I don’t really ♥NY that much, but you can’t deny that it’s intense and efficient. I was in town really for only one working day, but managed to speak at the Syndicate conference, about which many others have written, to sit down with the new Sun Software CTO (& hence my manager) Hal Stern (hey, he can blog, this is gonna work out), to have a real useful meeting with Adam Bosworth over at the Google office on Broadway, to do some Atom business with a couple of our WG members and some general schmoozing with Udell and Scoble and Lasica and so on, and to eat an excellent dinner courtesy of Nooked. This still left time to walk thirty blocks to a nice concert featuring a Russian virtuoso, Joplin rags and a world premiere by Benjamin C.S. Boyle, whom you’ve never heard of but might soon. More on the concert and pictures from the cab-ride.
Taxi Ride · The taxi-ride was from LaGuardia to the conference at Times Square; the plane landed at 5:30PM and on impulse I decided to skip the Mets game. The late-spring sun was slanting attractively as we worked our way down Manhattan, so I rolled the taxi-window down and snapped away at what went by.
None of the pictures are worth framing, but I think NY-lovers, and there are many out there, might enjoy them for the city’s sake.
Beilina, Joplin, and Boyle · The Syndicate gang was going to a steakhouse for dinner and I couldn’t face another slab of dead cow, so I went out to hear some music. Not seeing an obvious way to score U2 tickets, I walked from 46th to 67th plus a few blocks west to the Merkin Concert Hall to hear the Bachanalia Festival Orchestra, a small all-strings chamber orchestra directed by violinist Nina Beilina.
The idea of the ensemble is that their concerts open with Bach, then play music from many centuries which they claim are leaves of the musical tree with him at its root. Ms Beilina directs a fine little orchestra but was off her playing form, she pretty well butchered the violin part in the opening BWV1060, a violin/oboe concerto.
The Big Piece on the program was the world premiere of To One In Paradise by young composer Benjamin C.S. Boyle, which was pretty impressive. The title is that of a morbid and sentimental Edgar Allen Poe poem, which is set to music in seven short movements, for soprano, countertenor, tenor, and baritone with orchestra. I thought it was mostly very good. I didn’t think the music had much to do with the spirit of the poem, except for Boyle has a real gift for spooky-sounding string orchestrations; I bet the boy has a future in movie soundtracks if he wants it. Plus, in homage to old J.S., the centerpiece was a big honking double fugue for all the singers together, I thought it was remarkably good.
But the musical highlight was the three Scott Joplin rags, Elite Syncopations, The Easy Winners, and The Entertainer. I’d never heard Joplin played by strings, nor in fact had I ever really listened to his music closely, and was I ever missing something. The linkage back to Bach is totally obvious, and every second of the music is witty, elegant, and just pure fun; every player in the orchestra was grinning ear to ear by the time they got through. Gonna have to buy some of that music.