Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.

31 January 2008

WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? part one

You guessed it - my next topic of discussion is opera. I have to present it in a way that makes it palatable to the 15 and 16 year old clientele to whom i serve it. What better way to introduce opera than in the same way I first came to enjoy it?

This first is a famous parody on the overture of the great Rossini's piece de resistance "Il Barbiere di Siviglia". Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The beloved aria "Largo al Factotum" from Rossini's Barber of Seville:

... and a version of the same which gripped me in a sort of horrid fascination ...

Italian opera in the first half of the 19th century is synonymous with the name of Giocchino Rossini. The most revered and successful operatic composer of his day, Rossini wrote 40 operas in the span of 20 years. His final opera, Guillaume Tell, was the longest (6 hours!) and most elaborate, depicting the 14th-century legend of the Swiss folk hero who led the fight for independence from the Austrian Hapsburgs. The Overture is actually a four-section tone poem: a depiction of dawn in the mountains opens the piece, followed by raindrops, wind and a violent storm. The English horn and flute provide the calm which follows; the tune is based on a Swiss cowherd's cattle call. The bucolic pastoral scene is interrupted with the approach of the Swiss army, heralded by the trumpet's now-famous Lone Ranger theme song.

... and just for fun ...

23 January 2008


I am going to ask that all of Coco’s and my friends rally in support of Coco at a very trying time. For the past several months, Coco has been dealing with a health issue. I am not speaking of her over-sized, pre-cancerous ovarian cyst, the surgery and post-operative complications of last autumn. Rather, Coco has lost all hearing in her right ear. She has become profoundly deaf in that ear, which for a musician and music teacher is devastating. The hearing loss has been gradual, but was not addressed due to more pressing health concerns at the time, even though she made her doctor aware of a hearing problem two years ago. For various reasons, she and I chose not to let anyone know until further test results were available. Those results are now in, and she and I decided that I should be the one to let everyone know the results.

Coco had an MRI performed on Monday, 21 January 2008, and was told the results Tuesday, 22 January 2008. Apparently, she has what is known as an Acoustic Neuroma. In short, she has a tumor that began growing inside the auditory nerve of her right ear. The tumor is benign, but has grown to over 15mm x 25 mm in size, large enough to be pressing on the brain. Left untreated, this tumor, though benign, will kill her. She must have surgery. Unfortunately, removal of the tumor is not easy, and will not reverse the hearing loss; it is permanent. And the surgery will most likely have short- and intermediate-term side-effects such as having to learn to walk again, relearn certain hand-eye movements, among others.

The tumor is large enough to put her in an emergency situation, and the surgery will be scheduled sometime within the next four months. She will have the surgery as soon as it is scheduled, but will first have to visit with specialists in towns distant from her own. And the surgery can not be performed locally, requiring her to go to a distant location for surgery and recovery. Minimum recovery time is 4 months, during which she will not be allowed to be alone at any time, nor will she be permitted to drive. She may not even be able to get online to be with us. The surgery is, after all, considered brain surgery. As you can easily imagine, she was somewhat despondent after it was explained to her fully.

Coco has been through a lot this past year with regards to her health. She has missed work and lost income. And she stands to do so again. While having bent, however, she has not broken. Quite simply, I am in awe of this woman. She remains a strong force. She remains the same gentle, caring, nurturing soul. Her online friends have been and remain a major source of emotional support for her, more so than she likes to let on. Coco never lets on what her internet community and acceptance within it has meant to her. Now, however, she is going to need her friends more than ever. I humbly ask all of you to regularly send emails, leave comments on her blog, leave offlines, get-well e-cards, etc., in show of your support. Feel free to copy this post and place it on your own blog, or make it an RSS feed if you wish. Just get the word out to all her friends. Let her know you care. I am not asking for, nor would she accept, sympathy. I simply ask a showing of love and support. Trust me, doing so will boost her spirits immeasurably. I will keep everyone informed as events unfold.

Thank you,


09 January 2008

WELCOME TO MY WORLD - the Baroque Era of Music

Here we go again. This time it's all about Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and so on. Much more familiar to the common man. Hope you enjoy ...

JS Bach - "Little" Fugue in G minor - J. S. Bach's "Little" Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, with a scrolling bar-graph score. The instrument here is a Post fortepiano; the pedal part is doubled an octave down. Rendition by Stephen Malinowski (smalin) using the conductor program.

Claudio Monteverdi - Orfeo

Antonio Vivaldi - Four Seasons "Winter, mvt. 1"

GF Handel - The Messiah "Hallelujah Chorus"

GF Handel - The Messiah "Every Valley"