22 December 2009

Eastman's glorious new organ in the NY Times

In a small way, I helped Munetaka Yokota voice this gorgeous instrument. Admittedly, I got a lot more out of the experience than he did. Nevertheless I feel very connected to it and am so pleased to see it garner national attention.

29 October 2009

rusty bolts

At least Grace Cathedral cares enough about the bells of its almost-but-not-quite carillon to make sure the bells don't fall out of the tower. In fact, you can acquire one of the rusty bolts for a donation of $1,550.

23 October 2009

many happy returns

I think back on all the times I visited a place and thought, "Oh well, I'll probably never see this or stay here again" -- the Calhoun common room and Longwood Gardens carillon in 2000, Mechelen and the Utrecht clothing store in 2003, Berkeley in 2004. Why do I keep returning? What's next?

24 August 2009

"free" museums

Hand-drawn maps of how to get into various museums for free. I almost like the awkward drawings more than the concept.

31 July 2009

European shopping

I knew it. They do jack the prices up in the US. I bought a dress from Mango on sale for 20 EUR in Germany, and found the same dress on sale for $33 in New York. It's about a $5 difference. Something tells me that Zara does the same. Good thing I spend all that money traveling to Europe to buy the clothes for a few bucks less.

27 July 2009


I'm not one to get homesick, but I am starting to lack a hearty bowl of soup very badly, or at least food cooked by myself. Soup noodles would be nice. I'm desperate enough at this point to have looked up the location of Wagamama in Newcastle. Not the most authentic, but it should hit the spot.

10 July 2009

Zurich Day 2

I began today with a big mistake. Not stopping to question the oddness of playing a concert on a Friday at noon, I bought a 60 CHF roundtrip ticket to Zofingen. Very charming town and a charming ride, but as it turns out my concert is tomorrow. At least now I know precisely how to get there, and I took the extra precaution of pre-purchasing a ticket for tomorrow as the machines don't always accept the bills you feed them.

Despite the not inexpensive mistake, it was difficult to stay angry at myself for long since I suddenly had a day to explore Zurich. I’m sitting now by the corner balcony of the lovely African Lodge Room on the sixth floor of the Hotel Otter, listening to a lengthy concert of swinging bells coming from perhaps two churches northwest. The named penthouse room had better be a free upgrade, because it’s slick--a masterful blend of African savannah and cosmopolitan neo-Baroque. What is it with me and penthouse upgrades? It’s evident from here that the Swiss love plants. Every spare bit of rooftop is lined with them, more so than with lawn furniture. Densely built as this old city is, everywhere you look (presuming you do a good job of looking up) there is green.

My first stop was the Migros Museum, Kunsthaus, and surrounding galleries, all tucked into a sleekly designed former factory space. After a delicious cheese sandwich, I happened upon an exhibit on urban renewal at the ETH Zurich--how I’ve missed these European topics presented in their modern European designs. The Law Library of the University was difficult to find, but as the Wallpaper City Guide mentioned it multiple times, I kept looking. Everyone I asked on the block remarked that the photo was beautiful but they had never seen the space. I hope they seek it out, because the moment I walked in I felt as if this Santiago Calatrava building had changed my life (and I hadn’t even opened a book)! An eye-shaped receptacle of natural light framed by wooden beams, and dramatic glass elevators that whisk you past each eye-shaped level lined with studious aspring lawyers to the top skylight. I’d been skeptical of spending my time in Zurich finding an academic library, but the guide was right to mention it multiple times. Few buildings have caused me to smile.

A stop by cash-only vendor of used designer purses SecondBag and I was trotting down the Bahnhofstrasse with a cheap orange Longchamp (boy will Ingrid have a fit!) in near-perfect condition on my shoulder. The Champs-Elysées certainly defines class and bling, but I wonder if Zurich’s most expensive shopping drag couldn’t give it a run for its money. Gorgeous Burberry blondes and high school girls with designer purses I haven’t even considered buying yet mingle on the tram with backpackers and immigrants, cyclists ride perilously between trams on tram-only roads, bike messengers with wing-like reflective yellow backpacks wave to each other, and a bespectacled man rides calmly and quietly alongside my tram on a Ducati 900 Supersport. On the winding cobblestone streets leading south to Grossmünster, I am pulled to and fro by delicious smells emanating from chocolateries and crêpe stands. Several photography postcards and musical stamps later, I’m back in my room impatient for my roommates to arrive two hours late. I suppose they did me a favor hurrying me wide-eyed through the Bahnhofstrasse to meet them on time, but I rather wish I’d spent more time there... and was eating now.

The only thing that has bothered me so far about this place is the abundance of fake blondes (is it that desirable?) and shoe stores. Expensive shoe stores. Zurich has a citywide shoe fetish. Why?

As if the world wasn’t small enough, Sue has elderly relatives living in Zofingen. I hope they enjoy my concert tomorrow if they can hear it.

It’s half an hour after I started writing (19:00), and another bell has started ringing. I could sit here listening all day.

02 July 2009

I started following Dezeen yesterday and today Dezeen started following me. I have the unique honor of being the 999th person followed by Dezeen. Enchantée.

24 June 2009

many happy returns

It's been nice to return to Longwood Gardens again and again. In a sense, that's where things started for me and the carillon. During my college visits as a high school senior in 2000, my family and I stopped by to visit the gardens. I saw the little Italianate tower and looked wistfully through the gate barring the entrance; there was no admission and nothing in the tower, but I still wanted to climb it. As a freshman, I returned to Longwood with the Yale Guild and suddenly found myself atop the tower laughing and waving at startled tourists, and playing pieces for them on the newly installed bells. That carillon and I were initiated into the campanological world around the same time.

The carillon keeps leading me to strange coincidences. I'll never forget how we left Mechelen after our first Eurotour, and I thought I'd never see the quaint town again. Three years later, I was Mechelen's newest resident, exploring the city and stumbling upon the same sights I'd drunk in years ago, when I was sure the opportunity to look was a one-time deal.

24 April 2009

architectural form

Chip was right... it is quite telling that amongst the renderings and floor plans for the Eastman Theatre addition (still questionably called "completing George Eastman's vision"), a full photo of Doug Lowry takes center stage. A highly architectural photo, I might add.

22 April 2009

Rock The Bells

Thanks to Seth, I now know of the classic "Rock the Bells" (released when I was three) as well as the eponymous festival, which is coming to San Francisco. There must be room for a traveling carillon in there somewhere.

17 April 2009

Tower iconography

Artist Ji Lee is photographing all the logo representations of the WTC around New York (storefront signs, truck logos, printed shopping bags, etc.) before they gradually disappear. What a tremendous project.

I've always thought it would be an endless project to collect all the things that depict the carillon towers I've played (just try searching in ebay on "Harkness Tower" over the course of a few weeks and you'll see it never ends), since towers tend to be a strong informal aspect of the graphic identity of universities. It's a luxury to be able to buy memorabilia for your instrument that you never had to commission. But what a peculiar link -- I always assumed that the carillon tower is different from other towers, but this semester in Steven Feld's class I've been realizing how conceptually related it is to all sorts of other towers. The semblance of the belfry to lighthouses particularly excited me while Andrew and I were at Point Reyes. Which leads me back to my fascination with ephemera... there are plenty of postcards on which all these tower typologies are depicted (did Walker Evans collect any?). Other collections of towers, such as those by Bernd + Hilla Becher, have had a significant cultural impact too. I can think of quite varied academic disciplines that could be interested in Ji Lee's archive of logos and Evans' massive postcard collection, from visual studies to geography. How does the carillon play into all of this? Feld mentioned that someone wrote a history of high buildings. Time to look it up.

A number of my seemingly unrelated curiosities have started to merge, albeit bumpily, into a convoluted train of thought. Perhaps some meanings will emerge from it soon.

07 April 2009

O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden

Palm Sunday's service was the most beautiful I've played at St. Joseph. The congregation sang the final hymn, which Bach used for the St Matthew Passion, in harmony, and that hymn moves me more than any other. I don't often think of myself as a church organist, but if every service were like that, I wouldn't mind it at all.

There is an interesting carillon event coming up:

A Special Program including Lou Reed’s “A Perfect Day”
The Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Avenue (at 120th Street), New York City
April 30, 2009 at 11:30am-12:30pm

The Riverside Church carillon is the largest in the world and made partly by Dutch craftsmen. On Koninginnedag, it will be called into service by the Dutch mastercarillonneur Sjoerd Tamminga, who has played “A Perfect Day” by Lou Reed for the past ten years in at the Maria Magdelena Church in Goes. This will be the finale to a series of carillon performances beginning in the Netherlands earlier in the day and ending at The Riverside Church at noon, where Lou Reed will be in attendance.

It reminds me of Doug Henderson's bell installation, Requiem for a Penny (2005). They both seem to imagine a worldwide synchronicity and sounding of bells for a "third listener" up in space.

24 March 2009

Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard. Possibly the most modest and most fascinating exhibition I've ever seen in a museum. Evans and I had a lot of important things in common. Photography, postcards, ephemera. Did I mention postcards? Evan's commentaries sound strangely reminiscent of Paul Groth's in our cultural geography survey. Art + academia. It's so rewarding when the parallel. (And it happens a lot with CG.)

07 January 2009

Apparently I lapse into not being a photographer if I stop wandering around just to look at things. My photographic eye then shuts down. I'm glad I took off on my bike today headed west. Artisan studios, beautiful strange additions to buildings, quaint office areas, hip yet surreally still residential developments, ironworks, artistic scrap metal yards, presses, fountains, pedestrian paths, travel libraries, dead ends overlooking water and sunset, extraordinary houses, hippie vans, gorgeous indian furniture, forgotten and newly discovered restaurants... somehow it all opened my eyes to the tree right outside my house. I think the twilight photos of it worked out well. And to think I never saw the soaring, complex tree as photogenic before.