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Hallelujah Chorus – Flash Mob Meets Mall Food Court December 24, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Fun, Music, Religion.
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In the spirit of the season… namely the surprising manner
in which the Christ child was brought into this world, I share the
following video where a choir surprises unsuspecting shoppers
getting a quick bite at a mall food court.
What a great
way to share the message of the season. Merry Christmas,
everyone!

Random Act Of Christmas November 28, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Friends, Fun, Music, Religion.
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A close friend told me about this amazing event and when I watched it I had to shared the video recording of it with all of you.

It’s a recording of the Philadelphia Opera Company and a LOT of volunteer choirs meeting up, flash mob style, at the Macy’s department store to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Watch it. It will start to put you in the mood for Christmas.

Eroica: How I met Beethoven’s Third September 19, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Japan, Music, Random.
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As I was saying, just before I took a break from my blog, Beethoven’s Third Symphony is by far my favorite of all of his symphonies. Why? I’m glad you asked. I want to tell you the story of how I fell in love with the Eroica Symphony.

Title Page of the Eroica Symphony

Title Page of the Eroica Symphony

As some of you know, I grew up in Japan. I was born in America, but my parents took me to Japan when I was only about six months old. Being a native speaker of the English language had its advantages in a land where many of the young professionals aspire to learn to speak English. And, to the advantage of many teenagers in my day, most of the Japanese professionals who studied English had all of the book-learning they needed but they lacked the ability to properly pronounce English words. They needed help with their pronunciation. The best way to do that was to pay an American kid (at kid’s wages) to practice spoken English. So, at approximately $25 per hour, I worked a couple of hours a week with a thirty-something Japanese businessman who struggled to speak English in a way that American’s could understand.

From time to time, I was asked to record a reading of some book or manuscript (usually a presentation of some sort to be delivered at an international conference) so the “student” of mine could then play it over and over while practicing their own pronunciation of the text.

Cassette Tape

Cassette Tape (Side A)

One day, when I was about 16 years old, the person who I was giving English speaking lessons to asked me to read and record the play, Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller. That particular play was a favorite of the person I was instructing at the time. And, as often happened, he provided me with a used cassette tape to use for the recording. I had done this many times before, so it all seemed very commonplace to me at that time.

A few days after getting the recording assignment I placed the used cassette tape into my tape recorder and rather than start recording right away, I hit the play button. I’m not sure if it was a matter of curiosity or just a habit from playing so many tapes (at that time all of my music mixes were on cassette tapes, so I was playing them all the time).

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

What surprised me was the sound of an orchestra playing something that I didn’t recognize. After just a few bars, I was hooked. I let it play all the way through, which meant that I listened to the entire first side (side A) and flipped it over to listen to the other side. As it played, I was mesmerized. It just got better and better as it played. And, if you know Beethoven’s Third, it ends strong. That ending really got to me. I took the tape out and made note of the handwritten label that read, “Eroica.”

After listening to the tape a couple more times, I decided to keep the old tape and recorded my reading of the Death of a Salesman on a new cassette tape (something the student didn’t mind since I exchanged a new tape for his old used one). And, that’s how I met Beethoven’s Third.

You must understand, as a teenager I was not “into” classical music. Sure, I’d heard various classical pieces and had even been to the Tokyo Philharmonic Symphony to hear them play (it was required, not my choice). But my preferred type of music at that age was totally contemporary. Some of my favorite bands at the time were bands like America, Genesis, Eagles, Chicago, Boston, and Moody Blues (isn’t it funny that bands took on American cities for their name?). Okay, Dan Sims, I’ll admit that I also had a Bread album or two, but I didn’t listen to them that much! I mostly listened to 70’s rock and roll. So, it was really surprising to me that I actually enjoyed this random piece of classical music.

I can’t explain it, but even to this day when I hear even just a part of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, my ears perk up and I recognize it. If you are not familiar with it, you can listen to the entire 3rd symphony on YouTube. The two embedded videos below are the two halves of the same symphony. If you only listen to one, you might choose the second half (though I really like the opening few bars of the first half – it grabs you with the first note and after that it’s just a wonderful ride). Enjoy!

_________________

Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony – Part 1:

Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony – Part 2:

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I approve of this speaker… August 27, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Music, Technology.
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Tonight is the second night of the U.S. Democratic Party’s national convention. So, in the spirit of politics and political ads, “I approve of this message.”

If you use a laptop computer and you like to play music or watch movies on the laptop, then I’ve got a portable speaker that I highly recommend. The portable external (powered) personal speaker system I recommend is the Saitek A-100 speaker.

There are several reasons I recommend it. The sound it puts out is great, the size is small, and it works well with iPods.

For such a small and relatively simple speaker system, it puts out a lot of sound. Not only do you get volume out of it, you also get a decent bass and mid-range output. For the kind of music I tend to listen to, it works very well. Of course, you don’t need a laptop to take advantage of this speaker system. Lately, I’ve been using my iPod Touch to play music while I am using a loaner computer (which doesn’t have my music library loaded on it). Most of the time, I use the external speaker with my laptop to either watch movies or play music.

The size is ideal.  This portable speaker system is very low profile and relatively small size, about the size of a flattened baked potato. Because of its size and shape, it travels very well in my laptop case, unlike many external speaker systems on the market today.

For power, this speaker will work off of batteries (4 x AAA). It also comes with a power transformer so you can plug it into a normal home AC outlet.

Finally, I need to give credit to the person who selected this speaker as I did not choose it, rather it chose me. This cool technology was a gift from a close friend (Thanks, Don!) and is one of the more practical and frequently used gifts I received this past Christmas.

If you are looking for an external speaker system that sounds good and is very portable, I suggest you puchase one of these.

Prison inmates produce music video April 8, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Humor, Music, Random, Web.
4 comments

This has got to be one of the stranger things on the Internet (no, please don’t share all of the things that are even stranger). It’s a music video made by prisoners — they dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller song. Very, very strange.

As if that was not surprising enough, so far the video has been viewed almost 14 million times on YouTube. AND, more than 31,000 comments have been posted.

Exactly what kind of prison warden wakes up one morning and decides to use the inmates to produce a music video? I guess if they don’t have anything better to do…

Photographing Ichthus 2007 June 23, 2007

Posted by Matsu in Family, Music, Photography.
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Skillet with wide shot of crowd

One week ago from right now I was tired and my body was sore.

Skillet girl with guitar

Just as I had done in past years, I once again volunteered to be an Ichthus photographer at this year’s Ichthus music festival in Wilmore, Kentucky (USA).

Skillet with crowd

This year I wasn’t able to take photos of the entire three-day event because I was out of town the first two days attending a technology conference in Pennsylvania. But, I did spend the third day out at the festival grounds taking photos for about 10 hours.

Skillet girl close up

It was more difficult to get into it this year since I missed the beginning. But, by the end I was back in the groove and ended up taking over 4,000 photographs.

Toby Mac with crowd

You can always count on Toby Mac jumping off stage and leaping into the audience. He does that every year.

Toby Mac in Crowd

After Toby Mac played then Switchfoot hit the stage. They did a great job.

Switchfoot with stage lights

And that is just a sample of seven pictures of the 4,200 pics I got. But, you get the idea.