An article in Fortune magazine highlights a digital music licensing deal between the Ann Arbor District Library and Ghostly International. From the report: “As far as anyone involved is aware, this is the first deal of its kind between a record label and a library … and it highlights some of the fundamental ways that some forward-looking labels and libraries have started to adapt to our modern digital climate.” [Source]
National Public Radio reports on the debut album of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a community of nuns who live north of Ann Arbor. The album, titled Mater Eucharistiae, was released on Aug. 13. The report quotes Sister Maria Suso: “Usually when we’re singing, it’s just us and God. But with the CD, we were able to bring other people into that space of prayer when we’re singing. And that’s something that is humbling and makes us a little vulnerable. These are our special songs.” [Source]
A post on Herman Miller’s Lifework blog features a Q&A with Lisa Waud of Ann Arbor-based Pot & Box, focused on her playlist at work. Here’s how Waud responds when asked what her work would be if it were a song or musician: “Wow. I guess I’d say my work would be the band Little Dragon: a strong female lead, can’t sit still when it’s underway, and like they describe their music, my work is very much a dreamy, rhythmical, shifting, moody rainbow.” [Source]
Last year a local Ann Arbor attorney, Zachary V. Moen, apprenticed himself to Ann Arbor master violin maker Gregg Alf. And now, under Alf’s direction, Moen has completed two violins.
On Monday afternoon at Alf’s Prospect Street studio in Ann Arbor’s Burns Park, Moen and Alf allowed The Chronicle to bear witness to the first sound check of Moen’s second violin. It’s a copy of a famous instrument made by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesù (1698-1744), and played by Norwegian violinist Ole Bornemann Bull (1810-1880) – the Ole Bull del Gesù.
After coaxing the first notes out of the violin, the verdict from Alf on his apprentice’s work: “It’s an incredible D!”
For non-violinists: That doesn’t translate to D-plus as a letter grade … D is the name of the second string from the left.
I’m wedged in the corner of a west side Ann Arbor basement amongst a jumble of musical instrument cases. The cases belong to the six musicians of Orpheum Bell. There’s more than one case per musician – they each play an array of different instruments. During a break in the rehearsal, I have to ask: What is that? It’s a Stroh violin, “spelled like the beer,” explains Annie Crawford.
The rehearsal is geared towards a CD release show at The Ark on Dec. 4. I’m soaking in the sounds of the basement practice mostly because of that CD, the group’s second – “Pearls.”
Serge van der Voo had sent along a review copy of the CD to The Chronicle. In a world of MP3 files flung around the Internet, a physical CD is an awfully clunky way to deliver musical data. But when I unfolded the heavy card stock CD cover into its 16-inch total length, I noticed one of the folds was not exactly uniform and regular – not the way you’d expect if a machine had produced several thousand of them.
An even closer examination revealed that the print quality was not the laser-like rigid perfection that a modern digital printer delivers. Which is not to say it was sloppy. On the contrary. It was more like trace-evidence that human hands had played a role. Who were these people with the apparently handcrafted CD case? To get some insight, I had crammed myself back amongst those instrument cases in the corner of a basement for two hours.
Balloons, bubbles and the sound of bagpipes filled Liberty Plaza in downtown Ann Arbor last Thursday, as the Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis drew a crowd of people with soup and sandwiches in tow for the season’s first Sonic Lunch, a free, weekly outdoor concert series.
As the band warmed up – playing practice notes on their guitars and bagpipes – people filled the seats along the perimeter of the plaza, located at the corner of Liberty and Division. Some came wheeling their bikes, carrying helmets and water bottles. Many pushed strollers or strolled in holding the hands of small children (hands that soon grasped ribbons tied to blue and green balloons – signature colors of the Bank of Ann Arbor, the event’s main sponsor). When the built-in seats filled up, people rested in folding chairs or sat directly on the cement ground.
Oftentimes here at The Chronicle we cover wildly different events within the span of a few hours. And equally often, it ends up that seemingly different things – like classical music and a language competition – have all sorts of connections we never imagined.
And so it was on Saturday, when we observed first a master class taught by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at Hill Auditorium, followed by a statewide Japanese Quiz Bowl at the University of Michigan Modern Languages Building, just behind Hill. Both events were attended by several hundred people, and both had communication at their core.
But only one of them talked about vomit, and that’s where we’ll begin.
Horns for the Holidays still has a trickle of donations coming in – apparently, a lot of people clean out their closets after the new year, and sometimes they uncover an old instrument that’s gathering dust. Four such instruments – a violin, viola trumpet and flute – had been dropped off at the Ann Arbor School of the Performing Arts, and last week The Chronicle headed over there to meet with the man who started this project 12 years ago, Ken Kozora.
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the introduction to “A Golden Age of Jazz Revisited: 1939-1942″ by Hazen Schumacher and John Stevens, published by NPP Books to be released on Nov. 14. It includes two CDs of music discussed in the book, and will be available online after Nov. 14. Schumacher is an Ann Arbor resident and jazz historian whom most readers will know from his long-time NPR show, “Jazz Revisited.”
Almost everyone has a connection to a favorite type of music, and many can trace that connection to their years as a teen or a young adult. Music critic Whitney Balliett put it this way in The New Yorker: “The music that teenagers like penetrates their bones.” It’s as if we stop discovering new music at some point in our lives and continue to explore the music we already love.
A beautiful end-of-summer evening, a holiday weekend, a free outdoor concert by a world-class musician – it all came together on Labor Day for the final 7 Mondays at 7 carillon recital at UM’s Burton Tower.
Several dozen people showed up to hear Steven Ball play songs ranging from Ravel’s La Vallee des Cloches to a Wizard of Oz medley, as children played in the Ingalls Mall fountain and students strolled by.
Like many of the folks sitting in folding chairs or on blankets around Ingalls Mall, David and Marilyn Cummins brought a picnic dinner to eat before the show. They said they came to the concert just to get out of the house and do something. “Then we’ll know we’ve had a holiday,” Marilyn laughed.
“And the price is right,” David added.
At 10:25 a.m., Elbel Field was mostly empty except for a few Labor Day picnickers and some guys playing on the beach volleyball court. But exactly at 10:30, a stream of students carrying every manner of instrument started streaming out of Revelli Hall, crossing Hoover Street and meandering up the sidewalk toward Elbel.