Edward Said as Prose Stylist

I recently was confronted with the absolute revelation of the parallel career of Edward Said, comparative literature professor at New York University and famous analyst of the Arab world, as nothing other than a music critic and musicologist. His Music at the Limits: Three Decades of Essays and Articles on Music includes an introduction by Daniel Barenboim, but it is Said’s writing and grasp of … Continue reading Edward Said as Prose Stylist

Melodious Plateau: Politics and Song at Losar (The Tibetan New Year)

[This is a guest post by Kristiana Henderson of Pacific Lutheran University, based upon research begun in Tibet in October 2010 and continued for the duration of that fall in Chengdu and western Sichuan province, PRC.  Henderson uses some Tibetan characters in the post which, depending on your font sympathies and access, may not display in their entirety — a fitting enough irony considering the … Continue reading Melodious Plateau: Politics and Song at Losar (The Tibetan New Year)

Just a Little Something Old School: Bach, Vivaldi, and All That

As it is Friday, perhaps it will be acceptable for the violoncellist and part-time-musicologist to run the ship for a few hours.  If you’re in the Seattle area, I sincerely hope you will be able to make it to the Bach festival on February 28.  Some of my program notes for the occasion follow: VIVALDI: Concerto for Two Flutes in C major, RV 533 Every … Continue reading Just a Little Something Old School: Bach, Vivaldi, and All That

Bookworming, Burrowing, Heralding Schumann’s Rebirth

On a cold-by-Sichuan-standard evening not long ago, I teamed up with composer-pianist Gao Ping to present two collections of character pieces by Robert Schumann to a fine audience of literati in Chengdu’s hub of print and chamber music culture, The Bookworm. Alas, no sound recordings were made, but we made short work of the Fantasiestucke as well as the Five Pieces in Folk Style, and … Continue reading Bookworming, Burrowing, Heralding Schumann’s Rebirth

Speed Campaign Arpeggio: Shostakovich in Chengdu

It’s hardly a perfect performance on my part (the triplets could be twitchier, the octaves and tessitura more clean) but, in the spirit of a Soviet speed campaign, we got it done in exactly 40 hours of rehearsals over a period of eight days. Please enjoy the scherzo from the Cello Sonata in d minor by Dmitri Shostakovich, written in a month of white-hot creation … Continue reading Speed Campaign Arpeggio: Shostakovich in Chengdu

Is China a Cultural Superpower?

Tonight I experienced one of the possible billion encounters which could be called a true “Taipei moment”: walking down the street, weaving through fortune tellers and shoe sellers, and dim sum corner kings, I heard a strain of Beethoven.  It was the “Für Elise,” stringing electronically along like a children’s toy from (what else?) a huge yellow garbage truck doing its 10 p.m. rounds.  As … Continue reading Is China a Cultural Superpower?