Yo Yo Ma Performing Elgar's Cello Concerto

Yo-Yo Ma with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago SO in this performance from 1997. This concerto will forever be associated with Jaqueline duPre, but YYM gives a performance that is beyond breathtaking. It is fitting that Barenboim is the conductor; I'm sure he feels this concerto is still in very good hands.

The Soul of a New Ensemble: Musicians as Entrepreneurs

Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times
Members of the Declassified, a new collective of young classical musicians, rehearsing ahead of the group’s debut week of performances.

In a New York University lecture hall, business school students poked at iPads and iPhones to produce short melodic loops through speakers. A few feet away, a small group of musicians about the same age played along in a performance of Terry Riley’s Minimalist masterpiece “In C.”

It was part research project, part interactive demonstration and part experiment, but mostly it was the inaugural event this week for the introduction of a new performing group called the Declassified, the latest example of young classical musicians banding together to figure out a future on their own amid a fraying and fragmenting performance world.

The 46-member collective plans to give chamber music concerts in various formations. But it mainly wants to establish residencies for weeks at a time at universities, conservatories and just about anywhere else. Performing would be only part of a menu of teaching, master classes and projects that bring audience members closer to performers.

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Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 39


1.   d.      All of the above
2.   a.      An early keyboard instrument that produces sound via pushing a key and making a brass blade strike the string.
3.   b.      A waltz
4.   d.      Frederick Chopin
5.   d.      Both Handel and Beethoven

Classical Music Is Supreme At The Nation's Highest Court

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a dedicated advocate of classical music.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a dedicated advocate of classical music.

This is a big week for classical music at the Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided Alex Ross at The New Yorker with a list of her favorite records. Not only does Justice Ginsburg have impeccable taste in opera — from Placido Domingo's classic Otello to the Nathan Gunn/Ian Bostridge Billy Budd — but her son, James Ginsburg, has become an important force in promoting Chicago-area musicians via his record label, Cedille.

Meanwhile, Justice Ginsburg has also invited one of the true giants among pianists, Leon Fleisher, to play for the Court . In previous years, she has invited such current opera favorites as Stephanie Blythe and Anthony Dean Griffey, extending a musical tradition at the Court formerly fostered by Justice Harry A. Blackmun.

To top it off, Justice Ginsburg — who has made cameo appearances in Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Fledermaus at the Washington National Opera — hosted last year's NEA Opera Awards. In her remarks, she observed that Wagner's Ring cycle "centers on a breach of contract — Wotan's repudiation of the agreement he made to compensate the giants for building Valhalla. What better illustration of the well-known legal maxim pacta sunt servanda; in plain English, agreements must be kept."

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 38


1.  c.  Sergei Rachmaninoff
2.  a.  Gioachino Rossini
3.  a.  mezzo forte, medium loud
4.  c.  Yo Yo Ma
5.  b.  Franz Joseph Haydn

Music training improves the aging process, researchers say

Harry Jackson Jr. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

Music training has a lifelong good impact on the aging process, says a new study out of Northwestern University.

Researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern measured the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds. Researchers discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage. Researchers concluded that age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training.

"The older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians," said neuroscientist Nina Kraus. "This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions," she said.

Kraus, professor of communication sciences in the School of Communication and professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is co-author of "Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing."

The data, with recent animal data from other research centers suggest that intensive training even late in life could improve speech processing in older adults and improve their ability to communicate in complex, noisy acoustic environments, said Don Caspary, a researcher on age-related hearing loss at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. "They support the idea that the brain can be trained to overcome, in part, some age-related hearing loss,"Caspary added.

Previous studies from Kraus' Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory suggest that musical training also offset losses in memory and difficulties hearing speech in noise -- two common complaints of older adults. The lab has been extensively studying the effects of musical experience on brain plasticity across the life span in normal and clinical populations, and in educational settings.

Follow health reporter Harry Jackson Jr. on Twitter at www.twitter.com/STLhealth for coverage of health, outdoors, health gadgets and tips from fitness trainers.

Ivan Pacheco Performs the I and E Snare Drum Solo

Amazing, even plays part of it with his elbow. He was a member of the Blue Devils, and this solo got him 1st place.

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 37

Answers to Musical IQ Test 36 

1.  b. Jacques Offenbach
2.  c. Thirty-two, several with famous nicknames
3.  b. Yes, but his fame was based on many other genres of music.
4.  d. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
5.  a. very loud

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 36

Answers to Musical IQ Test 35

1.   b.  George Frideric Handel
2.   c.  Claude Debussy
3.   a.  The text, lyrics or any spoken parts of an opera, oratorio or musical.
4.   d.  Gianni Schicchi
5.   c.  Ludwig van Beethoven


How Classical Music Shaped Sondheim’s Songs

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has helped to create some of Broadway’s greatest stage shows. But he says the world of classical music is behind some of his deepest influences, including such composers as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Joseph-Maurice Ravel.

Sondheim, 82, studied classical music as an undergraduate at Williams College, then studied composition with composer Milton Babbitt. 

On Saturday, he said that soon after he completed his most famous song, “Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music,” he thought, “Gee, that sounds familiar,” seeing the influence of Rachmaninoff. 

When  Mark Eden Horowitz, a senior music specialist at the Library of Congressasked about Ravel’s influence, Sondheim replied, “Have you heard ‘Sweeney Todd’?”

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