Two Glorious Moments of Listening

A YouTube Farewell

Joan Sutherland

I had to take a moment out of the day to honor the great Dame Joan Sutherland. Like countless hundreds of thousands of others, I went to YouTube to lament her passing. Every conceivable performance of The Mad Scene from Lucia is posted, from the many stages of her life, here filled with commentary from many who miss her. Her bell-like coloratura shines through and reminds me that even if Donizetti isn’t my desert-island music, in her voice it’s total perfection.

I was swept away on YouTube. Her impeccable instrument floated beyond the biggest YouTube-ism: a total lack of any notion of fidelity. In a previous blog, I wrote about Command Records, whose mission, beyond the groovy record covers, was to provide the most hi-fi of high fidelity. I’m hungry for this almost-lost ideal of audiophiles craving the best in sound. But there is real utility and community here. Online I was listening with the other “106,208 views.” So maybe i couldn’t hear the basses in the orchestra, but La Stupenda shone through.

A Skype call to Berlin

Do you remember The Jetsons and those video phone calls that seemed so futuristic and absurd?

Jetsons

On Wednesday, my good friend SooJin will premiere a book of piano music I wrote for her at the Music Instrument Museum in Berlin. On Thursday, I’ll be 36-weeks pregnant, far enough along that they wouldn’t even let me on an airplane even if I could fit through the door. My morning to her night, almost 6000 miles away, we met online, talked through some final details and I heard a really fine pianist play bits of this new work. This time, fidelity even further out the window, I kept my eyes on the score as the video player randomly froze and the digital sync became an amorphous ballet. But it didn’t matter. It was so exciting to hear SooJin fly through the score. Hearing new music for the first time, played really well, is so intoxicating. Nothing compares with it. The limitations of our very young internet paled in comparison with the power of hearing my piece played well, streamed live, across an ocean.

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