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Some ghastly Halloween news from yesterday’s performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera: ashes thrown by an audience member into the orchestra pit may have been human. According to the New York Times, the incident unfolded during the second intermission of an anticipated afternoon performance of Rossini’s “Guillame Tell.”

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The NYPD’s Emergency Services unit has cordoned off the orchestra pit for the ongoing investigation. The Met’s Twitter account noted that all of the orchestra’s instruments remained there. At a press conference, the Deputy Commissioner for intelligence and counter terrorism, John Miller, said the suspect likely violated the city’s health code but that there was no criminal intent.

The suspect told several audience members that he was there to spread the ashes of his deceased mentor. There was only one musician in the orchestra pit at the time of the incident, and that was who alerted authorities. Two porters, wearing gloves, and an audience member may have come into contact with the powder, but were tested by authorities and released.

The Met was forced to cancel its first performance of Rossini’s famous opera in eighty years, as well as an evening performance of the composer’s earlier “L’italiana in Algeri.”

The New York Daily News identified the suspect as Texas resident Roger Kaiser, seen here in a photograph found on his Facebook page. We are not making this up.

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Cancellations at the Metropolitan Opera are fairly rare, although the most recent was during the January 2015 snowstorm which forced much of the city’s transportation to a halt and before that during Hurricane Sandy. The Met’s most macabre cancellation in recent years was after tenor Richard Versalle suffered a heart attack in the first act of Janacek’s “The Makropulos Case” in 1996. He had just sung the line, “Too bad you can only live so long.”

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There seems to be no slowing to the police killing of African American citizens, with two alarming incidences this past week. The rapidity with which the Tulsa County prosecutor has charged officer Betty Shelby in the shooting of Terrence Crutcher is progress of some kind, but somewhat of a pyrrhic victory in that the 40 year old Crutcher did not survive. In issuing the charge, the prosecutor said in part that Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation.

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina have taken a different — and if we have learned anything from the past couple year, divisive and potentially harmful — approach by refusing to release video of the killing of 43 year old Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. This, naturally, has led to widespread protests in the city of more than 800,000, which is about 35% African American. The city is also the site of the terrifying and tragic mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last June.

Protest and unrest in Charlotte recall the powder keg climate of the late sixties, and police and city leaders there seem unaware their response is likely to, in the words of Tulsa County prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler, “unreasonable … escalate the situation.”

This title song from former Count Basie Orchestra saxophonist Frank Foster’s 1972 album, The Loud Minority, seemed fit for today’s paper. We can’t say we always agree with the tactics chosen by protestors, but we can say with certainty that we agree with the urgency with which their voices should be heard. To turn a deaf ear has become tantamount to escalating the situation.

Over two decades and a dozen albums, Lambchop has been one of the most inventive bands making new music. Each record seems like a re-invention. Their next album is due out in November, but this week they posted the eighteen minute closing track, “The Hustle,” on Youtube.

It appears their latest interest is minimalism and electronic music along the lines of composer Terry Reilly. We are very excited to hear the rest of the new album.

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photo by Track Club Co Printing & Design

 

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photo by Liz McDonough

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photo by Vanessa Robinson

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photo by Rachel Ewell

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photo by Jimmy Void via Instagram

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photo by Mike Munson

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Photo from Hymie’s Records Instagram 

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photo by IG klschwalbe

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photo by Jason Larkin photography

Heather Everhart

photo by Heather Everhart

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photo by Christopher Ludtke

David Vance

Photo by David P. Vance

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Photo by IG kvarnlov

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Photo by Diva Rags Boutique

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Photo by Paul Schmelzer

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Photo from Hymie’s Records Instagram

Many, many more photos can be seen here on Instagram

*If we have shared one of your photos and would rather you didn’t, please let us know and we’ll take it down.  And thank you for coming to the event!

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have explored our passionate relationship with music with a new approach — they have taken scans of the brain’s auditory cortex and put together groups of cells which have similar reactions. There are specific neural pathways in our brains that react almost exclusively to music.

It doesn’t even matter if you like what you’re hearing, there’s a set of neurons in your auditory cortex that do just about nothing but respond to music. They tested all kind of music, from Bach to hip hop. They also tested other sounds — a dog barking, etc — and found no response in the same region.

The study by Sam Norman-Haignere, Nancy Kanwisher and Josh H. McDermott was published in the scientific journal Neuron in December. In a New York Times story, Josef Rauschecker of Georgetown University explains that the study suggests “that the brain gives specialized treatment to music recognition, that it regards music as fundamental a category as speech.” He points out that there are theories that human speech evolved from music.

 

supersonic sounds

Scientists with the LIGO Collaboration (Lazer Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) at Louisiana State and Washington State Universities have announced the documentation of gravitational waves. The discovery — which was recorded as a chirping sound rising to a middle C before suddenly ceasing — will, if replicated, prove the final postulate of Einstein’s theory of relativity, first proposed a hundred years ago.

There is sound in space, which is what Sun Ra spent decades telling help us understand.

You can read more about the discovery here. Without hyperbole, reporters have said if proven, the discovery will be the greatest sound advance in science since Sputnik was heard from orbit, and Alexander Graham Bell said, “Mr. Watson, come here.”

sounds of joy

Last week the New York Philharmonic announced its new musical director will be the improbably named Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden. He will have big shoes to fill, as he is taking a position held by many music luminaries over the years since the LP was introduced — Leopold Stokowski, Dmitri Mitropolous, Leonard Bernstein and of course the late Pierre Boulez, whose recent passing we posted about last month. Van Zweden will face an even larger challenge as Philharmonic Hall* is closed for a $360 million renovation in 2019, forcing the orchestra to find a new venue.

In reporting the announcement, The New York Times notes several past guest appearances with the Philharmonic which earned praises from the paper. The article also explains how Leonard Bernstein himself first encouraged van Zweden, a violinist, to conduct.

*We don’t care how much money he donates, we’re not going to call it David Geffen Hall.

bernstein debutWe thought it would be fun today to re-visit Leonard Bernstein’s debut with the New York Philharmonic, which we posted last spring. On Sunday November 14, 1943, Bernstein filled in for Bruno Walter on a few hours’ notice, conducting a program which began with Robert Schumann’s “Manfred” overture.

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