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Archive for April, 2008

Wow

I have just heard one of the most astounding masterpieces of music in my life: “Styx,” by Giya Kancheli, who spent most of his life in Soviet Georgia. Just as impressive was the performance of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

As you may know, I studied a great deal of incredible classical music as a Music major at Stanford (and continue to study new fine art music on my own), I have conducted award-winning high school choirs, and I’ve attended countless incredible concerts by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, one of the finest orchestra / conductor collaborations in the world. But the performance I recently witnessed at the Colorado Symphony (under the baton of another Bay Area native, Jeffrey Kahane) was right up there with MTT and the SFS playing Mahler’s 8th.

The performance demonstrated an absolute commitment to the music and a perfect synergy between conductor, symphony and a magnificently unified choir. It featured technically impeccable but emotional performances all around, and an incredibly innovative program: a great established master in Haydn followed by two — not just one — innovative and totally different pieces of music, showing the full range of the orchestra.

The only thing that was not impressive about the evening was the attendance — the hall was far less than half full. Take an evening off from your pop music or fun TV shows and GO SEE YOUR SYMPHONY. ESPECIALLY when they program such innovative, relevant and meaningful programs that move the performers and audience alike, as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra did at this performance. I was not alone in my appreciation of this event — the audience rose to its feet instantly after the final crashing note and burst into cheers and applause, visibly moved by the experience. From the light perfection of Haydn to the soul-baring, gut-wrenching genius of a composer raised under the stifling conditions of Soviet rule — don’t get so inundated by pop culture that you miss out on the finest technical and emotional artistry life has to offer you. Be a modern-day rebel and sometimes seek out something more than a three minute pop song or a thirty minute sitcom.

You’ll be glad you did. And please let me know when you come across something that really moves you, as “Styx” moved me. And no, I don’t mean the 70′s/80′s cheese rock band…

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

My Week As A Wiggle

Well, it’s a week later and April Fool’s Day has come and gone… For you, anyway. For me, it will not go away. I keep getting emails and calls of congratulations.

Alas, since it is no longer April 1st in your world (despite my best efforts, it is still largely April Fool’s Day in my world) here’s the truth, as you may or may not have figured out on your own: I was never a member of The Wiggles. It was all a big April Fool’s joke. Check the date of the Noizeletter. The story was 100% baloney. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, please read my April 1st Noizeletter, then come back and read on.

This week it has becoming increasingly difficult for me to convince anyone that I am not, in fact, joining The Wiggles. The story will not die.  I am receiving calls and emails of congratulations from industry folks, press, fans and friends alike. Newspapers from California to Colorado have called requesting exclusive interviews with “the new American Wiggle.” Established musicians have contacted with their congratulations. I’ve gotten emails from as far off as New Zealand about it. An overwhelming number of people apparently believed my Noizeletter, which contacting papers have referred to as my “press release.”  The web is a powerful tool… for evil.  It’s quite beautiful, really.  I hope you still love me.  I certainly love you.  And that ain’t no joke.

For the record, I have, in fact, never met The Wiggles or anyone associated with the band. Murray never calls, never writes… It’s as if we were never even friends. I have shaved my Miami Vice stubble beard in resignation. But after sending out my infamous Noizeletter a week ago, I have spent a majority of my last work week responding to congratulations and inquiries regarding my impending American Wiggledom. So the last laugh is on me, as virtually all my other work has come screeching to a halt. The demands on my time as a Wiggle have simply been enormous, and nearly impossible to wiggle out of. Honestly, I have new respect for my mates down under. It’s tough being a Wiggle.

Here are some of the recurring questions I get along with the congratulations: Will you be touring all year? Will your family come with you? Will you be moving to Australia? This is so exciting! I knew you were talented enough to be a Wiggle! That last one’s one of my favorites, a message I have received over and over again. I’ve seen their concert video, and at any given moment, most Wiggles are not playing an instrument, not dancing, and they often aren’t singing, but the crowd is going wild, so I must ask — what precise talent are you all referring to? It strikes me that the Wiggles goal is a more universally digestible social contribution of promoting positive values and behaviors and serving as wholesome role models, not the more pretentious “stretch your mind, learn about music and inspire your own creative muse” schlock that I try to impose on the family world.

Regardless, I would like to thank you all for your congratulations, as I know you all meant well, which is more than I can say for myself when I sent out the April 1st Noizeletter. Bad Doctor! Bad Doctor! And I would particularly like to thank those of you who wrote or called unimpressed. Several people told me I was a sellout. Several people said they were upset that Doctor Noize and Phineas McBoof would not continue, and questioned my motives to leave the unique world I’d created with Doctor Noize to join the decidedly more mainstream Wiggles. (A blow to my ego: These letters were far from the majority — most were just congratulatory.) There were the “I hope the money’s good — what about seeing your family?” letters. And then there was my mother, who called very upset that I was leaving behind the years of work I’d put into Doctor Noize to join “the stupid Wiggles” (don’t take it personally Murray, she was feeling a little emotional and protective of Doctor Noize), and asked me how I could decide and announce such a thing without talking to her about it first.

And, I am happy and relieved to report, that virtually all of these people — from papers to fans to my mother — were very good sports and thought it was hilarious once they learned it was an April Fool’s joke. Laughter can be a very good thing, and I am very happy to have provided you with a little. (Several people got me right back with their own April Fool’s responses, all of which I believed — special kudos to Zak Morgan for getting me good.)

So, I have two promises for you:

(1) I am far too pretentious to casually leave something like Doctor Noize to join something like The Wiggles. My career path has shown one consistent folly over the years: I always go for the dreamy boundary-pushing project over the smart money. This is even the case when the smart money is dangling before my eyes for all the world to see. As an adult, my choices have been ludicrously consistent in this regard. I used to be fiercely proud of this; now I am half proud and half embarrassed by it. But it is undeniably true, and really the only completely positive thing that can be said about my so-called career choices. My intent is certainly pure.

I could have made a lot of money in my life, but I haven’t. I’m always more interested in challenging and mind-expanding things than I am in mainstream pop culture. I may like a good joke, but I’m a pretentious art geek at heart. The only way I would ever leave the boundary pushing world I reside in for a more lucrative and mainstream option is if I simply had to for financial reasons. Truth be told, that is a legitimate possibility in the future, which is why many of you who know me well also believed the April 1st Noizeletter. But that is another blog for another time, and with your help and support for Doctor Noize it will never need to be written. But I can assure you I would never throw the good Doctor under the bus in such a carelessly crass manner as depicted in the April 1st Noizeletter.

The money sure would be nice, though — Excuse me… What did you just say? The Wiggles made $50 million in 2006 alone?… Where do I sign? Oh sorry, what was I writing? — Oh yeah, I was talking about how creatively and morally pure I am. Just forget I said that other stuff.

(2) Despite the fact that my Noizeletters will always have a whole lot of goofy stuff dressing ‘em up — we might as well have fun in this world while we’re here, after all — all of the core news and information in the Noizeletters will always be true… except on April 1st. So you can rest assured that I won’t be lying to you in the Noizeletter for 364 days of the year.

And now that you know the truth, please do go read the April 1st Noizeletter again, and as the ridiculousy implausible sentences and subtitles pile on, enjoy yourself a good laugh. I know I often do when I review my career…

Thanks for believing in me in your own special way from yer buddy for life,

Doctor Noize

P.S. That picture? Come on! I would never wear stripes. I’m a block color guy, just like my main man Murray.

Mr. Smartypants Isn’t!

Noizemakers! In reference to the April Noizeletter… Happy April Fool’s Day and I love you for your well wishes. You are all beautiful — and none of the April Noizeletter is true. For those fooled by my April Fool’s Noizeletter, let me share some embarrassment of my own…

Within minutes of sending the April 1 Noizeletter, my phone was ringing off the hook and emails were pouring in. After an hour of this I could not believe how many people were buying my unbelievable story. I felt very, very clever. Then an email came in from acclaimed family musician Zak Morgan:

“Nice! I have a good lead for you, actually. Call Mr. Wolf at 323-644-4200. He is in until 6 so call today if you can. They are looking to fill one more slot but are under the gun for their Farley Mowat Festival.”

Zak is a very established artist and a very kind friend — I figured a lead from Zak has gotta be gold. So I called the number immediately. The man who answered the phone said something about the Los Angeles Zoo, which momentarily confused me, but I had bizness to conduct so I plodded confidently forward: “Hi, this is Cory Cullinan, can I please speak with Mr. Wolf?”

Pause. Click. Dial tone.

I’m The Man.

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