The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
On Napster, my first-choice music download service, you can’t get “Bach: Violin and Voice” by searching for Hilary Hahn. It is representative of a problem Napster, iTunes and other download sites have had with classical music, which is often not as easy to categorize by artist as pop is (and in this case, the cat oughta correct it).
But it is also somewhat appropriate, because Hahn really does yield her own star to the music and the experience on this album. In interviews, the violinist has said the inspiration for this album was church concerts she heard growing up, where the violin was interwoven vocals.
On this album of works by J.S. Bach, including selections from the “St. Matthew Passion,” her violin work is interwoven with two fine voices: baritone Matthias Goerne and soprano Christine Schäfer (whose names actually elbow in front of Hahn’s on Napster). With that trio, you know that you will get excellent performances. But the magic of this disc is that backed by conductor Alexander Liebreich and the Münchener Kammerorchester, the recording retains intimacy Hahn envisioned.
This is 30-year-old Hahn’s third album devoted to Bach’s music and her 11th disc overall. It is also some of her most lithe and — dare we say — lyric playing.
Music fans relish a chance to hear world class musicians who can command audiences of thousands in intimate venues. Most of us will not have Hilary Hahn (or Goerne, or Schäfer) booked to play a church near us. But “Bach: Violin and Voice” gives us an idea of how wonderful that would be.
The Lexington Art League has partnered with Lexington Habitat for Humanity for a project geared toward the children of Habitat clients.
“Lexington as Home” is a 15-week project in which instructor Michelle Zendarski will help children of families who are buying homes through Habitat explore their identities in their families and neighborhoods and express them through works of art. This is the second edition of the project. Last year, 10-children participated in the project that resulted in an exhibit of their works at the Mayor’s office.
“Although LHFH’s mission is affordable housing, we do more than build and sell houses,” Rachel Smith Childress, LHFH executive director, said in an Art League news release. “We serve families – providing extensive adult education which will help them be good homeowners. We also want our families’ children to grow up with an appreciation for owning their own homes. Our partnership with LAL has provided us with a unique opportunity to teach them about homeownership in a context which is not only fun, but taps their creative spirits and teaches them the importance of expressing themselves in productive and beautiful ways.”
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that helps families in need purchase simple, affordable homes that are built through the efforts of professional and non-professional volunteers as well as the families themselves. Homeowners are required to take a course in responsible home ownership, and Lexington as Home is billed as a complementary program to those courses.
Exhibition dates for the current project have not been announced. For more information, contact the Art League.
Even with actual “American Idol” Season 9 programs now filling the void, speculation still seems to be at a fever pitch over what the judging table will look like in Season 10.
Your next American Idol? Afterthought – hey, it is early, and I still like General Larry Platt.
While this week’s big speculation has been about the possibility of satellite radio superstar Howard Stern taking over Simon Cowell’s seat when he leaves at the end of this season, “Idol’s” other love ‘em or loathe ‘em judge Kara DioGuardi made a good point about filling his role on the panel earlier this week.
“”If you are going to replace Simon, you have to have that background,” DioGuardi said in numerous press accounts. “Someone who knows about signing great artists and being a part of their career from the very beginning.”
While Simon’s directness makes him the show’s biggest lightning rod, DioGuardi highlights the major asset he brings to the table: the guy has been instrumental in creating television and recording enterprises and has spotted and developed talent such as Leona Lewis.
If that kind of cachet is what “Idol” producers go for, it may not be an established celebrity that takes over that chair, like we are seeing this week with Ellen DeGeneres’ debut as an “Idol” judge.
“Ellen makes it seem like there’s finally an adult on the panel,” a commenter on Joanne Brokaw’s Beliefnet blog said, in my favorite evaluation so far.
She came out of the gate with a few great quips Tuesday night telling a barefoot auditioner she should wear shoes because Hollywood is a filthy town and rejected competitor Skii Bo Ski that there’s a thin line between sexy and scary. So it seems she’ll give up some laughs, but not for histrionic outbursts like her predecessor Paula Abdul. When she wasn’t showing her comic chops, Ellen seemed very serious in her first two episodes, popping on the reading glasses during deliberations and cutting through competitors with almost Simon-esque precision. She also was showcased as a benevolent judge, getting to tell several entire groups they were through to the next rounds.
Of course, these are still highly edited episodes. When we get to live rounds, we’ll start to get a clearer picture of what kind of judge Ellen is and how she fits on the panel. It’ll probably be a while longer before we know who actually replaces Simon.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich