Karim Dabbèche Animation to Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, II. Scherzo: Vivacissimo, Performed by Hilary Hahn

I have included watching this video into my daughter’s morning routine:

We listen to the whole thing. Z may wander during this piece, but she makes sure she watches the part where the main character falls out of the subway train. It seems she also likes to watch them stand up after falling down. Which is pretty dang cool.

The other day I scrolled through comments to this video and came across this opinion.

To be honest, I knee-jerked when I first read this. Like, I was sort of offended? But I didn’t need to be. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to understand this person’s perspective. I get it: Hilary Hahn is mesmerizing to watch. But without really knowing this commenter, maybe I’ll try unpacking what they said here.

Disclaimer: This is not a defense of Hilary Hahn, as she does not need defending. This is a rebuttal of an opinion of a YouTube commenter. That is all.

I’m a fan of Hilary Hahn. Oh, me too! She’s so talented. She has great energy as a performer. A beautiful personality, and very gracious to her fans. I mean, here Commenter is setting up for the but of their comment. I can feel it.

I appreciate her sincerety [sic] and commitment to her music. I agree! She’s very sincere! She’s very committed to her music. Both are not always simultaneously present in famous musicians or public figures in general. The way she presents her 100 Days of Practice demonstrates both of these qualities in spades: she offers valuable music and life wisdom, and in the 100 days themselves she shows her dedication to her craft. Plus she provides videos of her practicing, so we get to see her every day during this time. This would be an easy thing to feel entitled to. Even as her adoring fans we are not entitled to see Hilary Hahn every day.

That said… “but…”

I would rather… Commenter is stating a preference, which they are absolutely entitled to. People like what they like. Just like I’m stating my preferences right here. Which happen to mostly disagree with Commenter.

I would rather watch her play the music than watch animations. Commenter seems to be dismissing the work of the animator here (as a preference, but still). Hilary Hahn has made an effort to work with Karim Dabbèche in his interpretation of this Prokofiev work. This is a collaboration of interpretations. A different expression of Hilary’s “sincerity and commitment to her music.” And why not promote other artists? Dabbèche is clearly talented, and this video is legitimately cool, and Hilary testifies that it captures the spirit and weirdness and charm of Paris. This work also overflows with real representation of diverse backgrounds and cultures, which is really what we need. It’s refreshing, frankly. That she has played an active part in bringing this video to reality says a lot about her generosity and breadth of creativity as a human being. And she wanted to share it with us. I’m so grateful she did.

I mean, right?

Done ranting now.

I Saw Hilary Hahn Tonight

A review of the concert with the Utah Symphony at the de Jong Concert Hall is coming soon. I’ll be a guest reviewer over at my friend’s music and interview blog, The Glass.

In the meantime, a few pictures:

Here is Hilary Hahn’s autograph:

Here I am talking to Hilary Hahn. She appears to be listening intently:

Here is Hilary Hahn laughing at something I said. Believe it or not, I made her laugh on purpose. This is what happens when you put two charming people near each other:


She was so wonderful and cool, and of course charming, and I was SO starstruck.

More to come.

Book on Tapeworm Was Here

This is what happens when I bring a camera. There doesn’t have to be as many burdensome words.

Last night, I went to an album release show of a band called Book on Tapeworm. Here they are:

The percussionist here is my husband’s brother:

Here was their real-life, life-size set last night at the Velour. As you can see, the stage quite resembles the band’s CD case:

Here’s Gavin working his magic. He came all the way back from grad school in Illinois for this show. This guy is legit:

So, if the set looks surreal, if the CD packaging is styled after their set, you can expect to hear music that’s ethereal and transcendent and not harsh and grating and makes you feel like gagging yourself.

If you’re into well-written songs, tight harmonies and angelic voices; if you like thoughtful music that truly reflects how serious and professional and skilled the musicians are; if you appreciate the shrinks, swells, and swings of emotion in music that makes you sigh with longing or nostalgia; and if you want the mystery and magic of the morning mists meandering groves and chaparrals, then you’ll love this album.

If you don’t like any of that stuff, I can accurately conclude that you’re pretty stupid.

Also, these folks are incredibly nice and insufferably cool people. None of the band members are likely to become supreme jerks when they become rich and famous.

Check them out, like them. Buy their stuff. Watch them:

Book on Tape Worm – Shadow Puppets from Jason Moffat on Vimeo.

They’re amazing.

It’s Weird to Think She’s Only Five Years Older than Me

Okay, she makes a great Fantine, but I actually first encountered her as Eponine. Lea Salonga is my normalform of Eponine. In my mind, no one can be better.

I know this song is an anthem for a lot of you out there. Me, too.


Tuesday is my last day of class. Next Tuesday morning is my last day of finals.

I’m still working on getting more funding for Senegal. I hope I won’t have to withdraw from the program.

Also, I can’t shake a ___ that I have on a ___ with a ___. I know, I know: get out before it gets messy. I have a plan in mind, and I hope it works. Goodness knows I don’t need anymore drama.

I Sort of Fell in Love for Two Hours

So maybe somebody sang this song at the talent show last night. And when the last note rang, a girl stood up and shouted, “I want to take French from YOU!” and she pointed at  the singer, who’s part of the student French teaching staff here at school. He’s an impeccable dresser, and he’s got that je ne sais quoi. Pretty dang hot.

The girl wasn’t me. But I sort of wanted it to be.

People sang along when he broke into English, and everyone had a grand time. Sometimes, there are parts I don’t hate about school during mid-semester. Last night was one of those parts.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Status as of 26/07/2010

I broke down and sent one text this morning, about 30 minutes ago. It was more or less to confirm plans for Thursday night. An old French classmate and I are going to see her voice teacher / my friend from New York City perform in a production of 110 in the Shade at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. I’ve already heard this girl sing – I know she can wail – but I haven’t seen her on stage. I’m very excited. I missed the run when Audra McDonald performed, but I already saw her last summer in Twelfth Night in Central Park for Shakespeare in the Park. She’s lovely. And she’s perfect in the film production of Wit with Emma Thompson. I’ve tried to get a few of you to see this film with me – I own it and everything – to no avail. It’s an amazing film. Sure, it’s depressing as hell, but very well done.

A few people texted me this weekend, and I didn’t respond. Sorry about that. I usually send about 10 messages for every three or four I receive. I did make up for it by leaving a few messages and talking on the phone with a friend for over an hour. It was hard leaving my phone alone, but I figure if I can last this week without texting, I might give it up for lent. I prefer human voices and somewhat thoughtful emails. Kind of takes me back to 1996 when my life was so, so much simpler.

Another short story is in the works. I’m at 3,300 words, and it feels about 60% done.

Oh. I’m having a crisis of faith.

There’s that.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Fine. I’m talented. It’s not anything I flaunt, and it’s definitely not something I broadcasted living among the musically and artistically touched up in New York City. Lots of people were able to serve in this capacity, with lots of musical numbers, often more than the number of Sundays in the year. I spent the last six and a half years sitting back, appreciating other people’s expressions of beauty and worship and … showing off. Let’s be honest.

I’m no prodigy or genius, but I won’t deny that I know a little bit about music. I won’t pretend I don’t love beauty. I won’t ignore the chance to make words shine and give them substance. Sometimes, though, I let these supersede my ability to make friends. Or, vice-versa. Still, I don’t carry around a flashing marquee that says I’ll sing for you or play the clarinet or write a mini-biography for your fireside. (But, I might offer advice you didn’t ask for.)

Sometimes, though, I’m so insecure it’s paralyzing.

My good friends know what I can do. They probably know that I’m best at being a good friend. That’s not something I hide, per se, it’s something I’m very deliberate about, and I take it very seriously. It takes a lot of time for me, which is why I’ve been so hesitant to venture into the unfamiliar here in Florida. Eleven weeks is not a lot of time.

It’s enough, though.

People haven’t held me to any expectations, which is … different. I see people with their walls down while I am still ever so rigid with my guard. People are so willing and eager to share anything and everything they have, not out of pride or praise; they’re full of love.

This past week, something possessed me to go to Institute and make a couple of comments in class. It’s always helped to ask myself during the lesson how I can relate or what I know. When I can actually answer these questions my heart rate increases as I try to decide whether to speak aloud in front of the class. Then comes the whole effort of trying to make my thoughts make sense as they come out of my mouth. Then comes hoping the discussion continues without my feeling foolish. I might have some anxiety issues.

Today in Sunday School we discussed being good citizens. And heck yes I had some things to say, because it seemed no one else could quite say what I could say from the place where I came. At least in that particular class. You know what I mean? And so I commented and the words flowed, which surprised me, but also confirmed how much I’ve thought about citizenship. Anyway, it spurred on further conversation and as the class continued, I wrote in my notebook, “I’m pretty cool. :)”

At the end of Relief Society ten minutes were reserved so sisters could bear testimonies. I really thought about bearing mine during sacrament meeting (what has gotten into me?), but when time ran out I figured I’d stand up at the end of Relief Society. The lesson ended. With five minutes left, our 83-year old pianist apologized for not standing. She uses a walker, and it’s great she still plays the piano for us.  Cute as can be. She sat behind me, and we sat near the piano.

I listened to her as her humble voice expressed her love for the gospel. Then she told a story about how she talked to her son who lives in Middleburg about someone who moved into the ward who once attended the Middleburg Ward. She continued on about how she asked her son if he remembered someone named May, and how her son said yes, of course he remembers. Then how he remembers how I play the … flute?

With a lump in my throat, I gently corrected her. “Clarinet.” And then she recounted how her son said to make sure not to let that talent go to waste. Then she ended her testimony.

Well, damn.

Then the adoring 21-year old sitting next to me whispered how there’s a Christmas Program coming up (she’s the choir director, and we’ve spoken only briefly but she announced to the class that I’m fun), and our pianist’s daughter who was also sitting behind me overheard this and laughed and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Fighting tears, I whispered to the 21-year old if she finds something, I’ll play it.

There’s nothing like being outed by an octagenarian whose son watched you grow up with his children and remembers well enough certain details about your life from so many years ago.

After the closing prayer I turned around and thanked our cute little pianist for her thoughtfulness. She had her hand on the back of my chair, and I held her hand while we spoke. We talked a little bit about her son whose children are all grown now. I told her I only have a few weeks left before I leave, and she said she was glad, because she didn’t want to miss the chance to hear me play.

Forget that I could literally fit under a bushel. I’m not hiding; I didn’t say no. It’s worth it.

Eleven weeks is more than enough.

And, I get to play.


Cultured, Phenomenal Kids, and I Guide Their Spiritual Journeys?

Yesterday, I went to a violin recital. My primary objective was to be able to say hi to a friend who now lives in California. It turned out that another of my seminary students performed. Played the violin. Did very well. It was a holiday recital, and all the students performed a Christmas or Hanukkah song. It was quite festive. I congratulated my student, and I said hi to my friend. Mission accomplished, and then some. I left feeling quite impressed.

Last night, I went to a production of The Nutcracker that yet another student was performing in. I got to my seat and looked at the program. I skimmed for my student’s name, and I didn’t find it until Act II. She was the freaking Sugar Plum Fairy. The star of the show. Two asterisks marked her name, so I searched the rest of the program for what that could mean. Turned out she won some sort of prestigious award in 2008. The exact excerpt: “Grand Prix winner at International Ballet Competition 2008-Varna.” The show began, and the story played out, and most of the dancing was pretty impressive. The music never gets old to me. Intermission. Then Act II began, and my student … she carried the show. She stole it. She wrapped it in a neat little package, and handed it to us, the audience. She’s gifted. She gifted us. I was expecting her to be good, but I HAD NO IDEA. Perfect extension, grace, strength, beauty, and everything else the Sugar Plum Fairy should be.

I snapped a few photos. Not a single bad one. Well, maybe a few, but that’s only because I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch a lift or a spin or whatever perfect pose that she held for just the right amount of time. Also, the girl who played Clara, her part was to watch the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Land of the Sweets. However it wasn’t Clara the character watching. It was just a girl, completely captivated, taken by my student’s beautiful character and amazing presence. She was an amazing little dancer herself, and the look on her face was nothing but pure awe and wanting to be just like the Sugar Plum Fairy.

I can’t get over it.

I didn’t stick around after the performance, but I did make sure she saw me clapping and smiling bigger than the world at curtain call. She smiled back.

I am so proud. So fortunate. So, so blessed.

Smart, Creative, Beautiful; Won’t Stop Saying “Your Mom” to Me


This is my facebook profile picture. I think it’s a great photo, with the depth-of-field adjustment to bring the focus to my roommate. I mean, I have a perfectly fine throat, and I particularly like that top I’m wearing here. But it’s Monday, folks. That means today’s entry isn’t about me. It still kind of is, in that I know the person, and I’m blessed and fortunate enough to have the person in my life. Today it’s all about not me. At least this post, anyway.

You’ve already seen her exceptional film editing skills. She’s only looking to improve and we already have another idea on the drawing board. This one is going to be good. Um. If we can get it together the way we did the last one, we’re going into the home run business. World, watch out.

She will graduate with her MBA this month, and she’ll take the world’s economy and turn it in on itself and make all currency equal and make bartering more prominent. Chicken for wheat and chocolate for cotton. Micro-Machines for millet. Did you know she’s going to the same MBA school that Willie Olesen attended? How much more guaranteed can her future be?

She worked at a jet propulsion lab once. No, I’m serious. She’s a scientist. Engineering degree and everything. And don’t make fun of her, or she’ll take Occam’s razor to your throat.

And? She knows computer programming. She’s part of a small side business, comprised of her and her identical cousin (of identical DNA and dancing to Michael Jackson fame) and another friend, and together they built this site, and they built another site for a couple who was getting married and I can’t find it and Becky isn’t home for me to ask, so you’re going to have to take my word for it, and she’s working on another site for a client. If you’re interested in her services, give her a holler. It’s no small thing, either. She writes up proposals and gives you the skinny on cost and time estimates, and as you can see, she does great work.

She doesn’t skimp on friendship, either. Just so you know.