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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USPS Janis Joplin StampJanis 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 greatest rock singers of all time, as well as a pioneer who paved the way for other women in rock music. Joplin broke onto the national music scene at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.  Her time at the top, however brief, still resonates and influences countless artists.

She recorded three hit albums and performed at Woodstock. The album she was recording at the time of her death, Pearl, went on to cement her reputation as one of the greatest rock singers of all time. “Me and Bobby McGee,” written by Kris Kristofferson, became the second posthumous no.1 hit in history after Otis Redding’s no. 1 hit, (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.

As the years passed, Joplin’s legacy was increasingly recognized. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Rolling Stone included Joplin on its list of 100 Greatest Artists. Some of her most popular songs include Piece of My HeartBall and Chain and Cry Baby.

“Today we salute an American original, Janis Joplin,” said Megan Brennan, chief operating officer and executive vice president. “I am honored to dedicate this stamp to pay tribute to one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.”

The Janis Joplin Forever Stamp is the fifth in the Postal Service’s Music Icons series. Through the power of stamps, Joplin joins a list of other American music icons: Lydia Mendoza, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix.

“I am happy for Janis that her image stands strong, representing the power, artistry and independence of women,” said Joplin’s sister, Laura Joplin, in reflecting on the issuance of this stamp. “As a rock and roll icon of the turbulent 1960′s era, Janis’s inclusion helps remind us of the positive strength of an era devoted to peace, love and — as Janis said — ‘Be True to Yourself.’”

The artwork for this stamp was designed by Art director Antonio Alcala of Alexandria, VA, and features a June 1970 portrait of Janis Joplin taken in New York City by renowned music photographer David Gahr.

The original black and white photograph is rendered in shades of blue, with Joplin’s trademark round sunglasses tinted a dark shade of pink. The words “Janis Joplin,” along with the “Forever” denomination and “USA” appear in psychedelic-style script reminiscent of the 1960s, in shades of gold, orange, and pink. Small blue stars pop out from the stamp’s dark blue background.

The stamp pane evokes the appearance of a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. One side of the pane includes the stamps and the image of a sliver of a record visible at the top. A photograph taken by noted photographer, creative director and designer Bruce Steinberg of Queens, NY, in May 1968 at the First International San Jose Pop Festival, and the logo for the Music Icons series appear on the reverse side, along with the words “Janis Joplin Blues, Rock, Country, Soul, Folk.”

Customers may purchase the Janis Joplin stamps as a pane of 16 at usps.com/stamps, the Postal Store, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide. This stamp and a variety of other stamps and related collectibles are available at ebay.com/stamps.

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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 shame about the injury to his face? Nope. They argue over whether or not The Phantom of the Opera is a musical or an opera. And the results…well, you’ll just have to check it out below.

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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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Breakdancing and Bach Blend for Bombastic Performance

June 27, 2014

When you think of J.S. Bach, you probably wouldn’t imagine a troupe of breakdancers dancing to his music. But that unlikely combination is exactly what audiences got to witness at the Red Bull Flying Bach performances this past weekend at the Civic Opera House. Contrapuntist and I attended the Sunday, June 22 performance, and  the […]

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The 5 Worst Airline Fails against Musicians

June 19, 2014

Violinists Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall of the ensemble Time for Three recently made headlines when US Airways denied them access to the plane because the musicians refused to stow their violins in the hold at the request of the staff.  De Pue and Kendall fought back with a video which to date has […]

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