Category Archives: Music

Immigrants make music

Maria Martin, Artistic Director and Flutist

Marya Martin, Artistic Director of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, announced this year’s theme at the first concert last night. Her lingering accent belied her birth on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Proudly she announced that all 10 musicians of last night’s performance— and what a performance it was! — were born outside the United States. Except for one, all now live in the U.S. The only native-born American was Alan Alda, who narrated the story of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn.

Donald Trump, please take notice. Immigrants are what make America great.

From left: Emily Kruspe, Jakob Koranyi, Angelo Xiang You, Jonathan Lo, Then-Hsin Cindy Wu, Hezekiah Leung, Alan Alda, Jon Kimora Parker, Marya Martin



Kristin Lee

Angelo Xiang Yu

Jonathan Lo

Tien=Hsien Cindy Wu


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Filed under American Society, Music, Resistance

Will we ever go home again?

This week I was lucky enough to be at the Metropolitan Opera to see Verdi’s Nabucco. The opera tells the story of the conquest of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Captivity that followed. The high point of the opera is the elegiac Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. The captives lament the loss of their homeland and remember the beauty that once was. The music, the scene and the passion are so moving that the chorus is always followed by thunderous applause. The conductor traditionally accedes to the audience by granting an encore, an extremely rare occurrence in opera.

People who leave home to make a new life in a foreign land have to contend with alien languages, customs, religion and even food, all the while missing loved ones left behind. The suffering of immigrants and exiles is ineffable. Even those who have left home voluntarily must overcome the painful handicap of being strangers in a strange land. At best, they are met with indifference. More often they must overcome the prejudice and hatred of people who resent them and their foreign ways and who fear losing their jobs or their daughters to them.

Imagine when the exiles are refugees or captives and slaves, the spoils of war, as conquered peoples were throughout most of human history. For days I could not let go of the misery of the Jews so far from the home they loved, until I realized I was haunted by more than the unforgettable music. The chorus was widely interpreted as a metaphor for Italy’s plight under the Austrian dominion of the time.

As I watch Trump planning to dismantle the institutions of American democracy, all the while disparaging the opposition, I fear the demagogue will not only not keep his promises to the people who turned to him out of desperation, but will take steps as he lines his pockets to doom the planet and rob every American of a hope-filled and better future.

For the Italian lyrics and my translation, read on: Continue reading

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Filed under Music, Trump

Do you love Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, et al.?

AnythingGoesLast night I went to a wonderful show — classical music from Broadway, by which I mean Rodgers & Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, Lerner & Loewe, Irving Berlin … There are many more, but what’s the use of naming them? Only audiences “of a certain age” not only recognize but love the music created by those names. (I and a few of my friends know all the lyrics and can sing them all.) I often wonder MyFairLady2when I look around me at the audience at the opera or chamber music or even pop standards like those I heard last night, and see only grey and balding heads: What will happen to this music when the greyheads are gone?

Guys&Dolls2Peter Gelb is doing a masterful job of revamping the opera, things like ripping “Rigoletto” from its 16th-century palace setting and plopping it down in a casino in 1950s Las Vegas. I think that is a brilliant move, since the power plays of the debauched nobility differ little from the depravity of 20th-century gangsters. Jealousy, pride and a father’s love aren’t bound to time or place. With novel staging in new productions and free outdoor showings, Gelb may well succeed in enticing new audiences. SouthPacificGreat theater deals with the human condition, and since that doesn’t change from one age to another, the costumes worn by the players in no way alter the themes of love lost and won, jealousy, treachery, death, cleverness, stupidity and so on.

I suspect the musical theater is different. OklahomaThe “younger set” no longer swings to the music of Glenn Miller or Harry James — they don’t need to cling to each other on the dance floor when they can hook up in bed with no effort. Cole Porter’s marvelously witty lyrics no longer resonate.

Every age, of course, has its own passions, styles and crazes. And each age thinks theirs are the best. As they should.

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Filed under Music, Musings, Personal



How do you spend your Saturdays?


Saturday Night Fever made John Travolta.


On another Saturday seventeen years later, he reprised his dance moves with Uma Thurman.


Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week …”  Sinatra used to sing, “It’s the night when my baby and I used to dance cheek to cheek …”


Saturday Night Live would have yanked you out of that reverie.


You could have read Saturday.


Better still, you could have spent “Saturday in the Park.”


And if none of the above worked for you, then nothing for it but Same old Saturday Night:

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Filed under Amusing, Music, Random

Guaranteed to make you smile!

The best, most unusual and entertaining safety video you’ve ever seen. Tell me if you don’t agree!

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Filed under American Society, Amusing, Music

Touch Wood

I’ve committed to posting daily through the month of November. There’s only an hour and a half left of today, so I suspended my research on privacy in the age of Big Brother to look for inspiration.

A former classmate unwittingly came to the rescue. Jina Moore found a marvelous Japanese ad for a smartphone that required building with great precision an extremely long xylophone that courses through the forest. A small wooden ball bounces along its length, producing Bach’s rendition of a traditional church hymn. The theme of the ad? “Touch Wood.”

The making of the xylophone is awe-inspiring for the obsessive attention to detail that makes the feat possible:

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Filed under Amusing, Music, Random

Paul McCartney, Nirvana cover Little Richard

At 71, Paul McCartney hits it as few others can. Gonna have some fun tonight with Long Tall Sally:

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Filed under Music, People