Engineering software meets thrash metal


Since September 10, I have been doing some contract technical writing for an engineering firm that uses Loftware. It’s a Windows-based label generating application that works with SAP.

And every once in awhile, I’ve had the 1989 Metallica song “One” going through my head, while I’ve been at the office. And I couldn’t figure out why…

…until I looked at one of the label designs on-screen. NOW, I know why.ūüėÜ


Pressure Cooker Fail


This image has been making the rounds on Facebook today:

Pressure cooker fail

And that reminds me of my favorite song about cooking:¬† “Skillet,” by The Time.



Behold, Mnozil Brass


Until a few minutes ago, I was not familiar with Mnozil Brass.


Blown away.  (No pun intended.)

Tom Petty (1950-2017)


Tom-Petty_2016-06-20For most of my life, I have not been a Tom Petty enthusiast, although I definitely enjoyed the original 1988 release by the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup that included Petty, the late Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and drummer Jim Keltner.  I changed my tune about Petty in the last three years or so.

The late Tom Petty obviously was one of a long string of rock artists that emerged during the mid- to late-1970s. But in my opinion, what set him apart from most of the rest, and what gave him such longevity in his career, was his song styling. Yes, he had some brazenly pop-flavored hits (“Don’t Do Me Like That”) and the occasional hazy, crepuscular detour (“Don’t Come Around Here No More,” co-written with David A. Stewart). But otherwise, Petty’s music had a distinct flavor of Americana, with the southern-American influence coming chiefly from his guitar timbre and phrasing.

This does not mean that Petty’s music sounded all the same – a well-worn perjorative that critics have taken at Antonio Vivaldi’s concerti for a couple of hundred years. Instead, Petty’s “Americana” is diverse and evident, in part in Petty’s music, but also in Benmont Tench’s organ and piano sounds. And even when Stan Lynch was replaced by veteran session ace Steve Ferrone, the drums had a consistent sound, feel and style. This often changes from drummer to drummer, so this stands as a compliment to Ferrone’s musicianship.

A number of fans, including Wikipedia contributors, have referred to Petty’s music as “heartland rock.” And while this is not a misnomer, “heartland rock” pigeon-holes Petty’s music a bit too much. The southern influence of the guitar work by Petty and lead guitarist Mike Campbell stands out, but the song styling is not as brazenly “redneck” as, say, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Oak Arkansas, and other similar acts.¬† For me, this is what makes Petty’s recordings that much more enjoyable.

Eddie Van Halen has said, “You want to be a rock star? Rock stars come and go. Musicians make music until the day they drop.” The ultimate compliment to Tom Petty is that he was a musician, not a “rock star.”

His songs did not all sound the same – but a measure of his consistency is that his newer material stands nicely alongside his late 1970s and early 1980s work. Played one next to another, very few of his compositions stylistically clash.

And as for the musicianship on those records, it is almost impeccable. The studio playing is clean, spotless, tasteful, and a comfortable blend of aggression and restraint. Likewise, in his occasional forays into side projects, Petty remained true to the music he was contributing, without losing his identifiable voice. His work with the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys remains a fine example, nearly 30 years on, and remains on my CD shelf for that reason.

The measure of strength of a musician’s output includes how long his records are enjoyed after their commercial release.¬† We still enjoy The Beatles, for good reason. But virtually nobody listens to Oasis, Bush, or the like – to say nothing for the unending junk-food diet of boy bands and girl groups like The New Kids on the Block, Bananarama, the Spice Girls, etc.¬† (Bleah!)

But we have been enjoying and appreciating Tom Petty’s recordings since the 1970s – and, undeniably, we will still enjoy them for decades to come.

Speaking as a bassist, I know that neither Ron Blair nor Howie Epstein was terribly prominent on Petty’s records. But speaking also as a studio bassist, I can safely opine that both of them turned in fine recorded performances that were not sloppy or ill-conceived. They supported the music in character and in time — and in fine form.

Thomas Earl Petty was born October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. He passed away following cardiac arrest on October 2, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. And while his life, like many of ours, was not perfect and occasionally messy, his was a musical life well and abundantly lived among musicians he admired.¬† They admired him in return – and that is why Petty’s passing is more sad than of the “average rock star.”

Rest in peace, sir.


(image via Wikipedia)

Take Five – Belgium, 1964


The late, great Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) composed several evergreen jazz standards, but “Take Five” might be the most famous. ¬†Several noteworthy elements of this 1964 performance recorded for Belgian television (below) are worth the look and listen.

Paul Desmond’s vibrato¬†and timbre here are enjoyable for several reasons, not the least of which is because they are not overpowering. ¬†The extra air he inserts into¬†some of his notes give his alto saxophone some “movement.” ¬†While solo saxophone¬†is rare in classical music performance, Desmond’s style in this performance would fit nicely. ¬†And this is precisely what makes his solo here so elegant, but occasionally playful and eminently satisfying.

In his surprisingly melancholy solo in this reading, Mr. Brubeck displayed some of the style elements that have clearly influenced pianists like Lyle Mays.

The big star of this video, however, may be Joe Morello (1928-2011), whose segue from Brubeck’s restrained piano solo ramps up the mood considerably. ¬†Keeping the 5/4 time signature and tempo intact, Morello’s excursion here was both tasteful and tasty. ¬†Morello tensioned his floor tom¬†to an almost timpani-like sound, making clever use of it in several places. ¬†In this musician’s opinion, Morello’s solo here is worth the study by any aspiring drummer or percussionist.

I am thankful to the Belgian broadcasters for having recorded this in 1964, especially to¬†audio engineer Jean Muller, whose microphone placement captured many of the nuances of Morello’s drum kit, right down to the crisp flavor of the wooden drumstick tips riding between the bell and the body of the ride cymbal. ¬†I would not be surprised if¬†Monsieur Muller had experience recording chamber orchestras and not merely jazz ensembles.

It’s going to be a long night… #1


You know that rehearsal is going to be a long slog when the operative phrase is, “I guess I’m going to have to listen to the original version.”


The “Watchtower Bass”


If you are a cellist or bassist, the concept of “purgatory” has a real-world example in the eight-note ostinato ground bass of Johann Pachelbel’s¬†Canon in D. ¬†If you play bass in a rock or blues band, your equivalent is the three-chord¬†bass line for “All Along The Watchtower,” by the folk-rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. ¬†In both cases, it is the same, mind-numbingly repeating pattern through the entire song.

If you are a bassist with an IQ of at least 95, you know that “All Along the Watchtower” is five¬†minutes of your day that you will never get back‚ÄĒlonger if your lead guitarist is particularly greedy “inspired.” ¬†But if you’re stuck on stage during a performance of “Watchtower,” and you want to make better use of your time, I humbly recommend that you arrive at the gig armed with a “Watchtower Bass.”

Like most of my ideas (well, except the solar-powered night-vision goggles), the concept is both elegant and simple:

If you don’t happen to have a second bass guitar, simply buy any crappy old used 4-string bass guitar; nobody will notice the difference. ¬†Equip¬†your extra¬†bass with three¬†strings. ¬†Since my band (Elephant In The Room) plays the song in A, the bottom string would be an E-string tuned to F (F1). ¬†The second string would be another E-string tuned to G (G1), and then the third string would be an A-string tuned to A (A1). ¬†The fourth string is utterly unnecessary and can be discarded.
Before the set begins, arrange with your food server to deliver a cheeseburger¬†and soda pop just before the band plays¬†“All Along the Watchtower.”

Once the song begins, simply begin playing the three notes on your three open strings. Your left hand is now available for holding your cheeseburger and/or glass of soda pop.


“Hmmm.. I wonder when Mitch is¬†done with his guitar solo?” ¬†Urrrrrrrp!

The longer the band plays the song, the longer you have to savor your food and beverage without having to worry about annoying little details like fingering notes on your neck.  And since the bass line contains only three notes, playing a wrong note is virtually impossible.

By the time the band has finished playing the song, the lead guitarist, lead vocalist, and drummer will have gotten their jollies. Meanwhile, you have had time to savor some food and a refreshing beverage without having expended an ounce of worry or effort for a bass line nobody cares about, anyway.

Bassists of the world, you are welcome.

Artymiw’s awesome artistry


This review was originally published in the March 2009 issue of The Metropolitan.

Lydia Artymiw gets a standing ovation

If you haven’t yet attended a Minnesota Sinfonia concert at Metropolitan State’s Founders Hall Auditorium, you should, but I have some helpful advice: Get there early.

On Friday evening, Feb. 13, 2009, hundreds¬†of people‚ÄĒincluding kids‚ÄĒdid, resulting¬†in an overflow crowd for a thoughtfully¬†programmed concert (especially¬†for Valentine‚Äôs Day) by the Sinfonia,¬†conducted by their Artistic Director, Jay¬†Fishman.

An appetizer from Aaron
True to the orchestra‚Äôs mission of making¬†classical and orchestral music accessible¬†to kids (and adults who otherwise¬†cannot afford tickets to Orchestra Hall¬†or the Ordway), Fishman and the Sinfonia¬†opened their Feb. 13 concert with¬†a bit of Americana‚ÄĒthe famous ‚ÄúHoedown‚Ä̬†from Aaron Copland‚Äôs ballet Rodeo. ¬†While the slower tempo seemed a¬†little unusual, the benefit to the audience¬†was obvious: they could better hear the¬†intricate rhythms and interplay between¬†the strings. (This was especially nice for¬†the Founders Hall audience, as they are¬†closer to the stage than in other venues.)

And while the strings, winds and brass players were plenty competent with their parts, percussionist Kory Andry was the real star. Doing the work of several percussionists, Andry played the necessary parts on five instruments: bass drum, snare, wood block, concert marimba and cymbals ingeniously configured on a hi-hat stand.

Moved by Mozart
Sandwiched between the audience and¬†the stage was the grand piano on which¬†Lydia Artymiw fairly dazzled the gathered music lovers with a sublime reading¬†of Mozart‚Äôs Piano Concerto No. 21¬†(K.467). A ¬†distinguished professor of¬†piano at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Artymiw was firm and noble¬†where the first movement demanded,¬†and then gave a thoroughly graceful and¬†penetrating account of the famous second¬†movement. Lest anyone think this¬†was a relaxed ‚ÄėMuzak‚Äô tour of Mozart,¬†her technical command of the piano was¬†manifest in her handling of cascades of¬†pianissimo notes.

And here is where Artymiw stands¬†apart from other concert musicians‚ÄĒa¬†talented and masterful pianist, she was¬†also a ‚Äúsympathetic‚ÄĚ soloist for the Sinfonia;¬†not once did she overwhelm the¬†orchestra accompanying her almost otherworldly¬†grasp of Mozart.

In addition to her critically acclaimed recordings, Artymiw lately has been a juror for several international piano and chamber music competitions, a logical outgrowth of her appearances with major orchestras and in important venues all over the world. Surely the audience and the musicians of the Minnesota Sinfonia hope this is not the last time Lydia Artymiw performs for (and with) them.

And while the Sinfonia musicians did¬†a creditable job containing their glee at¬†their good fortune, the audience could¬†not‚ÄĒthey burst into a lengthy standing¬†ovation, one Artymiw, Fishman and the¬†Sinfonia musicians richly deserved.

Icing on the cake
Amazingly, some audience members left at the intermission, consequently missing two stunningly romantic and evocative pieces of music quite appropriate for Valentine’s Day. And, as well as the Sinfonia played the Mozart, they were just getting warmed up.

The non-choral version of Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane, Op. 50, is one of his most famous pieces of music, where the melody is woven back-and-forth between the winds and strings. Here, Sinfonia flautist JoAnne Bartlett shined by carrying the melody with a clear-yet-breathy timbre later echoed by the violins. The supporting musicians in the Pavane, the violists, cellists and bassist Susan Allard were the rhythmic glue holding this performance together, delivering the under footing very precisely under Fishman’s conducting.

However, the most emotional and evocative piece of the evening was Sir Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47. This composition is something of a well-kept secret and not widely known or played, so it was new to virtually the entire Founders Hall audience, who saw the Sinfonia semi-circle the string section principals in a visually unconventional manner. Elgar’s scoring for a quartet with string orchestra reminds of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, but on a smaller scale. The difference is that Elgar demands much more emotional playing from the strings, not just in dynamics but also in style, and the Sinfonia strings held true on all of the contemplative, plaintive and declarative passages.

Fishman and the Minnesota Sinfonia proved to any skeptics present that romantic and evocative classical music is often anything but milquetoast.

Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativity


Gerald Finley, baritone
Ruth Holton, soprano
Nicholas Sears, baritone
The Cambridge Singers, City of London Sinfonia / John Rutter CBE

Collegium COLCD 106
63 min 35 sec, DDD  (Full libretto provided)

Five stars

This is what Christmas music really is:  Beautifully worshipful compositions reflecting upon the birth of Christ, and nothing less.  And because some of John Rutter’s own music is here, it also serves as a unique, tangible profession of his faith.  If you don’t have any of John Rutter’s other CDs, buy thiChristmas Night: Carols of the Nativitys one and let it be your springboard to purchasing his other recordings.

The highly-respected John Rutter (b. 1945, London) is primarily a composer and conductor, known for writing choral music on both small and grand scales.  In the mid-1970s, he was Director of Music at Clare College, where he had been a student and whose choir he directed in broadcasts and recordings.  He gave up his post there to compose his own music and to form the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir primarily dedicated to recording.  Likewise, he started Collegium Records to present his recordings.  This one, like his others, contains the text, composition and arrangement credits for and excellent historical notes about each track.

The Cambridge Singers’ performance here is somewhere between flawless and outstanding, faithfully captured by engineer Campbell Hughes and producer Jillian White.¬† The reduced number of musicians here is entirely appropriate;¬†there is no loud fanfare or bombast, and therein lies one of the endearing qualities of this disc, because Rutter programmed so thoughtfully and carefully.¬† Fifteen a capella pieces are punctuated by seven with orchestral accompaniment, more than ably provided here by Rutter‚Äôs frequent collaborators, the City of London Sinfonia.

Among the a capella highlights on this disc are the two opening tracks, beginning with the familiar German carol in dulci jubilo, arranged here by Robert Lucas Pearsall.¬† The 15th century Adam lay ybounden has been set to music several times; Rutter chose the one by legendary English choirmaster and organist Boris Ord.¬† Herbert Howells‚Äô setting of A spotless rose is a fine example of the wonderful British flavor on this disc, echoed by the two Charles Wood arrangements, Once as I remember and A virgin most pure.¬† There is also a particularly beautiful J.S. Bach arrangement of Samuel Scheidt’s carol O little one sweet.¬† Rutter‚Äôs setting of There is a flower features soprano soloist Ruth Holton, who delivers a very enjoyable balance between the boy-chorister characteristic and her own feminine voice.

There are four particularly beautiful collaborations between choir and strings here:  Dr. Harold Darke’s In the bleak mid-winter has remained very popular in Great Britain over the last few decades in part because of the gentle arrangement and because Christina Rossetti’s text considers Christ’s birth with a child-like simplicity.  Sir Richard R. Terry’s lovely and dignified Myn lyking is a Tudor-flavored setting of a 15th century text.  The segue from the violins to the women choristers entering the first verse evidences Terry’s thoughtful string scoring, duplicated later by the celli and the men.  John Rutter adapted a melody from Thoinot Arbeau’s late-16th century Orchésographie and wrote lyrics and a new score, nicely resulting in this disc’s title track.

Especially deserving of your attention is Patrick Hadley’s quietly sparkling I sing of a maiden; Hadley’s brilliant vocal scoring and gorgeous supporting orchestration remind of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, flowing beautifully and seamlessly between phrases.  Given a superlative performance here by the Singers and Sinfonia, this might be the best track on the disc.

Two other notable Rutter works are here too, reminiscent of both a “contemporary” style and that which sounds at least a hundred years older – testimony to Rutter‚Äôs compositional abilities.¬† Among the former is his 1984 Candlelight carol, and representing the latter is the final track on the CD, his 1963 Nativity carol, both accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia.¬† As with the Patrick Hadley, Nativity carol epitomizes the celebration of Christmas:¬† Quiet, worshipful and eloquently simple reflection upon the birth of Christ, beautifully enough to bring tears to your eyes.

My recommendation here is awfully simple:¬† Buy this CD. ¬†Five stars, and “desert island” status for this recording.


  1. In dulci Jubilo  (3:12)
    14th century German carol
    transl. and arr. R.L. Pearsall (1795-1856)
  2. Adam lay ybounden  (1:07)
    text, 15th century
    Boris Ord (1897-1961)
  3. Christmas Night  (4:00)
    Thoinot Arbeau (16th cent)
    text and arr, John Rutter (1945-)
  4. Once, as I remember  (2:28)
    text, G.R. Woodward (1848-1934)
    music, Italian 17th cent
    arr. Charles Wood (1866-1926)
  5. A spotless Rose  (2:45)
    text, 14th century
    music, Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
  6. In the bleak mid-winter  (4:32)
    text, Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)
    music, Dr. Harold Darke (1888-1976)
  7. There is a flower
    text, John Audelay (15th cent)
    music, John Rutter (1945-)
  8. The cherry tree carol  (4:04)
    English traditional carol
    arr. Sir David Willcocks
  9. I wonder as I wander  (2:52)
    Appalachian carol
    coll. John Jacob Niles
    arr. John Rutter (1945-)
  10. Candlelight carol  (4:06)
    John Rutter (1945-)
  11. O Tannenbaum  (1:58)
    text, Ernst Anschutz (1824)
    German traditional melody
    arr. John Rutter (1945-)
  12. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day  (1:55)
    English traditional carol
    arr. Sir David Willcocks
  13. A virgin most pure  (2:38)
    English traditional carol
    arr. Charles Wood (1866-1926)
  14. I sing of a maiden  (2:54)
    text, 15th century
    music, Patrick Hadley (1899-1973)
  15. Lute-book lullaby  (2:05)
    William Ballet (17th cent)
    arr. Geoffrey Shaw
  16. The three kings  (2:16)
    Peter Cornelius (1824-1874)
    arr. Ivor Atkins (1869-1953)
  17. Myn lyking  (2:35)
    text, 15th century
    music, Sir Richard R. Terry (1865-1938)
  18. O little one sweet  (3:15)
    Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
    arr. J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
  19. All my heart this night rejoices  (2:12)
    text, Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)
    transl, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
    music, Johann Georg Ebeling (1637-1676)
  20. I saw a maiden  (2:52)
    text, 15th century
    Basque No√ęl
    arr. Edgar Pettman (1865-1943)
  21. Away in a manger  (2:12)
    text, published 1865
    music, W.I. Kirkpatrick (1832-1921)
    arr. John Rutter (1945-)
  22. Nativity carol  (4:20)
    John Rutter (1945-)

Bringing down the house


Minnesota Sinfonia / Jay Fishman
Brandon Duffy, violin
Evelyn Nelson, soprano

December 2, 2011
Founders Hall Auditorium
Metropolitan State University
Saint Paul, Minnesota

It seems amazing to this writer that despite the holiday-flavored selections and the short (one hour, twenty minutes) duration, there was enough time on Friday evening for the real attractions, delivered by two soloists, one young composer, and by the Sinfonia themselves.

After whetting the audience’s appetite with a Johann Strauss Jr. waltz, the orchestra and Fishman got down to serious business.¬† Fishman first explained to his audience how Johannes Brahms had spoken unkindly about Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 26.¬† The delicious irony is that without question, this is now among the most popular concerti in the violin repertoire — arguably more popular than Brahms’s own.

The soloist here was 13-year-old violinist Brandon Duffy, who won the junior division of the Sinfonia’s concerto competition earlier this year.¬† Duffy handled the Bruch with finesse and taut playing, especially with solid intonation on the more difficult double- and triple-stops.¬† Young Mr. Duffy clearly possesses the technique necessary to tackle much of this repertoire, as well as a strong hint of the bowing technique and dynamics required to really deliver the Bruch.¬† It will be interesting to hear Duffy in the coming years, as he develops the maturity and “emotional knowledge” necessary to deliver the angst and passion this violin concerto demands, as well as the rich flavor of things like Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46.¬† But Duffy showed us Friday evening that he has it within himself to deliver the goods — this was a fine performance with no qualifications.

A composition by 18-year-old Max Shin was next on the menu.¬† Chicago! is a jazzy number containing a throwback swing style with some enjoyably lush orchestration, delivered with rather full effect by the Sinfonia despite their relatively small size (25).¬† The slight dissonances Shin worked into the music also work very charmingly into the bustling but swiftly moving rhythms, which echo George Gershwin’s An American In Paris in places.

And in an intelligent piece of programming, Fishman followed with another genuinely fun and interesting excursion, a Divertimento by the late Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick.¬† While a great deal of Jewish-flavored classical and orchestral music can be serious and solemn, Fishman knows the most joyful and accessible gems as well — The Glick Divertimento brings forth some rather tricky rhythmic passages that make tough rhythmic and musical demands on the celli and double bass in particular.¬† But Fishman and the Sinfonia consistently shine with Judaic chamber music; the Divertimento is one of the two best that I have heard in concert.¬† The other is Fishman’s own Jewish Sketches, which he and the Sinfonia debuted earlier this year on February 11.¬† In this musician-writer’s opinion, Fishman and the Sinfonia are so good and so comfortable with this music that the time seems right for them to commit these works to compact disc; hopefully the funding and logistics for such a recording project will happen sooner rather than later.

Fishman then followed this gem with another, two movements from the Symphony in E-flat, Op.14 No. 2 by Carl Abel (1723-1787).  This gorgeous music elegantly straddles the lines between late Baroque, early classical, and even the early Romantic era.  In terms of symphonic chamber music, one could say that Carl Abel was Franz Schubert (1797-1828) before Franz Schubert was Franz Schubert.  If Fishman and the Sinfonia manage to get that recording date, they would be foolish to not include this somewhat obscure treasure on the resulting CD.

Since this was advertised as a “holiday favorites” concerto, the Sinfonia then inserted a nice reading of Adeste Fideles (the music for the hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful), which was composed by John Francis Wade (1711-1786).

After that interjection followed the Abel symphony, the orchestra scored again with Johannes Brahms’ lovely Intermezzo, Op. 118 no. 2.¬† It is one thing that Fishman has a deep understanding of the graceful movement of this composition; it is another that he pulls this out of his talented musicians with such panache, particularly from the violins and horns in this case.

To this point, the Sinfonia would have already garnered a nice review from this musician-writer, but the pi√®ce de r√©sistance was yet to come.¬† Minnesota-born soprano Evelyn Nelson delivered a bright, clear, and refreshingly non-weighty reading of “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi.¬† Nelson gave us a lovely and touching performance with spot-on intonation.¬† She has rather amazing control of her voice; her mezzo-piano to forte high A-flat was flat-out impressive and lovely, without being excessively showy.¬† At this point, we knew that she is an excellent soprano.

But it was Nelson’s second selection that brought down the house; her voice and stage presence radiated during her enthusiastic reading of the “Je veux vivre” from Rom√©o et Juliette, the Charles Gounod opera.¬† Nelson’s dynamics in the closing section were *extremely* impressive and reached the audience with a palpable kinetic energy.¬† I am still shaking my head over Nelson’s magnificent performance, which was even better those of other sopranos I have heard perform with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Nelson delivered again with Adele’s Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus, and here is where the Sinfonia again demonstrated one of their niches:¬† This orchestra and conductor really are complementary to their soloists; the violins in particular matched Nelson stride-for-stride with nearly perfect pacing, while hanging back just enough that they did not sonically overwhelm her.¬† Nelson probably should have performed the Strauss before blowing us away with the Gounod, but at least she received her well-deserved standing ovation at this point.

A number of works were listed as possible selections this night, I would have loved to hear Nelson sing Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165, but alas, this was a holiday concert, so Nelson and the Sinfonia gave us a nice but otherwise unremarkable O Holy Night (Cantique de No√ęl) by Adolphe Adam instead.¬† (At least they lived up to the advertising!)¬† Fishman and the Sinfonia finished the concert with two more Christmastime selections,Victor Herbert’s “March of the Toys” from Babes in Toyland and the “Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

Violinist Brandon Duffy and composer Max Shin (through Chicago!) gave fine accounts of themselves this evening.¬† But Evelyn Nelson is another one of those far-above-average and truly excellent soloists that I want to see and hear again soon.¬† If/when she next performs with the Sinfonia, they at least owe us what I am sure will be a lovely Mozart Exsultate, jubilate.¬† Evelyn Nelson is a star.¬† And in this writer’s opinion, far too few Minnesotans are aware of this chamber orchestra and *especially* how thoughtfully and intelligently Jay Fishman programs a concert.¬† Also head-shaking is the level of talented guest performers Fishman brings in for these concerts; we have had truly memorable recent concerts from pianist Lydia Artymiw, cellist Dmitry Kouzov, and now Evelyn Nelson.¬† The Minnesota Sinfonia are, unquestionably, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization worth serious financial support.