Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
This week marks one of the USA's busiest travel periods of the year. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, during the six-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips more than 50 miles away increases by 54 percent.
I won't be going anywhere at Thanksgiving, but I'm looking forward to seeing visitors from out of town. Due to a couple weddings at the start of October and of November, I paid my travel dues early; both weddings were a bit further afield, necessitating air travel.
Airports are rather fascinating places. The mass of humanity that moves through any major airport on a given day is astounding. For example, the Airports Council International reports that Atlanta International Airport saw almost 9 million passengers in July 2014 alone, the most recent month for which complete statistics are available.
But aside from hard statistics, airports represent a fleeting snapshot in time: At a given moment at an airport, all those hundreds or even thousands of people are in one place at the same time, seeing one another, interacting, bumping into each other; but fast-forward a few hours, and they're scattered around the globe.
With all those people gathered in one place even if just for a few hours at a time major airports resemble cities unto themselves. Atlanta's airport has an underground train that seems a counterpart to its citywide MARTA system; Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has restaurants with seating areas alongside concourses resembling sidewalk terraces; Chicago's Midway Airport largely eschews national restaurant chains in favor of local flavor, with food options like Gold Coast Dogs, Miller's Pub and Nuts on Clark.
And a city devoid of culture is not much of a city at all; thus public art has found its way into airports. Tampa International Airport features a series of restored WPA murals; MSP features aviation-inspired Snoopy statues; Atlanta has a gallery dedicated to artwork created by local youth. Chicago's O'Hare Airport even has an indoor garden from which its more foodie-leaning restaurants gather fresh produce.
Naturally, music is also part of that artistic landscape. Julie Amacher met a guitarist at the Portland (Ore.) Airport, and you can read about him and listen to his music on this week's New Classical Tracks. A few months ago, Bob Collins of MPR News shared this video of a pop-up pianist in a departure lounge in Prague. In October, Elena See found this video of a cellist and a beatbox artist collaborating on a piece by Bach while in flight.
Recently I discovered this video of some kids at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, returning from a piano camp in Austria, entertaining fellow passengers between connecting flights. Notice the people capturing the moment on their smartphones, or the fellow at left enjoying a glass of white wine as the kids play; sure, the scene was recorded in an airport concourse, but it could just as easily have taken place in the center of a town.
So if you're traveling this Thanksgiving holiday, what music will you seek? If you're traveling long-distance by car or by train, what music will you bring with you? If by air, what music will you listen to in flight? What might you encounter at the airport? If you happen to come across something remarkable, please share it with us Tweet it to us if you'd like, or tell us about it in the comments below.
Safe travels, and happy Thanksgiving!(0 Comments)
Highlights from November 24 to December 1
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies Symphony Orchestra.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: William Craft, president of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight: Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies Symphony Orchestra.
Tuesday, 8 pm: Lucerne Festival: Vienna Philharmonic.
Wednesday, 7 pm: Giving Thanks with John Birge.
Thursday, 10 am: Giving Thanks with John Birge.
Thursday, Noon: Thanksgiving with Cantus.
Thursday, 3pm: Regional Spotlight: Pavel Kolesnikov plays Mozart, from a recent Chopin Society recital.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: New in Nashville.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Berlin Philharmonic with conductor Simon Rattle, from the 2014 Berlin Music Festival.
Sunday, 5 pm: Advent Voices with Lynne Warfel.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Symphonies by Haydn and Schubert, and Barber's Violin Concerto.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Tim Buzza, Music Specialist at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Tim Buzza, Music Specialist at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.
Every Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories we'll be discussing today.
Chopin is buried in Paris, but his heart is entombed in his native Poland. On April 14, we've just discovered, the heart was secretly exhumed to be sure it remained preserved as it floats in alcohol. The heart, it turns out, is doing just fine.
How do you introduce children to classical music? We had two parents' perspectives this week: John Hierlinger wrote about bringing his kids to a family concert by the SPCO, and Carl Atiya Swanson wrote about the soundtrack of fatherhood.0 Comments)
This group of kids totally blew me away; it's an amazing band performance. If you haven't seen it, you must!
I choked up when I heard it they are amazing. YouTube credits them as the Golden Hymn Brass Band:(0 Comments)
Manuel Rosales built the organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in conjunction with a design from architect Frank Gehry. The organ turns 10 years old this month. (Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC)
This weekend, take some time to look into stories about three wonderful instruments: the bassoon, the guitar and the pipe organ.
Have a great weekend!(0 Comments)
Görkem Sen (YouTube)
Musician Görkem Sen plays some beautiful, atmospheric music on an … instrument of some kind. No idea what the instrument is. Do you know?
Here's the video, posted to YouTube:
Grapes ready for harvest (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
By now you've probably heard about what's been dubbed #Grapegate the story in which the New York Times posits that something called Grape Salad is the signature dish of a traditional Minnesota Thanksgiving.
Problem is, pretty much nobody in Minnesota has heard of Grape Salad.
Today, Minnesota Monthly editor Rachel Hutton whom you hear every Friday morning with John Birge on Classical MPR's "Moveable Feast" went on New York public radio station WNYC's The Takeaway to speak to host John Hockenberry. "As a Minnesota foodie," the show's website puts it, "[Rachel] explains why New Yorkers have such a hard time understanding the food of the Midwest."
At the top of the interview, Hockenberry describes Grape Salad as someone familiar with the recipe. "John, I'm impressed that you've heard of Grape Salad," Rachel says, "because everyone else that I've talked to seems to have never heard of it before."
In the course of the conversation, Rachel describes how she contacted her mother to get to the bottom of this mysterious dish. Later, she and Hockenberry speculate on Grape Salad and other recipes for Thanksgiving. "We maybe should embrace the grape," Rachel suggests, "maybe people could make this recipe for Thanksgiving and enjoy it."
Listen to the complete interview here; it runs just a bit more than four minutes:
Time for Three (Neilson Barnard)
Whenever there's a news story about a musician who has experienced trouble getting on a plane with his or her instrument, someone usually asks me if I've ever had a problem flying with my cello.
I'm happy (?) to report that I don't have a $100,000 instrument and don't play for a living, so I can put my virtually-indestructible carbon-fiber "travel" cello into a beat-up case with a bunch of padding (old beach towels), send it through as checked baggage, and restring it upon landing.
Professional musicians with precious instruments don't have that luxury. Add to that the confusing lack of consistency between airlines; the choices seem to be:
US Airways has once again denied access to a member of string ensemble Time for Three with his instrument. Double Bassist Ranaan Meyer (pictured) was told by the airline's supervisor and shift manager at Los Angeles International Airport that he would not be permitted to fly home to Philadelphia with his bass after appearing on television show 'Dancing with the Stars' on Monday night.
After being told he would not be on the flight, Meyer posted this message to YouTube:
Fortunately, Meyer was eventually able to get home:
Highlights from November 18 to 24
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Steven Schmitz, Director of Bands, St. Louis Park.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: amateur bassoonist Kate Cimino.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Steven Schmitz, Director of Bands, St. Louis Park.
Tuesday, 8 pm: Lucerne Festival: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.
Thursday, 3:15 pm: Regional Spotlight: Rossini, played by the Minnesota Sinfonia.
Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: A Celebration of Bassoon, and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: With Praise and Thanksgiving.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in works by Schumann and Brahms.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Dvorak's Serenade for Strings, and Beethoven's 6th Symphony.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight.
Each Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories we'll be discussing today.
Remember when violinist Vanessa-Mae put her music career on pause to pursue a lifelong dream of competitive skiing? Well, there's no word on whether she's planning to pick her violin up again, but her skiing career has ended ignominiously — for at least four years.
When electronics magnate Avery Fisher donated $10.5 million in 1973, Lincoln Center promised to name the New York Philharmonic's home after Fisher "in perpetuity." Perpetuity, it seems, has now come to an end.
'Tis the season to give thanks, and hornist Gwen Hoberg asked some of her colleagues who they were feeling thankful for. They named teachers, students, and fellow musicians — but Gwen herself named an unsung hero of the orchestra.(0 Comments)