sonic and sweet

by pieces of moments

This is when Chicago gets you. It’s these days, these perfect blue sky days that trick you into forgetting that 9th ring of suffering known as “winter in Chicagoland.” But you know, when the bribe is so good…take the money and run. To celebrate the amazingness a friend and I had lunch outside in the sun-drenched sculpture garden of the Art Institute. Good news: the sandal tan line is re-appearing on the top of my foot. Slowly and surely.

Celtics are down one (sadness!). Murray and Federer are out of the French Open (c’est dommage!). Well, there’s still Wimbledon and strawberries and cream (hope springs eternal!). Hopefully Spain will pull through for me in World Cup (olé!!! starts in one week!!!! yay!!!! oh World Cup, how I heart you). Chicago is in the Stanley Cup finals (and the lions at the Art Institute are wearing enormous Blackhawks helmets, no lie), but I just find it hard to get into a sport whose finals take place on a sheet of ice when the seasons have turned and all I want to do is sit by the pool with sweet tea, you know? However, I do enjoy how they beat the living daylights out of each other, in that generally sportsman-like way.

Well, at least we can count on some great concerts coming up.

Beethoven. His name is carved in all sorts of stone, and often he gets that prime real estate spot right above the center of the stage. I don’t know that I’ll have time to attend, but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is going through a Beethoven symphony cycle (“Beethoven Festival”) right now. Yes, through all of them, #1-9. I think it’s brilliant. I love that it’s not like, “hey kids, we’re going to be playing through all the Beethoven symphonies this season,” but it’s “hey kids, we’re hitting you with 1-9 right now!” It’s so much better for the sake of memory and compare/contrast. Last summer I made it my project to listen to all 9 in consecutive order. Sure, I had heard them all before, some of them many times, but hearing them in a compacted time span reveals certain similarities or metamorphoses points that prick the ear. All to say, if you live in Chicago, or will be passing through in June, get thee to Symphony Center.

While I listen to some pretty “normal” music, I also listen to some pretty intrepid stuff, too. Maybe you do as well? Or, maybe you should give it the old college try. If either of those categories apply to you – you’re in luck! Matmos is pretty intrepid (I definitely think releasing an album that includes sampling sounds of plastic surgery is intrepid). I was first introduced to them in undergrad when my friend J gave me a mix cd (remember those days?!?) of electronica he thought I should hear.

If you live in New York City, check your day planner and make sure that you have the evening of June 9 cleared out so you can go hear Matmos and So Percussion perform at Le Poisson Rouge. I heard them perform together at the Museum of Fine Arts in my former home base (Boston) and it was phenomenal. If you live in Chicago, clear out June 12 and head to the Museum of Contemporary Art to hear them perform there. I’m totally going. I gasped with glee when I saw they’re stopping through town. Maybe this time I’ll say hello. At their Boston performance I was back stage with a couple of friends chatting with the So Percussion guys (they were friends of my friend from Yellow Barn) and standing, like, two feet away from Martin and Drew (Matmos). But, I was in a weird mood that evening and even though we totally stared at each other, I didn’t bother to introduce myself. That was dumb. They’re so cool! Sigh. Well, regardless, their music is worth calendar clearing, so get to it. I’m sure your friends will understand the cancellations.

I mean, who else could make someone as abstruse as “language games” Ludwig Wittgenstein sound so rockin’?

Oh, and they did this little thing known as collaborating with Björk, too.

Atlanta people – go hear the symphony. Their current program is a clash of my old and new worlds. It features music from Boston composer (and NEC composition department chair) Michael Gandolfi and 2010 Pulizter Prize in Music recipient Jennifer Higdon. Eighth Blackbird is premiering the Higdon along with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – it’s a concerto written for all six of them. Last week I was generously invited to hear them run through it at their studio here in Chicago. I really wish I could hear the finished product paired with the orchestra. What I can tell you is that it has some of the most fantastic moments featuring all six musicians stepping away from their instruments to gather around the piano for extended technique portions (bowing the strings, dampening others to produce severely muted timbres when hammers hit strings, etc) in a downright atmospheric counterpoint. What I can also tell you is besides being talented, the members of Eighth Blackbird are some of the most delightful people in the business (and their pianist, Lisa, has on some amazingly cool deep teal nail polish, and I only wish I could see the dress she told me she was going to wear to go with said amazingly cool deep teal nail polish…so many reasons to be in Atlanta this week!). Oh, and there’s a Mozart symphony on the program, too (and there was much rejoicing…).

In totally unrelated news, I was recently selected to be part of a taste-testing group. So, today I received my first shipment of vegan chocolates to taste test from Vosges! I’m so excited and honored to be part of the experimental side of things – especially for my favorite chocolate maker!! I’m not sure how much I can, or can’t, reveal (I feel like I’m in possession of an Everlasting Gobstopper), so I won’t tell you the flavors they sent to me to sample, but I will tell you that coming home to a box full of astounding chocolate packed in dry ice is a pretty good ending to a warm, sunny, Thursday. And because I’m that nice, I’m waiting to taste them tomorrow with a dear friend who is in town visiting us over the weekend from NYC. Now that’s love.

In utterly unrelated and superfluous news, it’s 30 days until my birthday. Celebration planning starts NOW. What will be the soundtrack? Planes, trains, and automobiles.

In more related news, today is the birthday of my friend Richie Barshay (Happy birthday!!!), who happens to be a remarkably talented percussionist and all around high quality guy. He keeps busy playing music with some pretty cool people (like Herbie Hancock). He’s playing some NYC shows this month. Check it out!