The Piano Guys in one of their YouTube videos in which they perform a song from Les Miserables.

GUEST ROOM | How Classical Music Became a Commodity

Guess who’s been topping the charts in the iTunes classical section — The Piano Guys. I can’t be the only one that picked up my phone and frantically googled when I found out that The Piano Guys would be playing Trump’s inauguration. I didn’t know who they were, but with millions of YouTube hits and the word “piano” in the name, I was intrigued. I watched the dramatic music video for “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” — a mash-up of OneRepublic’s brief hit and Ludwig’s famed fifth symphony — and understood the appeal. Classical music, packaged for easy listening.

Courtesy of Cornell University

A Jazzy Night at Barnes Hall

Barnes Hall’s auditorium temporarily transformed into a jazz cafe from La La Land on the evening of Thursday, September 27. Producing a fusion of harmonious tones and fascinating improvisation, the Dave Solazzo Trio, with Dave Solazzo on the piano, Mike Solazzo (Dave’s father) playing bass and Tom Killian on the drums, performed a jazz concert that reminded me of the Oscar-winning film. The program started with Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The piece opened with a piano melody, but was quickly joined by the metallic sound of the cymbals on the drum set and supported by a steady beat of deep pizzicatos from the bass. As the tempo of the song sped up or slowed down based on the discretion of whoever was playing the melody, the other members of the trio would match the beat accordingly with extreme precision. This first tune also incorporated solos for both the bassist as well as the drummer, during which the musicians constantly checked in with each other through eye contact and head nods to maintain balance and structured harmony.

TEST SPIN | 6LACK – East Atlanta Love Letter

East Atlanta Love Letter is exactly what it’s called — a letter. Not an email, text or DM. 6LACK’s sophomore album works to escape from what he deems love has become. He brings us back some decades, even inviting fans to an authentic drive-thru album release event. In this new project, which he tells took over two years to complete, 6LACK steps away from the kind of subject matter that we find in mainstream rap.

Courtesy of Interscope

TEST SPIN | Machine Gun Kelly – BINGE

In the midst of a beef with the best-selling rapper of all time, Cleveland native Machine Gun Kelly figured now would be the opportune moment to release a nine-track EP, entitled BINGE. He should have taken some more time. The project, a jumbled mess of clunky lines and off-beat rapping, is riddled with excessive drug glorification and braggadocious verses that come off more cringey than cool. If Kelly wanted to take advantage of his momentary popularity, this was not the way to do it. Machine Gun Kelly cites Eminem as an influence for his music, and any big fan wants his idol to recognize him.

Cayuga Sound Rocks Stewart Park

Last weekend marked the second annual Cayuga Sound. Lady D & Shadow Spirits and Sofi Tukker kicked off the first night of action from Stewart Park. While both acts performed some of their more well-known selections and energized the crowd, their sets were limited by the threat of thunderstorms and relatively small audience. As it got closer to 7 p.m., Dan Smalls ’92 of DSP Shows, the company which organizes Cayuga Sound and most other concert events in Ithaca, came on to the stage to introduce Young the Giant and to let festivalgoers know of the impending bad weather. “We’re hoping to give you all an hour of music,” Smalls said before turning the mic over to Friday night’s headliners Young the Giant.

Courtesy of Cayuga Chamber Orchestra

Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Kicks Off New Season

The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra’s (CCO) performance at Ithaca College’s Ford Hall on Friday, September 21st, was aptly titled “A Heroic Beginning.” The orchestra began its 42nd concert season with a delightful evening featuring the overture to Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and Ludwig van Beethoven’s classic Symphony No. 3 with guest pianist Prof. Miri Yampolsky, music. A staple in the city of Ithaca, the CCO has been a premier institution of classical music performance since 1976. Opening the evening’s concert was the energetic overture of the renowned opera “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which first premiered in 1762 in Vienna. The piece is based on a Greek myth in which Orpheus makes a deal with the god of the underworld to resurrect his dead wife, but only if he can walk in front of her out of hell without looking back.

Courtesy of Noname

TEST SPIN | Noname – Room 25

Hailing from the same Chicago music scene as other prominent artists such as Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and Saba, Noname shines with an album that may be the best of all. Initially known for her verses on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and her own mixtape Telefone, which has gained a cult following, Room 25 shows Noname cementing her name among some of the best lyricists in rap music today. “Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?” Noname spits on “Self,” the opening track for the album, before reminding us that she’s at the top of her game. Tracks like “Montego Bae” hammer this point home as she flows with a cadence that seems to duel the drum beat of her track. Even more unique than her flow throughout the album is her ability to craft narratives.