Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Five Worst Musical Monumentations of 2006

5. Opera composer Stephen Hartke was censored by the Metropolitan Opera House when he attempted to name his opera The Tightest Whore de Suif. Subsequently, Hartke appeared on the PBS television show Feminist Operas by Male Composers and claimed that he was never censored. Rather, due to certain prosody limitations, the title was changed to The Grandest Goodliness.

4. The intellectual folk-music composer John Dowland was besmirched by British troubadour Sting who recorded several of Dowland’s lute-and-voice songs using technologically anachronistic wah-wah pedals, reverberation machines, and “slap delays.”

3. The 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart was celebrated at least four-hundred times in 2006, in the U.S. alone. Many living composers celebrated their birthdays in 2006, but they were not honored with a multi-million dollar chocolate factory or a posthumous interview with Joan Acocella.

2. On the day he turned seventy, Steve Reich gave an odd lecture to so-called “post-minimalist” composers via NPR’s Modern Mainstream program. He told the young composers, “I’m the one who made you, and I can also destroy you. If you don’t believe that, just try me!” Reich then gave an extended account of his early (unpublished) writings and claimed that he invented stereophonic sound and that any composer who records music in stereo owes him royalties. After the radio broadcast, Reich mysteriously disappeared and was replaced with an impersonator.

1. TANDY, Inc. ceased its production of the TANDY Virtuoso-M180. For forty-five years, the M180 was the epitome of étude-enabled electronic interpreters of punch-card sonatini and concerti. Today, the only comparable machine being manufactured is TOSHIBA’s ImPRO-V5678, an inferior device that, according to the product’s instruction manual, only performs “when it wants to.”

Here's to a brighter future for the musical literati! Happy holidays to all. Young composers, do not get stoned or drunk before attending your local Messiah singalong.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

La Scalandal

As many of my faithful readers are aware, I am not a fan of traditional opera. Such grandstanding and ego-centric theatrics are best left to actors, choreographers, and circus performers, not high-caliber musicians. Nevertheless, my students have been asking for my thoughts on the La Scala scandal with gay porn star and full-mouthed tenor Roberto Alagna, who never misses an opportunity to pose nude or create a scene. His latest impertinence involves the Opera Chic’s production of La Scala.
After doing some research, I located a plot synopsis for La Scala. And I quote:
A composer, working in isolation on a score for a horror movie meets two women who used to know his house's former tenant. When the women disappear, he's forced to look into the film he's working on to determine what happened to them, and who's responsible.
Very few composers have been able to successfully capture the mood of a “thriller” or “horror” story in their stage works. The notable exception is Elliott Carter’s one-act opera, What Next, a frightening examination of sexual deviants who cause automobile accidents in order to become aroused.
Most young composers don’t truly understand the concept of sexual arousal. They prance about like bunny rabbits and flirt with almost any instrument (exception: instruments that require notation in tenor or alto celfs are notable turn-offs). Alagna falls into the category of sexual deviant. His stunt with the aptly named Opera Chic is merely an attempt to seduce young composers who are easily aroused by operatic egos.
But Alagna is not fooling this Professor. He is still wounded from an incident in 2003 when an illicit video tape was made of his audition for Elliott Carter’s What Next. The singer was asked to do a scene in which he was required to maintain an erection for several minutes while executing a very difficult recitative. Embarrassment ensued when Alagna simply could not stay erect. The composer became irate, and the singer withdrew from the public eye for weeks. Clearly Alagna’s recovery is not yet complete.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Prof. McJeebie’s Private Grammys

Despite the shutdown of Tower Records, the Grammy Awards are still going strong with more than 500 nominees. Nevertheless, there are many artists who remain ignored. That's why, each year, I submit my own nominees in two additional categories:

Most Elaborately and Thoroughly Structured Computer Music Composition:

WigWam 40XXL by Casey Booner
Technological Retrogrades by EmmaLou Stephenson
Boolean Earthquakes by Kristov Wilhelm
Fractured Breakthroughs of Electromagnetic Frequencies by Kristin Islington
Sines of the Times by Gregory Peterson Paulson III

Most Rewarding Recording Upon Multiple Hearings:

Sonatinas of the Mind’s Ear by Fred Kohlberg
3’44” by “Funnyman” Calvin Kelvin
Concerto without a Soloist by Emily Hayes
Unanticipated Expectations by Franklin Arthur
Nebulous Enigmas by Sissy Williams
The winners will be announced by secret ballot via email.