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.