Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama, Food Porn, & the Royal Wedding

This morning I woke up to read the various opera blogs across the web all stating the same thing.  Obviously there are some "full time" bloggers that post several times a day and have tens of thousands of viewers.  But for the first time that I can remember, they all posted the same "non-operatic" story - that Osama Bin Laden had been killed after the President ordered a special operations mission to cross into Pakistan and invade Bin Laden's compound near Islamabad.

But, that will not be the big news of this blog - today's big news is: MY BIRTHDAY WAS LAST THURSDAY!!!


I would like to give my whole-hearted thanks to all those who sent me birthday wishes and messages.  I have never received so many - somewhere over 100!  I have a large love for so many people and I miss them too.  It feels great to hear from you all, at least for a day.

But back to the even bigger news - What exactly did I do for my birthday?  Well, I ate at a restaurant called Stroud's in Kansas City.  It was the first time that I've eaten there, and I probably would have died eating their sticky rolls if they would have let me.  I feel ashamed for eating them - they're that good!  Cue the sleazy music, dim the lights, and enjoy this food porn...



Naughty, naughty....

But that's not all, I also went miniature golfing with several of my friends in town and coincidentally, my birthday was also the last day of school for me for the semester.  I do want to share some of the odd gifts I received:  a basketball net hat, some "beer and smokes" (pretzels and root beer - a traditional birthday gift I share among my college friends), a KU mat (to wipe my feet on), and an ice cream scoop.  The ice cream scoop was given to me by my grandparents, who of anyone, understand my horrific addiction to iced creams. I was digging away a couple of weeks ago and broke our old scoop in half!  Sometimes, I am so pathetic, that I take a knife and just cut a huge brick of ice cream, because it takes so long to scoop the amount I want!

Now it just so happens that during the night after my birthday, the Royal Wedding took place.  I admit that I did stay up to watch it, and it was a very spectacular wedding.  However, all the know-it-alls out there (TV commentators, I'm speaking to you) seem to hype the event as the most elaborate in the world - and use "Pomp and Circumstance" when they just mean to say "pomp" (this phrase originates in Shakespeare's Othello:  "Farewell...pomp, and circumstance of glorious war").  Just wait until Charles' coronation as king.  I assure you that coronations are many many times more lavish.  But, with that said, it was a beautiful wedding.  I am one nerd who lives on big events like this.  I remember funerals of presidents, ceremonies of all kinds, weddings, inaugurations, etc.  And the most exciting part of these to me are the art and music of it all.



Obviously they put on a very artful production but I did have some comments on their music.  The choirs and chamber orchestra were great.  I certainly loved Ubi caritas et amor by Paul Mealor - it is a very modern sound (almost certainly inspired by Eric Whitacre's music).  Paul Mealor is a relatively unknown composer, but this ambiance/new age sound works very well with a modern and elegant celebration.  The entrance music was grandiose, the hymns were loud, and the British National Anthem was exciting.  However, the new composition by John Rutter, as lovely as it was, seemed pretty boring to me.  I know Rutter's music very well, and it had the Rutter touch of jazz cadences and pretty melodies, but it just wasn't interesting, and honestly could have been written in 1970.  It just had that odd flavor of corny choral contemporary Christian music of the 70s.  Also, I can't help but loathe the recessional music.  It is called Crown Imperial by William Walton and was written for the Coronation of George VI - this piece was also played at Diana and Charles' wedding.  To me, it is just not very majestic.  It reminds me of hokey 40s film orchestrations.  Why not recess to the glory of brass, choir, and organ, pumping a fist-full of sound into the gut of everyone in the abbey?  I don't want celebratory music to be dainty, I want it to be powerful - but that just might be the American in me.  Who doesn't love to blow things up on the 4th of July?


Ok, that's not really what I was going for - but you know what I mean.

In another exciting piece of history this week, the late Pope John Paul II was Beatified at the Vatican.  And what I found remarkable was that someone kept a vial of his blood.  They presented it to the Pope in the Beatification Mass.


I am still besides myself on the incredible news of the death of Osama Bin Laden.  I have had a lump in my throat and chills throughout the day, remembering how I felt on September 11.  I never thought I would feel that way ever again - a mix of pride and grief, determination and distress.  And as the story is unfolding, it appears that it was an incredibly heroic feat as well - it almost seems unbelievably heroic, even for Hollywood.  I hope that this will not cause any sudden acts of violence, but I have never felt this kind of relief before.  I know I am excited about the death of someone, but he was a very very evil person.  He alone is responsible for much of how the world has changed in my adult life.  His actions instigated the two longest wars in United States history.  And now, we have achieved at least one important goal - and for anyone who remembers September 11, we finally can release our collective anger.  So, I am rejoicing with everyone in the streets of New York, Washington D.C., and everywhere else who have spontaneously cheered throughout the night.  Maybe now, we can finally begin to put this part of history behind us - mentally and literally.

This week I have many performances at commencement ceremonies; that will certainly keep me busy.  I am also trying to plan a recital later this year marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet genocide of the Volga Germans - the ethnic group of my mother's side.  It also appears that the Kansas City Lyric Opera will not be hiring me.  I have heard from those who were hired, and have heard of the information, emails, etc. that were sent to them.  I am certainly disappointed that the Lyric never contacted me one way or another.  Because I didn't hear from them, I tried to contact them regarding the status of my audition, yet received nothing except a short message in March from someone with a minor position with the company saying that they haven't decided yet.  I am not one to get too bitter, but it is disappointing when professionalism is not reciprocated.  I hope that this isn't the case.  Nevertheless, I will be contacting the Symphony and will be auditioning for them and for their exciting productions next season.  I am also excited at the chance to audition for the several events that the Conservatory will be putting on in the new Kauffman Center.

Lastly, thank you everyone who commented and enjoyed the whistling video.  To answer most of your questions - yes, I am definitely going to submit a recording for next year's championship, no matter how goofy and socially awkward it is, but I still need more song ideas, so if anyone has a song in mind, let me know!


UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Nursing Commencement - 5pm 5/5
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Computer & Engineering - 10am 5/6
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Arts & Sciences - 1pm & 4pm 5/6
  • National Anthem - Bloch School of Business and Public Administration - 7pm 5/6
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Education - 10am 5/7
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Pharmacy - 1pm 5/7
  • National Anthem - Kansas City School of Dentistry - 7pm 5/7
  • National Anthem - DOE Small Business Conference & Expo - Kansas City Convention Center - 5/10
  • Administrative Director of the 33rd Annual Summer Choral Institute - 6/5-11
  • National Anthem - Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 6/25
  • Sugar Creek Opera Festival (Chicago) - role: chorus/cover, opera: Daughter of the Regiment - 7/20-8/7
  • Kansas City Symphony Chorus Auditions - tba

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