“By all means dance, and sing, and listen online. Music is viral — in a good way.” — Simon Morrison *97, professor of music at Princeton
Music is helping many Princetonians get through the coronavirus pandemic. PAW asked alumni what they’re listening to right now, and what they’d recommend. Here’s what they said.
Javier A. Masis ’13 writes: “I think that in this time of isolation I’ve craved music where I feel some sort of human connection to the musician.” His list includes the new album What Kinda Music by Yussef Dayes and Tom Misch and Radiohead covers that friend Joe Edelmann ’13 has been putting out on YouTube. Masis and Edelmann are in an alternative rock band named Burne Holiday with two other Princeton alumni, Cory Furlong ’13 and Nathan Tyrell ’14. “We all talk on a daily basis and Joe is just a freakishly good musician. We’re thinking of maybe trying to put a video up where we record parts separately and bring them together...in the meantime we’ve been comparing baked goods.”
Masis adds that “a phenomenal Costa Rican nu-disco band called Patterns released a new song called Everything Matters which had a live YouTube premiere, and it’s also been on rotation for me! I’ve been a fan of theirs for years now, and attending the premiere was intimate and exciting.”
“I took this time to finally connect my turntable so I could listen to the LPs that I’ve been toting around for decades. It was great to dive into the live Thelonious Monk album Thelonious in Action. The band is on fire. Exciting stuff that never fails to uplift. I also got turned on to a Coltrane album of which I had never heard called John Coltrane — More Live at the Showboat 1963. It’s blowing my mind.” — Rudresh K. Mahanthappa, director of jazz at Princeton
Mahanthappa has a new album entitled “Hero Trio” coming out June 19. Information is at rudreshm.com.
Diane Winston *97 writes that this semester the students in her students in Religion, Media and Popular Culture course put together playlists for the pandemic. She teaches in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. “The music is contemporary, from country to hip-hop, and reflects themes such as sacred space, spiritual reflection, connecting with something greater, and God and country,” she writes. “Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Tame Impala run through many of the lists, but there’s also a lot of diversity in genre, world regions, and subject matter.”
"I have been musically bipolar during the lockdown (as always, actually). My go-to track in times of stress is always J.S. Bach, and my go-to Bach is always the Goldberg Variations. I have several recordings, but most recently have been listening to three Glenn Gould versions. Alternatively, I have been listening to Haydn keyboard music. My second track is jazz, and there I have been listening to the keyboard music of Bill Evans, most recently Some Other Time.” — Stanley N. Katz, professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School
Leonard Barkan, professor of literature and art and archaeology, writes that “both books and music have been important companions during this challenging time.” His list of essentials includes Mozart, who “seems always to have known exactly what I wanted the next note to be,” plus Schubert and comedic opera, including a version at the Met of Figaro 20 years ago where Renée Fleming played the countess. He’s also “glued” to the Great American Songbook — Gershwin and Porter, Berlin and Rodgers. “Bernstein yes, Sondheim, not so much.”
“I’ve been living down in New Orleans since January (it was supposed to just be for the winter, but since the virus hit, it’s become more of an indefinite stay), so I’ve been listening to a lot of old Preservation Hall Jazz Band recordings. Putting on that first album, New Orleans, Vol.1, is as close as I can get to going out and seeing a show right now, and it reminds me of the good times I’ve enjoyed in this town and the good times that will come again once we’re finally on the other side of this thing. It’s also a reminder that while the city is on lockdown, so many wonderful clubs are closed and so many incredibly talented players are out of work, and donations of any amount to charities like the Preservation Hall Foundation help ensure that this music survives.” — Anthony D’Amato ’10
“We are certainly feeling deprived of the Princeton Concert Series, but I can hear music throughout the house most of the day … I spend a good deal of time writing or reading, both demanding activities incompatible with serious listening. But I’ve made an enjoyable compromise. I’ve dug out a six-disk set of the complete piano music of Chopin … The work is extremely varied, often lively, and not infrequently rather thrilling.” — John Fleming *63, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature
“My wife passed away 3 years ago so I’ve been living alone ever since,” writes Robert E. (Bob) Buntrock *67 from Orono, Maine. His daughter and family live in town, but have been keeping their distance during the pandemic. “What keeps me company (including right now) is Maine Classical Radio… A recent development has been the invitation to contribute recommendations for ‘Music that makes me feel good’ with the reasons for this like. I have a large list of that kind of music and two of my recommendations, with the special meanings for me, have already been played: The second movement of Dvorak’s 9th (new World) Symphony (Goin’ Home), and the Chorale form Bach’s Cantata Wachet Auf.” Buntrock, a semi-retired chemist, said he likes jazz, swing, 40s-50s pop, etc., “but classical/Baroque/Renaissance are tops on my list.”
I started listening to Weyes Blood (pronounced Wise Blood, after the Flannery O’Connor novel) earlier this year, just in time for many quiet days in quarantine. Her music has notes of Karen Carpenter, Enya, and swirls of sacred church hymns, but her exquisite songcraft is all her own. I got hooked by watching her 2019 KEXP performance and haven’t looked back. While her songs tend toward thoughtful reflection, her music videos (see “Do You Need My Love” and “Everyday”) show that she has a humorous side as well. — Jarred Mihalik ’14
Other alumni write:
Edward McGrath ’85 writes that he’s listening to “Western Stars, the latest album from Bruce Springsteen. Soothing, honest and heartfelt.”
Bryan Farhy ’87 said in Pasadena he’s on a daily schedule: Chopin all day, then Ella Fitzgerald during cocktail hour for “Boat House memories,” followed by Netflix shows soundtracks from 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Jamie Spencer ’66 suggests “a portion of Handel’s wonderful oratorio, Israel in Egypt… He offers some marvelous and imaginative portraits of God’s plagues, from some rather amusing hopping frogs to the genuinely powerful ‘hailstones.’”
Henry Von Kohorn ’66 has assembled a Spotify playlist of “Optimistic Songs.” “Unsurprisingly, many are from the 1930s, and none are contemporary,” he writes.
Tell us what you’re listening to so we can add it to this list: firstname.lastname@example.org