I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

February 25, 2018 - 10:13 a.m.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I have a lot to write about and not a lot of time to write. I've already wasted an hour. That's the story of my life.

Last night was a kvell fest, I went to see Deni Bonet at Carnegie Hall. I've been making a conscious effort to avoid writing about my commutes but in this case, I have to answer the question, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The BX29 to the 6 to the 4 to the R. Now back to kvelling. It's not every day that I get to see a friend perform at America's, perhaps the world's most prestigious concert hall. Deni is a Jewish American born in Virginia that lives in New York, a natural to play at the Chinese New Year Spectacular IV. It's the thanks we get for all the business we give the Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Here's the complete performer list.

Jiaxin Tian, Piano
Deni Bonet, Violin
Simon Mulligan, Piano
William Cai, Tenor
Christopher Flynn, Guitar
Ado Coker, Piano
Gabriela Márquez, Violin
Ward Williams, Cello
Everyone after William Cai is Deni's band.

The show was at Zankel Hall, not the more vertiginous Isaac Stern Auditorium, so my seats in the upper level were not nose bleed seats. They might in fact have been below ground level. My favorite architectural feature of the hall is the exposed bedrock in one section. I sadly didn't get to that part.

Even if Deni were not performing I'd have loved the music. Jiaxin Tian is a great pianist and her program perfect for my middle-brow taste. She performed top 40 classical piano.

MOZART Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight"
JIANZHONG WANG Liuyang River
YINGHAI LI Music at Sunset
LISZT "La campanella" in G-sharp Major from Grandes Études de Paganini, S. 141, No. 3
LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C-sharp Minor
I was familiar with all of them except for the two Chinese pieces. I loved the Li. I love classical piano, it's a one-person orchestra, so many voices from one instrument. I have to close my eyes to follow the separate threads.

Jiaxin Tian opened the first set and closed the second. Mulligan and Cai closed the first. Mulligan did a transcription of Rhapsody in Blue for piano instead of the traditional ukulele version. Don't look at me like that, I just heard Pete Kennedy play it on uke the week before. I'm sure that's how Gershwin meant for it to be played; he just lacked the necessary uke skills to pull it off.

In the midst of this classical music out comes Deni to open the second set looking fabulous in a ball gown. The other performs were staid and didn't speak at all, except when Jiaxin introduced the Chinese pieces. Deni, comes out and is Deni. When she's talking on stage she always reminds me of Fanny Brice, or more accurately Streisand in Funny Girl. She's brash, she's funny, and the antithesis of staid. Then she plays and shows that she belongs on the stage with the classical virtuosi. Thanks to the program I remember what she played.

Bright Shiny Objects
Primal Dream
Last Girl on Earth
Palisades
One in a Million
Frankenstein
The first, second, and fourth are instrumentals from her most recent album, Bright Shiny Objects, The third and fifth songs; Deni has sung at Carnegie Hall. Yes, the last is Edgar Winter instrumental performed on violin, cello, piano, and guitar.

Ackk, I have to make breakfast and get out of here in 50 minutes. The entire evening was magical, and I got to talk to Deni when it was over. The one thing that got me was that people started leaving in the second set. Some left in the middle of pieces. Someone even groaned when she Jiaxin came out for her second encore. You couldn't have paid me to leave.

Getting home was a bit difficult as there were huge delays on the R train, so I just walked over to Lexington go catch the 6. As I just caught the bus it probably cost me no time. It was a good thing as walking in the City is a lot more pleasant that waiting at a bus stop.


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Us and Them - May 14, 2018
Pesky Kat - May 13, 2018



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