To continue the personal news catch-up that I’m attempting this week, I thought it would be good to mention that Sari and I got married! Now that it’s been over a month, I figure it’s time to say something here. Enough secrecy!

The wedding was a wonderful day on Thanksgiving weekend. Perfect weather – just a bit chilly, but very sunny. Lots of friends and family. All in all, a fine party. Thanks to everyone that could come! Sari made a web site for the event, and we now have many photos up on it. If anyone has photos that they’d like us to post, send them over! We can always add more.

Byrd Concert

A heads-up about my next concert: I’ll be heading back to Fredericton tomorrow to give a solo harpsichord recital. Here are all the details:

Sunday November 18, 2007
3:00 PM
Gallery 78 – 796 Queen Street

If you can come, you might want to get there early – it’s a pretty small space, and there has been a fairly large amount of publicity!

I’m travelling by bus again, which I’m not really looking forward to. It’s straightforward, and cheaper than the alternatives, and takes very little effort, which it nice, but it’s 12 hours sitting on a jiggling lump of metal. The worst part is actually the schedule – I have to get to the bus station before 6AM! It’s too early for the regular city bus schedule, so I have to go even earlier on a night bus, or spend a lot of money on a taxi.

On the last trip to Fredericton (just a couple of weeks ago!) I also took the bus. I found that the best activity is to listen to podcasts and audiobooks on an mp3 player. I think I listened to about a dozen Escape Pod stories last time, and I have a pile more downloaded now. There’s a lot of good stuff on that site, if you’re into science fiction at all! A lot of variety within the scifi genre too, which is very nice. There’s a lot more out there than the usual Star Trek stuff, and Escape Pod manages to sample a lot of different subgenres.

I should really get packed up so that I can grab a few hours of sleep before setting out. See you at the concert!

New server!

So I finally moved to a new server. I got a dedicated machine at iWeb for a very good price through their clearance department. I’ve been toying with the idea for years now, but could never justify the cost, and didn’t want to get into the business of being a commercial webhosting company or anything. Redowl has been just hosted at home over a DSL connection for all this time (first appeared in 1996!)

The new server is called scallop. It replaces squid as general-purpose web and mail server, among other things. (My computers are all named after molluscs starting with the letter S – and no, that’s not the strangest naming convention I’ve heard of). It’s very nice to have better bandwidth – you might have noticed it already. The upload speed from the DSL connection here was never really good enough to run a server from, but the new one should be plenty for quite a while.

Beware – technical junk coming up.

Setting up the server itself was very simple – I’ve installed countless linux machines now, so getting the right packages installed and configured wasn’t any trouble. The difficult part was in switching things over from the old server to the new one. There are two main issues with a move like this: one is that right up until the move happens, the old server is still processing data and receiving mail. So if I just copy everything over and then switch servers, there’s a good chance that something would change on the old machine in between – those changes would then be lost. A thornier problem is that when you switch a machine from one place on the internet to another – in this case, moving the name from its old IP address with teksavvy (my ISP at home) to the one with iWeb – the change doesn’t happen instantly for everyone on the net. Even after switching, many computers might still try to contact the old server, just because they remember where it was and don’t check every time to see if it has moved. So I had to also set up some things on squid to say, for example, if any mail is received, it should be forwarded on to scallop, and not kept on squid.

Much to my astonishment, everything seems to have gone very smoothly. I only made one ridiculous mistake: When I made the switchover, I forgot to turn off fetchmail – a program that retrieves mail from my McGill account – so mail from that account kept arriving on squid instead of going to scallop! Luckily, I caught it before long, and it wouldn’t have affected any other users on the system. I just had to transfer a few messages manually to scallop.

So now I feel like a grown-up computer geek. I have my own little bundle of IP addresses and a real server in a datacentre. Feel free to suggest fun things to do with it!

Concert reviews

I was pleased to see that harpsichordist and fortepianist Tilman Skowroneck has started a blog. I’ve been enjoying what he has to say on the harpsichord mailing list for a few years now. He wrote an article about choosing concert reviews to post publicly on a website, which bears comment.

The challenge of choosing which reviews to show people isn’t something that I’ve run into, simply because I don’t have any press clippings at all – I don’t think a review of a performance of mine has been published since I was in high school, with the exception of some large ensemble concerts at McGill in which I played a very small part and certainly wasn’t mentioned by name! I wish I could get a review done of one of my concerts, but unfortunately, it’s next to impossible here in Canada, it seems. Most of my performing is either in Montreal or else in the much smaller city of Fredericton. In the latter, the local newspaper hasn’t actually had any arts reviewers on staff in many many years, and I haven’t seen a classical concert review since I was in high school. It’s a real shame – there’s a small enough amount of classical music that you could put a review of every single concert in town into the paper without taking up too much space, but the interest just isn’t there on the part of the editors.

In Montreal, it’s a different story: there are professional music critics writing for some of the newspapers, and they do cover many classical concerts. That said, the main dailies here have concert reviewers that cannot stand early music – one goes so far as to state the fact clearly at the beginning of almost every early music review he’s forced to write. It’s quite ridiculous that they can’t find someone with a hint of interest in the music to cover the scene here, and makes the music look bad quite unfairly. The other issue in a large city like Montreal is just that there are so many concerts and established professional ensembles in town, that even in a style of music that the critics might appreciate, it’s rare to get anything written up about a small concert, especially for a new group.

Increasingly, I think private critics writing on blogs are becoming a more useful look at what’s really happening in niche styles of music, though I expect, and hope, that the situation is better in Europe. For now, every time I see an application that requires the inclusion of press clippings, I wonder if the person requesting them really knows what they’re asking for!

Perhaps I’m just at too early a stage in my career right now, and I will accumulate some mention in the press in coming years, but honestly, I don’t see it being too likely. Perhaps I’m also putting too much emphasis on print reviews – serious, informed writing about the kinds of performances I do seems to be confined to the net. Perhaps it just makes sense that way!

Busy busy busy!

Sometimes a blog doesn’t get updated because nothing is happening. Other times, it doesn’t get updated because there’s just way too much going on! I’ll try to make a few posts in the very near future about all the new developments in my life, but for now, a very quick run down:

  • Sari and I got married!
  • Both of our bikes got stolen – if you know of a good bike for sale in Montreal, let me know!
  • I lost my Brandenburg V virginity
  • I have a concert coming up next week in Fredericton – Sunday November 18th at 3:00PM at Gallery 78. You might want to get a ticket in advance, because it’s a small space, and there might be a lot of people there – I’ve been getting more pubicity than usual!
  • As always, there are a few more photos up.