"Flight of the Bumblebee" - Sandy Feat/Sir James Galway/Canadian Brass

Yesterday, younger son and I headed over to the West Point on the Eno park in Durham to see the sand sculpture from the Festival for the Eno.*  Every year, the sand sculpting group, Sandy Feat, makes a large sand sculpture about the yearly Festival theme.  This year, bees were the theme (click here).  


 The bees are launching one of their number with fireworks, bombs, and explosives.  

DSC09633This one is giving the rider a boost.

DSC09634The stinger of the rider.

DSC09636The other side

DSC09637Since they have four "arms," this one can light the explosives with one claw...

DSC09638...while covering its ears with two more.



I always enjoy the sand sculpture, but, this year, I really got a kick out of it because the name is from one of my favorite classical pieces to play on the flute.  

Back in 1981, as reported by the New York Times, the flutist, Sir James Galway, challenged the Canadian Brass to see which could play Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee the fastest:  

It all began last weekend at the Chautauqua Music Festival in upstate New York when James Galway, the Irish flutist, played ''The Flight of the Bumblebee'' in 52.45 seconds. Mr. Galway challenged the Canadian Brass to play the Rimsky-Korsakov piece faster.

''We were at a distinct disadvantage Tuesday night when we accepted the challenge,'' Chuck Daellenback, a tuba player with the Canadian Brass, said yesterday in Toronto.

''I play the piece on the tuba, and not only is the instrument unwieldy, but halfway through my hand gets cramped, and Ronnie Romm, our trumpeter, must continue the fingering while I continue to blow the horn.''

The Canadian Brass was clocked at 60.05 seconds, but Mr. Daellenback figured that because of all the problems involved playing ''The Flight of the Bumblebee'' on the tuba, ''we were entitled to an eight-second handicap and we declared ourselves the winners.''

Then, on Tuesday night in Toronto, the Canadian Brass tried harder and huffed and puffed its way through in 55 seconds. 

One of  Sir James Galway's Bumblebee videos:


Canadian Brass:



2007 Festival sand sculpture post


 * I'm still not really sweating (since my partial thyroidectomy) so, unfortunately, I wasn't up for going to the Festival in upper 80's & really humid weather this year.  

"Windows are Rolled Down" - Amos Lee

I finish 2014_07_25_6549aspediting the last photo today.  I've spent lots of my free time the last month selecting the best 200+ photos (out of the almost 4,000 dear husband took) of our community theater's production of Seussical.  Tomorrow, I'll send them out to the cast & crew (dh refers to this as my "love letter to everyone involved," which I guess it is)(they're a wonderful group of people!).  

Today, I've been feeling emotionally flat after finishing.  I spent a lot of time this afternoon playing computer games.  It was too hot & humid (or rainy) to do much outside.  This evening, I finally checked in with some of the blogs I read regularly - most of which I haven't read since rehearsals got busy back in early July.  

Don't Eat Alone had a music post, summersong, in early August, which included some favorites of mine (Nanci Griffith and the Indigo Girls) and some wonderful songs I haven't heard before.  My favorite of those is Windows are Rolled Down by Amos Lee:


New music woke up the rest of my mind again!

[I'm not posting any of the other 200+ photos, but here's my current Facebook photo.  I was a bird girl - such a fun costume, and I had fun acting with the other bird girls!]

"Wages of Sin" - Cleo Laine's and Chita Rivera's versions

At heart, I'm not a soloist.  Of course, I performed a number of flute/piano pieces when I majored in music in college, but it's actually not what I enjoyed the most.  I love playing in ensembles - chamber ensembles, orchestras, etc.  I enjoy figuring out how and when to blend and when to pull away a bit - all the back and forth of playing with others.  With the singing I've done the last five years, both in musical theater and choir, I enjoy the same thing.  My favorite thing to sing is second soprano.  It has enough melody to be interesting and enough harmony to be fun.

This has always made auditions strange for me.  I have to sing a solo in order to sing with an ensemble.

I've been quite happy to sing in the chorus in musical theater.  Tomorrow, I'll be auditioning for Les Misérables.  I love the chorus parts in there, and I'd be so happy singing them.   I prefer singing them to any of the songs the leads sing.

There are only two musicals that I can think of that I would try out for an (approximately age-appropriate) main role in (I don't have the acting experience to actually get the roles, but they would be fun to do).  Interestingly Chita Rivera has played both parts.

One role is Princess Puffer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.*  I've listened to the original soundtrack so much that, as I realized when listening to it today on the way to Broadway Dance, I not only know all the notes, harmonies, etc. - I also know where they take each breath.  

Cleo Laine has been one of my favorite singers since high school when I heard her version of Julie in the soundtrack to the British stage version of Showboat.  I love her version of Princess Puffer in Drood.

The other part of this post is that our weather has been like a roller coaster the last few weeks.  Really - if you look at the weather graph on WRAL (Raleigh TV), it's gone constantly, and dramatically, up and down.  We'll have a day in the 70's, like today, and a day around 50 (tomorrow).  The weather's effect on my sinuses, plus really bad allergies the last month, have done a lot of harm to my singing.  I started going hoarse this weekend, which knocks out both of the songs I've worked on for the audition.  When I go hoarse, I lose the top part of my singing range first so they're both too high now.  

I was very depressed about this yesterday.  I looked up "alto audition songs" because I can still sing in that part of my range (though I don't usually sing alto).  I considered All That Jazz, but I've danced that one so much that I can't sing it without dancing it too.

I'm even more nervous about auditioning than usual because this isn't the same community theater group I've been in before.  It's a totally new group for me (though I did see their Fiddler on the Roof in September).  They're going to have lots of people auditioning so I think my getting in the chorus is really a long shot.**  

Back when I decided to audition, though, part of the reason I decided was that I need a new challenge.  I haven't had this kind of a challenge, or one that made me this nervous, in years - possibly since my first musical theater audition four years ago; although I have had lots of challenges in the musicals.

No, actually, I taught the adult chorus the music the second summer I did musical theater.  That was as much of a challenge.

I decided last summer that it was time for another good challenge - whether I get in or not.

This morning, I was nervous and without a good audition song.  I needed something in the alto range that I knew really well and that I could act.  

I had joked a few weeks ago that Wages of Sin would be a good song to act, but I wasn't going to use it because it didn't use all of my range.  Well, I don't have all of my range now so it's a good choice.  

Here's Cleo Laine's version, which is the one where I know every note and phrasing ...

The Wages Of Sin (Princess Puffer) from Cleo Laine on Myspace.

... which is a little bit unfortunate because she changes some of the notes - like THE FIRST TWO!...

...which is why I've listened to Chita Rivera's version from the recent revival over and over again today:


*  I'm leaving the other for another post.  

** I think older son will get in because they'll need a lot of guys for this musical!

I finally chose an audition piece!

One of the local community theater groups - not the one I've been in before - is doing Les Misérables this winter.  It has been one of my favorite musicals since I got the record of the soundtrack - back in the early 90's.  I made a tape of the record and sang with it in the car over, and over, and over...

And I also read (and own) the unabridged two volume book.  

Auditions are in two weeks...

...minus one day.

I had been working on Unexpected Song from Song and Dance (since August).   

It's one of my (many) favorite Broadway songs.  It's been going well, singing-wise, but I finally saw the audition page on Facebook last week (it went up while we were on vacation, but Facebook changed the way they show things last month so I missed it when we got home).  The vocal audition is also an acting audition, and this isn't a song where I find it easy to show a lot of emotion.  You can, but it's more subtle acting, and I'm not good at that (yet).  

I freaked out last week!  I need a new song, three weeks before the audition (I've been working on Unexpected Song since August).  Since this is a group that I haven't auditioned for before, I'm even more nervous than I usually am (which is saying a lot!)!

First, I went through songs that we've used in Broadway Dance classes.  I'm used to doing those with expression.  I strongly considered Forget About the Boy from Thoroughly Modern Millie, but I also want a song that shows my singing range, and it doesn't.  

Eventually, I went through previous audition songs.  Four years ago, I auditioned with No Way to Stop It from the Broadway (not the movie) version of The Sound of Music.  I've always loved the way the melody dances around (and so does the flute):

I'll be singing from 0:52 to 1:54.  

I would LOVE SO MUCH to be in the chorus of Les Misérables!!!!!!!!!!

An Introverted Vacation/"I Have A Need for Solitude" - Mary Chapin Carpenter

I have a need/For solitude/I'll never be/Safe in crowded rooms.

(I Have A Need for Solitude - Mary Chapin Carpenter (from her album, The Age of Miracles))


Saturday, we returned from our two week vacation.  While we were on vacation, we only got on the internet long enough to check Ray's Weather Forecast for the Blowing Rock area.  Cell phone reception at the house was very bad. Even the hikes were less populated than in a usual year.  Because of the government shutdown, all of the National Parks on the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed.

Not prohibited, just closed...

...which means that there was a longer walk in to the trails from where the car is parked by the side of the road.  Only the really dedicated hikers did so, which made for much quieter trails.  

We didn't do much shopping this year either.  Since we planned better, we had fewer grocery trips. Two days before our vacation ended, it was a very foggy, dreary day.  That was the only day we shopped for fun.  Dear husband and I went to just a few of our favorite stores in Blowing Rock,* but then we were talked out and headed back to the house for a quiet afternoon before another walk at the Cone Lake.  We walked at the Cone Lake almost every evening.  

Not that it was a totally quiet vacation.  We brought lots of music, old and new.  We had long conversations after meals, and on hikes, and while watching sunsets at the Cone Lake.


We read lots of books. 

Yesterday, I mentioned to the guys that we had a very introverted vacation.  Younger son replied that it wouldn't be a vacation otherwise.  

Mary Chapin Carpenter's song was unfamiliar to me before vacation.  Now, I know almost all of the words, and I can hear the guitar accompaniment in my head when the room is silent.**  It goes along with who I am and with my trying to accept that (more on that in tomorrow's post).

I have a need/For cool verdant spaces/Beneath the trees/Secret empty places 


DSC04876sIt was wonderful to spend all that time on vacation out in the woods.  We hike every day when we're in the mountains on vacation - whether we need shorts & t-shirts, rain jackets, or winter coats.  I haven't spent that kind of time outside this year, and that's not good for me.  Partly in order to get myself outside, regardless of the weather, I'm considering starting a photo blog of someplace local (closer than Duke Gardens).

On my birthday, I decided that I wanted to do some of the trails that we see, but haven't ever taken.  One of my favorites that we did that day was the hike at Grandmother Mountain (right) on the BRP.  It was a rainy, foggy morning, but we spent it hiking. 

It cleared up in the afternoon, and we saw some beautiful views before we headed back to the house in the early evening.  

But you can find me/When the light is changing/At that time of day when/There's little day remaining  

The time of day she's describing is one of our favorite times of day, although we call it the "Golden Afternoon."  When we're on vacation, even if we have a quiet afternoon after the morning hike, we always go out for another hike in the Golden Afternoon.


* Pandora's Mailbox, de Provence et d'ailleurs, Main Street Gallery, Footsloggers, and Sunset Tees and Hattery

** I learn music quicker than words.    

"Born This Way" - Lady Gaga

At the Pride Parade last weekend, we were about half a block from the viewing stand, where they played music before the Parade started (mostly dance music)(I was good and didn't start doing Zumba on the sidewalk).  One of the songs that they played was Lady Gaga's Born This Way, which is great for dancing.  

Two mornings later, our Zumba teacher changed her opening song to Born This Way so now I have two happy associations with this song.  Here's Lady Gaga's performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards:

Born This Way was the 1000th song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 List.  

Finale of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto - Itzhak Perlman and the New York Philharmonic

It's been fun posting every day this month, but I need to remember not to try to post every day in months with beautiful weather.  Not that there's a problem with posting videos, but I do more writing when the sunshine isn't calling me outside.  Late in the afternoon on Sunday, I moved the van to the end of the driveway and cleaned the inside.  It needed cleaning, but I did it at that particular time because the last bit of sunlight was on the end of the driveway so the cleaning gave me a reason to be in the sun.  

Here's a particularly joyful video to end my month of daily blogging - Itzhak Perlman with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Zinman playing the Finale of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto:

Hat tip to Greg Sandow's blog on the future of classical music

The Tenseness of Eidelweiss

The Sound of Music is the first movie I can remember seeing.  From what I remember, it was a wonderful day.  We were visiting my grandparents in Cleveland, and my mother and I took the train into downtown.  I was probably around five years old so it was very exciting!   We met my aunt, who was visiting relatives in Akron.  The three of us went to a beautiful movie theater.  From my memories of it, it was one of the ornate, downtown movie palaces (many of which were still holding on in the mid-1960's).

It was magical.  At that age, I didn't remember movies all that well, but I remembered large parts of The Sound of Music.  My mother got the record for me, and I memorized all the songs. 

Then came handwriting.  Our elementary school put all the kids in that grade (second? third?) in the auditorium, and one teacher, Mrs. W., taught handwriting to all of us.  Mrs. W. was very able to keep us in line.  You never knew when, or for what, she would lash out at you.  While we were practicing the letters, she would walk around behind us checking our writing. It was like being stalked by a crocodile - they just float there, partly submerged, and then they attack, and you're gone.

At the end of the lesson, when all of my muscles were nice and tense,* Mrs. W. would have us all sing Eidelweiss for her because it made her happy. 

Even with Julie Andrews singing it, I ended up hating Eidelweiss

Fast forward twenty to thirty years.  At bedtime, I sang Broadway songs to my kids - including Eidelweiss.  I watched the movie again while cuddling with my kids on the couch.  I had good experiences of it to replace the bad ones. 

However, I still won't sing it in public.  My voice teacher keeps telling me that I should sing it for an audition, and, voice-wise, she's correct.  It fits nicely in my range and the phrases are a good length.   It would show off my voice pretty well. 

Whenever she mentions it, I just say that I sang it too often to my kids to be able to sing it again.   That's really not the whole truth, or even a major part of it.  Singing it to my kids is fine, but I can't picture singing it in public again. 

Today, however, I realized that singing Eidelweiss for an audition might complete the redemption of the song.  The people at the community theater group are always friendly and encouraging, and it might be the positive experience that could vanquish the crocodile.  

If I didn't just tense up and ruin the whole thing. 


* I'm getting tense, and I can feel my blood pressure going up, just writing about her.