The neverending challenges of intonation

I’ve spent most of my student and professional life experimenting with and practising intonation, so I love it when I read something about it that I find exciting. Years ago, I read Ross W. Duffin’s How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care) as if it were some potboiler novel (I couldn’t put it down, and stayed up all night reading it), because it made so much sense of what I’d being trying to accomplish as a string quartet player.

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No expense spared but one

My students are big fans of Game of Thrones, and this semester they begged me to arrange Ramin Djawadi’s stirring theme music for our cello ensemble. I did so, writing it down by ear from a YouTube clip. After a few hearings, it really began to irritate me that instead of hiring a live cellist to play the melody, HBO had used a MIDI version.

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Fantasia and fashion

My husband and I both adored Fantasia as children, and went to see Fantasia 2000 as university students when it first came out on IMAX (independently, since we wouldn’t meet for another eight years). Now that we have our own little daughter, it’s such a pleasure to revisit these old friends and see them through her eyes. Some of the pieces are too scary for a three-year-old, so we fast forward through Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, for example, but others, such as Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the flamingos and yo-yos in the Finale from Carnival of the Animals were just as charming and magical as I’d remembered.

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Sleeping in Temples

I’m a huge fan of the pianist and writer Susan Tomes, so when her latest book came out, I bought it right away and read it in between practice sessions and writing syllabuses over our winter break. Sleeping in Temples, like Tomes’ other collections Beyond the Notes and Out of Silence, gives readers a fascinating insight into the life of a musician at the very top of her profession, both in the sense of a memoir and of the interpreter’s journey.

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