12 November 2008

beginning of the end of the semester

Beginning work on Davitt's manuscript "Recueil d'airs Choisis" has been intimidating, but is it not a good sign when you discover two concordances within five minutes of beginning your search for concordances?

Studying the MS tired me out today however. I was so desperate for a break that I even deigned to walk into American Apparel (the thought of walking in had never occurred to me) and Wet Seal. I should really go window shopping at University Press Books or the Musical Offering, but that involves reading and thinking (about academics)... I need to find more hobbies that involve neither.

At 10 pm...
Bam. Thirteen concordances/sources or leads. Mostly cross-eyed, and very behind on the rest of my work. The pros and cons of OCD...

29 September 2008

Does music really express that which is beyond words? (At least music of the Wagnerian brand.) Or simply that which is beside words, but which does not supersede them?

27 September 2008


Easy as it is to dismiss my former hometown, there are definitely things I miss about it. Not about living there, but the delightful parts of living there. Most of these aspects of Rochester have their corollaries here, but to my surprise that doesn't make them replaceable. Most of all, of course, I miss the organ culture. That can hardly be replaced anywhere.

24 September 2008

walking the tightrope

In the closing scne of the film Still Life, the protagonist and he alone notices a tightrope walker crossing from one ramshackle building to another in a town being "deconstructed" for the filling of the Three Gorges in China. I am starting to realize that I can understand my own path into music as a tightrope walk.

While at Eastman, I struggled to retain a sense of purpose and meaning as I made music without having the opportunity to contemplate what music meant or its place in society. Without reference to a context, music-making began to seem purposeless. As a musicology student, I now struggle with the meaning of music and its place in society on a daily basis. And yet I have not been satisfied over the past weeks because this struggle has left little time for performance. No longer an onerous chore, sitting down to learn new repertoire has become as mind-clearing and salutary as a long bike ride.

So musicology loses its meaning without performance and vice versa. And yet it's a tremendous challenge to excel at both. I'm giving myself ample time to learn the walk, but I have to find a balance before I stumble.

16 September 2008

random maliciousness

The 30-lb package of carillon monographs and sheet music and CDs and the almost-complete Klok en Klepel that I so lovingly assembled over the course of several days at the WCF Congress, squandering many Euros on knowing that I would never find these items in the US, and struggling with twice across many blocks in hot weather barely able to carry the weight, arrived.

And at least half of it was gone.

On top of the sorry-looking pile was a paperback book about the Old Testament that I had not purchased.

Perhaps I should not have let the package remain at the Daly City post office for over a week, but it was hardly possible to make it there earlier. Are my carillon books and magazines and CDs still there? Or at some central USPS processing office? Who in the world would find Dutch literature on the history of the carillon so morally repugnant that they would send me a morally repugnant message of their own -- in the form of an interpretation of the Old Testament from Southern Evangelical Seminary?

I waited years to find these items and fully intended to use them for my dissertation writing. Now I will have to wait years (certainly after I've started my writing) to buy them again. Unbelievable.

Some zealous Christian (an American one, I might add, looking at the imprint of this "gift" of a book) may fail to understand his/her disappointing reward in the afterlife for efforts such as these. Should I feel sorry for myself or for the perpetrator of this misdeed? Where do I find the energy to practice carillon this evening after this hoax of a betrayal by a total stranger? All that music I was going to learn, all that knowledge I was hoping to synthesize... gone. Senselessly.

One can hardly imagine a more absurd fate for carillon books.

04 September 2008

Biking to the Berkeley Bowl at noon, I was struck by what a Californian day it was and how Californian my surroundings were, as both are aspects of life here I no longer take for granted. The dry heat, the open sky, the rolling golden hills framing it all -- I found myself experiencing the state as one thinks of it beyond the borders of that peculiar entity of San Francisco. Sitting in the garden each day eating lunch in the warm sun is perhaps the very best part of it.

23 August 2008

Belgian modesty

From the Gazette van Detroit:

The CEOs of three large breweries meet at a convention and decide to go for a drink together.

When the waiter arrives to take their order, the Heineken boss naturally orders a Heineken beer, the Budweiser boss orders a Bud, and the boss of Stella Artois orders... a Coca Cola.

To the astonished looks of his colleagues the man says, "Well, seeing as neither of you is having beer, I had no other choice but to keep you company."

19 August 2008

16 July 2008


I woke up relatively easily this morning at 7:15 and hurried to the Academiegebouw. Apparently seventy people had crowded into the little tower yesterday while second thoughts about losing sleep over major third bells kept me in bed, but today only Ted the Aussie and a Dutch lady showed up. Auke de Boer demonstrated the carillon, emphasizing that one must use a light touch to play the little instrument, but I must admit the faint sound of the bells was dreadful inside the playing cabin. Then it was my turn. Without realizing what an suitable repertoire choice I was making, I took out Peter Vermeersch’s Bellbook nr. 2. Auke seemed immensely pleased—its requisite fleet, light touch and modern sound aesthetic made it perfect, in his opinion, for the instrument. I took to the ladders (not meant for any human however, only monkeys) and climbed into to the belfry, where to my surprise the bells sounded perfectly pleasant. Distance seems to make them ugly.

Afterwards Auke and I spoke at some length and discovered that our lives met at many intersections. Just three years ago, he had played a summer concert in Rochester, and still prizes his old LP of the Eastman Brass as one of the best brass recordings he owns. He plays the organ and a brass instrument as well, and has a repertoire of about twenty pieces for horn and organ that he used to play with one of the hornists of the Concertgebouw. Even more strangely, he knows Rudy Zuiderveld of Middelburg infamy. John Brombaugh based a few of his stops for Rudy’s organ on an organ that Auke either plays or is close to.

Apparently Auke has recorded his carillon with brass ensemble – this will be very interesting evidence for my business proposal, which is still valuable to me even if it didn’t merit acknowledgement of receipt. I will need to order the CD from abroad from the RuG Winkel.

My stay in Groningen is confirming my lessons in Middelburg. Go to the Netherlands (or New Zealand, I suppose), and you’ll make all manner of new friends within in the week. Live in Flanders for a year and you’ll be lucky to feel comfortable keeping in touch with anybody. I hope to keep in touch with Auke and other Dutch folks I've met and to see them again in the States. Perhaps Berkeley will host more guest carillonneurs, as was done for Winsemius in 2004. I know it would take a huge budget as there’s no Cali concert circuit, but even one guest would surely be worth the expenditure.

We proceeded to the Bellfoundry Museum in Heiligerlee, where the new Scandinavian traveling carillon was stationed for the evaluation of the membership. Despite the surprising fear of heights and terror of my public debut for 2008 on a non-American keyboard that the contraption inspired, I felt out the World Standard Keyboard with Geert’s Evening Meditation and found it a very odd fit. My performance was less than ideal, yet amusingly enough, Eddy asked the name and composer of the piece afterwards, and Frans Haagen invited me to give a recital in Almelo next Saturday.

Afterwards I shared a good laugh with Hylke and Vegar popping out of the bell moulds in the museum garden (I could fit myself in entirely) and chatting about Vegar’s new iPhone--I hadn't realized the iPhone had until now been unavailable in Europe. In the museum shop I discovered a van Bergen booklet about its exhibition at the World’s Fair in Chicago, truly a gem of a discovery for my most recent research.

We were entertained next with an organ and vocal concert in Appingedam by Adolph Rots and his wife, followed by Geoff Armitage reciting all sorts of facts Koen Cosaert and André Lehr had already emblazoned on my mind. I went in search of a salon in the quaint city centre, realizing too late that one stood virtually across from the church. I managed to get my hair washed and conditioned, but cut the blowdrying short only to discover that the Walloon artist had played a 50-minute concert for his 30-minute timeslot and that Jan was just beginning. It was better that I heard him—my hair still looked far better after the shampooing and drying in the sun, and didn’t even poof up. Mysterious good luck or defiance of nature?

My bus buddies over the course of the day were numerous—Bauke, Erica, Janno, Hylke, Koen van Assche. Yet somehow Phyllis managed to reserve me for her table with her granddaughter, whom she hopes will consider Yale, as well as UF student Ben, and Arendt and his wife, who was extremely urgent about nobody cutting Ben and me in line for dessert. I roved amongst the other tables as my charge seemed indifferent about Yale and responded “I don’t know” to most of my leading questions (and even my non-questions); I don't know which of us was more frustrated, really. And who cares--for a buffet feast was laid before us, with piles of herring, fish grilled before your eyes, salad, cheese, fruit, and desserts of all kinds, most of which I took care to sample. For my social rounds I went first to the British table (to which Trevor commented “So this is the rabble table!” as he passed, to my heated objections) where the (Loughborough?) carillonneur reminded me of our Elgar correspondence. I then made my way to the American table, where our GCNA president recounted my Langlais story to Janet, Todd and I snuggled up for our scandalous “traditional photo,” and Carol, the unexpected recipient of a 5 EUR cordial, waved “Goodbye butterfly!” as I left to be re-interviewed for the Congress DVD, perhaps hoping to nurture a life-of-the-party successor.

The real highlight, however, was introducing Sinnika and Min Jin to each other—the two lone (women!) carillonneurs of their respective countries. How good it feels to introduce two people, see them connect intensely, and suddenly realize you no longer exist for them—something I imagine Margo would do.

I was late for my chat with Andrew, but fortunately he was also late due to the bus. As my laptop wouldn't connect to the wireless network, Hylke installed Skype for me on his laptop, which we discovered had a built-in mic. After Andrew hung up (perhaps disquieted at the voice commenting and laughing in the background), Hylke showed me his websites for his choir and Rosemarie, as well as photos of his brother’s mansion in Aberdeen. I left at a quarter to one... a lovely way to end my last congress day.

12 July 2008


The shower is going and I don’t know how to turn it off. Curious about how to start it, I had pressed the little red button on the 70’s-era coin machine without inserting any coins and nevertheless water started splashing, first dismayingly cold, then warming up and going... and flowing... and going. As I had no designs on a shower, I started blogging to wait it out, hopefully before someone else arrived. To my chagrin, two German girls strolled in shortly before it stopped.

I’d been amused when the Hungarian girls compared the Stayokay Zeeburg to a hotel, but this hostel shows that they were right. Besides the modestly attractive lobby, the Simplon Jongeren is spartan. Even the ‘Clouds’ painting by Margreet Ubels sprawling across the gridded ceiling doesn’t soften the barrenness. In contrast to what the shorter Hungarian girl noted was a “good view” (of a young man undressing in another window) from our Stayokay room, this hostel has a view of a wannabe construction site and an unphotogenic industrial roof.

I should have been grateful for my Japanese and Korean roommates. Quiet as they were, they were unquestionably preferable to the obnoxious Dutch girls who just walked in chatting at the top of their lungs. Their nasal accent is even more grating. They casually butt into the German girls’ low-voiced but animated conversation, but stay away from me.

When it comes to hostels, you get what you pay for – roommates included. Those Japanese girls though, they were a riot. They had both brought heavy pieces of luggage filled with hairdryers and heaven knows what; they spent egregious amounts of time patting their smiling faces with makeup; unfortunately they took showers barefoot and probably won’t last for long without athlete’s foot. Although they came from the same time zone as the Korean girl, they went to bed early while she went to bed late. One of them locked herself out while putting the bedclothes outside. Never a dull moment with them around.

The Hungarian girls, friends since kindergarten in Budapest, were the friendliest folk I’d ever met in a hostel. I need to visit Budapest. And I should have invited them to visit me in the Bay Area, as one of them loves SF and is starting at UT Austin. My mind is clearly still on vacation.

As a college town, Groningen is lively for its size. Gezellig restaurants and bars buzz along the streets leading from the hostel to the Grote Markt, and my American sensibilities noted two cozy cafes serving frozen coffee and good tea. There is a sizable shopping district, much of it standard chain stores which are relieved by interesting businesses such as a surprisingly run-down Bijenkorf, upscale Dutch boutiques (ick), and specialized bicycle shops. Passing the open-air markets, including a mouth-watering fish market, I reached the Aa-kerk—The famed Aa-kerk with its Schnitger-orgel!—and made a mental note to return for a musical pilgrimage. To my surprise, the church was open late—for an exhibition of contemporary art, all of which was available on loan! A female DJ was spinning; perhaps this was an exhibition opening as people were lingering at tables drinking and crunching on bar snacks. What a strange sensation to walk into my holy Aa-kerk to be met by large-scale photographic portraiture of black gangsters from Amsterdam (clad in American ghetto), this female DJ, and the organ nowhere in sight. Perhaps Groningen is my type of city, to a degree. Perhaps it is only my accommodations that feel bleak.

The clash of old and new, secular and sacred entertains me here. Beyond the Aa-kerk stands the grand Korenbeurs, a historic monolith flanked by two impressive statues. It now houses one of the omnipresent Albert Heijn supermarkets.

There is a little Chinatown a block away from the hostel. It can’t comprise more than ten or so businesses, but it is there nevertheless, with even a Chinese salon. I had dinner in a very nice combination Chinese-Thai restaurant with white table cloths and tall red candles. The cross-influences amuse the knowledgeable eye to no end – Thai art suspended beside upscale Chinese kitsch, and my Buddha vegetable dish served on a warmed “rice table” tray heated by candles. I was one of only two parties there for dinner on that Saturday night. I hope the restaurant does brisker business on other nights; I can’t imagine how it could survive otherwise. The food was fine, and the check came with the largest mint I had ever seen; certainly larger than a quarter. I folded my chopstick wrapper into a caterpillar and set him there feeding on it before I left. A terribly good value for 8 EUR. This is the Netherlands after all.

It’s a small world, running into Boudewijn on my second day in Amsterdam and John Courter on my third. But in Groningen I feel alone. I hope tomorrow that feeling will be dispelled. I also have an interesting breakfast to look forward to. Returning to the organic foods store, I pored over the cereal shelf and bought the highest-fiber package I could find, only to discover at the hostel that it was a rough, powdery substance that would form a paste in milk. Yum. A subsequent trip to Albert Heijn scored a more reassuring box of All-Bran.

I need to stop going to the Netherlands. Especially with $3,000 from Berkeley for the next two years, I should be able to get myself to Scandinavia for a concert tour. Of course I had a delightful time in Amsterdam and am charmed to a certain degree by Groningenas well, but I know the type. I need new horizons. Germany needs to be in those plans too somewhere. My other head will surely show me a good time in München.

My days here are long because the sun goes down late at this northern latitude. At 9:07 pm, golden sun suddenly floods the room and we all turn our heads to see what has changed. The shower is silent.

11 July 2008

Amsterdam nº2

I made good use of my second day in Amsterdam. First I wandered through the Anne Frank House (I should have known that Anne’s original diary was in Dutch!), bare of furniture the way it was when the prisoners were taken away and all the furniture confiscated. Echoes of Corrie Ten Boom seemed to resonate throughout the house and Anne’s story. The depth of thought she expressed in her diary shocked even her father. “I can only conclude that parents do not know their children as well as they think,” he tells us in a video. Most touching of all, earlier in the year of her death, Anne learned that diaries and correspondences would be collected and archived after the war. She set about revising her diary letters to the imaginary “Kitty,” but she could never have imagined how the world would come to love her in so many languages. The world gave her little, but she gave us so much as the voice of her people. The last time we know of her being seen in a concentration camp, she believed she was all alone in the world. Her friend, speaking to her across the fence, brought a care package of trinkets to give her something to live for. A woman caught the package as it flew over the fence and rushed away with it. A second package did reach Anne, and that was the last time that this particular friend saw her.

After this haunting affair, I decided it was time to indulge and had my first Hollandse nieuwe broodje of the year at a stand at the foot of the Westerkerk. The frieten from the next stand were the worst I’d ever had, but the broodje was satisfying psychologically and physically. A carillonneur who was rather in need of more training made music to accompany my tiny feast. Afterwards I set out in search of a post office marked on my map, only to find that all local post offices had been inexplicably shut down. This led me back to the Singel, where I saw Boudewijn strolling down the sidewalk speaking to a young woman. People tell me he knows everybody, so one cannot assume she was a carillonneur. Small world here – even in Belgium I never ran into people I knew.

With little time left, I hurried through Mango in the magnificent historic shopping center, then skipped the alluring photography exhibits at Huis Marseille and Stadsarchief in favor of ARCAM. However, I made my roundabout way there via the Stedelijk Museum CS. This allowed me to take more photos at the same underpass as in 2005, realizing later in the SMCS that I could cleverly revise their titles to “Vers Un Nouveau Stedelijk Museum” from my old “Towards the Stedelijk.” Despite the promise of its wild undulating exterior, the free-entry ARCAM offered only one exhibition room, but plenty of architectural biking tour maps to make my mouth water. The text of the captions was typically tiny; attractive but hardly functional for sore eyes. I made a 15-minute run through the SMCS (my Museumkaart is still good for a few days yet) afterward and was glad for it, as the museum is closing in October for the one-year return to its old living quarters, version 2. I wish they sold copies of their posters with the crossed-out names of RIETVELD, MONDRIAAN and so on over the names of lesser known contemporary artists, in reference to the collection on display—the climate control of the old Post CS isn’t precise enough for the exhibition of their most renowned masterpieces.

Hurrying out of the Stedelijk Museum, I rushed in my flipflops to, up, and down the dock behind the station for half an hour until my knees began to complain. As it turned out, the Pannenkoekboot departed from Amsterdam Noord, which is across the Ij. I had forgotten how bad the Dutch are at giving directions, even those who work for tourist enterprises. So I took the free commuter ferry in order to sightsee, and boy did I get an eyeful of new architecture and a magnificent industrial area further south. A rainbow Greenpeace boat partially powered by an aggressive-sounding windmill was docked for the festivities that night, but I wanted to catch Andrew on Skype and go to bed early and so returned for dinner at one of the pannenkoek places on the way from the Dam to the Westerkerk to satisfy my protesting pannenkoek appetite. My stomach declared victory after a couple of poffertjes for dessert.

Jazz at the venerable Concertgebouw put me to sleep, so I slipped out during intermission, made reservations for my final day in Europe at the Stayokay Vondelpark, took note of the nearby Wagamama for a late-night dessert after Gouda, and headed back to the hostel. Thankfully, I was able to video chat with Andrew, and FON.com continued to work in my room just for Gmail. What a luxury, to have free wireless Gmail in your hostel room! I like the FON concept, although I don’t know how workable it is. Seems that there are quite a few hotspots in Groningen, including a cafe. Definitely worth testing.

Amsterdam is no less under construction than it was when I came for the second time with the Yale Guild. The magnificent Central Station is still an unsightly mess, the SMCS is still in the unclimate-controlled Post CS, and the Rijksmuseum is still under renovation. Things move slowly around here. The results had better be good, because I will end up back here soon.

10 July 2008

Amsterdam nº1

The first half-day in a new country is a foregone conclusion. You will waste your time figuring things out, no matter how confident you are. I failed to prepare myself mentally for this fact, despite the foreboding location of my hostel in the boonies of Amsterdam.

After finally settling into my lofted dorm room in the Stayokay Zeebrugge (having been let in during lockout by a sweet Asian housekeeper), I hopped the 22 bus to the opposite end of the line at Museum Het Schip and savored the creativity of Amsterdamse School architecture. Pumpkin soup, a tomato-basil sandwich, and a cup of tea kept me going through the utter exhaustion and the damp of the overcast day. After wandering through the furnished exhibition apartment and exhibit (learning along the way that the Amsterdamse School’s official organ dedicated an issue to Frank Lloyd Wright—makes total sense), I made my way to FOAM and discovered Adama Bamba, an African photographer who promised to open a new world to me, although his work was only visible in the brochure. I was also lucky enough to attend an exhibition opening on the first floor, and felt an extra rush of artsy-fartsiness as a result.

By the time I was through with feeling artsy (and woefully underdressed, especially when trying to prevent my ginormous EMS backpack from smacking fellow art lovers in the crowded halls), the rest of the (legit) museums had closed, so I bought a new SIM card and then allowed myself to be pulled into De Slegte, where I purchased two carillon-related books, although I found nothing particularly drool-worthy in the photography or A+A sections, and then into ZARA—the four-story ZARA on the winkelstraat. Boy did I make a killing in there. I certainly could have stayed and bought more, but fortunately I ushered myself out in time to stave off sartorial disaster. I doubt my luggage could have fit much more for the rest of the trip. It’s terribly irksome that after all the trouble I went to tracking down an affordable product, I forgot to bring my vacuum-packing bags with me for the return trip.

By accident (or perhaps because it’s the only authentic and cheap Cantonese restaurant in the area), I ended up at dinnertime at the same joint at which Ingrid and I had gone two years ago when I was dreadfully ill and needed to live on a diet of jook. The food was authentic, but only when I strolled out the door did I discover that the next place was an affordable and appetizing fusion restaurant. Next time. I had to end my long, long flip-flop walk somewhere.

Asian food (as well as Mexican and Argentinean) is quite a delicacy here, although it’s usually considered cheap cuisine in the US. Curious.

To my delight, my roommates from Budapest were extremely friendly. Perhaps Hungarians look more mature than their age compared to your average American, because I assumed they were nearly my age. They were in fact starting college in the fall, and marveled at my independence and achievements at the age of twenty-five. I didn’t know whether to feel like a proud woman role model or an old fogie.

26 June 2008

a haunted artist

With the monumental spectacles generated by today's film industry, I expect to emerge from a film more emotionally affected than from an art exhibit. Not so for the haunting Frida Kahlo. Her art speaks more loudly for her than anything or anyone else can.

After the delightfully bird-like mischievousness of her self-depiction in "Frieda and Diego Rivera" (1931), her art as exhibited at SFMOMA is a series of intensely painful and individual experiences. She poured her pain directly into her paintings, transmitting it to the viewer in an uncannily visceral way. The honesty of her autobiography in art is stunning enough, but seeing her torn asunder by her philandering husband in "The Two Fridas" (1939) is almost mortifying. Staring into "Moses" (1945), her ongoing search for a belief system, one sees a fanatically cluttered foreground which reveals almost no depth, and yet one gets the distinct experience of looking into infinity.

Kahlo's pain seems to end or at least reach a reconciliation as one enters the last room, filled with eye-popping, joyous still lifes and "The Love Embrace of the Universe" (1949). This redemption is just as a viewer would hope. Yet she was in her worst physical condition by that point, having undergone endless operations and an amputation. Had she truly achieved peace, or was her artistic joy a forced Act III? "I hope to leave joyously -- and never return." What happy, unhaunted soul says such words?

Diego Rivera specified that Kahlo's room remain locked for fifty years after her death. It has finally been opened, her extraordinary Tehuana / Chinese / Indian wardrobe discovered in pristine condition, the colors still intense. One cannot help but wonder at how she stands out in every photograph, whether she is alone or with a crowd. She is inevitably the most dignified, proud, and eye-catching. Is it her majestically un/traditional wardrobe, her tightly-bound hair, her features, her high forehead, her masculine air, or the way she holds her chin that mesmerizes? Or can the fire of one's spirit blaze through one's face to the camera lens?

Speaking of Kahlo's wardrobe, if you are looking for a reproduction of the shirts and skirts she wore in her self-portraits, you can buy them at SFMOMA for $200 to $1800 a pop. Having garnered limited recognition during her lifetime, I am sure Kahlo would have been proud to see the queues winding down the stairs at SFMOMA for her exhibit. But what of the gift shop?

25 June 2008

"In March, Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles on public roads than in the same month the previous year, a 4.3 percent decrease — the sharpest one-month drop since the Federal Highway Administration began keeping records in 1942." -The New York Times

24 June 2008

goodbye cody's

The Berkeley air was choking with the smoke of wildfires blowing in from all around NorCal. Perhaps some particles of San Bruno Mountain gorse even reached the Campanile -- who can know?

What would you bring with you if you had to abandon your house to an approaching wildfire? Photos? Stuffed animals? Jewelry? Other monetarily worthless things that can never be replaced? My things are still all in boxes, awaiting their Berkeley home. I would have run out with little more than my passport, Social Security card, and laptop in hand, frozen by the choices between all the rest of those worthless, precious things. Perhaps my bike would have come with me. And my carillon sheet music, if I had the presence of mind.

Berkeley's iconic Cody's Books closed on June 20. I stood reading and rereading the tabloid-sized notices posted on the wall-to-wall windows, stricken. Passersby, perhaps noticing my expression, stopped to glance at the notice, but nobody lingered. Perhaps it was old news to them. Perhaps it was meaningless news to them.

Moments earlier I'd been in a wonderfully thought-provoking bookstore on Bancroft, picking up "The Book is Dead: Long Live The Book" and then setting it back down again with revulsion, unwilling to believe its warning, determined to believe that it was just the sort of book it warned against, a sensationalist product designed only to sell. But the fact is that I neither read it nor bought it. Perhaps the book is dead unless we change something fast. We buy our books from giants like amazon to save a few bucks. And here is the evidence, in these tabloid-size letters. I never suspected that my last visit to Cody's was unrepeatable. And my last visit four years ago to the 4th Street store. And the visit to the Union Square shop that never happened. How Cody's has been shuffling around. To what end?

The end, I suppose. Just as I was starting to take up the slack on the reading list I've been growing but otherwise ignoring since high school. And just as I've stopped moving house often enough to want to actually own my books.

Incidentally, the newest item on my travel itinerary: Shipton's Arch, known for ages by locals, revealed to the West in the 1950's, lost, and found again by National Geographic in 2000.

23 June 2008

The moon is orange tonight under the heavy smoke as the south face of San Bruno Mountain goes up in flames.

29 May 2008


It's a quarter past eight ante meridiem and I am done packing. Only I know what it took to reach this point.

27 May 2008

"Three moves are equivalent to a fire," Andrew's father quipped. I've jettisoned several reams of paper over the past week, but only now that most of my apartment is in boxes am I throwing out the 30% DEET roll-on I purchased in Belgium. My unwillingness to part with it is less pack rat instinct, I suspect, than mortal terror. I'm keeping the rest of my arsenal stuff around to arm myself against the Groningen mosquitoes.

25 May 2008

AGO Fight Song

We're AGO, we're AGO
We guard Cecilian flanks;
Through music's fray
We gravely go forth
Undivided, united
And armed with pipes in ranks
We know with Diapasons Great and Swell
And with just two feet and hands
Our sound
Can astound
And confound
All philharmonic bands

With registration, Gen'rals set,
Our armed Aeolian squad
With loud Cornet, Posaune, Trompette
At the ready, all steady and mounted en chamade,
To shake the walls we'll couple our Bombarde
And with Tuba daunt the foe.
We say
It's OK Hip Hoo-ray
For we're the AGO.

26 April 2008

15 April 2008

Sorabji and me online

Unbelievable! Within twelve hours of writing to the Sorabji Archive, I have my one page of Sorabji fame. Thanks to Ryan and Randy for telling me about this piece.

30 March 2008

carillon as installation art

"Does it work as a stand-alone piece?" I asked about the carillon piece meant for the Yale School of Drama's winter production, a piece axed by the administration as the carillon couldn't sound during finals week. "Well, Miss Tiffany Ng," Dr. S said, turning intently to me. And so the idea of a carillon installation has taken seed.

I am--joyously--getting up to my ears in new music for carillon, both acoustic and electroacoustic. But what about the overwhelming physical presence of the carillon, the visual, the visceral aspect of the bells and the belfry? (Never mind that the UR's carillon is basically disembodied.) How many composers and artists have taken advantage of that? Jeffery Bossin has done cool projects in Berlin, but what of interest has happened in America?

Eastman had better figure out what's going on with that Hanson Commissioning Fund, because I have big plans for it. I envision an installation that isn't so site-specific that it can't be recreated in other cities, or even with a traveling carillon in a large art gallery.

Speaking of which, new organ music mission accomplished this week. Twofold.

05 March 2008

iPod crime

Brussels should team up with think tank The Urban Institute to discover that kids kill kids for iPods the world over. Thanks to Chip for this link.

24 February 2008

First, Bobby and I chat for an hour in Dutch at Java's without any idea of how strange we must have seemed. Next, I find that Yale Educational Travel is hosting a Waterways of Holland and Belgium trip, and the Little Theatre is showing In Bruges. Today I manage to memorize Geert's organ piece in a single day. What's next, Low Countries?

Now I can finally make up for the fact that I never took a polisci course at Yale: Open Yale courses online. Sweet.

12 February 2008


It would appear that I've passed my clavichord jury to good approval--just about the last outcome I was expecting. I must admit that every time I'm forced to practice it seriously, I develop a fondness for the instrument. After a break from bad habits and confusion, my technique has certainly improved this year. With the instrument's sensitivity as more friend than foe (though it will probably always retain the characters of both), I'm finding the clavichord rather satisfying to play. Perhaps one day I'll have one for myself... it will be cheaper than an organ after all.

04 February 2008

29 January 2008

John Ashbery was born a Rochesterian. Certainly makes me feel a little better about this place.