Friday, 30th of March, 2007
The Norris Center was a cool place to eat lunch - they had a crepe station, though I can see why students might not eat there regularly since it does take a long time. They had free foosball too, which our students were eager to embrace. Lindhorst and I promptly set straight our students who believed that spinning was a valid strategy. But Marc came by towards the end and was able to demonstrate that there is at least one in the orchestra who has learned how to play proper foosball.
Tonight's music activity was an anticipated highlight of my weekend - Chicago Symphony concert with Hilary Hahn as the soloist. She played the Goldmark violin concerto, which is not all that familiar with me, but she came back out and did solo Bach for an encore! The Chicago Symphony sounded great too - they played the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony.
Chicago's symphony hall is surprisingly small, but the result is a very intimate setting, and I doubt there is a bad seat in the house. They made very effective use of risers on the stage so that even sitting on the orchestra/floor level you have a perfect view of the harp and timpani! The elevated arrangement of the timpani contributes to better sound, too, I think.
Thursday, 29th of March, 2007
Picture - First stop was at UIUC, where the orchestra had a clinic in the concert hall at Krannert. The clinic was good and the concert hall looked and sounded like a great place to play in.
Picture - Anna and Andrew as soloists
Picture - Beth and Melissa as soloists
From there we headed up to Chicago. After having dinner downtown we went to see the Blue Man Group show. I didn't even really know what kind of show this is going into it - I just heard it was really good. Haley verified that this is performance art - though there was enough sarcasm thrown in there that I think it's closer to a satire of performance art. But all the elements of performance art are there. Since most people in this world have not have the cultural experience of seeing performance art before attending Blue Man Group, I think most people would not even be able to understand a lot of what they were trying to communicate.
However, most people seem to love it for other reasons. First of all, it's pretty fun - very audience-interactive, and there were plenty of cool technology tricks to stare at. Secondly, I can see why the high school band stopped here - the music is live and percussion was a big part of the performance in general. I got really excited when they pulled out the PVC pipes, and then the full-blown PVC-pipe marimba, though the way there were playing them made me wonder if they were cheating at times. I'm willing to admit it might just be the highly customized nature of the instrument they created.
Saturday, 17th of March, 2007
Tuesday, 13th of March, 2007
Check out the Bolero and History of Music videos on their video page. Most excellent string quartet playing I've seen. See 4 people play Bolero on one instrument. Hang out for the entire History of Music clip - they do use the distortion pedal towards the end! Yay for including Layla - my favourite in electric too!
I've been wondering what sort of enormous task it would be to memorize the order of this long series of excerpts from music history. It occured to me later, though, that what's so great about this is that most of the pieces they touched are in my own repertoire. What they probably did was just play the first 4-8 bars of every piece in their gig book, in order, which is probably an easy task for a quartet that plays multiple dinner gigs every week. Well, probably not literally, since there are some sweet transitions and arranging going on here, but I can see how it can be managed - very intelligent move to organize the gig book chronologically in music history.
Thursday, 8th of March, 2007
Monday, 5th of March, 2007
Friday, 2nd of March, 2007
Here's where it gets even more ambitious - they're targeting $100 per device, and to use it as a revolutionary education tool in developing countries. In order to get it down to that sort of price, the screen has to be cheap - a 7.5" TFT display, but with the ability to turn backlight off and switch to monochrome for use in direct sunlight. Think back to the old Palm Pilots, or that Newton eMate for what that would look like.
I can think of all sorts of fun applications for a $100 laptop running an AMD Geode processor. Place one in every room in the house. They probably won't show up much in U.S. classrooms, though, because we have the resources and need to educate our children on how to use Microsoft Powerpoint. These laptops will be running Linux.
Owell, with Warren Buffett's latest donation to the Gates Foundation, we should be able to place a copy of Office 2003 in every child's hands without a problem.