Category Archives: Music

Playing Carnegie Hall

A couple of weeks ago our church office received an email from an event coordinator who works for Carnegie Hall. She had been searching out bell choirs online, found ours, and asked if we would be interested in playing at The Great Christmas Ring  next year.  We would perform with about 250 other ringers in early December at Carnegie Hall after several days of rehearsals with an eminent bell choir conductor and composer.  They will provide the bells and equipment, and we just pay for everything else.

Six of us have expressed interest, and will submit our applications this week.  Participation is on a first come-first serve basis, so we hope we get in.  I think it will be pretty exciting.  It will not be the first time I played Carnegie Hall, however.

When I was 18 I auditioned for and played in a concert band comprised of high school students from all over the US. We played a concert in Carnegie Hall prior to a European tour.  It was quite an experience.  I didn’t really appreciate my surrounding s when I was 18, so if we get to play bells in New York next December I will pay much closer attention.

If you could perform anything, anywhere, even in the past, where would you perform and with whom would you perform? What famous concerts do you wish you could have attended? 

Just the Right Space

Last night Husband and I attended the local college Christmas concert featuring the band, choruses, community Choral Union,  and a small string group from Bismarck.  The highlight of the concert was Handel’s Messiah. It was wonderful.

Our college music department had a good reputation but fell on hard times a few years ago. They have repopulated the faculty with some really fine teachers. We also have a strong city music community,  and are blessed with very fine community vocalists and musicians.

The concert was not held in the cavernous college auditorium, but in a terrific space with to-die-for acoustics.  I refer to the Abbey Church connected to a Benedictine Abbey 20 miles to the east of us.  You can see part of the ceiling in the header photo. The church was built in 1906-1910 in the Bavarian Romanesque style.  They have a new pipe organ.

The sound was especially gorgeous for O magnum mysterium, a choral piece published in 1572 by Tomas Luis de Victoria.  The church provided just the right acoustic space that the piece was written for.  Look at the header photo and imagine how the sound goes up, fills the church, and then circles back to listeners’ ears from those round ceiling sections.

I remember when I was in the Concordia College concert band we had to play inside an enormous, concrete, sugar beet warehouse for the warehouse dedication in Moorhead, MN.  We played a Sousa march, and the place echoed so much that we had to play every note staccato. I can still hear the horrible echoes. Tonight was a delight.

What are your experiences with acoustics and sounds? What are good and not so good sound spaces you have encountered?

Let’s All Go to the Lobby

The holiday movie season has started; I just saw that Fantastic Beasts 2 is out now. I will admit that I haven’t yet seen the first Fantastic Beasts; I’m a marginal Potter fan so not excited about seeing it in a theatre with the cost that entails.  But the concept of a pre-Harry world is appealing to me so I’m looking forward to seeing it one of these days when Netflix or one of the cable companies picks it up.

Who would star in a prequel of YOUR life? Theme song?


Hunter’s Moon

There was a beautiful full moon last night-The Hunter’s Moon. It is the second full moon of autumn, and was named by the Algonquin tribes as the moon for the time to go hunting and prepare for winter. The sky was quite clear and the moon was huge as I drove home from work at 7:00.  It had an orange tint.  The night before last it was almost full, and there were wavy wisps of clouds in front of the moon, making it look like the perfect backdrop for a a witch on a broom.

Tell about all the books, plays, stories, poems, and music you know of that are concerned with the moon. What are your own moon stories? Why is the moon so inspiring?


Mussorgsky, Please

I flew back from Salt Lake City on Saturday, and I spent the trip to Minneapolis seated next to a three year old boy. I was a little worried that it would be a noisy and fractious trip back, but I was very wrong.

After getting seated and belted in, my small travelling companion asked his dad,  “I would like to hear Mussorgsky, please”.  Dad found Pictures at an Exhibition  on the airplane audio player, and the boy affixed his headphones, sat back, and listened.  After a bit of that, he said  “Now I would like to hear Tchaikovsky”.  That recording was on a personal audio player, and he happily listened to that for a while. He then watched about 90 minutes of Puppy Pals, a cartoon involving two pugs who have lovely adventures.  The boy wasn’t wiggly at all.

I wasn’t too surprised about this, as I saw that the dad was reading Thucydides The History of the  Peloponnesian War.  The child got a little impatient as we were getting ready to land in Minneapolis, but he handled it well as he and his dad played tic tac toe until we were at the gate. Oh, that all children were so well managed and well behaved.

When did music become important to you? What music do you remember from your childhood? How have your musical tastes changed over the years?

The Policy Makers Have a Party

I wrote yesterday about the dull conference I am attending.  Well, Friday evening the policy makers let down their collective hair, and my, do these people know how to have fun. All they need is a live band playing great dance music, lots of food, some,  but not too much alcohol, and red and white striped shirts and stocking caps. (It was a Where’s Waldo themed party). All the rancor, grinding of teeth, and pedantry disappeared, and everyone just wanted to enjoy themselves.  Many have hair much greyer than mine,  many are much older than I am.  The conversations today were heated, and people became angry with one another. It was very refreshing to see how we can disagree but still be united, at least on the dance floor.

What do you think makes for a good party?  Tell about some good parties you have been to?  What kind of party do you want to throw?

After the Ball Was Over

I scrubbed off all my temporary tattoos tonight. It’s official – the State Fair is over.

Most people I know don’t understand my love affair with the Great Minnesota Get Together and to be honest, it occasionally mystifies me a bit. But one of the things I do know is that I love getting temporary tattoos at the Fair.  I got nine this year over my four days of attendance –   3 from the airbrush tattoo guy, 2 from Kemps, 2 from the AG building, 1 from the lamb building and my favorite, one of the emerald ash borer.  There was a young man dressed up as an emerald ash borer at the DNR booth, trying to engage people about this new threat to ash trees and I felt sorry for him so I let him put his temporary tattoo alongside my others.

The airbrushed tattoos wear off the soonest (which is truly irritating, since they cost money) but over a week later, my free ones were still going strong. Every day last week I had to explain them at least twice a day to one or the other of my co-workers and today my book club members (my OTHER book club) wanted a full run down.  It’s been my way of extending the Fair – however tentatively.

But tonight when I was closing a couple of windows (because it’s been getting chilly at night) I realized that it’s time to let this year Fair go and start dreaming of next year.

Do you have a tattoo? If you were to get one, what would you get?