I’ve been on extended Thanksgiving holiday in Houston for the past week. We confirmed what I had always suspected, which is that Peking duck should replace turkey as the fowl of choice. Not only is it incomparably more delicious, but the remnants are much more fun. I rendered extra fat out of the leftover skin scraps and made a rich stock out of the carcasses, in which I cooked some spätzle. I bet the Pekinese never saw that coming.
A couple days ago D. and I drove to Austin to hear the UT Contemporary Ensemble play Some Connecticut Gospel. I was a little nervous going in, because I couldn’t hear the dress rehearsal; it was a total blind date. My fears were quickly assuaged when I saw that my old flutist friend from Yale, François Minaux, was playing. He nailed that solo near the end with incredible élan (I’ve been told it is a Bitch), matched by the other players. This is the first time I’ve had the piece conducted, and I think it’s a good idea; Damon Talley held the middle hocketing section together more precisely than I’ve ever heard it.
We caught my friend Mingzhe Wang yesterday playing a short and sweet clarinet concert back in Houston, including a new piece written for him by Marcus Maroney, which had an œ ligature in the title (Chamœleon). I remembered Marcus from his intermittent but very entertaining blog, and also from his days as a teaching assistant at Yale (the girls thought he was adorable)! I found out that he also has a knack for choosing the right notes. It’s funny to think about, because it’s not really something composers discuss, but it all comes down to choosing the right notes. And these were they. The piece itself was pretty spastic, and reminded me a bit of André Previn (of all things. Though he can’t be bothered with the notes, just the spastic.) It was great to hear Ming, I don’t get to hear him play too often now that he lives in Tennessee. He is as natural and nimble a musician as you will ever find. All in all, I concur with this insightful statement from ratemyprofessors.com:
He is very passionate about what he teaches and is sometimes funny. he is a really nice person and definately not bad to look at.
I did a little experiment over the past week, to try and cultivate an association between a particular place or experience and a piece of music. I downloaded Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, to which I then proceeded to listen nonstop— in the car, at home, on my iPhone, etc.— just intentionally overdosed on it. Now I’m going to wait a few months before I listen again, the idea being that I will have created an associative memory. I already have many accidental ones, and I’m sure anyone who listens to music regularly does as well— but I like the idea of creating an intentional link. It’s like taking photographs or writing postcards, only a bit more ethereal.