Enjoying the moment

Normally on Tuesdays I have voice lesson. However, yesterday it ended up being cancelled because my teacher had an urgent matter to deal with. Well, so I decided to use the evening to instead of just working late (which is not that I don’t have to do, as I still have a ton of performance reviews to write) to go to a concert: Eighth Blackbird. It was quite great! Nothing like come contemporary classical music to make your day more interesting!

The concert itself was reasonably short. About 1h 30min with a 15 minute intermission. They played 6 different pieces:

  1. Derek Bermel’s Tied Shifts (2004)
  2. Philip Glass’s Knee Play 2 from Einstein on the Beach (1975)
  3. Tom Johnson’s Counting Duets (1982)
  4. Gyögy Ligeti’s Études for solo piano, arranged for sextet (1985-94, arranged 2012)
  5. Andy Akiho’s erase (2011)
  6. Steve Reich’s Double sextet (2007)

As you can see, they are all pretty recent (almost all of them composed when I was already alive, which is quite unusual for classical music). The weirdest one was probably Tom Johnson’s Counting Duets. Unfortunately I can’t find any recordings for you to look at, but basically it’s for two musicians that just move around the stage counting (like “1”, “2”, “3”…). Just fascinating!

Anyway, they are nominated again for a Grammy. They already have two! I can’t necessarily claim that I understand the correlation between quality and being nominated to a Grammy, or even winning one in classical music, but at least it means that they have some following and some people that are investing money on them to get them into the Grammy’s. And I think it’s well invested!

Random Art Festival of the Day: Push Arts

Today Amy and I went to this odd art festival that was happening in South Lake Union (i.e., by my work), called Push Arts. We didn’t quite know what to expect, so whatever we saw was… interesting. It was all about “new media”, with most installations around light and projection. It wasn’t a very large festival, but spread out in three different venues that were about 5-ish blocks apart, which made it quite interesting to walk around.

I think the most interesting part of the festival for me (and Amy probably disagrees with that) was a panel that opened the festival about “Innovation in the Arts”. There were 4 speakers: a person from OnTheBoards and OnTheBoards.tv, which is an independent venue for performing arts that has been trying for almost 3 years now to generate an online experience for watching art performances (dance & theater); a person that builds the technology behind the Seattle Opera concerts; a person that works at Nordstrom Innovation Lab, which is a group that helps Nordstrom with innovative solutions through Design Thinking and agile development; and a professor from the University of Washington that is trying to teach humanities through video games.

As you can see, it was quite a weird mix of people trying to talk about innovation in arts and there were quite a few examples on different areas. The problem is that some people took a little too long on their presentations (especially the Seattle Opera guy) and ended up not having almost any time for the actual panel. The main thing that I learned from it, I guess, is that selling performing arts online is not a dead proposition, but doesn’t really attract a lot of people and money. We are talking here about thousands of people total in 3 years. But it’s not something to be discarded.

An interesting thing that came out  was the UW professor talking about the fact that he has a hard time getting people to realize how much harder it is to prepare a course on gaming. Unlike courses based on books, courses based on games, especially MMOs, pretty much need to be planned and rebuilt almost every time they are taught, because they handle a topic that it constantly changing. Just like people that work in the game industry, people from outside think it’s all “playing games, so it must be easy and fun” and when you look inside, it can still be fun, but it’s not really any close to “easy”. So he is always misunderstood.

Impressions from Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle Party

Tonight we went to Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle Party. What is it? Well, in summary it is a set of local food and drink vendors (and a couple of other random people – more on that later) giving samples of a dish. You pay $30 per person (or $65 for VIP tickets that allowed you to get in earlier than everybody else and get a gift bag) and then you can eat as much as you want.

Well, that’s the theory. In practice you couldn’t really eat as much as you wanted, because most of the time you are actually waiting in line and after we’ve gone from line to line for almost all the food vendors once, the food was over.

But the food was good. A lot of pork! It felt like Seattle is the land of pork if you looked at the menu of those local restaurants: kimchi pork sausage, pulled pork rice and beans, roasted pork sliders, prosciutto and sundried tomato crepes… And that’s not all! There were a couple of chicken dishes and one place offering mussels. 

Also there was some local entertainment. A Teatro ZinZanni artist doing some interesting rope and large hoop acts. There was also a jazz-like band playing. They were not bad, but the sound was a little too loud for the venue. And also they started quite late when all the food and drinks were almost over, so people were leaving and not enjoying the music.

So, what is my conclusion? I enjoyed it, but I probably won’t do this again. It’s really not fun to be standing in lines for 2 hours to eat a bite here and a bite there. At least it wasn’t as crowded as Pike Place Market’s Arcade Lights. That event had way more vendors and much shorter lines, but you spend the evening squeezed going from one are to another. And it’s not all you can eat – you get a few tokens that you have to decide where to spend. So a good part of the evening you are just walking around trying to decide where to spend your tokens, which made it a little less fulfilling.