Tuesday, December 15, 2009

end of the year wrap-up

yes, i understand, it's not the end of 2009. this is more of an end of school wrap up as tuesday was the last day of classes. so here we go:

  • i need to understand and just believe that i am smart. i know that the application process is daunting but for god's sake, i'd like to think that someone would have stopped me if they thought i couldn't handle it.
  • there are always new friends. and those new friends are great. thank you, new friends, for keeping me *moderately* sane.
  • all that practicing really pays off.
  • "ego" ≠ "competitiveness" (nor should it have to)
  • though the musicology department at peabody drives me literally insane, i love them. they have shown me that they have my back & care about my growth and development as a musicologist and a scholar. so i'll forgive them when they get me lost or make jokes about me to my face...
  • even if it's as bad as you thought it might be, it's not that bad.
  • family can suck & family can be awesome. it's a tossup.
  • this was the best summer of my life. also, AMS Philly was quite possibly the most hilarious four days i've had in a LONG time.
  • i will be a good teacher.
  • if i'm ignoring you, don't take it personally. that means i can't afford to have the drama that follows you in my life. i'm busy.
so i can relax a little bit, three out of six grad school apps are turned in. i'm hoping i'll be so busy with teaching, trying to find a job and writing my thesis that i'll completely forget about waiting to hear back. one can only hope. this has been a tough semester but something is different. i feel different. and i like it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

you are getting on your grind

well this past month has been ridiculous and i think it's quite peculiar that when i have the most to say (because i'm the most busy) that it's the most difficult for me to put it down. but tonight, i was good. i bought groceries (for the first time in say four months) and cooked (probably the same amount on that one) and here it is, 7:14 and i'm all caught up. so, obviously, the next most important thing to do would be to blog. ;)

this past month has been oh so revelatory for me...teaching jobs have come and gone and things seem like they're getting accomplished. and maybe, just maybe, i've established some sort of routine? i grade, practice, work on grad school apps, edit papers and of course, play on my iphone (it has CHANGED my life, can't even lie) and even though i see nothing but transition up ahead, i'm preparing myself.

(by transition i mean leaving my job. sssshhhhh!)

but hey, i survived a swine flu frenzy, both at work and at school, fellowship applications and a ridiculous halloween (i went dressed as Krishna!) so i think i'm doing pretty well for myself right now (i'm pulling down about 80 thou/my wife makes 40/she's a vassar grad/and hey for a woman/that's not half bad)*

also, i don't want the little lion to get jealous of talks of a new, shinier blog. that blog (which you should all look at: http://anothermusicologyblog.wordpress.com) is just a chance for me to talk about all things musicology. not nearly as interesting as what goes on over here. debauchery! wickedness! idolatry! wait, wait...that's the ten commandments. never mind. point is, i am a multi-platform blogger with plenty of craziness to go around. capisce?


*if you get that reference, you get cookies. lots of cookies.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

there's nothing there

I know a little something about heartaches. literally.

when I have episodes, it feels like someone has my heart balled up in their fist and they squeeze and squeeze. my metaphorical heart, the one I don't take medication for (unless you count cabernet sauvignon & year-old mixtapes), hurts in that same way. when you want someone so badly, miss someone so badly that your heart screams out for mercy. that's how I feel now; forlorn, ripped apart. but what's notable is that in some venus-in-furs way, I savor it. longing for something so beautiful gives me hope, even while my heart is in a chokehold.

for those looking for more factual elements of my life, I won't bore you. I find out tomorrow if I will, indeed, be teaching at Homewood come january, I am up to my eyebrows in musicology and I work all the time. when I'm not listening to such sappy music, I'll give the whole rundown. till then, I'll sit back and wait to be with one of my great loves, new york.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

and i'll cherish that moment for life

how do you recount something that's bigger than you?

i've never really been faced with this challenge before but i figured it would happen and hey, better sooner than later, no? i have been back in baltimore for a little over 24 hours now so i've had some time to think (yeah, right) about the last month. so what have i come up with? well all of the words that seem to describe this trip in the most apt of ways don't seem to be, well, real words...

clusterfuck, kerfuffle, ginormous, etc.

still, i found myself sitting on the floor in london heathrow with tears in my eyes. ah, the power of connection, even under the most trying of circumstances. so first, for the facts. i left DC for munich and after that went whirlwind through germany, austria, italy, the UK and iceland. many a concert were played (some were missed), and boy, did people attend. more than i ever would have imagined. (our concert at St. Martin-in-the-fields was PACKED) the entire time in iceland was spent working on and performing The Vision of the Apocalypse, an oratorio written by the ensemble's conductor and founder. that is a catchy little tune right there. not as hard as Rite but just as (musically) annoying. :) though the music we played wasn't beyond anything that i've done in my performing career, my ability to be flexible, to follow, to listen and interpret were stretched to the max. plus, there's no better way to build up endurance than playing three concerts in one day. no better way to get gigger's chops, too.

next: europe. seeing europe was everything i had imagined and more. salzburg was a fairy tale, i know i've been separated from england at birth and iceland is quite possibly the most breathtaking, mindblowing place i've ever been (yes even more serene than my dear lovely boone). in the few moments i had alone on this trip (and i tried to take as many as possible), i allowed myself to just be, wherever it was. i think some of my favorite moments were those, especially my solo trip to aldeburgh. if there was ever a time that i felt alive, that was it.

but the thing that meant the most was the people. walking into this thing, i was terrified. i really felt like i was the girl in the nudist colony who refused to take off her bra. would they accept me? would they like me? but, aha! my powers of persuasion over came fear and the whole lot. slowly but surely, i began to feel close to these people who were undergoing these hardships with me. i mean if anything brings people together, it's frustration. now granted some relationships were easier to forge than others, like missed connections with now-known hometown friends, musical colleagues and faux siblings. and of course, there were people who i thought i'd never win over (and maybe i didn't, who knows) but overall, there was a general feeling of pleasantness that kept me going (that and in usual imani style, a crush that kept me very busy). i even made friends outside of the tour, which was amazing and i'm hoping to keep those connections alive as well.

now yes, a lot of things went wrong and a lot of things made me pretty unhappy. the only reason i even choose to bring them up is as a reminder to me for the future. i've been asked by several if i would do a tour like this again and i've said no. not just because of my experiences but because i don't see a time in my life where it would be feasible again. and that leads me to another good thing. in less than two weeks lives the world that i've been anticipating for quite some time now. and let me tell you, i am terrified. i feel in no way prepared for Ph.D. applications, teaching and writing my thesis. this entire summer, including this trip, has given me the opportunity to enjoy myself in a way i never really thought possible. i've felt so alive and free and though i fear it may never be like this again, i am so grateful.

so yes i'm tired, my bassoon is tired, everything is tired. and yes, i'm ready to go back to work and i'm thankful to be back in the states. but i have no regrets. and that's all you'll get out of me. :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

i choose to mourn the artist.

it would be completely unnecessary for me to rehash the last seven-day news cycle for you, so i won't. i will say, however, that all of the talk, on TV, in the streets and online has caused me to take a hard look at michael jackson and not just that but our artist culture. the title of this blog came from an incredibly inspiring comment found on, of all places, livejournal's favorite gossip community, Oh No They Didn't!. to summarize, the comment stated that we have to make a choice whether to mourn the person or mourn the artist in their passing. but why are we forced to make this choice? well, because doing one is not as simple as doing another. to mourn michael jackson the person means mourning all of the baggage that comes with him: the prescription drugs, the weird behavior, the loss of childhood, the possible molestation, etc. and let's just say that makes most people uncomfortable, let alone reverent. mourning the artist is much easier: recognizing the genius of someone who was able to create music that has stood the test of (pop) time and influenced, touched and inspired so many people across the world for so many years. now for many, the existence of the "person" just gets too much in the way of the "artist" and we come back to square one. what to do? ah, if only there were other instances like this...

wagner is not a subject easily broached in musical academia. the study of wagner is fraught with problems: do we read wagner's prose? how do we address works such as Die Meistersinger and Parsifal? do we acknowledge the effect of wagner post-wagner and, if so, do we speak of it musically, extra-musically or both? but no matter how you slice it, it's always staring you in the face (unless you're a wagnerite and choose to ignore it, which i do not recommend). this dilemma stared at me earlier this spring when one of my colloquia centered around Die Meistersinger and the ideal man. when discussing the opera, the question arose: do we say that the work is filled with musical subtleties, poignant and witty or is it all about "the jews"? for many in the class, it was hard to reconcile themselves especially after watching scenes from the opera and having the "jew" problem be pointed out. you would laugh at one part, which was admittedly funny, staged well, witty and humorous and then someone would say "but he's caricaturizing and denegrating jews!" and then you feel bad. but on the side you say, "well that was still kind of funny and brilliantly sung". wagner's feelings towards jews (along with frenchmen, britons, christians and those trying to destroy art) is well known. the part its plays in his musical creations is more problematic. the point of all of this is, how can we respect and admire someone with such racial hatred and vitriol and someone so easily co-opted by the like of the third reich? for some there is no respect and admiration. from its founding and inception, the nation of israel has made it illegal to perform wagner's music within its borders. there is no separating the "person" from the "artist". but for others, myself included, it's not that easy. and though it might not be as pertinent to some and may seem blasphemous to others, like wagner, the tale of the two michael jacksons are os strong, each, on their own, that it seems impossible to ignore one for the other.

anyone in musical scholarship who tells you that they have a definitive point of view on wagner is lying to you. my dealings with jewish musicians, scholars and performers who tell me about the utter disdain they have for wagner don't seem to have completely closed the book on him, meaning, they are still willing to discuss him. and again, it's never about the music. they have every right to their opinion as does anyone else. for me, i'm always conflicted about wagner and i'm actually happy about that because i am constantly rethinking my feelings about music in general.

Mein liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir...
thinking about all of this also made me think of someone in whom i have invested a lot of time researching, benjamin britten. in my dealings with many, it seems that britten's relationship with young boys may have overshadowed the genius of his music. a dear friend of mine had the privilege to work with britten as a young boy, singing as a male alto in premieres/performances of works such as the War Requiem and Noye's Fludde. in talking with me, he explained how pained he was that, when recounting his stories to others, the first thing they ask is "did britten have an inappropriate relationship with you/did he ever touch you" or make some kind of snarky comment. he loved his time working with britten and his ilk and he calls it one of the greatest musical experiences of his life but feels like he can't share how much these events have shaped him because of this. whenever this discussion arises, he becomes very defensive. for those who aren't aware of this part of the composer's history, britten struggled for quite some time with his need to be surrounded by teenage boys. to him, they were an inspiration and "boy as inspiration/muse/representation of another life" appears in many of britten's operas: Peter Grimes, Turn of the Screw and, most notably, Death in Venice. these muses represent the part of britten's life that britten was reticent to leave behind. ahead of him were the adult representations of life that britten had trouble acknowledging: an adult relationship with partner peter pears, dealing professionally with those who stood by him and cared about his well-being, etc. auden, who collaborated with britten on some of his most well known works, wrote in a letter to britten that he needed to forgo these relationships with boys. it was shortly after britten received this letter that britten did what he did to so many before: he dissolved his ties with the poet (it should also be known that auden also encouraged britten to reconcile himself with his homosexuality, another adult aspect of britten's life with which the composer had great difficulty).

the role that these relationships play in the creation of britten's music is undeniable. and it is worth asking the question whether or not some of these works would have even existed with out them. again, the separation between the man and the artist is difficult. while there is no proof and no real allegations that britten ever did anything illicit with any of these boys, the rumors still remain and cast a cloud over his musical achievements. is it on the scale of the molestation charges placed before michael jackson? most likely not but the comparison remains. in my scholarship of britten, this question will always arise no matter how much i choose to focus on the music and i am faced with the decision of whether or not to deal with it. while i feel this adds a fascinating layer of depth to him, for many, its more of a hinderance.

now is the accusation of molesting boys as bad as a glaring hatred for others? for some, yes. for some this behavior is irreconcilable. for some, no matter how genius the music, no matter how large the impact, there is just no getting around this. the personal acts of one's life can sometimes, and often, get in the way of one's contributions to society. yet for some reason, artists never seem to be forgiven. for great political figures who have committed indiscretion after indiscretion in their personal lives, history forgives. however, the good that art does, the way it changes and shapes our lives, the profound impact it has seems to not be enough to forgive any artist, no matter how great. is that because the lives of our great geniuses are filled with so much turmoil and discrepancy? people tend to forget that these all-too-human failings motivate genius. are their actions excusable? most likely not. does revering that genius mean that we have ignore, forgo and block out those actions? not by any means. if anything, it is the human element that gives insight to the creative one. i don't know whether or not "man" and "artist" can ever be separated or if they should. michael jackson's loss of childhood and indescribable young life motivated him to write the music that is not only biographical for him but has proven to be biographical for so many, so many without childhoods, for those who have felt lost and alone and for those who have just experienced any type of hardship in their lives. wagner's view on total art pushed him to create works unlike anything that had been seen up to that point and just like the end of Götterdammerung, the fiery demise of the musical gods of the pan-austrian empire in the destruction that was the end of WWII, paved the way (unbeknownst to wagner) for a new musical rebirth. the struggle between childhood and adulthood, what one wants and what one realizes, our dreams and our base nature manifested itself in the darkness of britten's most autobiographical operas and allowed for a new direction in opera, one that is being, slowly but surely, rediscovered. i am saddened that these human elements have taken over and claimed the lives of those who lived and experienced them. i, for one, ask that we not forget the music, for it is important. but what i really ask, of all of those who encounter this dilemma, is to let the music and the life speak for themselves, and after considering both of these things, that you make your decision or at least try to. don't ever let it be as simple as choosing between the "man" and the "artist" because, in reality, those two things are never really separate. they are a part of each other and need each other to survive.

Friday, June 26, 2009

let's both go outside and play

i'm not sure if this post will be two-fold, we'll see as i get into it. the personal, first.

as a very good friend and wise woman told me, today, actually, sometimes you need to have time to be wild. i couldn't agree more. these past three weeks have allowed me to connect with my inner club kid/amazon woman/sex goddess/barfly and it's been amazing. even with all of the downs (my stuff being stolen/lost/whatever you want to call it) i wouldn't trade it for anything. the moments were just too precious. but there is one thing that has come out of this that's changed my outlook on everything, most specifically, my own self-esteem.

my father told me once that the reason why guys don't hit on me in clubs/bars is because i frighten men. that might be partly true and i'm willing to concede that but i don't want that to be the case. so i went to NYC to shed that visage. and boy, did i. for the first time in many years, i've felt free and unattached. i told myself to loosen up and let whatever was going to happen, happen. so i danced with many a man, some nice and sweet, others scary as shit but i enjoyed myself and danced like i meant it. and then i met a fabulous guy who caught my eye immediately. we hit it off and i ended up spending the rest of the night with him. that night has now turned into us talking and seeing each other over the past two weeks. it's not anything at all, which my previous self is having a little trouble with but my new self is absolutely relishing and i'm enjoying it to the best of my ability. could it be something in the future? maybe, but even if i never speak to him again, i've now come to believe that i am an attractive young woman with things to offer to people other then my usual musician-boyfriend fare. i can't tell you how thankful i am (to him) for that, it has changed me completely.

well at this point, i've decided that this will not be a two-part post. the personal stuff takes enough out of me. but the next post is about...WAGNER. yeah you'll want to read it, i promise. (it's really about michael jackson but good old richard shows his face) till next time...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

toccata, mazurka, prelude and fugue

summers are usually the bane of my existence. i have nothing to do and my brain rots. i get really fat (or really thin, depending) and spend most of my nights in bed, mostly naked, sweating and wide awake from unshakeable and insufferable heat. this summer, not so much?

i spent my first week back in baltimore after my vacation at home searching for roommates and jobs, eating out (and drinking) with friends and playing the stravinsky octet (?) much to my surprise. maybe a fluke? doesn't seem that way. i now have a full time job at a realty/property management company in charles village where i spend my days answering phones, filing and being all around awesome (remember, my days are usually spent with me...sleeping) and my nights are spent cooking dinner with friends, going to concerts (earlier this week Hilary Hahn with the BSO (premiering Jenifer Higdon's new concerto) and last night Fleetwood Mac!) and studying.

did i mention studying? cause i'm doing a LOT of that. i have six books and one score checked out from friedheim, all books by professors with whom i'm looking to study at various Ph.D. programs. the score...the score is for my thesis.

[side note: there was a category on jeopardy! last night ENTIRELY ABOUT BRITTEN?! amazing.]

the score is for my thesis on which i am doing research as we speak. not impressive research but research nonetheless. i'm also reading doctor faustus for my thomas mann class in the fall, doing work in my italian workbook (with a little bit of german?), now i have the new task of updating the IDRS website with new bassoon theses/dissertations and practicing. lots and lots of practicing. i'm playing the Hindemith sonata in a week and a half, i have excerpts to prepare, baroque bassoon and a now possibly extended european tour. (that's right...iceland has now turned into iceland, austria, italy, france and the UK)


just typing that is exhausting. and typing that helps me to realize just how much i have to do in such a short time. but guess what folks? this makes me happy. the only thing is i won't be able to work out quite as much as i did last summer. but you know what, it's okay because this weekend, i'm going back to NYC to see the ny phil do the war requiem and then party at webster hall.

i think i might like summer after all.