Here you will find reviews, previews, artist profiles, and opinions about music in 2021. This publication will highlight musical activities in Oberlin and Greater Cleveland, as well as regionally, nationally, and internationally.
“There are all sorts of emotions that can be encapsulated by art,” Imani Winds’ oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz said in a recent interview. On February 5 2021, the Imani Winds released BRUITS, a recording project that indeed captured the emotions of Black and Brown people while emphasizing a needed change to an underlying American history. It features three world premieres by composers Vijay Iyer, Reena Esmail, and Frederic Rzewski.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all had that friend who has been the Pop Hater. You know the one: no matter what you put on, from Drake to Billie Eilish, they will turn up their nose and vehemently reject listening to anything they consider to be “pop.” You may be thinking, “I don’t have any friends like this, what are they talking about?” In this case, I envy your freedom. However, if you’re thinking “this is dumb, why would somebody defend pop?” I have some bad news for you, you are the pop hater. Growing up in the mid 2000s, I must admit that I, too, was a pop hater at one point. My middle school self would scowl if shown anything featuring Justin Beiber or Ke$ha. But after some reflection and exposure therapy, by the end of high school I had been shown the light.
With the overall success of Simon Housner’s Sacred Heart Concert Series in Oberlin, it’s hard to imagine that he had actually quit playing cello at one point in his life. A native of Philadelphia, Housner was raised in a musical family — both of his parents are pianists who met at Oberlin. But it wasn’t until he was in high school that Housner truly became passionate about the cello.
Two of my lifelong loves are writing and music, and I’m fortunate to be able to balance them both. A third is a guilty pleasure — watching bingeable TV, mostly period dramas depicting centuries-old royal families and the scandals, drama and romance that follow them. There’s nothing like seeing the fancy costumes, elaborate sets, and beautiful locations, and diving into that historic world for seasons on end.
How lucky I am when all three loves combine on-screen in depicting the world of classical music and musicians. It’s the best mix I could ever want, right? Wrong! Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing untrained actors attempt to portray classical musicians when using real musicians could do the job a million times better.
Any modern working musician would agree with bassist Derek Zadinsky, who said in a recent phone call that “in professional life, you never say no to opportunity, at least when you’re getting started.” A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and a member of The Cleveland Orchestra, he has made the most of his musical opportunities and shows a passion for them. Not only is Zadinsky a member of one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, he also teaches at multiple highly-acclaimed music schools in Northeast Ohio.
Flirting with musicians over Tinder is strange. I often find myself in an effort to flex every intellectual muscle possible, and more recently, somehow wound up discussing the composers Hildegard von Bingen, Meredith Monk, and Pauline Oliveros. These women have been on my mind recently as I prepare to leave undergrad, remarking on my undergrad. Each of these women fashion embodied performance, stretching the boundaries of sound and composition, reimagining the physical body and the structure of storytelling, and a feminine perspective on creativity. To this, my cellist Tinder match (they/he) responded, perhaps also flexing a muscle:
Following a one-year hiatus, last week Gov Ball NYC announced that the festival is returning from September 24-26, 2021. This festival marks ten years since the inaugural event in 2011, yet includes some firsts, aside from a change in its normal summer dates. Additionally for the first time, the festival will be held on Citi Field in Queens instead of Randall’s island, likely in an effort to provide more opportunities for distanced viewing.
This year’s headliners include Billie Eilish, Asap Rocky, J Balvin, and Post Malone. Other prominent names include Dababy, Megan Thee Stallion, Portugal the Man, Young Thug, Ellie Goulding, 21 Savage, and Burna Boy.
Asked to describe her career, Marilyn McDonald, violin professor at the Oberlin Conservatory for the past 45 years, began by saying “I just wanted to play the violin.” A founding member of the Smithson Quartet and the Castle Trio, McDonald reflected on her versatility as a soloist, orchestral player, and a chamber musician, in situations ranging from membership in the Smithsonian Institution’s Axelrod Quartet and worldwide chamber music tours in repertoire from Baroque to contemporary, to solo engagements with the Milwaukee Symphony.
Launched in 2007, SoundCloud is a free music streaming service that was initially popular with DJs, due to its simple mechanics and ability to post hour-long sets. The platform itself is easy to use: it doesn’t take much to create an account and upload whatever content you desire. Due to its DIY nature, SoundCloud has been a home to all types of recordings — including leaked calls from Turkey’s Prime Minister in 2014, which fueled political uproar and caused the site to be temporarily banned in the nation.