Just a taste of what’s up in our 2013 senior supper video. Watch it. You know you want to.
Just a taste of what’s up in our 2013 senior supper video. Watch it. You know you want to.
Check out this track, a cover of Ornette Coleman’s ‘Law Years’ from Filadelfiya Symphony, a jazz group composed of Oberlin students!
We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting Oberlin College & Conservatory’s first-ever #obietwitterview on our official Twitter, @OberlinCon, on Wednesday April 3rd at 4:30 pm!
What’s a Twitterview? Good question! A Twitterview is an interview, conducted over Twitter. This particular…
This should be great fun.
Our cousin Joe McMillan unearthed this fabulous picture of us from 1973 at our back-to-the-land homestead, Maple Ridge Farm, in Ferry, Michigan.
Those were the days!
For the past 18 months we have been assaying the cultural assets of Oberlin, Ohio, in anticipation of moving there later this year. Although we have attended many events, our survey has not been comprehensive. Two particular things we have been missing are a visit to the on-campus Cat in the Cream coffee house and a chance to hear some music emanating from the fine Jazz Studies program at Oberlin Conservatory. We filled both of these voids on Sunday, March 3, 2013, when we attended the Senior Recital of Oberlin Conservatory bassist Matt Adomeit.
Adomeit presented a fascinating program of mostly original compositions, which he played with a crackerjack ensemble of 6 fellow student-musicians in various configurations. The concert opened with Adomeit playing a mandolin version of Isaac Albéniz’s Leyenda, a transcription he made at 16. That morphed into a trio version of Adomeit’s Elmwood, as he changed to bass and was joined by Nate Friedman on drums, and Julia Chen on piano. This was a tight trio performance of a knotty composition by colleagues with a strong intuitive sense of where each other was headed. In particular, we were astonished by Chen’s piano artistry. Her improvising featured Monk-like unexpected turns, with harmonic inventiveness a la Brad Mehldau or Vijay Iyer, and the sheer propulsive drive of Michel Petrucciani.
The full septet took the stage, with the addition of a string trio of Myra Heinrichs on violin, Carrie Frey on viola, and Helen Newby on cello (who also perform classical repertoire as “Chartreuse” and other crossover ventures as “deturtle”) plus guitarist Matt Gold, to play Adomeit’s I’ll Take My Chances/Experiment and Salem. The former was a medley of a trio and septet version of the same material. The string trio began, laying out an essentially notated version of the theme. Then the other four players joined in, completely deconstructing the original threads and reworking them improvisationally. It was a high-wire act, crackling with energy. Salem, Adomeit said, was about witchcraft, and it was both haunting and a bit playful. Gold was a standout, playing a terrifyingly demonic run on his guitar.
The ensemble wrapped up the evening with Counting Sheep, another Adomeit original that had a distinct bluegrass tinge. It would be at home in, and add a whole new level of pizzaz to, the soundtrack of Justified. In a twist that brought the evening full circle back to the beginning, Adomeit switched back to mandolin for the final chorus as his sister Emmy jumped onstage and picked up the bass, a surprise treat for their parents who had flown in for the occasion. Adomeit proved in this recital to be a savvy composer, and able band leader, and a strong bassist with great hands and solos that reveal a simmering deep inner groove.
Every Winter we make a trek down to visit the Brian Dunn/Lori Verier gang in Sarasota, Florida. They have orange and grapefruit trees in the yard, which are yielding lots of fruit when we are there. What better way to bring some of that sunshine home than to make tangy-sweet Orange-Grapefruit Marmalade.
ARG-SOUTH ORANGE-GRAPEFRUIT MARMALADE
7 cups prepared fruit (need about 8 medium-large oranges and 4-5 medium grapefruits)
1-1/2 cups finely julienned orange and grapefruit peels
4 cups sugar, measured, divided
1 box “SURE JELL For Low Sugar Recipes” pectin
Sterilize 10 canning jars and lids.
Cut the ends off the fruits and remove the peel in as close to one piece as possible. Cut each peel in half crosswise and then in half again lengthwise, ending up with four roughly equal length strips. Stack these four strips together and then slice the peels crosswise into thin julienned strips, until you have 1-1/2 cups (packed). Need a mix of orange and grapefruit, approximately 5 orange rinds to 2 grapefruit.
Prepare fruit pulp by removing all seeds from the peeled fruit, then finely chopping it in a food processor, reserving all juice, until you have a total of 7 cups. Combine the prepared fruit pulp and juice with the prepared peels.
Place the prepared fruit and peels In a 6- to 8-qt. stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the pectin and 1/4 cup of the sugar in small bowl. Add the pectin-sugar mixture to the fruit and mix well. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 3-3/4 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove jam from the heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle immediately into sterilized jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.This should yield 8 to 10 jars of jam. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Turn the hot jars over for 5 minutes, then set them upright and let them seal.
When jars are cooled, remove rings then rinse and wipe rings and jars to remove any spilled marmalade. Dry rings and reattach to the jars for storage.
NOTE: If you prefer to “hot water bath can” the jams, proceed as follows: Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (NOTE: If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
Think about what it was like to not know which key unlocks that door. Visualize what it feels like to reach into the dark, not knowing where the new light switch is. Try and feel the excitement from not knowing the place where you will eventually live. Let’s open it up.
~ from “This Place the Place” on Where (we) Live by Sō Percussion
One day this spring we will drive onto the campus of the Kendal at Oberlin community in Oberlin, Ohio for the last time as non-residents. Our car will be full of precious, fragile things. Our hearts will be full of hope and anticipation. A moving van will arrive with the rest of our scaled-back worldly goods. We will move everything into Cottage #113. And we will call it home.
Our journey to live the rest of our lives in Oberlin began in 2004 when we had to move Arlene’s mother Goldie to assisted living with no advanced planning by her or any of us. Goldie had suffered a stroke, not devastating, but moderately disabling. She recovered reasonably well, but unfortunately she could no longer live alone in her Florida condo, 1,000 miles and more away from any of her children. The entire process was torture for everyone, most of all Goldie, who never accepted the necessity of the move. After she was reasonably settled in her new home in Boston, Larry remarked “Maybe we should move into assisted living right now, while we are able to do it by choice.” We laughed the idea off as the absurdity it was intended as. But a nugget of that thought remained. It was our first recognition that how we would live the latter stage of our lives was something that merited careful strategizing and planning.
Before we make that pivotal approach down Kendal Drive, we will have bid a tearful farewell to Acorn Ridge, our home for over 25 years, and turned the keys over to the new owners. It’s a splendid place, which we often lovingly describe as “in the middle of nowhere.” There are 20 rolling acres, about two-thirds in mature oak woods. We have a lovely three bedroom, three bath home, recently renovated, and a charming guest cottage in the back yard. Over the years we have developed extensive landscape gardens and a large organic vegetable garden. We lovingly maintained and nurtured our home and gardens, entertained our frequent guests, and reveled in our remoteness. Isolation. Star-studded night skies. Peace and quiet. Serenity.
As 2010 was turning 2011, we experienced one horrid winter. December 1st buried us in three feet of snow, catching us woefully unprepared. We barely had enough gas for the snowblower to clear a path just big enough for the car to back out so we could go to town for more. Over the New Year’s holiday we went to a family wedding in Florida where nearly everyone was sick. Larry caught a terrible cold which we passed back and forth to each other for weeks before we finally shook it. Our 17-year-old dog Tilly, who had been with us since she was a pup, was failing and we had to put her down. When we set out on our annual February road trip to Florida, Arlene was still suffering the dregs of that cold. We headed south wondering if we should look for a place to buy and spend more of each winter in Florida.
It was not long before reality set in. We could not really afford a second home. Even if we could, it was hard to fathom having to maintain two places. Taking care of the one we had was hard enough. And we were pretty sure Florida was not the right place. So, we began considering just moving somewhere with a more amenable climate and a place that would be easier to maintain. As we contemplated where this might be, it occurred to us that such a move would likely not be our last. As we continue to age, someday we’ll reach the point where we have to move again, when managing our own place is no longer feasible.
So what was the right path forward? We recalled Larry’s wry comment from a few years back, but clearly we weren’t ready for assisted living. But what were we ready for? The gears started churning. Our initial research on the internet (thank goodness for the internet!) led us to the broader concept of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC), with independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing all on one community campus. We don’t have children we can depend on (or torture) for help with the tricky decisions we will surely face as we age. So that continuity of CCRCs really appealed to us. The notion that we could move to a new, simpler home that will be adaptable to our needs, right up to our final days, was very compelling. We decided we must take a close look at some CCRCs. Kendal at Oberlin was high on our list to investigate for a largely tangential reason.
We have no musical training and no discernible musical talent. Nonetheless, avid music listening has been a long-time avocation for us. Jazz and Classical music are our greatest interests, with particular affinity for the avant garde. For some time we’ve had two parallel forces at work. We had been noticing a small ad in the New Yorker magazine about Kendal at Oberlin, usually including the line “400 free concerts a year.” Well, that sounded pretty intriguing. Concurrently, we were actively following two contemporary music ensembles, eighth blackbird and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which, as it happens, were both formed at Oberlin Conservatory. When we realized through our research that Kendal at Oberlin is a CCRC, and it sits on the edge of the Oberlin College and Conservatory campus, we had to check it out.
As we perused the Kendal at Oberlin website, we noticed the “Try it, You’ll Like It” program, so we scheduled a visit in May 2011. We planned a simple one-night stay and got a nice introduction to Kendal from the marketing staff. We met two delightful residents who hosted us at dinner and gave us a whirlwind driving tour of the campus and town. It happened to be exam week at the college, so there was no opportunity to sample any of the music and other cultural riches we anticipated the college would provide. But we were fortunate to be there on an evening when a monthly Kendal lecture series was scheduled. The guest was Ray English, Director of the Oberlin College Library, speaking on “The Future of Libraries in the Digital Age”. We came away very impressed with Ray’s talk and the Oberlin College library. And were amazed at how many people attended, that residents were in charge of the program, and that the questions were very engaging and thought-provoking.
So our first on-site impression of Kendal at Oberlin was very positive. But we felt we needed to really test the presumption that those “400 free concerts” and other cultural attractions of the College would prove to be as satisfying as we imagined them to be. We planned additional visits to Oberlin with cultural immersion as our main objective. Over the next several months, we attended five Artist Recital Series concerts, a movie and discussion presented by the Latin American Studies Program, a great student production of a very challenging play, a concert by the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Junior recital of a vary talented violin student, and more. We also attended the inaugural Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, which literally changed our lives (see our work on the ICE blog, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, and Acornometrics). We weren’t just satisfied, we were hooked!
In the meantime, as we were exploring the cultural riches of Oberlin, something quite wonderful was happening as we spent time at Kendal. We were meeting many people who were quickly becoming fast friends. And beyond that, we were learning what a welcoming, caring, witty, and charming community of people Kendal is as a whole. A sense of community is something we have sorely missed in our rural isolation. We have visited other CCRCs in Chicago, Washington DC, and North Carolina. They all met the basic criteria to satisfy our needs, but none of them had radiated the open-arms, welcome-home aura we feel at Kendal at Oberlin. We realized that enfolding ourselves into the embrace of this community is where our destiny lies.
Let’s open it up.
On December 8, 2011, David Stull, Dean of the Oberlin College Conservatory, announced that the inaugural Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, scheduled for January, 2012, would offer a $1,000 prize for the best concert review written by an audience member. Neither we, nor Dean Stull, could have possibly imagined that simple announcement would spur us to unleash a torrent of online and social media activity that has literally changed our lives.
In a one-thing-leads-to-another web of events, we happened to be attending the Rubin Institute because we are in the process of planning a move from our longtime country home in Indiana to the Kendal at Oberlin retirement community in Oberlin. As part of our vetting process, the Rubin Institute offered an opportunity to take in four concerts in four nights, helping us to evaluate the quality level of cultural events in Oberlin (as we have now proven to ourselves, that quality level is astronomically high). When Dean Stull announced the opportunity to participate in the symposium as “audience critics,” we decided to go all in.
Another draw for us was that ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) was performing one of the four concerts in the series. We had been loyal fans of ICE for several years and were excited to hear them perform at Oberlin, the crucible where they were formed. Indeed, the fact that ICE and eighth blackbird (another new music ensemble we closely follow) were formed at Oberlin was a key precipitating factor in how we happened to consider retiring in Oberlin in the first place. We had recently met ICE founder, CEO, and Artistic Driector Claire Chase, who was also speaking on a panel at the institute. When we were speaking with Claire after the panel, we told her that we were into the whole scene elbows-deep, as audience critics. “Well,” Claire said, “if you are going to write about music, I want you to write for the ICE blog!” And that set off the explosion that has become the ICEfansArleneLD phenomenon.
As we look back on the year at what we have done, the numbers are dizzying. Our 2012 online activity included writing 45 articles, mostly on contemporary music concerts, posted on the ICE blog and five other sites; joining Twitter in February and attracting 576 followers and pumping out over 8,700 tweets, joining Facebook in March and gathering 168 mostly new friends.
Before we go too much farther, we need to give a huge, appreciative shout-out to our online superstars/heroes/enablers, without whom none of this would have been possible: Claire Chase of course, who was also our first FB friend; Jim Holt, who was managing social media for ICE when we got started and who “showed us the ropes” about how to prepare a story for posting; composer Marcos Balter who was a very cooperative subject in our first ICE blog posting and was our first follower on Twitter; Doyle Armbrust, violist for the Spektral Quartet and new music impresario of the (Un)familiar Music Series, who helped us branch out to the broader web; composer Christian Carey, editor at Sequenza 21 who published our first non-ICE-blog article; and composer Thomas Deneuville, founder and Managing Editor of I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, where we are now correspondents and Contributing Editors.
Now here without further ado is a travelogue of our blog posts throughout the year.
After we committed to ourselves that we were going to be audience critics at the Rubin Institute, we thought we’d better do a trial run, as neither of us had written a thing about a music concert since Larry took a Music Appreciation class at Elmhurst College in 1981. We decided to attend the Chicago Sinfonietta’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial concert on January 15, 2012. We each wrote a review as a trial run for Rubin. Unfortunately, Arlene’s file is lost somewhere, but we recently posted Larry’s review on our own blog, Acornometrics: http://acornometrics.tumblr.com/post/39092669689/larry-reviews-chicago-sinfonietta-2012-martin-luther
Then we rushed off to Oberlin for the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. The audience critics were invited to submit reviews (by 9:00 AM the next morning!) for any of the first three concerts in the series. The following morning, the six best entries in the view of the judges would be posted on the Rubin web site. We decided to each write reviews for all three concerts, and two of Larry’s reviews made the grade and were put online. We have now posted all six of our reviews on Acornometrics.
Reviews of Cleveland Orchestra playing the music of Saariaho, Smetana, and Shostakovich
Reviews of Apollo’s Fire paying music of Vivaldi, Rebel, and Rameau
Reviews of Jeremy Denk playing Bach, Ligeti, Beethoven
Claire’s invitation (command?) to write for the ICE blog came to fruition a couple of weeks later. She introduced us to the ICE staff who managed the blog and pretty much gave us carte blanche to write whatever and however we wanted to about ICE events. Soon we seemed to be moving at warp speed, producing the following 13 articles.
As we got our music blogging career rolling we decided, following Jim Holt’s lead, that we should be promoting our work via Twitter and Facebook, hoping to build up a following. As a result, we began to get connected to other people in the new music scene, especially in Chicago. Doyle Armbrust was one of those we met, and that got us interested in the Spektral Quartet. When we learned about Spektral’s Theatre of War project, it moved us deeply that they were going the shine the light of art on the problematic fit of war in our modern world. So in May of 2102, with Doyle’s support, we made our first foray beyond the ICE blog and wrote both a preview and a reaction piece for Theatre of War.
As summer set in and the number of new music concerts in Chicago dropped off a bit, we decided it was time to up the ante a little further. Thomas Deneuville had put out a call for writers to contribute to I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, the online journal of contemporary music, arts, and technology. We had become avid readers of the site and were looking for an outlet to post articles about other-than-ICE concerts we were attending. We joined the correspondent rolls at ICIYL in August and recently agreed to serve as Contributing Editors responsible for concert review articles. In 2012, we posted 11 articles.
Somewhere along the line, we decided we needed our own blog, to post our musings that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. And that gave birth to Acornometrics, with articles on a variety of topics.
So that’s our 2012 online. What’s coming up for 2013? As the year ends we are planning the details of our move to Oberlin, which we expect will happen sometime in the spring. We have no plans to stop what we are doing online. And who knows what new opportunities may arise. We invite you to stay tuned.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Arlene and Larry Dunn
Acorn Ridge Gardens
December 31, 2012
On Sunday afternoon, January 15, 2912, Chicago Sinfonietta presented “The Journey, the Dream - A Tribute To Martin Luther King, Jr.” at Wentz Concert Hall on the campus of North Central College in Naperville. The ensemble presented a program that Music Director Mei-Ann Chan said demonstrated that people from diverse backgrounds can work together through the universal language of music and featured the work of composers whose work was unique and daring for its time.
The featured work of the program was the world premiere of “ Harambee: Road to Victory” by flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell. Unfortunately, Ms. Mitchell was unable to attend and sent her protege Kedgrick Pullums to play the flute solo part in her stead. Guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and Music Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, ably led the full orchestra, augmented by a jazz rhythm section and the Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir. Ms. Mitchell’s composition was most effective in the sections for chorus and the interplay between Mr. Pullums and the rhythm section. Her writing for the orchestra sections was less compelling, somewhat tritely Coplandesque, and did not make a strong statement for its necessity in the piece. Nonetheless, “Harambee” is a valid attempt at jazz-orchestral fusion for augmented orchestra by one of the most exciting player/composers working in jazz and contemporary music today. I hope she continues to hone her skills in this area.
Ms. Chen opened the concert with Zoltán Kodály’s “Dances of Galanta” based on folk themes from the composer’s boyhood home in Hungary. Working without a score, Ms. Chen led her forces through a spirited piece of shifting tempos and dynamics with many danceable rhythms on display. Ms. Chen is a true dynamo on the podium, full of energy and broad expressive gestures. But lest these be taken for sheer showmanship, her charges seemed to follow her every move and know exactly what she was seeking. The result was brilliant, enthusiastic music making.
Ms. Johnson then took the baton to lead Beethoven’s “Lenore Overture, No.3” (one of his four attempts at the overture to his only opera “Fidelio”). Ms. Johnson chose a very brisk tempo from the outset, which seemed to cause some timing problems for the horn section at their crucial entries into the fray. But she was able to right the ship and the fast tempo made for an especially rousing finale to the composer’s ode to freedom.
Ms. Chen and Ms. Johnson shared the conducting for Charles Ives’ unique “Central Park in the Dark” from 1906. This highly innovative piece divides the orchestra into two parts, which play simultaneously but independently. The strings portray the pastoral calm of the park while the winds and percussion play the part of urban encroachment on the calm.
The final portion of the concert was devoted to a competent but prosaic performance of several gospel standards featuring the choir and soloists with their music director and their arranger conducting.
The inaugural season of the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism got underway Wednesday night, January 18, 2012, with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. The program included works from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They opened with three symphonic poems from Bedřich Smetana’s Má Vlast, written in the 1870’s, followed by Orion by Kaija Saariaho, commissioned in 2002 by the Cleveland Orchestra, and ending with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6, written in the late 1930’s.
The opening piece was a very comfortable beginning. The music was familiar, often folksy and provided pleasant mixtures of tempo, from very slow to nearly frenetic moments. Parts One and Two, Vyšehrad and The Moldau, evoked feelings of fresh air and bucolic settings, while Part Three, Šárka, The Warrior Maid, was the most exciting. The story is one of a woman scorned who vows revenge on all men. She devises a convoluted scheme which the music represented quite well. There were times when I was at the edge of my seat anticipating the next action. I was not disappointed when the orchestra delivered big, bold exclamation points of music.
The closing Shostakovich symphony was a perfect ending. The opening Largo movement was long and quite slow paced, an unusual beginning for a symphony. The following Allegro movement picked up the pace, and the Presto finale triumphed with joyous musical phrases and a very exciting finish.
The highlight of the program for me was Orion by Saariaho. This is a piece in three movements, Memento Mori (Remember that you must die), Winter Sky and Hunter. The first movement begins with a very quiet, eerie sound, almost ghostly. Dissonance is woven through the fabric of the music which continues as the music moves into more ominous sounds as if something terrible is about to happen. Although the music moved on to more lyrical, almost playful parts, there was still a dark undertone with a sense of impending doom. The pace picked up and the dissonance returned with a vengeance almost feeling like the sound track of a horror movie.
The second movement, Winter Sky, projected a surreal aura. A sequence of beautiful solos by the oboe, piccolo, violin and clarinet, was accompanied by the strings providing a quiet steady, rhythmic bottom. It was as though the individual instruments were stars and the strings were the Milky Way. At points the music was so quiet, it was hard to believe so many instruments were playing.
The third movement, The Hunter, begins with a wonderful trill from the xylophone alerting the audience to heightened activity. The pace quickened in this movement and became quite lively with many instruments playing at once. Then, little by little, fewer and fewer instruments were playing and the piece ended with an ebbing so complete the music simply disappeared. The only clear indication the piece had ended was Mr. Welser-Möst lowering his baton.