Ian Sidden http://iansidden.com Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:38:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2 ☸ Premiere: Saul http://iansidden.com/2015/04/premiere-saul/ http://iansidden.com/2015/04/premiere-saul/#respond Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:38:23 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5403 Tonight is the premiere of Handel’s Saul at Theater Dortmund. It’s a great choral work, and I’ve loved getting to sing this music. Toi toi toi to all involved!

Heute Abend findet die Premiere von Saul, das große Händel Oratorium, in Opernhaus Dortmund statt. Es ist ein großes Chorstück, und es macht mir Spaß Händel wieder zu singen. Ein Herzliches toi toi toi allen Beteiligten!

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<![CDATA[Link: Soundcheck: Celebrating 50 Years Of Musical Incompetence]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/04/soundcheck-celebrating-50-years-of-musical-incompetence/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:27:42 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5397


With the 50th anniversary of one of the most finely-mistuned, hilarious parody acts approaching, Peter Schickele joins Soundcheck to talk about how to make serious music funny, and how to take funny music seriously. Schickele plays back some of that first PDQ Bach performance, and offers several favorite moments from the long and checkered history of musical comedy.

Source: Celebrating 50 Years Of Musical Incompetence – Soundcheck

This was a ton of fun.

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☸ Update to German Learning Morning: FSI http://iansidden.com/2015/04/update-to-german-learning-morning-fsi/ http://iansidden.com/2015/04/update-to-german-learning-morning-fsi/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:03:22 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5377 Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.11.06

In the past few months, as part of my German morning reading, I’ve read several full books of comics in German including three Asterix books and one giant Lucky Luke volume. In the past week, I’ve pivoted back to using the Foreign Service Institue German course.

However, it’s not just reading. These are courses developed by the US government for diplomats and which are now in the public domain. The course comprises dialogues and then exercises where you alter sentences or just try to say the translation as quickly as possible. Each accompanying audio track is between 20 and 30 minutes, and if you want to feel like you’ve worked your brain to exhaustion, then this will do it.

This is a tedious way to learn to be sure, but I did this faithfully before moving to Germany, and it was invaluable. When you begin speaking the translations fluently without thinking too hard and without pauses, then it can feel very good. The course is brilliant at drilling sentence structure and flow into your mind, and the vocabulary is usually very useful. I also find that it makes certain concepts, such as the cases (nominative, dative, accusative, genitive), feel instinctive in a way I never got from other learning methods. I can also use their pre-made vocabulary lists at the end of each unit for my morning journaling. Any extra words still get added to my monthly Evernote note.

There are a few negatives about using the FSI German course, of which you should be aware:

  • They use some outdated words, and you have to be careful using them. I’ve never heard anyone refer to a bus as an “Omnibus” or a taxi as a “Taxe”, even though those are legitimate words. And I would never refer to anyone as “Fräulein”, even though the speakers of the FSI course do regularly. This is Mad Men era German, and you should have other sources to provide you with more modern language.
  • The audio quality is very degraded, and sometimes it can be hard to understand what the readers are saying without reading along, which sometimes defeats the purpose.
  • Again, because this is Mad Men era German, it’s very male dominant. It’s usually men speaking to other men about business. When women are around, they tend to be secretaries or housewives.
  • The vocabulary is very tilted towards diplomatic relations. There’s lots of talk about embassies and consul generals and such, which is irrelevant to most people.

Nevertheless, I still find them valuable. Even with the limitations listed above, most of the situations are still situations you’ll find yourself in in modern Germany.

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<![CDATA[Link: Singers Getting Paid]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/04/singers-getting-paid/#respond Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:24:44 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5369

Good article from Cindy Sadler writing for Classical Singer:

Know when to say no..If they are paying everybody but the singer, they don’t deserve professional quality work. They should be getting a student or an amateur for whom the event could be important and worthwhile. They should be getting what they pay for.

This is one of those difficult issues for young singers, and for every person it’s different. The sooner you ask yourself what you feel you’re worth, however, the better. Listen to your feelings before and after jobs and ask yourself if you felt appropriately compensated for your time, effort and expenses.

Then stick up for yourself. Very few will do it for you.

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<![CDATA[Link: On An Overgrown Path: Think on these things]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/03/on-an-overgrown-path-think-on-these-things/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:36:08 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5354


With those words of the Buddha from the Kalama Sutta and a photo from my travels on the the Manali to Leh highway in Jammu and Kashmir I leave you to spin again on the wheel of life. Take care but also take risks.

via On An Overgrown Path: Think on these things.

This read like a farewell blog post, and so far there hasn’t been another from On an Overgrown Path.

Although quoting that particular passage of the Buddha’s teachings seems a good way to close a blog, I hope it’s not the last we hear from its author. Overgrown Path is consistently one of the blogs I read that feels substantial. The ideas are provocative, and the intersection of western and eastern and middle-eastern values and traditions and art forms offers a fresh look at what art and life can be. There’s a kind of myopic focus that exists in any field, whether classical music or otherwise, and I appreciate On and Overgrown Path for breaking free of the nonsense and looking for real meaning, both via the questions it asks and the answers it suggests.

Nevertheless, if that is the final post, then I wish its author the best.

UPDATE: He’s still blogging. All is well.

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<![CDATA[Link: Opera is for Everyone…Opera is Not for Everyone]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/03/opera-is-for-everyone-opera-is-not-for-everyone/#respond Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:24:49 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5349


Opera is not for everyone. That’s right. It’s not for everyone. I love it, lots of people love it (thank goodness or we wouldn’t have anyone to sing to) but it really isn’t for ‘all.’ Now, wait: I did NOT just say that opera is elitist, or exclusive, or too hard for the average joe or jane to understand…just that it’s not for EVERYONE. Some people just don’t like opera. Not for political reasons, not because they don’t have access to it, not because they feel excluded by it, but because they don’t actually like it. They have tried it, and it doesn’t do it for them.

via Voicing the unspeakable? Opera is NOT for everyone. | Scribblings of a Mad Soprano.

I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, I’ve long believed that if we compare opera to the movies, then we’ll find that many people like some movies but aren’t “movie people”. Real film lovers are a unique breed, and most people who watch movies are not fans in that way. This could potentially be the case with most art forms. The people in the audience just need to enjoy themselves enough to come back again at some point, though the real fans will come to much more.

Practically speaking though, opera requires a certain amount of commitment just to get in the door. The ticket is more expensive (though probably cheaper than most people think). There are fewer times slots. And, yes, the language is often one the audience doesn’t speak in a musical style that is rarely fashionable. It’s a higher bar to entry than movies, especially as movies move closer to being internet products available on demand at home at any time.

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☸ Asterix und Obelix Morning http://iansidden.com/2015/02/asterix-und-obelix-morning/ http://iansidden.com/2015/02/asterix-und-obelix-morning/#respond Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:01:46 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5342 wpid5359-IMG_2299.jpg

My colleagues keep mentioning Asterix und Obelix, so I figured this would be a good next step after Calvin und Hobbes.

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<![CDATA[Link: State and Metropolitan Area Arts Participation Tables | NEA]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/state-and-metropolitan-area-arts-participation-tables-nea/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:31:19 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5338

State and Metropolitan Area Arts Participation Tables | NEA.

Lots of information here regarding artistic attendance and participation in regions within the United States. I think the big surprise is Colorado, which is just killing it with classical concert attendance at 20.8%, expressed here by Anne Midgette:

Lots to parse here.

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<![CDATA[Link: Can’t sing? Do it more often — ScienceDaily]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/cant-sing-do-it-more-often-sciencedaily/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:53:14 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5334

From Science Daily, reporting on research from Northwestern University:

The ability to sing on key may have more in common with the kind of practice that goes into playing an instrument than people realize, said lead researcher Steven Demorest, a professor of music education at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music.

“No one expects a beginner on violin to sound good right away, it takes practice, but everyone is supposed to be able to sing,” Demorest said. “When people are unsuccessful they take it very personally, but we think if you sing more, you’ll get better.”

via Can’t sing? Do it more often — ScienceDaily.

Singing well requires practice. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re tone deaf. Just keep singing.

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<![CDATA[Link: The age-old art of musical page turning is under threat from the accursed iPad – The Independent]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/the-age-old-art-of-musical-page-turning-is-under-threat-from-the-accursed-ipad-the-independent/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:07:03 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5325

Simon Usborne writing for The Independent:

But about five years ago, Haywood caused a stir with a new approach. He reaches for an iPad and rests it against the stand. An app displays the same, scanned page of Chopin’s “Scherzi”, but I am now truly redundant as Haywood flicks his left foot on to a Bluetooth pedal to turn his own pages, wirelessly and silently.

At first, many concertgoers and reviewers were more interested in the device than the music, but now tablets are used more widely. Several similar set-ups have emerged, meanwhile, including apps that will listen to the music, turning pages automatically (the best time to turn, Haywood says, is a few notes short of the end of the page).

What does it mean for human page turners? Are they under threat? “I think maybe they are,” says Haywood, who says the ultimate solution would be a score that could be projected in front of his eyes, using a Google Glass-like device.

via The age-old art of musical page turning is under threat from the accursed iPad – Features – Classical – The Independent.

Maybe. On an infinite time horizon, musicians will probably use tablet computers or some other digital solution that simplify things and which may make page turners redundant. But I see this process taking a couple decades at least. As I’ve written, the current iPad suffers from some serious drawbacks for sheet music purposes even while it offers some tangible benefits. If you have perfect eyesight and the latest iPad, then things can go pretty smoothly. If you just need Bluetooth page turning, then great. But handwriting? That’s still missing unless you like deciphering illegible scribbles. There’s also the high cost of entry: an iPad isn’t cheap. And the first time your iPad or sheet music reading program crashes on you during a performance is when your trust in the system begins to break down (which happened to me once).

But who knows? New technology has a way of surprising us. The rumored iPad Pro might alleviate some of these issues. If interactions with the iPad suddenly became much more organic than they are currently, then this could become very popular very quickly.

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