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Contrapuntist
 

Six_13 pix

If you can’t get enough of “Shake It Off” and “All About That Bass”, then you’re in luck. The Jewish singing groups Six13 and the Maccabeats have created their own takeoffs on the popular tunes to celebrate Hanukkah 2014. And if you like a little dancing to spice up your Hanukkah music, then you’ll love the Key Tov Orchestra’s “Hanukkah Song Mashup”.

Six13 combines some hilarious dance moves, fun history of Hanukkah, and instructions on how to play the dreidel game in “Chanukah (Shake It Off)”. They’re great singers, but when it comes to dancing, I think even they would admit that they shouldn’t quit their day job.

The Maccabeats do an incredible a cappella parody of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” called “All About That Neis”. For those of you who, like me, didn’t know what Neis means, here’s the Maccabeats’ definition: 1. Miracle, extraordinary event ascribed to a supernatural force. 2. What we’re all about.

The song puts a fun spin on the miracle of Hanukkah, in which the one day supply of oil for the menorah in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem lasted for eight days instead (you can read the full story of Hanukkah here).

The Key Tov Orchestra’s “Hanukkah Song Mashup-Dance Spectacular” is my sentimental favorite, because it was filmed in the Daley Center Plaza in my hometown of Chicago. The mashup features several songs including Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song”; “Candlelight”, which is the Maccabeat’s parody of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”; and “Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah”. There’s also some excellent dancing to back the songs.

Enjoy the music, and Happy Hanukkah!

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Ranaan_TfTFor the second time this year, a musician from Time for Three has been denied by US Airways. Bassist Ranaan Meyer, who was attempting to fly out of LAX following Time for Three’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars, posted a video on Facebook today in which he explained that US Airways would not permit him to fly with his string bass.

“Here at LAX, US Airways, they’re just not letting us fly with the bass,” Ranaan said in the video. “Basically now I have to rebook myself on a different airline, any other airline, we’ll take it”.

It’s very strange that US Airways refused to accept the bass, given that their own guidelines state, “Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping such items.”

Thankfully, Delta Airlines came to the rescue about an hour later.  “Now I’m here at Delta Airlines, and they’re hooking me up. They’re taking me home,” Ranaan said in a follow-up video. “They’re the nice ones. They’re not like US Airways.”

This follows an incident in May 2014, when Time for Three violinists Nicholas Kendall and Zachary De Pue were denied access to a US Airways flight at Charlotte Douglas international Airport after the musicians refused to stow their violins in the hold at the request of the airline’s staff. The two violinists were temporarily left stranded on the tarmac until the situation was resolved.

So it looks like US Airways is NOT the friendly skies. At least for musicians.

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breaking_Ice

This weekend, the Fused Muse Ensemble will present three performances entitled “Breaking Ice” that integrate music, dance choreography, and video art. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Awassa Children’s Project in Awassa, Ethiopia. The Illinois not-for-profit project provides funding for an orphanage in Awassa with an environmental mission to plant trees, dig fresh water wells, and is powered entirely through solar panels.

The performance will include new compositions along with traditional classical works by Handel, Vivaldi, and Golijov. Other collaborators for the performance will include Winifred Haun & Dancers; solo dancer/choreographer Matthew McMunn video artists Jessica Segall and Alireiza Ghoreishi; and University of Chicago physicists Ivo Peters and Qin Xu.

“‘Breaking Ice’  is especially close to my heart and brings together meaningful collaboration between wonderful people and artists with a worthy common goal – to increase awareness of global concerns through interdisciplinary performances, thereby also increasing community engagement with classical music,” said the ensemble’s Artistic Director and cellist Sophie Webber. “We have been working hard throughout the year to shape ‘Breaking Ice’ for you, giving performances, salon evenings, and donating our music to green nonprofit fundraisers around Chicago… ‘Breaking Ice’ is the combination of these efforts.

Performances will take place at 7 PM on October 16, 17th, and 18th at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave. Tickets range from $20-$25 and are available here, on Ticketfly.

Fused Muse’s production expenses for this concert will come out to $8,000 including venue rental, lighting and sound support, marketing and printing, and a dancers’ fee. The ensemble has raised $1,000, but still needs to raise an additional $7,000. There are several ways to support the ensemble:

  •  Purchase tickets here.
  • Attend the “Breaking Ice Opening Night pre-show Social/Fundraiser” on October 16 at 6pm. Guests will be able to mingle with the evening’s artists over a complimentary glass of prosecco and snacks (bar drinks are also available). Tickets (available on Ticketfly) for this are $50 and include admission to the evening performance.
  • Donate to the Indiegogo campaign here.  Various gifts are available including Breaking Ice postcards and posters, lessons in an instrument of the donor’s choice, Fused Muse Ensemble Artist CDs, a special mention on the Breaking Ice program under the 2014 Individual Donation listings, and a private, exclusive performance in the venue of the donor’s choice by two or three FME artists.

For more information about the event, please watch the video below.

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Air Canada violin/violaA video came out on October 5 poking fun at a recent Air Canada blunder that enraged thousands of musicians. The airline’s musical instrument transportation policy had stated that violins and cellos could be accepted as carry-on or checked baggage, while violas could only be accepted as checked baggage. Given that violas are only slightly larger than violins, while cellos are much larger than either of those instruments, the policy made no sense. And violists across the world spoke up. A story about the inconsistent policy, posted on theviolinchannel.com, received over 4000 social media shares, 200,000 page views, and 27,000 Facebook likes.

Thankfully, Air Canada listened. They released a statement on the violin channel website, stating that the airline would revise their policy to allow violas to be carried as carry-on-luggage.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s Opera Five created the aforementioned video making fun of Air Canada’s policies. Some of my favorites include:

  • Air Canada considers itself acoustically superior to all other airlines. Consequently, in spite of being almost identical to a violin in terms of size, shape, and weight, violas must be checked as luggage. F*** you, violas.
  • Bass banjos can be stored in the overhead bins or underneath the seats in front of you. Good luck with that.
  • Bassoons are permitted on all Air Canada flights as carry-on luggage, provided that you are able to fold them in half… somehow.

You’ll have to check out the rest of the “rules” below.

Image via YouTube

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Placido Domingo braves some icy water

Summer is finally over, and with it, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge seems to be winding down. Curious about which classical musicians stepped up to the challenge? Below, you’ll find my picks for the best videos. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the challenge has raised over $100 million to date.

My favorite is the one by renowned tenor Placido Domingo, who emitted the most non-musical vocalizations you’ll ever hear coming out of his mouth.

Next is one by the classical comedy duo of Alexi Igudesman and Hyung- Ki Joo. These consummate showmen integrated fireworks and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra into their video. They encouraged donations not only to the ALS foundation but to UNICEF.

The award for the most moxie has to go to San Francisco Opera’s General Director David Gockley, who was challenged by the San Francisco Ballet. “I’m up for any challenge from these guys across the street,” he declares at the beginning of the video. “I mean, if we can’t do what they do, we’re wimps. And we are not wimps.

Lyric Opera of Chicago had the most epic video, in they which lined up on the Lyric Opera Bridge on Madison St. The video, appropriately enough, was accompanied by Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries. Lyric will be donating to Team BAM!, which will be participating in Chicago’s Walk for Life in September in memory of Lyric staff member Stephanie Karr’s mom, Carol Crone.

Others who participated included Dr. Allan Dennis, founder and director of the Midwest Young Artists (who double-dog dared viewers to donate to MYA in addition to the ALS foundation), the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra marketing team, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, violinist Gil ShahamMerit School of Music, Maestro Ludovic Morlot of the Seattle Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra violinist Maxine Kwok AdamsQueenlands Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Time for Three (who asked viewers to make the world a better place by by donating to a charity of their choice), the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (who will also be making donations to the C9ID project, an ALS research project. http://www.c9id.org/).

Which video is your favorite? Or is there another one that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.

Photo: Roscle via YouTube.

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Janis Japlin Honored With Forever Stamp

August 9, 2014

Janis Joplin, the  groundbreaking singer whose powerful, bluesy voice propelled her to the pinnacle of rock stardom, was honored by the U.S. Postal Service by adding her to the Music Icons Forever Stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park. Joplin is recognized as one of the […]

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The Phantom of the Opera Meets Dr. Opera

August 1, 2014

If there’s any character from a musical who needs to spend some quality time on a psychiatrist’s couch, it’s the Phantom of the Opera. That’s exactly where the Phantom finds himself in Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City’s latest episode of Dr. Opera. Do they discuss Phantom’s obsession with Christine? Or maybe his […]

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Lyric Opera to Premiere ‘Bel Canto’, Based on Ann Patchett Novel

July 31, 2014

Lyric Opera of Chicago will be premiering Bel Canto, an opera based on Ann Patchett’s best-selling novel of the same name, as part of its 2015-16 season. The company recently held a workshop with the opera’s composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz in attendance. Sir Andrew Davis conducted the workshop, while members of Lyric’s […]

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The 9 Best Animal and Music Videos

July 13, 2014

Today, I watched an adorable video of  a guy playfully using his cat as a mute for his euphonium. As a musician and an animal lover, I’m a sucker for videos like these. It inspired me to search for even more videos of animals enjoying and making music. Here are the nine best videos I […]

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2Cellos Plays Mumford and Sons By a Croatian Waterfall

July 9, 2014

2Cellos (Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser) has just released a cover of Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait”. The duo filmed the video on a bridge in front of some spectacular waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. Check out the gorgeous music and breathtaking scenery below.

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