm

Classes are finally over!

Today was the official last day, though two of my classes finished yesterday. I had my English final on Monday (a sort of second midterm rather than a true final, really), and we generally got Wednesdays off in German, so she let us have this one too. So today was just the last day of HES. And there was much rejoicing.

I also had my voice jury this afternoon, so that’s another “final” down. I had to sing two pieces for the voice faculty (about six teachers): I got to choose the first, and they chose the second on the spot from a list of the songs I worked on this term. I picked a Mozart piece from Marriage of Figaro …which is kind of a story unto itself. See, the character who sings this aria is a page boy, but he’s always played by a woman for whatever reason. So among other things, I had to work on looking at least vaguely masculine, which was very interesting! Anyway, that went well, and then the faculty actually chose the song I was hoping they would! Of the other two, one I don’t know as well, and the other…well, apparently a lot of people are singing it this term, so they would be less likely to pick it for me. So all’s well. I get results on Friday, but I’m not concerned.

Work has been absolutely crazy of late – many projects due in the last few days! The best is when a whole class has to come down for something….and they all wait until the last minute! And then they’re upset when the equipment is booked by their classmates and we won’t stay late. Cry me a river, kiddos, you were told to start early. I have no sympathy. It’s crazy.

So now all I have to do is study for two exams and pack (my friends here hate me a little for that…can’t blame ‘em). I’ll probably put in some time at work during exams, too. Policy is that you don’t have to work your hours during exams, and whoever wants to can pick up extra. It’s usually quiet in there after classes end.

Not much longer now.