Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'Strawberry Fields Forever'

As an avid Beatles fan, I was always puzzled by their song titles and what's exactly meant by them.  As a New Yorker, I often go to Central Park on the Upper West Side and sit on a bench near Strawberry Fields.

There is often a homage to John Lennon in this park and flowers are arrayed on the Imagine plaque, honoring the lead singer.

I always thought that this specific spot in Central Park was the Strawberry Fields, the Beatles were referring to in their songs. However, the song was actually inspired by Lennon's memories of playing in a garden of a Salvation Army house called "Strawberry Fields".

Gate post to Strawberry Field.  Now a historic site.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" was released in 1967 off of Paul McCartney's Penny Lane Album.  Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever" and McCartney's Penny Lane shared the theme of nostalgia for their early years in Liverpool.  Although both referred to actual locations, the two songs also had strong surrealistic and psychedelic overtones

The music that serenades me

 The first ballet George Balanchine choreographed in America in 1934 when he was 30 years old was "Serenade".  It was Balanchine's third masterpiece after "Apollon musagete" in 1928 and "Le Fils Prodigue" in 1929.

"Serenade" was the first of many ballets for Balanchine choreographed to the beloved Tchaikovsky.  The score that accompanies "Serenade" is Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings in C" an it was also a work that was a personal favorite of the composer himself.

Ballet company performing George Balanchine's Serenade

When composed, Tchaikovsky intended the first movement to be an imitation of Mozart's style and it was based on the form of the classical sonatina, with a slow introduction.

The pure pulse of Tchaikovsky's score can stand on its own and be extremely resonating to an audience on its audio alone.

However, when coupled by the genius choreography of Balanchine, with the steps echoing each note, it's a combination like no other.  Above is a clip form Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of "Serenade".  It is easy to see that the music's powerful nature is heightened when everything comes together, the lightening, choreography, costumes, etc.  It's a combination that's thrilling to watch and especially joyful to the ears.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Musician Spotlight: Bharat Sanjani

Bharat Sanjani, investment banker by day, musician by night, is a force to be reckoned with and is a truly inspiring individual. Bharat's love for music is apparent and somehow he finds time to rehearse and perform with his band, Spinbox, a local NYC cover band.  I sat down with Bharat to shed some light into how he does it all and still manages to have fun.

1. What instruments do you play?

With Spinbox, I sing lead vocals. However, I've been playing bass guitar since I was 14 and still take lessons here in NYC.

2. Is your family musical?

No not at all. I'm the only one with remote artistic talent.

3. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith for his longevity.  He's amazing.  Ben Gibbard because he voice is intoxicating and memorizing.

4. Do you perform in public?

Yes, my band Spinbox often has gigs in bars in the West Village.  We also have performed at summer festivals which feature smaller bands.  We usually perform once a month.

5.  How do you find time to practice?

It's hard.  Every member of Spinbox has a full time job, so we usually reserve Sunday mornings to rehearse and if a conflict arises we try to reschedule and not miss practice.

6. Do you teach music?

I haven't yet.  Mostly from a schedule perspective but I would like to in the future.  I think kids are really inspiring to teach because they are such fast learners.  I would like to teach them someday.

Spinbox can be seen around the NYC at various venues.  Check TimeOut NY publications for upcoming shows this summer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Music piracy : Nothing to gain, everything to lose

Music piracy and the protection of recording artists is an issue that I am extremely passionate about and an issue I follow quite frequently.  As a performing artist, I believe that supporting music and purchasing albums is how we respect and perpetuate artistic growth.  Please reference a recent essay I wrote regarding the topic below.

Music piracy is the copying and distributing a piece of music for which the composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company did not give consent.  Music piracy is a form of copyright infringement, which is a crime in many countries.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw much controversy about copyright piracy regarding many aspects involved in the activity of illegal downloading.  More portals and websites for illegal downloading and file sharing among peers seemed to be more abundant during this time as well.  These aspects included the act of redistributing media content, how much production and distribution companies in the media were losing due to piracy, and the very scope of what ought to be considered piracy.  The cases involving piracy were most discussed in debate as to determine how to define the act and how to treat individual cases of illegal downloading.

The term commonly known is “piracy” but that’s too small of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the gigantic cast of industry personnel working hard behind the scenes to bring the high quality music to your ears.  The cast of music personnel includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, scouts, producers, publishers, and many, many other people that help the music industry stay afloat.

It seems that simply one individual downloading one song may not feel like a serious crime or be harmless at all.  The true harm is the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally.  This massive accumulation means not compensating any of the people who helped create that song and make it available to the masses and music fans.  This reality is devastating to all the employees of the music industry.  A study conducted by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates the annual harm at $12.5 billion in losses to the U.S. economy.  In addition to the economy, 70,000 lost jobs are a result and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.

When all the accumulated losses are pulled together, it makes one think again about downloading one song or potentially album illegally to save a few dollars in the process.  Especially when a lot of pirated downloads are not even the correct quality one would purchase normally on iTunes or through a legitimate purchasing music venue.  As a performing artist myself, I would personally be crushed to not be paid any compensation for all the hours I put into producing music and ensuring that it was a high quality product to release to the masses.  I would additionally be crushed to learn that I wasn’t supported monetarily and would find it hard to keep producing music if I received no respect for the art I was producing.  In turn, I am against music piracy, even in the smallest of forms, every illegally downloaded song adds up to millions of losses for all those in the music industry.

Queen Beyonce of the Ball

Beyonce Knowles led the fashion parade at this year's Met Gala in New York City.  Among the other A-list celebrities and fashionistas, Beyonce's dress grabbed the attention and set the fashion standard high, especially among recording artists.

Beyonce in Givenchy couture gown

This red carpet appearance marked the first for Beyonce after the birth of her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in early January 2012.  30-year-old Knowles looked sensational in a sheer sequin Givenchy Haute Couture Gown, and she wore a nude bodysuit underneath, which was also visible but flattering to her honey skin.

As with any fashion leaps on the red carpet, the gown was divided among the critics.  Some criticized it for being too obvious and revealing, while other critics assumed Beyonce wore it for the sake of being noticed.  In regards to Beyonce, we will not know whether she adored the gown or simply sought the attention, for Beyonce has never hid from the spotlight or public attention in the past.  

Back of Beyonce's Givenchy gown

Beyonce certainly turned all heads at this year's Met Ball and her dress certainly had high maintenance during her appearance.  The gown required a stylist to be available at Beyonce's every beck and call to primp the dress as Beyonce ascended the stairs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Feature App: Dropbox

In terms of music storage and file sharing, Dropbox is a great service for this type of file sharing.  Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. It allows you to share with others your own documents and is especially great for music file sharing.  

After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, and this includes your iPhone and iPad as well!  

You can also save attachments straight to your Dropbox.

You can flip through your music albums when you're out and about.  You can share videos and music to your Dropbx and share them with friends very easily with a few taps.  Your files are always saved on Dropbox and will be there, even if you lose your phone.  

Click here, to download Dropbox.

Someday you will be loved

Death Cab by Cutie is a band near and dear to my heart.  As I met my boyfriend of 5 years at the concert in Manhattan.  Below is a fictionalized account of the concert and our first meeting that fateful day.

I first spied you in line picking up your tickets at the theater's front entrance on 74th street.  You stood behind a few people, patiently waiting and sipping a hot coffee.  You had headphones on and seemed content listening to your iPod, and rummaged through your bag looking for your wallet to pay for your tickets.  I saw you enter the theater alone after you stood outside waiting for someone and got tired of standing in the cold.  I went inside immediately after picking up my ticket and surveyed the band's merchandise counter before settling into my seat.  I sat in the fourth row center balcony and was happy to get such a wonderful seat with a clear view of the stage.  This was my first time seeing Death Cab for Cutie live and I wanted to relish every moment, even if it was going to the concert by myself.  As the band was warming up and starting to sing their opening song, I spied your blue crochet hat I saw in line earlier outside.  You were sitting two rows in front of me and with an empty seat beside you on your left.  You were steadily texting on your phone, almost in a crazed manner.  The band started to play and the small orchestra melodies swept me away into ecstasy.   It was truly mesmerizing and surreal concert, I felt as if I could attain anything I desired and it put me in a delightful mood.  At intermission, I noticed the seat beside you was still empty.  I got the idea to leave my seat and sit next to you.  As I sat down and opened my mouth to say "hello", I noticed your natural and striking beauty.  Your smile soothed me and we chatted for a bit about your friend who never showed up for the concert.  It was an evening I will never forget and the beginning of us.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

Coachella, may be one of the most popular and revered music festivals in the United States, due to its stellar lineup and huge crowds, but it also produces some pretty great photographs.

From zany outfits of fans to crazy performance shots, the opportunity for photographs from Coachella is numerous.  However the above photograph is a favorite that I came across which represents backstage Coachella 2012 most accurately.

The people in the photo, are a musical group, The Hives, and they are depicted post performance at Coachella.  I'm guessing someone thought they deserved a refreshment after a job well done.  Perhaps a beer?  A ice cold glass of water? Or maybe a beer and water shower?  After all, Coachella is one of the most hippest, craziest and sweatiest festivals on the planet, they should definitely have both!

Twins but not identical

My sister and I are twins, similar in looks but our interests don't intersect much when it comes to music.  I recently sat down with her to catch up on her music preferences lately.

Lauren: What song is currently on repeat in your iPod right now? 
Liza: Wild One by FloRida
Lauren: Hmm...I'll have to listen to that one.  I have heard of Flo Rida, though.
Liza: Haha...that's a first!
Lauren: What's your ultimate movie soundtrack?
Liza: Reality Bites.  It really doesn't get better than that!
Lauren: I agree, although I would have to say Atonement soundtrack is my all time favorite.
Lauren: Describe your ideal dream concert. Who? Where?
Liza: A concert that highlights not only popular artists but up-and-coming new artists. A fun, beach party atmosphere would be a cool location.
Lauren: What artist is one that never gets old?
Liza: Madonna.
Lauren: What music news shocked you in recent months?
Liza: Seal and Heidi Klum divorcing.
Lauren : What song best describes your workday? Your ideal weekend?
Liza: Workday: She Works Hard for the Money by Donna Summer, Ideal weekend: Ignition Remix by R. Kelly
Lauren: If you were on a stranded island, what's the one album you could listen to forever?
Liza:  It would have to be something upbeat and entertaining, maybe BlackEyed Peas, Katy Perry or No Doubt.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tupac resurfaces at Coachella 2012

  1. The late rapper, Tupac Shakur made a surprise appearance along with some other major names at Coachella this past weekend, an Indio music festival.

Snoop Dog performs at Coachella with Tupac's hologram

    1. Shakur, who was shot and killed in 1996 at the young age of 25, was presented in hologram form at Coachella wearing Timberland boots, bare chested and acid wash jeans.  This outfit was similar to the one he was wearing when killed in 1996.
    The faux Shakur greeted the Coachella crowd and shortly  thereafter Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre performed a well-known song, "Hail Mary".

    It has been reported that Dr. Dre will continue to take the hologram Shakur on tour in the future.

    However this resurrection of the deceased is nothing new.  It reminds me of the female artist, Natalie Cole, when she released the video "Unforgettable" with a projected image of her dad on the screen.  This was in the early 1990s.

    How to get Nicki Minaj's locks

    Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" video is all about being fun, colorful and playful.  Her hair at one point in the video is soft, feminine and has natural waves.  Below you can see the hairstyle in the video "Super Bass".

    Here's how you can achieve Nicki's playful and wavy locks:

    1. Dampen Hair.  You can do this in the shower or with a spray bottle of water.
    2. Section your hair into four parts ( two in the back, two in the front )
    3. Braid each section.
    4. Tie off and then go to sleep.  You will want to start this process at night so hair has ample drying time.

    When you wake up apply mousse or hairspray and voila, you will achieve Nicki's playful locks!

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Lily Allen, the comeback kid

    When it comes to music artists making a comeback to recording and producing albums, it is often a tossup whether the public seeks another album from this artist or rather they would like the artist to not resurface again.  However, when it comes to Lily Allen and past successful albums in the past, her return to the recording studio will be much anticipated and appreciated.

    Allen called it quits in 2009 after two hugely successful albums Alright, Still and It's Not Me, It's You and she was recently spotted leaving a recording studio in London working on a new album. 
    Lily Allen

    Now, UK tabloid The Daily Star reports that she's been spotted at London's RAK Studios.
    Though there is no definite date for when a new album will be released for Lily Allen, there are rumors that one could be released as early as the beginning of 2013

    Following her retirement from pop stardom, she's been working on her own label In The Name Of and writing songs for a stage version of Bridget Jones's Diary.

    Heyday times of Bloc Party

    A successful music blog, Pulp and Circumstance, Juiced's entry From the Vault: Bloc Party, "England" (live) had me nostalgic about the band Bloc Party and it's widespread success a few years back.

    Bloc Party released the album "Silent Alarm" in February 2005 and reached worldwide sales with over a 100 million copies being sold worldwide.  Singles released off of this album include "Pioneers", "Banquet", and "So here we are/Positive Tension".

    In 2003, Bloc Party consisted of guitarists Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack and bassist Gordon Moakes. After drummer Matt Tong auditioned and joined the trio, the band members' songwriting evolved and they started crafting tracks for Silent Alarm

    I would have to agree with Pulp and Circumstance, Juiced that this album was pure bliss and always remains relevant to listen to.  I feel inspired to dig up the old album, in my itunes library of course, and download it back onto the iPod. 

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Pandora Spotlight

    "What's your Pandora station?" If you're like me, you may have many for different moods or purposes that you will use your music for in a given day.  One station for work, home, gym, etc.

    Lately I have been enjoying the sounds of Motown.  Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, these artists are always upbeat and get me through the day whatever activity I'm participating in.

    This video, is Marvin Gaye's "I heard it through the Grapevine", a classic tune that is simply irreplaceable.    What I like about Pandora is that I get the opportunity to hear so many artists similar to the one I have chosen.  Artists such as The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, and Diana Ross are ones that I have grown to love since listening to Marvin Gaye's Pandora station.

    New festival added to the list

    Coachella, Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, festivals around the country are all the rage for more bang for your buck in terms of music.  For a slightly higher price tag than one concert to see one band, one should seriously consider going to get a day pass to a festival and see numerous well known bands in one day.

    The New York Times"Arts Beat" blog boasts the addition of one more festival devoted to pop music in Delaware for a summer time frame. The Firefly Music Festival, a three day event, July 20 to 22, will include more than 40 bands and solo artists will play as well.  John Legend and the indie rock band, Death Cab for Cutie are among the scheduled bands to perform.

    Crowd at Coachella night concert

    It seems that these festivals are successful and the demand is high for them.  With the extreme popularity of Coachella, it may be hard for the Firefly Music festival to keep up, but I guess if the festival concept is getting great response then it will be worth trying festivals devoted to particular genres.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Music bargain of the week

    I recently received this bargain in my daily email as a member of Amazon Prime, but figured it was too good to not share.  I have a huge passion for classical music, reflective of my professional dance career but also based on personal music preferences.  Classical music, especially Bach, has such a distinguished sound and is often calming when I'm working or busy at my home.  It's a good soundtrack that has no words and doesn't distract one from the work they have to accomplish.

    This album, featuring Bach and great classical hits, is 9 hours of music for 99 cents.  Such a bargain whether one is new to classical music or has a large collection already.  According to Amazon, this album is being offered at such a great price because Bach's birthday is on March 21st.  You can check out the Amazon bargain here!

    Awesome Audio iPhone Apps

    Whether it's listening to your favorite music on your commute or figuring out artist and song info on a song you hear, these apps for iPhone should be additions to complete your musical needs.

    Pandora-The Pandora iPhone app is the iPhone version of the free personalized radio which is completely integrated with your web based Pandora account. It is easy to use and offers all the Pandora features you would usually find on the web based site. You can create a station from the current song or artist, tap the album art to get more information, email the station to a friend, bookmark songs and artists, buy tracks from iTunes and get a nice view in the landscape mode by rotating your iPhone sideways.
    You can download the Pandora app and it's completely free here.

    Shazam-Shazam is an innovative iPhone app that solves the chronic question of "What's that song"?  It happens to all of us, doesn't it? We hear a song, love it, know we have heard it before but just can't recall it. Or that title and artist is just on the tip of tongue and we can process it fast enough.  With Shazam you don't need to. Just hold your iPhone near the speakers of the device playing that music. Through iPhone's microphone Shazam gets hold of that song and identifies the album, artist and song title for you. This app is free too!
    You can download the Shazam app here.

    Ocarina-Ocarina makes one of the most unique uses of iPhone's touchscreen by turning it into a flute which you can play with your fingers. Ocarina transforms your phone into your own instrument.  You can blow into the mic and tap the four virtual holes on the screen, all of which give a cool experience of playing a real flute. In fact users of the Ocarina community can hear what you are playing in the globe mode and it provides sharing among users. The cost of the app - $0.99.  
    You can download the Ocarina app here.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Singers make "Smash" an audible success

    "Smash" made its USA broadcast premiere on February 6, 2012 on NBC.  The show is an American musical drama produced by Steven Spielberg and created by Theresa Rebeck. The show revolves around the creation of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

    The cast boasts many well known actors and actresses, including Debra Messing and Angelica Huston, but newcomers to TV show Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty give the show the vocals that will enchant and lure viewers.
    Katherine McPhee, previous American Idol runner-up in 2006 and American pop singer, released records and hit songs on the Billboard Top 200 and Billboard Top 30 respectively.
    Megan Hilty, an American stage actress with some TV acting experience, is most renowned for her roles in Wicked as Glinda and in 9 to 5: The Musical as Doralee Rhodes.
    It is the voices of these two women that carry and perform the entertaining songs in Smash.  Both vie for the role of Marilyn Monroe in the musical and it is the realness of the series that helps to give audiences the accurate competition environment in Broadway auditions and the creation of Broadway shows.  For each actress is gifted with a fabulous voice and stellar dance skills, it is often hard to choose just one actress for a Broadway lead.  We'll have to stay tuned to find out how this dramatic Broadway audition turns out...

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Weekend Playlist

    The weekends are the best for relaxing and hanging out friends.  I try my best every Sunday to have a few friends over to my apt for wine and appetizers to connect with them when we all have time outside of our busy work weeks.  I usually play music that I've recently discovered mixed with old favorites and songs that allow a conversation to flow.

    My most recent playlist featured two new songs that I recently discovered, "We are Young" and "End of the Line".  I chose to start and end my playlist with these songs since an audience usually remembers beginning and ending impressions.  I wanted my friends to like these songs as well and hopefully they would remember them after hearing them at my apt.  I chose to "Caring is Creepy" by the Shins because it's a band I've always liked since the movie Garden State featured it.  The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, and Beirut  have a very mellow sound to most of their songs and are easy to listen to.  I chose TV on the Radio's song "Will Do" because it's a very different type of sound that this band usually produces and I wanted others to recognize this band for their versatile qualities.  The songs I chose from Blur, The Arcade Fire, and Phoenix are well known but they mix in with the rest of the selections well and fit the overall tone.  This playlist is great for entertaining, hanging out, or playing on a lazy sunday.

    The tunes behind the best commercials

    TV commercials have become a source for discovering new (or already known) music and artists. Some of my favorite musicians have been featured and I've become fans of news ones as result of seeing them in a commercial. 

    The Chevy Sonic commercial, shown above, features "We are Young" by the band Fun.  This is the perfect anthem for all of the stunt fun shown by a Chevy Sonic car. "We are Young" is a top 15 alternative songs hit and has also been featured on the TV show Glee.  For me, I had never heard of the band Fun before seeing the commercial and after viewing it on TV, I had to download the album and listen to it from beginning to end.  It was a good musical choice for Chevy, for the band is reputable and the entire album is a great one.

    For an artist, the more exposure their song receives the better.  For a company, if they feature an artist that many viewers like, then the possibility of their product or message being received is exponentially greater.  The relationship between corporation and artist is beneficial between both parties with the release of a TV commercial.

    The video above, one for Audi, an automobile company, features the song "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen.  "The Killing Moon" was a hit off of the band's 1984 album Ocean Rain.  The song has been used in commercials before, but the song relates to a vampire theme expressed in the commercial.  Audi calls their commerical "Vampire Moon" and is targeting fans of the popular Twilight series.  Though the song utilized is not a new artist, the way it's been placed in this commercial helps to relate it to the well known series of vampire films and books.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    RIP Davy Jones

    Davy Jones, the lead singer of the Monkees, died Wednesday February 29, 2012 in Florida of a heart attack.  Jones was 66.
    Jones, third from left, with The Monkees

    Jones joined the Monkees in 1965.  He rose to fame shortly after he joined the band, the Monkees, which was originally formed for the U.S. television show. Jones sang lead vocals such as I Wanna be Free and Daydream Believer.

    Though I was never able to see The Monkees live in my lifetime, I remember their popular songs being played in my parents house growing up.  The most had a high reverence in the Stewart household and The Monkees were often aligned with The Beatles, in order of importance.

    My most vivid memories were rerun episodes of the Brady Bunch, where Jones played himself, and the episode originally aired in late 1971.  In the episode, Marcia Brady, president of the Davy Jones Fan Club, vows to get him to play at a school dance.

    However, Jones' will most be remembered for his musical talent and contributions as a member of The Monkees and other solo projects.

    Lady Gaga gone gaga in her fashion?

    Similar to musician Marilyn Manson, Gaga is looking for pure shock value rather than making a fashion faux pas.  Gaga often uses face masks, for this shock value, but also because most other female artists won't copy her with her fashion choices.  Gaga considers fashion an art form and being innovative or purely bizarre is how she expresses herself.

    Gaga on the red carpet

    Gaga in concert
    Lady Gaga definitely likes to push the envelope with her fashions.  When she struts down the red carpet, one must ask themselves, not whether she looks good or bad, but rather, "Is she wearing actual meat?"
    Gaga in lace mask

    Gaga's outfits range from futuristic fairy tale creatures, bustier outfits with fire shooting from the bust area (shown above) and face masks  made out of pure lace.

     Perhaps her infamous meat dress was most cutting edge, when Gaga wore actual raw meat as clothing.  The meat was from Los Angeles and the dress weighed 50 lbs.
    Gaga in meat dress
    One positive fact about Gaga wearing meat is that the material is relatively inexpensive as opposed to other celebrity gowns and the meat will be dried into beef jerky after use.  Gaga may not always be sporting the latest designer duds but she is guaranteed to always turn heads and keep people guessing.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Concert review: Summer Camp @Mercury Lounge

    For sweet dreams in

        blushing pink PJ's

              come to


    where teen dreams prevail


    L O V E

    conquers ALL!

     The London Duo, Summer Camp, is nostalgic for the summer camp adolescent memories and creates this saccharine atmosphere with fluffy lyrics and a fabricated LA fictional city known as Condale, where teen dreams prevail and love conquers all.
     Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey comprised this musical duo.  Summer Camp released an EP "Youth" in 2010 and have appeared at the Mercury Lounge in 2011 and returned early February 2012. They played most of the EP in their second show in NYC and both Warmsley and Sankey are impressive live as compared to their recorded voices on the EP.  Ms. Sankey has an edgeless voice and Mr. Warmsley impressive switching between synthesizers and a filtered guitar provided a perfect ambience for the duo's lyrics.
    It is ironic that Summer Camp yearns for the fun memories of camp, especially since they openly admit they have never experienced attending a camp in the past during their childhoods.

    Classical cool

    Maurice Ravel
        My days are often filled with dancing to classical music when I'm rehearsing with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.  I usually have listened to this accompaniment a hundred times before performing a particular piece and am usually tired of hearing it once the rehearsal period is over.  In some ballets I am not cast in, I usually get to watch other dancers rehearse and I get the great opportunity of simply listening to the music and taking in the beautiful, melodic sounds.

    I recently found myself watching a rehearsal of George Balanchine's Sonatine, a piece for two dancers and music by Maurice Ravel.  Ravel's Sonatine for Piano is a 12 minute selection that allows one to be intoxicated in its soothing notes and playful harmonies.
    NYCB in Balanchine's Sonatine


    Sonatine was presented as the opening ballet of the New York City Ballet Ravel festival during the 1975 season, which marked the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.  In this work the ballet dancers and pianist shared the stage during performance.

    Single-worthy: Sleigh Bell's "Comeback Kid"

    Sleigh Bell's blend hard rock with R&B, and are a band with style.  Their songs are loud, brash and addicting.  Their musical focus is on the late-80's pop-metal phenomenon, and the duo's personal wardrobe style is reflective of that, as they wear sunglass-and-jacket ensembles that evoke a cool tone.  Comeback Kid is their first released single off of their new album Reign of Terror. 

     Comeback Kid brings images of retro chic with Wayfarer sunglasses, Letterman Jackets, skateboarding and suburban streets.  The music is relatable and what's great about Sleigh Bells is that they do not wallow in the nostalgia but they rather create a new sense with these familiar ideas.

    There's a manipulation of time in Comeback Kid and a strong overlaying emotional theme running through the lyrics.  This strong first release off Reign of Terror makes us look forward to the full release of the album.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Artist Spotlight: 5 things about Bon Iver

    After winning alternative album in the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Bon Iver went from a experimental folk act to becoming a household name.  This was the first year Bon Iver was nominated for a Grammy award.  Here are 5 things you should know about Bon Iver :

    1. Justin Vernon, lead singer of the project, has previously performed on "Saturday Night Live" and collaborated extensively with rapper Kanye West on West's album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy".

    2. Pitchfork.com awarded Bon Iver the number one album of 2011 for their self-titled album.

    3. The band name is derived from the french term "bon hiver", meaning good winter.

    4. Bon Iver teamed up with St.Vincent in 2009 to record "Roslyn" for the The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack.

    5. Other band members that compose Bon Iver include Sean Carey (drums, vocal, piano), Michael Noyce (vocals, baritone guitar), and Michael McCaughan (bass, drum, vocals).

    Hope you've learned more about Bon Iver and simply won't refer to him as that ambiguous Hipster Indie Singer!

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    "Just Kids" worth a read ... or rather a listen

    Patti Smith's "Just Kids" is a worthwhile story regarding her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the famed shutterbug.  Smith and Mapplethorpe were instantly attached from their very first meeting in 1967 though his death with AIDS more than 20 years later.

    They were lovers until he came out of the closet, yet his conservative Catholic upbringing forced him to be fake married in front of his parents during his relationship with Smith.  Though Smith moved on to other partners after Mapplethorpe, her infatuation never diminished.
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    However, this tale is best translated in audiobook format rather than paperback form due to the author's intriguing voice navigating the listener with each memory.  It's Smith's voice, both rough but comedic that parallels this tale so well.

    To really experience "Just Kids", it will take a trip to ITunes and not Barnes and Noble to pick up your audio copy and get swept away with Patti Smith.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Tutus and Tiaras abound at the movies

    The Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center in NYC is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  The festival runs from January 27-January 31 2012 at the Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Munroe Film Center.  Dance on Camera Festival presents a wide range of independently made documentaries, short films, features and even animation.

    This year’s selections included films on Paris Opera Ballet, Makarova and a film on ballroom dancers restricted to wheelchairs.  The festival brings a variety of work that is uplifting, inspiring, and provocative.  It also is a tremendous opportunity for the masses to enjoy dance at a heavily discounted rate as compared to the market prices of a ticket to see dance performed live in NYC theaters.

                                           Gerald Arpino's Trinity as seen in Joffrey:American Mavericks of Dance

    As a former member of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, even I could gain knowledge from attending the festival and viewing “Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance”.  This film on Joffrey was the first documentary produced and the story of its founders is premiering its story in the Dance on Camera Festival this year.  

    These dance films are definitely worth a view, whether the viewer is a balletomane or a dance rookie, the festival offers something for everyone to enjoy.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Are you listening??

    Welcome to my blog! If you want to know audible culture worth absorbing you've landed on the right page!  As a professional ballet dancer, I am constantly influenced by other mediums that inspire and aid in my interpretation of art and the enrichment of my cultural awareness in daily life.  I'm always found with headphones in my ears, listening to a new album or audiobook.  Join my journey as I present my discoveries in audible medias and their impact... the first step is to keep your ears open!