Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Now that classes are done for the semester, it's time to catch up on posting pictures from this semester.....

Went to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform for the first time in February.
They played a couple Mozart arias, a premiere of a modern piece by Schuller, and Brahm's Symphony No. 2 :)

I didn't realize that MIT completely payed for student tickets, so I spent $25 on the College Card like other college students have to. When I went to pick up my tickets, I realized the mistake I'd made. The guy felt sorry for me (maybe just because he thought i was dumb) and gave our group seats REALLY close to the front and in the middle. They were fantastic! I was actually close enough to see detailed finger movement on the strings.

Having seen a few other cities' professional orchestras play, I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the BSO. Holding true to the "college town" setting of this city, many in the audience were young and informally dressed. I found this much more enjoyable than the super-dressy, stuffy, old/rich person atmosphere that other places have.

On our way to getting tickets, Jaime (my Spaniard friend) and I decided to check out a few other things in the area. First was the Church of Christian Science's huge building, which we went inside and got an on-the-spot tour of.

Then we went to a music store and I took a goofy picture with the huge Elvis head
Pretty views from the Harvard Bridge

Monday, May 18, 2009

More on Carbon Fiber!

Ok this is really dangerous.
I now know the major steps taken to make a carbon fiber string instrument....

I have a ridiculous amount of experience in laying-up composite materials from my senior design project (in fact, if there's one skill I feel the best at having completed DBF, its that I can lay up stuff all day long). Now that I know they literally just lay-up layers of carbon fiber to make the instruments, I really want to try and make one myself!
All I need is the extra components you add on at the end (fingerboard, bridge, sound post, etc), and a few trials of making a full system that meets my desired sound, and I'm good to go!
This would cost at least an order of magnitude less than what they're being sold for.

This was very dangerous information for me to get a hold of....

Lunchtime Concert Series

The Whitehead Institute (biomedical research center right next to my lab) puts on a free concert about once a month for an hour during lunch.

It's a fantastically refreshing thing to attend in the middle of the day. The artists that come are quite high class too (seems like they all either went to Juilliard, played in the Boston Symphony, or did both). The arts are so alive in Boston!

The first one I went to had the following program:

Performers: Christina Wright, piano, and Sharon Cohen, violin.
Pieces: Brahms' Sonata for Piano and Violin, Op. 47, "Kreutzer"; Janacek's Piano Sonata "From the Street"; J.S. Bach's Partita for Solo Violin in d minor; Franck's Sonata for Piano and Violin in A Major

The one today was outstanding:
Performers: Carmen Rodriguez-Peralta, piano, and Luis Leguia, cello.
Rayner Taylor's Solo for Cello and Piano;
Luis Leguia's Memories;
Heitor Villa-Lobos' O Canto Do Cysne Negro (Song of the Black Swan);
Brahms' Sonata No. 1 E Min, Op. 38;
Alberto Ginastera's Pampeana No. 2 Rapsodia para Violincello y Piano

All of these were great! I find myself often thinking that the cello gets my pick for the most beautiful instrument.
The last piece was my favorite: diverse in sound and style throughout. It unabashedly explored the FULL extent of the fingerboard, and it had really beautiful harmonic chords. I've got to convince Jennifer to learn this one!!!

So, this cellist also makes instruments. Apparently, he desired a more "beautiful and penetrating cello"than those he had played for a long time, so he eventually ended up building CARBON FIBER CELLOS. You can read more about them at
It's quite apparent that the one he played with gave a fuller, bolder, more resounding sound than a traditional wooden one. It is quite a distinct sound to hear, but one that I certainly was impressed with.
The instruments look realllly sleek too! All black and shiny like a sweet airplane part :)
(I wonder why he doesn't play with a carbon fiber bow though, since those are quite common....)

I'm in the middle of selecting a new violin for purchase and now I really want to try and play one of their carbon fiber violins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(I didn't actually get to see Yo-Yo Ma playing a carbon fiber cello. But I can dream....)