a valentine’s day mixtape

The gauntlet has been thrown, it seems.

for W D P R

“I don’t want him to sigh
except away from me,
I no longer want him
to confide his sufferings in me.

Because I suffer for him,
he is proud;
will he beseech me
if I flee from him?

She may have a more serene
brow than mine,
but even Love’s breast
does not harbor such beautiful constancy.

Never will he have such sweet kisses
from that mouth,
nor softer – be still,
be still, that he knows all too well.

Thus among scornful weeping
she scattered her laments to the sky;
thus in lovers’ hearts
Love mixes flame and ice.


Come again! sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again! that I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain;
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain and endless misery.


Dale si le das,
Mozuela de Carasa;
Dale si le das,
que me llaman en casa.

Una mozuela de Logroño
Mostrado me habia su co[ño]…
…po de lana negro que hilaba.

Otra mozuela de buen rejo
Mostrado me ha su pende[jo]…
Con qu’ella se pendaba.

Otra mozuela, Teresica,
Mostrado me ha su cri[ca]…
…atura que llevaba bien criada.


The world does the hula-hula when my boy walks down the street
Everyone thinks he’s Petula so big and yet so petite
Butterflies turn into people when my boy walks down the street
Maybe he should be illegal he just makes life too complete…
Amazing he’s a whole new form of life
Blue eyes blazing and he’s going to be my wife


O moon, stand still for a moment,
Tell me, ah, tell me, where is my lover!
Tell him. please, silvery moon in the sky,
That I am hugging him firmly,
That he should for at least a while
Remember his dreams!
Light up his far away place,
Tell him, ah, tell him who is here waiting!


Allow me
to touch you:
to melt, to dissolve in you.

I’m waiting for you again.
How slowly comes
the day after tomorrow.


That’s another
Sunday over.
That means the next will come.


Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me
It puts its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing


The Pilgrim
Nothing obliges you to love him, Countess,
But you cannot prevent him from loving you from a distance.
In his songs he also says
That you are his distant star,
And that he languishes for you without hope of return.

And what else does he say?

The Pilgrim
My memory is not good.
There is, however, A song that goes somewhat like this:
“Never shall I delight in love If I delight not in this distant love,
For a nobler nor a better love I know not of
Wheresoever, neither near, nor far.
Its worth so great is, and so true,
That over there, in the kingdom of the Saracens,
For her sake, I would a captive be.”

Oh God, and it is I that have inspired him.

The Pilgrim (continuing in the same vein)
“I hold faith with Our Lord
That by his grace I shall see my distant love.
Yet through this one piece of fortune
My ills are doubled, since she is so far away.
Ah, that I were there, a pilgrim,
So that my staff and my robe
Could fall beneath the gaze of her beautiful eyes.

Do you recall any more?

The Pilgrim
“He who calls me greedy speaks aright
For wishing for a distant love,
For no joy would please me as much
As to delight in this distant love,
But what I wish for is denied me.
Such was my godfather’s decree,
That I should love and be not loved..”
And he says many other things I no longer remember..

If you see this man one day, tell him.. tell him..

The Pilgrim
What should I tell him?

No, nothing, tell him nothing.



I’ve started to write for the Boston Globe again, as they once again print the work of freelance reviewers. My first byline of Globe Round II is either in today’s or tomorrow’s print edition: a review of ArtsEmerson’s opera cycle Ouroboros. I’m very happy to take the “ex @bostonglobe ” out from my Twitter bio, and excited to dive into the exciting calendar of concerts Boston has scheduled this year.

In Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, Scott Timberg also emphasizes the role of institutions in supporting creative work. Timberg notes that in the years since the Great Recession, it is not only individual artists or creators who have been affected — people who play supporting roles, like DJs, bookstore clerks, set designers, and editors have also been hit hard.

And institutions don’t just play an incubating role for cultural production — they also provide employment to a broad swath of the population. So when records don’t sell, it’s not only recording artists who suffer. Timberg claims that whether one works as an artist or in a supporting role, “we’re all in this together.”

How can we foster this sense of solidarity, not just among creative workers and those whose labor supports their work, but also in the general public?

An important first step is framing the production of art as work, not as a privilege. Despite the supposed glamor of being an artist, most earn an income that falls near or below the poverty line.

In addition to challenging these perceptions, we need to recapture the idea that art and culture can perform public functions: art educates, art provokes, art transforms, art uplifts, art soothes, art imagines other worlds.  The danger of not supporting artist and creative workers is that these functions are left in the hands of elites.




This strange sound can mean ‘yes’ in the Swedish language.

I actually grew up using a somewhat similar form for “yes” — a short “yeah” or “yep” said on an inhaled breath. I learned in a phonetics class many years later that ingressive “yeah/yep” is considered a unique feature of the Canadian Maritimes, especially more rural areas. The rest of the class was pretty baffled but it seems totally natural to me! I think I use it less now but it might also be subconscious sometimes. (Of course, you don’t have to say yeah/yep as ingressive, it’s just an option. And it’s generally only found when they’re said in isolation, not as the beginning of a longer sentence.) 

You also occasionally get ingressive “no/nope” but it’s less common, and I think lots of dialects do ingressive numbers occasionally if you’re counting aloud and don’t want to pause to breathe in. And it’s possible to say a whole sentence or two on an in-breath with practice, although I don’t know of any language that uses it robustly, as more than just a trick. 

Anyone know any other languages or dialects with ingressives? Is there something about affirmatives that make them particularly likely to be ingressive, even if nothing else is? It seems likely that if you’re going to get ingressives with just one set of words, interjections would probably be a good class. 

(Of course there’s also the nasal ingressive voiceless velar trill.)

omg this is so cute

Thoughts on the Rubin Institute, for lack of a better title

“You mean they actually teach people to be critics?” commented one person on a link shared by music writer Tim Page, a few hours after the conclusion of the second biennial Rubin Institute for Music Criticism in San Francisco. No, Mr. Commenter, no one can teach you to be a critic. As the old cliché goes, everyone’s a critic. If you have pondered whether or not you liked the performance you saw, or if a recording failed to move you and you have voiced that opinion, you are as much of a critic as I am – and I just got handed a check for a hefty sum of money for showing “outstanding promise in music criticism,” so I sincerely hope I might be a critic. 

I learned at the Rubin Institute how to translate my opinions on music from wide swaths of abstract thought, fragmented observations, and fleeting flashes of emotion into under 400 English words. I tried submitting 401 once, and San Francisco Conservatory’s website didn’t let me. In short, I learned not how to be a critic, but how to clearly and concisely articulate criticism: lessons I eagerly absorbed and will do my best to put into practice.

The Institute was created and funded by wealthy publisher/philanthropist and former New York Times music journalist Stephen Rubin. This was the second such program, the first having been at Oberlin College in January of 2012. He invited five established classical music critics with various specialties and extra-musical interests to instruct the student Rubin Fellows (seventeen of us, undergraduate through doctoral, representing five schools) in the art of writing concert reviews.

Most of the Fellows were trained performers or composers of what Alan Rich would call “serious music.” Some were musicologists. Though the Institute bills itself as a training ground for the future of music criticism, none were journalism students. My fellow fellows and I were put through a five-day marathon of public panels, private workshops with the professionals, concerts by San Francisco’s most respected musical institutions, and receptions. It was a fine environment in which to discuss music and writing. The opportunity to spend so much time with so many intelligent people who care about some of the same things I do and enjoy talking about them was rare and wonderful. However, the way the Institute was programmed was decidedly not oriented toward the future.

New Yorker critic Alex Ross noted in his pre-concert lecture that many problems in the culture surrounding classical music are bound up in “repeating the familiar and rejecting the new,” a trend I saw in action too frequently at the Institute. I heard countless times that we youngsters were the future of music criticism, and I couldn’t shake the impression that I had been transported to a vanished past. The fact that the programs we reviewed included only music from the European Common Practice Era (roughly from Bach’s birth to the day before the Rite of Spring premiered) was the least of the dissonances. Oberlin College and San Francisco Conservatory’s fellows all had some experience writing concert reviews, but I learned that this was not a common factor. Because there were no contemporary works on the docket, there was no discourse or instruction about reviewing new music except for a thirty-second comment in a public panel from Tim Page. If I am part of the future of criticism, I need to know the differences between reviewing a classical chestnut and a world premiere, and the differences between critiquing a new work and how that work was performed.

Though the concerts we could attend were limited by what was being performed in the area during the Institute’s time frame, I find it hard to believe that there was no contemporary music or chamber music worth hearing in San Francisco during those five days. A new, daring group, hiccups and all, would have been much more interesting and conducive to productive conversations about the future than the well sung but decidedly complacent Tosca we saw at the San Francisco Opera. (Because really, what hasn’t been written already about Tosca?)

The ossification of the canon didn’t stop with the programs, as the newest ensemble we heard was the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Historically informed performance such as it presents is a relatively new practice, as Wall Street Journal opera critic Heidi Waleson explained in her pre-concert lecture. The ensemble was still formed before the oldest of the Rubin Fellows was born. In the world of this Rubin Institute, young, innovative musicians and concerts in spaces other than grand halls did not exist.

Added to that, the staff would have been ideal for an institute geared towards the future of music writing. Anne Midgette worked as a freelancer for decades before landing her first steady job (her current one, at the Washington Post); John Rockwell reviewed jazz and rock in addition to classical music for the New York Times; Alex Ross brought 20th century music to new ears with his warmly and engagingly written survey, The Rest is Noise. Rather than sharing their personal expertise, perspectives, and outlooks for the future, they patiently pored over our reviews of last night’s concerts of last millennium’s music.

Mr. Rubin stated over and over during the Institute that he had put the program together to maintain and elevate standards of critical writing in a world of knee-jerk reactions and online “verbal diarrhea.” However, the writing that the present needs and the future will need is not limited to postgame recaps of the established Western canon, which was the beginning and end of the writing taught and discussed at the Institute. Such can be an essential skeleton of modern criticism, but bones cannot stand alone.

“When they set me loose, I will write like they taught me to write here, about everything I couldn’t write about here,” I vowed in the small hours of the Institute’s final night, writing a letter to a friend. I never expected to be set loose with a check in my backpack, so now I suppose I really have to keep that promise.