Austin City Limits

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I just got back from Austin City Limits Festival, and it was really awesome! I couldn’t make it on Saturday because of Plano Symphony, but it ended up working out in my favor anyway. The main reason to go Saturday would have been for The White Stripes, but they ended up bailing because Meg got sick or something. So I met my friend Gerry in Austin on Sunday morning and we stayed all day. Donna said Sunday was the best day overall.

We heard The National, and they were pretty good. Then we went over to hear STS9 and they were cool. They seem to be all instrumental electronic, which was cool. They also seem to attract all the crazy Xers who were clearly enjoying the show with some additional chemical assistance. Then we went to hear Ben Kweller, but it was really boring so we stopped by Robert Earl Keen for a few minutes but were not into it either, so we took a break to get water and rest for a bit. Then headed over to hear Common. I’m not really into hip-hop at all, but it was still a pretty fun show. Then it was off to hear Bloc Party. They were definitely the best show up to this point. They sounded really good, even though they kind of apologized a couple times and mentioned how they were not really used to the heat of Texas. It was only around 90F, but as they said they’re used to a cold rainy island. :) Apparently last year it got up to around 108F! Bloc Party sounded really, really close to their CDs I thought. After they finished we tried to see Regina Spektor, but it was too hard to hear her. She was just singing with piano, and her music was too soft and at the nearest other stage was a band called Rose Hill Drive, and they were very loud and seemed to drown out Regina Spektor from where we were standing. But the crowd around Regina Spektor’s stage was enormous.

So we took a really long break at this point and skipped the next concert block so we’d be well-rested and ready for The Decemberists. I’m really glad we did, too, because it was a fantastic show. We got a really good place kind of near the front and could see really well. Looking out behind us there were obviously tens of thousands of people there. Donna said she couldn’t get anywhere near the Decemberists stage, she and her friends were stuck way off to the right. But the show was incredible, and was very easily the best show of the day. The audience was really into it; you can tell the Decemberists are really loved in Austin. In fact before we went to ACL we stopped for lunch at Hula Hut for lunch and we heard them play a Decemberists song. That was pretty cool. I never hear good music anywhere around Dallas it seems.

The day ended with Bob Dylan, so we stayed to hear him play a couple songs. But he was just so unbelievably terrible that we left almost immediately. He really sounded like he could barely sing. I’m not really sure what happened to his voice.

Bipolar Viola

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Michael Fernandez pointed out that bipolaroptions.com features the prelude to Bach’s first cello suite being played on viola on their stupid little Flash intro. Michael didn’t find it very amusing and seemed to not like using the viola this way, but for some reason I can’t identify.. I just think it’s hilarious. It has that serious tone that you expect from a commercial about some kind of health problem, but something about it having a viola playing this piece kind of negates the effect to me. It’s kind of like when Paganini has these really tragic sounding parts of his music, like the second variation in the Grand Sonata where it goes into c minor. It gets this very serious, tragic type of feeling to it.. but you can’t help but realize that you’re still listening to Paganini, so it ends up being funny. Then you get to about the last bar and a half before the third variation and it really milks it with the fermata, then you hit the third variation in the most absolutely ridiculous way imaginable. Of course, this commercial doesn’t have a punchline like that.. but I still feel the same type of humor throughout this commercial that I feel during the second variation of that Paganini sonata.

And of course I know everyone reading this knows every bar of the Paganini Grand Sonata by memory, right? Right? Of course.

Transient windows

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I finally committed my patch for Win32 transient windows to svn tonight. This fixes the long-standing #112404 that is probably the most irritating bug for GTK Win32. I’m glad to finally be done with this one!

Michael Moore interview

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I saw the interview with Michael Moore on CNN. It was great that he had so much airtime, although this is probably the last time that happens. He had great things to say, and he was right on with everything. Sadly, he’s not very good at making those points in a way that is really going to rally anyone to his side. He’s just not very good at interviews, and his personality will unfortunately end up pushing people on the fence away from good causes than pulling them in.

Rostropovich

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The New York Times is reporting the loss of Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the great musicians of the past century. He’s one of the greatest cellists of all time and will be missed.

Console

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I’ve been using Windows a lot more since I went to work at Medsphere, and the one thing that bothers me most frequently is the lack of a very useful terminal. I’ve got the Cygwin rxvt terminal installed, and it’s been pretty good except that I sometimes have like three or four of them open and Windows doesn’t have virtual desktops like I have on Linux, so it’s a pain to find the terminal I want. But now I ran across this open source terminal app called Console. It supports tabs and works with any shell program, like the default crappy Microsoft shell or with Cygwin’s bash. It also lets you customize the colors and the opacity of the window, which is not as big of a deal but possibly still of interest.

Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto

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Last week we played the Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto for viola and
orchestra, and our principal violist Ute Miller played the solo part.
She’s always a great musician, and so of course she was fantastic. I
wasn’t very familiar with this piece before, but now I’m sort of unsure
about it. It’s really beautiful, but the ending of the piece is very
strange and just doesn’t make sense to me. There’s a snare drum that
plays with the viola solo and it sounds really out of place. The rest
of the orchestra is holding some long chord, I think an F chord or
something, and then for some reason we play a beat of repeated 32nd
notes on that chord. It’s just weird and out of place to my ears.

mkestner++

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So Mike Kestner was awesome enough to fix gtk# bug #79993 the other day. Everyone at Medsphere is so excited!

Viola concertos

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Before I went to El Paso I had the opportunity to hear Paul Silverthorne, principal violist of London Symphony Orchestra, play the Walton viola concerto here. It was a really fantastic performance, and I feel like I understand the concerto better than before. It’s still not my favorite viola concerto, but I do have a new appreciation for it.

Me and Paul Silverthorne

I just learned today that Roberto Diaz is coming back here to play the Bartok viola concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony in October. I can’t wait!

El Paso

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I went to El Paso last week to see Lesley and to play in the orchestra there. She’s running the El Paso Youth Orchestras along with Ben Loeb, a conductor we went to school with in Baltimore. He is also the associate conductor for the El Paso Symphony, and they had a side-by-side of the symphony and the youth orchestra together with Ben conducting. The symphony played The Three Cornered Hat suite by Manuel de Falla, the flute concerto by Jacques Ibert, Ravel’s La Valse, then the youth orchestra played Marquez’s Danzon No. 2, and then the symphony and youth orchestra did Bernstein’s West Side Story symphonic dances together.

Ben and Lesley have been working really hard with the youth orchestras and the symphony, and it sounds like things are going really well there.

Me and Lesley from this morning

Ben and his wife last night when we went out for Italian food

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