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Monthly Archives: January 2007

Spam-me-not

So you read my last post and thought, he’s either stupid or crazy to put his e-mail address in a blog post. And you would be right, except that I am using a wonderful tool to obfuscate my e-mail address, to wit, the Spam-me-not E-mail Link Obfuscator. Andreas Neudecker, the author of the tool, has more information about the tool on his original site in Germany. Does it work? Yes, as Andreas notes on his page, the robots that crawl the web searching for e-mail addresses mostly are not smart enough to figure out the encoding. That may change in time, but for the moment, it is a pretty good way to put a mailto: link on a web page and not have your inbox filled with spam because of it. So thanks and a tip of the hat to Andreas for providing this tool.

Team in Training: Please give generously!

It’s almost the end of January and I haven’t posted anything about New Year’s resolutions. I actually have a couple. One is about finishing remodeling the house – if I say anything about that, it will be on Please pardon the inconvenience. My other resolution is to lose weight – a lot of weight! This is try number two, since that was one of my resolutions last year.

That means getting way more active. So tonight, I signed up for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training. Here’s how it works: I train to ride a century (100 mile bike ride) and raise a minimum of $4,200 in contributions to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and then I go ride the ride. 75% of the contributions up to the minimum go to Society programs and 25% cover the costs of trainers and getting people to the ride. Any contributions above the minimum go 100% to Society programs, effectively reducing the percentage to fundraising and training overhead. I’m training to ride America’s Most Beautiful Ride, a century ride around Lake Tahoe.

You can help me get there, and more importantly, help support research on blood cancers to save lives, by donating generously at my Team in Training page. If you would like to donate in the real world instead of online, please e-mail me at macbikegeek@comcast.net. To follow my progress, please check out my training blog, Lee in training.

Subscribing to RSS Feeds from your Browser

Many blogs, including this one, have a little image that says “RSS” or has a little orange square with white arcs like this: RSS Feed Icon. Clicking on this link will subscribe you to the blog or page content on which it appears so you can read it in an RSS reader like NetNewsWire Lite.

Some blogs, like those hosted on Blogger, do not automatically show a feed link like this on the page unless the author has hand coded the HTML to display the image. Modern browsers provide an easy alternative for subscribing to any blog or web page that provides an RSS feed. At the right hand end of the address bar (where you type in a URL, an RSS icon appears if the page has an RSS feed. In Safari, it is a blue rectangle with “RSS” in white letters: Safari RSS Icon. In Firefox, it is the orange square icon: RSS Feed Icon.

Here’s a screen shot from Safari:
Safari Screen Shot showing RSS icon

and one from Firefox:
Firefox Screen Shot showing RSS icon.

So why should you care about any of this? Once you have subscribed to some RSS feeds, you can monitor them in your RSS reader and see previews like in e-mail. If you see a post that interests you, you can click on a link that will either open the post in your browser or in the reader itself. This lets you keep track of blogs and sites you have subscribed to without having your e-mail inbox flooded. You can choose when to go check your RSS reader based on your available time. E-mail typically requires timely response, so having less reading material hit your inbox is usually a good thing for productivity.

El Paso Chamber Music Festival Visits Las Cruces

About 120 people in Las Cruces got an outstanding musical treat last night at the NMSU Music Center Recital Hall. The El Paso Pro-Musica produced a world-class performance of chamber music as part of their month-long 2007 El Paso Chamber Music Festival. Las Cruces is blessed with the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra for regular performances of orchestral classical music, but we don’t get very many small ensemble chamber music concerts. This concert featured performers from all over the world who play with major orchestras, teach and have recorded.

The concert was preceded by an animated talk and discussion session by Zuill Bailey, the youthful Music Director of the Pro-Musica. He talked about the Festival and about the pieces of music on the program and then took questions from the audience. His enthusiasm and excitement about music was palpable in his speech, hand gestures and body language. He finds the personalities of the composers and what was happening in their lives a fascinating part of the music, beyond the technical aspects of the music. The whole point of his talk was engage the audience personally to make the music more understandable and enjoyable for the audience.

He also talked a bit about the Recital Hall and how they had placed the musicians back from the edge of the stage to improve the sound, based on the sound checks. Chamber music is meant to be intimate and the performers and audience close together but they went for sound over being close, an appropriate choice. Mr. Bailey had heard concerts in the Recital Hall but had never played in it, so he was curious about how it would sound. (I spoke to him afterward and he said it was really very nice). He also suggested that sitting farther back might sound better as the angle of the f-holes (on the front of the instruments) tended to project out into the hall. I moved farther back after the intermission and the sound was indeed much fuller, much to my surprise as I had expected the inverse-square law to dominate.

The first piece was Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major. Mr. Bailey explained that Beethoven scored this piece so that each of the instruments could be clearly heard. Indeed this was the case – it was easy to hear the melodies played by the violin, the cello and the viola. It is a lovely piece of music and Messrs. Kim, Lee and Zuill played it wonderfully. They also clearly were enjoying themselves, as did all the musicians who played in this concert. So did the audience, whose applause was strongly appreciative.

The other two pieces in the program are tied together in a couple of ways. Brahms was obsessed with Clara, Schumann’s wife and a famous and accomplished pianist. There is no indication that anything happened between them, except that Clara and Brahms spent a lot of time together. Clara remained devoted to Schumann even during extended concert tours. Mr. Bailey suggested that careful listening to both pieces would reveal musical passages that seemed to speak Clara’s name. He also explained that both Brahms and Schumann combined the voices of the different instruments much more in their pieces of the program than Beethoven had.

Messrs. Kim, Smith and Knauer brought intensity and depth to the Brahms Trio in C Major. By turns poignant, reflective and joyous, this piece was great fun to listen to. As Mr. Bailey had suggested, the refrain of Clara’s name was easily noticeable. Emotion was present in this piece throughout, and visible in the concentration of the musicians but this was just a taste of the excitement to follow later. Applause at the end of this piece was strong and enthusiastic, just as the performance had been.

The Schumann Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major is a remarkable piece of music. As Mr. Bailey explained, Schumann composed this over a five week period while Clara was on a concert tour. He was by turns depressed, missing her and feeling inadequate and lonely. He couldn’t sleep so he stayed up composing and pouring all his emotion and troubles into the music. Messrs. Morgenstern, Lee, Smith and Knauer threw themselves bodily into this piece to give it the power it needed. They reached sublime heights of joy (in sections where, presumably, Schumann was reflecting on his beloved Clara, whose name could again be heard in the music) and depths of despair as he was racked with sadness and loneliness. This piece really wore its emotion on its sleeve and was very exciting to listen to. I’m sure those unaccustomed to chamber music were quite surprise at the power only 4 instruments could produce. This exemplary performance was received appropriately with a standing ovation.

The only disappointment of the evening was a relatively low turnout for such a fabulous concert. The good news is that most of the Festival is yet to come, although you’ll have to travel to El Paso to hear the fine concerts in the rest of the series.

January 8, 2007
Monday

Presented by:
New Mexico State University
Music Center Recital Hall
1075 North Horseshoe, Las Cruces
7:30 pm

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Trio in G Major Op. 9, No. 1 (1798)
        Adagio – Allegro con brio
Adagio, ma non tanto e cantabile
        Scherzo: Allegro – Trio I – II – Scherzo
        Presto
                        Benny Kim, violin
                        Scott Lee, viola
                        Zuill Bailey, cello

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Trio in C Major, Op. 87 (1882)
        Allegro
        Andante con moto
        Scherzo: Presto
        Finale: Allegro giocoso
                        
                        Benny Kim, violin
                        Brinton Smith, cello
                        Sebastian Knauer, piano

Intermission

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1842)
        Sostenuto assai – Allegro ma non troppo
        Scherzo. Molto vivace – Trio I and Trio II
        Andante cantabile
        Finale: Vivace

                        Gil Morgenstern, violin
                        Scott Lee, viola
                        Brinton Smith, cello
                        Sebastian Knauer, piano

        El Paso Chamber Music Festival Sponsored by:
                                Diamond Level
Mrs. Robert M. Graham, Sr., Marlene & J.O. Stewart, Jr., Western Refining
                                Platinum Level
                 El Paso Pro-Musica Guild, Wells Fargo

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