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The Hanslick Girls

"Three is company, safe and cheery" -Stephen Sondheim

Category / Music

The Human Sound: Yo-Yo Ma & Silkroad Ensemble’s “Sing Me Home”

Gwen tended not to make New Year’s resolutions. “Why should the start of a calendar year be the one time we make self-improvements?” she always wondered, aloud, towards Dania and Eleanor.

 

Still, self-improvement has to happen sometime, and Gwen typically made her resolutions, if any, around her birthday. This year, along with specific goals for health and wellness, she also resolved to generally diversify the music she listened to while working. Jazz had been a staple since high school, but now –– she declared –– was the time to begin branching out. More classical music! She knew the composers but rarely sampled their work.

 

This was why, when Dania glanced over her shoulder one day, she saw not the typical music library pulled up the “JAZZ FOR STUDYING” playlist, but instead a YouTube video of an older, Chinese man playing the cello.

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Brandi Carlile’s “Give Up The Ghost” with Kaysy Ostrom

“That’s how you know it’s on vinyl,” Kaysy grinned. From the speakers, the crackle of the record could barely be heard –– but in the empty room, it was clear as any other voice.

“What’s the typical phrase…” Gwen mused, tapping her chin. “It sounds ‘warmer?’”

“I’ve never understood that,” said Dania. “It’s music, how is it gonna be warm?”

Seemingly in response, the album began just as Dania finished speaking, with a strum across the guitar and an insistent rhythm on the bass string. Before more than a moment had passed, a voice joined the tune and provided the beginnings of a story.

I went out looking for the answers / and never left my town…

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The Television Virtuoso: Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed A Dream”

“Ten years?” Eleanor said, with considerable shock.

“Yep, it was 2009,” Gwen confirmed. She tilted her computer screen towards her friends, showing them clearly the Wikipedia article with the date inscribed on the top.

“Wow,” Eleanor said. “It feels way more recent than that.”

“I’d say it feels longer,” Dania replied. “I mean, when was the last time you thought about Susan Boyle, really?”

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The World On Fire: Haven Theatre’s “The Total Bent”

Compared to the raucous live performances throughout the evening, Dania couldn’t help but feel the slightest tinge of letdown when the pre-recorded 1960s hits came through the speakers as the house lights rose. She longed for a version of the songs with the same raw power as the songs in The Total Bent had possessed –– but admitted to herself that perhaps that was impossible to capture on record.

“What a gutpunch,” Dania said, glancing up to the illuminated cross at centerstage. Around the stage, musicians were just packing up their instruments, scattered around the stage. Only the two keyboard players –– Frederick Harris and Jermaine Hill –– were listed as members of the cast, but it has been difficult to divorce the remaining quartet of band members from the narrative.

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