Beethoven’s 9th Live at Carnegie Hall

The New York Youth Symphony’s Glorious Season Finale

[Delayed by technical difficulties, I neglected to publicize this review once posted.]

Nowhere did Memorial Day weekend shine more vibrant than within the walls of Carnegie Hall, where the New York Youth Symphony performed beautifully the works by three composers at the end, peak, and start of their careers – Beethoven, Rossini, and Molly Joyce.

btvn 2

“It was thrilling to hear live and in person, all those strings and horns driving the piece onward. I was also happily impressed by the clarity and individual personality heard from every reed, brass and flute, throughout the gentler transitional sections, and how the entire ensemble gathered into one awesome host, when the timpani sounded the start of a new leg in the race, and all were off over hill and dale at a fierce gallop. It was a thing wonderful to behold to be heard.”

Read the Full Review

Subway Pains

Why don’t they just officially change the name to subway pains?

“The pains were so slow tonight!” “How long did you have to wait for your pain?” “I had to take 4 pains to get home!”

Ahhhh, how could I forget the Sunday Night Follies in the subway system? Watching it say the train is coming in 2 minutes, for 8 minutes and saying 1 minute, then disappearing off the board and never showing up. Delightful.

Perhaps that was a ghost pain, for the part of my life amputated and thrown away while waiting for pains.


Ahhhh. Stripped off the lightest of my flannel sheets and replaced them with freshly laundered cotton sheets.

Windows open all day.

And now the sweet scent of ozone sinking through the troposphere from the impending spring thunderstorm provokes yet another ahhhhhh. Spring is in the air and great sleeping weather awaits.

Four Faces in the Memory of Kent State

Monday Map – May 4th Marks the 45th Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings

When Ohio National Guardsman fired live ammunition at students protesting the war in Cambodia, 13 fell in the 13 second volley, 4 of them died.

Kent State shooting map

The action at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 forever changed how law enforcement and military authorities of the United States approach and deal with public protests, hostile mobs, and riots. While the social revolution of the Viet Nam era was cresting, in the long run, the horrific mistakes of that day led to a lasting revolution in non-lethal crowd control, preventing many more fatalities in the years to come, all the way down to the sad events in Baltimore in recent days.


Gas explosion destroys another chunk of NYC history

Newsweek provides historical perspective on the impact of Thursday’s devastating explosion and fire in New York City

A wonderful “obituary” of the block that has been decimated by Thursday’s gas explosion

It housed a mayoral residence in the 1850s, reputedly a well-known speakeasy at the end of the Yiddish Broadway era, and of course the gear fab, retro kitsch and clothing store that was Love Saves the Day, which moved out of town in 2009.

“To see no building where there was a building was heartbreaking,” says (LSD’s owner Richard ) Herson, 68. “That was like the heart of the East Village, and I know it’s going to affect a lot of people.”

east-village-explosion B Hider Reuters Newsweek

Thanks to Naomi Rosenblatt of Heliotrope Books for the link!

Celtic Genes in the Modern UK – Monday Map

An article published in the scientific journal Nature reveals discoveries in the genetic history of the British-Celtic people.

celt gene map

Much of today’s British population reflects the geopolitical situation that existed there 1,500 years ago. More startling is the finding that the Celts were not one homogenized, racially connected population.

According to the abstract of the article, genetic data was scrutinized from a “carefully chosen geographically diverse sample of 2,039 individuals from the United Kingdom” and was compared with the “regional genetic differentiation and differing patterns of shared ancestry with 6,209 individuals from across Europe.” The British group consisted of people whose four grandparents all came from the same rural area, suggesting longtime residency.

Distant Relations

I remember seeing a television special about a neolithic corpse found well-preserved in a cave overlooking a community in Northwest England. Scientists were able to get a good sample of his DNA, which they compared to the DNA of a classroom of young students from the nearby town. One person in that classroom, the teacher in fact, turned out to be a match. He was a direct decedent of the ancient Briton found in the cave!

But these recent discoveries show this may not be all that unusual an occurrence.

Two significant surprises arose once the data from this large study was analyzed. First of all, while their findings show an expected migration of Europeans into Southeastern England before and after the Roman occupation, their genetic contribution to the current population is less than half. Even more surprising is the fact that the Celts of Britain were not a single racial group, but truly separate peoples confined to specific regions, which were connected through culture and tradition, but were not actually related to one another.

It has been assumed that the Anglo-Saxons had replaced the Celts after pushing them to the outermost fringes of the landmass through a series of conquests. It is now clear that they mixed and mingled with them to a much larger extent than previously supposed.

Unlike the Viking and Norman invaders who ruled large sections of Britain for many years but left little to no genetic markers among the general population, the Anglo-Saxons lived separately from the original inhabitants for only a short time before they began to intermarry with Celts on their way to creating the modern Englishman.

Rather than being exterminated through war or the introduction of disease, the local Celts more likely were assimilated into the new culture.

Unique to Themselves

But the biggest surprise for me comes when looking into the Celtic connection. The Celts were anything but a single people. The findings “show that in non-Saxon parts of the United Kingdom, there exist genetically differentiated subgroups rather than a general ‘Celtic’ population.”

As the map illustrates, some of the most interesting discoveries include:

The Southeast English contain a notable amount of Celtic blood melded with Anglo-Saxon.

The Cornish, while Celts, are more closely related to the English than previously thought, but remain distinct from the people of Devon, just as the people of Devon remain genetically distinct from the rest of England.

The Welsh bear no genetic relationship with the Scots, and the Northern Welsh are less closely related to the Southern Welsh than the Scots or Cornish are to the English.

The Northern English consist of different groups, all more closely related to their ancient locals than to the southerners, while some are more closely related to the Scots than others.

The two major genetic groups of Northern Ireland remain separate from the “Irish” and from each other after all these years, one having been there since the ancient kingdoms centered on Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula and the Isle of Islay, the other migrating from the Scottish Lowlands around 1600.

Enviable Lineage

As an American, my heritage derived from Scottish, English, and Welsh ancestry is fascinating to me. Since we have a relatively short history on this side of the world, I am also fascinated by the sheer depth of unbroken years where peoples ate, drank, and were merry among their friends and family in places like England for eons before recorded history.

And I find it remarkable and amazing that a place the size of Britain, which is roughly as large as Ohio and the southern part of Michigan, had such unique and different kinds of people, with their own ways and idiosyncrasies, and still do to this very day.

It is hoped these recent findings shall provided added inspiration for the modern resurgence in regional pride and the celebration of local customs and culture across the United Kingdom. For example, only in recent years has the official Received Pronunciation taught at school made room for accents of “regional colour” among the announcers and personalities heard on the BBC. The more the merrier, I say.

And you can read more about these recent scientific findings in the very nice article at the BBC website HERE.

Read the article abstract, see more maps, or purchase the full article at Nature‘s website HERE.


NYYS Masters Scheherazade’s Mysteries – Concert Review

And Beethoven’s Many Moods

With Joshua Gersen conducting,  guest star Elena Urioste shone bright in Beethoven’s violin concerto, opus 61, followed by an NYYS ensemble rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, op. 35, full of memory, passion, and promise. I couldn’t have been more delighted.

“I have no idea whose credenza Urioste was interpreting at the end of the first movement, but it was punctuated by dramatic double stops, with fluid runs up the neck, and heart-piercing tone in the lengthy sustain she achieved time and again in the highest notes, clear and poignant as tears in sunlight. And all of it crowned by a marvelous passage where she accompanied her own trebly melody with a sonorous counterpoint across the lower strings….

During the interval, the stage lost the featured soloist, and gained considerably more orchestra members, including a second row of bassists and the full complement of percussionists required to achieve the depth and splendor of Rimsky-Korsakov’s lavish tone poem…Their performance across all four movements was magnificent.”

Read the Full Review

Dora the Explorer turns 85

Still full of papaya juice and vinegar

The real-life inspiration for the cartoon character beloved by millions, Dora the Explorer gave up exploring decades ago and has been enjoying a quite retirement in the aptly named Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, recently saying, “On the whole, I’d rather be in Pango Pango.”

Dora the Explorer turns 85

OK, actually it is my mom posing with the stickers she patiently endured for the sake of a happy three-year-old girl.

Lincoln Speaks

President Lincoln’s 206th birthday is today!

Hoorayyyyyy for Abraham Lincoln Day!

I wanted to celebrate Old Abe Day at the Morgan Library, where they have a new installation entitled Lincoln Speaks: Words that Transformed a Nation.

But I am too immersed in guitar review season.

So I will have to go some other day and tell you all about it.

Thanks to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, those who are not able to make it to New York City to see this exhibit in person may see the entire collection on line.

Lincoln in HD