SPCO – Introducing Patricia Kopatchinskaja

So this is my first blog in a while. But after tonight’s concert, the first for Patricia Kopatchinskaja as an Artistic Partner for the SPCO, I had to share my thoughts. First things, if you don’t have tickets to the concert, check right now because there weren’t many left. Much of the same program will be played next week too.

Now Patricia Kopatchinskaja was a workhorse tonight.  She performed in each piece and was soloist in a number of them.  Not only that, but she changed from a more traditional black outfit, blending in with the musicians of the orchestra, to a red soloist dress during the 20 minute intermission.

For the first half of the program we had Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue.  During this piece, it seemed like Patricia Kopatchinskaja wasn’t a very animated player, but that was soon to be proven wrong.  The piece was very nicely played, and not particularly notable.

The second piece was Tigran Mansurian’s Concerto No. 2 for Violin and String Orchestra, Four Serious S0ngs.  During this piece Patricia Kopatchinskaja was director and played solo violin.  This is where I learned that she was very animated and played with great passion and gusto.  It was very interesting music which I enjoyed greatly.

The third piece, and last before intermission was Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok.  You can hear the folk music influence quite clearly, and this is fun music to listen to, in fact if you want to just listen to a recording in the SPCO listening library.  Some of the solo violin makes me think of Klezmer music.

After intermission the next piece was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D Minor (change in program order).  I don’t think I have heard this live before, and looking at their notes the SPCO last performed it in 1999, which is before I became a some what obsessive concert goer.  I really liked this piece and I though she played it really well.

The next piece Traditional Moldavian Folk music titled Rapsodia.  Patricia Kopatchinskaja described the program from the stage, and it consisted of three parts or songs.  The instrumentation for these parts were Patricia on violin, her mother Emilia Kopatchinskaja on violin and viola, her father Viktor Kopatchinsky on cimbalom (he also played cimbalom on the Bartok Dances), and Zachary Cohen on double bass (guest principal bass for SPCO this season).  Now for the first, it was described as being crazy, because at one point it was just her parents playing, and her father was playing the cimbalon (reminds me of a hammered dulcimer) really fast, while her mother was playing the viola really slow.  I think it was in this piece that mother and daughter were playing really close face to face, and it was great seeing that family and musical connection. The third part had the sitting string musicians (rest of the program was just strings with some solo violin and/or cimbalom) joining in with really high notes sounding kind of eerie.  That part was more fun to see them join in, than enjoyable.  But all three parts were great, and well received by the audience.  I would guess that this was a pretty knowledgeable crowd, one that would normally wait to applause at the end of all three parts, rather than in between, but they and I couldn’t help but show our appreciation after each piece.  Also her parents are amazing musicians in their own right, I can imagine family gatherings are full of music and joy.

We also got a world premiere surprise (not on program).  A piece for Ravel was arranged for solo violin, cimbalom, and strings, I assume for this concert and definitely for this family.  It started with a long section for solo violin, I think about 6 minutes before string and cimbalom joined in.  It was a nice piece but I enjoyed the Mendelssohn and folk based music better.

Overall, this was an outstanding concert, and I am looking forward to seeing her play with the SPCO again in March.  A couple of things I noticed about her playing, she plays barefoot, which isn’t that unusual, but she also gets so animated that she some times stomps her feet.  I think if I saw her perform up close, which sadly will not happen, that it could be distracting like Emmanuel Ax’s humming.

Here is a youtube clip of the family playing a part of Raspodia


Right side of right

Tomorrow in Minnesota we get to vote on whether to amend our state constitution to “protect” marriage as only between one man and one woman.  What do they mean by protection, is gay marriage an attack on straight marriage?  Is it a scarce resource that must only be allocated to straight people?  I don’t get this “protect” language.  

When they don’t say protect, they say traditional marriage.  But what is traditional marriage, and who defines it?  For many societies, the traditional was polygamy, but they aren’t fighting for that.  Here is what the bible says about marriage.


More recently in America, inter-racial couples couldn’t marry.  So is traditional marriage the marriage between two people of the same race?

Now why are they trying to amend the constitution to limit the rights of people, that aren’t even rights yet? Well I think there are a few reasons here in Minnesota.

  1. State politics – Republicans didn’t have veto proof majority, so they only way to get it past Democratic Governor Dayton was to put in an amendment.
  2. Turnout–as in 2004 in other states, putting an issue like this on the constitution amendment will help rally the turn out of the more socially conservative members of our society.  And could help in other elections, like the Presidential one.
  3. Constitutionality–the writing is on the wall, the discrimination is clearly unconstitutional because it flies in the face of equality.

That is why the agents of intolerance must put this in the constitution, because that is the only way it will pass a constitutional challenge.  I don’t know much about constitutional amendments throughout the states, but when I think of federal constitutional amendments, I know that one got repealed.  That was Prohibition, and it was about limiting our freedoms and it didn’t last.

Now some other arguments that proponents of the amendment of intolerance make are about pro-creation and religious freedom.

One of the biggest lies is about pro-creation, oh it is a sneaky lie, because it sounds kind of rational, but it is a lie.  You will hear that the purpose of marriage is about pro-creation, about having kids and then raising them with a father and mother (research supports two parents are better households on average, but I know a lot of amazing single parents).  Yet, I don’t know of anything that requires married people to have children.  We let infertile (whether they are aware or not) to marry and we allow people (including post-menopausal women) to get married.  How about we amend the constitution to say that to get married folks must show they are sufficiently fertile to have children (mandatory fertility tests), and we put a clause in their marriage license that they must have a child within 5 years or the marriage is annulled.  And what about adoption, is that good enough or is it really pro-create only? 

What about religious freedom, should churches be forced to marry same-sex couples? No, of course not, and they won’t be.  We can’t make a church marry anyone it doesn’t want to.  But just because the Catholic church doesn’t want to marry same-sex couples (at least the Pope and US Bishops don’t) doesn’t mean the Universal Unitarians don’t.  When the Catholic church tries to imposes it’s religious beliefs on Unitarians, they are limiting religious freedom.  So that vote yes actually is limiting religious freedoms, not protecting them.  

I have heard a lot of talk about being on the right side of history and I think that is a very lame description. I don’t want votes out of a cool trendy reason, I want votes because people know that my friends Joel and Troy should have their marriage recognized by the state not just their church.  That is a country that was founded on the idea of equality and slowly we are actually working towards that ideal.  When straight couples that were of different skin tones (races) could marry each other, we expand the rights of all Americans.  This amendment won’t grant gay people the right to have a marriage recognized by the state of MN, but it does allow challenges to laws that limit marriage to straight couples to go forward.


What were they thinking?

Apparently the Elk River (MN) Chamber of Commerce were having a fundraiser based on the prediction of when a car would break through the ice on Lake Orono.  The MN Gaming Enforcement Division put a stop to the fundraiser.

What I don’t get is how they thought this is a good idea.  Why would anyone want a car to end up at the bottom of the lake.  And if that car isn’t drained of its fluids (which would probably still leave some residue) you are creating a source of pollution in that lake.  Even if they drain the fluids and then get the car out of the lake, it is a stupid and wasteful idea.


Why can’t they let us go green?

So a few weeks ago, my anti virus subscription was up.  I had Norton Internet Security Suite 2010 with a 1 user/3 pc license which I had purchased from Amazon.com for I think $30.

So my options were to upgrade directly from Norton it would have cost me $49.99 for 1 year for the same service.  Or I could buy a CD from Amazon.com with the same service for $29.99.  So I can be green, not paying for a CD nor its shipping and packaging, or I can save $20.  Sadly in these economics times I went with the extra $20 in my pocket.

Why doesn’t Norton offer existing customers a renewal license that is competitive with Amazon’s price?  It saves the production costs and makes the world a little greener.


P.S.  Granted, I don’t download mp3s, but rather buy CDs to rip them to my computer, which could be considered a little hypocritical.  However, those are CDs that I own until lost, given away or destroyed, whereas anti-virus is really a one year license.

Erik Paulsen the math guy??

Erik Paulsen is running an ad claiming to be a math guy

Yet his June 17, 2009 press release makes this claim,

The President’s budget calls for the public debt to double within five years and to triple within ten years.

Now I realize that journalists may not be good at math, as they consistently fail to question this lie (see my math here, and example of failure of the media here).  Yet we have Paulsen making the claim that he is good at math in the ad, but he didn’t do the math because it doesn’t add it up.  Not only that, but he is not good at accounting, because he is only looking at one side of the balance sheet, spending, not at revenue (taxes).

Paulsen is not good at math, and he only sees one side of the balance sheet.  Hope the 3rd district realizes he is no Jim Ramstad and try a Democrat for a change.


Come on Congress, you can do some real work

We have high unemployment.  Right wingers are going nuts over everything–complaining a lot about government intrusion in to personal lives.  So in their infinite wisdom they decide to take on banning smokeless tobacco (chew) in Major League Baseball.

So we are wasting time, don’t think they won’t use this to complain about a lack of urgency on job issues, even though they vote against job stimulating legislation.  And it feeds right in to a central theme of the tea party folks complaint about government intrusion in personal life–not counting their wishes to tell gay and lesbian not to have sex, dictate their morals to everyone else, or bring prayer to their god into your children’s classroom.

Remember they have no shame, hypocrisy is like breathing air to these folks, and you just squirted lighter fluid on the fire.

Club 2030 Action Team

Tonight was the kick-off for the Club 2030 Action Team.  This is the grassroots marketing effort by the SPCO to reach 20-39 year olds, the folks eligible for Club 2030

The great thing about this idea is that using the passion of Club 2030 members who want to support the SPCO and help them expand their audience.  Really tapping into fact that we know we have a great deal and appreciate (and want to share it widely).

The people in attendance were a nice mix of people.  Gender wise pretty evenly matched.  There were a number of SPCO staff, many from marketing, participating.  In the introductions there were a number of people that seemed to be employed in the marketing field (maybe be a little professional development).  They also had Bernhard Scully, principal horn involved, not just for the introduction, but for the whole process, which was nice to see.

Overall this was a good process.  There were a lot of great ideas.  The group will get together in late August, to work on action, not just ideas.  They will be meeting four times a year.  If you want to get involved with this, post a comment and I will connect you with the staff.

I still feel that Club 2030 is the best deal in town for classical music, free to sign up (so click here and just do it), can get best seats available (up to $50+ tickets) for only $10 each for Ordway or Ted Mann concerts.  There are some other programs with Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera that cost money to join and give you more of an experience.  But you can make your own experience with the saved money from the great Club 2030 deals, maybe dinner at POP!! before hand and great appetizer deals at Kincaid’s bar after the show (on nights when the MN Wild didn’t play at the Xcel).  Plus there were ideas to make it more of an experience, we will have to wait and see what ideas they might incorporate into the Club 2030 program in the future.  Don’t worry, I will share more as it happens.


Health insurance question

You may think the Republican party is all about worshipping God, usually Judeo-Christian God. What you don’t realize is that something is worshipped equally or more feverently in the Republican pantheon is the full belief and trust in the sanctity of the free market.

What does this have to be the health care? Well unfortunately, the trust in the free market leads to a mistaken belief that our health care system is fundamentally sound, provided you have insurance!

In fact that belief in the sanctity of the free market means that government competition, isn’t really competition, but interference. If the government insurance is all that bad, then why don’t these Republicans put or shut up. If the private market is superior, the government public option will fail.


Sadly there is truth in this

One of my high school classmates wrote this letter to the editor in the Strib.


Future Republicans, start your harassment

Well, of course Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bullying bill. If junior high bullies can’t get practice beating up on poor kids, foreign kids and kids perceived to be gay, how will they ever become right-wing politicians?


Sadly, as the Republican tent has shrunken, it seems that it is based on xenophobia and focusing on tearing down others.  So I have to agree with my friend Ben on this one.  I dare the Republican party, not individual Republicans who may be more moderate, to prove him wrong!


Tara Setmayer’s very narrow definition of pro-life

On this week’s episode of To The Contrary, Tara Satmeyer reinforces my theory that certain segments of the Republican party or as she identified her self as a Christian and a Conservative, are living in a world that includes an incredibly narrow defintion of what pro-life is.

I missed the very beginning of the discussion, but it seemed that it was about family planning, and families who have an unplanned pregnancy are having to choose abortion because they can’t afford to raise the children they already have.  Ms. Satmeyer, who is the Communications Director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), ran with the standard that all life is sacred (makes me think of Monty Python) and in making her point talked about how people may need to forgo that large tv or four bedroom houses.  Irene Natividad was so angry, and rightfully so, at this dismissive comment about the economic challenges people are facing in this country.  You would think that Setmayer isn’t aware that we have increasing unemployment and a foreclosure crisis.

The conversation went on, and the most important point that was made, is that Setmayer and her boss consistently end their pro-life support when the children are born.  When the issue of feeding a child that is born into a family that may have otherwise choosen abortion, then the personal responsibility kicks in, that the family should “figure it out”, that means that the government is not responsible to help the family have food on the table – against food stamps and most forms of welfare (in a later segment she talked about the rampant fraud in the food stamp program).

Now personally, I can’t stand Setmayer, I really think that To The Contrary would be better served with other conservative, but rational voices on their panel.  I have made that comment before, and I will continue to make that comment.  If you watch this show and agree, you can contact them at  ttcviewers@yahoo.com.

Of course the struggle with seeking to have Setmayer’s voice off the program, is that it removes the perfect example of the rank hypocriscy of these Christian Conservatives regarding their supposed morals and values.  After all if you must insist that the family must have the child, but then turn around and say good luck on caring for that child, how can that be anything but hypocritical and morally bankrupt.

So as I have written before, even as a pro-choice advocate, I am far more pro-life than Ms. Setmayer will ever hope to be.


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