Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cracking Nuts, Cold, Cords, Concerts, CD

It's Sunday morning, almost 10:00, and the temperature is -14°. Not too much of a breeze, but every little bit hurts. Good news is that the sun is shining in a gorgeous blue sky, with nary a cloud in sight. That means that it feels warmer. Honestly, I love winter days like this. But it's still frickin' cold!
First performance of the Nutcracker was last night. Not the best of performances from the orchestra's standpoint. Maybe it was fatigue from the rehearsal in the morning, or just a general lack of focus, but there were a couple of key entrances missed by one particular brass player, which frankly made the rest of us nervous after he missed the first one. Comes down to a matter of not knowing the music well enough to know when to come in. Anyway--we have another shot at it this afternoon. Hopefully he'll be prepared. (btw--I was, of course, damned near perfect!)
Today is a long day for me. Prior to the afternoon performance, six of us have a dress rehearsal for a different concert. It's only about 5 blocks away from the Nutcracker, so we'll be back in plenty of time. Then their concert is tonight and tomorrow night. Good thing I look good in a tux! Throw into the mix the Nutcracker tear-down. It was decided that, instead of loading the truck in the bitter cold (no sun, and it will be windy tonight), I'll do it by myself on Monday morning. Also keeps the percussion equipment out of the cold overnight. Anyone want to come help me?
To answer Vixen's question in the last post--the replacement cord has been ordered, but Mom has been kind enough to let me use hers in the meantime. Fortunately, she's not online as much as I am!
Have to mention my Grizzlies!! I missed the game, but got constant texts from a friend with the scores as they happened. The Griz went on the road to beat James Madison University and advance to the championship game of the FCS. It avenged their loss to JMU in the championship game of 2004. Now the Griz face the Richmond Spiders for all the marbles. In their only previous meeting, the Griz beat them in Missoula, 34-0 (or something similar).

If I hadn't run off to Indy last month, I'd seriously consider this for OsTour '08. The Griz play their game in Chattanooga, TN on Friday night. Carroll plays their championship game in Rome, GA on Saturday afternoon. The two games are only 75 miles apart!! Oh, well. The best seat for the game will still be in front of a TV screen.
I heard a stat last week during the Carroll game that, since 2000, two of the top three winningest football programs in ANY level of football are UM and Carroll College. Not a bad distinction!
Today's CD recommendation is "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I was totally blown away by this album when it came out in 1996. While there's a couple of gems (and a couple that aren't quite as sparkly), the star of this CD is "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24", a melding of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells". You've probably seen the YouTube video with the Christmas lights in sync with the music (which has spawned numerous clones). The whole CD is a mix of strings, screaming guitar solos, and heavy-metal rhythm section. Think "Mannheim Steamroller meets Metallica". Sounds like an incompatible union, but TSO has spent the last decade performing their Christmas magic to sold-out houses across the country. In fact, there's actually TWO TSOs that make the rounds at Christmas. Sort of a TSO-East and a TSO-West. I know people who have seen them in concert, and from all reports, the concerts are superb.

While I was originally blown away by the album, I'm not quite as excited about it as I used to be. It's like everyone is in on the secret now, so it's not as "special" as it used to be. When it first came out, I was the manager of a local CD store here. It was like I'd heard this "Sarajevo" arrangement before, so I did some digging. Sure enough, a year before, in 1995, the heavy-metal band Savatage put out an album called "Dead Winter Dead", sort of a rock-opera about the recent war and other events in Yugoslavia. Not really something that would appeal to most headbangers, but one of the cuts was "Chrismas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24". Other cuts incorporated other classical composers, including Beethoven and Mozart. Who knew that a heavy metal band liked classical music?? Because of the moderate success of "Sarajevo", most of the members of Savatage spent the next year making TSO a side project to produce a Christmas album. The phenomenal success of that album cataputled TSO to the forefront, and Savatage sort of slipped into obscurity. I'm not even sure if they're still together as a band. But TSO continues on strongly!

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