Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bowling for Pins

My cold finally passed its peak and dissipated yesterday afternoon, just about the time I was out bowling with a bunch of coworkers up in Hamden: possibly a bowling alley's air is more salubrious in effect, healthwise, than one would expect. Or perhaps it was the quantity of dollar store candy on hand. ("Inside out" Junior Mints, white on the outside, chocolate on the inside; Valentine's Day themed Nerds; Dubble Bubble.) I also managed to bowl a 174 in the second game, picking up the obvious spares with actual consistency, which feels like more of a personal accomplishment than maybe it should. Afterwards we watched The Big Lebowski, which just gets better and better.

Friday night I was still sneezing but hung around in town long enough to watch Andy conduct the Columbia Wind Ensemble in a joint concert with the more local Ivy kids. He's gotten the band sounding more and more impressive, especially in a difficult Persichetti symphony and a high-gloss suite of dances by Malcolm Arnold. Andy's family's from Connecticut & he had an impressive entourage of aunts and uncles in the crowd; that sort of thing is always cute.

Today, meanwhile: laundry; a three-hour coffee quasi date (or proto-date, or pseudo-date, or something; nomenclature is hopefully secondary, as I thought it was a good conversation); a solitary dinner with a book on music cognition. Lastly a kickass concert by the school of music's percussion ensemble, featuring late-period Ligeti (hooray for wide-ranging mezzo-sopranos), organic crunchy John Cage (hooray for the prepared piano), and a mind-blowing solo piece called "I Ching" by the estimable Per Nørgård (he of the Frost Psalms), performed by Norwegian school alum Eirik Raude. This was a half hour of assorted Yin-and-Yang-inspired mayhem, circa 1982: forward-thrusting polyrhythmic drum grooves, melodies poked out on a rack of some 18 nipple gongs, delicate sonic lacework from a metal thumb-piano placed on a swooning timpani head, jazzlike vibraphone meanderings without a tonal center, pocking woodblocks, more grooves . . . all of it played from memory by Raude. Absolutely amazing. If you ever see this piece pop up on a program announcement, go go go. Or Eirik Raude. I swear he did this without breaking a sweat.

It is a good thing to be able to attend an avant-garde percussion concert instead of watching the Academy Awards. (Make up your own categories if you want. Ligeti takes home the Craziest Supporting Harmonicas yet again.)


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