I look somewhere around a billion photos during my stay in South Africa—let me share a collection of my 10 favorite nature shots. Enjoy! * * * [For my complete list of blogposts and articles following the Minnesota Orchestra/Minnesota Chorale … Continue reading →
Hi all, after a whirlwind of incredible tour performances, I’m getting ready to head out on Safari (it’s currently a bleary-eyed 6:30 AM local time). So blogging is on hold for a wee bit. But in the meantime, may I direct you to MinnPost to read my story on how the Minnesota Orchestra / Minnesota Chorale engagement activities are having a profound effect on folks here… as well as us? Read the story here.
Back in 2015 when I traveled with the Minnesota Orchestra on its historic tour to Cuba, many readers expressed an interest in me putting together a Cuban-related reading list. I was happy to do so—having taught Latin American history for many years, it was easy to update the reading list I used to inflict on my students.
Some have wondered if I’m putting together a similar list for South Africa, as a set up for the tour to South Africa. I was hesitant to do so… South African history is not a particular area of expertise. In fact, since learning I’m going on this tour (both as a performer and a member of the media), I’ve been working overtime to dive into the country’s history, culture, politics and natural history. But this gave me an idea for a new post—sharing some recommendations from the South African reading list I essentially assigned to myself.
I don’t pretend the following list is comprehensive, exhaustive, or the final word on South Africa… but it does provide a list of books I found particularly interesting and/or useful, and came highly recommended to me.
It was one of those Moments…the kind of moments you are lucky to have every once in a rare while, in a career as a performing musician.
Funny enough, it came not at a performance, but at a rehearsal this week. And really, it didn’t involve me at all… I was just there to witness someone else’s Musical Moment. No matter—it was a rare gift, and one that will stay with me a long, long time. Continue reading →
It’s difficult to believe, but the Minnesota Orchestra/Minnesota Chorale tour to South Africa is fast approaching. I was fortunate enough to accompany the Orchestra’s tour to Cuba in 2015 as a part of the media contingent (my blogs about Cuba and the stories I wrote for MinnPost while on the tour can be found here), but this time around I’m also taking part as a performer—singing as a member of the Minnesota Chorale in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a variety of South African music.
And you better believe I’m thrilled to be taking part!
Well, after much preparation and planning, rehearsals are finally under way.
Years back, I had the pleasure of singing Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky with the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. It was a pure delight. Prokofiev’s music tells the story about crusading Teutonic Knights attacking Mother Russia, causing death and destruction until they are annihilated in the Battle on the Ice. One of the highlights is a choral scream, given when the Crusaders charge the Russian forces. Prokofiev doesn’t give the Knights real words (thus dehumanizing them); instead, their battle cry is just a jumble of nonsensical Latin words, belted out at top volume over the orchestra. The effect is staggering in the concert hall, and a bit ironic. It is a thundering sonic blast that sounds portentous, powerful, and authoritative, but for all that is ultimately a bunch of howling gibberish signifying nothing.