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2007 Year in Review: Music and Theatre [Jan. 15th, 2008|11:18 pm]
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One of my new year's resolutions is to write more frequently, so I'm going to start by working around a format I'm comfortable with, the list.

I love attending live music and theatre performances, and usually make it to at least one a month.  The following are the shows I enjoyed most in 2007, ordered roughly chronologically.

The Flying Karamazov Brothers
The FKB are one of my absolute favorite performing groups.  Their own words best explain who they are and what they do:
We are a continuing experiment in comedy, theatre, music and, of course, juggling. From the beginning, it has been our intention to blend the worlds of performance art, improvisation, word play, harmony, emotion and above all virtuosity into a unique form of theatre and entertainment.
They are amazing jugglers, but beyond that they are also talented comedians and musicians.  I particularly like the way they integrate juggling and music.  They juggle to music, they juggle while playing music, and they even juggle to make music!  For example, one of their classic numbers involves a sort of reverse juggling, in which they bounce balls on top of and underneath a wooden table in time, creating an interesting percussion piece.  For another act they have constructed a unique machine called a "jugglatron" which is like a large circular keyboard in which the players stand inside the circle and play the keys with juggling clubs (while juggling, of course).  I've heard them play things on the complexity of Bach inventions this way.  Finally, in addition the music and juggling, they made me laugh harder than anything else this entire year.  They're sharp-witted, relevant, and heartfelt. 

Josh Groban
My mother, sister and I attended Josh Groban's "Awake" concert at the San Jose HP Pavilion in March.  I don't usually go out for big-name performers in huge venues, but this, like the last such concert I saw (Simon and Garfunkel at the Oakland Coliseum), was completely worth it.  Groban has a wonderful voice, which was a pleasure to hear live.  He's also endearing on stage -- slightly awkward but sincere and friendly.  It was far from an intimate show, but he spiced it up a bit by coming out into the upper parts of the audience to sing at one point.  In the past I've sometimes found his music too sappy, but his deliverance of the songs from the "Awake" album was fairly breathtaking. I particularly liked the duets with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The Indigo Girls
Easily my favorite female music group, the Indigo Girls always put on great live shows.  I admire them for a number of reasons.  First, they have great voices.  Emily's is the higher voice, and it can be mellow or piercing over Amy's rich, emotional alto.  I love women who sing in my voice range :).  Second, they're  musicians.  They write, sing, and play their own music, often with little added accompaniment, so there's not much difference between their recordings and live performances.  Third, they are strong women who stand up for the things they believe in.  Both Amy and Emily are icons of the LGBT rights movement but also champion environmental and political causes -- I saw them perform this year at the Power to the Peaceful concert in San Francisco.

If the Indigo Girls are my preferred lady singers, Guster is definitely my top contemporary rock band (contemporary because I'm not sure they top out the Beatles for all-time).  Like the Indigo Girls, I hold Guster in high esteem, and in the interest of actually getting this post written I present a list of reasons why:
1. The drummer, Brian Rosenworcel, plays hand percussion including bongos, congas, and djembe. Sweet!
2.  They write good music and sing in harmony.
3. They put on great live shows -- and I should know, having seen them at least six times.
4. They're funning and endearing
5. They rewrote a whole album of their songs with "meows" for lyrics, and included a special renditions of the "Carol of the Meows."  Yessss.
Cirque du Soleil
What can I say that hasn't been said?  Cirque is breathtaking but also touching and fun.  Their lithe, acrobatic bodies do things that boggle my mind.  It's like watching really good CG or stunts only real and therefore one hundred times as wonderful.  The performers have all the skill, strength, and flexibility of Olympic athletes but go above and beyond into the realm of artists.  Okay that's as much as I can muster.

I went with Sandra and Graham to see Chanticleer's annual Christmas concert in Memorial Church.  If you've ever heard a recording of theirs you know how virtuosic their voices are.  The purity of tone and perfection of harmony they achieve are beautiful, and the resonance and depth provided by Memorial Church can make it otherworldly.  Sometimes I worry that they set such a high standard that I appreciate other vocal music less.  Highlights of the concert included a piece by Arvo Pärt and Biebl's arrangement of "Ave Maria" which is one of my favorites.  But don't get the idea they're perfect; my only complaint is that sometimes the sopranos' voices were a little too shrill, and I think women's voices might have sounded better.

It took me eleven days to get around to finishing this post but it's done and that's what counts, right?
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Dancing! [Dec. 21st, 2007|08:45 am]

   1 full night's sleep
+ too long without Jammix or FNW
+ finished packing for the holidays
+ listening to dance music at work
+ canceled 9 AM plans for Saturday morning
+ getting to and leaving work early today
= very ready to go out dancing tonight!
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(no subject) [Dec. 20th, 2007|09:11 pm]

A friend wrote me and said:

"Do you have any gift ideas for a thirteen year old girl who's into reading? 
Specifically, I know she likes stories with a strong female protagonist,
and I believe along the fantasy/swordplay genre.  Are there any books
along those lines come to mind...age-appropriate in terms of subject
matter, but obscure enough she might not have read them?"

Well, friend, you came to the right place!.  I limited myself to 10 not-too-obscure series but could have gone on.  Made me want to go and reread all my favorite young adult fantasy books, which are some of my favorite books ever.  The list included, in no particular order,

The Abhorsen trilogy, by Garth Nix
The Song of the Lioness series, by Tamora Pierce
His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
A Wrinkle in Time quartet, by Madeleine L'Engle
The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper
The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
The Earthsea quartet, by Ursula Le Guin
Harper Hall Trilogy, by Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game (and sequels), by Orson Scott Card
The Black Magic trilogy, by Trudy Canavan

What'd I miss
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(no subject) [Dec. 12th, 2007|11:15 pm]
Falling asleep with ears, as Sandra might say, "full of happy."
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Revels [Dec. 4th, 2007|12:31 pm]
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As some of you already know, I'm performing in this year's Christmas Revels in Oakland.  It's now my 6th year in Revels, having taken a break while at Stanford.  The official blurb about the show -- which opens this weekend! --- is below, but here's a quick summary of the important information.

What: The 2007 California Christmas Revels, this year drawing on 19th century English traditions

Where: Oakland (for those of you who think that's far away, it's really not so bad, especially if you carpool)

When: December 7-9 and 14-16 (shows Friday 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday 1 and 5 PM)

How: Tickets are
$15-$50 at http://www.calrevels.org/ or via the box office: (510) 452-8800
Discount tickets also available for some performances at http://www.goldstar.com/events/oakland-ca/the-2007-christmas-revels.html

1) Beautiful, vibrant music and dancing
2) Audience participation - you get to sing and dance too!
3) See me on-stage, in costume, singing and dancing, for the first time in years.  For some of you, the first time ever!
4) Geoff Hoyle, a star of this year's show, is a fantastic comedian and really fun to watch.
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Gratitude [Nov. 22nd, 2007|07:26 pm]
I am grateful for friends both old and new. For old friends to grow and change with, and new friends to share the excitement of discovery.

I am thankful for music both heard and created. For being able to raise my voice one among many in transcendent harmony. For catchy melodies, clever lyrics, and infectious rhythms that make me want to dance.

I appreciate finding, creating, and maintaining shared culture; books, music, and traditions build bridges of common experience and sentiment that remind me how un-alone we are and how much there is in which to take joy.

I give thanks for dance: as expression, as art, as pure pleasure, as something that has brought me in contact with wonderful people, and something that has changed my life in many positive ways.

There is so much else for which to be thankful. Family, cats, laughing aloud, hugs, crawling into a warm bed at the end of a long and happy day... and so much of it comes back to the people I care about. Connections with others are truly what makes my world go around, and something I am thankful for every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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(no subject) [Nov. 21st, 2007|06:49 pm]
Do you ever wishfully think of something but not actually expect it to happen? Twice recently I wished, and twice something actually did happen. Talk about a good week.
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Yoinked from someone else's WP plugins... [Oct. 15th, 2007|03:16 pm]

Saw this audio player on thefire's blog and thought it was nifty. These songs reflect my mood this week, so I'll leave them to speak better than my own words.

Linkin Park - Shadow of the Day

John Mayer - Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Michael Bublé - Home

Ingrid Michaelson - Keep Breathing

It's the overall feel of the songs, not necessarily specific lyrics, though they often contribute.

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Yoinked from pandoradeloeste [Sep. 16th, 2007|11:28 am]
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Song of Ice and Fire House TestCollapse )
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Golden Compass meme [Apr. 26th, 2007|07:01 pm]
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