Archive | music RSS feed for this section

Interview with Vicente Rubinos

9 Sep

“The music of Debussy is like a long caress that has no end. His exquisite harmony draws us towards the most delicate of human expressions, love.”

Mr. Rubinos was born in Havana, Cuba in 1934. Among many other professions in his life he was a distinguished and well-liked professor of philosophy and chemistry at the University of Havana, a clerk at seven eleven, an accountant, a social worker, an activist for the rights of Hispanics and the elderly community in Hartford, CT. Mr. Rubinos now resides in sunny Hallandale Beach, Florida and has an impressive collection of music, films, and books. He has a radiant smile, is an absolute ladies man, loves to dance, and is an ardent classical music aficionado which is the subject of my interview with him.

Monday September 6, 2020
Listening to: Vienna Master Series, Claude Debussy: Klavierweke, Piano Works, Oeuvres d’orgue (1888-1910) Peter Schmalfuss, Klavier/Piano

How would you characterize the music of Debussy?

He is a composer that leans on no one. He has his unique form of expression. For example,  his “Clair de Lune” has no similarity to that of Beethoven’s, they are quite distinguishable. It’s nothing that makes you think of the music of any other composer.

Why do you like classical music?
It is the music that allows me to evoke a multitude of sweet feelings.

Who is your favorite composer?
Well I have many but among them, Prokofiev. His Concerto No. 3 for piano is very beautiful.

When did you first hear classical music?

When I was seven years old and I liked it immediately! I felt I had discovered a world of what were totally new sensations for me. One day switching the radio dial I found the station CMBF which was dedicated to playing only classical music from 7:00am to midnight. I always tried to listen, but my father didn’t like it, he would say it was music for dead people, “Who has died for us to hear this music for dead people?”. I could never listen to it when he was home.

What’s your favorite instrument?

The piano because I feel it has the most complete range of sounds. I don’t know, I feel I identify most with the piano, although in general I love all instruments.

Name one live performance you’ve seen which particularly impressed you.

Léo Delibes’ “Lakmé”. The soprano made these incredible leaps through various vocal registers!

Operas I like… Verdi’s “Aida” and “Le Boheme”, Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Turandot”, Rimsky Korsakov’s “El Gallo de Oro”, “El Prinicipe Igor” by Russian composer Alexandr Borodin (I saw it at the Met). That opera has many beautiful parts like the Polovetsian Dances.

Favorite Zarzuela… “La Verbena de la Paloma” by Tomas Breton.
What is a zarzuela?
It is like an opera but in a different dimension.
One source we found defines a zarzuela as,  “a form of musical theater or theatrical genre of music which originated in Spain with instrumental, vocal, and spoken passages.

Favorite musical comedy…
“Porgy and Bess” by Gershwin

Favorite North American composers… Other than Gershwin, I like Samuel Barber, his Piano Concerto, Concerto No. 1 for violin, his overture “School for Scandal”, and his famous “Adagio”. Barber also has beautiful symphonies.

What suggestion would you give someone who is interested in exploring classical music for the first time?

Each person has a different sensibility, so they should explore. What is exquisite for one person, for another is not. I do not recommend any piece in particular. The sensibility of each person is undoubtedly unique. For example, I love John Sebastian Bach, for me he is exquisite, but there are other people who don’t find anything in his music. Some think his music is out of style.

What would you say to someone who thinks that classical music is out of style and irrelevant?
They don’t know what music really is. Classical music is forever because its sounds are capable of transporting us to the most sublime of human emotions.

Would you like to share anything else?
An experience I had with a girlfriend. When I played her classical music she said, “I can’t stand that ‘tiki tiki’! I left the other boyfriend I had because I couldn’t stand that music!” My response was, “ Well we will have to leave each other right now because I am not going to stop listening to my music. But I think it would be good for you to open up to this world of human emotions of an exquisite sensibility”. If someone likes a type of music, their ears and mind can evolve to open up to this gift of an incomparable world capable of motivating without exhausting you.

And what happened with the girlfriend?
We left each other a few years later but now she is a classical music fanatic. I brought her from popular to classical music. If she liked pop music the only thing she had to do was develop her ear towards classical music. If she hadn’t liked any type of music at all, that would have been a different story.


20 Aug

Back from some kind of small break, although it’s unclear what that break was and whether I wanted to be on it at all. Break. Brake.

The handsome man next to me on the train yesterday morning was reading this and I found it amusing.

Apparently, “Full engagement means you are physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned.” I think it’s safe to guess that no one on that G train, myself included, was reaching their “full” level of engagement. Luckily we don’t have to guess, because by completing these next 26 questions, I will receive a two-page report on my current level of engagement. Result: I am “seriously disengaged”.

In a recent search for artists whose work in some way relates to overcoming pain I came across this Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh.

Hsieh is best known for his series of one year performance pieces. In the first work of this series Hsieh lived in a cage for one year without speaking, reading, writing, listening to the radio or watching tv. His mental method of creating space struck me. “In one corner of the bed I make it my home and I create a space that’s bigger, so the other three corners become outdoors. I can be home, go outside, take a walk in the three corners, and then go home.” About enduring the year he says, “All of my thinking went into preparing energy only for one day. Then after I finished one day, I could do another.”

The delightful Secret Architecture put together a show at Fat Baby and was kind enough to ask me to play. This is going down TONIGHT Fri. Aug 20, 8pm. Be there or be “seriously disengaged”.

Syrian Techno

28 Jun

shamanic bellydance, shaggy, gold glitter

This weekend was one for the record books- a great jam in the rural green outskirts of Boston, a rocking set at Gelato Film Festival which culminated in some unexpected sweaty contact improv lead by self-proclaimed “Gangsta Belly Dancer” Francesca Ferrando, and more sweaty dancing in Gowanus with Omar Souleyman at Issue Project Room.

Still digesting  Omar’s music and live performance, his beats are delicious!

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo

15 Jun

Recent conversation with a friend made me think about how many of the most memorable performances or works I’ve seen have had an undeniable creepy quality to them. I don’t just mean haunting, I mean CREEPY. The word “creep” when used to describe a person, has a negative connotation associated with someone who is undesirable, deranged or out of place. In art I feel creepyness takes on a new positive connotation of being captivating, memorable, dream-like. Rather than being out of place, the creep is precisely in step with your subconscious or the seemingly intangible threads floating just above your head.

All this reminds me of the freak show.

Fire breathers, sword swallowers, deformations, magic! Why do we crave and enjoy being weirded out?

I think it’s safe to say that none of the artists below created or performed these works with the sole purpose of weirding us out. Upon first viewing, I was struck by the artistry, creativity, and general rockness of these pieces. It was only later that I realized they share the commonality of being beautifully creepy.

1) La Lupe
Creepy category: Bewitching

2) Betty Boop, Max Fleisher and Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher”
Creepy category: Heebie Jeebies

3) Marina Abramović, The Artist is Present
Creepy category: Beautiful, Haunting

Bushwick, you are attractive.

12 Jun

Ariel Brickman

I was tickled to have performed last weekend at Bushwick Open Studios Cabaret at 319 Scholes, really cool space with one of the most genuinely free-spirited and laid back cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

chillin' to the max

It was an awesome show in which I somewhat successfully played my first ever solo set including a new song sketch. Nobuko Hori joined me with her amazingly bright and dreamy video art and also tried out a brand new live animation using a shoebox diorama. This was my most enthusiastic, sexy (seriously, some FIIIIINE looking men and ladies), and spanish-speaking ny audience yet! We had a blast seeing everyone’s work and hanging with the BOS cabaret team. Big shout outs to Manda, Danielle, Moises, Sebastian for being so inclusive and friendly. Looking forward to getting back to sexyland Bushwick soon for more art shows and accordion contortionists!

Olivia Hallie Lehrman
one of my favorite cabaret acts

More photos of the cabaret are up here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.