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Finally I’ve gotten this season’s SCHEDULE up on the site, so if you want to check out where I’m conducting this season it’s all there.  Come and say hi!

Right now I’m in Las Vegas doing Sgt. Pepper with Cheap Trick again.  I have to say that one of the more eclectic experiences of my life was leaving the run here to do a show with Frederica von Stade in Canada, then getting on a private jet the next day and flying back for Cheap Trick the following night.

First of all, Flicka was sublime and she sang a world premiere by our very own Nathaniel Stookey called Into the Bright Lights.  Flicka wrote the words herself and they are personal to the point of being confessional.  It is such a wonderful thing to sing on her farewell tour and I hope she keeps doing them.

Flicka is such a consummate musician, and standing next to her while she sang “Baïléro” and other gems like that was of course unforgettable.  It’s this incredible combination of beauty and humanity and truth that is unique to her.  I’m glad our paths crossed on stage, if only for a brief moment.

Then back to the Cheap Trick show — we did this at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago, and it’s taken on a life of its own.  This time they’ve put the orchestra directly above the band and me dead center on stage.  Robin Zander gave me this cool jacket to wear, and it occurred to me right away that I’d better do something different.  I’ve seen enough rock-orchestra shows where the orchestra looks disengaged and the conductor is a big ol’ nerd compared to the band.  So I decided to be part of the band and do all of the rock stuff: dance around, look at the audience, smile, sing along, play cowbell, and so on.  I think this works very well!  And it’s fun!  The Vegas orchestra players are very aware they are being watched, and don’t have terribly difficult parts to play, so they want to get involved.  As we were rehearsing to coda to “I am the Walrus” there are these huge downbows in the orchestra parts and the concert master offered me the so-called “LA Flail,” in which the entire string section flails their head on every downbow!  Yes!  One of the reviewers said listening to “I am the Walrus” live made him want to “drop acid and pick up a cello.”  Now that’s a good review, and if you haven’t payed attention to the cello parts on this song, you should.

And finally …

Someone emailed me a little while ago and asked me what I was listening to these days. So here are two things I keep coming back to over and over …

First of all, anything by JORDI SAVALL.  He is an endless well of musical genius and basically I listen to him all the time and wish orchestras played that way.  For instance check this out:

And then on the other side of things I just can’t stop listening to The Bird and the Bee. The songs are so elegant and witty, the voice is so sexy.