Maya Beiser’s Twitter handle — @CelloGoddess — says it all. She’s a brilliant cellist with a stunning command of her instrument, and she’s tightly tied to technology. Beiser takes the sound of her cello and runs it through loop pedals, effects and other electronics to make her instrument shimmer, drone and groove. Time Loops, her 2012 album, is one of that year’s hidden gems.
The music feels experimental in that she’s using an age old instrument (and age old tuning) mixed with technology. But the two songs she plays here are simply beautiful and the technology only serves to make the songs all the more enticing.
I don’t know what these pieces are “meant” to sound like. In fact, I don’t even know the composers. But her version of these pieces (with the wonderful drones and echoes of what she is playing) are terrific.
Osvaldo Golijov: “Mariel” One of the fascinating things about this piece is that it is impossible to tell what she is looping (especially since we miss the very beginning to see if she clicks any pedals). But is she looping what she has played or is there some other music being added in? This is a mournful piece with some great sounds (looped) accompanying her. It’s seven and half minutes of beautiful cello music.
She introduces the second piece “Just Ancient Loops” Mvt. 1 by saying that Michael Harrison wrote the piece for her. She plays 6 minutes of the 25 minute epic piece, or what amounts to the first movement (called Genesis). She also tells us that it was written in “just intonation” which is an ancient way of tuning the cello, but it is natural for the instrument which is all about pure fifths.
It opens with some plucked bass notes which are immediately looped and run through much of the piece (how is she controlling the loops? I can’t see her feet at all). By the middle, the piece is in full swing with different cello sounds echoing and looping. It sounds full and fantastic and over all just really wonderful.
I typically enjoy cello music, but there is something especially cool about this performance.
[READ: September 2, 2016]. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I wasn’t all that excited about this book. It was a play. Did Rowling even write it? (I actually still don’t understand the provenance of the story)? And did I really want to read about a grown up Harry?
Well, first Tabitha read it and then Sarah read it and they both said it was great. So I read it. And I flew through it (and stayed up too late reading it, too). And, man was it enjoyable. More than enjoyable. I immediately got right back into the Potterverse and I loved seeing the famous characters grown up.
So, what’s this book about, exactly?
Well, without giving spoilers (to those few to whom it applies), the plot starts off 19 years after the action of the last book.
Harry and Ginny have three kids. John, the eldest, is a good boy who does everything right. Lily is his youngest, a girl who doesn’t really figure into the story. And then there’s Albus. He’s the middle child and just about to go to Hogwarts. He is difficult and broody, the exact opposite of James, and is rather angry about being the son of the great Harry Potter.
Ron and Hermione have a child, Rose, who is Albus’ age. They are friends and are going to Hogwarts together where they will make all of the same friends.
When they get on the Express, the first person they meet is Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius. Scorpius is kind of goofy and silly with a lot of candy on his seat. Rose knows all about him, but Albus is naive and doesn’t know why Rose is acting weird about this boy. Then she tells him of the rumor–people speculate that Scorpius is actually the son of Voldemort (!). Obviously this makes Scorpius unpopular.
But Albus doesn’t mind. Scorpius has candy! And they quickly become friends to the dismay and alienation of Rose.
As their friendship blossoms, the distance between Albus and his father grows. Albus becomes more sullen and angry, while Scorpius stays a sweet kid–who has a major thing for Rose (obviously she wants nothing to do with Scorpius).
Harry is, strangely enough, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Magic. Hermione also works there (Ron owns the joke shop–what happened to his brothers?). Harry and Hermione are overwhelmed by paperwork (which Hermione likes). But they also have real problems. Including dealing with people who rather resent that Harry lived and others died when Voldemort was actually after Harry (man what a burden).
Skipping lots of details, the crux of the story centers around time-travel. Albus and Scorpius get it in their head that they can fix some problems with just a simple change in the past. Of course, it backfires. First in small ways (and of course the small ways are funny and disconcerting). And then in much greater ways–ways no one could have predicted. And Part One ends with this huge revelation.
I love that if you saw this performed, you had to wait until the next day to see Part Two! How maddening!
In Part Two it’s up to everyone to try to undo or fix the new and existent problems.
Okay so that’s the plot. What I loved about the story was two major things. This book offers some insight into things that happened in the earlier books that, because of the nature of the way the story was told, couldn’t have been revealed to readers. The time-travel allows us to go back and see a few keys scenes from different angles and also to see what would have happened had things not turned out as they did in the stories.
But the thing that I enjoyed even more was that Rowling (or Thorne) gets to explore parenting. The original books didn’t really have any parents in it. I mean, sure the Weasleys were there, but aside from a few scenes, most of the parents were surrogates–teachers, uncles, the like.
Seeing Harry Potter (who is no longer Amazing) dealing with a kid he doesn’t understand was pretty fascinating (probably because I’m a parent…maybe young readers wouldn’t care about this). I enjoyed seeing Ron grown up and being a “silly uncle.” And it was sweet seeing the grown up kids still loving each other (I’m really glad that they didn’t insert any kind of marital strife, as that would have been too much).
On the production itself.
The writing is sharp and clever and very funny. The emotions are really well done. Harry’s parental concern is great and the disconnect between Albus and Harry as well as between Draco and Harry are really palpable. I was totally hooked by the end.
The action is actually pretty quick. Rowling tended to write long–so scenes of battle and conflict would often go on for pages an pages of building intensity. A script can’t do that. You get dialogue and then a line of action and that’s it. So this book reads really quickly. But they had some fun with the stage directions to make the action work as more than just stage right or stage left or whatever,.
The dialogue is snappy and the stage directions are more full than you might expect (which I assume is done for those of us reading the book, right?) But having said all of that, the production sounds frankly amazing. The details that are included in the script sound staggering and I can’t imagine how they did many of the effects that are mentioned. There is talk of it coming to Broadway and I can’t wait to see it live.
This was an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion to the saga.
As it turns out we had just watched the movies, so I was really in the mood for the story to continue. But even if you haven’t read or seen it recently, as long as you remember the main characters and some big minor characters, this will all be familiar enough to jump right in.