31 December 2006

Joya no kane

We pulled up to the Asian Art Museum and pulled straight into a parking space just across the street -- even closer than the space reserved for the disabled. This was sheer luck, as plenty of other folks were hunting for parking. The line to the museum stretched around the corner.

IcarusI did a quick spin through the latest special exhibits, Hidden Meanings: Symbolism in Chinese Art and Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel, which began with Fernando Zóbel's stunning rendition of the myth of Icarus, but my forearms weren't strong enough to carry me through the museum for more than three quarters of an hour on my new aluminum forearm crutches. We lucked out again when we arrived in Samsung Hall, because there were two empty seats left for the disabled and elderly. Nobody objected when I made myself at home.

Samsung HallNick and I used to talk about "Yale moments," moments when we were confronted with the magnitude of the privilege and extraordinary luck and sheer impossibility of being at Yale University. This morning I had a San Francisco moment. I was sitting in a magnificent Beaux Arts chamber with a Rococo ceiling, once used to house books and now used to showcase the arts of Eastern cultures, with hundreds of people from black to white and many colors in between, from babies to young couples to the elderly, from tourists to Japanese (and white) monks, entranced by the haunting strains of a shakuhachi improvisation, followed by the deep, throaty singing of the monks that I had only heard before on some of my most treasured recordings, punctuated by the high floating ring of a ceremonial hand bell, and concluded with 108 strokes of the 2,100-pound 16th century Japanese bell.

I was in group 34 and set my crutches aside to ring the joya no kane with a small group of adults and children. I have heard and played 16th-century bells before -- the Waghevens dynasty was flourishing in Mechelen when this bell was cast -- but ringing the sho was an entirely different experience. It sounded ugly to my ears at first, with its harsh strike tone a ninth above the hum tone and intense beating of the fundamental. But after the first few strokes it became spiritual, meditative, reminiscent of thoughts not yet recovered. I could understand why the Japanese considered this an annual cleansing ritual. My only regret was that the room became a bit of a madhouse with everyone clamoring to participate, and the MC didn't insist on maintianing a respectful silence.

MifuneThe afternoon was uneventful besides a ridiculous amount of young carillonneur network building on Facebook that could only be accomplished by someone in whom intense bell fever and OCD were united, but in the evening we went to Mifune for my favorite comforting slurpalicious udon. While waiting for our food at table 34, I crutched over to the bookstore and marveled at its wares, resisting Hokusai and Hiroshege to the best of my abilities while scoping out potential belated holiday gifts. When I returned, the Daimyo tray was sitting on the table, laden with sashimi and steaming, thick udon. Culinary heaven.

I had really been looking forward to playing the carillon all day at Berkeley, but I suppose some things still weren't meant to be this year what with the accident and all. This afternoon I at least got to peel off my bandages and shower. There's not much to say about the incisions since they're still under surgical tape, but the main incision was definitely extended to about 3 inches or so. I can't wait to see how the scars turn out.

Conversing this evening with a drunkenly gregarious Andrew, I wondered at his talking to me from 2007 while I was still in 2006, as if we were in parallel universes. I also realized after having my father flip through a couple of channels (being too good myself to near the television) that the networks record the NYC celebrations to broadcast 3 hours later on the west coast. Seems lame, but if they didn't, they'd be broadcasting the new year around the world for 24 hours straight.

That would be kind of fun. Kind of sickening, but fun. Let's see if I make it to midnight, since my parents both went to bed while I was jabbering on the phone. For mysterious reasons Andrew has assigned me the impossible task of calling him at Pacific midnight.

29 December 2006


I woke up extremely uncomfortable and shifted around frequently hoping to find a more comfortable position. I also wanted my cell phone (my best friend in times of limited mobility), but was unable to really articulate this, or anything else for that matter.

According to Dr. Belzer, I was "kicking and thrashing everywhere" when I woke up, which reassured him that my leg was working. I admit that that sounds in line with my post-accident mindset in Belgium. I suppose the real scenario was somewhere in between.

It's fortunate that I passed out again, because when I awoke in the recovery room, I was still pretty ill. With a last ounce of effort, I smsed a resolute "Done" [sic] to Mr. Stephenson, convincing myself (erroneously) that I was really just fine. I passed out again and awoke much, much, much improved. The Filipino nurse who saw me out reminded me that Daly City is foggy because of the large Filipino population, which is always steaming fish and rice. And that's what we say about the Chinese in the Sunset district!

JR informs me that he was hiking in a Hawai'ian volcano crater when I called him from the airport. Typical. What a place to be before heading back to blizzardly Denver, though.

Udon from Mifune in J-Town is still my favorite (warm) comfort food in the world. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

28 December 2006


Spun around San Francisco today without really meaning to. Saw Dr. Belzer, who broke the news to me that the operation would be entirely unnecessary, at 8:30 AM. Was out by 9:15 AM still determined to see it through. Claimed a free cup of lavender earl grey at Peet's Coffee in Laurel Heights, hightailed it to Caffe Puccini and realized that the service there know what my dad's going to order before he can even open his mouth, realized from that that my parents are creatures of habits and I the opposite, enjoyed a thick rich slice of blackberry pie, wandered around North Beach and intently engaged in religious tourism, snooped around the Fairmont Hotel and yoinked a pencil for Baskeyfield since I could think of no one else to justify yoinking it, wandered into Grace Cathedral and immediately had to hold back watery eyes as the sounds of symphonic Aeolian Skinner organ chords washed around us fortuitously, chose a Sennhauser for Christmas courtesy of my parents from the Guitar Center's new location, hopped around the Legion of Honor realizing that the cleverly hidden organ was by E.M. Skinner himself, helped myself to the 50% gift shop sale, took a hike around the mountainous beachfront park on an empty stomach at 2 PM, traveled along my favorite SF highway, and then finally touched down on home again impatient to get started on "real" work, which turned out to be continuing my clean-out spree, sending more cards, processing my summer photos, and receiving a FedExed teddy bear from the minioner in Houston.

Guess "real" work is going to wait until after I'm titanium free.

27 December 2006


That mysterious Filipino carillon surfaces in the media again. Which Belgian carillonneur dedicated and/or installed it? Maybe I should stop asking you and contact the campaigners themselves. It would be nice to bring Hylke some more interesting news than my rehashed account of the World Carillon Federation Congress.


For anyone awaiting such practicalities, my operation this Friday occurs at 7:30 am, and I should be home by the afternoon.

Tiff's Amazon.com Wish List

These practicalities are also interesting, although some of the most interesting books I'm dreaming of are of course not available on Amazon. Donations to the Alexander Capelluto Foundation would be even better presents. A windstorm has been raging outside, and the lights just went out. Too bad I woke up at 6 am. There isn't any sunlight. But now I get to burn my candles, and my parents can't object!

26 December 2006


Godiva cocktail truffles
Returned home to find an anonymous Christmas gift at my front door: A twelve-piece limited edition set of cocktail truffles in a handsome martini shaker. My first martini shaker ever! Now if only I still had martini glasses from the days when I found collecting them entertaining.

I have to admit that, despite its American manufacture, this chocolate is completely palatable. Possibly even exquisite. I think I'm catching on. As one gets older, one receives fewer presents, but the presents get more tasteful and more extravagant. And more anonymous.

Then again, Ingrid gave me The Best of Dr. Suess, the pair of jeans I'd left in Cambridge two years ago and had been asking after ever since, Peet's candy, and yet more yoinked airline safety cards in various languages. Utterly tasteless and utterly ... brilliant.

24 December 2006

city of light

It's a different experience to return to your home city and state when you realize how particular they are. The home of forsaken Candlestick and Robin Williams, of plummeting hills lined with skyscrapers and two bridges always aglow in the distance, all set to a soundtrack of hip hop and r&b and techno and people who definitely still employ the words "hella" and "moded." Amazing.

17 December 2006

sound, glorious sound!

It's sooo good to have my AKG K 301 headphones again. To be able to hear music for what it is! Music, glorious music. Music not being made by me (thank heavens). My life is complete.

Oh, and I'm officially 24 now. I didn't even notice until 20 minutes in. I decided earlier today that I'd been so traumatized by birthdays beginning with my 21st that I had developed an aversion to them rather than the apathy that sometimes develops because there are no landmark birthdays between 21 and 30.

People do remember although I tried to keep it under wraps. I had a birthday message from Belgium at precisely midnight CET, the loanable birthday banner moved mysteriously from Donna's bathroom door to my doorway, and the ECMC folks have even contrived to convince me to go to Matthew's with them tonight on account of it being the final ECMC staff meeting for the year. This is all very much appreciated, at least with what feeble capacity I have left.

The question is: Will I survive to see my 24 and 2/365th day? Monday isn't looking pretty, folks. Oh no it isn't. I wouldn't be unhappy if that cipher in Schmitt persisted all day. It was so loud that uniformed Jeffrey Leo (who didn't recognize me in my non-carillonista guise) came in just to inform me that the school was closing down for the dreaded 11th hour as I attempted to practice my improvisation, "Changes," by drowning out the cipher with deafening bell motifs.

11 December 2006

put on the spot

Organ and electronics and contemporary carillon music? Didn't Randy and I organize that first? What are the likes of Michael Nyman and the Minster bell ringers copying us?

But seriously, I'd love to hear and track down Nyman's piece to see if it's possible to perform it on the carillon. I remember an mp3 with "carillon" in the title attributed to him that I must have deleted, not believing its provenance. It wasn't a carillon piece. But clearly he has an interest in bells... *gears in head start turning*

Dr. Porter put me in the Colloquium spotlight for the first time tonight, coincidentally choosing the pieces I had played from memory in previous studio classes as examples in his "guest lecture" on memorizing pieces. I had, of course, put my organ shoes away, but to my surprise, I was completely calm, accurate, and even expressive playing the first few phrases of Franck's "Prelude, Fugue & Variation" in 3-inch heel boots in front of forty organists. Good confidence-building preparation for Monday, when I meet my doom conducting the anthem and, by the way, conducting anything for the first time in my life. In front of some of the best teachers and students of this matter in the country. Maybe if I wear boots, it'll get me through the trial.

BWV 545
Fugue = OK, still not in my motor memory so conceptual grasp didn't always translate into performance
Prelude = Thumbs down. Not sure if it's my motor memory or conceptual memory that failed me.

Nevertheless, I take a certain pride in at least having attempted these things from memory, something that hasn't been done too frequently in our studio class. Now if only my attempts could be as successful on stage as they are in our organ cubicles.

Dr. Porter called Sally at the beginning of improv class. She was in good spirits as always, even sharp enough to remember at the moment she was put on the phone with me by surprise to thank me for the postcard I'd sent her over the summer (which I'd actually forgotten). What a lady.

One thing I wish I could emulate about Dr. Porter, Sally, and others is by-the-seat-of-your-pants thoughtfulness. When I announced the Xmas carillon concert, Dr. Porter jumped in to encourage everyone to read the Currents carillon article, which I hadn't even thought to mention. I ought to have mentioned to Sally that I had received her email in September with appreciation, but put on the spot, especially over the phone (which I will reiterate to anyone upset at me about it that I have great difficulty talking on the phone), I was rather speechless.

10 December 2006


I wonder why I usually blushed after eating home-cooked dinner in Belgium, but haven't done so here. Tonight it happened, although the food was hardly any good. I know precious little about baking, especially when it involves Greek orzo casseroles, and it doesn't help when the instructions read, "Bake at medium heat for about an hour."

I'm finally feeling as if I've become a part of Rochester. We had another Indian summer day, and after practicing for 3.5 hours in Schmitt Hall, I took off on my bike for Starry Nites Cafe for brunch followed by grocery shopping, which I had not managed to accomplish since Thanksgiving. (Why the stores in that area insist on improper, "hip" spellings such as "Nites" and "Essentialz" is beyond me.) As I carried my vanilla frappe into the back room, I was greeted by the sight of a young man sporting a nifty hat and typing furiously at his MacBook. Ryan had three papers to finish this week on film, photography, and heaven knows what else. But for someone under pressure, he was still good-natured and reiterated that I had to visit Aquarius Records in San Francisco. I resolved to take Ingrid and Adrien along if they hadn't already been in order to check out their best-sellers, including sculpted box record sets à la Duchamp "Box in a Valise" and symphonies of musically trained elephants. I insisted on sitting at a different table to not distract him from his work and lost another pencil in the process of trying to look busy, but I trust a worthy bohemian at the cafe found it and used it to surreptitiously sketch students working at their laptops.

I guess I also felt at home stopping into Image City Photography to see the newest exhibit, which included some extraordinary travel photos of seascapes in brilliant colors framed by decaying windows and walls in brilliant colors. It's so liberating to be involved with a place unassociated with the U of R. Speaking of which, Andrew and Doug and I ended up in a slightly sketchy little ESM-student-free dive last night to celebrate the former's 21st birthday. The irony that led us there was that I'd forgotten my ID, although I was the eldest of the group. It was a good place -- they had Stella on tap, and the bartender was lip-singing with a bottle substituting for a mic. I hadn't drunk in a townie bar with fellow cyclists since... New Haven.

Tonight I finally watched the videos Gary Hilburger had sent me of the Rochester Poets' visit. The memories overwhelmed me a little, as did the renditions of "Image No. 2" and "Een Aangename Voois," which were better than I'd imagined. Especially "Image No. 2." The carillon doesn't sound so bad at all when you're not sitting there playing it! And to see the reactions of my audience through the lens of Gary's great sense of cinematography, and the strangeness of watching my hands from a different angle... What a gift.

08 December 2006

search and ye shall raise

Summer Science ProgramUse GoodSearch.com for your routine web searches. After you designate the "Summer Science Program - SSP" as your preferred nonprofit, Goodsearch will donate about a penny to SSP for every search you make. The underlying search engine is Yahoo! Please do it for this recovering nerd!

In short, Belgians may be crazy but they're happy.

So summarized the writer of an article about how Belgians are rated amongst the happiest and yet most in-therapy European citizens. That actually describes my condition by the end of the year pretty well, minus the therapy. Apparently I took part in a national experience.

07 December 2006

rochesterse duivelskermis

I'm looking up from deciphering my 16th-century Dutch tract by Huygens and it's snowing and sunny. More Low Countries déjà vu in Rochester!

06 December 2006

"A Passion For The Bells"

The carillon is in Currents! This time Leslie Scatterday emailed me about it. I'm always the last to notice, go figure. Time to buy some frames and to deck the halls of the belfry. And thanks to Sarah Permutt for writing the article and Richard Baker for his professional photography.

05 December 2006


Cycling back from the River Campus along the scenic portion of the Genesee Riverway Trail, I was overtaken by a flock of black birds. They were flying in the same direction as I was going, and looking up at them, I felt pulled along almost as if I was one of them. They kept on coming, for perhaps five unbelievable minutes, more and more birds overtaking me almost until I had reached the Troup Howell Bridge.

I gave up practice for 100 minutes this evening to chat with Andrew over coffee. We found that we had stranger things in common than just cycling and The Elegant Universe, despite our disparate backgrounds and my allegiance to the bohemian hipster Java's crowd. By the time I was getting antsy about tomorrow's lesson, we had more to talk about than before and were accelerating in our haste to beat the close of the day. I excused myself in some alarm and a little bit of exhaustion to return to Bach. But what a refreshing personality. What time well spent.

03 December 2006


I have finally, finally, finally accomplished the terrifying task of writing to the former main alumni supporter of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon. I don't know when or if he will respond, but I am very happy to have reached the point in my efforts at which I can contact him with a persuasive campaign and story of progress and promise.

02 December 2006

hummers go green!

An algae-filled recyclable Hummer that opens like a flower to absorb sunlight is pretty funky and an attention-getting way of designing a fully recyclable car. It's a nice surprise for GM spokesmen to speak of the SUV's original intended customers as "people who worked in the outdoors, environmentalists, naturalists and outdoorsmen." But my favorite is Toyota's "electric-powered, tandem-style vehicle with wicker seats that the occupants could opt to pedal through stop-and-go Los Angeles rush-hour traffic." I'd definitely get me one of those.

The most intriguing social commentary I've seen in a while: For one analyst of popular culture, [the popularity of public apologies and rehab solutions is] a measure of the "therapeutic culture" that we live in. "It's like a huge moving conveyor belt. Once you declare yourself to be a client of our therapeutic culture, we say, 'OK great! Welcome aboard,' " says Jerry Herron, professor at Wayne State University. "Somewhere, there will be a sofa waiting for you."

01 December 2006

It's weird being a graduate student. I'm surrounded by married people. Or at least almost married people. Congrats, Ben!

28 November 2006

fleeting mist

The day was partly cloudy, even when I returned home from President Seligman's visit. When I went to school to practice two hours later, I saw downtown Rochester enveloped in fog for the first time -- quite a thick fog; I worried that cars turning the corner wouldn't see me. I wondered where it had come from; I hadn't seen it in the forecast.

When I emerged at 11 pm, the fog was completely gone.

"It was a fog you could wrap around you, discard your secrets into..." I'll never forget those couple of lines Michael Foxman wrote in middle school within the five or ten minutes of free writing time we were given. I wasn't a child to be taken aback by the writing of others my age. But I still remember those lines going on 24.

meetings, surprises, coalescence

I dropped everything today to prepare for a tardily-announced visit by UR President Joel Seligman that had been planned since summer. And it was crazy, and it was well worth it. He's nothing like Rick Levin -- and while he doesn't have the same presence, he also conspicuously lacks that "I'm too busy and important for little you" air, and listens to the quietest and most unsure student and to student rants that should be addressed at local levels within the university with warmth, interest, and patience. And when I handed him the sort of carillon "press release" I had just printed at Minuteman, he expressed how impressed he was with the ambition of a student launching a capital renovation project and asked to visit the carillon before leaving for LA for winter break.

Like John Covach, his reaction came as a complete surprise and caught me off guard. They keep catching me off guard here and leaving me a little unsure of what to say next, most likely because I underestimate their genuine interest and predisposition to respect the carillon as a musical instrument. President Seligman and Dr. Covach both have backgrounds at Ann Arbor. Thank you, Margo Halsted.

I sent a carillon sheet music and monograph acquisition proposal to Dan Zager today, and he responded promptly and positively and informed me that he had played the carillon for two years at Madison.

A good surprise around many corners. However, president Seligman also caught a weak point I hadn't anticipated defending - what progress I had made so far with fundraising. Let's hope the HYP Ball this weekend with a fellow ambitious fundraiser gives us something to add to our progress report. The divorce lawyer I met at Image City called this morning as I was writing my proposals... the publicity manager involved with Currents was at the meeting... things are starting to coalesce. But now I have to get to school. Who has time for that?

27 November 2006

The most original description of the experience of listening to a carillon that I have probably ever read.

I cycled to Naomi's tonight to negotiate her weeklong internet connection breakdown and realized that although I'd seen Corn Hill through the windows of cars and buses, it is truly gorgeous without the mediation of a window. Although I procrastinated buying tickets for the Landmark Preservation Society's Corn Hill Holiday Tour until they sold out, I've at least gotten to see one interior. Her house is splendid, and strangely enough, owned by someone fascinated by British royalty who is in Britain through December and who furthermore has a ceiling painted by the partner of one of our organ professors. I also finally got to see the elusive City Hall, where bells may still hang in the tower. Now if only I could get myself to Rundel for a library card so I can feel like a true Rochesterian.

East Coast colonial and Georgian architecture still makes me slightly uncomfortable despite my aesthetic fondness for it, but Corn Hill may well be the first neighborhood I've seen that I'd be happy to inhabit longterm (surrounding neighborhoods notwithstanding). I can't quite pintpoint why yet; I'll need to do some more cycling and contemplating to figure it out.

The Genesee is quite cold relative to the rest of the city. It must be a wind tunnel.

26 November 2006

giving creativity a wiggle

It took just 20 minutes to cycle from the River Campus back to my apartment, and yet in that short time, I saw much more than I'd seen before. Perhaps the story began earlier. Perhaps it began with my trip south, when I scolded myself for always forgetting my camera for early evening rides. The brilliant autumn-like winter day, over 50°F in late November, was not unlike that day of pain a year before (incidentally, I forgot to deliberately go cycling that day--disappointing, but a good sign that my life is so full that I can't be bothered to commemorate). For the first time, the reflection of the new apartments in Corn Hill was perfectly still in the river and glowed golden in the twilight as if to herald Christmas with its lights, and the Parisian Troup Howell Bridge did the same. I finally caught sight of my carillon tower through the tangle of riverside trees by the red light bejeweling its apex.

An open door in Spurrier led me to discover new gym-like hallways and exits that made sense, and a corridor of typical practice compartments that I'm now hoping I can steal for the practice carillon. Practice itself was nothing brilliant - I had forgotten my shoes and earplugs and had to improvise, but developed a new idiom for myself learning John Cage's "Music for Carillon, No. 3." Roy Hamlin Johnson's octotonic setting of "Wachet Auf" seemed masterwork, and the penultimate two pages of Geert D'hollander's "Een Aangename Voois" fit my hands better as I applied techniques he'd taught me for his and others' compositions to the fleeting, dancing layers of "mijn vrolijk hart dat lacht..." And then I launched off the hill for home, glad to have the Cateye headlight my parents had sent me to light the way. But it wasn't just the dark segments of the path that I could see better.

A radio tower blinked back at my Cateye at the end of the Riverway Trail, startling me with its towering likeness to the Eye of Sauron as portrayed in LoTR movie. Amused and perturbed that it should look so threatening and tall in darkness, I raced through the construction beneath the Court Street bridge skimming the bumpy dirt path to emerge into a rush of warm air. Downtown was a few degrees warmer than the River Campus and the Genesee, thanks to buildings spewing warm air from giant vents and the windbreaker effect of a densely built environment. For no particular reason, I took Woodbury Boulevard east for once and realized that the Geva Theatre was right below Washington Square Park. I cycled through rather than past the park, finally drawn to the Civil War monument at its center from the history I'd learned at the Center at High Falls. There was a time when the statue had been monumental rather than dwarfed into invisibility by highrises. Those evil highrises nevertheless looked more monumental and well-designed than before, perhaps because I understood what they contained from the Center's exhibit. They had become receptacles of light; even the fan atop one building no longer looked tastelessly 70's, but as it might have looked to admirers in the 70's. My eyes were so receptive to imagination that I was stunned by the nameless highrise across from Manhattan Square Park, which looked at its edges as if it had been sliced away or as if some building the same color as the darkness was covering the rest of it. Downtown had never looked beautiful before, and now it was nothing but.

Even small details--the play of form and complementary aesthetics between the Eastman School and the Miller Center, the patinated scalloping of the Eastman Theatre's marquee and perspective lines of its glowing show bulbs, Christmas lights encircling what seemed like baubles of nothing because the trees had lost their leaves, the glazed corner of the heretofore ugly YMCA that split a harsh concrete edge into four glowing windowed angles--leaped out at me despite my visibly worsening eyesight. I couldn't have escaped the sight of beauty if I'd tried, although these same things had disappointed me with their lack of beauty before.

I spent most of today preparing my octotonic improvisation for tomorrow. It wasn't the same kind of work; for the first time in a long time, perhaps since before I started college music theory courses, I composed not because I felt strong-armed into doing it, but because I felt compelled to do it, because ideas were escaping me into soundwaves and I wanted to record them. Perhaps this unleashing of creativity made me receptive to imaginative visual perception.

But what even spurred that after years of struggling to revive a stifled desire to write music? Part of it must have been knowledge, the knowledge I've gained of Rochester from cycling around aimlessly or purposefully and visiting the Center. Part of it must have been the break from monotonous work that I chose to take despite my plans to accomplish mountains of work this week. Part of it must have been the photography I've done intensively over the past few days, both on the road and at my computer. I've trained my photographer's eye on Rochester, and it's gotten sharp and developed an appetite for more of the city. Part of it must be the fondness I've developed for the Flour City exploring it over break. (If you can't escape Rochester, why not escape Eastman into Rochester?)

All of this has led me to reconcile myself with not being immersed in European beauty. In Europe, I lost use of the American eye that enabled me to see the beauty of this country while I developed an eye for my surroundings in Belgium. Naturally, that eye was disppointed with the offerings of America. But I knew all along I had a good eye for beauty. Now I've realized that I have two. If that makes any sense without sounding absurd.

24 November 2006

more Sibley awesomeness

For fun, I kept reading past the last page of our assigned organ repertory reading on the Netherlands and found myself on the first page of Pieter Dirksen's "A Rediscovered Painting by Emanuel de Witte." Said painting offers new information on the large Niehoff organ of the Amsterdam Oude Kerk as it was when played by Sweelinck. While a drawing (c.1700) by Jan Goeree has proved unreliable, another by his contemporary Ignatius Lux gives better insight.

Guess why I have a photocopy of this drawing in my room. It's the cover of Sonate per il cimbalo appropriate al flaute & violino (c. 1703) by Sybrandus van Noordt, organist of the Oude Kerk from 1679-1691. The very publication from which Bernard Winsemius arranged the killer piece I played for my final exam in Mechelen.

Even between organists and carillonists, it's a smaller world than we may think. A good sign for my life's work.

By the way, by chance one of my Hans Fugius recordings came on when I started iTunes. And never until now did I have the ears to realize how wonderful it is.

23 November 2006

thanksgiving feast

Allan and Stephanie threw a wonderful Thanksgiving feast today, and I took the opportunity for five hours to meet as many artists in other disciplines as I could and to learn everything I could from them about their art and involvement in Rochester. It was wonderful that our hosts brought together so many different kinds of artists. The feast was superb, and despite its size came together seamlessly unlike the tiny dinner parties I've struggled to host. The only blotch on the party was the man whose conversation I deserted when he described how he hated the one time he tried cycling in Belgium and then how he couldn't live without TV. Later I unfortunately ran into him again, and he grilled Matt, Christina, Allan, and me with naïve and almost hostile questions. Whatever. I met yet more composers (man those Koreans know how to make fashion statements), and Liz now wants to write a carillon piece! I may well "have to" play a concert of new carillon works next year. What a delightful surprise that Eastman composers are so eager to write for the instrument if I simply offer the opportunity! It's not a standard part of the repertoire, it's not common, it's not well-known... but I suppose what they want is a new medium more than any of those things. They want something to explore. Lucky for me and the carillon world.

But that distasteful man... If I'm amazed at the amount of television my roommates watch, perhaps I'm the one in the wrong. They're well below the national average of 299 minutes per day in the US and 227 in Europe. Why the Icelandic people watch the least TV is beyond me... how much is there to do in Iceland?

Unfortunately I was nearly burnt out by the end of the party (but apparently the bubbliness [which my ECMC colleagues just recently made me aware of in mysef] worked while it lasted -- one composer compared me twice with a girl who had been at the heart of composition department social life in previous years, and it was also awesome to be compared to Jason Price as a performance major in the ECMC), when Allan asked me about San Fran and Belgium. I hardly had the energy to move my mouth anymore, let alone talk about myself. But somehow I perked up when I asked if Stephanie was into Op Art (there were some striking pieces in the house that set off fireworks in my visual cortext). Apparently he has difficulty seeing the effects of Op Art and cited a study finding that musicians are actually not visually inclined (perhaps even less than Joe Schmoe). I was surprised by this, but perhaps should not have been, considering how little interest there is at Eastman in visual arts (nobody to go to the art gallery with, talk about architecture with, blah blah). Then he spoke in shockingly dark terms about the lives of musical prodigies he's known and how most of them ultimately walk away from music. I told him I sometimes wish I'd been a prodigy and not been good at other things so I could have found my path directly and could focus on it now. To my amazement, he said with confidence that most of them would trade places with me any day.

But apparently Eastman has become populated with many more students who got started in music later in their careers, rather than with students whose parents shoved violins under their chins once they learned to walk. When Allan first came to Eastman, he wondered if he'd make it through because people were so focused -- "living in that one speck of dust," he phrased it in his signature sarcastic style. But decades later, he's still here. "You'll make it through," he assured me. "But you'll always have a love-hate relationship with Eastman." We need to talk more.

Yet in the midst of mingling with artists from other disciplines and mostly in older age groups, I noticed that my colleagues hung out with each other. This confused me until I remembered that I'd always been one of them, watching enviously and admiringly as social butterflies made their way effortlessly around the room. How, when, and why did I go from one extreme to the other? Did it just happen this year when I took up promotion of the carillon as a cause and thus justification for meeting anyone and everyone? Did it start because I'm tired of my Eastman colleagues? Did it start because I want to set an example for them? Last night, I sought to assemble the most varied crowd possible for my dinner party, and to my amazement, the groups did not mix: composers, keyboardists, and even within that group, a giggling Asian contingent -- either they aren't comfortable meeting different people or really are satisfied with the limited interactions one can have within one's own crowd, something Allan ranted about with regard to conservatory musicians.

Except that Ryan walked in all alone (I don't even know how he let himself in), tossed a six-pack of Vermont Woodchuck Cider in the fridge, and then dived right out of the kitchen into a crowd of people in which he knew absolutely nobody at all and to whom he certainly wasn't connected through his studies. I never got the chance to introduce him or orient him. He didn't need it, didn't even need to chat with me to start feeling comfortable in new surroundings. Without his presence, the whole point of the party would have been lost for me. I suppose I could have done a better job of introducing people, but I did introduce most everyone as a big group. They just didn't take up the starting offer, which was all I could offer considering the amount of food I was concocting in the kitchen.

David and I found ourselves kindred souls in missing the university setting, and also enthused by and grateful for the presence of Bill Porter, who brings not only musical genius, but intellectual depth and somehow a calming effect, civility, to the department, exemplified by his saving that Thursday EROI morning when the professors had a run-in with the EROI crew. Like me, David wondered if he wouldn't have had this problem at Yale. I recounted Bill's description of the ISM's reluctant and unsure relationship with the university, and we were both a little relieved.

The deeper I dig, the more people I find who feel trapped, who came from infinte lives and found themselves suddenly clamped within four thick walls at Eastman. Even when you find your way out, it's hard to find hope or an outlet outside. It's comforting to know I'm not alone in my frustration. But what good does it do me to know there are others unless I find someone who is fighting the status quo?

At least Bill gave me the right perspective. Even if I cannot receive, I can give (rather than resent). But still, in a place like this, I need a few sympathetic souls. Do I really have to range all over the River Campus and Rochester to find them? And once I find them, can I keep in touch with them?

22 November 2006

tally II

I never imagined how obvious the pattern of my travel in the States is:

create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

This map is rather less helpful because it highlights the entire country for each place you've visited.

create your own visited countries map or vertaling Duits Nederlands

20 November 2006

carillon in the Philippines?

Kan er echt een beiaard in de Filippijnen staan?! Het is niet op de WCF website.

Oh, and the most heartwarming article for Joe Schmoe and most dismal one for a carillonneur I've seen in a while.

19 November 2006

thanks, hiram sibley!

Sibley Music LibraryNow that I've stopped fretting about the lack of a medieval manuscript collection of Beineckeian proportions and started looking for material from the last couple of centuries, I'm finding a whole darned lot in the largest academic music library in the country. (What a revelation!) The one-shelf carillon collection is idiosyncratic and rather Donemus-heavy, but forms a solid starter collection to build on once I draft an acquisition proposal. Items that distracted me from practicing today include the original edition of Sybrandus van Noordt's "Sonate voor cimbalo solo" (c. 1703), which Bernard Winsemius arranged for carillon and which Geert made me struggle with into exam-worthiness after making it seem like a piece of cake, a virtuosic harpsichord recording of the Sonate by a former organ student of carillon composer Albert de Klerk that coincidentally contains works by Baroque Middelburg carillonneur Pieter Bustijn (d. 1729), sheet music for carillon duets by Wim Franken and the peculiar works of John Cage that Eastman students get so excited to hear, and even a thick Leuven manuscript facsimile and carillon with brass and percussion miniature score, Musica di campanile : omaggio a Jan P. Sweelinck, again by Franken, neither of which I knew existed. I wonder if the Emerald Brass and I could put together a movement from the Franken for our concert in the spring. And in fond memory of piano-beiaard class in Mechelen, the piano reduction of Elgar's monologue with orchestra, Carillon, may be downloaded online.

What was I supposed to be researching again? Oh yes, Buxtehude. And whose book should be most helpful but that by Kerala Snyder with the funky music socks! And whose editorial should be most opinionated and dismissive but that by Dutchman Ton Koopman! Nevertheless, I've found little that allows for elaboration in a 30-second introduction to the Praeludium in D major, so it's time for the "personal engagement and struggle" anecdote, which should be new to my studio class. Now if only the playing were as easy as the talking.

And if only I didn't spend hours in the library pulling non-Buxtehude-related materials in purported preparation for a 30-second statement I've now decided to deliver extemporaneously. I still have mixed feelings about Eastman, but there is definitely fun to be had here for library fiends.


Photographic memories of the visit of electroacoustic music father Jean-Claude Risset, one of the mildest, kindliest, and most unassuming composers to have changed the course of music and technology.

to be neither proud nor ashamed

The second ECMC25 concert didn't go off completely smoothly, but the music was so outstanding that nobody seemed to care. Our guest composers fearlessly brought their best new works to the stage, and Jason Price and Randy Hall rocked our worlds.

Bob Pierzak is from Poland. After less than two weeks in Poland for the WCF Congress, I suddenly find myself surrounded by the Polish wherever I go. And while all I can remember from my practical Polish lessons from Kasha is dzien dobry, tak, dziekuje, and toileta, they love it anyway. Bob, by the way, rocks. So sincere. So Polishly sober after knocking back at least six rum and Cokes. And so not planning to become a composer although he's earning a master's degree in composition at Eastman. No, he wants to go into theater after "learning about composition" and working unpaid overtime as designated ECMC "grunt" and having some fun and maybe even writing a carillon piece for our little instrument here. The world needs more fun people like that.

18 November 2006


Harvard SUCKSFinally: proof that Harvard Sucks Royally. As in, this is the first time I've seen Yale win The Game!!! YEEEEEHAW!!! Better extremely late than never. And to be honest, I wasn't even watching the game, nor did I see Yale win it. But I was sitting in a booth in the Distillery with the combined Yale and Harvard alumni clubs (the one Cantab I met was rather quieter than the Yalies from the start) listening in awe to a fellow by the name of Mr. Rusling (PC '63), whom I fully intend to nominate as the BUTANE patron saint. What prankstering this native Rochesterian accomplished in college. Gutsy prankstering. On the level of taking the lights out over all of central campus on May Day. And employing materials of every type, from countless explosives to ten-foot bamboo poles. I regaled him with a few of our comparable hacks, but was quite content to sit back and listen to how the Alley Cats were as infamous (and arrestable) as they were famous in the days that he was pitch for them. Neither the Pundits (who may well be the originators of that eponymous word) nor the Men of JE could claim such notoriety. And would you know, his office is a stone's throw from me. A cherry bomb's throw, really.

Ended up practicing nearly four hours of carillon after winding my way underground into Spurrier, since the front doors had been left locked. Emerged with wrecked hands, a back all tied up in knots again, to find the winter evening and dinnertime already descended. At least the weather's still bike-worthy.

Finally got around to creating a folding cover for the CDs I gave to the Rochester Poets, who had very kind words about their visit, although I'm sure I could have run it better. I didn't have it in time for the Soros, but better late than never. I need to sit down for a couple hours and create a portfolio for myself so that I don't need to do largely redundant work at the last minute.

16 November 2006

More Elgar carillon madness

The UR offers a free PDF of Edward Elgar's composition, "Carillon" op. 75 (not for carillon). This accompanied monologue (originally for orchestra, but here reduced for piano) is also known as "Chantons, Belges, chantons" and was written for the poem of the same name by Emile Cammaerts (the text is available at the end of the sheet music). Strangely, Elgar wrote this in 1914, well before composing "Loughborough Memorial Chimes" in 1923 on commission. Perhaps the tremendous success of op. 75 led in part to this commission (or at least in Elgar's willingness to accept it)?

15 November 2006

media attention

"Hi Tiffany,
I work for the University of Rochester's Office of Communications. We are interested in featuring you in the next issue of Currents."

Now we're talking. I don't have to jump and wave for media attention. They find us! (i.e. the carillon and me)

ECMC25 flyer 2Speaking of publicity, I flyered the Eastman School, Sibley Library, Rush Rhees Library, and the Arts District with about 50 crappy ECMC flyers and almost as many postcards. If I'd just had 20 minutes more, I could have designed much better ones, but oh well. It was a glorious day for cycling, and I did lots of it. Strangely, my exploration was necessitated by wanting to cycle a shorter rather than longer distance -- from the River Campus to the arts district. Rochester is really a lovely town, when you're blessed with an afternoon of sunlight to admire it. And my list of things to see and do is getting rather daunting, even if those things aren't done because they're not easy to reach.

Thank goodness Mark taught me how to discover the world by bike.

13 November 2006


WOW WOW WOW. I can't say anything more. Read answer 3.

Let me regain a little composure, or at least stop cringing. Except... more great news, this time on the front of the 2010 GCNA Congress. This very positive publicity for the carillon begins, "What’s 158 feet tall, holds 72 bells, cost Naperville taxpayers nearly $5 million and still isn’t done?"

Holland... Michigan?!

At least the Japanese can advertise a real carillon in their fake Dutch village, Huis ten Bosch. But for the Dutch Village of Holland, Michigan to claim it has a "spectacular carillon"... of 25 bells played automatically only, is preposterous.

12 November 2006


Tinnitus (tin-NIGHT-us or TIN-it-us) comes from Latin and means "to tinkle or to ring like a bell." Tonight playing on the great organ of the Flentrop in the groovy 420 room seemed to activate two pitches, a high one in my right ear and lower one in my left. I went to the bathroom and it faded away, practiced some clavichord and didn't hear it, and stepped back into Room 420 only to hear it start again.

I like bells a lot, but I don't like this kind of ringing. Tinnitus is caused by exposure to extremely loud noises. Like exploding bombs. So what's the deal with my hearing?

11 November 2006

best aioli ever = beautiful day

Biked through the rain to the River Campus at noon; a deceptively unpleasant start to perhaps my best day so far in Rochester.

The Rochester Poets at the carillon with intelligent questions and pinot grigio and endless inspiration and a brilliant and pensive but not at all shy little girl and my first community student, a longtime sufferer of bell fever. My first Bread and Puppet followed by the best aioli ever, when I happen to be wearing the signature Wind-Up Toy shirt Qirsten came to be known for during her first of two stints at Bread and Puppet. Only regret: I had only enough cash to buy one poster although our apartment needs all of them.

09 November 2006

don't go!

I never cared for football. But for the 49ers to relocate to yuppie Silicon Valley? Will the Stick just become another spelunking spot? The plans for a renewed complex might have done good for Hunter's Point. Now we may never know (not to mention not get to come home to the Olympics).

06 November 2006

campanological demand

History students are chiming for a bell tower in Florida? This is news to me. Great news! Lacking time, I quote directly:

While there is no bell tower at Florida International University's main campus, students have been asking for one for years, says Ruth Hamilton, director of the Graham University Center, which houses a conspicuous clock.

"Especially the history students," says Hamilton, who remembers bells ringing at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where she was a student in the 1970s. "When you go to Europe, you see bell towers. When you go to the Ivy League, you see the bell towers. Bells touch people in many many ways. Spiritual ways. Intellectual ways."

for a moment, i thought there was a carillon in india

While at Yale, we received the most hilariously urgent and badly written inquiry from a man in India about purchasing a carillon immediately--perhaps even ours. When I saw an excerpt from an article reading "the carillon is as far removed from India as the igloo," I wondered if I shouldn't have been so quick to laugh. Was there now a carillon in India thanks to this man's fanatical efforts?

No, it all goes back to Jo Haazen. This is an article about Mechelen. Amazing!

The lady at the Little Bakery gave me two delicious almond croissants for free this evening with my purchase of a loaf of sourdough on the condition that I return for more. I passed on the love by giving a croissant to Naomi in the bag which has Little's address on it. Clearly, we all benefit from this kind of generosity. And the Little Bakery donates its unsold goods to a kitchen. Awesome.

Maybe this is a Rochester attitude. What about the lady who discounted my used book expecting me to buy more in the future anyway?

05 November 2006

healing or temporary salve?

Wearied and discouraged by the people around me and the length of the tasks before me, I cycled out to Image City Art Gallery as I had been planning to do for two months, bringing my portfolio from Mechelen along just in case there was someone who might take a look. Sure enough, featured artist Betsy Phillips was there between the final hours of her exhibition there and the opening of another elsewhere, and she took a generous interest in my work. Before I knew what was happening, I had spoken to a number of gallery members, including executive director Ed Vesneske and Croatian Rochesterian Dan Neuberger, and they signed off on my application and tentatively scheduled me for a panel exhibit in February. Heaven bless them.

Who should call in the middle of it all but Giancarlo, set this time on persuading me to change direction at the last minute. (Funny that I probably seem absolutely unspontaneous to him, when spontaneity is the modus operandi against which the requirements of the rest of my life struggle.) Fortunately, California Rollin' was just a few blocks away, and he made me the biggest sushi selection I've probably ever eaten in my life. It was such a treat to eat truly good food, especially after a week of shoveling take-out while running between tasks. I was so defeated by the end that even my dessert stomach declined the first opportunity to enjoy tempura ice cream in a year, excluding Thai Taste with JR in June. And it was also a treat to spend the afternoon talking with people who added more than the typically two dimensions that seem to form and cage in my world at Eastman.

But being in such a lively and vibrant place as the Village Gate, talking to someone full of energy and with a life beyond of music for whom I haven't found time in weeks, I felt a mantle of melancholy settle. It was strange to feel as if I didn't belong. It doesn't seem my world anymore. It should be. But if Eastman isn't my world and neither are the places I've been today, where do I belong anymore?

I thought this afternoon would be a relief. But I've been trying to find relief for days since finishing my Soros application. And no amount of relief seems to address the dissatisfaction at the base of it all. Every break puts me further behind in my work and makes me wonder who I can turn myself into at Eastman or if Eastman will dictate how to mold me.

04 November 2006

photo op

Despite the intensely irritating cursor, Expatica has finally rewarded me for my loyalty. Although my carillon has precious little to do with Belgium, I can at least spread the word to folks whose carillons do (of whom there are quite a few): Linking America and Belgium through images. Unfortunately this newspaper sounds like it's in dismal shape. I've emailed in Flemish inquiring about a subscription and offering to throw together a super-basic no-brainer website. Other Dutch-language newspapers in America have had to go to online-only offerings before. I feel bad for them, but I also see a new way to reach the Belgian population in America for support of my beiaard projecten.

René Uijlenhoet has finally written back -- enthusiastically, about the performance of his electroacoustic organ and carillon pieces for the ECMC25 Series. In fact, he wants to be here in person for the performances. I hope he is shocked by my email response in Dutch. That would be t3h r0x0rz.

03 November 2006


Greetings from the Salton SeaUnintentionally missed my Schmitt practice time (due to somebody's flakiness, ahem) and set off late to the River Campus. Incidentally enjoyed one of the most beautiful rides I've done so far in Rochester. The Genesee is glorious in the late autumn evening. Ambushed Gabby in the Arts & Music Library after picking up Greetings from the Salton Sea, which Rush Rhees Library acquired for me even more quickly than the Yale Library usually did whenever I requested that they buy a book just for little ole me (and all posterity, of course).

Meant to practice the carillon for an hour, ended up practicing around 2.5 because I lost track of time and was trying to make up for lost time. Raced back as fast as my legs would pedal me through a beautiful but chill and eerie evening, passing lines of skeleton-like trees across the river towards a downtown Rochester all lit up against the night. Ah, carillonation. Now life feels back in balance.


After weeks of intending to do so, I just closed my storm windows. They resisted for so long that I thought I wouldn't succeed, but I did. I took time out for me! And now maybe I will regain a little bit of sanity. It is nice to have the screens obscuring the upper half of my windows too, since the blinds that I resent so much block out the sky anyway. If I can remember to buy some produce at the public market tomorrow, I may even return to culinary sanity.

02 November 2006

nothing to eat!

Although she has far more food than Lauren and me together (her comestibles occupy the entire freezer, two of her own mini-fridges, a bookshelf, and the regular kitchen shelf) Donna's usual evening complaint is, "I have nothing to eat!" Then the other day she discovered all the food buried in the back of our endless kitchen cabinets and was flabbergasted. "I have sooo much to eat!!!"

For the past few days I've really had nothing at home to eat, although the final dish I was able to throw together with the remainder of my food, butternut squash soup, was damn good. There's just been no time for shopping. Fortunately, that means there's been no time for cooking either. Thank goodness for Java's afternoon sales and lightning-speed dinners from the Chinese/Japanese place. Tonight I ordered vegetable noodle soup to go, and it popped out of the kitchen in two minutes.

America is a very good place to eat. And it's affordable to eat out here. Just ask the residents of Houston, who eat out 4.2 times per week.

30 October 2006

Beiaard Witte Ros beer?! I need to get me some of that!

Why are so many beers labeled "Belgian" when they're not? This particular "Belgian white beer" is brewed in Amsterdam. Folks, Amsterdam is not in Belgium. Neither is Belgium in Brussels -- a little-known fact. Paul picked up a "Belgian beer assortment" from Costco the other day (first Leffe I've had since leaving the country) that included Hoegaarden, a beer no longer produced in Hoegaarden because it's cheaper to produce it elsewhere, but nonetheless a Dutch beer. I suppose Belgian beers are so good that even the Dutch want to masquerade as Belgians when it comes to selling their drinks. It's a good Dutch money-making scheme. ;)

In real "beiaard" news, an article appeared in the New Haven Register about adjusting the clocks on Harkness Tower. Guess that's not just a hobby of Skull and Bones after all. A perfect article for my clock-inclined friends (it's surprising how many there are, once I tally them up). By the way, every clock fan must visit the Nationaal Museum Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht, the Netherlands one day. Even clock-uninclined Ingrid was utterly charmed by it!

end of the line

Thank goodness for Wiki. There's a fascinating page about Rochester's abandoned subway system.

Today did not seem like the second day of winter. It was early fall. At least I had to bike to the Memorial Art Gallery. Rochester never looked better. It seems great from a bike in the sun. Nothing is as spread out as it seems on foot, yet not as impersonally distant as it seems via car either. How anyone can love Rochester without cycling through it is beyond me.

29 October 2006

Scare Fair 2006Watch out for Tuesday's annual Scare Fair, which is hosting the world premiere of carillon-bagpipe alternatim. Are you ready?

Seriously though, this is your only chance each year (unless you're a graduating senior) to get on the Rush Rhees Library dome balcony and dump beer and/or heap insults on the losers below.


Most or all of the boxes that I had sent via cargo post from the Netherlands were been sent back last week -- because they were about 100 grams too heavy each. They have been in shipment for over a month, and now they're returned to be repackaged and then sent for the same price? Not only does this mean that I don't receive my books, winter clothes, or AKG headphones until mid-December (I think Geert resent them without asking whether I wanted a different method of shipment), but the Dutch Post has to do twice the amount of work for only the price of a tiny extra package filled with a couple hundred grams from each box.

WTF?! Who the hell would weigh those packages and send every single one of them back on account of a hundred grams? When Elvo and I brought my things to the post, only one package was slightly overweight, so the postal worker made us repackage. I cannot imagine that every single box I sent via the Netherlands was overweight without the folks at the Middelburg post office noting it when making up the postage labels. Some godforsaken loser with nothing better to do tipped the scales in a psychotically compulsive double-check. I hope they crush their digits re-lifting my packages when they come around in a few more weeks. Anyone know of rates for sending rotten apples via general mail to the Netherlands postal headquarters?

So much for my excitement about the great rates of the Dutch post. I send things by reasonably priced standard airmail in Belgium and get them delivered via Express Mail on Sundays in America even before I have a chance to settle into my apartment. I send things via cheap low-profile no-brainer zeepost and boekenpost and the Dutch botch it up completely. At least the weather felt sorry for me today and decided not to snow on me. I doubt its mercy will hold up for long.

28 October 2006

ny (heart) bells

change ringing in trinity church, nycThanks to Tom for this news: The folks at Trinity Church near ground zero have outstanding taste. They installed America's largest set of swinging bells - twelve in all! Just two short of the Domtoren in Utrecht--but from a better foundry.

The Associated Press article sure makes bells sound glorious. "The bells ... cast by pouring a molten bronze alloy into molds that were hand-crafted using a mixture of sand, water, chopped hay and horse manure .... The first change ringing bells rung in North America ... were rung by a band that included ringers brought to the United States by P.T. Barnum for his circus."

I find this particularly amusing: "In 1668, Fabian Stedman of England published "Tintinnalogia — or the Art of Change Ringing," containing all the available information on systematic ringing. The theory of change ringing set forth by Stedman has been refined but remains essentially unchanged today." I placed an old but lovingly maintained edition of that book in the GCNA exhibition at YUCMI, not realizing that it was of much historical significance. Guess it really is historimical. It sure looked that way in the case; that's why I mounted it there.

critical mass in costume

me as policewomanRode for nearly an hour in the pouring rain in my policewoman costume through crazy Rochester streets I'd never seen before. CM is smaller here, and accordingly people are more friendly, and anyone who is riding silently and sees you riding silently will roll up and introduce themselves. Unlike the New Haven townie-dominated crowd, a lot of participants are college students; the ones I met were mostly from RIT. (Is it any surprise that fewer participants come from ivory tower institutions?) The first one, whose name I now forget, is doing the RIT equivalent of American Studies, i.e. you take just about anything that interests you and roll it all up into a degree. We seem to feel the same way about the lack of variety of interests of our peers. Many of the riders were not as Rochester-entrenched in their loyalties as New Haven riders. Some of them do not ride because they love Rochester, but because it's one of the few things they've found to love about Rochester. Now I feel better about my ambivalance towards the city. One's experience can vary greatly depending on the specific role, environment, and community into which one enters. Also surprising: most riders I met today were from the midwest.

Apparently there is no post-CM party, although the movie screenings at rundown St. Joseph's are also a good idea. Sometimes a warm home and hot chocolate are really what one needs after a winter ride, though. And winter commences tomorrow, IIRC. Happy last day of fall, folks! Perhaps I'll propose a CM party as summer nears and we can keep folks partying outside.

The irony of my dressing as a police officer and riding in Critical Mass did not strike me until another rider remarked on its cleverness. Doh! I also was unaware that RIT students were told that a bearded Phanton-of-the-Opera type musician played the carillon and never allowed himself to be seen. I guess I ruined their fun. I wonder what other surprises await me as I try to figure out this place.

After irritatedly finding my way back along the pedestrian/bike-unfriendly streets, I came into the kitchen freshly out of my military boots dripping from head to toe. Donna gave me the most priceless "how can you explain yourself?" look.

27 October 2006

An organization that supports both the environment AND music education? One that will make a $100 carbon offset contribution in your name if you read a couple articles about global warming? Maybe the world isn't in such poor condition after all.

26 October 2006

one big happy international culture

Don't underestimate the power of Dutch cultural symbolism in the United States. Or at least the power of its appropriation.

I really need to make it to Burning Man.

This scene is strangely reminiscent of the windmill just across the street from a nuclear plant and just down the block from giant perpetually-flaming smokestacks in the massive Antwerp harbor complex.

25 October 2006

careening along

It took me a little over a month before I had a piece in performance-worthy condition at Mechelen. It was months before I had anything memorized. It's been two months in Rochester and I've got five pieces in rotation, amongst which a three-movement suite is now learned in full. I've performed a movement from another piece, and have two movements memorized.

And this is just business as usual. What a place, Eastman.

I could have cycled to the River Campus for my ring had I paused long enough in my dash from lesson to bus to realize that it was neither raining nor bitterly cold as it had been yesterday. Instead, I had to roll through a glorious fall day inside a crowded bus laden with my carillon and organ paraphernalia. The ring didn't sound too good; too much new repertoire, and I'm still figuring out how to make this damn carillon sound good. Tone was supposed to be one of my strong points. "The feminine touch," my European concert hosts sometimes marveled (erroneously). So why am I banging this poor thing to death?

For the first time, the elevator was broken when I was tried to catch the bus back, so I frantically figured out the alternate exit route and swung myself down innumerable short flights of stacks stairs. It's remarkable how similar the SML and Rush Rhees stacks are; if I was teleported randomly into either, I'd have difficulty deciding where I was unless I saw the windows (whether they were stained glass and what the view outside was). But the RRL stairs are definitely easier to dash down. Amusingly enough, the door that finally allowed my escape is the one that undergraduates take their crowbars and pickaxes to; the lock had nearly been wrenched out of place.

Learn to play, folks. Get a key!

Paul was kind enough to drive me to the Marketplace Mall and even to Lori's Natural Foods, where I stacked up on Rice Dream horchata, new-agey herbs and grains and whatnot. In return for ferrying me about, I got him stroopwafels. They were mediocre in comparison to echte Goudse stroopwafels, but he enjoyed them so much that I promised to bring some back the next time I swing through the Low Countries. In turn, he offered to bring some of those New Mexican hot peppers he's famed for cooking. Could be a fruitful exchange.

I returned from the mall with two beautiful sweaters (largely courtesy of my parents' winter survival grant), a police hat to complete last year's Halloween costume, Hot Topic legwarmers for who knows what, and my mobile account switched to my European GSM phone. Unfortunately, its tri-band feature only gives me the band that's less common in Rochacha, so we'll see how this whole cell saga works out.

23 October 2006

articles campanological

For the first time ever, I may consider drinking Pepsi instead of Coke. The first carillon in the state of Arizona has been dedicated at Saint Barnabas on the Desert. It is the "gift of [congregation] member Connie Weatherup and her husband, Craig, one-time president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola Co." I just hope someone steps up to play it regularly besides the computer. This is why we need to start a summer carillon boot camp. Not like that worked out at the last GCNA Congress, but maybe we just needed a better outreach strategy.

In other news, at least one student at Stanford has high ambitions for the expansion of the carillon at HooTow... and in fact, the extension of HooTow itself. Ahem.

20 October 2006


I unintentionally practiced seven hours today. At times I was barely able to stay conscious, and a few times I felt trapped and had to leave the practice room.

But now I feel strangely free. Even despite all the other things I've ignored today and need to address now.

I didn't realize how much worrying about practicing has been weighing on me. I've also just shown myself how rapidly I can learn if I set myself to the task. Dr. Porter was right; I am completely capable of graduating in two years. But at some point the seesaw will tip in the other direction, and the responsibility of all the other things will become too heavy a burden. And then what? Ulrika told us that we can't expect ourselves to do everything perfectly here. She's right. But I'm already cutting corners. Maybe just not in quite the right places.

Apparently there is a population of Walloon descendants in Wisconsin who celebrate "Kermiss." Their Dutch spellings are funny, and apparently their language was originally unwritten anyway. What happened to this funny-Flemish-speaking Walloon population? They definitely don't like learning Flemish south of the border anymore.

news from home

Not really news, just things that were mailed to my Belgian address that Alice kindly forwarded at the expense of 10,95 €. Funny things, like free tickets to Club Illusion. Unexpected things, like Toerisme Limburg's tri-monthly recreational magazine. Dismaying things, like medical and Yale Club bills. Persuasive things, like a letter from The Friends of Music at Yale describing the extraordinary - yet at Yale, typical - musical life of the past year, not mentioning financial contributions yet simply enclosing a return envelope with levels from student ($10) to Patron ($1,000+). Nostalgic things, like an issue of Yale Alumni Magazine featuring Eero Saarinen, whose architecture I fell in love with just as he was being rediscovered, and the concert calendar of the Antwerpen Conservatorium.

And one of the biggest posters I've ever owned - for the next Type An Sich exhibition in Antwerpen (I never made it to any of the ones I was dying to attend) - although I don't remember subscribing to any mailing list. For free. The money that gets poured into culture in Flanders and the delightful things that come out of it! I may be at one of the best music schools in the world, but I still can't help but miss the cultural life of one little country.

17 October 2006

fall colors systematized

A practically scientific layout of levels of autumn color in New York.

flemish in the world

Who would have known it - Vlamingen in de Wereld is headquartered in Mechelen! Not a particularly visible presence there. Nevertheless, a good sign for possible interest in supporting the proliferation of the carillon art abroad from the center of the carillon universe. Surely the VIW headquarters has some influence over the VIW branch for the state of New York.

Steve Rush '85 himself is coming for the May 2, 2007 ECMC25 performance of his "Six Treatments for Carillon" (hear the 2002 premiere) for carillon and Max. Also for going fishing. Fun guy!

bells headline the campus times!

Thanks to Charlie for a great article on the carillon that took over the entire front page of the Campus Times feature section: Carillon, oh carillon.

12 October 2006


ecmc25 program bookAfter three all-nighters, the complete program booklet of the ECMC25 anniversary concert series is available online and about to hit the presses in a few hours. This isn't the final copy as we're still waiting on some information (i.e. I have to buckle down and pick out an electroacoustic carillon concert date), but it's good enough for distribution at the concert tonight.

I finally feel like I'm back in college, i.e. being invited to eat free food with famous people. Tonight I sat across from Jean-Claude Risset, celebrated French electroacoustic music pioneer and perfectly humble and sincere gentleman. I listened to him and Allan talk about the compositional progress and compared it with the process of creative writing. We discussed the effects of intense concentration and focus vs. multitasking and their consequences for creative inspiration. Afterwards I showed ECMC International Electroacoustic Competition winner Juraj Kojs (originally from Slovakia) around the school and library - special collections was somehow open late and the Mozart autograph of one of his symphonies was out - score! ummm... pun not intended), and he took me out to dessert although we're both broke students and although I had only negative free time to spare. But these kinds of things are important. It's not just the work you do cooped up in your room that might turn out to be good for you.

More famous people are converging on campus through the EROI Festival 2006 (which just had to kick off at the same time as the ECMC25 Series) and hopefully we'll get free dinner with them for our efforts (we deserve at least that much, considering that our names were left out of the program booklet so nobody will be able to look us up afterwards). And I'll get more free banquetage from volunteering for Eastman Weekend. Who knows what personnages might show up for that.

EROI and the ECMC are throwing opportunities at us to appear on TV by getting filmed a$$-early. And I could just stay up a little longer and head over. But I might just take this opportunity to sleep a wink, since I've definitely done magnitudes more working on this booklet in the past few days than sleeping, and the Skinner-Brombaugh video for Friday broadcast is only 1/3 done.

07 October 2006


On my fourth attempt, I finally made it to the Rochester Contemporary art gallery -- just as it was closing. And the volunteer on staff insisted that I take as much time as I wanted to see the exhibit, a delightful combination of surprisingly convincing miniature landscapes created on plastic packaging and carefully documented and classified studies of lost shopping carts. The volunteer, who's lived in San Francisco, Boston, and London and is married to a German scientist, gave me a wealth of information on the arts in Rochester and revealed that RoCo has some ties to Eastman. Who knows what concerts might arise from such a collaboration? I'm definitely on the volunteer list now.

Incidentally, UR ranked 21st on the London Times' world ranking of colleges. I'm impressed. Also impressive but highly disturbing: "[Harvard's] endowment of $26 billion (£13.8 billion) exceeds total annual funding for all British universities." Let's see what Joseph Soares has to say about that one.

05 October 2006

a worthwhile contribution

Please donate to the Alexander Capelluto Foundation. Alexander was struck and killed by a truck while cycling, days before leaving Yale on a 4,000 mile cross-country bicycle ride to benefit Habitat for Humanity. I may never have met Alexander, but the tragedy of his death affects me to the core.

droom de stad - literally

I didn't send in my take on droom de stad expecting that they would read every dream aloud, including mine, but they will:

Het is nu tijd om de dromen de wereld in te sturen. Eén voor één, dag en nacht, 48 uren lang. Meer dan 130 bekende gezichten en stemmen van film, theater, radio en televisie zullen de ruim 5000 dromen voorlezen. Ook de uwe.

Vrijdag 6 oktober om 8:00 u 's morgens wordt het startschot gegeven van de droommarathon die zondag 8 oktober om 8:00 u 's morgens eindigt. Het evenement is natuurlijk gratis en vindt plaats in het oude Justitiepaleis aan de Britse Lei in Antwerpen

It'd be interesting if anyone else's dream happened to relate to the title so literally. Because mine was about (missing) Antwerp.

02 October 2006

presidential plans

In "Seligman's strategic plan advances", the university president publicly states his goal of bringing the River Campus and Eastman closer (metaphorically). Mr. President, the carillon may have the answer for you, if we have anything to say about it.

28 September 2006


Yay! I finally have the Eastman organ department's home page looking vaguely decent pending redesign. At least it no longer says "We are just days away from the EROI Festival 2004 now..."

And Randy's ideas for an electroacoustic organ concert led me to what should have been the obvious, René Uijlenhoet's "Vorst aan de grond (2000) for two carillons, ringing bells and tape." Played by none other than my own former carillon teacher. And of course he didn't remember a thing about it when I asked him for repertoire suggestions.

Uijlenhoet also wrote "Zware Metalen for carillon, electric bells and amplified electronic sounds," which represented the Netherlands in the Prix Italia competition. Only in NL could you swing that.

cover story

It's exciting to see two events I'm involved in (one far, far more than the other, mind you) suddenly featured on the Eastman home page today, the EROI Festival and the ECMC 25th Anniversary Celebration. It'll be interesting to see how many people this large-scale advertising brings in comparison to the grassroots promotion I've been doing on local calendars, etc. (if my promotion brings in anybody at all).

whan that aprill...

This is why I wish I'd learned Dutch before "learning" to speak Middle English:

"they shall pay for a pell ryngyng wt all ye belles ijs", from an ordinance at Coventry, St. Michael, England, dealing with ringing after a death.

24 September 2006


After my audition at Eastman, I had dinner at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant in which the diners at the next table were speaking fluent German. After moving to Rochester, I ran into a family speaking German in the stationery aisle. Today I cycled past a German-speaking family along the Eerie Canal south of Pittsford.

Where did they all come from? Ausgezeichnet.

But now I am disillusioned to find that the "Pennsylvania Dutch" actually speak some mutant form of German. Not Dutch. I've never heard it, but apparently a good 300,000 folk speak this Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsch. Where have I been all this time that I haven't run into them--not even in Vahl-mahrt?

23 September 2006

the road

I meant to practice the entire day. Instead I spent the entire day buying vegetables. Literally.

And then Yae Eun rescued me from practicing too late and getting locked into the building, and I found out that she wanted to learn to ride a bike. An hour later, she was sailing up Windsor.

Anyone want to go for a coastal drive through the autumn foliage?

Happy autumn equinox, when day and night are of equal length. Though not for those of us who disdain sleep.

22 September 2006

coming home

Rochester is feeling a little more like home now. I've found a beautiful and safe way to bike to the River Campus, I've seen a bit of the abandoned subway system and will definitely take my camera out there, opportunities are unfolding left and right and I can make a buzz on campus again, and I'm finding the artsy cycly alternative scene at Rochester Contemporary, Image City Photography Gallery where I'll take my portfolio from Foto Nelissen, Rochester Indymedia, a Rochester cycling gateway, a Rochester cycling Yahoo! group, and a delightful used bookstore on East Avenue whose owner liked my lengthy browsing habits enough to excuse the tax on The Book of Rainbows. Tomorrow there is a 2005 Inside Downtown Tour of Rochester, N.Y. and a neighborhood bike tour sponsored by the Rochester Regional Community Design Center. It's just too bad I don't have much money for it...

I've even learned what "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" means.

Happy birthday, Elvo! And simultaneously, happy car free day. 8)

21 September 2006

the old boys club

As I zealously scour the AYA directory for help in the carillon campaign, I continue to realize how little I comprehend of the power and privilege to which this "old boy's club" gives me a surreally direct link. The difference between Eastman, prestigious as it is, and stratospheric Yale first became really apparent when the director of the heavily-publicized IML warned a prospective applicant, "Money doesn't grow on trees here." You would never hear that at Yale. In fact, Yale has enough money to (pretend to) teach the world for free. And I could pull in enough money there to accomplish things for the carillon that people never considered here. The Beinecke, the Yale Guild, all things matter-of-factly handed to me on a plate (in return for some effort, of course)... I have to say I'm glad that I didn't choose UOR or Cal or any other place for my undergrad years in the end. Because there is something in a name.

17 September 2006

inconvenient inspiration

So I can spend a ton of time writing a front-page article for the next semiannual GCNA News and a Wikipedia article about the Royal Carillon School, but I can't do a whit of decent writing for school, fellowships, etc. Go figure. Well, it's a reaction against the nonstop work I've been doing, but didn't I already get my share of canal cycling yesterday (in America! Yes!), thereby restoring my sanity? Suggestions and corrections and directions on how to be even more PC are requested:

The 2006 Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America took place from June 20 to 23 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It began with a pre-congress trip during which participants were warmly received at the carillons of Simsbury United Methodist Church and Trinity College. Trinity’s Resident Carillonneur Daniel Kehoe gave a recital highlighting the sonorities of Yale’s sister carillon.

Activity then moved to the verdant collegiate Gothic grounds of Branford College at Yale, the heart of the congress’ events as it had been before in 1969. Branford’s complex of vaulted passageways and turrets rises into the splendor of Harkness Tower, from which bells by John Taylor Bell Founders have sounded over New Haven since 1921, first as a ten-bell chime. When expansion to a fifty-four-bell carillon was begun in 1964, enterprising students established the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs, the only student group charged with all the responsibilities of an active carillon program. The Yale Guild celebrated its fortieth anniversary by hosting a sunny congress alive with recitals, talks, and other events.

Each day began with a general business meeting during which members reported on and debated topics both ongoing and new to the advancement of the group’s goals for the carillon in North America. The results of a survey by the Professional Concerns Committee were a wake-up call, revealing that a large proportion of carillonneurs work for little or no pay. A resolution was passed extending voting privileges within the GCNA membership, and the board of directors voted Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania as the host of the 2009 congress and Naperville, Illinois as the host for 2010. Three officers were voted onto the Board of Directors: Helen Hawley, Patrick Macoska (second term), and Gordon Slater. Advancement recitals followed each meeting, and all were successful, resulting in the induction of nine new Carillonneur Members.

On the first congress day, Geert D’hollander and Liesbeth Janssens played a scintillating opening duet concert with travel from Belgium sponsored by American Airlines. Jeremy Chesman followed with a fitting concert of Flemish romantic music. A presentation by members of the Yale Guild elucidated its successful student-run operation and energetic activity, and Tin-Shi Tam narrated the origin of bells and their contemporary musical role in China with a multimedia lecture. The evening ended with an opening reception sponsored by the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, where carillonneurs mingled amongst priceless historical instruments and an ethnomusicological exhibit by Tiffany Ng of bells and historic documents.

Additional activities enriched the second congress day, including open tower time, a solo handbell ringing workshop, international music sales, and extensive exhibits mounted by the Yale Guild in cathedral-like Sterling Memorial Library documenting the history of bells and bell-ringers at the university. Materials included the autograph manuscript of Virgil Thompson’s duet, “Bell Piece for the Yale Carillon.” A formidable concert by Eddy Mariën inspired listeners for Lisa Lonie’s talk on concert programming strategies before carillonneurs flooded BAR, a local pizza institution and brewery, courtesy of sponsors The Verdin Company and Royal Bellfounders Petit & Fritsen. Margo Halsted concluded the day with yet another fine concert.

The third congress day featured a recital by Lee Cobb, Dennis Curry, John Gouwens, and Carlo van Ulft of new publications and compositions over a lunch sponsored by Meeks, Watson & Company. As winner of the 2006 GCNA Composition Competition, Cobb premiered his “Sonata” with eloquence. A panel discussion explored ongoing needs and developing opportunities in North American carillon education, adding excitement to the near-finalization of the Ronald Barnes Memorial Scholarship Fund. Finally, Yale Guild alumni Roy Lee and Ellen Dickinson offered adept recitals, with Dickinson premiering two winning entries of the Yale Carillon Composition Competition, “Impulses and Ratiocinations” by Jacob First and “Martelé” by Yoshiaki Onishi. The afternoon feast of new music was followed by an ice cream social sponsored by Fonderie Paccard.

On the final congress day, John Bordley previewed the next congress at Sewanee: The University of the South, and Todd Fair gave an illuminating master class to talented students. New Carillonneur Members Lara Walter, Christine Power, and Tiffany Ng performed a recital of wide-ranging repertoire, and Kim Schafer delivered her paper, “The Carillon and Auditory Culture: Carillon Music in Louvain, Belgium in the late 18th century.” The day concluded with a magnificent concert by Milford Myhre.

Amongst open bars and massive dinosaur skeletons in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Royal Eijsbouts closing banquet began the evening with the spectacularly successful first Barnes Silent Auction, a thrilling drive that raised over $5,800 for the scholarship fund. Dinnertime remarks highlighted the hard work of current members of the Yale Guild, and Jim Smith graced the diners with some wry observations.

Participants in the post-congress trip journeyed the next morning to the Riverside Church in New York City and enjoyed a demonstration of the five-manual Skinner organ. Cathedral carillonneur Dionisio Lind and guest artist Justin Ryan performed expressively on the newly renovated and heaviest carillon in the world. As the day came to an end, participants bid farewell to each other until the next gathering in Sewanee.

More people than can be listed deserve recognition for their contributions, among them Roy Lee ‘01, initiator of Yale’s bid to host the congress; Ellen Dickinson ‘97, Yale University Bell Consultant; Emily Johnson ‘05 and Tiffany Ng ‘05, who saw the renovation of Harkness Tower and its facilities to completion; and Christina Meyer ’06 and Claire Halpert ’07, whose leadership in every stage of planning and execution in the final year made the congress a success. Yale Guild members Yesol Huh, Christina Jacovides, Jason Lee, Richard Ramberg, Betsy Williams, and Brendan Woo worked around the clock at the congress, and though not in attendance, university officials Philip Greene, former Dean Richard Brodhead, and Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith opened the doors that made the Yale Guild’s work possible. Congratulations to them and countless others for their tireless efforts to bring this congress to fruition!