Saturday, August 1, 2009

'I see a little silhouetto of a man..'

No busking for me on Friday, as I headed up to Westchester to hear stepdaughter in the chorus at the Caramoor Opera Festival for a performance of Rossini's "Semiramide". They announced that it might be the first time ever a Caramoor performance would be amplified, as thunderstorms were scheduled to pass through the area and with an outdoor venue, they wanted to make sure the sound could defeat anything the elements might hurl at them. As it turned out, the weather played nice.

It was tremendous. The orchestra was first rate, and the principal singers: Angela Meade, Lawrence Brownlee and, especially, Vivica Genaux, were all outstanding. Everyone, performers and audience, was deeply into it, and their commitment made the whole thing - all four hours of it - memorable. As for the story, In short, a mother unknowingly falls in love with her son. It all ends badly.

I won't pretend to have grown up with an appreciation for this kind of experience, and I've only come to it as my stepdaughter gets involved in that world. But I'm enjoying learning more, through observing - this was about my tenth opera tonight - and reading smart blogs like An Unamplified Voice, but above all, it's a happy education for me when she points out how one singer's technique differs from another's, or how important it is to breathe at exactly the right time (well, duhh ..)

When I watch her practice I see her enthusiasm and dedication to this craft, even though she knows it's a tough path, and it makes me proud and excited for her as she sets off on her career.

At the end of the day, music is music. Wherever you find it, however you make it, its main purpose is to move you. And if it moves you, the greatest gift you can give is to move others.


On Thursday night, my local PBS station broadcast the Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Concert which took place in May at Madison Square Garden.

It was an amazing night, and I wrote about it here at the time. If you get the chance to see it on re-run or even when the DVD comes out, please do. You'll definitely find something you like in this remarkable show.


The always excellent Play A Little Guitar blog has a nice story about a busker in downtown Washington DC. On my visits to the nation's capital, I don't remember ever seeing musicians inside the subway stations themselves, so I'm guessing the rules might be a little different, although the acoustics down there would be pretty amazing, since it's a much more cavernous structure than here in New York.


Finally, if you're in the UK, the wonderful Cambridge Folk Festival is on this weekend. I've been a few times and it's always a great outing, whether you're camping out or just up for the day. This year, as always, there are some terrific acts lined up: Jim Moray, Cara Dillon, Martin Simpson and Blazin' Fiddles play both Saturday and Sunday, while Los Lobos headline Saturday before Paul Brady and then Lucinda Williams close things out on Sunday night.

To give you a flavour of the the event, here's a couple of my favourite festival performers from recent years: the brilliant Kate Rusby, and then Seth Lakeman.

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