All posts by CurlsnSkirls

... a rusty sewer of some years, working to better those skills.

Innocence in Today’s World

Joyce DiDonato’s recent blog entry, Refreshing Innocence, includes her views on how the arts can serve humanity:

“I think there was a reason the Busby Berkeley Musical’s were so popular during WWII and the Depression Era, as people longed to be transported out of their every day misery and struggle.

“I’m not so sure that we’re in such different times at the moment…

“I also think it’s important to simply let music/art/opera CARRY US AWAY from time to time. To allow ourselves to dream a little bit? To escape? To laugh? Maybe to cry? To remind ourselves of what innocence was like, and to allow things to CHARM us.”


Egos in the World

“He had his ego amputated years ago…”

We remember hearing that from someone speaking publicly about another public figure, possibly during a lecture at The Kennedy Center.  Don’t remember details, but the thought stayed.

What a wonderful comment.  And how rare to find these days.

Audiences aren’t stupid, and neither are employees.  Don’t we all know when someone’s in it for themselves, whether musician, politician, or business management?


John Cleese as Peter Pan & Master Communicator

“A lot of people get rigid as they get older because they think they should be ‘wise’. But the child in us, the source of playfulness and joy – that’s the source of all the loveliest things in life. The most creative people have this childlike facility to play. I do. But one or two of my friends think of me a little bit as ‘not grown up’. And I realise how trapped they are in the need to be grown up – which I’ve never felt,” he adds with a chuckle.”    Recent interview in The Telegraph.

Did you know that John Cleese of Monty Python fame has had a production company for several decades, making training films for businesses?  Quite good, to judge from what’s available on their web site.   Just read the outline of what’s covered in any of the films, and you’ll realize why the company stays in business.

Any correlation between joyfulness and a well run business ?

Or how humor might be used in communications?


Word-of-Mouth vs. Social Media

Just got off the phone after a great conversation with Silicon Valley colleague Farukh Basrai, a videographer.  One of our topics was using social media for business purposes.

His business involves large companies.  Mine involves individuals.  Both are very small niches.  We’ve both learned over the years that word-of-mouth is the best way to find new business.

Neither of us can see the value of doing much social media for business purposes.

Reminds me of a recent blog post over on Independent Thinking … no need to have a Facebook page just to say you have one.


Chapters from Author Keith Peterson

Photo credit: Keith Peterson

Owner Keith, over at Selected Works Used Books & Sheet Music, has a couple more chapters online in his latest Chicago thriller, Lucky Buck.

If you haven’t read any of his things, start at the beginning with The Body in the Bookstore Sink.   It’s a free pdf file.

Then continue the saga of Father Stephan and Seth with Lucky Buck, another free download.

Keith, why do you always stop at the exciting part???


Fourth of July

From the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a patriotic tune to celebrate the Fourth in grand organ style, with many thanks to our organ mentor in San Carlos!

Be sure to turn the volume up loud so you can hear all the harmonics of this huge organ… as many as the recording equipment can deliver.

NPR’s Pipedreams has 2 hours of glorious organ music honoring the Fourth here.

Washington National Cathedral will have a live-streamed audio on

Monday, of their 11 A.M. (Eastern) Fourth of July Organ Recital

See their page just above to connect

“Michael Barone will be host for the festive annual

July Fourth Organ Recital,

11 a.m. Monday, at Washington National Cathedral, featuring performances by Scott Dettra and Jeremy Filsell.

Come one, come all!

Log on to hear the live-streamed audio that morning.“

Celebrating all the Best

Photo credit: Chicago Reader

A short note from Selected Works’ owner Keith Peterson (see his podcast interview here) last week let everyone know about his latest recognition.

In the Chicago Reader’s annual Best of Chicago readers’ poll, Selected Works Used Books & Sheet Music won Best Book Store With a Cat.  Congratulations ! !

Talk about a great pose!  The above full page color photo in both the printed & online editions just shows what a natural Hodge the Cat is.  Had better book an interview before his calendar fills up. . .

We can see it now – commercial endorsements, memorabilia . . .


Sunset Boulevard

Flo Lacey, from Signature Theatre web site

Signature Theatre is always doing something first, and doing it better than anyone else.  They didn’t win a regional Tony in 2009 for nothing.  People fly in from around the world regularly to see their productions.

Moi was there closing night and talked afterwards with one of the stars, Florence Lacey, above, about her vocal technique.  Norma comes out and has to nail a blockbuster number, the first of 3 in the show.  Signature’s run was 8 performances a week; twice on Saturday & Sunday, dark Monday. That’s a lotta singing, even with a mike.

Ms. Lacey said, “Lots of warm-ups and scales…”  Another member told me Lacey was also working with a voice teacher.  Imagine!  With her great career, into something like her 4th decade performing, still taking lessons.  There’s a real pro, dearies…

The role reminded me of the lead, Turandot, in Puccini’s last opera, Turandot.   The ice princess comes out a few times and has to sing killer arias, just like Norma in Sunset Blvd.  It’s a role that has probably ruined more voices than helped careers.

Take a listen to this soprano, Dame Eva Turner, the only one yours truly’s ever heard whose voice blooms on all those high notes.  You can hear that freedom.  Go ahead, clamp on those headphones and turn the volume up high.  No knives in the back from this real soprano.

Staying in good vocal condition takes technique, dear readers,  all the time.  As long as you’re performing.  Whether opera or theatre, you gotta do it right.  That is, if you wanna be around, and in demand, as Ms. Lacey is, at 60+… and Eva was, until 90-something!


Pilar Lorengar… and a little more Granados

Photo credit: wikipedia

Doing one’s homework for another Granados discussion, and remembering that Frank Marshall had been a pupil of Granados and accompanied singers, thus hopefully carrying on Granados’ traditions, and knowing that Alicia de Larrocha had been a pupil of Marshall, it seemed reasonable to look for and listen to YouTube examples of de Larrocha and Marshall accompanying.

Sorry about that long sentence.

The CD, The Catalan Piano Tradition, has Marshall accompanying Supervia (a guitar student of Granados whom he discovered during solfeg class) so that got a listen.  De Larrocha is also on the recording, with Badia singing.

On YouTube, the following were also useful:

Pilar Lorengar –

Teresa Berganza  –

However, there weren’t enough with de Larrocha, and as Pilar Lorengar is a (shamefully admitted) new-to-moi lyric soprano, she needed to be added to The Library.

An excellently reviewed Decca double CD set was located via Amazon, and it’s just arrived, containing tonadillas from Granados’ set, all with de Larrocha …

Later, after listening …

Splendid voice has Lorengar; how she loves all the high A’s and occasional B-flats!  And sings them radiantly, too.  Yet I cannot agree with much of her Granados interpretation.  De Larrocha is marvelous.  More on that when we do just Granados.