"I'm O.K. - You're Okra" (A "tasteful" food for thought)

It has come to my attention that music is now being produced by vegetables. No, this is not a dig at musicians; they are PLAYING the vegetables! According to the "Vegetable Orchestra" website (www.gemueseorchester.org), "the First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra consists exclusively of vegetable-based instruments, although where necessary, additional kitchen utensils such as knives or mixers are employed. This creates an autonomous and totally novel type of sound which cannot be achieved with conventional musical instruments."

Having listened to the sound clips on this website, I must say that I find this music strangely compelling (or compellingly strange?) - kind of like alien rap music but without the lyrics. Nevertheless, I feel it is my solemn duty as a CMS member to point out that this "ground-breaking," new veggie-logical breakthrough brings up a number of important, serious musicological questions for all of us to ponder (apologies to Dave Barry):

  1. Do the musicians use period instruments, organically grown according to joint EPA/AMS standards?
  2. How do they keep it so alive and fresh? No, not the musicthe instruments! ("Sorry my intonation is so bad todaythe AC is on the fritz and my kumquat just wilted all over my tux!"
  3. When players strenuously object to the interpretation, do they yell, "Food fight!!!"?
  4. Do the performers get paid according to onion scale? If not, how else can they demand an increase in celery.
  5. When they use Chinese vegetables, does it make listeners crave more music soon after the performance?
  6. Do audiences "eat up" this kind of music? And even if they do, will the music stand the test of thyme, or will it be discarded like yesterday's stale leftovers?
  7. Are critics "chomping at the bit"? ("A sizzling performance, particularly by the orchestra's caloricatora, whose creative juices brought forth a feast of aural delights for those with insatiable taste.")

And lastly,

  1. Why only vegetables? I have some great ideas on using fruit. If you're interested, just drop me a lime sometime.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the performances are quasi-improvisatory, so the music definitely gives a whole new meaning to the age-old concept of balancing "good taste" with "freedom."

Bon appétit!

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Last modified on Thursday, 23/05/2013

Arthur Joseph Houle

Arthur Houle is Professor of Music and Director of Keyboard Studies at Colorado Mesa University as well as founder and artistic director of the International Festival for Creative Pianists, a unique competition open to all young pianists up to age 19. The festival promotes classical and jazz improvisation, versatility, composition, individuality, and repertory excellence in all styles.

Dr. Houle holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, New England Conservatory and the University of Iowa. He was the only pianist to be invited to perform twice, to critical acclaim, in the 1995 International Chopin Music Festival. He has given coast-to-coast lecture/recitals and master classes at institutions such as Eastman School of Music, Dartmouth College, New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, and for various teacher organizations. Houle also presents often for national and regional professional conferences.

A critically acclaimed performer and recipient of a 2011 Music Teachers National Association Fellow Award, Houle has written for numerous periodicals. In 2008, the Hal Leonard Corporation published his Cowboy Jazz, a collection of original compositions for intermediate students. Houle's new publisher, Abundant Silence Publishing (http://abundantsilencepublishing.com), has published Cowboy Jazz II and will be issuing other original compositions for both students and professional musicians.

A private teacher since the age of thirteen, Houle taught previously at New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, the College of Idaho, and the Universities of Iowa, North Dakota and Texas-Austin.

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