Followup: singing again

I wrote a week or so back about auditioning for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which is the chorus in residence for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I had more or less resigned myself to not getting in. After all, I was feeling a little burned out on symphonic choruses in general, and (more to the point) I have standing engagements through May that interfere with my ability to attend rehearsals.

So I was unsurprised when I got a thin envelope from the BSO today. I figured it for the proverbial “thin envelope,” but opened it anyway. And saw to my surprise that I was accepted in the chorus—albeit as a second tenor. There were also lots of notes about how the director has the option of asking an individual singer to be in every concert for a season or just one concert…

So the bottom line: I’ll be singing something, possibly at Symphony Hall, possibly at Tanglewood, definitely with the BSO, sometime in the next year. God, definitive knowledge is great.

And the irony? On Sunday, not knowing whether I would get in or not and not much caring, I decided to talk to the choir director at Old South Church. I’ll be singing with that choir tomorrow night for Maundy Thursday services (singing the ByrdAve Verum Corpus”—how could I resist??). After Thursday we’ll see. From 0 to 2 choirs in four days. Not bad. Too bad job offers don’t work that way.

Review: Music from the O.C. Mix 4

music from the oc mix 4 cover

At some point in the late 1990s, as radio sank further into irrelevance and Clear Channel-approved playlists created a stranglehold on airtime for new artists, television started to come into its own as a way to “break” unknown musicians. One of the best programs for showcasing new artists’ work is—gasp—“The O.C.,” whose strangely moralistic take on the teen melodrama is accompanied by intelligent, thoughtful soundtrack selections. Many of the musicians on the soundtrack would be just at home on an alternative station like KEXP. The show’s soundtrack series—as evident in its latest incarnation Music From The O.C. Mix 4—does what a soundtrack must do: provides memorable musical moments from the show in a musically consistent format. It goes beyond the call of duty by doubling as a new artist compilation.

The collection ranges from quirky rock (the Futureheads, Modest Mouse) to bright and shiny (the New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, Imogen Heap) to slowgroovy (Flunk). There’s even an old favorite, the Reindeer Section’s “Cartwheels” (from their superb 2002 release Son of Evil Reindeer). The biggest coup? A new Beck song, “Scarecrow,” in advance of his forthcoming new album Guero (see this article for the backstory). The one slightly false note, sadly, is the Matt Pond PA cover of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.” While still yearningly evocative, the cover lacks some of the grit of the original and feels a little too much like it’s been sweetened for television.

Still, for a collection of soundtrack stuff to be that coherent, there’s got to be a master mix-maker behind the scene. Thank Alexandra Patsavas, the show’s music supervisor, whose job it is to line up new tracks for the show’s writers to audition and slip into the show, and to assemble these mixes. It’s due to her work that the compilation feels less like a “compilation” and more like a really good mix tape.

If I have one complaint, it’s that, for listeners of the aforementioned KEXP and other hipsterati, too many of the artists come with all their indie cred pre-assembled. Imogen Heap, Sufjan Stevens, Carl Newman, Flunk, Modest Mouse, the Reindeer Section, and of course Beck are all familiar names to most indie rock fans. On the other hand, Pinback, the Futureheads, Aqueduct, Bell X1, and Matt Pond PA are all the sort of lesser known discoveries that I was hoping for from a groundbreaking indie compilation series. Hopefully the next series will showcase a few more promising unknowns rather than relying so heavily on known quantities.

Originally published on BlogCritics.


…is seeing your friend’s album in the iTunes Music Store. I was irritated at iTMS yesterday because the New Releases and Just Added pages weren’t updated, and how can one go and salivate over new music on Tuesdays without information? But this morning when I checked, there was Justin Rosolino’s Wonderlust.

For some general background on Justin and the album, check out my past writings about him. Briefly: if you like singer-songwriters, or performers with amazing voices and senses of humor, go check out some of the clips from the album.

So: one down, one to go.

Other iTMS happiness this week: new Nine Inch Nails single, reissues of a flood of classic Brian Eno albums, and remasters of a bunch of 1960s Atlantic jazz including one of my favorite Coltrane albums and a ton of important early Ornette Coleman recordings. Pardon me: I have some listening to do.