June 24 – Sneak Peak of Failing That (my solo opera)

I’ve been doing a lot of composing so far this year. In addition to an encore for the Hilary Hahn competition (which didn’t result in an honorable mention, but did result in a pretty cool piece for violin and piano), I’ve been chugging away on the solo opera that’s been a good four years inContinue Reading

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The Tauntaun Song

Last month I participated in A Musical Emergency, which is a loose collective of theater and music folks in SF that turns popular stories or movies into full length musicals. They divide the story up into bite sized chunks and everyone’s responsible for telling their part of the story however they feel. The movie wasContinue Reading

7 Responses to The Tauntaun Song

  1. Nolan Love says:

    This is just brilliant.

  2. Tom Shields says:

    Love the emotion! I laughed, I cried. It was better than Cats.

  3. Mark Casey says:

    “It didn’t hurt… that much.” Soooo good.

  4. Will Meyer says:

    Dude! I’m proud to have known you!

  5. Bayou says:

    This is the most brilliant thing I’ve heard in quite a while. I love Les Mis and the song selection was absolutely inspired. Tauntaun and Solo as Fantine and Valjean? Mind-blowingly awesome.

  6. Bayou says:

    Oh some Les Mis lover I am. Eponine and Marius… Still the sentiment holds.

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I Hate This So You Can Tell Who I Am

Today’s blog entry in Deceptive Cadence echos a theme of my Voice Box radio show with Chloe Veltman and the corresponding conversation on Lisa Hirsch’s blog. Specifically, musical taste, both what you love and despise, is often more about self identification, ego, and image than it is about the music at hand. Some of theContinue Reading

3 Responses to I Hate This So You Can Tell Who I Am

  1. Arun says:

    We were talking about just this on the way to work this morning. I conjectured that it’s a peculiarly American thing to form opinions of people because of their taste in music, and the resulting treatment of said taste as a highly private thing, almost like politics or religion.

    I think it’s an innately tribal emotion, just like rooting for a sports team, or whether you buy American, European or Asian cars. In other words, almost nothing to do with intrinsic “worth” (if that were even quantifiable).

  2. How could you write this without mentioning your own fantastic marriage of opera and rap? http://blog.musicvstheater.com/2010/04/30/operaplot-madness/ Yo.

    • Brian Rosen says:

      Oops. You’re right. That would have been a perfect tie in. I guess it will have to wait for the comments. Oh… wait… 🙂

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Come for the Schoenberg, stay for the Johnson

The Avant Music Festival got a lot of press earlier this week for their part in the John Cage centennial, a sold out marathon concert of his works. While I missed that extravaganza, I was able to swing by for the third concert of this, their third year. The first half was dedicated to Schoenberg’s seminalContinue Reading

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Review: Little Match Girl Passion – Death Speaks

To get to Dinkelspiel Auditorium for an 8pm concert on a Wednesday requires leaving San Francisco at 6pm, an hour to get to Palo Alto fighting traffic all the way, and then another 45 minutes to an hour to fight the crowds to get a scarce campus parking space. Things will be different when StanfordContinue Reading

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The worst music ever written

A couple of weeks ago I recorded an episode of VoiceBox with Chloe Veltman about the worst vocal music ever written. While preparing for the show I did my best to try to analyze the nature of “badness”, perhaps even creating a taxonomy of characteristics that contribute to bad music. The goal was to notContinue Reading

One Response to The worst music ever written

  1. David Rodwin says:

    Oh,I’m smart enough to get it. I just don’t want it. 🙂

    So, you can have The Shaggs all to yourself.

    (BTW, did you see the musical Gunnar and my friend Joy did of (The Philosophy…”)

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Is Sondheim Classical?

The Australian Broadcasting Company recently released a list of the “Top 100 Classical Pieces of the 20th Century.”  As with any list, there is much fodder for discussion, debate and derision (judging from this list, Stravinsky apparently stopped composing after 1913). Blogger, pianist, and educator Elissa Milne was particularly disturbed by the complete omission of Sondheim’sContinue ReadingContinue Reading

4 Responses to Is Sondheim Classical?

  1. Meh. It feels like splitting hairs to me to try to make fine distinctions between what is “classical music” and what isn’t. The way the term is used is so fuzzy that it’s pointless to try to define its borders; as soon as we succeed in defining “classical music” in a way that makes it possible to make these fine distinctions, we are no longer using the word in the way that anyone really uses it.

    It seems to me that, as most people use the term, West Side Story is not classical music. It also seems to me that Symphonic Dances from West Side Story is classical music. But I’d bet that if you asked a thousand people, you wouldn’t get anything like unanimity on either of those points. The term is just too nebulous.

    Oh, well. If you want a language to be logical, you pretty much have to invent it yourself. Living languages sprawl.

    • Brian Rosen says:

      I agree that these distinctions for classification’s sake is a bit pointless, but the thought exercises that accompany such taxonomy can be enlightening. The larger point is that there is SOMETHING different between West Side Story and Sondheim’s work that, for me at least, allows the term “classical” to apply. It’s the figuring out what that something is that is, I hope, interesting and perhaps useful.

  2. I think it’s important for artists to think deeply about what they’re doing, and why. The category thing, not so much.

  3. Jirashimosu says:

    I think that classical is a matter of time rather than matter of style. Let’s give Sondheim’s work a 60 year space and we’ll see what happens.

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Glacial is the New Black: Satyagraha and Shen Wei

Somewhere imprinted in my brain is a sacred rule of story: take only as much time as you need to get an idea across. Get in, make your point, get out. Keep things moving and don’t lose your audience. But this week in New York two separate pieces, both non-narrative, reduced me to tears byContinue ReadingContinue Reading

One Response to Glacial is the New Black: Satyagraha and Shen Wei

  1. David Rodwin says:

    These are my thoughts on Satyagraha. A little less technical a little more emotional.

    And I give a shout out to you and Music vs. Theatre!


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Thoughts on Robert Ashley’s “That Morning Thing”

Composer Robert Ashley’s “opera” (experimental performance piece is a more appropriate name, although if an opera is a multifaceted convolution of music, text, and motion, I suppose this is an opera) That Morning Thing, produced for the first time in 40 years at The Kitchen as part of the Performa 11 biennial, is among theContinue ReadingContinue Reading

One Response to Thoughts on Robert Ashley’s “That Morning Thing”

  1. David Rodwin says:

    Goddamn I wish I’d seen this. “Now Eleanor’s Idea: Improvement” is one of my favorite opera recordings (and the reason I sought out Amy X), and while I’ve met Mr. Ashley (at Princeton of all places) I’ve still never seen a fully staged performance. It sounds like he succeeded in the realm I consider worthy of any artistic endeavor. He made an impact you might remember for a very long time. Much like the first time I saw John Moran perform “Mathew in The School of Life”. At The Kitchen. Of course. Glad to see they’re keeping up the tradition.

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Hey look! I’m a muse!

I first saw the name Ken Malucelli when I purchased the CASA christmas songbook in 1993 (all arranged by Ken and Deke Sharon). Years later Ken was one of the judges at the Harmony Sweepstakes competition when a subset of The Richter Scales performed a set of original songs I had written. (We closed withContinue Reading

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