Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wits Choir

I just got a new link from the Wits Choir for their website. It looks great! I sang with them between 2002 and 2004, and it was a super experience. Our tour to Argentina in 2003 was a real highlight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


My bellydance teacher has started a blog. She's also really a great writer, and well worth a read. Did I mention I took bellydance classes this past year? I'm looking forward to picking that up again in the new year.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Making contacts

Today has been a really exciting research day. I got in touch with someone offering a course I am interested in taking, and he put me in touch with some really exciting contacts in the South African music industry. And these contacts opened up others, and suddenly I have a whole world of resources I wasn't expecting. How happy am I.
So here are a few of the highlights:
Rhythm Records Online is a resource I have been using for a while to purchase South African music I have difficulty acquiring here in the US. This is also a great source for news on the SA music industry, and my source for a few tracks that are otherwise only available on vinyl.
A promotional trailer for a recently aired TV documentary called Johnny en die Maaiers. I am attempting to procure a copy of the documentary itself. I also came across this review.
A trailer for a forthcoming documentary on Fokofpolisiekar. This looks like it will be super! I'm afraid you have to have a facebook account, and have videos installed to view this. I'm looking for another link, though.
Masizakhe. I can't remember whether I blogged this when I saw it last year, but it is a super documentary, and worth seeing, if you can. There are some good clips here.
MK. Afrikaans television channel that features a lot of music.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today I got one of those emails I have been dreading. My great aunt has died. I know that sounds like a distant relative, but in many ways she took on the role of grandmother to me. I'm incredibly grateful that the last time I spoke to her she was telling me that she was proud of me for doing well, and for coming here and studying, and experiencing things she could only dream of. And I am really grateful to be doing this, and so I can't really justify wishing I was closer to home right now, even though I do.
So in addition to that special little legacy, I thought I'd just record a few of the things I will always associate with my great aunt are my memories of her beautiful garden, which was a wonderland to me as a child: labyrinthine, filled with the biggest nasturtiums, robust agapanthus (offspring of which now reside in my garden in Johannesburg, and my parent's garden in the Drakensberg), a huge gingko tree, a sweet-scented Jacaranda, the flowers of which she would allow to stay on the driveway as they fell, because she loved the colour, violets with leaves that covered my two hands together, and a statue of Wendy; the beautiful wedding cakes she used to decorate, with brightly coloured icing flowers she once showed me how to make; enourmous, rich, desperately unhealthy, and completely irresistible meals that we always left loaded with take-home leftovers. I think in her home I experienced the style of hospitality and family-centered sociality that I most strongly associate with Afrikaner culture.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Maria von Trapp goes home

No, it isn't the Maria played by Julie Andrews, but one of her step-children. Still, it's a lovely story.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Great American Passtime

I have seen a lot of baseball in the last few weeks. Three games in ten days to be exact. And for someone raised on cricket and rugby (though I'm hardly a sports fanatic), I must admit to really liking baseball. It's simpler than cricket, and while less exciting than rugby, I certainly wasn't lacking for entertainment. The first live game I saw was with the whole of NYChoirgirl's family, at Yankee stadium. It was probably the only time I will go to this stadium, before the new one replaces it, but for NYChoirgirl's family, it's a yearly tradition. We had great seats, high up, but right behind home base, and it was a great place from which to learn how the game works. NYChoirgirl filled out a score card, and watching her, and receiving periodic explanations from her and her mother really made more sense of it to me. And I was delighted by all the music. A live organist played little snatches of familiar pieces of music throughout the game, and people respond with near military precision. I was quite proud as I learned the responses well enough to sing (and clap) along. We sang the Star Spangled Banner before the game, God Bless America after the 7th inning, followed by Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and YMCA when the sand on the diamond was smoothed over. It was all very entertaining.
The following Friday we went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium, and while the seats were just about as high up, this time they were closer to first base. The Mets game was even more laid back and entertaining than the Yankees game, with all the between innings activities, though because the Mets aren't my team (I'm a Yankees fan by default) the Yankees game was more exciting. Once again, though, the music thoroughly entertained me.
Then, a week later, we went to a minor league game on Staten island. This time the stadium was much smaller, and so were right near to the field, between home and first base. While these players clearly weren't on quite the same level as the major league players we had seen previously, the game was absolutely riveting, with the Staten Island Yankees scoring, the Batavian Muckdogs (yes, that really is their name) leveling up, and then overtaking them, and right near the end, the Yankees again leveling, and then winning. The game was also followed by fireworks, first in the distance on Manhattan (which we could see through the mist across the bay) and then right at the stadium.
We're planning on going to another game at the Cyclones stadium at Coney Island, but perhaps in a couple of weeks time....
So a few little to end this post:
Clearly the link between sports and music has historic precedents. Here is an article from the Mail and Guardian on music at the Olympic Games.
Anything you ever wanted to know about baseball history.
The Baseball Music Project.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Girl Scouts in America are being required to pay royalties for campfire songs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

work gym and fireflies

I'm officially working at the NYU library for the rest of the summer. Yesterday and this morning were spent mainly running around sorting out paperwork to make this happen, but today I got to actually do some work, and it was great! I'm going to be behind the desk sometimes, and at other times I'm helping the music director check that the library's music books collection is up to date. And in two week's time, there will be some money coming in again.
I tried to go to the gym after work, and discovered that my student status only entitles me to use it at no cost during the academic year, and that officially ended at the start of this month. So no swimming for a few weeks. But I think I'll survive that. I'll just have to find excuses to walk a little further each day.
Oh, and on Friday and Saturday night I saw fireflies for the first time. NYChoirgirl calls them "lightning bugs". They're delightful little creatures that look utterly unremarkable until their butts light up, which they do at seemingly random intervals. I was utterly entranced by them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Neighbourhood

I now live in Astoria. It's wonderful to be living in a place in the city, comfortably close to all the things in Manhattan I need ready access to, but far enough out to be quiet, and to have a real neighbourhood feel. I'm learning which of the green grocers are more consistently reliable, where to get the best fresh fish or home-made feta cheese, and where to get the more unusual products that local stores don't normally stock, at non-specialty store prices. There's a wonderful store near here that stocks every kind of regional specialty food you could ever want! And there's a health food store, a bakery, and a Japanese convenience store on the way to the subway stop. There are also a good selection of restaurants in walking distance of our apartment. We'll not be short of options.
And in looking for information about our local community gardens, I found this great local blog. Thanks for the updates, Joey!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well, a lot has happened over the last while. I completed my comprehensive exams (not without some difficulty), hosted my parents for three weeks, attended my brother's wedding, and moved in with NYChoirgirl. And now I'm on summer break. Mostly, I'm working on my thesis proposal, and appreciating the delights of the season here in a hot, humid New York.
I've also been fighting an infestation of fungus midges on my herbs. I think they came in the soil in which I purchased the herbs, and for my first week or so here, there were hundreds of them! lots of spraying and soil drenching, all with non-toxic products, and long strips of sticky fly paper hanging from the curtain rail, and little dishes of apple cider vinegar seem to have them under control, but any other suggestions anyone has would be much appreciated. The plants are looking distinctly worse for wear, mostly, I think, from the spray, and I'd love to find a method of control that does them less harm.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Umshini Wami

It's perhaps too easy to simply blame the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa last week on people's being riled up, and finally provoked to action by war-songs. It just sounds too much like the contact-era fantasies of European explorers encountering "fierce Zulu warriors" gaining strength from "savage songs and dances" to be really something one can take at face value (Christine Lucia's book The World of South African Music: A Reader reproduces some of these early writings on first contacts between Africans and Europeans in South Africa). And of course, the history of the song in question is much more complicated than the title alone, or it's connection to Jacob Zuma makes clear. But my interest was peaked when the Mail and Guardian yesterday drew the apparently obvious connection between xenophobic attackers singing Zuma's signature tune, and the ANC president's comments about dealing with the influx of foreigners. And no one even mentions the sexual suggestiveness of a song in which the "machine" in question is overtly phallic, and representative of the type of masculine aggression and power that got Zuma into trouble not too long ago.

Friday, May 02, 2008

long time - still hanging in there

It has been a long time since I've updated. And while I don't like blog posts that are excuses for why one hasn't posted in ages, I kind of think I have a good excuse: Comprehensive Exams!!!!
I wrote them last weekend (Friday to Monday), and am waiting to hear my results. But they are done, and out of the way, and now I have three pieces of writing to complete in lieu of finals, and then my parents arrive on Saturday next week for a three week visit. It has been so long since I last saw them, and I'm really looking forward to having them here. I'll try to keep this blog regularly updated then with our doings.
In the mean time, though, here is a nice little documentary on the Stonewall Chorale, that gives you a taste of one of the things I've been up to this year.
I cannot believe the academic year is practically over! One more year of course work left. That's a scary thought.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something sounds a little fishy

When I was in high school, my music teacher kept me in stitches with his "mishearings" of song lyrics. My favourite was the "elephant ear song", though God's invitation for a cuppa ("come for tea, my people") is also pretty funny. I didn't ever think it could go this far, though! Thanks, Lou, for passing this link on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It might as well be spring

Spring is here! It has been pending for a while, but today New York seemed to blossom with it. We hit temperatures of 23 degrees centigrade, and I had a wonderful time sitting on my balcony feeling the sun on my arms and legs. The daffodils are in full bloom, as are the magnolias, and I'm skipping around and singing like a character in a 1940s musical.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Reasons to be happy!

Julie Andrews is going to be at the Union Square Barnes&Noble tomorrow!

And I just received word that a book I wrote a chapter for has finally been published. It's on page 18 of the publisher's catalog, with the rather generic title Music and Identity: Transformation and Negotiation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Comps reading

I'm reading at the moment. Reading nearly every second. And when I'm not reading, I'm listening to every piece of South African music I own. But mostly to Karen Zoid. I finally own Chasing the Sun (courtesy of iTunes), and I keep discovering new things that fascinate me.
Have you ever heard "Danville Diva"? I can't find it in preview anywhere online, so my suggestion is that you listen to it on iTunes. There is a wonderful moment in that where Karen imitates an Afrikaans Diva accent (I think I prefer "princess" to "diva", because of the connection between "diva" and camp sensibility, but they mean roughly the same thing). I spent several hours listening to that today, thinking about how I might describe that sound, specifically to a non-South African. And then when I was searching for the song on YouTube for the purposes of this blog, I came across the wonderful recently added video from Karen's February performance in London.

The accent imitation is fascinating, but I'm also delighted by the moments of what Gary Tomlinson would call (if I remember the article I studied years ago correctly) "signifyin(g)", where she sings a fragment of a Malaika number (the final moments of "Destiny"), and Mary Mary's "Shackles". I have heard both songs often enough (if you have watched South African television station SABC 1 after about 23:00, you have probably heard them too), but don't know much about these groups. Whenever I hear the name Malaika I'm reminded of the Kenyan song by the same name, though I would hesitate to suggest that the group are deliberately referencing that. It is, however, interesting to me to hear Karen Zoid singing a gospel number about slavery in an RnB style within a "Kwaito style" (as she says at the beginning of the video clip) song. There's so much going on there!

My most recent intellectual obsession has been with describing vocal timbre, and in a recent writing exercise for Suzanne Cusick's 'Feminist and Queer Musicology' class, I discovered that language and accent are particularly good areas from which to approach this task. So that delightful litttle Karen moment got me very excited.

Then earlier I read an article by Cornelia Fales that Jason Stanyek recommended to me (if you have access to JSTOR, the link above will work, if not, you won't be able to access this particular article, and will just have to take my word on it). It's on timbre alright, and is a concerted effort to write (ethno)musicologically about timbre. But while I think the author's attempt to focus strongly on timbre rather than other aspects of music analysis is interesting, I was a bit disappointed by what I read as a collapse into references to the strongly visual. She uses spectographs to represent much of what she describes, and in the end doesn't really achieve much. I agree that the lack of vocabulary makes it impossible to talk directly on the topic, but I think that a more productive strategy, and one that I think Louise Meintjes exercises particularly effectively in Sound of Africa involves listening to how musicians (in her instance, studio technicians) talk about the sounds they're working with. It works, I think, because the writing focuses on a purpose beyond itself. She isn't writing about timbre for its own sake. She is writing about it to explain how a particular set of South African identities are constituted musically, and it works. I'm not entirely uncritical of her broader project (I think the collapsing of Zuluness, South Africanness and Africanness is the most troubling fault) but I do think she is doing the most exciting work of this nature I have encountered yet. Other related projects include Gage Averill's Four Parts, No Waiting and Aaron Fox's Real Country.

I love having an excuse to do all this good reading and listening!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What not to wear

There's too much troubling news coming out of South Africa at the moment. Last month, a young woman was stripped of her clothing and assaulted at a Taxi rank near Johannesburg. The reason: she was wearing a miniskirt. Because apparently wearing miniskirts is unAfrican.

And the only reason this has come to public attention, it appears, is because a group of women wearing miniskirts marched to the taxi rank where the incident occurred. Police claim that this is the only incident to have been reported, despite the fact that women are regularly harassed in these locations. Of course, if the police would actually take down reports made by people, there might be more record of them.
It seems women can't win, either. I remember women being stripped not too long ago for wearing pants. Seriously, we are not living in the Victorian era, and men behaving like animals unable to control themselves at the sight of female flesh just doesn't fly. Or perhaps these really are men who belong behind bars, like animals at a zoo.

Image copyright South African Tourism. Originally found at

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

deleted post

I've taken my last post down after a conversation with NYChoirgirl. Perhaps it isn't always wise to vent online. But I really am unhappy with my teaching assignment, and I'll consider discussing the whole situation in more detail at the end of the semester.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Of more interest than the scathing review of two new South African albums in today's Mail and Guardian is the news that fokofpolisiekar have amicably split up. Perhaps that is a good move for a band who formed as distinctly subcultural, but are now becoming pretty mainstream, before their momentum fades.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

total eclipse of tne moon

I just spent about 10 minutes (all I could bear in the cold) out on my balcony watching the full moon be swallowed up by the earth's shadow, and then renew itself, seemingly brighter than before. Around me were people on many other balconies on my building, and the two buildings opposite, and on the rooftops of buildings on either side of this one. All of us together, braving the cold, watching a total eclipse of the moon in this crazy, busy city. It's a strange way to connect with people, but it does feel like a sort of a fellowship, in a strange way.

And on a slightly different note, I'm very excited, because one of my dear friends has been offered a fellowship by my department from the fall. I really hope she accepts.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


This past weekend was the super bowl (American football, for my South African readers), and while the very exciting win by the New York Giants made for pretty good viewing anyway, NYChoirgirl explained that she usually only watches this for the ads. Seems the super bowl is the big night for ad agencies here. I only saw the second half of the game, and must admit that I found the game (which I only partially understand) more entertaining than the ads. I was, however, fascinated to read in today's New York Times that one ad featuring pandas talking in Asian accents and broken English, was withdrawn.

I remembered seeing this ad, and not paying much attention to it at the time. It is long, and rather boring. The flood of objections on the New York Times site, however, are much more interesting. Notice, in particular,
no. 8 "Once one puts an "ethnic" accent on an animated character, one raises the spectre of stereotyping and beyond. Ever watched "Finding Nemo"? I got the same queasy feeling - why does this fish talk like, in my opinion, an inner city "African American"?"
no. 13 "I was offended by the ad using Cavemen. I have many Cavemen friends myself, and I find them very intelligent, well-spoken people. Hey, they invented the wheel. Sure they can be a little bit on the hairy side, and they don't take advantage of the dental plan offered at work, but media's constant protrayal of these men as perpetual abusive grunters goes way over the line. I'm surprised Neanderthal-Americans have not spoken up on this issue."
no. 14 "I thought sales genie made a nod to acknowledging the real world when they made a fellow named Chakrabarty the successful salesman in the ad. He did have a south Asian accent, but a real one rather than a caricature."
no. 15 "Had they given the Pandas accents that were non-stereotypical, say British, or California Valley Girl dialects, the commercial would have been more memorable, funnier, and offended far fewer people."

So it's good to represent diversity in ads, so long as everyone sounds alike? British or California Valley Girl accents are less offensive than Chinese or African American? Nemo sounds African American?

I admit I can see how these things could be offensive. The broken English is not good. But sometimes I miss South African senses of humour.

on the other hand, SA banned this priceless gem

Thursday, February 07, 2008


What a crazy mistake to make! The posters for Bafana Bafana (South Africa's Soccer team) at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana show a player who was not selected for the squad, and the old South African Flag! Thanks mom and dad for forwarding the News 24 article to me.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More exam readings

Below is list number 2 for my comps. This one focuses on issues of voice and race. There is a huge amount of material on race and music, but in the interests of producing a list I can actually get through by April 11, I am focusing explicitly on singing voices. The anomaly, then, occurs at the final two entries on the list, which deal with speaking voices, but in such a literalist, hard-science way, that I couldn't resist adding them. I did a vaguely tongue-in-cheek experiment with my students last semester, playing them the same piece of music sung by a counter tenor, a female soprano, a treble and a digitally constructed combination voice, and asking them to guess which was which. I once joked that a similar experiment with singers of various races would be interesting. And now I find someone has done it! And written a PhD thesis on it!!

And just because I think it is worth saying, the article by Grant Olwage called "The Class and Colour of Tone" is, in my opinion, the strongest writing on this topic available at present. Well worth a read.

Racialized voices bibliography

Antelyes, Peter. “Red Hot Mamas: Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker and the Ethnic Maternal Voice in American Popular Song.” In Embodied Voices: Representing Female Vocality in Western Culture, ed. Leslie C. Dunn and Nancy A. Jones, 212–29. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Averill, Gage. Four Parts No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hardy, Sarah Madsen, and Kelly Thomas. “Listening to Race: Voice, Mixing, and Technological ‘Miscegenation’ in Early Sound Film.” In ClassicHollywood, Classic Whiteness, ed. Daniel Bernardi, 415–41. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

Lavitt, Pamela Brown. “First of the Red Hot Mamas: ‘Coon Shouting’ and the Jewish Ziegfeld Girl.” American Jewish History 87/4 (December 1999): 253–90.

Leonard, Neil. Jazz and the White Americans: The Acceptance of a New Art Form. London: Jazz Book Club, 1964.

Lhamon, W. T. Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip-Hop. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Mann, Geoff. 2008. “Why does country music sound white? Race and the voice of nostalgia” in Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 31 No. 1 January 2008 pp. 73_100

Olwage, Grant. 2002. “Scriptions of the choral : the historiography of black South African choralism” in SAMUS: The South African Journal of Musicology Vol. 22, pp. 29-45.

___. 2004a. Music and (post)colonialism : the dialectics of choral culture on a South African frontier. PhD Thesis, Rhodes University. Grahamstown: South Africa.

___. 2004b. “The Class and Colour of Tone: An Essay on the Social History of Vocal Timbre” in Ethnomusicology Forum Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 203-226.

Michael Rogin. 2002. “Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice” in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 18, No. 3. (Spring, 1992), pp. 417-453.

Rubio, Phil. “Crossover Dreams: The ‘Exceptional White’ in Popular Culture.” In Race Traitor, ed. Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey, 148–61. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Stras, Laurie. 2007. “White Face, Black Voice: Race, Gender, and Region in the Music of the Boswell Sisters” in Journal of the Society for American Music Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 207–255

Walton, Julie H. 1992. Speaker race identification from acoustic cues in the vocal signal. Ph. D. Thesis, Memphis State University.

Walton, Julie H. and Robert F. Orlikoff. 1994. “Speaker Race Identification From Acoustic Cues in the Vocal Signal” in Journal of Speech and Hearing Research Vol.37 738-745 August 1994.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It's kind of disconcerting to look out the window at the vividly lit empire state building, to see the glow from Times Square, and the sprinkling of sparkling lights all over this city, after reading in the Mail and Guardian and the New York Times about the power shortages, and very regular (in some places, two hours twice daily) power failures in South Africa. I just don't know what to say....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

new semester

The new semester has started, and we hit the ground running. My teaching this semester is very different, as I'm TAing for a course on Bach, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Wagner's Ring Des Niebelungen. It's been ages since I've done any reading in any of these areas, but one of the set books is Edward Said's Orientalism, which I have read several times, and I know all of the set music really well. I wrote a huge project at the end of Matric on the Ring, and while I didn't really expect to use it again, I guess you never can tell what's going to happen.
I'm also taking superstar Suzanne Cusick's music and gender course this semester. It's a course this department is most famous for, and I'm really excited about it. The workload is pretty intense, but I have a reduced course load this semester to assist me with exam prep, so I think this is probably the best time of all to be doing this.
I'm also in the middle of submitting a whole series of applications for summer funding and summer work. It is a bit of a challenge, as there aren't many options open to international students, but I'm stretching my options a bit, and putting a lot of emphasis on my choral experience. One of the possibilities I'm most excited about will involve training childrens' choir all summer. I would so love to do that! The summer is a challenge for all students, and a lot of people warned me about the particular challenges of international grad student summers. But I'm sure I'll be able to make something work. Worst case scenario, I spend the summer waiting tables in Johannesburg, and saving money for the new year. Let's hope it doesn't come to that!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Comps lists

My comprehensive exams are on the weekend of the 11th of April. Of course I'm feeling a little nervous, but I'm also relishing the opportunity to do some of the reading I usually do for myself, as part of my work. Over the next little while, I plan to post my reading lists and some of my notes to this blog (it was intended for work, originally, after all).
So here is list 1:
The topic is "Afrikaans Music", and I am adding items as I access them (NYU interlibrary loan is working overtime, but wonderfully efficiently). But here, for now, is the start. Any other suggestions are much appreciated.

Bezuidenhout, Andries. 2007. “From Voëlvry to De La Rey: Popular music, Afrikaner Nationalism and lost irony” on LitNet 28 February 2007. Accessed 14 January 2008.

Bosman, Martjie. 2004. “Die FAK Fenomeen: Populêre Afrikaanse Musiek en Volksliedjies” in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde Vol. 41, No. 2. (2004), pp. 21-46.

Byerly, Ingrid Bianca. 1996. The Music Indaba: Music as Mirror, Mediator and Prophet in the South African Transition From Apartheid to Democracy. PhD Dissertation, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University.

Currin, Brian and Stephen Segerman (eds). 1996-2007. South African Rock Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 January 2008.

Grobbelaar, Pieter W. 1999. Kommandeer! Kommandeer!: Volksang uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog. Pretoria: J. P. van der Walt.

Grundlingh, Albert. 2004. “"Rocking the Boat" in South Africa? Voëlvry Music and Afrikaans Anti-Apartheid Social Protest in the 1980s” in The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3. (2004), pp. 483-514.

Hamm, Charles. 1985. “Rock 'n' Roll in a Very Strange Society” in Popular Music, Vol. 5, Continuity and Change, pp. 159-174.

Hopkins, Pat. 2006. Voelvry: The Movement That Rocked South Africa.

Jury, Brendan. 1996. “Boys to Men: Afrikaans Alternative Popular Music 1986-1990” in African Languages and Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 2, Gender and Popular Culture, pp. 99-109.

Ludemann, Winfried. 2003. “Uit Die Diepte Van Ons See: An Archetypal Interpretation of Selected Examples of Afrikaans Popular Music” in South African Journal of Musicology/Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Musiekwetenskap, Vol. 23, pp. 13-41

Monday, January 07, 2008

Another great weekend

I'm sounding a bit like a stuck record, but it's because my weekends really are delightful. This past Saturday, NYChoirgirl and I went to the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players' production of the Pirates of Penzance at the NY City Center, courtesy of Theater Extras, and NYU's Ticket Central. The production was very funny, hammed up to the hilt, but definately great entertainment. And I was delighted to see this production now, as I'm due to teach some Gilbert and Sullivan (probably the Mikado) this coming semester. NYChoirgirl also acted in a production of this work when she was in school, and more recently sang one of the numbers in a Stonewall Chorale choir concert, and so she knew most of the music. I knew less of it, but still left the venue with several ear worms firmly in place. Particular highlights included the major general appearing in his pajamas, including puppy slippers, and an ammusing reference to Pinafore inserted into the dialogue ("'Never!' 'what, never' 'well, hardly ever'"). I also witnessed a most amusing phenomenon right at the start of the performance, when the audience rearranged itself as if on cue when the house lights dimmed, moving to empty seats nearer the stage.
Prior to the performance, we had dinner at Xai Xai, a recently opened South African Wine Bar in the hell's kitchen neighbourhood. In the interests of an authentic South African experience, we ordered Cathedral Cellars (KWV) Shiraz, pap, wors and tomato and onion chow, curried fish, Malva pudding and pumpkin fritters with cinnamon sugar. It was a fabulous meal, not cheap, but more "authentic" (yes, I know that's a very unacademic word, but it works, here) than what I had at that other South African restaurant that shall not be named. I definitely plan to visit again.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

The holiday season is over, but school doesn't start for a few weeks yet. I'm going to be making maximum use of this time to do preparatory reading for my comprehensive exams, now that I'm feeling so much more relaxed after a wonderful break.
The weekend before Christmas, NYChoirgirl's parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary (Congratulations, Mr and Mrs NYChoirgirl!) with a wonderful party that has taken NYChoirgirl and her sister nearly a year to plan and organize, and went off without a hitch.
And Christmas the next week was super. NYChoirgirl and I had a quiet Christmas dinner together, followed by midnight mass on Christmas eve. On Christmas day we overdosed on sugar, with home baked Greek shortbread, home-made marzipan, Christmas pies and Quality Street chocolates (purchased at Myer's of Keswick), and wonderful, and very boozy, fruit cake, made by a friend of NYChoirgirl's in Vermont. It arrived by post, wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheese cloth, moist and crumbly, and wonderful.
And then the next day, we left for a four day holiday in Philadelphia. We had a wonderful time, visiting Independence hall, and the liberty bell, the national constitution center, Penn's landing, society hill, the Jewish American museum, the Reading Terminal Market, the Italian market, and the museum of Art. We had wonderful dinners at several fabulous restaurants, incredible ice cream, and super tea, on one evening, over a game of scrabble. We played pool in the basement of a cute women's bar, tasted shoo fly pie bought at an amish stall, and admired a series of tapestries based on sketches by South African artist William Kentridge. We had such a wonderful time, I was sad to see it end.
But with New Year's eve the day after we returned, there wasn't much time to feel sorry for myself. We skipped between two parties on New Year's eve, watched the ball drop, and then tried to sleep while the partying continued next door into the early hours of the morning. And then we started the year by watching the Rose Parade on television, followed by a nice long walk to a New Year's day brunch, and bowling at a Jackson Height's bowling alley.
And now I'm home, huddled against the cold weather, doing bibliography searches, and getting excited, once again, about the reading I will be doing this semester. I really needed this break.
So, happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2008 is wonderful.