Tuesday, June 15, 2010

…and Still With the Virtual Music

Second Life (and real life) have been keeping my busy lately, so I haven't had a chance to catch as many in-world music events and performances as I would like. My list of acts and artists I'd like to mention is still long, and the list of performers and venues I'm still trying to get to seems to grow longer every week. But I thought I'd step back from sort of the singers, songwriters, and guitar-pickers I normally enjoy to highlight things that aren't normally on my radar: classical music and (yup) big band dancing.

Young Zeid and Izabela Jawrower

There are plenty of classically trained musicians in Second Life, but few try to bring a classical concert experience to the virtual world. A notable exception are violinists Young Zeid and Izabella Jawrower, who perform challenging and very high-quality live classical music in Second Life. In real life, the avatars are driven by Xi Yang and (I believe) Izabela Spiewak, who perform and teach in the real world. Izabella plays violin and sometimes accompanies Young Zeid on piano; Young primarily plays violin and viola, and sometimes accompanies Izabela on piano. I've seen two performances, and while I'm no expert on classical music, I do know a little about technique, tone, and musical performance and I gotta say both shows were exquisite.

Young Zeid and Izabela Jaworower at Music Island

The material Young and Izabela isn't quite the old saws of the classical repertoire: sure, there's some Beethoven and Bach and Mozart, but programs I've heard have included Gorecki, Kresler, Bartok, Elgar, and chinese folk tunes, and introduced me to Astor Piazzolla, a fabulous Argentinian composer who is the current man in my musical world that's the best thing since sliced bread. Aside from the audio quality—the duo have obviously put a lot of thought and equipement into creating a performance space, properly micing their instruments, and getting a good sound—the selection of material and the performances are just superb. Both Izabela and Young have wonderful tone and fluid control of their playing, and truly put their hearts into the music. I admit thinking one of the pieces they selected was going to be a tired old bit of repertoire, but they surprised with their interpretation—it wasn't jarring or unusual, but stunning in its simplicity and overall sincerity. They found the original beauty in it and set it out gorgeously. These two who aren't just phoning in a rehearsal session: they're top flight performers giving intimate recitals. Highly recommended.

The War May Be Over, But The Music Lives On

So how's this for unusual? I'm going to write up a dance club…but I don't dance. And the club is set in an era before my time, in fact in a time when my parents weren't even glints in their parents' eyes. And the club is dedicated to an organization in a country where I'm not a citizen.

And sadly, it isn't even around in Second Life anymore.

Last dance at Second Life's USO Club

One of the sad facts of the Second Life DJ'd music scene is that tons of DJs play current hits, classic rock, and dive into lots of electronica and blues and hiphop and house and party music and rock and metal and alternative and novelty and whatnot, very few people do jazz or big band any justice. The USO Club in Second Life was one of the few places where you could count on an era-appropriate set of tunes from the 30s and 40s plus an audience that knew the music. Set in a reproduction of a WWII aircraft hanger, the USO Club held regular events were folks would put on their 1940s duds and swing to the oldies. The USO Club recently shut down in SL—and I, for one, think the grid is poorer for it.

Fellow trivia fiend Starla Gurbux has given the USO Club a touching sendoff in her blog. I'm sad to say I only made it to a few events at the club, and, not being a dancer, a lot of the focus of the events was lost on me. But every time I went the music was fabulous, the people were great&mdashI never failed to have several fun conversations with music nuts—and the vibe unlike anything else in SL. (In fact, I don't think I was ever hit on at the USO Club, which is unusual for any dance event where I'm busily holding up a wall.)

I hope the 40s music fans who supported the USO Club can find a way to get a new venue going and some events happening—I'll definitely try to be there.

Changing Tone for a Moment…

I apologize that this is yet another in what seems to be an endless series of catch-up posts. I think I'm going to have to change course a little with the Lou's Clues blog, and try to write shorter, contained pieces rather than the more developed bits I seem to prefer. One of my pet peeves about the Internet is that so much of the content available online is so shallow. That's particularly true for Second Life: it's rare to get any real analysis, background, or depth to content: most of the time it's "Hey, look, here's a picture of my avatar, aren't I great! Whoot!"

I'll still try to do longer pieces when I can, but in the interests of keeping the blog active, I'll be trying to pepper in some shorter things too.

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