Bachianas Brasilieras, Cello 8 part for Double Bass

I am puh-syched to be playing cello 8 for the Bachianas Brasilieras No.1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, on double bass no less. They were out one cello player, and I have always wanted to step in on that piece. 😀 We are just doing the first movement, but that’s fine with me.

To make it more fun, I arranged a double bass part. Here is the download for the bass part in PDF format. I’ll add the crecendos and decrecendos at a later date. We’ll call that v1.01 or something. But in the meantime, it is what it is.

Doctor Atomic

Doctor AtomicI saw the San Francisco Opera perform Doctor Atomic last night. My opinion: It was amazing, and this is one for the ages.

Now first off, let’s get the criticism out of the way: There were a couple of spots that just dragged on nebulously, and I started to just get plain old bored. It is very hard to get me bored at an opera ��� I love opera performances, and especially this one for me had given me a lot of anticipation. Specifically, I’m referring to Scene II, and just a little bit from Scene III.

However, this is a relatively minor critique in light of the overall composition, production, and performance.

Kristine Jepson as Kitty Oppenheimer was absolutely amazing. Her impressive vocal execution of some incredibly difficult passages was my favorite part of the vocal component of this opera. All the vocal performances were great, including the chorus, and I really enjoyed it.

The production, especially the set design and choreography, made a real impression on me. The visual sight of a mother and child alone on a dark stage, with an enormous bomb hanging right over their heads, while sounds of everyday conversation was looped via tape. The choreography was spectacular in the way it depicted the concepts of everyday work juxtaposed with the horror of war, all underlined by the physics of the atom.

Segments of the text were direct copies of things I recognized, from the letter by Leo Slizard to initiate the Manhattan Project, to Oppenheimer’s recitals of ancient Sanskrit from the Bhagavad Gita. (I may have missed it, but I don’t think that they worked in his famous and ominous recitation of the phrase from chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita before the Trinity test: I have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds.)

This was an opera about deep personal conflict, revolving around the genius Oppenheimer and his colleagues as they proceeded to build the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever conceived. To invent a conventional weapon is one thing. But to invent a weapon that is capable of erasing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in one instant, that is something that generates feelings of unimaginable horror, extreme guilt, and even inescapable fascination. What really left me after seeing this opera was the take on the issues involved: The conflict, the humanity, the despair, the fear, and the human curiosity and determination that saw it all through in the face of everything.

The opera ended with the test blast at the Trinity site, with everyone’s heads propped up from their positions of shelter in fascination and awe. As the rumble subsided, a Japanese woman’s voice can be heard repeating over and over again a simple request for a drink of water. This is an ominous reminder of the horrible aftermath of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the water was heavily tainted so that those that drank the water suffered and died from radiation poisoning, while those that did not drink suffered and died from thirst ��� and more importantly ��� a reminder that war’s greatest tragedy is how it affects the innocent.

I am especially glad that I got to see this opera in it’s premiere. I can tell that this one will go down in history as one of the top operatic works of our era. It is a work of genius, and I do not use that word lightly.

I think that this opera goes right on up there with Minard’s chart of Napoleon’s campaign in Russia as some of the most effective anti-war propaganda ever created.

Zend/PHP Conference, days 3 & 4

We wrapped up the Zend/PHP conference today and overall it was quite a good show. At the very least, I have my work cut out for me here. I have a stack of books that I picked up at a nice show discount from the Sams booth, based on recommendations from many of the others I met at the show.

I’ve been teaching CSS classes for the past several months, and one colleague described my sessions as something like “sit down, fly by the seat of your pants, and try to hang on…” OK, now I really know what that feels like! Each session was only 45 minutes, and some of these guys were really plowing through some deep coding concepts at warp speed.

My personal highlights for the last two days of event were Chris Shiflett’s Security Audit Howto session, learning about the Qcodo development framework, and meeting up with the guys at Interakt. It was especially cool to finally meet Alexandru Costin face to face, since we’ve had conversations via email for years.

Another unforgettable piece of this event overall has to be reiterated: Marc Andreessen’s keynote, where he discussed PHP as being one of the first really developer-centric programming languages and picking up where Java left off in this respect, really got the attention of everyone there as well as the media. The Slashdot article on Marc’s comments will give you a flavor of the discussion, and it’s really tipped off something very large. We will see more of this debate in the months and years to come.

If I had to pick one thing as a chief takeaway from this show, it would have to be just being able to meet all these other great developers and share ideas. This was the first Zend/PHP conference, and I’m really looking forward to next year.

Zend/PHP Conference, Days 1 & 2

I’ve been here the past couple of days at the Zend PHP conference in Burlingame. Quite a good show all around so far. This is the first event of a planned annual series, and from what I hear the attendance has greatly exceeded expectations. Looking forward to many more of these.

Yesterday I attended an all-day refresher session given by Marco Tabini. This was actually a really helpful session – reviewing all the basic nuts and bolts of PHP to provide myself with a more well-rounded understanding of all that hacking I’ve been doing over the past few years.

Did get to briefly talk with Chris Shiflett to discuss some security-related issues as well as get his take on PHP books. His own book Essential PHP Security is due out any day. Looking forward to his presentation this coming Friday morning.

The nice thing about this event has been it’s relatively small size, and the openness of the people that are attending. I have met a bunch of really cool, really intelligent PHP developers, and was able to discuss some real meaningful issues at a high level.

Today was a full day of breakout sessions and keynotes. I think my brain is reaching capacity for now. Thankfully it’s about time to wind down to open the exhibit booths and get some free snacks and libations.